Monday, July 30, 2007

Where have I been....oh!....Paradise!

This is a picture of our destination...Mt. Timpenogos. Folks say the mountain looks like a lady lying down starting from your left is the head, then the bust and at the end is the feet. We climbed the Timpenooke trail to the top and traversed from the saddle near the feet to the bust then just before the face we dropped down and slid down the glacier to a meadow.

Here's the details and pictures:
After about an hour drive from Deer Valley we arrived at the trail head to begin the climb. We had maps and read stuff on the web but all we really knew is it was 7.5-9 miles up and you gained 4,500 feet to top out at 11,750. We had heard the trail was in great condition and the wildflowers were in full bloom so we were excited.

Right off the bat we see another person who looks like an ultra runner. She had very little gear, trail shoes and running clothes for a mountain climb so it had to be an ultra runner. It was Deborah Askew. Very small world as she knows all the Oregon runners so it was fun to talk with her. She said it takes her about 3 hours to summit the mountain.

The climb was nice and gradual with a couple of beautiful plateaued meadows filled with wildflowers. The trail was fabulous and mostly runnable if you could breath and were in good shape. The view behind us wasn't bad either. Part of the Wasatch course is in the background as we continued our climb. It seemed quick but we were half way up when Deborah's husband pointed out a moose bedded down in the meadow below. That was ourfirst wildlife treat! The mountain was in full view the entire way up the trail and rough rocky cliffs seemed to go on forever. It was crazy to think we would soon be on top of it. The trail to the top was cut into the scree on the sides of the cliffs and large switchbacks led the way. The Timpenooke trail summits at the saddle just before the feet of lying woman. You continue on the ridge line trail which is very narrow and rocky but safe, just don't take the wrong step. The picture to the left of Beast and I was taken on the saddle. We obviously wanted to go to the summit, the highest point on Timpenogos. We also were hoping to see some Mountain Goats, a herd was spotted earlier. Once you get to the summit there is a hut and you can sign you name. At this point you have two choices. One, continue on the ridge towards the face of lying lady and slide straight down the only glacier or turn around and re-trace your steps. At the summit we began talking with some young hikers who have been here at least 4 other times and have slid down the glacier and they ensured us it would be mild with the low snowfall Utah had this last winter. We decided to follow them and check it out. If we felt it was to dangerous we could just turn around and head back. We decided to have some fun and slide down. It was such an adventure and a total blast. In the picture to the left where Beast is sliding down you can see the green meadow below, that is our destination which is about 9,500 feet at about 2 miles below the summit. At the bottom of the glacier is a beautiful lake called Emerald Lake. We filtered water from the lake then just as we were continuing our journey down the mountain we see the Goats, two mama's and two baby's. Beast made me duck down so we wouldn't scare them but I watched the mama and I am sure she was telling her baby, "look at those crazy humans ducking down so we can't see them, don't pay any attention to them". They didn't look to concerned with our presence and I got a good picture of them. After we crossed this meadow it was down a nice trail along a scree field, all very runnable. Beast and I split up for the 5 mile run downhill to the car. I put on my headphones and jammed down the mountain happy and satisfied, summiting Mt. Timpenogos, seeing a moose and goats, sliding down a snow field and running through paradise. This is one of the most beautiful runs I have ever done. Anytime anyone has an opportunity to be near Sundance, Midway, Heber or Park City this is a must do! I will be back. The altitude was tough but better and my legs are coming back!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mid-Mountain Trail and the Rail Trail

Day 2 we did the Mid-Mountain trail which is 23 miles long and travel from Deer Valley to The Canyons on the ridge line. It crosses all three ski areas, Deer Valley, Park City and The Canyons. It's all single track trail and all above 8000 feet. Beast and I headed out to do at least 16 miles of the trail point to point and take the bus back to Deer Valley. As we began our run it was obvious we were lacking air! Right off the bat we were huffing and puffing and not moving real fast but that was just fine. The trail was beautiful with all the Aspen trees and the shade was nice since the sun was hot. It was interesting to be running along and feeling a bit dizzy and sluggish but that is to be expected so I was just taking it all in paying attention to breathing. Beast was trying to teach me how to breath using respite breathing techniques but I was a bad student. I think I finally got the hang of it by he end of the run. We ran into a million mountain bikers on this trail because it was Saturday and all of them were very pleasant and courteous. Not trying to kill us before we could jump out the way. At about mile 8 into our run we decided to bail off and run down to Park City Ski Resort. My quads were feeling the run and lack of air and this would be our last opportunity to bail before the The Canyons which was another 8 miles. We took the Spiro trial down to the ski area. This trail drops about 2000 feet but is nice and gradual with the switchbacks. The drop is about 2.5 miles long. This was a great decision because my body was tired and I am in recovery mode right now. The last thing I need to be doing is stressing my muscles......that's next week.

My in laws and Alex arrived on Saturday. Alex has his bike so we went out for a spin around the lakes on a flat paved path. I tortured Alex by hugging him to death :). I also stole his bike and made him chase me down to get it back, he is fast!

Sunday, was an easy recovery day so we went to the Rail Trail right in Park City. This trail goes for at least 26 miles into the hills and is pretty flat. Alex came with Beast and I on his bike and we found some trails to adventure out on. All of us tried to get up this hill on Alex's mountain bike to no avail. It looked so easy and when Alex couldn't make it up the hill both Beast and I were going to show him how it is done. Well......we have a new appreciation for mountain bikers as both of us fell short falling off the bike in the same spot Alex fell. Alex was sure to let us know, "I told you so....". We ran for about an hour and could feel the tug on our lungs running very slow but with a labored breath. My legs feel better today but I have to say yesterday was a killer. I guess I am not quite recovered from Vermont :).

Tomorrow Beast and I are heading to the Mt. Tempanogos which tops out at 11,500 feet. The trail we are going to take is 9 miles up and and 9 miles down. I am sure we won't be setting any speed records but I have to sustain 3A with some 3B and AT. My first really workout since Vermont. I think it will be very easy to see these numbers with this thin air. :).

Friday, July 27, 2007

Utah - Day 1

After a 13 hour drive which included the necessary stops we arrived in Deer Valley, UT. Beast only made me eat at one bad cafe on the way :). Those who know me and the Beast are familiar with are differing eating habits so we compromised and ate out once and I brought the other meal :). We also had a contest on who could request the least amount of rest stop breaks....Micheal you would lose big in this game. Since we are both stubborn we called a tie almost every time before one or both of us burst!

Last night we were treated with the usual Wasatch evening thunderstorms. They were loud and the lightening was very bright, I love these mountains. As we were bringing up our things to the room we both huffed and puffed and felt like the building was moving but it wasn't. It was just the effects of thin air. Seeing stars and wobbling down the hallway was a great reminder of what we are here to do.

This morning we woke up refreshed from our long drive and headed out to Lambs Canyon (mile 55 of the Wasatch course) and climbed up and over to Upper Big Water (mile 62) but we did not make it all the way to the aid station. We cut it short and didn't do the paved road section but instead turned around and retraced our steps. We ran/hiked for 7.4 miles and climbed 2,840 feet. This was the first run of any significance I have done since Vermont 100M and I feel really good. I would not have been doing anything like this after WS100M. My legs had good power for the climb but the descent was harder for my legs. They were not as strong and I was not as confident my quads would hold but what do I expect......exactly what I experienced, legs a bit tired in the end. As we climbed I could feel the tug on my lungs though my HR was pretty low (around 150) but the lack of air wasn't too debilitating. I expect to get another day of feeling good and then the blood cell die off will take hold. I estimate I will feel bad for about 5 days before I begin the upswing. That is what I have been told to expect so I will keep you posted on the lung transformation :)

During our run we saw some really fresh moose tracks but no moose :(. However, we did see a hiker being followed by his pet billy goat. The goat was just like a dog as he carried a pack and followed his owner. I quickly told the Beast I want one of those and he replied, "no you don't"! He was awfully cute though.........

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Holy Moly....Rolly Poly!

The Stats:
Time: 21:36 or 12:57 per mile
Ascent: 17,060 (of rolling wonderland - my altimeter has been within 200 feet of WS100, Wasatch 100M and others)
Place: 29th overall, 4th woman, 1st masters

Arriving in Boston on Thursday evening and having Bill pick us up at the airport for our 2.5 hour drive to Vermont was perfect. It was pouring rain in Boston and looked like Portland in the middle of February but the humidity was very noticeable as temperatures were near 70 degrees. Traffic was really bad so we decided to stop and eat dinner and let the cars fan out so in true New England style we went for seafood. I can't remember the name of the restaurant but they were running a special on Lobster! Bill and Micheal could not resist the Cheap Lobster Twins. Each lobster had to weigh 1.5 - 2.0 pounds and they both dug in, bibs and all. We arrived in Vermont at the Ascutney Ski Resort and checked in. We rented a large condo so all 5 of us would fit and therefore we had an entire building to ourselves. It was sort of creepy at first and reminded us of the The Shining with Jack Nicolas. The hallways were narrow and empty and we were the only ones around. Micheal started repeating "redrum, redrum" and we all laughed and got scared at the same time....the fun had begun.

Friday morning I had to go for a shake down run and Stacey, Micheal and Bill found the highest peak around and a trail leading to the top and headed out to for their run. Steve just hung out at the condo as I ran a loop with some pick ups. It had been raining in Vermont for about a week making the ground and air very moist but the mild cloud cover kept the temperatures tolerable. I ran about 3 miles and came back sweating like crazy but with all the heat training I have done it wasn't bothersome. As my crew was out stomping around the Vermont hills I prepared all my race bags and crew cards. My goals for Vermont were simple.....finish and save myself for Leadville. I knew I had a good shot at 24 hours based on everything I had heard about the course and prepared a pace chart for 22:18 based on the topo for the race and how fast I thought I could run/walk the climbs, cruise the downhills and flats. Even though I had a pace chart of 22:18 I was prepared to just finish. Due to this "take it easy and have fun" approach to the race my race preparations were pretty easy and not stressful. The race meeting and weigh in was at 4 p.m. so when my crew arrived home we showered and headed to the field. I brought my own scale to Vermont so I could closely monitor my weight along with the mandatory race weighs. The horses were getting their vet checks done at the same time so When I was done we headed over and watched the horses, it was awesome to see these big athletes and their handlers get prepared for their day on the trail. The race meeting started and the first thing the director says is the course had been officially measured and was 2.5 miles short so they added a loop to make up the distance, yipppeeeee ;).

Running in a painting

I slept like a rock going to bed at 6 p.m. and waking at 2:15. The weather for the day was gonna be good, not to hot and there was a slight breeze which forced some air circulation. It was chilly at the field in the morning so I was thinking I might need a long sleeve shirt but I am glad I resisted the temptation. The 4 a.m. start is great because it forced me to start really slow and get nice and warmed up. My glasses kept fogging up so I would have to walk and get them to clear. This went on for about an hour then they finally stopped. We were on a two track old road for about 2.5 miles from the start then we took a turn onto a gravel road. The sun was up and flashlights were gone by this time. Everyone was running fast! I am used to mountain ultras where you walk right from the start because you are usually climbing some 2000+ peak but here we were cruising along a gravel road that cars can drive on. I started asking anyone with ascent if they had run this race before and got as much information as I could about the upcoming terrain. As we continued on various gravel roads that rolled along the countryside it became clear to me this was going to be the terrain for the bulk of the race. I know the website says dirt roads and trail but my idea of a dirt road is a 2 track road that motor vehicles do not travel. This was not that! This was Lief Ericson all the way with some larger bumps, all runnable if you have trained for that. By mile 21 I was 30 minutes ahead of schedule, not good. With everyone, including myself, running relatively fast I made the decision to start taking walk breaks to conserve my body. I had no idea what this kind of terrain was going to do to me over the long haul. Since everything was runnable and there were no natural walk points I decided to run 10 minutes and walk 1 minute and see how that went. If I came upon a hill that was big I would walk/run the hill as it wasn't steep enough to make the walk more efficient. I watched my heart rate and made sure I stayed below 155 which is 75% of max and high 3A for me. This is a good easy pace for my fitness. This method worked well and kept my mind busy. The views of Vermont are green and pretty but it was sort of like running into a painting.....the views didn't change. Beautiful homes with immaculate yards, big green pastures with hills in the background. One thing I noticed immediately is how patriotic the state was with American flags displayed everywhere and that was really neat to see. Not many flags are waved around Portland so it was up lifting. The houses were all old New England style and so beautifully maintained with lovely flower gardens and signs that read "maple syrup for sale" were everywhere, a real slice of Americana.

By mile 37 the horses have passed us a couple of times and that was another highlight of Vermont 100M. I enjoyed sharing the trail with big beautiful athletes. They inspired me and put into perspective what we are doing. You could hear the click, click of their hoofs and the power of their breathing as they approached. It gave me chills every time they came by because it was such a treat to see them gallop effortlessly. With their mandatory holds for vet checks and rest I would see the horses many times and in fact #103 and I were running the same pace :). As we continued on the roads the variation in terrain got much better, the hills got longer and the descents steeper which gave me good walk breaks so I no longer had to play the run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute game. In addition we had crossed some trail sections but they were very short. The trails were not single track, they were two track rough slashes through woods or fields so they were not fast but a nice break for the legs and a change from the hard surface of the gravel roads.

By mile 47 at Camp 10 Bear I was about 45 minutes ahead of my 22:18 pace chart and was not pushing myself at all. My weight was spot on every time I saw my crew and my fueling was going perfectly. My crew was having their share of fun checking out all the sights near by. They ate a brew pubs, went to a farmers market,bought ice cream and on and on. They were all dressed in their Rooster shirts so you couldn't miss them. I know they were excited about how much ahead of schedule I was and how calm and relaxed I appeared so I kept having to remind them we are not racing :). At this point I think I was 3rd woman and first masters but I had no big ideas of finishing that way. At this aid station I sat down and ate some food and had my legs cooled down with ice cold towels, I think all this took about 3 minutes. It was going to be easy going and steady from hear on out. I think my crew might have been getting bored, I needed to shake things up!

After camp 10 Bear (mile 47) we actually had some good climbs on the gravel roads, they weren't steep but long and mostly walk/run for me. I could feel my legs a bit by this point and my hamstrings were feeling all the running. Nothing bad but I took that as an opportunity to work on stride management. I would shorten my stride, then lengthen it, use my arms more, land lightly on my feet, make sure my hips were square and I was standing upright. All of this passed the time nicely and I now have a really good idea of how to run :). I got to spend a lot time making stride adjustments. I played "running school" for about 65 miles! The runners were pretty spread out after mile 30 and they were not big talkers so it was a quiet day out on the trail so all games kept me busy.

At mile 70 I picked up Micheal for pacing and it was nice be 1 hour ahead of plan and so light out. We thought we could make it mile 85 before we would need to turn on our lights so that was really cool to be so far along so early, that 4 a.m. start is a good idea. Micheal wore a clean bib from the Lobster feed as a cape for his pacing duty, it made me laugh my head off and others on the course thought he was a nut. My legs were more sore now and I wanted to make sure I didn't do anything that caused a long recovery so we walked and ran along chatting and laughing. I said, "welcome to my painting, Micheal". I think the hard gravel roads can take their toll on your body and if I was pushing it I don't know how I would have felt but as it was I was in good shape both body and mind. I was happy with how I had managed myself and wanted to keep it that way. Of all the 100's I have done I can't remember feeling this good at mile 70 so that alone was enough to make this a great day. I had a few moments of glory with Micheal where I would get the urge to run hard and we did but then I would get the urge to just trot along and talk and so we did that too. I was still 3rd woman at this point. We finally had to pull out lights at about mile 84. I continued to fuel well eating noodles, gels, bars, bananas, G2O and had absolutely no problems eating and drinking. Our run was pretty uneventful and I was so happy to have company!

At mile 88 I picked up Stacey for journey home. Here at Polly's they weighed me for the last time, I sat and ate some more food, drank a Red Bull and we left. This section had the most amount of trail on the course. The road sections were all uphill and the trails were flat and rolling so I would have to say this was the hardest part of the course. The trail sections were chewed up due to the wet ground and all the horses so the footing was bad. I was fine with just walking along and finishing. Stacey never pushed me and I self propelled as we talked about Leadville and how well the day had gone. A few people would approach and either hang with us or pass and that was just fine with me. I was a satisfied customer and I guess I keep bringing this up because it's a new approach. Generally I want to give a 100 big effort but with 2 more to go and not having done so many close together I wanted to keep it all in check.

On the last stretch a freight train approached, it was what would be girl number #3. She came flying by Stacey with about 2 miles to go and I had no intention of even putting up a fight. I was happy to see someone so fresh and kicking butt. I was excited to be done and very pleased with my time, my body and the 1st female masters finish. Going into Vermont I had low expectations for myself and was prepared for lots of blisters, some chafing, heat issues but I got none of the above. My legs were sore but I guess they should be, not sore enough to keep me from taking a spin today which I have done. My post race fueling was awesome and I think that will help me recover a bit quicker along with having a text book fueling day during the race. My feet and legs were a bit swollen after our travel home yesterday but Stacey massaged them and today they are normal. My feet held up great with zero blisters and no lost toe nails. My energy seems to be good too, a bit scary but I think I should have run a little harder but I will spend more at Leadville. My crew was amazing as usual, they took care of me, made me laugh and they even cleaned up all my yucky stuff. I had a great time in Vermont and really soaked up the day, it couldn't have gone better. Thanks to all of you that send me such nice emails encouraging me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Slam Team

(micheal and Lisa (his wife) gave me these magnets that go on the crew car for my b-day)
I am lucky to have a great support group and between family and friends there is no way I won't complete the slam this year. What's so wonderful about this group of people is they know me inside and out, they won't let me get away with anything. They all have high expectations of themselves which translates into high expectations from me which always brings the best out me. That alone is priceless and somehow I am lucky enough have them around to help me accomplish my goals. I would have to say everyone on my "slam team" brings a different strength and personality. What's interesting about that is I don't think I could live without any of them and wouldn't want to.

First off my family Bill and Alex. Bill will be at all the races and will be a main part of my crew. He won't do any pacing because he loves me to much, ha ha. The reason I say that is because he has paced me before and all I did was whine and cry like a baby and he would get so worried he wouldn't practice tough love and ended up taking care of me. I don't think tough love from Bill would work very well anyway, I would know he is faking it so I would still whine and cry like a baby again. My husband is my heart, without him I truly wouldn't beat and would not be able to realize any of my dreams. Sounds mushy but that is the honest truth I think about it everyday.

My son Alex always acts like running a 100M race is part of life, never worried about me and for the most part when I come into aid stations I am always amazed at how relaxed he is. It must be the ten year old in him.....nothing is a big deal, just smile and play with sticks! I like to set a good example for him so having him around will help me be at my best.

Bill will be well supported by his mom and dad and the rest of my crew and pacers. All of my crew and pacers are ultra runners themselves, Bill has even done a few ultras and loved it. Having ultra runners pace and crew is the best! My crew is filled serious planners so my detailed data oriented approach races is no stranger to them. If fact, they add another layer of planning and during our pre-race banter I know they have been going over race day in their head from start to finish. This kind of intensity is annoying and out right scary to others but with this group of people it's a way of life!

Micheal McCarthy (aka: The Counselor) will be at all four races but won't be on my team for Western States because he is running the race himself. He will be pacing me for a bulk of the miles where pacers are allowed at the other three 100's. I have had the pleasure of running with Micheal for 3 years now, we became instant friends one day while running the Peterson Ridge Rumble in Sisters, OR. Stacey and I had the opportunity to pace him at his first 100M race, Cascade Crest 100M in Washington where he finished in exactly 24:00:00 with legs to spare. Micheal has paced me during Where's Waldo 100K and this last year at the San Diego 100M where I set a new woman's course record. He is relentless, never let's you waver, positive but realistic at the same time. Micheal is a integral part of my training, he always is ready to run on the weekends and since he's fast it's a great way to get my slow b _ _ _ moving. He is excited to come on the journey!

Jim Rudig (aka: Batman) has paced me at Western States for the last two years after finishing the race himself under 24 hours two years in a row. He was not drawn in the lottery for the last two years so I was lucky enough to snag him as my pacer. This year he too will be running the race! A group of us met Jim at the WS training weekend about 4 years ago. It just happened that he set his tent up next to ours and once we started talking realized we were all from Oregon. Jim hasn't been able to shake us since. He is a great guy with a ton of talent, running the Spartathon, Trans Gualle and crossing the Alps with my husband and some friends. Jim is a fast runner and super knowledgeable so having him on my Leadville team will be awesome. If your going to attempt to die in the wilderness this is guy to have around because he is a First Responder and knows a ton about mountaineering. I promise I won't attempt to die at Leadville so don't worry Jim!

Stacey Bunton (aka: Stella) will be at all four events! I have known Stacey for 9 years now and we have run together almost every weekend, we have run a million races together and either paced and crewed each other at every 100M either of us has run. It would almost be an understatement to say, "this girl knows me well"! Basically I don't have to think when I run a race because Stacey can just look at me and know exactly what might be going on or what I might need. She is probably the sweetest person you will ever meet and the most nurturing. Funny how we are such goods friends because we are sort of opposite personality types but when it comes to running we are very much alike, we like challenges and we like to accomplish goals. Stacey is an awesome runner, she has won Cascade Crest 100M and took second at Angeles Crest 100M. When she puts he mind to something she does it and with a big smile on her face no matter how she feels. She is the one that named me Rooster so many years ago. I know I am in goods hands with Stella!

Darin Swanson (aka: Marathon Man) paced me last year at Western States and he taught me a lot about racing. He dabbles in the ultras but is in deep pursuit of a sub 3 hour marathon, he is sooooooo close it's just a matter of time. This year I have the pleasure of having Darin on my Western States crew again. He is a racer and that is not my strong suit so having him helping with WS is a gift. He is sort of my competitive alter ego out there on race day and I need all the help I can get in that department. I run with his wife Trisha sometimes on the trails, she is more my speed. Once in awhile when Darin needs a slow day on the trails he comes out with us, maybe for a Black Saturday hill repeat day :).

Bob Lynes (aka: The Beast) will be with me for 3 weeks straight this summer! I wonder if he knows what he is getting into? Beast is really the one responsible for all this nonsense, he got Stacey and I hooked on the trails and mainly the Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood Wilderness area, he is the one that introduced us to RUNNING in those areas. Most people don't even want to hike the steep terrain but the Beast lives in the mountains almost everyday. The Beast has done several hundred mile races and many many ultras so he is no stranger to this process. I have been running with the Beast for over 5 years now and I have to be careful not to follow him to far into the woods because a training run with the Beast can last for over 8 hours of tough running in tough terrain. Beast will be my acclimation buddy for Leadville. He is spending one week with me in Utah where we will train in the Wasatch then Bill will come get us and take us to Leadville for two more weeks. Beast has run Leadville 100M and Pikes Peak Marathon so he knows what it's like to not be able to breath. We will be training all over the Leadville course for two weeks!

Tom Chapman (aka: TT) won't be pacing or crewing me but he is a big part of my slam team because he is my trail scout, track workout support and he keeps me motivated. He carries a large stick but doesn't really every beat you to hard, ha ha. Since Tom lives in the gorge he is always helping me out by finding good trails and routes to mimic my upcoming race. When I have to do track workouts he will sometimes be down at the track making sure I am not slacking off in any way, he has high expectations and doesn't like excuses either. Tom is doing four 100M races this year and when he's done he will have completed nearly 20 100M races.

That's my Slam Team!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Vermont, here we come!

Last week felt like I was back to training, even though I am really just trying to bounce back enough to run Vermont. With over 60 miles and some good quality workouts it almost felt like a normal build week. I had a 3+ hour run, a marathon pace run and a speed strides workout. My legs are beginning to move better now and just in time!

On Wednesday night when Bill got home from work we had planned to lay low, make dinner and eat outside since it has been so warm but when he arrived I had a better idea. Since we have been experiencing some unusual muggy weather I thought it would be a good idea to do a good recovery workout instead of the low key dinner. He was all for it and we headed out to Council Crest and ran the trail again. It was super muggy so we were good and sweaty. Alex was visiting his grandparents so our date night was a run instead of a nice dinner :).
On Thursday Tom, Kris and I went to the Wilson River Trail for a good three hour run with 20 minutes at AT on the uphill. The muggy weather was enhanced on the Wilson Trail because it is in the Tillamook Forest near the coast range. I felt like I had my body back and was able to work the trail without fatigue. The AT portion of the run was a great workout and I was surprised to feel so good. We drank a ton of water and I used the streams a couple of times to cool off. Kris has never run with Tom before so she got the "Tom indoctrination" .......push ups on the trail to test her toughness. Of course she whipped right though them as she is very strong and loves a challenge. He made her do a few sets of regular push ups then challenged her with the diamond push ups and she passed with flying colors and they are now good buddies :). We had a great time and a good quality workout!

Friday was a short recovery run and another trip to the gym which included a short 15 minute steam room session. 15 minutes seems to be my limit on the steam room. I don't know why but it seems so hard and I feel weak fast and I wondered why they even invented these things. The dry sauna is so much easier and seems to generate the same cleansing effect. Does anyone know why the steam room exists and is there anyone out there that likes them? I want to know the reason so please enlighten me!

Saturday was a marathon pace run and Micheal was nice enough to join me. He pushed me hard for the marathon pace portion and I worked hard and made all my paces. One mile was 4 seconds off but there was a good hill in that section so I considered it on pace :). All the other miles ranged from 7:05-7:19....faster than I was supposed to run which was 7:24 but I am a sucker for a challenge. With Micheal running nice and easy right behind me yelling at me to move it, I worked harder than I would have on my own for sure. I am so lucky to have such caring giving friends who will take time out of their busy weekend to see me thrash along Lief breathing very hard......of course there is no sarcasm here :). It sure got me thinking about Leadville and how I know he will be pushing me the whole time. I know he will be nice to me at Vermont.......right Micheal???? I better soak up the nice easy pace at Vermont, taking in all the beauty there because I know Leadville will be a different story. Speaking of Vermont, I am pretty much ready with all my gear, pace chart and fuel plan. All I need to do is pack my clothes and get rested up.

After Vermont I will only be home for 2 days before I leave for Utah and then Colorado so I have also been busy getting stuff together for that trip. Alex, my In-Laws and the Beast will all be coming as well so getting everything in order with the house, animals and such has been a bit overwhelming but I know I get another 2 days when I get back. Bill and his dad worked on the trailer all day yesterday, making sure it's ready for the long haul to Colorado. We will all be staying in Deer Valley at our place for 10 days then Bill will join us with the trailer and we will leave Utah and head for Colorado. Bill's parents will have their motor home and we will have our trailer all parked near Surgarloaf Mountain in Leadville. Beast and I will be exploring the Wasatch Range and then Leadville for a little over 3 weeks and this will be our home during our time in Colorado. I am going to love the opportunity to explore the mountains and just be in the world of running but I am going to miss Bill. It's a good thing I have Alex and my In-Laws around or might get really home sick without Bill, Ultra, Bandit, Storm, Thunder and all our fish :)
Today was a stride workout, upper body gym workout and my last 15 minutes in the steam room. I only have three small runs before Vermont and all of them are short, less than one hour and all include some sort of speed. This is all supposed to get my legs thinking about running :). Stacey, Micheal, Steve and I leave on Thursday for Vermont. Bill has to go to Washington DC for work tomorrow and will pick us up in Boston on Thursday for our drive to Vermont. Looking forward to surviving number 2!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Goodbye Zombie....Hello Humanoid!

Whew.....that was a sleepy ride I was on and I am glad to off the sleep train. I am a fully functioning human now. I can preform all tasks with my brain and body working together and I can even preform complex tasks such as driving and talking on the phone :). I can now see why people have such a problem with drivers talking on their cell phone. It is truly an advanced move and should not be done unless you are of advanced mind and body. Since I was out of it for few days I left my phone in the cup holder and just drove. The brain is no longer two steps behind or absent completely!

Workouts are back on track with three weight room adventures of which one was a solid hour of abs, I called "uncle" with about five minutes left as my mid-section was beginning to move all on it's own. I worked out with a trainer for the abs destruction and he thought it was great sport to break me. The other two sessions were upper body and then I did one lower body workout. From my hips up I am paralyzed and I can't raise my arms above my head without going very slow. Funny but I love it! It was great to be back in the weight room but my strength has diminished a bit which is to be expected. After next week I won't see my gym for one solid month. I will miss the workouts and my gym friends a lot. Body Builders and Fitness Competitors are another group of completely insane driven people with fabulous bodies. I just love hanging around them in the gym, talking and learning about their sport. They motivate me a lot.

Running has been going well too. Sunday was a nice 90 minute shake down run in Forest Park. Monday I ran up and down our road while Alex used his scooter. We waited until it was hot so I could get some heat training. Ultra and Bandit went too and Ultra was just fine but I have the laziest Husky on the planet! He just laid down in the middle of the road and waited for us to come back. I know it was hot but he does this all the time even in the cool woods. We have had some amazing temperatures for the Portland area......just over 100 degrees. It's quite the news story and everywhere you go people are hiding from the heat while I am loving the opportunity to get in the heat and not have to use the steam room. Last night a few of us met for a fabulous run up to Council Crest. There is a great trail right off Terrwilliger Blvd. that heads up to Council Crest where on a clear day you can get almost a 360 degree view of Portland and all the surrounding Mountains. The trail section is 3.2 miles one way so we started near the Chart House and ran up and back. With temperatures at 100 degrees or better we were all prepared to enjoy the suffering. We were somewhat disappointed with the cool breeze that flowed through the woods making our heat run less HOT! It was only about 85 degrees in the trees but we were all sweating a ton and most of us only brought one water bottle and the fountains were turned off at Council Crest so anyone that had water left was at risk of a group tackle :). We had a lot of catching up to do and lots of stories to share, it was a great time and got me pumped up.
I started my planning for Vermont, yeah!!!!!! I actually have a preliminary pace chart done and began gathering my stuff for the trip. If anyone has splits from this race and they would like to share I would love to have them!!! The website doesn't have any splits so I am just guessing, I like to have an idea of how long it takes me to get to various aid stations so I can plan my fuel. Despite my "ho hum" attitude I expressed in earlier posts I am now getting excited. Sophia (blog commenter) has gotten me more focused and revved up....THANK YOU! I know Vermont won't be my best performance and I okay with that because I am super excited about Leadville but I am anxious to see the Vermont rollers and how my body adapts to them. Being from the climb 3000 feet descend 2500 feet and climb another 2000 feet and descend another 2500 feet part of the NW I am curious what it's like to roll up and down 400-500 foot hills. I bet it has it's own element of quad thrashing and that has been expressed by a couple of people so I know it's gonna hurt :).

So far, the weather forecast for the Vermont 100M looks fine with even a chance of showers. I know that can change daily but hey, if it rains I will feel right at home! I have heard the rain in Vermont is more like a down pour but bring on the mud and slop....I know I can handle that :). Tomorrow is my last long run before my taper. Tom, Kris and I are heading to the coast range for 3 hours on the Wilson River Trail. I have a 20 min. hill repeat scheduled for tomorrow and I ready, I miss Black Saturday's. After that run I have one more sort of hard push, a marathon pace run on Lief which I am doing this Saturday. Marathon pace for me is 7:24 and Lief will be a gravel rolling road like some of the Vermont terrain. It's been awhile since I have done a M-Pace run and I have to hold 7:24 for about one hour.....stay tuned to see how that goes.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Relying On Friends

Still feeling the fatigue from WS and feeling like I need a vacation from my Vegas vacation it was nice to run with friends this morning. When Micheal emailed yesterday and said he wanted to go running on Saturday and that he had been looking at the Vermont race I felt relieved. I have to say I am not up to par on my planning. For some reason I can't seem to get my brain and body to work together and come up with a race plan for Vermont. Highly unusual for me but an interesting block I am experiencing. Not sure if I am avoiding Vermont because of fear or because I am still tired. With all that said it was so nice to hear that my crew and pacer was on top of it. He asked me questions and it started to get me thinking all the while he reminded me that this will be no problem and I will be surprised at how well I do at Vermont. All those words and reminders were a welcomed refreshment for my coma like state.

Running has been just "okay". Nothing too exciting has been happening, maybe that's why I am melancholy. In Vegas I did a tempo run on the treadmill with 3 miles at 6:48 pace and I felt pretty good and the AT portion of the run wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. When we got home I had another tempo run on Lief followed by today's run. My tempo run was very tough and I worked very hard to get 6:55 paces, my heart rate was screaming but I think that was more related to being in Vegas and completely over stimulated for 4 days :). Today's run was better but then again there was no AT portion so it should have been.......right! Tom, Micheal and I did a run in Forest Park called the "Zipper". I think it was Darin and Rick's group that came up with this run. It takes you up and down all the side trails and firelanes in Forest Park. You would be surprised at how much elevation you can rack up doing this. In addition, it's not easy. This is all in preparation for the terrain at Vermont. The constant rolling nature of that course is hard to simulate in the PNW. The Gorge has far too much climbing and Wildwood Trail is just too flat. We did 16 miles of zipper today and after we were done my legs were tired. This run would have normally been an easy run during peak training. Funny how running 100 miles can make your legs tired, ha, ha, ha. The goal of running right now is to gain back leg speed, my body will remember how to run long. Getting the turnover churning again is the key and believe it or not it's harder than it looks on paper :). Even though I seem to be physically recovered and my resting heart rate is in check my legs are more sluggish so faster running is the ticket. All in good time............

The Grand Slam is proving to be a very mental event for me. Gearing up for these back to back 100 miles runs is going to make me tougher mentally. I can already feel the impact of staying sharp and prepared and not getting to do any real training. My gym workouts are suffering and that is a hard pill for me to swallow because I am an avid gym goer. I have to be careful not to overdo the weight room during training but now I am seeming to have a hard time fitting in my consistent workouts. My arms are starting to flap when I run and other body parts will follow suit soon. On the positive side I will be lighter :). By the end of the summer I should be good and atrophied. No big deal, it will give me something to do in the winter :).

I know this post might sound negative but it's really not, just the true thoughts I am having as I enter this stage of the Slam. I know I will be relying on my friends and all their energy to get me through these races. Fortunately I have some amazing friends who's dedication is going help me so much it's hard to put in to words. Between my family and friends there is no slacking and for that I am extremely grateful.