Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Saturday, June 1, 2013

I've Been Away Too Long

Wow. The last time I posted was back in December after a particularly tough trail marathon.  I've run three more marathons since then, visited Minnesota twice, and otherwise have been keeping very busy! We're heading for summer-like temps in the Valley even though the calendar still indicates spring. Today, 100 degrees. Tomorrow, 104. Yikes.

This year I am the president of our local running club, the Visalia Runners. I stay busy planning and holding our monthly meetings, handling email inquiries, and other club business (newsletter, race directing, ... you know the drill).

December brought some festivity to a Friday morning run in the form of my selection of festive headgear. Everyone was very compliant, thank you!

New Year's Eve brought our Run To The Sky (Skyline outside Three Rivers). A tough 18 mile run as it was uphill for 9 then downhill for nine but it was beautiful and a very fun morning as we went out for breakfast/lunch afterwards at We Three Bakery in Three Rivers.

February brought my first visit to Death Valley to run a marathon there with some friends. I thought the desert was beautiful. It was a tough marathon for me as I cramped about as bad as I ever had. It wasn't so hot, but the air was very, very dry. A fun weekend nevertheless.

Next up, some cross country skiing in the mountains with my friend Karen. Yes, when it's March in the valley there was still snow for skiing and it was beautiful.

April brought another marathon, this one on the coast in San Luis Obispo. Again, another slow marathon but I liked the course and had a fun weekend with friends.

April also brought a run to Three Rivers with my friend Angelica. Tough run but we did it. The scenery was beautiful. The lake pictured is Lake Kaweah.  Again, breakfast afterwards at We Three Bakery. :-)

After a morning run around Rocky Hill (my favorite place to run out here )...

I asked if anyone wanted to breakfast at Wildflower Café. That worked out well!
A week later I was running marathon number three for 2013 back in Minnesota. The weather was perfect. Low in the 30s and high in the 40s with very strong NW winds. The best I'd run in quite a while. It was so nice to be back in Minnesota and with friends and family. A great weekend.

Last weekend brought a 16.5 mile run followed by a 6.6 mile hike in Sequoia National Park (Marble Falls) on Saturday. I was really, really tired when we were done, but it was a very good tired. What a fun day with Holly and Angelica.

I know someone in Bakersfield who review shoes for The Running Network (the review appear in Running Times and other running publications) so this week 8 of us traveled down there to get some new shoes to review. For free. Sweet.
I'm enjoying nature's bounty here in the Valley, both fruit and flora ...

my running buddies ...

my cooking club ...

and the blessed life I'm fortunate to lead.
See you on the roads.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Marathon, and Beyond

Last weekend, I thought I’d really earned my finisher’s medal at CIM. The 30th annual California International Marathon was held in a rainstorm … a gully-washer of a storm complete with heavy rain and wind. The worst of the storm, which occurred over several days, was on Sunday morning beginning at about 6:00 AM.  The thought of standing out there with a trash bag for shelter, waiting for the race to start, was daunting. The rain was coming down at an angle. I wasn’t sure I would even run it until it was time to hop on the shuttle bus. Then I was committed. (Photos from the Sacramento newspaper.)

It was a well-organized race, with plenty of port-a-potties at the start, many aid stations with great volunteers (a HUGE thank you to everyone who volunteered and cheered for us in miserable conditions), nice shirts and medals and gear bags. And from what I could see, a nice course … rolling hills, a net downhill, finish line at the capitol in Sacramento. But I was so busy determining where to put my feet (to avoid slippery, wet discarded bags, puddles and backed up storm drains) and keeping my head down so as to avoid rain in my face, that I really didn’t pay any attention to the scenery. 

I’d love to run it again, in more pleasant conditions. It rained until I got to mile 22 at the river and then the sun broke through the clouds. A welcome change in the weather. As I said, I thought I’d really earned that pretty medal.
Ha! Six days later is when I REALLY earned a finisher’s medal. 

I’d signed up for the Coyote Ridge Trail 10-miler a few months ago, knowing I’d have run a marathon the weekend before. But CIM was slow and my recovery brief. (I didn’t have to take even one day off running this past week.) So on Wednesday I decided to switch from the 10-miler to the marathon, and didn’t tell anyone. I wasn’t sure that I could run a whole marathon, but the course was a 20-mile loop followed by the 7-mile loop so I knew I could quit at 20 miles if I wanted to. (But there was no finisher’s medals for the 20-miler and it sounds so much better to say that “I ran a marathon today” than “I ran 20 miles today”. J. The unknown was the effect of running the hills. The elevation profile was daunting, as was the fact that I’ve not done any trail running in several years. I’m a shuffler on the roads and that’s not something that would do me well on the trails.

The race started at sea level in the parking lot for Muir beach. And within ¼ mile we were climbing. And climbing. And climbing. In the mud.
(The North Face Endurance Challenge was held on this course the weekend of CIM and the Sunday events were cancelled because of the rain and mud. The Saturday event, which was turned into a double loop because of the weather, really chewed up the course.) Once we got to the top of that first hill, we had to go down.
Dirt road section of the course
I wanted to take it slow as I’m not used to running downhill in mud. I stepped aside and let several guys go by as the trail here was single track (wide enough for only one person). They just slid right down in the mud, about 6 feet. No way for me!! I sidestepped , held onto the bushes and gingerly made my way down.
There were 2 or three aid stations and as is the case with ultra/trail events, well-stocked: PB&J sandwiches, boiled potatoes to dip in salt, Oreos, Clif Shot Bloks, oranges, bananas, potato chips, m&ms, graham crackers, pretzels, … a veritable feast! Somewhere around 11 miles I missed a turn and was off course for about .7 miles. Argghhh. Not what I needed. But the views were spectacular.

Golden Gate bridge and highway 1; San Francisco skyline far left

I kept running the downhills and walking the uphills until mile 14 or 15, I think. Then, after a really long climb, my quads were shot. I had no muscle power to lift my legs. I had to start walking. But I was OK with that. At least I was moving. And the course being what it was (a big loop), and the aid stations many miles apart (up to 8), I had no other way to get out of there but by maintaining forward progress. It was a beautiful day, the scenery spectacular and I was still enjoying myself. But as the hills wore on, I was really wearing out. Back at the start/finish area I checked in and was mentally and physically ready to check out. But the 2 volunteers at the aid station talked me into continuing (despite the fact that I’d told them I’d run a marathon the weekend before) … they encouraged me and told me to just set my sights on the aid station four miles out.
After climbing the first hill again (which had dried out a bit), and hitting the mud on the downside, I had my lowest point of the event. My quads (abductors) were just screaming. My mind was telling me “enough”. The finish cutoff clock was ticking. I knew that the worst hill was yet to come (again) after setting out after the last aid station. I wanted out. But there was no way out. After ascending the sixth set of stairs, I had another GU, more water (we were STRONGLY encouraged to carry a minimum of 20 oz.) and pressed on. The downhills were still really tough, but I got through the roughest rough patch. At the aid station, I grabbed a couple Clif Shot Bloks and a few potato chips, some COKE and pressed on. I had 3 miles, and a tough hill, to the finish. At this point, I could handle the uphills pretty well (except stairs). The downhills were still going to be rough. But a 5K I could my head around. So I pressed on and finished with just over an hour before the time cutoff. The finisher’s medal was mine. Hard fought. I thought I’d earned the CIM medal? That race was a birthday party compared to this. I wish I had the opportunity to run trails more often. I certainly would be stronger because of it. And the scenery on the trails is wonderful.
Ended the day with 28.4 miles, a finisher’s medal, and first in my age group (but there were only 2 of us 50-59 year olds registered!). Oh well, I’ll take it.
So, that’ my two-marathons-in-a-week marathon-and-beyond story. And I’m sticking to it.

Go.  Be. Do.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Another month has passed ...

... and I've failed to updated this blog. So sorry. I don't even know if anyone is reading it any more.

Early November: I ran marathon number 28. And it was yet another slow one. Two Cities in Fresno. They do a really nice job. Technical shirt (though not a finisher's shirt) and hat, finisher's medal (though it was the same medal for the half and full marathons and didn't have a date on it ... same medal as last year in fact), hoodie to half and full marathon finishers, and breakfast and ice cream sundaes at the finish. Hoping that CIM in Sacramento on 12/2 goes better for me.

Next up was a birthday party for Albert. A great group of people, the Visalia Runners. Happy to celebrate with Albert and friends. After dinner at Amigos, it was off to Casa Chaves where Ragan got just about everyone to dance. :-D
Mike and Albert
I made Walnut Bread for the November edition of Cooking Light, Visalia style. It's a great group of ladies. I so look forward to our get together every month. In November, Karen was hostess in her beautiful home.

Then I celebrated a birthday with 24 of my favorite people. :-) We dined at the new Bravo Farms in Visalia. It's not the same as the establishment in Tulare. I was expecting the usual colossal salad which is good for 3 meals. But it was fine. It was all about being with my friends, not the food.


Last weekend, I helped my friend Rosie make Walnut Bread. She's so sweet. And cute. :-) And she did GREAT!
While the bread was raising, we made a pecan pie for her husband Albert. I owed it to him. He was a volunteer extraordinaire at the Harvest Run back in October.
On Thanksgiving day, I helped serve the meal at the Visalia Rescue Mission. It's a humbling experience ... so many of the guests could contain their worldly goods in either a backpack or a shopping cart. It's so easy to have a pity party for oneself, but you don't have to look very far to see people much less fortunate. They all got a turkey dinner, a pair of socks, a bag of oranges and a donated (used) coat. The table hosts said a prayer before the guests ate. Very moving.
That brings you somewhat up to date. This week is a taper week, which my body feels like it needs. My mileage hasn't been that high, but I'm just perpetually tired. I've been napping every day. Hoping the forecasted storm passes through Sacramento before next Sunday. But, it's out of my control. All I can do is dress for the conditions. Next up after CIM, the Death Valley Marathon on 2/2.
Take care. Be well. Be thankful.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nice ...

You just never know when some unexpected "niceness" is going to come along. Today, it came along at noon in the parking lot of the Tulare County Courthouse. I'd finished filing the document for work and was returning to my car when a woman sitting in her car on her phone said, "Excuse me." I thought she'd need direction or instruction or something re: the court house but it was quite the opposite. She wanted to compliment me on what I was wearing. She said she'd majored in fashion design. And she ended a call with her dad just to share her kind words with me. Totally made my day. So I'm going to challenge myself to pay it forward and bestow a compliment on someone when they're least expecting it. I think the giver gets as much as the receiver out of the interchange.

Another nice thing ... free shoes. No strings attached. HA!! Well, sort of. All I have to do is run in them and share my thoughts about them so they can be rolled into everyone elses for publication in running magazines. SWEET. And I LOVE the colors!! Finally something other than boring white shoes. Thank you Cregg!!

Let's see ... what else is new. Life has certainly been full ... Tuesday night a "milestone" birthday celebration at Bravo Farms in Tulare where I made a new friend. :-) She's from MN but works much of the time in CA. She's going to be back next week and will be here for her birthday, so we're going to have a "girls night out" next Wednesday. Can't wait!!

I've been running LOTS and feeling better about my running. 78 miles for last week, down from 92 the week before. I feel like I'm regaining some speed. I don't know if my hamstring will ever be 100%, but I'm hoping I can maintain at about 75% without further injury of some sort. I'm hoping to improve on recent marathon times at Two Cities in Fresno/Clovis on 11/4. Marathons this year have been quite disappointing.

In the kitchen ... some really good Cooking Light recipes. Pasta with Brussels Sprouts ...

pork tenderoin with pears (not CL, but oso delish!) ...

and another CL recipe ... pumpkin cheesecake.

Sunday afternoon brought some fun with Yvonne and Ragan at the Calico Art Festival in Hanford. Yvonne was (wo)manning the PlInKo! booth, which I played,

Fun afternoon. Saturday brought a double loop of Rocky Hill (never get tired of it, even in the dark) followed by a delicious breakfast at Valhalla, a Swedish restaurant downtown Visalia.

Then a trip up to Three Rivers (not much happening up there).

Though the temps are cool this week, the weather is still beautiful here. And the flowers are still in bloom. Even my impatiens. (I think this one is an azalea, outside the office.)

Last week, my Cooking Light group met at Rosie's. We had a delightful evening. Not sure all are OK being on my blog, so I'll just post this one. Or two.

Our meal was sooooo tasty.

The weekend before, I'd organized a little 50th Bday party for Michele and Sheri. 18 people showed up at a Mexican restaurant downtown. Another fun evening.

As I got less than 5 hours of sleep last night (rolled in from Bakersfield at 11 PM and was running a tempo run at 4:30 AM), I'm going to finish watchin the Vikings implode vs. TB and then call it a night.

Toodles .....