Thursday, June 30, 2016

I'm a Dirty River Rat

News alert:

I am up to 42 push ups. In a row. Every night before bed Ken says, "Did you do your 42?" and I sigh and get mad that I am tired and have to do them. Then like two cute and elderly love birds, we get in position next to one another and knock those bitches out. See what you get with 21 years of marriage? Blissfully doing push ups then passing out in bed.

Well, I'm back from a whirlwind weekend in Phoenix (took Sam there for ASU orientation) and Vegas (took myself there for some R&R). The average temperature was stupid hot degrees. Like the kind of hot where you can bake chocolate chip cookies in your car (yes someone did this). The kind of hot where you get third degree burns from sitting on your black leather seat (because everyone rents a black car with black leather seats in Arizona in June, right)?

Pictures of the fun in Tempe.

Because every boy loves his mom to hang out on his dorm room bed

Guess I'm an official Sun Devil. Whatever that means.

Then Vegas. Oh how I love you. But only for a couple of days. After that I kind of hate you for taking my money.

Dreaming about shopping at Ross while drinking my wine (look closely)

Now I'm back to training. With only six weeks to go until the TransRockies Run, things are ramping up.

Yesterday I got out for an 8 mile trail run. Here's proof (if you look close you can see my healing cold sore).

Very shortly after this video was filmed, I could be found flying in mid air then landing and sliding on my stomach. Yes, half the trail was left on my shirt. Obviously I am meant to be a combination trail runner/baseball player.

I did not see any snakes, but I know they were there lurking behind every bush, under every rock.

Here's what my next few days look like:

Friday: 6 miles with hill repeats
Saturday: 16 miles on trails
Sunday: 8 miles on trails.

Going to hopefully wind this week up with a total of 43.5 miles.

New subject alert: So...quite a few people have emailed me about the book Shut Up and Run that is now out. No, I did not write it. Yes, I do know about it. That's all I'm going to say about that. Except that if I ever do write a book I guess it will have to be:

Shit Up and Run
Shut Up and Run Again
Shut Up and Run Better Than the First Book

And, just because it's the cutest thing you'll see all day - Krosby and Heidi. Or, as they are known in Hollywood - Kreidi

Last time you fell on a run?

If you wrote a book what would it be called?

What's your country nick name? Mine's Dirty River Rat. Sounds about right (see above white shirt turned into mud).


Friday, June 24, 2016

My New Invention

You guys, I got the best souvenir from the Leadville Marathon (race report HERE) last weekend!

A huge cold sore that encompasses the entirety of my lower lip! It is pussy (puss-ee, get your mind out of he gutter), swollen, angry and disgusting. If it is raining, you can come stand under my lip! If only there weren't the icky blisters, I might look sexy and like I got lip injections. So not the case.

I would post a picture, but no one needs to see that. Unless you are a lip doctor and can do something about this mother f&%cker.

So, typically after a marathon I would take quite a time to recover. But since I am trying to train myself to run on tired legs, I did no such thing. I took Sunday and Monday off. Then:

Tuesday: 4 miles (God help my legs)
Wednesday: 8 miles (hot, slow)
Thursday: 12 miles (hot slow)
Friday: 6 miles
Sunday (planned Strip Run in Vegas): 6 miles

All runs felt sluggish. But, duh.

So, today I head off to Tempe, AZ to take Sam to ASU orientation. 118 degrees rocks! Then Erika and I are sending Sam back to Denver and we are heading to Vegas for some debauchery. I plan to lose all of my money, get a headache from smoke and drink a tad too much all in the name of fun.

 I am not expecting to talk to anyone because everyone balks at a cold sore and doesn't want to be your friend. It really does make you look like a monster.

Today when I was running and trying not to think about how much I didn't want to be running, I decided someone should invent a mini-visor for your lips. I use sunscreen on my lips, but when I have huge blisters, that becomes difficult and painful. So, a lip visor is clearly in order. Shark Tank, I'm coming for you. Mark Cuban loves a good mini lip visor. (It doesn't exist, I checked).

Do you get mean, angry cold sores? What's your remedy? I only get them from the sun. I should have re-applied on Saturday, but I was too distracted by running a marathon.

Vegas: Love or hate? I am a HUGE Vegas fan (in moderation). I love playing blackjack (and losing)


Monday, June 20, 2016

2016 Leadville Marathon Race Report

Here we go..

You guys know I had some trepidation and anxiety about this race. That's what happens when you take on a huge goal that scares the shit out of you. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending, even if there was some crappy stuff (literally) in the miles between 1 and 26.2.

The drive on the way up. My poor kids.

We stayed in Breckenridge the night before - about an hour from Leadville. I slept like most of us sleep the night before a race: like hell. I tossed and turned, too hot, too cold. Woke up soaked from night sweats (WTF? Does this happen to any one else? Is it age? Hormones? Did I wet myself)? I also woke with a headache and wondered if it was altitude (Breck is at about 9,000 feet). I was having a hard time eating anything and that stressed me out too.

We arrived in Leadville at about 6:45 a.m. and grabbed my race packet. I managed to choke down some GU Chomps (watermelon) and took a couple of salt tabs. I always take Salt Stick tabs when I do long races in the heat. I didn't realize however, that the ones I brought with me had caffeine and I hadn't had those before, which kind worried me (nothing new on race day, folks!). Seems that they became my secret weapon for the day.

Basically, I was worried about a lot of things.

We got to the start and the nerves calmed a bit as the excitement picked up. It was a glorious day to be in Leadville. High 30's at the start, and would be approaching 80 degrees at the finish.

Crewman Ken helped me out a bit (we celebrated 21 years on Friday! Yay us! Our marriage can drink legally!)

The Star Spangled Banner played (I always get teary), the gun went off and so did we (8:00 a.m.). There always has to be some asshat at the start of a marathon who yells, "Almost there!"

There is nothing gradual about this course. You start out climbing and do that for the first 6 miles. It was grueling. By mile 3 I was struggling to run at all given the rocky/technical trail and how steep it was. I was in good company as no one else was able to run either. Lots of huffing and puffing. Being a marathon, I had no idea how to pace because I didn't want to blow out my legs early on. So, I kept it pretty moderate, remembering I had a few mountains to climb and miles to go.

Finally, we reached the summit of Ball Mountain (elev. 12,300 feet). It was stunning and these pictures don't do it justice. Although I think this guy's thumb is the highlight.

Next we were treated to a screaming and technical downhill for 2 miles before we started the long and grueling climb up Mosquito Pass. I felt surprisingly good. Every 45-60 minutes I took in a GU. I took a Salt Stick tab every hour without fail. So I'd remember to eat, I would run with a GU in my fist for a few miles, then down it with plenty of water. At every aid station (there were 7 over the 26.2 miles) I'd grab a handful of potato chips. GU + chips. Fuel of champions.

I love listening to conversations on the trail, especially because so many people who run races like this are hard core:

Random girl: "A couple months ago I was doing a 50 miler and broke my wrist. I finished no problem. You don't need your wrist to run"

Random guy: "Last year when I did this race I vomited the whole way up Mosquito Pass."

Having done the 15 mile course last year I know what was in store on Mosquito Pass. Miles of incredibly steep climbing up into the very thin air. I knew running would be impossible, so I did my best to keep a quick power hike going. I was able to pass many people on my way up. And, since I was walking, I kept my phone in my hand and got some pics. Oh, and on my way up I saw Bachelor Ryan Sutter coming down. Dude is a badass, and kinda hunky.

Yeah, so, this is why I do these races.

I told it it is no joke. I feel your pain, brother.
I saw my friend, Joy, and she snapped this one:

FINALLY! the 13,100 summit and halfway.

I reached 13.2 miles in 3:15 and was good with that. I had already climbed almost 5,000 feet, so I knew the worst was over. There would be one more tough climb back up Ball Mountain to come.

Mentally, getting to this point was the highlight. I knew I could cruise down for a bit and that Ken and the kids would be at the aid station at mile 16.5. This kept me smiling and going.

So, just for a bit of TMI. Sometimes when you run, things happen down there. I won't get specific, but when I got to the aid station, I needed to do some damage control. Only there was a line at the potty and I didn't want to wait.

So I improvised with a wet paper towel and of course Ken had to document it all. See what 21 years of marriage gets you?

My family thinks I'm gross. My daughter always borrows these shorts, but she never will again.

And, off I go. Fresh as a daisy.

I could not believe how good I felt at this point. I think the salt, fueling and hydrating kept me in the game. I got to the final climb (yeah, miles 20-22 were straight up grueling). When the climbing got tough, I tried my best to do a 90/30 strategy. Walk 90 secs, run 30 secs.

Isn't this how everyone feels at mile 21 of a marathon while going up hill?

Finally, downhill all the way to the finish.

My (secret) goal for this race was to come in under 6 hours. I had looked at the results from last year and knew that a sub 6 hour race would get me top 5 in my age group. I really wasn't sure where I was time wise because my Garmin was on auto pause, so it wasn't quite accurate. I was beyond excited to come into the finish and see 5:56 on the clock.

This year, that wasn't good enough for top 5, but I placed 8/50 in the 40-49 age group and 26/146 females (ALL but one were younger than me, so BAM!!). I'm good with that.

Some post race stuff:

Cause sometimes it just feels good to squat
Happy SUAR

I cleaned up. We drank beer. We got Chipotle. Perfection.

Best support crew ever

I still can't do stairs properly, but I love the sore legs cause it is reminding me I did something really tough.

Have I convinced you to come out and do this race next year? Thanks for following along on this journey - next race is the BIG DOG. Transrockies Run, August 9-15. 120 miles.


Friday, June 17, 2016

You Better Get Out of That Comfort Zone Real Quick

Well, here we go up to Leadville (elev. 10,151 feet). Wish me luck. Hardest marathon in the USA or so they say (rhyme). I'm sure I'll have some stories to tell so check back on Monday or when I can type again after regaining consciousness.

Just a small part of the fun

By the way, remember my push up challenge? I'm now up to 38 in a row. 5 weeks ago I could scarcely do 5. So I take that as a victory even if I crash and burn at Leadville. If I do crash and burn I will scream to everyone, "But I can do 38 push ups mother f-----ckers!!" And they will all bow down to me in awe of my greatness.

Ken Chlouber, found of the Leadville Race Series, once said:
"There comes a point, no matter how good an athlete you are, no matter how well trained you are, that it's going to transcend the physical, and become about the mental. You better get rid of that comfort zone real quick." 
I am going to do my best to remember this when the going gets tough (the tough get GOING!<I made that up).

My race strategy: Wear all new clothes, preferably those that chafe. Hydrate the night before with only beer. Eat a chili cheese dog for breakfast. Go out really fast.

Moving on:

Did I tell you we got a kitten? Oh my. He is Krosby (named after Croby from Parenthood). He is not cute at all, which sucks.

I have been neutered. Let me show you.

He and Heidi are learning to hit it off. Proof:

Basically Heidi tolerates him in that way Golden Retrievers do (such martyrs). I only got Krosby because he matched Heidi. And I like the feeling of his sandpaper tongue. Oh, and I love the scent of the litter box.

That's all folks. Have a great weekend!

Any advice or me for this race?

Are you racing this weekend? Where?

Do you have any pets? Are they assholes?


Monday, June 13, 2016

When Running Sucks

Today I am having a running hangover. I cannot seem to shake what went down yesterday. So, I write this post here for the world to see instead of in my diary (who am I kidding? I don't have a diary).

Dear Diary, yesterday's 15 mile run SUCKED.

So, here's the thing. I've been moving along with my training for the TransRockies Run, feeling pretty strong, getting it done.

I should have known the day would come. It always does. It's the day that strips you of confidence and motivation. Where just like that your running is in the toilet. You are surprised and shocked. Maybe you cry and have a tantrum. You wonder - why do I even do this? That wasn't fun. It didn't make me feel good.

Then, if you are like me, you try to come up with a million reasons your run sucked. You are grasping at straws because there is no way it was just a bad run. There has to be a cause, a source.

I'm dehydrated
I drank too much last night
It's too hot
It's too cold
I'm constipated
I have diarrhea
I'm stressed
I'm over-trained
I'm under-trained
My shorts are chafing
I have a hairball I need to cough up

Whatever you think is the cause, it's probably not. Just as we have amazing runs and we are not sure why we felt so good and strong, we have horrible runs and don't know why we felt so crappy and weak. It is just what happens.

About yesterday's run: Well, I wanted to do the 15 miles on somewhat tired legs to prepare for my future. So, on Saturday I did a hard trail run of about 7 miles (see how I'm rationalizing why I crashed and burned?). Sunday, my friend Sylvie and I went up to Magnolia Road. If you live n Boulder and are a runner, you know "Mags". It is a 15 mile (7.5 out and 7.5 back) with about 1,600 feet of vertical gain. It has been the training spot for many Olympians and cross country teams.  Looks something like this:


You could call it pleasantly rolling hills, but I call it an asshole. Or, at least I did yesterday.

The run started okay enough. By mile two or so I was sucking air and my legs felt pretty dead. Sylvie, on the other hand, was dashing up hills. It was gorgeous scenery and it was fun being out there with her, but I could feel my mental and physical energy getting zapped.

I had those thoughts of: why do I think I can do this? Why do I feel so out of shape? Shit, I have the Leadville Marathon next weekend. I should probably drop out. All of this to say, that by the end I was doing the walk of shame to the car. Sylvie reminded me that this is what it is all about, pushing ourselves so that we can have successes even when it doesn't feel like it. That we do this to know we can do hard things.

Speaking of hard things (TWSS):

Saturday I will be doing this race:

It's a doozy. The winner in my old lady division (40-49) did it in 5 hours last year. I will be very lucky to come in around 6 hours.

I will certainly have moments (probably at mile 12 I will cry), but I'll just have to put one foot in front of the other. Relentless forward motion (RFM).

Remember: One ultra sucky day of running does not define you as a runner or as a person. RFM.

When was your last really bad run/race?


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Ragnar Snowmass Trail Relay 2016: Am I Too Old for This Shit?

I've done my share of long distance running relays - six to be exact. None of them are created equal in any way, shape or form.

When you put 8-12 people together for at least 24 hours or running, there's sweat, stink, laughter, fear, fatigue, farts and joy, There are endless war stories of miles runs, poops taken, food eaten and sleep not gotten. And, in the midst of all of the chaos, there is bonding and the feeling of having accomplished something hard won.

From the Wild West Relay we did a few years back.
There is always (at least for me) a point in the race (usually when it is the middle of the night and I am tired, cold, sick to my stomach) that I think, "Why the eff am I doing this?" But, then the sun comes up, I have coffee in my hand and I realize why I do this.

Because it makes me feel alive and is WAY out of my comfort zone. And I love to run even though sometimes it is a stupid idiot and I hate it.

The Ragnar Trail Relay in Snowmass, CO this weekend was an interesting one for me. In all of the relays I've done before, we rent vans and drive around endlessly dropping off and picking up runners over 24-30 hours as we each complete anywhere from a total of 12-35 miles of running.

It is kind of a logistical nightmare, and it is exhausting, but there is something profoundly stimulating about being in a van that smells like ass mixed with sweaty balls for so many hours. You bond, you try to sleep crunched up in the fetal position and you are extremely uncomfortable in the best way possible.

I think I was peeing out of the van door at this point.

This weekend's relay was different, however. Instead of the van thing, we set up a camp in a central spot with a few of our friends:

This spot was in a rec center field surrounded by the hills/mountains of Snowmass, Colorado and located at 8,500 feet.

Always a good idea to drink a Fat Tire beer before you run 21 miles. Carbs, baby!

Our fearless captain

The deal was, we each had three runs to do and we would each do the same three, but in a different order. We were one of just a few masters teams (meaning we are all 40+ years old).

Because one of our team mates couldn't go at the last minute, I picked up an extra leg of running, bringing my total running miles to 21.2 miles with 3,800 feet of climbing. This sounded like a good idea last week while drinking a beer on the back porch. Not such a good idea in reality.

Ken started us out at about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Collectively, we would run 22 hours and 116 miles. I was the sixth of eight runners, so my first run was at 8:30 p.m. just as the sun was setting. It was a gut busting, lung burning climb of 1,250 feet  up to the top of this ridge.

The climb was worth every minute of bitching I did in my head

I cannot express the glory of the scenery. The scramble descent was a blast. 3 miles of cruising down the mountain. I turned on my head lamp at the end, but had mostly daylight. I finished the 6.7 miles in 1 hour, 9 minutes. Ken told me that before I started out someone had seen a bear on the trail where I was. Knowing I'd be going back up there at 2 a.m. I wondered why he hadn't held off on that bit of info.

If you want this shirt, you can get it at Walmart for $8.94. Just sayin'
The journey continued as our runners went out and came back in. I had my second run, the same leg as my first at 2 am. In the mean time I had tried sleeping, but it was freezing cold. I went to wait at the start and was shivering so hard I had no clue how I was going to run. As Kristen handed off to me, I truly wasn't sure how I would manage this thing. I huffed and puffed my way back up the mountain, in the complete cold and darkness, not encountering many other runners. My run down was slow and cautious - running steep trails in the dark is not easy. The bear and I did not meet up, and for that I was grateful.

After finishing, I waited about 40 minutes, then went out again at 4 a.m. for a tough 3.8 mile stretch with 700 feet of climbing. In the dark again. I was again freezing and mentally deflated. I kept telling myself, just get it done, then you can sleep for a bit before your last run. I rolled my ankle and almost cried.

Get it done, I told myself. And, I did. As for sleep, nada. Then the sun made an appearance on my face and I had 3 cups of Via coffee and the world was a different place. My last run in the sun at 11am:

Yes, Ed, this bib does make my butt look big

We all did our final runs, grabbed some beer, and joined our team mate, Ed, as he made his way across the finish at 2:30 p.m. Then there was beer, burgers and a long drive home.

Happy runners from left to right: Brain (Capitano), Carolyn (Always Smilin'), Keith (the Comeback Kid), Ed (Fast Boy), Ken (LOML), Eve (Downhill Queen), Me, Henry (13 Year Old Stud), Kristen (Ironman to Be and Henry's Mom).

The moral of the story is: Stay home and sleep. Just kidding. The REAL moral is:

Life's better when it's not boring. And, when it includes friends, running and sweat.

Ever done a relay or do you want to?


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Necessary Losses

So, this happened.

Longmont High School Graduation
If you've been reading the blog for awhile, then you have seen Sam grow up a bit (I started the blog when he was about 11 years old).

It's been a bag of mixed emotions. I am just riding the wave. I've been reminded of an amazing book I read almost 20 years ago called Necessary Losses. I think my mom passed it onto me. I don't remember too much, but the premise of the book is basically that in order to move forward in life, loss has to be part of the equation. Certainly there is literal loss due to death, but there is figurative loss too -  Loss of our childhood. Loss of our innocence. Loss of our youthful skin as wrinkles set in. Loss of children as they grow up and move out. Loss of our PRs as we get older. The list goes on.

Basically it is about letting go. Learning to understand and accept the progression of life. Bottom line: Loss is inevitable. In fact, we start to experience loss from the moment we are born (when the cord is cut!)

Well, the literal cord was cut between me and Sam (by Ken!) over 18 years ago. But, the invisible cord still remains. Just because he goes 820 miles southwest to Tempe, Arizona doesn't mean the cord vanishes. It just changes. Maybe it becomes a bit longer and thinner. Maybe its strength increases and decreases with life's changes. But, just because he is up and out of the nest, I don't think of him as gone. He is just away for a bit and will be back.

As they say, it's not goodbye, it's just see you in a bit.



PS: Get the book. It helps.