Saturday, August 29, 2009

Silverton Alpine Marathon (S.A.M.)

I finished and I'm recovering well! What a great time! I called it my little 'mini-Hardrock' (although it is nowhere close to the difficulty of that race!)

Kenny also finished it with me. He had never run a marathon before and the longest he had run this summer was 15 miles. He did awesome - living at elevation has its advantages. He was ahead of me at the beginning and pretty much was ahead of me the whole race. It was fun running with him - never in my life did I expect him to do a marathon. Never say never, people.
Total miles: 26.2 miles (my Garmin calculated 27.05 - little bonus, I guess)
Finish Time: 6:34
Total cumulative elevation gain/(loss): 6,839/(6,929) feet
Start point: Silverton - 9,333 feet
High point: California Pass - 12,930 feet (Garmin read 13,043)

My goals were (in order):
1. Have fun. Check!
2. Finish (without injury). Check!
3. Don't finish last. Check!
4. Finish in 7 hours 30 minutes. Check!
5. Finish in under 7 hours and 30 minutes! Check!

You know, if I didn't lollygag at the aid stations and chat and stop to take so many pictures, I could have shaved some time off. But that's part of the fun! And, it is all about the fun. The aid station volunteers commented to the RD's that Kenny and I LOVED the aid stations. I loved chatting with the volunteers. They were awesome.

This is the most beautiful place I have ever run - the San Juan mountains are unbelievably gorgeous. You absolutely MUST put this on your race calendar for next year.

Rodger Wrublick (Across the Years RD) and Jamil Coury (Javelina Jundred RD) were the race directors. This was one heck of a well organized race. Due to the late notice (Rodger and Jamil had picked up the race from the town of Silverton, which was unable to complete the race organization), the registration was low. So, they decided it would be a 'fun run' and our checks were returned. I made a nice donation to the Silverton School Sports Program instead, which was an option we were given.

The aid stations were supremely stocked with the best sports drinks and food, we got t-shirts, a free pair of Drymax socks, gourmet breakfast from the Wyman hotel (French toast to DIE for), and an awesome barbeque lunch afterwards. What a deal. They even drive us over to the race start in a trolley. How cool is that?
Start (Silverton) to Howardsville (mile 4 aid station):

Here we are at the start - it was around 40 degrees. Brrrr. Me running along the rushing Animas River - just amazingly pretty and peaceful. I usually run along here when I visit Silverton. Howardsville to Eureka (7.6 mile aid station):

Yes, it really is this pretty.
Eureka to Animas Forks (11 mile aid station):
Coming into Animas Forks aid station and I'm happy...
Animas Forks to California Pass (16 mile aid station):
This section is the big climb of the race.

Pretty neat old structure right outside of Animas Forks aid station:Probably about 800 sheep up on the hillside in this section. They call 'em mountain maggots up there. They made lots of noises as we passed. Seemed like some of them were screaming or maybe cheering us on. :) All sorts of remnants from old mining operations in the San Juans (I thought this was a cool pic with the clouds and all).The last of the big climb to California Pass: Finally at the top at 12,930 feet! I really struggled to get enough oxygen the last 15-20 minutes of this section. I was VERY slow on this part. But, I made it!
California Pass to Gladstone (19.6 mile aid station):

After having some boiled potatoes and salt (favorite aid station food!), I was happy for some downhill. My mood had improved! On this section, you head downhill for a bit, but then back up again to Hurricane Pass. Here we are at Hurricane Pass (and then it is pretty much all downhill from here!): This section is one of the prettiest on the course:Gladstone to the finish (Silverton):
Here is the town of Silverton coming into sight, and finally, us coming into the finish! We couldn't have asked for better weather - lots of cloud cover and perfect temperature for running. No storms at the higher elevations. Just perfect.
The last 3/4 mile is on pavement, but the rest of the race is on jeep/dirt roads. Overall, I felt pretty good at the finish. Rodger was cooking us up some food, so I had 2 bratwursts on buns. Wonderful. Anyone who knows me know that food is king with me. :)

Afterwards, Kenny and I went down to the Animas River and found an inlet where we could soak our legs in the cold water! It felt good and the dogs had a blast. Cracker Dog swam for the first time. She was happy to see Dixie and Taos Dog. What a great race! I would definitely do it again and would recommend it highly. I would never have done this a year ago. That's what the Tucson Trail Runner runs have done for me; given me confidence. What a difference a year in your life can make.

"Well, there's people that will tell you it's just no use, and there's people that'll tell you that you're gonna lose, people that'll tell anything you're gonna listen to...Do what you gotta do." ~ Garth Brooks

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A foggy Mt. Lemmon hike

This weekend, I took my co-worker Jesse on a hike on Mt. Lemmon. He is from Texas and is in awe of our mountains here in Tucson and wanted me to be his guide for the hike.
It had really rained the night before, so the whole summit was under clouds. I was hoping that the hike I picked out would allow him to enjoy some expansive views of Tucson and the surrounding area, but we couldn't see anything but the trail in front of us. It was just socked in up there. It was really eery feeling. All of the foliage was so wet that it felt like we were getting sprinkled on, but it was just hundreds of droplets falling from the forest canopy, shaken off from the breeze. I was actually a little cold during most of the morning! Fun hike. Of course, I took the Crackinator!

We started from the Ski Lift parking lot. We hiked up Aspen Draw trail, across Radio Ridge, over to the summit, onto Meadow trail, and looped back on the Lemmon trail. We veered off for a view of the Lemmon fire lookout cabin, but no views to be seen there either. We returned to the Ski Lift parking lot via the Aspen Draw trail.
My Garmin was being wiggy again; I thought the hike was around 7 miles, but we ended up around 5.75. Drop in the bucket for me, but Jesse was happy with the uphill workout.
My breathing was great! I think I'm getting used to the elevation, but I've also started taking some various herbs in anticipation of the elevation next week for the marathon, so maybe they are kicking in? These herbs are supposed to help prevent elevation sickness: Astragalus, Salvia, Hoelen (5 herb blend), Ginseng (4 herb blend). I was unable to obtain Codonopsis (this stuff is hard to track down!), but the Ginseng blend is a good substitute as well. These herbs help increase oxygen flow, increase endurance, and eliminate water retention. This is primarily a Chinese herbal approach to high elevation symptoms. Guess I'll find out next Saturday if it helped or not when I do the S.A.M.!
The hike was Saturday, and then on Sunday, I did the Saguaro 8 mile training run with Shari and the other SAR runners. I haven't officially signed up for that race. It is on Labor Day, and is 5 days from the Imogene Race. I'm waiting to see how I feel afer the marathon this Saturday. So, I got a big 29 miles for the week (6 of it slow hiking), so I feel I'm tapering good for the marathon. A few short runs this week, lots of good sleep and eating well, and I hope to arrive in Silverton rested for a mountain marathon...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Icky....Spider Bite

Well, I think it was a spider bite anyway - pretty classic 'bullseye' appearance. I noticed it right after my 18 mile trail run on Mt. Lemmon 3 weeks ago. It got pretty bad before it got better.
I still have a light red ring on my leg. Grossed everyone out at work. People tried to send me to the doctor saying it could be a brown recluse spider bite. I figured since my skin didn't turn necrotic in a short time, that it was just a standard bite - nothing much to be done about it since it wasn't infected. It was itchy and hard and fairly sore for a few weeks.

Never know what critters are going to hop on you out there on the trail!

My legs were looking pretty scary there for a bit - well, my left leg anyway. Spider bite, big red scar on knee from pavement fall while running 2 months ago, and some pretty good scratches from the trail race last week. I still wore a skirt to work to show off how burly I am. :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

An almost Mt. Humphreys summit

I went to Flagstaff this weekend for a conference and decided to do Mt. Humphreys with a little spare time I had on Sunday morning. Mt. Humphreys is the highest peak in Arizona at 12,633 feet. Crackster and I started at around 7:30am at the trailhead at 9,261 feet elevation. It is a fairly 'rooty and rocky' trail, but very pretty forest. We were making pretty good time, but the usually confident Crackinator was frightened of all the people coming down, which was causing some problems. So, I made the decision to turn around near the 4 mile mark (the summit is at 4.8 miles). Here I am almost at our turnaround point - not sure if that is Mt. Humphreys behind me?
It wasn't that hard to turn around. I'm just not a summit kind of person. I'm okay with turning around when it doesn't feel right. I just didn't want to haul a skiddish dog up the last bit of a pretty steep summit. So, we made it to 11,623 feet, which was good for me. I'll have to save the summit for another day. The good news is that I dealt with the higher elevation pretty well. I do think I'm starting to get more used to it.

We headed back down doing a little running here and there and in the last mile, ran into my friend Wayne from Tucson with his two little dogs! What a small world. We visited for a bit and then Cracker and I finished the hike off with a total of 8.25 miles.
I'm not sure on the elevation gain (my GPS got really weird in the end), but I would guess we did about 3,500 feet cumulative. Cracker Dog won the admiration of a lot of passing hikers. Well, some people looked at me like they thought I was crazy for bringing such a small dog up a big mountain, but they don't know the Cracker Dog! She loves the outdoors as much as I do and loves to run.

It was nice and cool up there - kept my jacket on the whole time. Flagstaff is a good place to go to avoid Tucson heat. I'll be back.
We were out about 3.5 hours, including our long break with Wayne, and other small stops along the way for pictures and chatting with other hikers. Cracker slowed things up a bit, so I think I could do it a little quicker next time (and make it to the top).
I thought it would be good training for the S.A.M., which, by the way, got low registration, and is now a no-fee fun run this year - they are accepting donations for the local school sports program instead! Come up to Silverton, Colorado next weekend on August 29th and enjoy a free marathon (or 50k!) in the San Juan mountains, complete with stocked aid stations and t-shirts!
I'll do some hiking and a little running this weekend, and then rest up for the big mountain marathon next week!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Saguaro 8 mile training run with the gang

Shari and I joined the gang of SAR runners at the Saguaro 8 mile training run (Shari took the pic): That's our illustrious ex-SAR prez posing out in front, but also top runners in Tucson - Tia, Bill, Tim, Mark and others. I took a pic of my friend Markey Mark (he was stretching). That will teach him to lay down on the ground when I'm around with the camera!

Got a new necklace - my friend Beau makes them. They are super cute! She can make any personal word or symbol. Of course, guess which one I had made for me.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

CFR Summer Trail Series Race #2

Total distance: 8.1 miles (okay, it is really 7 miles, but I got off course...)

Yep, I missed a turn and went a 1/2 mile off course, and finally realized it when I was going deeper into the Tortolitas instead of back towards the city. So, I backtracked and found the right turnoff. The RD, Ott, had marked turns pretty well, but I was running at such a good clip that I missed his BRIGHT ORANGE sign, which was next to the 'Alamo Springs' trail sign (the trail we were supposed to stay on). Lack of sleep and too much overtime at work will do it every time....

And, you know, it really is all about the experience. That extra out and back was just beautiful and so runnable.

I was bummed, though, because I was doing very well before that happened! But, shortly after getting onto the right trail, I ran into Cathy, a participant who was going the wrong way on the course! She was coming at me and was so happy to see me! She said she had been going in circles and couldn't find her way back and felt like she was going to cry! So...all of a sudden, I felt so helpful. If I hadn't gotten off course, I would never had seen Cathy, nor would anyone else (I was second to last because of my gaffe and Cathy came in last). My getting lost was not in vain. She was very grateful and I was so glad I could be of service. I was just feeling yesterday this need to give of myself more to others. Thank you God!

Pictured: Siouxsie (Cathy's daughter), Cathy, me and Patricia. I ran with Patricia during last year's Summer Trail Series.
I'm sure they would have found Cathy when they swept the course, but she certainly would have really had a tough time out there by herself in the meantime. I've been lost before and it is not a great feeling.

All of my pictures came out blurry; I had inadvertently changed a setting on my camera, and I'm not sure why it affected the clarity.

Total time: 1:56:49

Total cumulative elevation gain/(loss): 1,790/(1,815) feet

High point: 3,841 feet
I was going to run more afterwards, but I was just beat, and it was starting to get hot, since we were down at lower elevation. I called it good.

Of course, Ott had mini-bagels and yummy turkey breast, which I very much enjoyed, and all sorts of great food. Another fantastic race by Cat Foot Racing. I wish I could do race #3 on Mt. Lemmon next week, which sounds awesome, but I'll be in Flagstaff for a conference (I'm hoping to get to do Mt. Humphreys while I'm there.)

I've been trying out some new shoes - I've worn Montrail Vitesse for a long time for rocky trails (Inov8's for sandy, less technical trails), but I started having a lot of toenail problems. I switched to the La Sportiva Wildcat and so far, so good. They have a hefty toe guard and my feet feel like they don't shift around so much and jam up on the downhills. Plus, they were 50% off at (49.95!). I liked them so much, I bought another pair to use later.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Finding balance

I look a little less dirty when I go to work. Working too many hours this week. Desperately need to find some balance in my life.
I decided I would take a few days off at the end of this month and do the Silverton Alpine Marathon (S.A.M). I just found out about it and it sounds like an awesome run. The San Juan mountains are just amazing. There is also a 50k option, but I don't think I'll be ready for that, so I'll just stick with the marathon distance (which I should be able to do; they give you 9 hours to finish).
Imogene Pass Race is two weeks later, but I think with some concentrated tapering (and an icy cold dip in the Animas river after the S.A.M.!), I think I can recover in time. I'll be taking off a few days from work then, too.
Then, in October, I'll be taking some time off work to go to Nashville for the Nashville Ultra. I decided on the 60k distance, which is 37.2 miles, and will be the longest I've ever run. My brother, sister, and Mom will be there to cheer me on with their families, so I think I can do it!
I just don't get workaholism. Don't get me wrong; I love accounting. I just don't want to do it 60 hours a week! Takes away too much time from the important things in life: God, family, friends, and of course, trail running.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Saguaro 8 mile training run

After my 18 miler yesterday, I managed to do 8 miles this morning at Saguaro National Park East on the hilly loop. I ran with Boone (Dan) for a while, but had to walk the big hill. Too sore from yesterday. I caught up with Natalie, who was at the trail race yesterday, and we ran the rest of the way together. She is super nice. I also saw Tia, Mark, Laszlo and Lauren (and their dog, Frank - isn't that a great name for a dog?) I'll be taking the next couple of days off to rest my legs.
I ran 45 miles this week.