Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's igloo time

Tom done built hisself an igloo.

Here's how.  I think this is SO cool!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Death Valley Marathon: A Race Report!

Ready? (if not, you should be.  This is only, like, a month after the fact).  Here we go!

Let's start off with location, location, location!

I first came to Death Valley 3 years ago, for a race of course, and just fell. in. love.  I've lived on the sea, I've lived in the mountains, I think I very well might live in the desert one of these days because the desert is simply magnificent and speaks to me in a way that's hard to quantify.  I love the views, the geology, the plants, the harshness, the weather, the expanse, the climate.  Well, the climate in December, anyhow.  I think August might have a thing or two to teach me, but in the winter I'm all over it.  I think I'm meant for the desert.  Death Valley is the pinnacle of all that is desert and I smile smile smile all the time that I am there.  Love.

This race could have been designed with only me in mind.  I love the venue, the weather (on this day, cool and overcast, not the best for photos but the best for me!), the view, and the profile.  Check it out:

We ran from Nevada into California, so I guess I've got two states covered?  Isn't this a pretty satellite shot?  Really, though, it's all about the elevation profile, and this is the sweet spot for me.
Climb climb climb, then descend descend descend, and descend!  To the tune of 3,125 feet gained and 6,359 feet lost, per Gary (I just looked this up just now and am really quite shocked with those numbers.  I knew it was a lot, but not THAT much!  Holy Shit!).  Holy shit!

So anyways we all meet up at Furnace Creek at 6:30 am, check in and all that, I drop a deuce (happiness!) and get intimidated by all the other runners for a while.  I'm not in a tutu-wearing mood for some reason, so I've left that piece of gear back at the truck. I ready myself for 26 miles without headphones because this is a no iPod race and they seem pretty damn stern about it, so I decide not to cheat even though I want to.  Pre-race stuff, then we all load onto buses for the half hour trip to the start line.

Some 300 people pour from the buses, and all the dudes just line up and let 'er whizz.

I'm jealous and consider doing the same (I mean, modesty? Now? Who am I kidding?), but I use the portapotties like a lady and then, 3-2-1 Go! and we're off.

And away I go.  This race is all on a fire road, and this one is one of those insidious sloooow elevation gains, such that it doesn't feel like you're actually climbing, it just takes even more effort than usual to maintain your regular pace.  I fall in line and start the slow churn upwards.

Along about the beginning I hear someone talk about how they're from New Mexico and a variety of other little tidbits and lo! and behold I get to meet Misty from Athena Diaries!  She's someone I've been reading for a looong time, and runs around my speed, and seems like an all-around cool chick, so I was super psyched to fall into conversation with her (try not to be an idiot, Bootchez, don't say stupid things, don't be a potty mouth, be clever and GOOOD, I hate social anxiety!).  This long time later I can't remember what we talked about, but I know that I enjoyed the conversation.

We ran somewhat together until about mile 5 when oh! hey! remember the knee?  It twinges.  Just a little bit, but every time I lift my leg up, oooh, a little bit of a twinge.  Not to worry right now, thinks I, but one element of it bears consideration . . . the knee does NOT hurt at all if I maintain a certain pace.  At this point, that pace is around 12:30 or so.  Any slower, any faster and twingetwingetwinge, so FINE then, I let my knee dictate my pace.  This happens to be just a tiny bit faster than Misty is running, so bye bye to her (for now).  I get to know some of the other back-of-the-packers which comes in handy later on, as I spend the next 2/3 of the run passing, and being passed by, and passing again, then ultimately being passed permanently by, about 20 of the same people.

I remember miles 11-13 being mostly pretty damn tough, with the slope getting darn steep, then steeper, then downhill for a bit, then WOW! Really steep! and then I'm walking.  Little stabs at running, followed by a long stretch of walking.  I don't walk much during races, but this shit was steep!

There is not much distance between the road below me and the road I'm on, and it's 100 feet higher.  Steep.

But then, yay! Mile 13 rolls around and I know it's all downhill from here.  It's all easy, and gravy, and beautiful to boot!  I'm going to looove the second half of THIS race, I tell myself.

And, for a while, I do.  Stride stride stride, run run run, I'm happy!  I pass a young lady, Bethany,  at mile 16 or so who's walking, limping, she doesn't know what happened but she heard something snap and by the way she's walking I think she's done in her Achilles.  She's been in tears, you can tell by her face, and I'm all Cheer up, little camper, you'll be just fine, eventually!  I don't actually say this, of course, just offer some words of encouragement and keep on keeping on, but I'm happy with the way my knee is holding up, and I'm not imune to a little hubris at times.  

A couple miles later and I fall into conversation with another gal, Caroline, who chose this! as her first marathon, ballsy girl.  Turns out the week prior she was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff (shoulder), making her even more of a badass.  She's struggling a bit at this stage, and we fall into a great bit of conversation and take each other's mind off of our miseries for a little while.  We've got tons in common (same-ish age, both live in ski towns, seemingly same sense of humor and she knows about and shares my love for my Favorite Place on Earth . . . ) and I'm happy to have met her.

By this time, we are well into Titus Canyon, and the scenery is spectacular.  I just love Death Valley and all it has to offer . . .
So Caroline and I run together for a bit, but again my knee will not let me run at a pace of my choosing, and I must leave her, and I do.  Which turns out to be a good thing, because for whatever reason my belly starts acting up a bit and I drop a present on the roadside (keep in mind, canyon road = canyon = very little privacy).  Just as I'm finishing up, one of those 20 new back-of-the-pack friends passes and I'm, Just having a pee here! I'm not pooing, not me! and I gather myself and head back out there and pass this guy, who happened to have passed me once before while I was having a pee (a real pee, that first time).  I'm simply shameless.

So all is well, for the most part, and I pull into the 20-mile aid station.  I know that my pace has dropped considerably over the past 5 miles due to the knee, but I've already resolved to not care a whit about my time and I couldn't care less.  Yuumy tasty food, a little to drink, a nice little chat with the volunteers and I happily head off for the last 6 miles . . . 

And the fking wheels fall right off.  

My knee, which has been a loud whisper till this point, suddenly is a ROOOAR!  Seriously, my first running step nearly drops me to the ground.  In fact, I do stop right quick and I'm all hunched down and what the fuck is all this then? with the knee.  Ouch ouch ouch.  Misty comes cruising on past, inquiring after me and I'm casual and all, I'm fine! Just the knee hurting a bit! and that's a total lie because I'm NOT fine and the knee really hurts and even my leg feels weak and it's hard to pick up my left foot and move it forward.  To get beyond a walking pace I have to literally stagger, two hops on the right, hard step on the left, two hops on the right, repeat a couple times and then I'm running again, after a fashion.  Oh boy! says me, knowing if it had felt this way at mile 10 I would have dropped out then and there, but this is mile 20 and I've come this far . . . so I stagger on down the road.

I've gone from happy knee happy stomach happy runner to UNhappy knee, (though still) happy runner in the space of 100 yards.  The tide has turned, and for the first time in my fledgling running career I am face to face with injury and pain.  If that's not enough, what else has turned?  Those in the know, know, and that would be my stomach.  Another quarter mile beyond the aid station and it's OK NOW, EVERYONE OUT OF THE POOL! and I frantically look around and, people, there is NOWHERE to go, as the canyon walls are now a mere 40 feet? 35 feet? apart from each other, and 20 feet of that is road, leaving a bush? a rock? on either side and omy it doesn't matter because what's inside wants to be outside and I've got no choice and I shuffle off to the "side of the road", hah! and what's inside? A cubic meter of rippling gas, wetrumble!pttttthhhhh!!BANGBANG!!faaaaahhhhrt! (and a tiny little poo), that went on for, no lie, like 20 or 30 seconds, rising and falling, one of the longest farts of my life and certainly one of, if not THE loudest because you know what happens to noises in canyons that are super narrow and hundreds of feet high?  ECHOS happen, amplification and ECHOS Echos echos, that's what happens and here, Pam, in answer to your meme, transpires my Most Embarrassing Running Moment because literally a second, ONE SECOND after the inside stuff gets outside, as I'm chuckling to myself because farts are funny and loud ones even funnier, that same guy from before comes around the corner not 4 feet from where I'm crouched behind a pebble rock, getting ready to wipe myself with a rock.  Having heard the whole thing, no doubt, because the echos were seriously loud, as was I.  He goes trotting up to me and on past, and what can I do?  I know, and he knows, and I know he knows, and . . . I just kinda smile weakly and twiddle my fingers at him as he passes.  

Oh my goodness.

So my stomach's in a riot (be assured, this was not my last roadside donation, o no), my knee is SCREAMING, my pace is truly pathetic, truly, but there's only another couple few miles to go and I'm in Death Valley so I'm happy! and I've never, ever ever looked forward so much to the end of a race.  Miles 20-24 were a bitch, bitch, bitch.  

23 miles in and this, this! is where they have the official photographer.  There's tons of photos of me, and in most of them I look completely miserable, my leg all weird and swung out to the side, in pain.  

Here I said to the photographer, Oh, this is where I'm supposed to look all fucking happy and shit, right??? with not a trace of humor or smile in my voice and she says No, you're supposed to look like you're finishing a marathon! and I ask, deadpan, So you're telling me I look like shit (which, of course, I so obviously do!)?? and she is taken aback a bit, then I smile and laugh and let her see that I'm my usual smily happy runner self despite being a wreck.

A wreck I am indeed, though.  stomach knee knee knee stomach and then I get cooold and feel crappy and my mind is crying a little and then mile 24 and the canyon ooooopens and ends and there's sunshine and wide open spaces and an aid station, where I stop and it's soooo hard to get going again hop hop ouch! hop hop ouch! then running and I start chatting with a fellow runner named Kat and I can tell she'll run with me the last 2 miles so I'm feeling sunnier and like the end is near and attainable.  And then! Caroline catches up with us and we three are really sooooo happy and so looking forward to the end, after some 5 hours and 45 minutes, and then Bethany limpingly catches us and we all band together and carry each other along and it's sooo funny because we're ALL wrecks, me swingling my leg out stiff with every step, Caroline with her shoulder and all those first-time-marathon pains and Bethany barely able to even walk but here she is running and Kat, well, she didn't have any injury but she was wearing those Vibram shoes so she just LOOKED funny and we come staggering down the road with minutes to spare before the 6 hour cut-off and completely enwrapped in the joys and pains of marathons and instant friendship and support and I just love this photo:

Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse
Kat, Me (acting like the freak, natch), Caroline and Bethany

And we all crossed together.  Gary said 5:59 by the time I remembered to shut him off, but our official time was 5:56, by far my worst PR!

I then took Caroline and Bethany back to the truck and gave them each a vicodin and a xanax.  But don't tell anyone.

Thank the marathon gods for those three women . . . they made those last couple of miles do-able and funny.  

Post race thoughts?
I'm thankful that this knee thing turned out to be ITBS instead of something more serious.  I loved this race and had myself a fine old time despite the hurdles.  I'm itching to do this course again, and really crank out a good time.  The uphill then downhill format is my favorite for sure.  I CAN run without an iPod!  I met some very cool peeps, and that wouldn't have happened if I were plugged in.  I think the $12 brace helped tremendously.  I'm enjoying the month "off" from running I'm presently in.  

I can't wait to get back!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Death Valley

So here's a video Tom made of our Death Valley trip . . .

Monday, December 20, 2010


Just a few minutes ago I had one of the orthopedic guys do a "wet read" of my MRI. I just couldn't wait any more, the damn suspense was killing me! I had all these visions of, well, you can imagine. Anyhow, check it out:

All of that white stuff on the right? That's inflammation, and that means ... IT band!! I'm sure it sounds odd, but I am soooo happy to have THIS injury!! The alternative was frightening!

I can DO IT band! I see foam rollers in my future. The doc said I can keep running, just cut down my weekly milage, take some motrin, don't push it, do some strengthening exercises, etc etc.

I guess I'll take a look on these here interwebs and find some info on how to deal with this. Can anyone recommend any sites for me to peruse?

I guess I've really arrived as a runner now, huh?

Thanks for all of your good wishes, folks. I appreciate you all (even you mysterious non-commentors!) more than you will ever know!

(ps. still working on that race report, stay tuned ...)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Knee

Yesterday I went running with a new-to-me group of bay area runners that I met when I did the Boggs Mt race, calling themselves BARF. A great group of people that I am totally psyched about, and which I will write more about later when I am NOT typing on this damn little phone keyboard. We went out for a 12-miler. In an effort to be really smart about my knee, I told myself I would only go out for the first three and if, at that point, I had any knee pain whatsoever, I would turn around and go back. Sadly, that's what I had to do, and walked/ran the three miles back. Boohoo.

When I got up for work in the evening, it STILL hurt, to the point I had to ace wrap it and then limp around for and hour or two. After it had a chance to stretch out a bit, the limp went away, but I was left with the conviction that now this is something to take a bit more seriously. I am not much of a wimp when it comes to pain, and this really doesn't hurt all that much, but instinctively I feel that if I ignore this (like I really, really want to) I will come to regret it. I don't want to screw myself up here at all!

Anyhow, I finished my night ER shift ok, and his morning was happy to see one of my favorite ER docs coming in for his day shift. I pulled him aside to ask his advice about what might be going on. I'm still thinking, IT band? because it's somewhat consistent with my overall symptoms, but he (acknowledging that he's no sports medicine specialist -- but IS a fellow runner, and, obviously, a doctor) didn't think so. His thought? I need an MRI.

Here's where the benefits of my job and the awesome people I work with kick in -- 45 minutes later, there I am getting my knee MRI'd. This is something that most folks have to wait weeks and weeks for, but there I am getting the damn thing first thing on a Sunday(!) morning.

I don't know the results yet, but might get a very preliminary report later today, and should get an official read by Monday or Tuesday. The differential diagnosis at this point is ITBS vs meniscal tear. Obviously I am hoping for the former, and am fearing the latter.

Keeping my fingers crossed!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Catching up with things

Oh, home after a long vacations means . . . chores. I've spent the last couple of days unpacking and rearranging, but happily we only had a foot or so of snow and ice on the driveway, compared to last year's 4 feet (and no power), so we didn't have THAT particular shock waiting for us.  Just lots and lots of laundry, items away, piles of mail to deal with, errands and other things.  Tom went straight back to work = (   Luckily, I don't have to face that until Thursday.  Ahhh.

Yoga:  I'm back!  I went to class yesterday, it was horrible and I'm so happy!

Race Report:  In the works

Google Analytics <---- do you use this?  I don't, much, because well I just don't really understand it care.  One of the things it shows, though, is how people find/come to your site.  A whole bunch of my traffic (such as it is) comes from Beth, she's my number one (should be number 2, but I digress) referral source.  Thanks, and Hi, you people!  I only mention this as a lead-in to the search feature, which shows what people type into the google search field to bring them to your site.  My favorite 3 searches that led people to my site:

3. i run 5 miles daily and three hours later i start to eat and can't stop (yeah, don't I know it!)
2. lazy dress girl (you've found the right place!)
1. thick tits (um, really? have I EVER posted about tits?  Thick ones?  hmmmm . . . )

Anyhow, now I'm sitting on the couch procrastinating when I should be working on my chore list (go to the bank, boxes to be emptied . . . ) and, apparently, I have been tagged!  Ooooh, I'm someone now!  So awesome Pam has tagged me with some questions to be answered.  I'm not sure which ones I'm supposed to answer, as she was fielding two requests, so I'm just going to answer the ones I want.  Or, keep answering until the couch gremlins kick me off, or the bank closes, or I manage to haul my lazy ass away, whichever comes first.

What is your #1 indispensable running accessory?  #2?

Ok, my answer is exactly the same as hers.  Number one?  Gary the Garmin.  I honestly don't know if I would have kept up the running habit if not for this.  My stats are less than impressive, but man I loooove to know how much I ran, when, how fast, all organized into a calendar with reports and all kinds of statistical manipulations, oooh, heaven.  And it always provides a decent reality check.  If it weren't for Gary I might think I'm some kind of speed demon (you mean people actually run faster than me?  How is it possible to go any faster?), but I look down and see that 13:23 pace and Oh, yeah, that's right.  Number two?  That fking ipod.  Running without music just seems so pointless.  Bringing me to the next question . . . 

What do you mostly think about when training?

First of all, I really don't ever "train" in the purest sense of the word.  I try to run far and not die.  I might have a "training schedule" but that's really more of a mental game for me, as a schedule provides me with some kind of inspiration to at least get out there.  When I don't have a "training schedule" I easily do what I am doing right now, which is nothing.  The avoidance of something.  When I'm "training" I'm just running for distance and do no real speed work, long run, tempo run, none of that shit.  I just plod along.  What do I think about?  NOT MUCH.  I always listen to music, the same damn playlist (more or less) for 4+ years.  I sing along and don't think much.  My mind wanders, goes blank and sometimes I'm like, I'm here already? and can't remember the last mile run.  This is bliss!  Sometimes I think of, and write, blog posts in my head.  Truly, if all the blog posts I've written in my head were actually written and published in reality, this would be a prolific blog!  Granted, there would probably be a lot more google searches for how to shit on the side of the road and wipe your ass with a rock and other topics best left unexplored, so this isn't a bad thing.  But . . . 

Most embarassing running moment?

SKIP THIS SECTION IF YOU'RE QUEASY or, more importantly, YOU KNOW ME IN REAL LIFE, JUST SKIP IT!!!  The tricky part of this question is the "most" part, because pretty much ALL of my running moments are embarrassing in one way or another.  I'm NOT someone you want to run with.  I spit, fart, sneeze, twitch and fall over at the least provocation.  I have GI issues.  I used to have major bladder issues, which led to awkward moments (thank you! surgical intervention).  I sing (and can't carry a tune in a basket), dance (and am a huge klutz) and sometimes unwittingly shout out loud for no reason whatsoever.  I would constantly be embarrassed if I paid attention to myself.  But I don't (denial is a way of life!).  Looking back, my MOST embarrassing moments all have to do with shit (surprise!).  Two things come to mind.  One happened in the Death Valley Marathon (and will be exhaustively recounted in the mythical Race Report) and the other?  Really?  Here goes . . . a few years ago, when I was still a relative newbie runner, I had MAJOR runner's belly (makes me look positively anti-fecal nowadays, which is so not true!), like 2-3 poos every time I ran, no matter what.  Back then, my most indispensable running accessory was toilet paper, wads of it.  This particular time I went for a run before work, had multiple bad "moments" trailside, came home, sat on the bed, got undressed, into the shower, dressed and then in the car and off to Marin.  The bed?  White comforter.  The problem? What I left on the bed.  Yes, unbeknownst to me, I left a fking Rorschach pattern of poop stain splat! on the comforter.  Tom, he takes a damn picture of it! and emails it to me, saying Do YOU know what this is?!?  My heart just fell plop to the bottom of my stomach, o man I was soooooo embarrassed.  Truly shamed.  I made Tom delete the photo right then and there and promise, promise, promise! never to mention this incident again, which, bless his heart, he never has.  (just, I suppose, so I could go on line! with it, and announce it to the public at large!  Oh, anonymity!)  I washed the comforter myself when I got home.  I'm lucky to have a great guy like Tom!  leading to . . . 

Is your sweetheart supportive of your extracurricular active activities?  How?

He could not be more supportive.  I am blessed in my partner for sure (see above).  From the moment I came up with the idea that I (of all people) was going to get athletic, he has been 100% supportive.  He goes to all of my races, he listens to all of my blather about running, he cheers each of my accomplishments, laments my failures, helps me plan routes, backs me up on long runs, picks me up on the side of the road when I call for a ride home, defeated, and cheers me for what I did run.  He thinks me running at an 11:00 pace is superfast, reads my blog, brags about me to friends, commiserates with the struggle, allows me to back down.  Just perfect, wonderful and amazing support.  Thanks, Tom!

Do you send Christmas/Holiday cards?  Why or why not?

Fuck no.  I'm lazy and have few friends.  I love getting them, though!

What's your proudest moment of 2010?

I have two.  Finishing the 50k was huge because, hey! 31 miles is nothing to sneeze at! and the other is finishing the Death Valley run because I was hurting big time and would have been totally justified in dropping, but continued on.  I'm a quitter and I'm a wimp and not to giving in to either of those qualities was a personal victory.

Running goals for 2011?\

Oooh, I'll really have to think about this and will probably do one of those Year End Posts that's all reflective and goal oriented, etc.  I think I did one for 2010 and will have to go back and see how I fared.  Anyways, at this point I can think of a couple concrete things.  I want to run well over 1000 miles in 2011 (I think I ran something like 800 this year.  I really, really need to improve that number to be able to complete my second goal which is, run some more 50Ks.  I want to get really comfortable with that distance, and maybe try for a 50 miler in 2012.  

That's enough.  I'm off the couch, to the bank and post office!  What fun!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A signal!!

Back in the land of the digitally connected! Hiya!!

We're presently driving out of bishop, ca and are on our way home. I'm anticipating being met with a cold house and 5 feet of snow in the driveway, followed by lots of unpacking. And laundry. And, oh, reality? Coming up fast!

Meanwhile, the brief report (further details, like a full-on race report and maybe some pics and things, will have to wait for a full-sized keyboard, and might just wait forever because I suck like that, but I have hopes!).

Death Valley Marathon!

Yay, what a great venue! Yay! Run, Bootchez, run! Uphill! Cool scenery! Chat with some people, Bootchez! At mile 5, oh yes, there's the knee. It's okay, though, but it dictates my pace in a funny way, ie there's only one speed I can run at that's comfortable. On track, though. Run! Eat! Ooh, it's very uphill, then, it's not.

Then it's 5,000 feet of elevation loss, yippie!

Then, oh my, 20 mile aid station and the wheels fall off. I'm fine when I stop, then when I start "running" again, ouch! knee! not good! Pace drops hugely, my leg's a-swinging, ooh I'm in pain. There's poop, too!!! Plenty of it! By the end of the race I've hooked up with three other crumbling runners, one with a torn Achilles (my diagnosis, anyway), one with a torn rotator cuff, one with no injury but wearing those vibram shoes so she just looked funny, and me, and we crossed the finish line together at 5:55 or so, all damaged and looking like the Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse, all super psyched to be done. I then liberally pass out painkillers to my fellow wrecks, and boogie on outa there. Loved the race, despite the knee breakdown. Had a grand time and got a neat medal and a cool Death Valley Marathon tshirt that looks all badass with a skull on it and everything!

I hope to write a full report because it really was an interesting race for me.

Carrying on, we went on to one of earth's more mysterious places and saw a LOT of this:

which deserves a post of its own, too. Then we continued on and did a bunch of this:

(4-wheeling, NOT the walking, he's just scouting), and miles of this:

to get here:

which makes my heart sing, because that's my Favorite Place on Earth for many reasons, not the least of which is this:

which is a great place to, among other things, a fine place to soak a wounded knee, which I do have. I've run twice since the marathon, an ok 6 miler and then a very aborted run that became about 1.5 miles of knee pain. Haven't run at all in the past 4 days or so (even though I had some AWESOME runs planned in that lovely venue) and think that's helped a bunch because my knee feels totally fine. I've decided to take a break from any kind of serious running (read: over 4-5 miles) for a week or maybe a few because a. Instinctually this seems like the best thing to do right now, knee-wise, b. I usually take about a month off every year, and haven't for the last 12 months, c. Remember when I used to do yoga? I want to be that person again! d. Remember what I said about all the snow in the driveway? That means 2 things: adverse running conditions and ... SKIING!! Great knee activity!

I'm really not too worried about the knee. I'm quite prone to tendonitis and think this is probably the problem. I'll try a little run maybe by the end of the week and go from there. It just seems to want a little rest. If it's still funky in a couple more weeks I might take it to the doctor, but for now I'm going with yoga, rest and skiing.

I'll try to flesh out the details if the past couple of weeks, especially the race, in a future post.

I've gotta spend the next 3 hours or so getting ready for the return of reality!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I began today's run with a lot of trepidation and a $12 stretchy Walmart-bought knee brace on my left leg. The climate has definitely changed as we've come south because, while it's still pretty damn nippy at night, as soon as the sun comes up it's happy smile warm time all around.

My run took place here, which is somewhere, and there were just TONS of Joshua trees, almost like a forest. That there is some straight road and I ran along it for 2 miles as it slowly graded up, then turned around back the way I came. I don't know if it was the time, the advil or the brace, but I ran pain free and have remained pain free all day. This is tremendous news for me, because I was (and, honestly, remain) quite nervous about this issue so close to my race. I'm now cautiously optimistic, which is a better place mentally than I was a few days ago. I am still fully prepared to dnf this thing if I have to, but I'm beginning to think maybe I won't have to.

Goals for Saturday:
Make it halfway
Make it all the way
Be close to my PR (5:20 or so)
Better my PR (there's a lot of elevation loss and I like that)
Under 5???

Today's travels took us through Baker, CA. I don't know what would bring you to this town, as its existence seems only to service the highway (I15), but if you're traveling between LA and Vegas, do yourself a favor and stop here:

the Mad Greek, cause they have some damn fine food (really, really good) and baked stuff and ohmy it was a tasty treat.

Baker is apparently "famous" for having the World's Tallest Thermometer, which turned out to be quite the disappointment. I was expecting maybe this huge mercury thing, but it ended up being just a tallish spire with some digital displays up the side. Lame. I was much more impressed by the implications of the businesses nearby this giant
thermometer, namely Big Boy and the Bum Boy Motel (with free Movie Channel!)

Later on, we found this fantastic hot pond, which is just what you think and very much simply devine.

Tomorrow takes us into Death Valley, and probably out of cellphone range. I follow Saturday's race with a week or so long stay at my Favorite Place on Earth (NOT Disney, btw). I'll try to finagle another post, but this might be it for the next week.

Thanks for reading, all of your encouragement and advice, and have a great week!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Tonight's camp spot:

Warming up

We did make it out of the cold and into the relative warmth of southern Nevada. The Valley of Fire, to be precise. A very interesting place to spend a day or two.

This is coming into the park and you can see where it gets its name. Amidst the dull coloring of the desert, whammo! there's suddenly a huge swath of bright.

I took this photo on what was to be my 15 miler from the morning. This was afternoon (which is fleeting, omg when you're sleeping outside you become very attuned to, you know, daylight! and there's not much of that about this time of year. Weve been going to sleep at around 7 and getting up a 5-6 am. Weird) and I headed out with light etc. in preparation for the coming dusk. Tom also went out, but he was walking along the road and, get this!, he got stopped by the ranger, who inquired what he was up to because "we don't see a lot of people walking around here." This in a state park! Meanwhile, I was out running on the road in full-on geek gear, Nathan pack, armwarmers, god knows what they thought of me!

Anyhow, while Tom's getting roughed up by Ranger Rick (not) I'm out running my run, enjoying the awesome scenery. Long about mile 8, something distressing happens. I start developing pain in my left knee, something I haven't felt before. I'm a lucky runner and have never been injured and usually only ever have mild little aches pains or cramps when I run, never anything major. This felt weird and just got weirder and more painful by the minute, lateral knee pain and hurts when I lift my leg for the next step. Hmmmm. I cut my run short to 12 miles and hoped for the best.

This is the sunset I saw on my defeated return to the campsite, looks like a major forest fire! Just sun.

I limped on back and hoped for the best. Next day? Knee still hurt, quite bad and now I'm getting worried, not because I think I've got a major injury but I DO have a fking marathon to run in a couple of days, this is the most I've ever hurt from running and what'll happen?

I gimped a bit the next day, but an ace wrap helped tremendously. Yyesterday I did 4 miles or so and it felt ... ok. I figure I'll run once more before Saturday and otherwise rest up. I bought a knee support stretchy thing at walmart and will try and run with that. For the very first time ever I have real, serious doubts about my ability to pull off my race. I haven't dealt with this kind of thing before and don't have a clue how the knee will hold up. It seems much better now, but this is a long run with lots of elevations change so ... ?

On to other things, we've spent the last couple of days driving around finding petroglyphs. We found some fantastic examples of this ancient art form:

Anyhow, at the moment we are on the cusp of Las Vegas, a town we'll be passing through quite quickly. We've got a couple more days of ???, we really have no idea! then on Friday we'll be headed into Death Valley for the race and then for the next week or so. Anybody running this race? Come and say hi to me, I'll be the weirdo in the back of the pack (obviously), wearing a tutu, a knee brace, and being foolish. But you knew all that anyway.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Those Puffy Pants

Seriously, if you spend any extended time in the cold weather, these things are worth the ($36 on eBay, a couple of months ago) investment. Worn over just a pair of undies, they feel great (fleecy lining!) and just keep you warm, nothing fancy no bullshit.

Here they are at the mouth of the Toyota cave. Can I brag about all the fluffy down in there?

Here's the label on the inside, enough info to get yourself a pair ...

We've moved on to slightly warmer climes, further south. For now, because I find penises in the oddest places, I'll leave you with this:

Complete with fuzzy balls!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cold continues!

What's in central Nevada? Who knows? Very much of it is empty, beautiful open space, with an occasional razor-sharp road. The rest of it is Area 51, and we all know what that means.

Little green men!

The Little AleInn (with lots of accent marks, especially over the "e") in desolate Rachel, where we got a couple of BLTs on styrofoam plates, and looked at pictures of real!flying!saucers!

We carried on up north of Hiko, with visions of petroglyphs and long runs in our heads. Take heed, though, of portents in the sky:

Well I guess it's Red Sky in the MORNING sailors take warning, but as Tom so aptly pointed out just now, sailors (and he and I) should be on their toes all of the time, because while we were sleeping the (14 hour!) night away in the truck cave, snow happened!

Can't find petroglyphs under 6 inches of snow, nor can a girl do her planned 15 miler (I think it takes a while for them to plow long, isolated dirt roads in these parts!), so we're off to southern Nevada, to the awesome-sounding Valley of Fire! Named, I believe, for the very cool rock formations and NOT the temperature, but it's bound to be a little warmer. Right?

Friday, November 26, 2010

The things we have seen (so far)

So the first couple of days have been about slowing down. In my opinion one of the best places to achieve that goal is central Nevada, home of vast open spaces. Really vast. And, it so happens, very COLD spaces, this time anyhow.

Tom and I go places where there's not so many people.

There's a lot of shoes, tho, at least at this apparently famous tree on highway 50 (aka The Loneliest Highway).

There was also this dead, undoubtedly frozen, cow too. It was the cow that made Tom turn the truck around, because by now we've seen the tree a half dozen times. The cow was a new addition.

Did I mention it was cold? It was. Cold. Like, really fking cold. Our first night at Spencer's was 5 degrees, under the cap over the bed of the truck, meaning -5? -10? outside. Meaning really cold.

Here's an early morning wakeup shot. Alls I'm saying is, it takes some extreme weather to make the kind of frost formations you can see on the cap interior above Tom's head. Trust me on this one.

Oh, and the other thing I'm saying is, hot springs definitely make cold weather tolerable. So does beefcake ...

The other, lesser, thing that makes cold weather tolerable is a good pair of puffy pants, seen here:

Seriously, Tom bought these for $8 at the local thrift store, then promptly went and bought another pair for $36 on eBay and now we are both the proud owners of these 1980s era military ?air force? fleecy puffy totally warm yet feels like you're naked and toasty warm no matter what pants. And that's a damn fine thing to have when it's very cold out, and that's the truth.

And this is an awesome place to spend the day.

If you happen to find this:

seeming to be haphazardly forgotten in the bushes in what amounts to be the center of town, I guess you can tell it's not your everyday town. Unless that town happens to be somewhere in the huge, empty expanse of central Nevada, in which case you can drop in here:

and have a shot and a beer with the four people who make up (no lie) a little more than 50% of the town's entire population, and then feel like you've pretty much had the perfect start to your road trip vacation.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On the road

It's been pretty quiet here on the blog front, but I've been busy in life. Never mind all that, today we have hit the road for our annual desert road trip. No plans except soaking in hot springs and traveling on. I've changed my plans from running the ultra in Ridgecrest to running a marathon in Death Valley, so will be off on that adventure december 5. Until then, long desert runs and hot desert springs.

No time for blogging now, but there are bound to be plenty of "moments" in the near future.

I'll try to keep it posted.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Boggs Mountain 50K -- A Race Report!

So, I had my doubts, but I never doubted for a minute that I would finish this race.  Incongruous sentence?  So what.  It's pretty damn incongruous to me that I, a (then)40-year-old, goofy, lazy, completely unathletic, unmotivated, physically untalented, soft, klutzy cross-eyed woman*, could even contemplate running a mile, nevermind haul my fat ass off the couch, teach myself how to run that mile and then go on to run that plus 30 more of them, in a row! a couple few years later.  But I did, I did, I did it

*OK, so now I'm 43 and athletic, but the rest still applies. 
Especially, perhaps, the goofy.

The weather for the whole time was cool misty rainy and wet.  Really crappy weather for camping and living outside (2 days of it), but exactly my favorite kind of weather for running.  And a start time of 8:30am!  Soooo much more suitable, IMHO, than the usual ungodly 6am.  Another yay! feather in my cap.

Yet another encouraging sign was that I did get some "action" prior to the race . . .

. . . which, if you've read this blog for any length of time, you know is always a race issue of mine.  Fear not, we'll explore this topic a little more a little later.

A sad note for me was to find out, 10 minutes before start time, that RBR was not going to be joining me for the run.  I was disappointed since my elaborate plan of kicking her and leaving her holding her ankle at 31.01 miles as I sprinted to the finish and thus assuring myself of NOT finishing DFL was foiled, dammit.  Thanks a lot!  Seriously, though, I was bummed that I would not be meeting her, but don't blame her one little bit.  The lack of my new friend did require a bit of last minute mental adjustment (from "OMG I'm gonna have to meet this new person and be socially appropriate! Aaaagh!" to "OK, I can sing and fearlessly shit in the woods! Aaaagh!"), so I hooked up my music and got ready to boggie.

Did I mention it was cold and wet?  Once again, everyone around me at the start was all kitted out in armwarmers and leggings and jackets, while I stood around in little more than a tutu and a shirt and wondered if I was nuts for not wearing more.  Am I the only one who wears as little as possible to run if it's over 30 degrees?

Apparently not.

I never saw this guy, or pretty much anyone else, for the next 31 miles.  Those 31 miles, by the way, were just beautiful.  Quite a few of them were on fire roads (it stayed misty all day, but it was especially heavy in the first couple of miles):

. . . but there was plenty of single track, too.  A couple of portions were technical . . .

. . . but most of it was just smooth, lovely single track.

Miles 0-12 were all about WooHoo! I'm running in an ultra!  These trails are so pretty and I'm so awesome!  It's all downhill! (it wasn't)  WooHoo!  Yay me!  This is easy! etc., etc.

There weren't a ton of people doing the 50K, maybe 30 or so.  Maybe less.  In any case, they all dropped me within the first mile, except for two chatty women just behind me, pretty much running at my pace. My "race plan," such as it was, consisted of running the whole thing at a 14-15 minute/mile pace.  I did manage that for this section of the race.  Those chatty women stayed just behind me, and the little bits of conversation that I heard (Dating Bad Men, Hot Springs, Being Irresponsible) all sounded simply fascinating to me, and I lobbed a couple of humorous (to me, anyhow) conversational volleys their way. Alas, within the first couple of miles it was pretty clear they did NOT want me joining their little club, so I slapped on the earphones and ran just enough ahead of them so I didn't have to hear their (now incredibly annoying to me) chatter.

I had no more than a nibble at the first aid station, and carried on.  There was a little out-and-back section around mile 9 (just to make it a true 50K) and it was here that I (and the snotty chatty women) passed two other runners, the only people I'd pass all day.  Somewhere about here the course photographer grabbed this shot of me:

I tried my theory of jumping for photos so my feet are actually off of the ground so at least it looks like I'm running, but I just ended up looking like myself a goof!  And no feet, even!

Soon after, I hit the next aid station.  Here I lingered a bit, and the chatty women came and went.  Never saw them again.  Bye, now.  The runner I had passed came in just as I was leaving, and I heard her talking to the other runner about dropping after 25K.  Leaving me, happily, in last place.

Just in case you're wondering, last place is no bad place to be, for me.  I know for some of you guys, that's like the worst thing that could happen, ever.  For me, not so much.  In fact, I kinda like DFL.  There's even a certain cache to it, in my mind.  Hey, I'm slow, and I'm never going to "place" in a race, so I might as well have last place.  Sometimes you even win a prize.  There's nothing special about being second-to-last, but last?  There's only ONE last place, and it's mine, bitches!

Where was I?  Mile 10?  Still enjoying myself!  That's about to change!

Miles 12-16 were all about Gah! Is any of this fucking run fucking flat?! (it wasn't)  Ouch!  My right knee hurts!  My left ankle hurts!  My groinage hurts!  Ah!  Gah!     >sputter<

This was definitely the nadir of the whole run.  I was totally surprised to be wingeing and hurting and tiring so early in the race, and seriously wondered how I would be able to complete another 16 miles.  My pace went straight to hell, all kinds of things and bits ached (and I don't usually hurt when I run), the trail was technical, I was unhappy and moving on to miserable.  What the fuck?

(In retrospect, I think what happened here might be related to exercise-induced asthma.  Before the start, my inhaler shit the bed (empty?  I think maybe it was just too cold to work right), whatever, I never got a good satisfying blast from it.  I noticed at the second aid station that I was a tad wheezy/phlegmy once I stopped, an ominous sign.)

So I sputter in to aid station #3, halfway through the race and some 4:15 spent (There were a lot of hills, ok?).  I immediately hit my drop bag where Tom had stashed another inhaler when I had such trouble with the first, and I hit that thing hard!  Yay!  Breathing!  Meanwhile, a volunteer is following me around, saying How are feeling?  Are you OK? Are you OK? and I'm all, I'm s-l-o-w, I'm not dead! and This is my first ultra! and Hi! How are you? to which he says I'm only asking because you are facing the time cut off! and I'm, like, . . . what?  He tells me right now I am 20 minutes under the cut off.  I'm . . . ?? and still fucking chatty cathy, while he's trying to impress upon me the need to eat and drink right now, which I do (even breaking the nothing-new-on-race-day rule, at his urging, and pop an endurolyte capsule, which turns out to be an excellent move!) and I keep on chattering till he's like Shut the Fuck Up Already and Start Running Now!  (but much nicer).  The next aid station is in 6 miles, get there!

So I finally shut the fuck up and get the hell out of dodge.

Miles 16-31 were all about What time is it?  What if I get pulled off the course!  Do I care?  yes.  What if I finish but don't make the cut off (9hrs)? Do I care?  no.  Yay!  I love running!  It's raining!  I love running in the rain!  I've never run this far before!  Yay!  Please don't shoot me!

So I don't know if it was the food, the salt tab, the inhaler or the threat of DNFing (my guess is a combo of the first three) but I headed out of that aid station a new runner.  Gone were the aches and pains and doubts and for the rest of the race I had myself a good time.  True ultra-style, I walked some of the uphills, but un-Bootchez style I did NOT get lazy with this and only walked when I felt I absolutely had to, and ran again as soon as I could.  I maybe walked 1 or 2 miles total, which I think is pretty good given the 4400' elevation gain.  Have I mentioned that gain before?  Yes, I have.  It was hilly indeed.

I ran, and ran some more, and ran some more.  Then, in the middle of absolutely nowhere, I see this:

So I'd crapped before the start, plus I had one good "field" crap already and I don't really feel like I need to go again, but who the hell am I to turn down an outhouse?  In I go, and surprise! another crap down the hole.  I'm all psyched 'cause the shitter's clean AND there's even toilet paper so I feel all luxurious and shit, so much so that I feel the need to take a damn picture of the site so I can blog about it, even though I'm facing a friggin' time limit here! and that, right there, tells you all you need to know about what's important to me as a runner.

Run some more.

There must be some back story here that I missed, but these:

were all over the place, big ones little ones, even those huge paper-y looking ones.  I never saw a wasp nor bee, but the trails (especially in the first half) were positively littered with them.  I have no idea why.

There were two more aid stations, where I ate and drank heartily (and took an endurolyte at each one.  My new fave!).  At both stations my time was ok, still 20 minutes shy of the cut off, even though my pace has dropped a bit.  At the last station, the volunteers are There's a cut-off?  Supposedly, yeah.  I still feel fine 26, 27, 28 miles in.  I'm barely paying attention to time, now, as I know I'm going to finish and that's all I care about.

Round about here, my iPhone starts getting all weird in playing back my precious music.  I think it's the earphones themselves, but the controls are all wonky and the volume's going up and down and the music's fast then slow and I stop and fiddle and go again and stop again and go again and this all goes on for about 5-8 minutes before I finally say Fuck it and pack it up and put the damn thing away for good.  I'm completely addicted to running with music and I don't know why because I'm now just as happy running without it and don't feel bored or anything.  Maybe it's because now I'm 28 miles in and my runner's high is like at heroin level and I'm just Whoppeee! I've run so far and I'm still having fun, Yay!

OK, so here's a reason that running with earphones may (or may not!) be a good thing . . . mile 29 and my unadorned ears start hearing gunshots.  At various places along the trail I have seen shotgun shells, so this is not too much of a surprise, but it's really close.  Blam! Blam! Blam!Blam!Blam! <pause> BLAMBLAM!  and it's almost like I can hear 'em pull the trigger it's THAT close!  I start yelling (and believe you me I can yell VERY loud!) Please don't shoot me!  I'm a runner*!  Don't shoot!  Please!  You don't wanna shoot a creature who's wearing a tutu!  Please don't shoot me! word for word, yes.  And Gary says that mile 30 went by three and a half minutes faster than mile 29, and that's 'cause I was hauling ASS.

(*I just barely managed to restrain myself from yelling, I'm an ULTRArunner, 'cause I'm on mile 30!)

Some little bit after this I look at the time, the real time, and realize that it's something like 5:28 and no, I'm not going to make the time cut off (which I've completely forgotten about) and I resolve right then and there that I for sure don't give a flying frig whether I make it because I AM going to finish and, well, yay!

And then, and THEN! I come down the hill and out of the woods and there it is the finish line and I'm DFL and I throw my arms up in the air and yell I'M HERE! I'M HERE! and the few people still standing around and of course Tom and Debbie turn around and start yelling back and whooosh through the chute and I'm done!  An awesome volunteer (Gail?) has to actually stop me from running as I sprint away from the finish line.  "You're done!  You don't have to run anymore!" she says.

I do.  I stop.  I'm happy and laughing and getting hugs and congratulations and I'm asking Did I make it? because it suddenly occurs to me that I do NOT want to DNF and someone says No, you didn't and I'm kinda bummed.  The clock says 9:03 and I'm thinking, wow I've been running for nine whole hours and that's ridiculous, isn't it?


Celebration, high fives and hyperventilation happen.  I've finished and I'm super happy!

I ask a volunteer in the know (turns out, the same guy who gave me such excellent advice (eat! stretch! drink! shut up and go!) at the midpoint) and he tells me that even though I didn't make the cutoff I still finished and will be recorded as finishing, not DNF.  I just don't get an "award" and who cares? because the award turns out to be a water bottle and I have enough water bottles to build a boat, seriously.  I could not possibly care less because I finished and still felt strong and gosh darn it no matter what you say it is a fact, an unalterable fact that I, indeed, came in

DFLast Place!

Oh my my, that was such a good time!

So much thanks go out to Tom and Debbie, who took such wonderful care of me all weekend, and especially right after I finished running (I was in quite a state for an hour or so).   I couldn't have done it without them.

This was taken yesterday, on the 4 hour drive home.  I'm all nested and ensconced in the almost non-existent "backseat" of the extracab of Tom's truck, happily floating in a sea of down sleeping bags.  I think I look like I'm in a space capsule.

Yesterday and, to a lesser extent today, have been spent Joe Cocker-ing (about :35 in? That's how I've been moving, truly) about the house, feeling very self-indulgent.

Speaking of indulgence, this is my next big adventure.  I can't stop!