Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tucson Mountain Park adventure - so many trails takes so much time!

'There must be some kind of way out of here...' ~ Jimi Hendrix
This is the theme of the trail run that Laurie and I did today! We ventured into Tucson Mountain Park on the West side of Tucson for a 12 mile run for Laurie and a 20 mile run for me. We headed out on the Explorer trail, which starts at Kennedy Park (off of La Cholla South of 36th St.) After some wrong turns, we decided we were on the right trail. However, we ran into a 'troll'; in other words, some really strange guy who was yelling out loud and appeared to be standing there with a plastic bag and up to no good. We were fairly far away from him at this point, but we decided to hightail it outta there and head on over around the mountain a different way. We ended up on another trail, which for all we knew was the Explorer trail, and made our way into the park.

The weather was warming up fast - what a beautiful Winter day in Tucson! A little cloudy, but nice and warm. I was wearing my other arm warmers - Pearl Izumi - with the cute pink roses on them, but quickly peeled them off.

We think at some point we may have ended up running on the 36th trail (it looked familiar from our Winter Trail Series race), which had this amazing stand of saguaro cactuses. I think the Tucson Mountains have many more saguaros than the Rincon Mountains. They are majestic and seem wise and beautiful.

We ended up running into some Tucson runners we knew - Tia Accetta, Paula Morrison and another familar face - not sure who it was. After talking with them, we decided to do the Starr Pass trail out to Tucson Mountain estates (off of Kinney Rd.), then looping back around to the Yetman Trail. It was very pretty and we were having a great time!

Unfortunately, Laurie stepped down on her leg on a rocky part of this loop and tweaked her hamstring, and had pain from her right hip down to her knee. We kept running and stopped periodically to stretch and rest, but it continued to get worse. Rather than make our way back to Kennedy Park (okay, at this point, this lovely loop was adding quite a bit of mileage on - it was turning into a 15 mile run for Laurie!), we headed out to the 36th Street trail, which seemed closer. Here is the sign right here (clearly says .9 miles):

Well, as can happen in Tucson Mountain Park (trails are not well marked at all), we ended up coming out in Starr Pass somewhere (there was an unmarked branch off of the trail that we did not take - must have been to the 36th St. trailhead!) So, we ended up walking through the Starr Pass neighborhoods a few blocks (Laurie is barely making it at this point), and then we found the big hill that we did for our Winter Trail Series race, which we knew went up and over to 36th St. I can't believe Laurie was able to do it, but she amazingly hobbled up and down that huge hill. What a trooper.

The top of that hill is cool, though - it has a stone house on it, as does the Yetman Trail and the Tortolita Mountains Wild Mustang trail.

She had called already her son, who was waiting at the trailhead to bring us back to our trucks at Kennedy Park. I went on to do 3 more miles, which gave me a total of about 17 miles. Laurie ended up doing 14 miles total. I'm pretty wiped out - I was out there a total of about 4 hours, with all of the walking that we did. Also, if you can believe it, I'm sunburned!

So glad to be done. It is always an adventure in Tucson Mountain Park.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Catalina State Park Trails Training Run

Met Laurie and Shari for a training run out at the Catalina State Park trails today. It is for the upcoming 11 mile race on April 12th. However, we couldn't do the actual race course, because of too much water flowing off of the mountains from last week's snow and rain fest here in Tucson. Here are Shari and Laurie pausing at the first of the crossings - we decided we just didn't feel like running with wet feet today and knew that other crossings might be higher, so we turned around.
Laurie finally succumbed to the skirt way of life and looks so cute in her new skirt! We ran the Nature Loop trail, the Bridle trail and part of the 50 year trail. The 50 year trail and Nature Loop trail have a little elevation gain at first, but the Bridle trail consists of a lot of deep sand! The Bataan March marathon I am doing on March 30th has some sandy spots - specifically, about a mile of it around mile 20 of the marathon. So, I'm getting my ankles ready for that race!
We did a little over 6 miles. It is super pretty out there. Laurie came to my rescue with a water bottle, fanny pack and hair tie. I had to make a quick switcheroo with my husband's truck (mine was out of gas, and I had no time to fill it!) so I left a lot of my gear behind. Thanks Laurie!

On another note, I am signing up for the Flagstaff Marathon on September 27th! The race is mostly around 8,000 feet elevation with about 2,200 feet of climbing. It is 100% on trails! I'm a little worried about the elevation, but I'll just have to go a little slower. Laurie is signing up for it to get ready for her Ironman in November, so I told her I'd join her! We'll be heading up to the Catalina Mountains for elevation training this summer.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Change of running plans - 19 miles!

1st plan with Angie/Barb - Sabino Canyon Phoneline trail/tram road loop x 2 (18 miles). Too much water we figured, so onto the next plan...
2nd plan with Angie/Barb- Douglas Springs trailhead to Cowhead Saddle out and back (17 miles). Check out pictures from Angie's blog and you'll see why I changed my mind about this one.
3rd plan (no Angie or Barb) - about the same as last week - 8 mile Saguaro East paved loop, followed by 11 miles of Cactus Forest/Mica trails.

We had quite a storm on Friday that dumped a significant amount of snow on the surrounding mountains and lots of water in the valley. I knew Sabino Canyon would be too much water to wade through, so we made an alternate plan - running with the Tucson Trail Runners to Cowhead Saddle in the Rincon Mountains. I canceled out on that one because I was concerned about the amount of snow on the Rincon mountains. 'Fear of the unknown'. I didn't want to risk falling or getting injured on ice/snow, so Angie went on without me. Sorry Angie! She was one brave one though. I'm a warm weather runner, that's for sure!

Here are the Rincon Mountains with snow on them this morning.

So, I ran the 8 mile loop by myself. It is really hilly (with one super hill) and is a great workout.

You can see the super hill here in this elevation profile:
Then Laurie met me for 11 miles of trails (Cactus Forest and Mica in Saguaro National Monument East). I was so warm! It felt lovely. We ran into a little mud, but not too bad. Pretty dry for the most part.

I felt pretty good, although I have this mild shin pain that has been going on for several weeks now. I don't think I have upped my mileage significantly - it must be shin splints and I'm just in denial. I could have run a little farther today I felt so good at the finish.

Our friend Lisa (back from Oregon!) showed up at the end of the run to go for a bike ride with Laurie. Doesn't she look fabulous?

Laurie and Lisa gearing up for a bike ride

Next week - out to Tucson Mountain Park for a 20 + miler. I love, love, love it out there. I have 3 more long, long runs before I start tapering for the marathon!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day gift and a very short run.

My husband made me another beautiful set of flowers (with dragonflies, my favorite) for Valentine's Day yesterday. Beats real flowers, because these last forever. Aren't they pretty? I usually get a set every year, which never fails to make me feel special. He also has someone coming to the house to clean everything (even blinds and ceiling fans!) tomorrow. Wow.

Today, it has been raining and the snow is piling up on the mountains around Tucson. I finally ventured out for a run (6 miles) with Dixie. When I arrived at the Rillito, I decided to only do 4.5, since the weather was looking ominous. I was almost 1.5 miles into my run when the freezing rain and wind started. I ducked into Green Things, a plant nursery along the Rillito, for a while to wait it out. After about a half an hour, I decided it was not stopping, so Dixie and I made a run for the truck. Between the cold, wind and rain, I was absolutely chilled when I got back. And I ran less than 3 miles, so I was a little disappointed. I can't remember the last time I only ran 3 miles!

I'm a little worried about the run I have planned this upcoming Sunday. I plan on heading out to the Rincon mountains with Angie and her friend Barb to join the Tucson Trail Runners group for a 17 mile run to Cowhead Saddle. Some of that group will be doing a 28 mile loop, but we are planning an out and back from Douglas Springs trailhead to Cowhead Saddle. I am concerned with the amount of snow that is sitting on the Rincons at the moment. So is my friend Laurie, who was going to do 12 miles that day.

Oh well. No matter what, I'm running LONG on Sunday. I may be doing it in town somewhere, but I'm definitely running long. I can't wait. The endorphins that hit during and after my 19.5 mile run last Saturday have been calling my name all week. :)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

19.5 miles!

Today I ran 9 miles on the Saguaro National Monument East Loop (paved - including the picnic loop) followed by 10.5 miles on the Cactus Forest Trail (from the Visitor's Center). It was fantastic! My fueling was perfect - I felt great the whole time, plenty of energy, and no stomach problems. I used Hammer Heed, Hammer Perpetuem, Clif Blox, and Hammer Endurolytes (electrolyte replacement). The Hammer products are great since there is no sugar.

The last 2 miles my legs were getting tired, but I felt that was normal since this was my longest run so far in my training. I know I'll be ready for my marathon on March 30.

I did the run in two pieces. I don't have anyone to run the whole run with, so I was blessed to be joined by some road running friends for the first part (paved) and then some trail running friends for the second part (trails).

I met my friends Nancy and Lisa (she's moved back from Oregon to stay!) first thing this morning and did the 9 mile loop. It was pretty cold at the start (about 38 degrees) but by the time we were done, it had warmed up nicely! This loop is great hill training. It has one monster hill in the middle that goes on and on. I feel like my conditioning is coming along because it wasn't that hard!

It was so wonderful to see Lisa and Nancy. I had not run with Nancy since January 5th and I hadn't seen Lisa since November when she moved to Oregon. They are amazing women and I'm so glad they are in my life!

After we were done, they went on their way and my friend Laurie and a new friend of mine, Shari, met me and we did the remaining 10.5 miles on the Cactus Forest Trail. Shari has done an Ironman and Laurie will be training for one in the Fall (she has already done a half Ironman). This trail is nice single track with some rolling hill action and some rocky areas. I love it!

I went home and ate A LOT. I'm usually hungry all day when I run this long! However, I'm trying to be good. I ate some extra firm tofu (protein!) and 3 thick slices of some heavy duty whole grain bread (Essene bread). Essene bread is just made with sprouted grain - nothing else. No sugar, no yeast, nothing. It is very sweet and moist and amazing and has protein, fiber and carbs! I get it at the health food store.
I gained weight last year during marathon training (I can eat all I want right? I'm training for a marathon!), so this year I'm trying to eat lots of berries, cherries, fruit in general, whole grains (brown rice, whole grain pasta), tons of veggies, salmon, lean ground beef, tofu, and lots of beans. I do allow myself some sweets - chocolate! However, I try to limit it to small pieces of dark chocolate, Skinny Cow fudge bars, and dark chocolate covered edamame (Trader Joe's, yum! Lots of fiber and protein). Angie's last post got me thinking about my diet again. I know my training goes better when I eat better. It is just so hard to make good choices when I'm hungry all the time!
The trail just heals my soul. I continue to fall more in love with the Tucson desert.

I'm getting a massage today. My shins and calves are super tight and still sore. Can't wait! Have a good day, ya'll!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Cracker Dog Graduates!

Cracker Dog graduated from her Beginner training class at Petsmart. I'm so proud! She got to wear a cap for graduation day. It was tough to take her picture with that thing on - dogs don't like to wear hats!

She learned sit, stay, down, leave it, drop it, watch me, and proper leash walking. She learned to be friendly with other dogs. She likes to run a lot, but she hasn't run with me yet. She's a good dog. Thank you God for the Cracker Dog. :)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Arizona Trail Race 8 mile - DONE!

Laurie, Renee, and Sheryl after the race

Okay, I didn't exactly set the world on fire at today's race, but I did finish! Here is the recap of today's Arizona Trail Race at Colossal Cave Park:

1. One fall (in a sandy spot - no harm done). It was really more of a controlled trip. :)

2. Two seriously sore and tight shins and calves that did not allow me to run very fast. Not that I'm really fast normally. I was just hoping to do as well as last year, which I didn't.

3. One very twisted Nathan hydration vest (not sure what I did, but I didn't catch it before the race and tried to stop once to fix it, to no avail). I was able to drink out of it, but it was difficult.

4. One bad night's sleep (I had a nightmare I woke up late for the race and after that, I didn't get much sleep). Good thing I slept well the night before last. Although, the night before last, I had a weird dream that the race was held in a mall and I was lost...

5. At the finish, glad to be done, I inhaled too much smoke from the pit fire that was built to keep participants warm before the race. Still coughing up stuff!

6. I saw my friends Sheryl and Steve Felde. I haven't run with Sheryl for some time, since I have been doing all the trail races!

7. I also saw my friend Martinho, who I haven't seen in a while! Remember, he was the one who helped me when I had my injury at Phoneline Trail back in November. Nice guy.

8. Great food - tortillas, eggs and beans. Could have used something sweet, but still good, nonetheless.

9. Technical t-shirts. And this year, they had men's extra-small sizes, so us smaller women had shirts that actually fit!
10. Total race distance - 8.05 miles. Today, it felt like 15.

11. Total time - 1:24 and some change for a 10:30 min/mile average. Last year my min/mile average was 10:17. And I wasn't even in as good of shape last year! I attribute most of this year's increase to the sore shins/calves, which are a result of a lot of training, lately, especially on trails. I rested a little more the week of the race last year (skipped my weight workout, didn't run as much). I didn't do that this year. Other than that, no excuses. I was just slow. :( I came in 107 out of 211 participants overall and 8th out of 30 in my age group (women 40-49).

12. Elevation profile. 1,487 feet of climbing in 8.05 miles. The trail is mostly single track, fairly runnable, with some rocky areas. Lots of up and down.

13. Quote that best sums it up: "For all the hardship, I was still excited to be on the trail, testing my endurance, feeling especially alive as strength and fatigue flowed alternately through my limbs."~ Colin Powell


Finally got my race picture from Everyone Runs:

Friday, February 1, 2008

Arm Warmers on the Gauntlet Trail

I went for a run on the Gauntlet Trail today, which is located in Tucson behind Pima Community College West. I wanted to try out my new Moeben arm warmers, which were great (and of course, they are pink)! They add some warmth, but if I get too hot, I can just push them down when I am running. Much better than being stuck with a long sleeve shirt in weather that can really heat up. It does always amaze me how much I warm up when I run. I just got some black Pearl Izumi arm warmers with pink roses on them (like my friend Laurie has), so I'll try them out sometime this week.
I only ran about 5 miles, because my shins and calves are so tight! I'll be getting a massage next weekend, which should help that.
No running Saturday - the Arizona Trail Race is on Sunday! I might wear my arm warmers and a short sleeve shirt - I always heat up quick on that trail!
"Every man dies, but not every man really lives." - William Wallace (as played by Mel Gibson in "Braveheart")