Saturday, January 31, 2009

Last long long run before the Pemberton 50k

I ran this one almost completely by myself. 18.3 miles. It is always good to do one really long run in training alone, because I'll be 'by myself' during the race. It is good practice dealing with the emotions and chatter that my brain has going on during the run which might defeat me during a race. This run allowed me to clear my head a little, but I was pleasantly surprised that my head seemed filled with good thoughts of the people who matter to me most.

I headed out to Saguaro East to run the 8 mile paved loop (the super hilly one) with Blue Pants Racing at 7am. A few people showed up, but they were running 8+ minute miles, so I told them to just go ahead around mile 1.5 (well, I was getting further and further behind, so it wasn't like they needed my permission). My first two miles were: 8:34, 8:46. I knew that was too fast considering I was going to be doing 18 miles today, so I slowed it on down and ran alone for the rest of the loop. I saw a really huge deer jump across the road, but he was too fast for me to grab the camera. They were all still there when I got back, so we chatted for about 15 minutes, and then I changed shoes (from road to trail), threw on my trail gaiters and a tank top under my long sleeve and off I went. I ran the loop counterclockwise back to Cactus Forest trail (about .8 mile) and then ran that trail to the Broadway trailhead. I headed back the way I came. Cactus Forest trail is a little hilly, but nothing too crazy. There was a sign up warning about mountain lion activity, but I felt that there are so many people on this trail, that I didn't need to be concerned. There weren't as many people out as usual though, most likely because of the sign! They usually hang out closer to the dam, so I just let caution fly with the wind and went anyway. The lady at the park entry booth agreed with my plan to 'look big' if I spot one, but she also said 'Don't look too pink!' She was being funny, and we had a good laugh. A guy I ran into at the Broadway trailhead said, "Boy, you sure are color coordinated!" I had the aqua/pink thing going on today.

It was a really good run. It was a little chilly at the start, but warmed up nice enough for me to pull off the long sleeve at around mile 13. I love Arizona. I can run in a tank top on January 31st!

Total run time (not including breaks): 2:58, which is a 9:44 min/mile pace. My ankle talked to me very little during the run (although I'm starting to become convinced it is partly my achilles tendon) but for the most part, taking Monday - Friday off of running was probably super helpful.

Total elevation gain: 2,073 (963 for the paved loop and 1,110 for the 10.3 mile trail portion)
Total elevation descent: 2,020

I did see a jackrabbit on the trail. I sweet talked him and he posed for me. They are so cute!
I felt really good afterwards, although my calves are a little sore. I really made an effort to not overstride on the downhills, and my shins are feeling better, too.

I ran 4 miles on Sunday, so I only have 22 or so miles in this week. I would have liked to have had a little more, but the few days off were good. I feel ready for the race.

A shout out to David R. in Sierra Vista - he is doing OP50 and has decided to join us at Pemberton, too. It will be good to see you out there David. Sounds like you are ready to me.

Oh, by the way, they are looking for pacers (2:00 and 15 minute increments on up) for the Arizona Distance Classic half marathon in Oro Valley on March 29th. Your race entry is free. I would do it, except I'm doing the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon on that day in White Sands, NM. The course in Oro Valley is really pretty; I did it last year. Anyway, let me know if you are interested and I'll hook you up with the right person.
Final thoughts for the day (well, they are actually lyrics from one of my favorite songs from the Dixie Chicks (Long Way Around):
Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else
Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down
If you ever want to find me I can still be found
Taking the long way...
Taking the long way around.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Winter Bear Canyon Loop trail run with TTR

It was my inaugural running of the Bear Canyon Loop in Sabino Canyon and I felt lucky to get to join the TTR group (many of whom have run this trail umpteen times). However, it was definitely not my day on the trail. We all have them.

After running a little late, forgetting my breakfast on the kitchen counter (Force Primevil bar from Trader Joe's - my long run lucky breakfast with lots of slow burn carbs) signing up quickly and not getting a chance to use the restroom, we were off. I said hello to a few of my friends - Mark, Donna, David, Steve, Joyce, Patricia and some other acquaintances - before we took off. Even though there were around 35 people, we quickly became spread out. David and I ran together, passing and getting passed by a few people here and there.
I found a bathroom shortly into the run, so I jumped off trail quickly and at least solved that problem. Needless to say, I didn't fuel well the whole run, which was part of my trouble. However, I started having a very painful nagging ankle pain around Seven Falls (about 4 miles in). Lots of water in Seven Falls and the creek due to recent rainfall:I took some Aleve, but it only got a little better. I could not run the uphills without excruciating pain. I think I overdid on some yard work a week ago Saturday; I could slightly feel it at the start of the long run last week, but it really never got bad until this week. I had to walk, off and on, about 4 miles of the run. The 6 or so? rocky creek crossings at the beginning of the run probably didn't help my ankle either.

On one of my fuel stops, I dropped my wonderful sunglasses and stepped on them, irreparably breaking them (big boo hoo on that one). I think Sabino Canyon is no good for those sunglasses; the last pair I had (exactly like these - Tifosi brand - pink Scatto) got ruined when I fell on Phoneline trail in 11/07. Bye, bye $89. Say hello to Ms. Champagne taste on beer budget - it will be a while before I can afford another pair. They are so comfy, though!
Patricia was leap frogging us for a while, but we passed her one final time before coming up to Phoneline trail. Almost everyone took the tram road back, but we took Phoneline trail on the return, which added an extra mile (I thought it added more than it did) and quite a bit of extra time due to dodging the plentiful amount of hikers out and the rockiness of the trail in general. Very tall saguaro cactus on Phoneline trail:
Garmin (love my Garmin!) stats:

Total miles: 17.5

Time out 4:50 (this includes breaks, etc.)

Total Ascent: 4,273 feet

Total Descent: 4,237 feet (that always amazes me; what about the saying what comes up must come down?) I think it has to do with the swinging of the arms or something.

So, I think I'll be taking a few days off of running to give the ankle a break. I also have some nagging shin pain (I love to overstride on the downhills), so a few days of rest will do me some good.

I think I would try the Bear Canyon Loop again when I'm more well rested. It really is a beautiful place.

We were last to get in. I hate being last (better to be last than lost, I guess). Thanks Mark (who waited 2 hours for me - he thought I fell because I took so long), Donna, Steve, Patricia (who came in right before us) for waiting for us to come in. TTR is such a good group of trail runners.

My favorite Yogi tea bag saying tonight before bed:

Live Light
Travel Light
Spread the Light
Be the Light

Be the Light. Yes. Nice way to end the day.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A little Pemberton trail race preview

I drove out of Tucson a little after 6am this morning, picked up David M. in Casa Grande, and we were off to McDowell Mountain Park in Fountain Hills to run the Pemberton trail (about a 2.5 hour drive from Tucson). We'll be doing the Pemberton Trail 50k race on February 14th, so I wanted to check out the trail for a test run. David has done both the Pemberton 50k and the Javelina Jundred (yes, 100 miles) races, which are on this trail, but he joined me anyway, which was great! His pacing kept us going at a pretty good clip most of the run. The trail and surrounding area are beautiful; lots of cactus and mountain views.
We did one full loop (about 15.3 miles) and then went about 5.5 miles out on the loop again, but cut back through the loop on the Tonto Tank trail for a total of about 24.4 miles (David had about 24.6 on his Garmin). The trail was a little harder than I thought it would be. The first 8 miles are fairly net uphill. We started out a little fast, and after already running 21 miles this week (including 6 miles yesterday), getting in 2 solid one-hour weight workouts this past week, and doing a little yardwork yesterday, my legs felt very tired. I finally got with the program and the other 7 or so miles of the loop were downhill, which was great (although downhill is relative at Pemberton; there are just a lot of rolling hills). Here I am at mile 5.5 of the run, looking fresh and posing Dirt Diva style:After the first loop, we then refueled, refilled our Camelbaks, took a pit stop at the restroom (where David disappeared for a while...I thought he fell in) and were off again on the loop. Here we are before we headed out again (David is holding a gel - Gu brand - in hopes of getting sponsored by the company). He doesn't have a blog yet, but with a nickname like Mountain Goat, Jr., I think he needs to start one.I was getting pretty tired about mile 18. We finally made it to 20.5, where we took a break and I ate. My fueling had been pretty good so far (some Clif Blox, raisins, fruit leather and some Perpetuem) but obviously, I was a little late on this fuel stop, because once I ate, I felt extremely better. We then headed down the Tonto Tank trail, which was gloriously downhill, and were running 9-10 minute miles (yeah, I know, that is not that fast for some people, but if you are reading this, you already know I'm not an elite!) I was like a horse running for the barn.
So excited to be done! It was really hot out there for a January day, but I wasn't complaining too much. I was really good about hydrating today after last week's mishap. Overall, besides being a little slow here and there, I was very happy with the run. It was my 5th longest run EVER. The only runs longer than this one today were the 2 marathons I've done (26.2 miles), and the two 50k races I've completed (31 and 33 miles). So, I was pleased and feel I'll do pretty well at the race. The endorphins were flowing, because I felt really high energy afterwards.

I did have my Garmin on auto pause during the run, which stops the clock when we stop, so I ended up with actually total running time of 4:14:40 for a 10:25 min/mile pace, although total time out was a little longer. Total elevation gain was 2,400 feet and total elevation loss was 2,461 feet. Sure felt like more than that.
David was a great trail partner and we had a super time. Have I mentioned that we both share the same birthday - October 20th? He is one year older than me. How wild. We had a lot of fun on this run. He is spunky and full of good stories. He has a very mischevious grin that always makes it look like he is up to something. We went to Wendy's afterwards and scarfed some burgers - we were so hungry! I drove David home and got back to Tucson around 5pm - long day. My legs are fairly sore, but I'm confident I'll recover quickly. I have about 2 more weeks of solid training for Pemberton, and then it will be time to taper.

Total miles for the week - 45.5.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blue Pants Racing Winter Trail Series Race #1

Place: Tortolita Mountains, just North of Tucson at the Wild Burro Trailhead on Dove Mountain Rd.

Trails: Wild Burro, Lower Javelina, Upper Javelina, Wild Mustang Trail, then back to Wild Burro to finish

Length: 9.9 miles, although everyone with their Garmin GPS watches came up with a different number (go figure). I came up with 9.8 miles.

Number of runners: About 20

Finish time: I had 2:06 on my watch, but my watch may have 'auto paused' when I stopped a few times to snap a picture or let someone pass, so my official time may be slightly higher.

Trailhead elevation: 2,672 feet
Highest elevation: 4,068 feet
Cumulative Elevation gain/(loss) for race distance: 2,182 feet/(2,137) feet

BPR did a great job marking the trail with large orange arrows at questionable spots. There were plenty of aid stations, including one without a human (it was so cute, just a bunch of bottled waters and bowls of mini candy bars!) Laszlo made a joke before the race that he hoped the javelina didn't eat them all since he put them out last night. :) And, on top of that, we got a long sleeve shirt with our race entry. BPR does a great job on races, that is for sure. Oh yeah, good food at the end, too. And, Laszlo is just a super nice guy. Mike was there helping out; he is one of the Blue Pants Racing coaches. He always flashes me a big smile whenever I see him, which is cool.

Here was one of the aid stations at 'Stone House':
The start of the run, at a fantastically lovely time of 8am, was super windy and cold, though, so I wore my knit cap. I didn't expect it to be so windy, because it wasn't at all in Tucson when I left the house this morning! The wind died down about halfway through the race and then the sun warmed it up nicely.
The Tortolita mountains are just beautiful! There are quite a few steep climbs and descents as you can tell from the elevation gain/(loss). Around the 5 mile mark, it opens up and you can see layers of mountains everywhere. Just gorgeous.
My friend Steve was there at the race, sporting a new and ever so handsome goatee. Too bad I don't run into him more often; he is so gentle and friendly and I love talking to him.
I did see my friend Andrea, too, but she was out on the course directing the race traffic, so I didn't get a chance to chat with her.

After the race, I ran a little over 8 more miles with David from Casa Grande. We took off on Dove Mountain trail to Tangerine/Dove Mountain Rd. intersection, and then took the trail back to the Wild Burro trailhead. This trail feels very challenging, in that it is uphill for about a mile or so, then downhill to the intersection, and uphill on the way back with the last mile or so being downhill. And, it is rolling hills quite a bit of the way. It looks more benign than that, because it is a groomed trail and appears more flat in spots than it actually is.

I had a great time running with David. If you ever want to not be bored on a run, run with David. This guy is so talkative and has great stories to tell. Very upbeat and fun guy. David and I after the long run:
Total run time for today, including the race: 3:30 (I know David, it doesn't include the auto pause - bad Renee!) :)

Total distance: 18.34 miles

Average pace: 11:28
Cumulative Elevation gain/(loss) for entire run: 3,038 feet/(2,943 feet)

Afterwards, I had a bit of a scare. I was chatting with David for about 30 minutes at the trailhead after the run, when I got really dizzy and lightheaded. My heart was racing and I was having shortness of breath (like one would get when going into shock). I felt nauseated and thought I was going to pass out. He walked me to my truck so I could sit down. I ate the rest of my raisins and drank a little water and felt a little better. We chatted for a few minutes more and then I said I was going to drive to the shopping center at the intersection and use the bathroom (I was thinking that would help). I drove down the road and my vision started becoming 'white'. I should have had David drive me to the shopping center; I think I was disoriented and confused and didn't know what I was thinking (actually, as stupid as it sounds, I was worried about what he might think if I asked - maybe that I wasn't tough or something?)
I barely made it to a coffee shop in the plaza, stumbled in, and used the bathroom. That didn't help, so I sat down to see if I would feel better. It came to me that maybe I needed salt. I asked the gal at the counter if I could have some salt packets and I bought a bottle of water. I downed both salt packets and half of the water. I felt better instantly (really, within 15 seconds). Weird; David and I were just talking about how much salt I eat.
When I got home, I Googled (yeah, I think it is officially a verb now in Webster's) a little on the computer and determined that I was probably dehydrated. At first, I suspected hyponatremia, which is too much water, not enough electrolytes. However, after reading the dehydration description, my symptoms matched more closely with dehydration. I thought I had drank plenty of water, but looking back, I could have drank more for such a long run.

My legs are already sore, but I'll put on my recovery socks and at least my lower legs will feel better! David was planning on running 15 more miles tomorrow; I don't think I'll be doing that. Heck, I'm just happy that today was my longest run in over 6 months.

Next week: Going to do a training run on the Pemberton trail in Fountain Hills for the upcoming Pemberton 50k. Each loop is 15.5 miles; we'll probably short cut the second loop for a total of around 24 miles (geesh - how am I going to do 6 more miles than I did today?) I'll most likely carpool up with David; anyone else interested? Either Saturday or Sunday, whichever works best. I'm leaning towards Sunday, since that is the football playoffs day. Anyone is invited, even if you aren't doing the race.
It is always a good day with friends and the trails.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Close call

I biffed it on my run at Reid Park tonight. I had run about 3.5 miles when I tripped and down I went. My left knee took the brunt of the fall, with my right hand (yes, the side of the broken wrist) taking a nice slide on the dirt. I was bleeding pretty good out of my knee, but only a few blood blisters on my hand. I landed in more of a slide, so there was no lasting pain to my wrist.

There was a piece of metal sticking out of the ground about 4 inches (I was running on the dirt) which is what I stumbled over.

It took a while to get the knee to stop bleeding (I almost always carry a small hankerchief with me) but I was able to still run. I saw Sheryl and Sue on the path shortly afterwards and ran with them until I had 8.2 miles, and then I headed home and proudly showed off my wounds to my husband.

I have been afraid of falling since my wrist fracture; this helped me get over that, so it was a good thing.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

TTR Wasson Peak Run

Despite some misgivings about the 50% chance of rain today, I joined the Tucson Trail Runners for a run up Wasson Peak, which is the highest point in the Tucson Mountain range. About 15 people showed up. Julie, who I've been running with for a while now, was sick with strep so she wasn't able to go. It would have been our last long run together before she leaves to her next destination, so I was pretty bummed. I will certainly miss running with her - I can't believe she will be gone soon. I plan on visiting her up in Colorado on one of my trips up this year, which I'm excited about. Not too often that I really connect with someone, but I sure did with Julie.Anyway, back to the run...
It was just getting light when the run started a little after 7am. The sun was coming over the mountains (we started on the West side of the mountains, which are on the West side of Tucson) and with all of the clouds from the weather system moving in, we were treated to a lovely sunrise. I quickly hooked up with Missy, a new face in the group, who seemed to be about my same pace. I didn't want to be alone for the whole run or get lost again and she was very friendly. Her husband Darrell was there, too and they are both doing Pemberton in February. We chatted the whole way up.
And boy, is it up. I have hiked Wasson Peak twice before, and if you had told me I would be running it one day, I would have said you were crazy. We did hike up quite a bit of the last 2 miles, which were steep. Missy admitted she was a little slow on the hiking, but she had a really good running pace. I felt like I could have gone a little faster on the hiking part, but all in all, the overall pace was good - wasn't looking to kill myself today.

It was super cold and windy the closer we got to Wasson Peak, which is at 4,687 feet elevation. The view from the top was beautiful; the wind was moving the storm clouds in fast, though. We stayed a few windy, cold minutes and headed on down. Once we started really running again, we warmed up, but both of us had freezing toes, fingers and knees for a little bit. View from the top:

We must have missed a turnoff, for as we were headed to the peak, we were running into people returning from the peak. This was supposed to be a 'figure 8' loop to the peak. So, instead of a 14ish mile distance, it turned out to be around 12.5 miles. We ran mostly on the Sendero-Esperanza and Hugh Norris trails. The downhill was crazy! There must be 3-400 steps going down Hugh Norris. At least we were going down them and not up! Missy really hauled on the steps, but I was shortly behind her, and Darrell right behind me.

We did the entire distance in 3:08 (3:25 total time out). Seems a little slow, until you consider the elevation change, which was a gain of 2,787 feet up and 2,753 feet down. My legs were pretty tired, and I felt like I had a good run.

It was starting to sprinkle the last part of the run, but it really didn't get raining until about a half an hour after we finished. Perfect! What a fun run. I got to yak with others from TTR afterwards, and there was a lot of broken bone stories exchanged (hmmm...this trail running must be dangerous). Beverly, one of the other women on the run, broke her arm on the same trail I broke my wrist (Charoleau Gap).

It is nice to meet new faces all the time - I used to be so afraid of meeting people. Well, the truth is, I still worry about what they think of me, but that happens less and less as time goes on. And, I just take the action of showing up in spite of my fear.

Here I am with Missy after the run: Here comes the storm - got out in the nick of time:
What a great workout! Even though the run was shorter than planned, I felt the distance was good considering the climb. I plan on doing the 9.9 mile Blue Pants Racing trail race next Saturday in the Tortolitas, which will be fun! I'll follow it up directly with a 9 mile round trip on the groomed Dove Mountain trail, so I'll be sure to get in almost a 19 mile run next week!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Trying out the new running toy...

Right on! This thing is great. For Christmas, Kenny gave me the new Garmin Forerunner 405, which is a GPS-enabled sports watch with wireless sync to the computer. So, I took it out for my first run in almost 2 weeks to try it out. I did an alleged 6.9 mile stretch on the Rillito wash and it came up at 6.82 miles in 1:01:53 (9:04 min/mile pace). Pretty cool. It has a 'touch' bezel, which makes it fun and easy to use. And, all you have to do is get it near the computer and it automatically 'syncs up' and loads the run data.
It showed 423 feet elevation gain over the run - I guess there are a few 'hilly' spots on the Rillito, but I was still surprised at that. Hopefully, I can figure out how to use this thing to keep from getting lost out there in the wild...
The Tucson sun felt good on the bones.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The rest of the holiday vacation in Silverton

This is my favorite decorated house in Silverton. I love the way the snow is hanging off of the front.

Okay - here is what we did:


Snowshoeing, for the first time ever, on the 'Snowshoe trail' (actually, I think there is a real name for it, but that is what everyone calls it) with my husband's friend's wife, Cindy. Some of the trail was started by someone else, but we had to pack some new trail down, which is hard! It was through a forest of trees weighed down with tons of snow, which was beautiful. It was a lot of fun and definitely a good workout. Kenny went downhill skiing while I did that. I then took a one hour 4pm Body Pump class at the Silverton Movement Center.


Took a one hour 8:15 am Pilates class at SMC. It is a super core workout. We then went to the Kendall Mountain Ski area and sledded for the afternoon.
We tried out 3 different sleds, and came to the conclusion that the wood ones from Mountain Boy Sledworks, made in Silverton, were the fastest and best. We trekked up that hill more times than I can count. Legs feel like jello. We had a few wrecks, but that is part of the fun, right?


It was really warm out (well, around 35 degrees, but with the elevation and the activity, I really was warm!) Had to make sure we wore sunglasses, because the sun was out in full force and can really snowblind! I got 2 new hats while I was here - one is the bright pink flower one on me above and the other, a cute pink (yes, more pink, are you surprised?) knitted number with little animal ears on top.


Well, it should be obvious by now, but I couldn't get up for the 8:15am spin class. Too sore! So, we went and ate breakfast at the San Juan Grill, which I would recommend highly. I had a burrito filled with black beans, eggs, cojita cheese, and hashbrowns and smothered with vegetarian green chile sauce.

We then headed back to the Kendall Mountain Ski area. Kenny did some more downhill skiing (he is pretty good for not doing it for 26 years!) while I sledded some more and did some cross country skiing on a groomed loop nearby (okay, that is pretty hard - legs are really tired now). After falling over once, I can see why it wasn't a good idea to downhill ski. I didn't hurt my wrist when I fell, but I wasn't hurtling downhill either. Here is my only proof that I went cross country skiing (Kenny wasn't around to get pictures because he was on the slopes):

Here is Kenny with his crazy bear hat, which gets a lot of attention on the slopes: He got braver as the day went on, trying the really steep slope a few times at the end. It was fun to watch him.

Full day! I got out of the warm bed for a one hour 8:15am Body Pump class at SMC. This one used a Bosu ball, which you balance on while doing your exercises. Legs are now officially wiped out (and my upper body is, too).

Kenny and I then took the dogs snowshoeing on the same trail I went on the other day. The forest is so amazingly peaceful. No doubt God created all I see in nature.
After that, we went snowmobiling with Ken's friend Bill. I had a smaller snowmobile which was perfect and had so much fun! We went all over the open areas in the town of Silverton, including next to the Animas River, which is where I run in the Summer. Amazing what 5 months time does. Everything is covered in snow, and the river is frozen over. I was pretty careful on the river trail, as one wrong move could land you in the partially frozen river. Wouldn't want to break the crust - a freezing death for sure. Once we were back on the regular trail, I was gunning it and catching air - Bill said I was a natural. It did leave me with a case of 'snowmobile thumb' - that whole area on my hand and wrist is sore. We were pretty bundled up to stay cozy and I wasn't cold at all. Kenny wore his 'eskimo' hat, which is super warm.
We then finished off our last afternoon in Silverton with a couple of sledding trips down the big hill in town.

After going to dinner that night at the Pickle Barrel, we were in bed on New Year's Eve by 11pm, since we were headed back to Tucson early in the morning. We were exhausted after all of our fun, which was evident by the fact that we heard no fireworks at midnight. None.

Seriously, if you haven't visited Colorado, you must go. The San Juan mountains are so unbelievably a sight to behold. And if you go with us, plan to have fun and wipe yourself out. It is the only way to live. But don't let me tell you; see what Taos and Cracker have to say: