Thursday, June 17, 2010

Catching up

OK, so I've been super busy lately, somehow I've gone from zero to sixty in about 5 days.  Winter finally releases and Holy Shit!  Summer's here and get busy!

So the brief running update . . . Had the running group 4 mile trail race around Martis Valley, wherein I performed pretty much as I have been, with a time of 43:30 or so.  It's a great little racing series, and we're even lucky enough to have some photogs in the group, which explains this pic:

Perhaps the complete explanation would include the fact that I've decided that each race pic of me should show my feet off the ground, ala the San Rafael pic of a few posts back.  So I've decided to leap around like an idiot every time I see a camera.  Bob, the amazing guy I'm running next to, creamed me in the sprint to the finish.  

Yesterday I went out for an 8-miler and FAIL!  Uh, one of those terrible runs that just doesn't come together at all.  This is what I get for, once again, not eating before I head out, compounded by the fact that it was a morning run, meaning I hadn't eaten in a frightful amount of time.  Predictably, failure ensued and I just couldn't get it together.  I had a huge fall at mile 1.5 and managed to fling myself to the ground in such a way that I did NOT scrape an inch of skin off my leg, but I did manage to smack my right knee against a huge rock and that sucker hurt.  I struggled on for another half mile, then came to my senses and realized I was just an injury waiting to happen, turned around and walked/ran home.  Utter failure, only 4 miles but eh, I'll make up the milage (or not!).

The knee was really painful at times last night, but seems better today and I don't think it will amount to anything.  I'm off to Marin for my week of work, and I'm hoping that I can squeeze some runs in there.

Monday, June 14, 2010

TRT training run

Coming along in July is the Tahoe Rim Trail ultra 50K, 50 miles, etc etc.  While I am not participating in the race (I'm definitely not yet ready for these distances, plus it's on a working weekend anyhow), I tagged along for what was billed as a 20 mile training run.  I thought it would be good to get out there on these take-no-prisoners trails, especially if someone was going to be feeding me snacks at reasonable intervals.  The entrance fee was only $10, and what with all the aid stations, plus BBQ and beer directly afterwards, PLUS more of an introduction to the whole Ultrarunning thing, and I was all over it.

Though not without a little trepidation.  Mind you, I have barely run at all since May's marathon, a few short club races, that 20 mile Bishop run, the one mile run, and maybe once or twice I dragged myself out there for a slog around the trails.  So I figured 20 miles might be do-able, but given this past month and a half of sporadic running, I was a little skeptical of the distance.  The longest run I've had since Bishop, back in the middle of May, has been about 6.5 miles.  So 20 miles?  Um, sure, why not!

I got out of my car at the starting venue, and was again reminded of what Tahoe is capable of on an early June morning . . . it was fucking cold!  All of the runners in the parking lot looked at each other and smiled, grumbled and shivered.  

At the pre-run briefing, we all discovered that plans had changed.  Given the fact that the snowpack was 10-15' deep over much of the planned course, the run was modified to an 11-mile loop instead.  Even that came with lots of scary warnings from the Race Director  about A LOT of snow still remaining over perhaps 50-60% of the course, to the tune of "Bring your yaktrax and trekking poles if you have them (not me!) and make sure you all buddy up, and remember you're all ultrarunners (Um, yeah, definitely not me - yet!) so you don't have anything to prove, turn around if it gets rough" etc etc etc.  The use of the words "snow ice path cliff" all in the same sentence was more than enough for me, so I opted for yet another offered route (which is not part of the official race route, but what do I care?) which was promised to be mostly snow free.  This route was a 6 mile loop, and already I knew this was going to be much better for my underused legs than the 20 miles I had singed up for.

Again, this ultrarunning stuff is so, so low-key.  The race director finishes with the Q&A session, and without fanfare everyone just kind of wanders off.  It takes me a minute or two to realize, Oh!  They've started!  I whip off my jacket and follow the 50 or so runners up the ski run to the top of Diamond Peak. Just about everyone is walking (walking! I am so simpatico with this crowd!) up the steep, steep path.  I follow!  Everyone looks at little askance at my outfit, shorts and tank and nothing else while everyone else is in tights and jackets and gloves and things, but with 2 minutes I am comfortable and running/walking at my optimal temperature.  I am beginning to think I'm a bit of a freak with my cold weather tolerance (only when I'm actually running, though -- I'm the first one to add layers when just hanging in the cold, or even mild, weather).

It looks flat enough here, but it soon got very steep, hence the walking.  Here's the elevation profile for the whole run (I did not fall off a cliff at mile 4; instead, I forgot to turn Gary back on for a while):

At the top of the climb (rather, where I turned off for the snow-free pleasure path) I turned around and snapped this.  It was way steeper than it appears, but Lake Tahoe in the background is really this blue:

From this point on, the trail (the upper, less-famous part of the Flume, for anyone local) is blissful single-track running, and is better recapped with photos.

There were a couple of bits of the trail covered in snow . . . 

. . . but most of it looked like this:

With a number of these:

(I partially fell into this one, natch)

And lots of views of this:

An anonymous shot of me:

And quite a technical descent, of which I managed to run 98%, and no falls!:

I looped back around to the starting aid station, had a bite to eat (I'm liking the oranges and Oreo combination) and decided I'd head out for another loop, which I did.  I finished the whole run, which in actuality was about 12 miles, in about three hours (and 2 pathside poops, for those who wanna know).  It felt great to get out there again, and I do believe my little spring running hiatus is over, as I'm beginning to feel that inner need to run that's been lacking lately.  After the run was over, the organizers laid out an awesome lunch of burgers and snacks and beer and soda.  All this for 10 bucks!  If anyone asks me a year or so from now why in the hell I ever took up ultrarunning, my answer will be It's all for the food, man, all for the food.

I followed the morning up with a visit to the Beer Festival happening downtown.  Now, I am NOT a beer drinker in any way, shape or form, but the alcohol stars must have been in alignment for me because I proceeded to drink more beer in 3 hours than I have in the past . . . lifetime?  Possibly!

This was followed by a new little social adventure.  A week or two I left a comment on fellow Truckee-ite (Truckian? Trucker?) and accomplished ultrarunner Gretchen's blog Daily Adventures, and lo and behold with just this one comment as an introduction, she drops me an email inviting me over for a BBQ with some other runners on this night.  So Tom and I head on over there and have a great time talking to her and the other runners.  This is my first bloggy runner get-together and I had a blast (and was so relieved that I was NOT the one to clog the toilet!).  Go on over and check out her blog, she's a helluva runner, writer and picture taker . . . and a great hostess, too!

Yesterday I did another 4 miler, and have the TRC miler coming up tomorrow.  Summer begins now (despite my last post!)

From the middle of my run

Some parts of Tahoe still look like this, on this lovely June day:

Thursday, June 10, 2010


From the San Rafael Mile . . .

I think this is the first photo of me running that I didn't instantly loathe.  

It is also the first photo of me running wherein both feet are actually off the ground.  Are these two statements connected?

This was taken right before the finish.  I have absolutely NO idea what I was smiling about, or even that I was capable of smiling.

Gettin' Wood

There are signs that winter has finally left Truckee, and summer has arrived (I dunno about spring this year). Time to put away the skis, program the sprinkler system (both on my chores list), put away the down coats (but don't bury them too deep). Another way you can tell winter's gone? We are starting to think about winter again. Specifically, restocking the wood supply.

Every year, Tom and I obtain a permit to retrieve deadfall wood from state forest land. Last week we hit the fire roads, looking for the elusive motherload. We found a stash of freshly cut (last year?) de-limbed trees that were apparently downed for a new (possibly improved) powerline that was remarkably close to both the fire road (a few couple hundred feet) and our house (couple few miles).  Jackpot!

I'm a Lumberjack!

Actually, years and years ago Tom and I came to the mutual conclusion that one endowed with such abject klutziness physical talents as myself really shouldn't fool around much with power tools, nevermind ones that can really mess you up.  

Ergo, the actual cutting of the wood fell to Tom (he's a handy kinda guy), while I busied myself marking the trunks at 16" intervals (I did my intervals today!), hauling the wood around, taking pictures and sussing out other fallen trees.

We spent the afternoon working, and procured a little over a cord of wood.  Tomorrow morning we're at it again, aiming for a total of around 3 cords.  We then purchase a cord of hardwood to round out our selection, and then . . . let it snow.

About 1/4 cord

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How fast can I run a mile?

Apparently in 8:36.  I ran the San Rafael One Mile Race way back on Sunday morning (after a 12 hour night shift with drunks, crazies and other assorted denizens of Marin).  This was a USATF sanctioned race, so the other runners were fast, fast FAST!

My goal was to come in under 9:00 - I really had no idea how fast I could run a mile, but this seemed reasonable to me.  This mile race was on the streets of downtown San Rafael, CA. I started at the back of the pack, and then everyone else passed me.  The first 1/4 was slightly downhill, and every time I looked at Gary he said 6:29 (I should say that I screwed up the button pushing, so have NONE of this on the Garmin, much to my chagrin).  I don't think I have ever run that fast for any length of time, so.  At this point, the course turned with a slight uphill that lasted the next half mile or so, and I slowed down accordingly.  This running fast stuff just blows.  I tried to keep my head up and my arms pumping, but this uphill portion just sapped me.  At this point, everyone passed me and I was sure I was DFL, which I consider a bit of an honor.  We came to the turnaround, and the corresponding slight downhill was a relief. I sped up, kept running, and looked for the finish.  There it is!  I picked up my pace significantly in the last hundred feet (meaning, I suppose, I could have picked it up sooner, but what the hell do I know about pacing myself for a mile?), and clocked 8:36.  I had no air in my lungs, a stitch in my side, and my legs felt all wobbly.  There was no one anywhere near me, and I had a little personal celebration for my awesome DFL, only to find out there were 3 more finishers after me, with 11:xx + times.  Freakin' people, stealing my DFL.  Damn.


1.  The one mile distance is far, far easier than trying to run a fast 5K.  I'll take a mile any day.
2.  I ran as fast as I possibly could, and that netted me 8:36.  This is a moderate marathon pace for lots and lots of runners.  This simple fact is utterly amazing to me.  You people run SO FAST!
3.  There were superfast runners there.  My fast friend from Tahoe came down for the run, and her finish time of 5:36 or so put her firmly in the back of the pack in her group of runners.  Amazing.
4.  I'm reluctantly intrigued by this distance.  I might try to improve my time.  Don't hold your breath, though.
5.  For the $18 entrance fee, I got a t-shirt and a gym bag.  Good schwag!

In the end, I was pretty damn pleased with my slow 8:36.  I really gave it an honest shot.  I have not run another stitch in the past week (still having problems motivating in the face of back-to-back-to-back 12 hour night shifts).  I'm home now, and will lace up my sneakers either today or tomorrow and hit the trails (yay!).  This saturday I have a 20-mile supported run, which is a training run for the Tahoe Rim Trail ultra in July, which I am NOT running.  The training run ought to be a good kick in the pants, though, and I am looking forward to it.  I imagine I will be very, very, very slow as there is some wicked elevation gain, high altitude and challenging trails, and my running has been a bit lazy as of late.  So, slow I go.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Running fast

Yesterday I got a very cool Atayne tshirt in the mail from the Wilderness Running Company, courtesy of Stuart from Quadrathon.  I usually run in a tank top, not a T, but I really like the fit and hand of this shirt, plus it's a v-neck (crew necks choke me) and pretty flattering, so I just might make an exception.  It's also made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, which somehow makes a very nice technical fabric.

Stuart seems to be the source of just about everything I've won on internet (I probably forgot something, somewhere, ooops in advance), so let's take a tour, shall we?

The aforementioned shirt (won in a drawing), plus a stretchy headband (won for being the first person to post, at something like 2 am) and, my fave, a perfect Asics running bag that I bought with a gift certificate won as part of a weight loss challenge (in which overall I lost no weight, but had a fluke good week).  So, in addition to being the first running blog I ever read, the source of endless inspiration and an all-around good read (and podcasts!), Quadrathon is also a great place to score schwag (but don't tell anyone).

Also yesterday, I did something highly unusual -- I tried to run fast.   The wonderful Truckee Running Club Underground race series continued with another 5K, and for some reason I decided I would try for a sub :30, which would -- to the best of my recollection -- represent a 3 or 4 minute time shave for me.  Ambitious!  One of the fast club runners (who am I kidding, they are ALL fast, and I mean that seriously -- these folks run!) was feeling a bit punky and decided to run from the back with me -- yay! a pacer!  I told him my goal, and he awesomely helped me along my way, talking me through the course and running me to the finish.  This was a hard, hard race for me -- I do NOT have a gear greater than "plodding"!  I tried to keep the pedal to the medal, was 15:08 at the turn-around, tried to pick it up throughout the second half, but when it came to that last .1 I just could not lay it down any faster and came in at :30:38!  Just off my goal, but a PR and a time that will definitely fall sometime this summer.

Something that just doesn't make sense to me.  Here's my splits (from the Garmin):

Mile 1  9:31
Mile 2  10:01
Mile 3  10:02
Mile .1  9:42 (I tried!)
Average pace 9:51

Now, fine, I'm sure it all adds together nicely and mathematically and all, but it just seems to me, LOGICALLY, that if one were to average a 9:51 pace, one should be able to run a 5K in under 30 minutes.  I guess it's that pesky tenth of a mile.  Fucking metric system.

Trying not to die!

Lessons learned from this race:  I do NOT like to run fast.  Sure, I like to push myself and suffer with the best of 'em, but this Run Fast make your legs hurt and feel empty and your stomach churn and oh yeah that breathing thing? give it up for a while! stuff is NOT FOR ME!  Omygod, do you people really DO this?  This should come as no surprise, but I'll take my 5+ hour marathon finish any old day over this run-as-fast-as-you-can bullshit.  

I've been waiting for an appropriate time to post this.

To that end, this morning I signed up for the Downtown San Rafael One Mile Run taking place this Sunday morning in Marin.  After a 12 hour night shift in a busy ER, no less.

What the fuck am I thinking???

ps.  Tom read yesterday's post and said "You really went public with the Paul Lydne thing?!?"  He understands the gravitas of me telling that, my deep dark secret, to the blogging world.  That's one of the aspects that makes him the best partner of all time.  Too bad, Mr. Lynde.  heehee!