Friday, September 30, 2016

Countdown to Sunday's Marathon & My Bucket List

TGIF bitches!

Sunday is my 10th marathon in the past 7 years  (if you include the two marathons that were part of my two Ironmans, which I do. 26.2 miles is 26.2 miles no matter how you slice it). It's the Blue Sky Trail Marathon near Ft. Collins, CO. Single track, about 3,500 feet of vertical.

Here's my thrilling marathon history.

Rock 'n Roll Phoenix - 2009
Colorado Marathon - 2010
Boston Marathon - 2011
Colfax Marathon (Denver) - 2013
Ironman Florida - 2013
Los Angeles Marathon - 2014
Ironman Boulder - 2014
Jerusalem Marathon - 2015
Leadville Marathon - 2016

Jerusalem Marathon Finish - I don't know the neon green shirt guy, but
he looks happy for me.
I have never done the same race twice. I don't see the point when there are so many races and so little time. And, as you can tell, I love to travel for races. Some of my bucket list ones?

Great Wall of China - what's not to love about running up 5,164 steps in the heat and humidity!

Athens Marathon - birthplace of the marathon and where I went to high school

Paris Marathon - j'aime Paris. I spent a semester there in college. Would love to run through this iconic city and see all the places I drank too much

NYC because, duh

Jungrau Marathon (Switzerland) - the views will make you cry

Antarctic Ice Marathon - because I love suffering and freezing my ass off! Forever bragging rights.

Midnight Sun Marathon (Norway). Yep, the sun doesn't set, so you start running at 8:30 p.m. Wait. That's a half hour past my bedtime.

I guess I'm ready for Sunday.  I never feel 100% ready for any race. It's good to be a bit scared and humbled by the distance. My goal? Being single track and with a fair amount of climbing, I'm hoping to be done in just over 5 hours. We'll see.

This is the absolute best time if year to train in Colorado. It's the kind of temperature when you are never too hot or too cold. Where the sun is always shining, but the intensity of the summer sunshine has given way to a softer, gentler glow.

That said, race conditions will be warm on Sunday - getting up to the low 80s. Not a runner's favorite temperature. But, when we start at 7am it will be in the 40s, so that's something. And, like I've told you there is not a speck of shade for the last 16 miles of the course.

I'll let you know how it goes.

After this race, I have no other races on the agenda. But, guess which lottery Ken and I signed up for??

Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, baby! 1.5 mile swim/18 mile bike/8 mile run. Ken, did you know the swim was that long?

Have a great weekend.

What race is on the tip top of your bucket list?

Are you racing this weekend? Where/what distance

Ever done Escape from Alcatraz?


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

5 Unexpected Perks of Running (I bet you didn't know about #4)

Before I dive into this irresistible subject matter, let me tell you about a dream I had last night.

I tore up all of my running shorts and skirts (except the Cheetah skirt. Even in my dream, that is sacred). Then I threw them in a skillet and made chili out of them. The chili burned so  I never ate it, but...WTF?

If you are a dream interpreter out there - I have just given you your biggest challenge.

Could not imagine adding this skirt to my chili
Moving on.

I went to the eye doctor the other day for my annual eye exam. She put those yellow drops in my eyes, the dye that helps the doctor examine your cornea. Then she said, "You must be a runner. The liquid was absorbed so quickly into your system. That means that you have really good blood flow from running." Hmmmm. Who knew? Of course I nodded in agreement that yes indeed I am a runner and uh huh you are right, sister, I have great blood flow. Bring on the yellow dye!

This got me to thinking. While we all know the obvious health benefits of running, there have got to be some less known ones, right? Kind of like how you know that farting is good for you because it aids in digestion, but I bet you didn't know that sniffing farts might actually protect you from illness (see HERE). Another perk of reading my blog! You learn the best trivia ever.

1. Your Sex Life Improves. You don't even have to watch porn while you run to get the benefit. Running boosts testosterone levels, which increases sex drive. Also, running raises your heart rate and strengthens the heart and lungs. You know where I am going with this. - running in general improves endurance so you can perform well in the bedroom. Lastly, that blood flow thing I was talking about earlier? Increased blood flow means increased arousal. How do you think men get boners anyway? 

2. You Save Money. Yeah, you are probably going to tell me I'm high - that running is ridiculously expensive what with all the watches, race entries, clothing and shoes. But, remember this! How many happy hours or late nights out have you forgone because you had a long run the next day! That alone has to have saved you thousands upon thousands of dollars. Yes, I exaggerate, but you get my point.

3. It Might Improve Your Asthma. Clearly I'm no doctor, so read this and then forget it - however, studies have shown that running can can help strengthen your defenses against an asthma attack. It can improve heart and lung fitness, and certainly boosts the mood. Certainly if you have attacks frequently, then running might be too much for you. And, of course follow doctor's orders.

4. You Won't Go Blind (as fast). Running has been shown to reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. For this reason, running can be a more cost effective, safer and smarter way to protect and preserve eye health.(source)

5. Hangovers Dissipate More Quickly. I wrote an article about how to run with a hangover (read it HERE), but I didn't talk about how running actually can improve the dreaded nausea, headache and fatigue. Ever start a run feeling like a pile of dehydrated dog crap, and end feeling relatively normal? Although you don't technically sweat out the alcohol, running does release endorphins and adrenaline, which can make you feel a hell of a lot better. Plus, the fresh air helps Just remember to hydrate before and during.

New Years' Day carnage
Any other perks you want to add?

Who is going to take a stab at interpreting my dream?


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

An Emotional 20 Miler

When you do a long run - like a really long run that takes you numerous hours, poop breaks, fuel stops, etc - do you ever feel like you've covered a lifetime in one run?

All runs are different. Some are joyous occasions of effortless forward motion. Some are shit shows of pain, suffering and mental breakdowns. Most are somewhere in the middle.

This weekend was my last long run before taper and the Blue Sky Marathon on October 2. I know you're probably thinking - damn, did she even train for that marathon? I don't remember reading much about her training.

Little secret: that's because there wasn't much training!

Don't judge me.

Yeah, well, I kind of trained. It was an abbreviated training cycle of about 5 weeks. I don't really recommend that for marathon training, but I was coming off of a summer of running non stop in preparation for the TransRockies, so I figured it was all good.

Famous last words. We'll see how that works out for me.

Anyway, my longest run this past weekend was to be 20 miles. I decided that since the race is only about 45 minutes away, I'd go up north and run 20 miles of the course.

There are just a few twists and turns and ways to get lost (foreshadow).

Ken agreed to come along. He must really like me. Or, he's hoping for some kind of favors. Yes, honey I'll turn off the Real Housewives and get you a bourbon and ginger.

The first loop of 8 miles was steep as shit and gorgeous. I think we climbed about 1,700 feet or so.

Dual shots of old-married-couple-being-tired

Back at the car we re-fueled with some Uncrustables, ice water and Saltstick, then headed out for the last 12 miles. We'd never been on these trails before, and really had no clue what to expect. They were much narrower than anticipated with lots of rolling up and downs.

It was about 10am by now and getting hotter by the minute. There was not one mother eff'ing ounce of shade to be had. Not even a large weed you could hide under. There were, however, some enormous piles of poop with berries in them - the kind that make you scratch your head and wonder who left that turd and why right in the middle of the trail?

No, it wasn't me. I don't eat berries.

So, about 30 minutes in I realized Ken was behind me a bit. We were going out 6 miles and back, so I figured I'd catch him when I turned around.

The trail was really lonely with only an occasional mountain biker. This area (called Devil's Backbone if that gives you an idea) is notorious for rattlesnakes. I was feeling a bit vulnerable and couldn't help but wonder...

WhereTF was Ken?

I got to the turn around. About that time my phone buzzed with a text. One of our high school teachers, age 34, and his wife had been killed in a car accident the night before. Their two year old daughter survived. It was a rollover-one car accident and they were not wearing seat belts.

I felt like someone had punched me in the gut. This was a favorite teacher of Sam's. An all round awesome guy/father/husband/teacher/coach. My eyes kept welling with tears, trying to grasp it all. And, WTF was Ken?

I kept running.

I called Sam at ASU to give him the news. I didn't want him to learn through social media. Again tears.

By this time, I started to get really pissed off at Ken.  He abandoned me. Left me out here to rot and be adopted by rattlesnake families. Just cause he got hot and tired doesn't mean he should turn around and leave me. No favors for him.

But wait. Maybe he has a good reason. He's sick. His balls are chafed. He was craving more Uncrustables.

Anger. Tears. Frustration. Sadness. Fear.

I kept running. Thinking of life and death and how quickly things change.

Finally, after 4 hours of running I got back to the car. I was sure Ken was inside the air conditioned Ford Edge eating Uncrustables and drinking my ice water. But... I opened the car door and he was nowhere to be found. He hadn't even been there.

WTF was Ken?

At that moment I started to panic. Yeah, it probably didn't help that I was dealing with the trauma of the unexpected tragedy of last night too. I started asking mountain bikers if they'd seen him. No one had. Just then, a rescue helicopter flew overhead. Really?

I knew if he was on the trail I would have seen him. I had no clue what to do. Is he off the trail hurt or sick? I called friends. No one answered. My mom and dad were out the country, so I couldn't call them. I considered 911, but that felt premature.

Finally, I asked another biker if they had seen him. Yes, he was just a ways back. I started walking until I reached him. Turns out, he had taken a different turn than me by mistake.

I knew it! I knew he wouldn't abandon me (<if he only knew what I had been thinking. Well now he does).

He said: "That run was about 12 miles too long." Yep, I've felt that way before.

After we reunited, I broke the sad, sad news to him.

In the days following that run, I've thought endlessly about life and its many mysteries, unfoldings, gifts and heartaches. I keep coming back to a few simple thoughts.

  • I want to feel all moments and be present with all people. No regrets
  • I will continue to live a life that will make people miss me when I am gone
  • My role is to comfort, support, love and cherish others. And make them smile/laugh.
  • When life is too much to bear, I can run. This is comforting to me.

Tomorrow I will go to a funeral to support my friends, our school and our community. I will go to show respect and to find comfort with and connection in people. I will never forget exactly where I was - on a trail by myself surrounded by beauty - when I heard the news of this horrible accident. I will remember Jared, the smiling physics teacher. And I'll probably always wonder why.

RIP Jared and Genevieve. And blessings to their little girl.

Image result for jared sommervold


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

No, I'm Not Getting a Divorce

You know it's been a good week when you can come up with a crap-load of BEST things that have happened. Read on, friends.

Best Request from a Vet:

I told you that I'm getting my Golden Retriever, Heidi, registered as a therapy dog. This process involves jumping through some hoops. My favorite part has been obtaining a stool sample from Ms. Heidi so that her crap can be tested for parasites.

The vet told me, "So, we will need a stool sample. Just get one the size of a Tootsie Roll." Seriously? Why compare a dog's feces to candy? What if I happen to enjoy Tootsie Rolls? Do you think it is now helpful for me to always and forever look at Tootsie Rolls and remember Heidi's shit in a plastic container?

Despite her candy-like poops, Heidi will make the best therapy dog in the universe if we can pass the team evaluation. I just hope she doesn't shit Tootsie Rolls on the evaluator.

Krosby, on the other hand, is way too domineering to be a therapy animal

Best To-Do List:

So, I like keeping my to-do lists old style. I write them by hand and it has to be with a mechanical pencil. My daily to-do lists are on scrap paper. Other to-do lists (groceries, etc) are on sticky notes or small pads of paper. This week, I started (but did not finish) a to-do list of the new fall shows that I want to watch (like the show Divorce with Sarah Jessica Parker). Here it is:

Don't be jealous of my pad of paper
The fun part was Ken came downstairs and saw the list.

Ken: "So I see on your to-do list you have 'divorce' as an item. Is there something you need to tell me?" I love him. 

Best Inspiration:

On Friday I did my long trail run of 18 miles. By myself. Me, myself and I had lots of quality time together to ponder why Tootsie Rolls look like dog shit, why hot dogs come in packs of 8 but hot dog buns come in packs of 6, and if Sam misses me while he is away at college and cries himself to sleep every night (after doing keg stands and what not).

Anyway, about five miles in, I got to the top of one trail that has sweeping views of Longs Peak and some meadows. There weren't many people out that day, but there was an older runner man sitting on a bench enjoying the solitude (until I came up and farted).

We talked for a bit about our favorite trails, etc. He then shared with me that he can't run fast or well anymore - his diaphragm doesn't work right and he just had a hole in his heart repaired. He demonstrated how hard it is for him to take a deep breath and that he struggles running due to not being able to get enough oxygen.

But here he was, refusing to give up something like trail running that he loves so much. He said he'd rather die doing what he loved than live longer and not do it at all. Yep, I get that. No excuses folks.

Best New (to me) Long Run Fuel:

After doing the TransRockies run it became clear to me that there is an ultra running food that I have been missing out on. So when these were on sale at Costco I made an impulse buy.

I am usually a whole grain, natural peanut butter and jelly kind of girl - but DAMN. At mile 12 this tasted like heaven. And, it beats a gooey, sugary gel (plus, the cost about 44 cents each, if that).

Best T-Shirt:

I know this is stupid, but stupid is my middle name and stupid is funny. I need this shirt in my life. Watching Ken trying to figure this out by pronouncing it slooowwwllly three times in a row made my whole year. Maybe I won't divorce him after all.

Image result for say eye spell map say ness

Best First Experience:

No I didn't lose my virginity.

Guess what? I actually won my age group at a 5k this weekend (23:13; 7:31 min/mile pace). I've never come in first in my age group before. Doesn't matter that it wasn't a super competitive race or that there were only 33 people in my age group - I won Mother f&ckers!

Give me one of your 'bests' from the week. Anything goes! Hell, I talked about dog shit.

Favorite long run fuel?

Ever come in first in a race? Not before this weekend, and probably never again (well, maybe when I'm in the 80-89 age group)


Thursday, September 8, 2016

How to Get Un-Stuck

You probably thought this post was going to be about how to get your tongue un-stuck from the frozen flagpole, but you would be wrong.

Who else loves this movie beyond belief? 

We are going down a serious road today, folks.

Lately, I've been stuck. I'm been trudging through the motions, but with no particular vision or enthusiasm. After a summer filled with intense training (which culminated in my big 6 day race), then immediately sending Sam off to college, I kind of fell into a funk. And life felt like it slowed to a grinding halt.

Nothing was wrong, per se, but each day felt a bit like trudging through quick sand towards no known destination. Okay, perhaps that's a bit dramatic, but my point is - I like to feel great energy and passion for my days, no matter what they hold. For a minute I lost that feeling and I kind of hated it.

So, what did I do? Well, after drinking wine and watching Bachelor in Paradise I got slightly disgusted with myself and took charge.

Here's the thing. I think we all go through times where we question everything. Times where we feel stuck in a rut. It can be in relation to our running, our jobs, our parenting, our relationships, or merely a mingling of all of these things. It's natural to hit these phases. What's important, however, is that we don't stay stuck.

Here's are the steps I used to pull myself out of the quick sand:

1. Shit or get off the pot: When people are in a rut they like to complain. A lot. You know why? Because complaining and bitching are much easier to do than actually tackling the problem.

Personally, one of my claim to fames is that I am a quick pooper. I am in and out of the shitter faster than I can even open a magazine, let alone read the story. So, my issue is not that I can't shit and get off the pot. It's just knowing what to do once I'm off the pot.

Seriously, ya'll. Can I just get some privacy?

Which leads me to...

2. Do the opposite. One of the quickest and most sure fire ways to un-stuck yourself in a hurry is to get busy shaking up your routine and habits. This is also most guaranteed to take you way out of your comfort zone, so get ready for the ride.

Doing the opposite entails just that. If you normally run in the morning, run at night. If you run on flat dirt roads, run on steep trails instead. If you only read fiction, experiment with non fiction. If you have sex with women, have sex with men (okay, maybe not the last one?). Anyway, the point is that nothing takes you out of your rut more quickly than spicing things up and doing things differently. It's amazing how just a shift in how we do things can bring us back to life.

3. Screw fear. Research shows that 89.2% of the time we don't do things we want to do because we are afraid (okay, I made up that statistic, but it's got to be at least that high). What are we so afraid of? It's one thing to be legitimately afraid of something that is purely dangerous. In fact, it's mighty swell that living things are granted the internal fight or flight instinct. This keeps us from going up and petting the rattlesnake or trying to make love to the shark we see while we are surfing.

That's not the fear I'm talking about. The fear that holds us down and keeps us from living our best life is perceived fear. Fake fear. When it all boils down to nothingness, we are left with the one big fear that most of us share. FOF.

Fear of Failure

FOF is the main ingredient in our Stuck Recipe. If we take out that fear, what would be capable of doing? Finishing a marathon? Writing a book? Going back to school? Making the perfect apple pie crust?

4. Get Over Yourself. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the reason we have such a FOF is that we are ego maniacs. If we didn't have such egos, we wouldn't be so afraid of failing or being rejected. We just wouldn't care. We'd fall down, brush ourselves off and get back at it. But, that's hard to do. When we "fail" we internalize it and tell ourselves we are not good enough. We get paralyzed.

What we need to realize is that falling down is part of what we do as humans. Progress can't be made without it. When you were a baby, what would have happened if each time you tried to walk and you fell, you just stopped tying to walk? Right now you'd be sitting in your stroller feeling sorry for yourself.

The moral of the story is: Don't get stuck in your stroller. Or, something like that.

Here's what I've done this week to get unstuck:

  • Finished my online class to get Heidi registered as a therapy dog
  • Started to write an article to pitch to some publications
  • Ran in just a sports bra and shorts. Outside. In public.  (yep. I'll be 50 in 5 months and I don't care)
  • Sold a car
  • Dealt with a ridiculously abrasive and aggressive person in my job and came out unscathed and proud of how I handled it.
  • Oh, and I ran a lot but you already knew that.


How about you? What small step are you going to take to move forward and get out of your (running or other) rut?