Thursday, April 29, 2010


I've decided a few things.

I don't think I'm going to do any triathlons this year.  I am really, really getting in to running, thinking about ultra distances, focused on my feet.  I feel as though I might lose some of that focus if I were to be taking on biking and (especially) swimming.  I would think a regular yoga practice would be all the cross training that I need.  I reserve the right to change my mind on this one.  

I am going go back to my Saucony's for Sunday's race.  The Asics are comfortable enough as they go, but I have noticed that my feet and calves, especially on the left, are much more prone to cramping and having odd little aches and pains with the Asics.  This has lessened, though for sure continued, after I took out those inserts.  Though this issue is usually only present in the first couple of miles, it is entirely absent with the Saucony's.  I'll keep the Asics, they're really not that far off, but when I've put the requisite 400 or whatever milage on them, I think I'm done with 'em.  The Saucony's have never bothered me a bit, I only bought the Asics on recommendation of a running shoe salesperson and, well, the Saucony's have never bothered me a bit.

Even though there's aid stations at every mile (that's a lot of aid stations!), I am going to carry my handheld with me.  I always carry water with me, even on little 3 milers, and am used to sipping when I want, where I want.  I see no reason to change this.

I am going to have a great time on Sunday, and will finish the distance (barring any kind of injury, that is) -- even though my training hasn't necessarily been right on target.  I've slacked, I've skipped runs, I dismissed almost any suggestion of speedwork.  I have undertrained.  However, I've hit all the long runs, I've been running for 4 years now and I trust my fitness base, I don't care what time I cross that line, and -- perhaps most important of all -- I know how to dig pretty deep and man up when necessary and I have the will and the fortitude to propel myself forward.  This I have decided.

Today I got back in the yoga studio -- ahhhh, bliss.   Afterwards, I got in 3 miles at 31:40 (superfast for me!).  Now I'm off to the kitchen to make a St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake.  O, yes* I am!

*(assuming I can figure out how to bake the damn thing at 6000', that is.  I'm a shitty baker, and the altitude thing only makes it harder . . .)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


The view from my house 5 minutes ago. This is insane!!

A post of random things I am looking forward to

I'm home!  A week of work, a stressful trip to the east coast, another week of work (this one crazy busy at times) . . . I've been on the road for three weeks, and I'm SO HAPPY to be home!  Yay!  While I've been gone, I've suffered, my yoga has suffered, my running has suffered, my blogging/commenting has suffered.  I am looking forward to getting back on track with all/most of the above.  

Coming home to Truckee has been a bit of a shock . . . the weather is pretty extreme for April.  Today it's snowing (for real) and right now the temp outside is 27.  More of the same for tomorrow.  Apparently we have 1.7 meters of snow in our front yard -- Tom measured it with his avalanche probe.  He's started shoveling the yard, just to hasten the melting.  Yes, this is what we do.  I am looking forward to spring (::broken record, no?::)

Tom made me close my eyes, then led me into the garage to show me what he billed as his "new Girlfriend" :
He picked up this tandem mt. bike on Craigslist for a sweet $250 . . . it has a few mechanical problems but apparently nothing major.  We've been wanting a tandem for awhile, but they are prohibitively expensive.  This is a purple Burley Samba, and we've already got high, high hopes for it.  Road touring, mt biking with the mt bike group, who knows what? One of the reasons we've been interested in a tandem is that I have a HUGE bike phobia, which I don't know if I've talked about here before.  I had a couple of serious bike crashes as a kid/teenager, and these have left me with an unnatural phobia of riding.  I do OK on the road, but take me off road and put me on a trail and I get very anxious, even more klutzy, and generally terrified of any kind of speed.  I've been known to throw myself off the bike (with my feet still attached to the pedals!) just out of frustration and fear.  Though I have a VERY nice mt bike and a hugely talented -- and very patient -- man to teach me how, my mt biking career has barely left the garage.  This is why I frequently run with the mt bikers, because I'm too afraid to ride with them. On the tandem it seems a little less scary since I am not in control, alls I have to do is pedal and hang on, and if we crash I've got something to land on (the person driving the bike, ie Tom).  At least in theory.  I am looking forward to the adventures of the Purple People Eater (working name for this colorful bike.  We're thinking of adding orange polkadots . . . )

I previously mentioned a new "recipe" for pie crust, and Formulaic has expressed repeated interest in said recipe.  So it's not so much of a recipe as more an ingredient list, and more of a figure-out-the-recipe-yourself kinda thing.  That's how we roll in my family.  So, kudos to Aunt Lois, her blueberry pie was DELICIOUS and this is what she told me about the crust:  1. Use butter, not Crisco.   2. 1 tsp salt.  3.  Few tsp/TBSs of sugar, for a fruit pie.  4. Cut the right amount of the butter into some flour (this is where the "recipe" falters . . . I don't have exact amounts for ingredients, but I suppose all of this can be applied to a standard pie crust recipe, and isn't that something like 2 c flour for a 2 crust pie? something like that.  So cut the right amount of butter -- prolly like 2 sticks -- into the right amount of flour, until it's formed into little pea-sized bits).  4. Fork in Ice Water (must be iced!) maybe 4 TBS, and then (here's the secret!ingredient!) fork in some VODKA (apparently, the vodka adds the moisture one would like for a flaky crust, then evaporates during the cooking process!), maybe another 4 TBSs or so.  Until it forms a ball.  Split that, chill it for at least a half an hour, then roll it out using lots of flour and carry on with your pie.  So, the important things here:  Touch and work the crust dough as little as possible.  Use ICED WATER and COLD (maybe iced, too?) vodka -- you want to keep the dough both cold and unworked for a tender crust.  Refrigerate before rolling out.  Sorry the recipe is so vague, but.  I am looking forward to seeing what difference the vodka and the butter make.

I am looking forward to yoga class tonite, it's been sooooo long!

Yes, and then there's running.  Oboy.  I've got My First Marathon on Sunday, and lordy lordy I feel very unprepared.  Another broken record statement on this here blog, but there it is.  I've hit all/most of my long runs, but a lot of the shorter runs and all/most of the speedwork (ha!) has fallen by the wayside.  My "taper" has lasted about 3 weeks.  I have not run in over 5 days (hopefully that changes today, if the damn weather cooperates).  26.2 looms LARGE!  I'm hoping that my slowness, my lack of caring about finish times, the fact that I have run the route in its entirety plus my ability to slog through no matter what (which is an ability that is sometimes present, sometimes not) will carry me through this race.  I don't know what else will . . . certainly not my high level of fitness, nor my status as a highly talented runner.  As if.  On this one, I guess I am looking forward to finding out if I can, indeed, run 26.2.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Ooogy photo in here!!

I made it back to the left coast, and am glad to be back home (well, at least Marin, but I'm getting closer). After sleeping for 4 or so hours on the plane, I arrived here to my little room and proceeded to sleep for ANOTHER SIXTEEN HOURS. I dunno what precipitated such a long slumber, but it sure set me up nice for last night's night shift!

I woke up this afternoon and headed out for a little four miler. There was nothing much noteworthy about the run itself (I think I averaged 12:00 or so), but about a mile in I was running on the sidewalk on my way to a trail when a police car passed (not even lightsandsirens) and I'm all Oooooh, something shiny! and next thing I know I'm flying through the air in the familiar Oh Shit! position, arms out legs back Splat! I am no stranger to falling down and I'm used to rolling with it, rolling down the trail once or twice, dusting myself off then getting on with it.

Reason #47 I prefer trail running to road running: pavement is wicked unforgiving ...

Ouchie!! It hurt like a son of a bitch for about a minute or so, then I picked up my dignity (who am I fooling? I have none!) and carried on. It doesn't hurt, but I know it's gonna leave a big frickin scab. Lovely.

Oh, and I got in to the Nike Women's Half Marathon in October with Lisa (I'd throw a link in but don't know how with the phone, she's over there on the sidebar). This will be a kinda milestone race as it's BIG (so far i've just done little races, mostly), something I actually might be READY for (might I actually do some speedwork in training?), and I'll run it WITH someone, which will be a big step for a recluse runner like me. Thanks, blogosphere!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What I ate today.

The plan was for a morning coffee with my sister and her (new to me) boyfriend, then a quick 3 miles back to her house along the Norwottuck trail, yadda yadda yadda dinner at my father's. We stuck to this plan through the morning coffee, which for me meant hot chocolate and a bagel with mozzarella, tomato and pesto,

and it tasted as good as it looked. The foam fern thing pretty much stayed intact right until the last sip. I was a little enchanted with that.

This evolved into a visit to the bf's home and some really nice leisurely time. The run evolved from the simple 3 miles into a more elaborate plan involving running 5 or 6 miles to the base of Skinner Mountain, whereupon I meet up with sister and bf and ascend the highest peak around.

The rail trail was literally 50 yards from bf's front door, and right out of the gate I just knew the run was going to be an especially good one. The weather was just as I like it, a little misty and all it-just-rained-and-it-might-again-at-any-time, 50 degrees and overcast ... perfect. I trotted on down the rail trail, then off on to this Oh So New England sidewalk:

followed by a couple more roadside miles. I met up with my fellow adventurers after 6 miles at 11:45. We then trotted up the access road of Skinner Mt for another 0.7. The moutain eventually tops out at 935', and offers up this awesome view of the Connecticut River winding its way through the Pioneer Valley:

Presented with this scenic splendor, familial logic follows that my sister and I feel the sudden and compelling urge need to stage an immediate ass contest, the sole criteria being Who's is Wider:

The conventional wisdom is that mine is, indeed, the wider of the two.

"By this much!"

We celebrated our show of althleticism with ice cream. Ice Cream, proud sponsor of ass contests everywhere. We had maple syrup drizzled on it. Omy.

Yadda yadda yadda happened, and then dinner at dad's. This consisted of this:

Chicken Marsala

and this:

Twice Baked Potatoes

with coffee and blueberry pie (with a delicious crust with secret!ingredients!revealed!) following.

I cannot eat like this every day, but the days I can are enjoyed thoroughly, to be sure.

Friday, April 16, 2010


I was scheduled to run 12. I decided to run 20 (I am terrified of my upcoming marathon). I actually ran 16. Very, very slowly.

Half a mile away from my sister's, way over there on the east coast, is the Norwottuck Rail Trail, 10 miles of glorious recycled tarmac bike trail connecting South Amherst and Northampton, MA (I'm a little curious, 'cause the "recycled" part is glass bottle particles, visibly mixed in, and I just wonder how that works with the round rubber parts of those bikes).

Pretty damn pretty.

I went out looking for 20, really quite convinced that was going to be the outcome, then pffft. I just wasn't feeling it. I dunno why, cause seemingly everything was in place, nice weather, easy route finding, new things to look at, but. Eh. I squeezed out 16, at 3:30.

I did not love running. However, this 16(!) miler *barely* affected me physically. I was a little sore for an hour or two afterwards, then .... it was just gone. No biggie. I didn't even wear the recovery socks.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

20 miles, in the bag

Tuesday I picked off my scheduled 20 miler.  Guess what?  Running 20 miles takes a loooong freaking time, like, all day even.  At least when you're slow (check), disorganized (check), and driving 45 minutes to reach your destination (check).  It must've taken me something like 6 or 7 hours, from start to finish, all together.  

It still remains all wintery and snowy and mildly inhospitable here in Truckee, so I packed up and set off for the scene of the marathon crime itself, the "River Walk" in Reno.  Coupled with the 16 miler I did a while ago, from the other end of this path, I have now run the entire length of my May race, hopefully taking some of the mystery out of the final run itself.  As it turns out, this is quite a pretty path for a "city" marathon.  The run will be almost completely (with the exception of perhaps 2 miles of roadside running) on a uniform bike path running alongside the Truckee River.  The course starts in the center of Reno -- casinos and the Best Little City in the World sign -- runs 6.5 miles westerly to the Patagonia outlet, turns around out-and-back style to the center again and then off easterly to Sparks and back.  For ease of parking, this time I started at Patagonia, then out-and-backed for the 20 mile run.

I again went with no specific goal other than clocking the distance.  After a mile or two I figured a pace of 12:xx sounded reasonable.  And, with the usual amount of fiddling, peeing (what is it with me lately, I musta peed 10 times in the first 5 miles, HARD TO PULL OFF in public, OMG), standing around gawking, lazy breaks and general wasting of time, I stuck to that plan.  Perhaps I even fiddled a bit less that usual.  The first 4 miles or so were a bit of a struggle, as I thought of everything BUT running 20, but then I settled in to the run and the music and I zoned out and plodded on.

The weather was simply gorgeous, and I was happy to have the river to keep me company.

About a mile of it is right smack in the center of the city, and it was great to see everybody out and about, walking around and enjoying the day.  The river proved a great companion, and a diversion too where these kayakers were playing, again, right in the center of the city.

This totally brought to mind one of this summer's dreams, which is to run this river from its source -- Lake Tahoe -- travelling around 60 miles to its finish at Pyramid Lake.  In inner tubes.  We've already section-tubed perhaps 10 miles of it.

Anyhow, back to the run.  I kept fairly consistent times for most of the run, but the pace slowed in the last 4 miles or so.  Amazingly, I felt really strong throughout the whole thing.  None of the foot cramps that plagued my 18 miler, so I think I made the right decision discarding the foot inserts.  MUCH better without them.  

I did my usual gel intake of 1 Hammer Gel at 1:30 and then every 30 minutes or so thereafter.  This pattern has always worked in the past, but with the increased milage I got HUNGRY.  I had to stop at mile 14 and pop into a convenience store for a Snickers, which did the trick.  I am going to have to reconsider my nutrition plan, because I don't think I can do 26 miles without some solid food intake.  Or perhaps I need to fuel up better in preparation.  Interestingly enough, immediately after and in the subsequent day and a half since the run, I have had a huge DECREASE in appetite.  So I dunno.

Ultimately, I ran 19.87 miles in 4:20(!), averaging out to 13:04/mile.  I felt fine during the whole run, and  surprisingly felt TOTALLY fine the next day, except for a bit of toe soreness. I don't have another 20 mile scheduled into my plan, but I think I'm gonna do one next week regardless.  I think it'll help in the long run.

Anyhow, thanks for reading everyone.  And I think I've decided to take a wait-and-see kinda attitude about the 20 mile trail run.  If I feel as good after the marathon as I did after Tuesday's run, I think I'll give it a shot . . . 

(My blogging will probably be a little sporadic in the next couple of weeks, as I am heading off to work, then the east coast, then back to work for another week until I return home again in late April).

Monday, April 5, 2010

Over the weekend

Saturday morning found Tom and I packing the last of those necessary things into the truck, meeting up with our friends in another matching truck, and heading out into the wilds of the Nevada desert.  We've spent quite a bit of time traipsing around Nevada, looking for petroglyphs and hot springs, and I always feel a great sense of relaxation settle in once we pass through the outskirts of Reno and into the wide open expanse.  The weekend's objective?  My fave, some new hot springs.  

We arrived at our destination, smack in the middle of a lovely valley, and not a soul around, and set up camp.

Within another 10 minutes, we was a'soaking in a big plastic feed tub, watching the weather go by.

It was nearly impossible to tear myself away from that first delicious soak, and the promise of increasingly decadent living, but I had a long run looming.  I knew that once I got my feet and got moving, I would be diggin' it, because I do love running in the desert.  In the wintery part of the calendar, anyhow. I knew it was now or never, and popped out of the spring and into my running togs.  Holy shit, it takes me about 15 minutes to get all of my stuff together, clothes shoes music water gels strap it all on get all wired up sunscreen hat OMIGOD!  I can be up in the morning, showered dressed and out of the house in the time it takes me to get ready for a run even with all of my stuff already prepared.  (assuming I get up in the morning with any regularity, that is.  Big assumption!)

So I headed on my way with no particular objective in mind other than running 14 miles.  I had the vague idea to keep my pace around 12:xx, just to keep from getting too lazy.  The scenery was just breathtaking -- I didn't get any decent photos, and this video really doesn't do it justice, but I was playing around with the video functions of my phone, so here's what I got:

The google earth image from within Garmin Connect is kinda stunning in and of itself (this is around Kyle Hot Springs):

I fiddled and dwadled, as usual, the first couple of miles, then settled in and really enjoyed to view and the relatively flat road.  Other than stopping to pee (and, for some reason, I had to pee about every 2 miles.  I hope this does NOT happen for my race -- I'm just conditioned to drup trou when necessary, I dunno what you citified runners do . . . ), I ran pretty steady the whole way.  I slowed as the road slowly rose from the valley to the foothills, and was happy to turn around and pick up the pace at the 7 mile mark.  Overall, 14 miles at 2:55, pace 12:37.

The weather was a fluid, constantly changing event all weekend.  In the wee hours of this morning, we actually got a little dusting of snow, perhaps an inch or so.  The skies were looking kinda alien:

and the towels left out were a little tricky to use after the first morning soak.

It melted off pretty quickly as the sun rose, though.  I have to say, it's quite nice to watch the snow melt from a pool of 104F.

And tomorrow, my 20-miler.  Oooo, wheee!

So, on a different note, I need to throw a question out there.  I have been running, fairly consistently, for about 4 years.  I've participated in plenty of races, from 10Ks to tri's to half marathons.  I'm slow and always take it pretty easy.  Ultimately, I don't give a rat's ass what my times are.  I live at 6000'.  My first marathon, for which I am almost adequately trained for at best, is in May.  Would I be crazy to be thinking about doing a 20 mile trail race (at altitude, w/ 2000' elevation gain) just 2 weeks later?

I would really like to run this, but don't want to do anything stupid.  It seems to me that this wouldn't cause any undue harm, though.  What do YOU think??

Friday, April 2, 2010

My second winter triathlon

Wednesday was just an amazing day.  As you know, it has been less than spring-like here in Tahoe, and it dumped something like 2 feet of lovely powder on Tuesday night, making Wednesday a fantastic day for  skiing.  Tom and I headed out with our friend Andrew to Tahoe's best-kept secret for powder skiing . . . Homewood Resort.  This is a pretty small little resort right on the west shore of the lake, and is easily forgotten about most of the time.  On a powder day, however, everyone and their brother heads off to Squaw Valley (where we hold season passes) for skiing, 'cause it's big and bad and there's cliffs and steeps and all kinds of things whoppeee!! -- and eight thousand other people have exactly the same idea, and thus the place is skied out in about 45 minutes, if that long.  Seriously, you can be in the first wave of people up the mountain, get in one decent untracked run, then it just tracks out.

We take this opportunity to drive a little longer for Homewood, which despite its small size actually has some really decent skiing, trees and steeps and all that.  It's just missing high speed chairs and easily accessible "steep and deep" . . . and all the people.  Leaving lots of untracked pow.  All day long.   We skied from 9am to 1pm, and I swear it was pretty much untracked the whole way.  Well, you can see for yourself in this video that Tom whipped up:  He's filming, Andrew is in the red, and I'm wearing tan.  It's a long video, but pretty damn cool . . .  (it's a little off center, but if you click through the embed to YouTube it plays right.  I'll figure it out eventually).

Although I am not a half-bad skier on the groomers, I have struggled with skiing in the powder.  I have spent a lot of frustrated time falling over, falling back and just plain fighting with the deep snow.  I spent most of this season with ill-fitting boots, further fucking up my mojo.  Last week I got me some new boots, and the difference was remarkable.  We had a bit of powder to ski in last week, and for the first time things just clicked and I felt like I could actually ski in the stuff.  On Wednesday it all really came together and NOW I know what I've been missing . . .

So we skied until our legs screamed uncle and went and had a nice lunch, meat fries and bloody marys, omy!

I then got it in my head to try another winter triathlon.  The last time I did this, I skied-ran-yoga'd, which was definitely the wrong order of events, as I could barely move in yoga.  This time, I skied, rested an hour or two (with the bloodys), hit a hot yoga class then ran home (4 miles) from the studio.  Way better!  In fact, running after yoga just felt wonderful, all loose and ready and aware of my body and comfortable -- this won't be the last time I put these two activities together . . .

I might hesitate a bit before throwing the skiing in, too, because yesterday I was POOPED, like I had done a freakin' tri or something.  The couch beckoned . . .

Today called for 9 miles and Surprise! it was snowing and cold and windy as hell out there.  I'm usually not too intimidated by weather, but it just did NOT look appealing in the least.  Therefore, I headed to the Rec Center, and prepared for 9 miles on the indoor track.  I decided I might have a hard time with the round and round and round at 12 laps per mile, so I mixed it up a little bit by running 2 miles on the track, then a mile on the treadmill.  This kept me going for quite a while, then insanity called (oh my god, running inside is so fucking BORING!!), and I quit after 8 miles.  Given my inability to handle treadmills and tracks in the past, I was happy to wring even 8 miles out.  So I'm calling it a success.

Tomorrow we are off to hang by some hot springs in the remote Nevada desert.  I've got a 14 miler on tap for tomorrow, and then next week!  The 20 miler!