Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sneezing, stuffy head so you can rest medicine!

No....I don't need rehab.! Sunday night about 2 a.m. I was scrambling around the medicine drawer like a kid in the candy store. The only thing lacking was the happy elated look that appears on a kids face when they finally find the lolly pop of their dreams. My expresssion was more of a panic, please give me relief....I need help now. After my awesome race on Sunday where I felt like a machine primed and ready for action I was woken up in the middle of the night with completely plugged sinuses and sore throat along with aching ears. Sounds like a bad cold huh! Last week Alex came down with a nasty kid cold but like most kids he zoomed right through it feeling tip top in two days. For me......the story is always different. After being a cronic sinus infection sufferer in my mid 30's most likely brought on by 50+ work weeks, running way too much, being a mom and just plain stressing myself to the point of complete exhaustion then going to an ENT for serious help just to be told, "there is nothing wrong with you but your have tiny sinus passages so keep them clear and try to relieve your stress". So.........generally if I get a cold it rages into something requiring antibiotics and about 2.5 weeks before I feel normal. This pattern led me scrambling in the medicine drawer to find anything to clear the sinus passages. As you can see I was well armed with all sorts of stuff even those "sucker" herbal remedies....yes I know people swear they work but since it was 2 a.m. I opted for the Nyquil. Night, night!

I woke up feeling pretty crummy and opted to go the gym and run 2 miles really easy then sit in the suana to start some minor heat training. I came home and stuffed more pills down my mouth in the desperate attempt to keep my sinuses clear. The left side of my face was good but my right side was completely plugged including my ear leaving me yelling, "huh" to everyone that spoke to me. Since this was the beginning of a 10 day (new thing) cycle and the final touches to my training I knew I needed to get better FAST! Fear of doctors visits and antibiotics kept me spraying saline up my nose all day......I know, YUK but it works. Since I had such a good race on Sunday Scott moved my VDOT to a solid 48, no more 47-48. That meant that my 400's repeats were now 1:30 each and my tempo moved to 7:02! I had 8-10 400's scheduled for Tuesday just to be followed by a 2 hour run on Thursday in which 60 minutes was at AT. On Tuesday morning I woke up feeling like poop so after a serious mental debate.....should I run, should I rest, should I wait to see if I feel better later in the day? I opted for not working out at all and resting. First missed workout so far but it was for the best. I pushed the track workout to Wed. and after lots of sleep and tons of medicine I felt much better Wednesday morning. Off to the track to see what will happen. 8 400's at sub 1:30 in the bag! I was happy to pull off the new pace. Now that my right ear has unplugged I was no longer yelling, "huh" to everyone and I was medicine free on Wednesday. That night I still opted for my favorite night time relief, Nyquil so I could stay clear and get good sleep. I knew the tempo run would be challenging.

Waking up with an almost 100% clear head I gave myself permission to cut my tempo short if I felt crummy. I didn't want to ruin the progress I had made with this cold and I have a 30 miler on Saturday. The weather was just plain nasty when I showed up at 53rd this morning. Rain, wind and cold made it less inviting but I was here so I got out of the warm car to begin the workout. I felt reasonable as I blew my nose 10 times in less than a half mile but certainly not on top of my game. Time to pull of those hairy paces! The first mile was great, the second still under, the third pushing to line, the forth not gonna happen, the fifth.....I cried uncle! I just couldn't do it today. The engine was lacking oxygen. It was like the whole breathing system was slow on the intake.....the legs needed air faster than the ears, nose and throat could deliver. I jogged around while Tom and Trisha finished up their tempo's. Now the good thing is I think I might be able to beat this without my standard visit to the doctor but I am seriously knocking on wood right now!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Vancouver Lake 1/2!

Today was the Vancouver Lake 1/2 Marathon and it's been about 10 years since I ran this event. It makes me feel old when I can talk about races in past tense with double digits. Back then this event was a PR for this distance and today it was same....a PR. 10 years ago I ran this in 1:42:?? and today it was 1:36:18. I guess it pays to older :).

The temperature was cold and the fog was thick but that just meant no rain and NO WIND! Vancouver Lake can have wind so the low lying fog meant we would have none today. Driving out to the lake was a bit of challenge since we were lost right of the bat. Not an unusual story when Stacey and I are in the same car but this time we at least left with directions. Before leaving my house we downloaded Mapquest instructions and followed them perfectly into a dead end street lined with houses, not a lake. We turn around and continue to drive aimlessly which is another trait of the Ronda/Stacey combination but with Trisha in the back seat looking at a map it became clear we were no where near our destination. We pull off and a very young man happened to be getting in his car. Stacey rolls down her window to ask for directions but instead of giving us the twists and turns he escorted us there. Again not surprising because this stuff happens to Stacey and I every time we leave our house together. We are laughing while Trisha seemed concerned because we are following a complete stranger without question and because he is young enough to be one of our kids, aaaannnnnd his driving speed was excessive for us old ladies. He drove us all way to the lake entrance where on arrival he rolled down his window while in the middle of a U turn, points to the entrance which was very obvious because 10 race volunteers and a dozen porta poties lined the street....yells, "here it is", then squeals off. Funny stuff!

We locate the check in, grab our bibs and head off for the warm-up. Trisha wanted to do her warm up in the car but we convinced her our method was better. Last minute potty stops and we line up. Right up front with the fast people Stacey and I get ready to give it our all. Off we went for a 1.5 mile out and back. My heart rate monitor is blinking 136 forever meaning there wasn't enough moisture to create a good connection. Without a heart rate all I have is mile markers to gauge my effort for the first 4 miles. My first mile was 6:58, the second 7:05 and the 3rd 7:11. Way too fast so I slow a bit trying to find my 7:20-7:25 pace. I could tell it was going to be a good day because I was having to hold back for the first 6 miles which were averaging around 7:17. Finally I had created enough sweat to get my heart rate monitor to give a solid reading but it was only 169! I gave it a mile or so and saw 171, 173, 170 so I knew the numbers were good. I should be around 174-176 so I had some room. I tried to pick it up but was still getting 7:17 maybe 7:14. As I left the 8 mile marker I was feeling good and strong and knew I could hold this pace to end. I was pretty pumped because I had room in the work zone meaning I could push 175 in the end easily. As I came to the turn I was expecting to see the 9 mile mark soon but after my watch clicked over to 7:30 I thought they must not have put out a 9 mile marker. I just kept chugging along then low and behold here it is! The 9 mile marker was right in my face but my watch said 8:30......what??? HR was 173 and above. Oh well, maybe it wrong so I won't take the split and wait for 10. Here comes the 10 but still my watch said 7:15 which was more like it. Bummer! That turn was in the wrong spot! I kept pushing and pushing hoping to miraculously have a short mile marker to make up for the mistake but it never came. At mile 11 I stopped hoping for the short marker and pushed up to 175 to make a decent time. The miles were still clicking off at 7:16 and the last mile at 7:14. I crossed in 1:36:18 or 7:21 per mile. Russ was at the finish and I immediately asked him if the cone was mis-placed and he said he thought it was. I figure it cost me only about 1 minute and some change but I still had a PR. I got 1st in my age group and the winner was over 40. All of us got mugs for placing in our age groups, fun, fun, fun! This road running is addictive!

As and RD I understand all the hard work and effort that goes into a event especially one that invites more than 350 people. What is so funny is that ultra runners could care less if the course is a bit long or short but man when your running a solid pace and you know what you can do every time a course is not on it's so noticeable. I don't really care but I love how much I have become aware of my pace/effort combination. Honestly it doesn't vary that much unless the course has hills. Since was pancake flat there is nothing that would explain a sudden 8:30 at the same workload......I just love that! It's like having a perfect speedometer attached to your BODY!

Another bonus was this race came on the heals of that gruelling 40 miler last weekend and I would have never known it! My body bounced backed so nicely. My mental outlook was great too so plus, plus, plus all around. We had our usual great time and we were treated by Sean M who came up to run after running the 31 mile Madass in Madras, OR yesterday. He was 13th boy! Seems his 30 miler barely made a dent in his speed. Way to go Sean! I predict a speedy WS100M this year for him.

It's getting close to OC100K and I believe I have a 30 mile pace run this Saturday just to be followed by a 20+ miler on Wednesday. This means I will only have a 10 day taper which is a new concept we are going to try. I guess there is some studies that show this might be an option for long distance running vs. the general 14 day taper. I am game for the trying new things so we will see if this works!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sunny Disposition!

Alex in training.....practicing crewing as he trys to help me get this pack on. It's fun times like this that help make a bad mood disappear!

The sun is out if full force here in the Portland area. A rare sight in the deep depths of winter but even though its bright and shiny out the temperatures are freezing! We hit highs in the 30's during the day but with the East winds it really isn't getting over 25 and for us that's coooooooold.

Not only is the sun shining outside but I have been lifted from my approximately 2 week mental slump....maybe it really has something to do with the lack of low lying grey clouds but nonetheless I have been freed! Free from the nasty disposition I was having to a more sunny one, yeah! One good thing about a bad mood that lasts is when your over it you appreciate, value and grab onto a good one when it shows up. My mood started to come around on Monday when I got a ton of chores done including a bunch of Hagg Lake details. Since my list of "to do's" was shrinking I suddenly felt more restful. On Tuesday I had a track workout that went so well I almost felt like I was holding back. My sore spots on my body seemed to disappear rapidly after a good leg workout post track. Wednesday I went to see Dr. Tollenaar for an adjustment because I felt like my upper body was jammed into lower one and my neck seemed out of socket. He found a few spots that were not where they should be and he told me the bump on my neck was a lymph node. He also said it could take a bit before it goes all the way down. Dr. Tollenaar and a friend have now confirmed that my pea is an angry lymph node but if it doesn't go away before March I will go get it checked out.

What a way to start a week.....good things all around. With this being a recovery week my tempo run today was only 1.5 hours with 3 miles at T-Pace. During my last call with Scott he bumped my VDOT up to 47 from 45 based on my 20.08K run time. This meant that my tempo pace would be 7:17. If my T-Pace portion goes over 40 minutes I need to add 20 seconds per mile so 7:37 but today was only 3 miles so it was 7:17's. Funny but when I started up training again after the SLAM my T-Pace was 7:47 and those numbers were challenging. I believe I wrote posts about how much leg speed I lost over the summer and leg speed is not something I have a lot of to begin with! I went into WS100 07 with VDOT 51 and T-Pace 6:51 and was able to make those paces consistently. After the ultra season I was clear back to VDOT 45 or 7:47 T-Pace. A drastic loss when I felt like I was in such good shape. Within 3 months here I am at 7:17's and today I ran 6:58, 7:11 and 7:05 with room to spare. It's so cool to know that training works. It's also fun to feel your body bounce back from a big workload. The re-bound is noticeable and that's a good sign I am not pushing myself over the edge. It also means I am fueling my body well. This is different from other training times when I would have a hard time noticing much of a rebound after the completion of a cycle. My recovery weeks were nice but I never felt fully re-charged. My perspective has changed but doesn't it always change when you have new experiences? It's like the first time you run hill repeats on climbs you would have never considered running in the past but now they are all runnable, when rollers become flats, when steep is re-defined, when 400's and 600's are easy track workouts, when big thighs are muscular thighs.........all in the perception but with new experiences come new ya gotta love it!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A War Waged!

A battlefield would be the word I will use to describe my run on Saturday. A 40 mile pace run was on the schedule....the biggest effort thus far in training.....on a tired body....with a now pea sized lump on behind my ear. To many negative items in the list above but the run was going to take place despite all of them. Friday night I reluctantly gathered my things and tried to prepare myself for the next day but it was a poor showing with a poor mental outlook. I was right down scared of this run, the paces and the unknown of how my body was going to hold up. With just Bill and I at home and Alex at his grandparents for the night it was not quite the "date night" you dream of. Normal dinner and DVD episodes of House M.D. was the plan. Bill was thinking of coming out to run a lap with dogs on Saturday so he felt he needed rest too. :).

On the road to Champoeg Park at 6:45 a.m. Stacey and I both talked about the run and how we would approach it. 7 10K loops was the plan with the first 2 miles being a warm up then it was pace running for about 6.5 loops or 40 miles. Micheal and Darin were there from the get go but Darin was just out for 2 loops and Micheal was going to see how he felt after a gruelling work week and running on little sleep. The weather was as grey as my mood but at least it wasn't raining. The clouds hung low which seemed appropriate. We headed off for the warm up and I wasn't paying any attention to the pace or time but now I know it was too fast and short for me. I should have monitored myself better but frankly I was in the "get it over with" frame of mind. Before we knew it we had reached the 1.5 mile mark and were off for the pace portion. My goals and instructions were this.....35-40 miles at 8:25-8:30 and NO FASTER than 8:22. Scott was very stern on the the NO FASTER THAN 8:22 pace order. For the first 2 miles of the 3.1 segment all the markers were in place from when I wheeled the course over a month ago. After the 2 mile mark there were none so it wasn't as easy to monitor pace for the last 1.1 miles. My mood certainty allowed me to gripe and whine about the measly 1.1 miles with no markers. Pretty sad when something like that can make you testy. :). The first loop was no big deal and it was more of a "get in the groove" loop. I quickly gathered data to help me monitor myself. I had to keep my heart rate above 153 and no higher than 158 even on the hills. Otherwise I would be too slow or too fast so this was a good way to keep things going without the markers. The second loop was fine but I could tell the day was going to be a struggle both mentally and physically. My legs could hold the pace but my mind was reeling with excuses and negative thoughts. Darin left us and it was just Micheal, Stacey and I. Micheal and I hung together while Stacey kept her pace which was somewhere around 8:30-8:40 so just behind us. Micheal and I were not our usually chatting happy selves and the third lap was very quiet. I could tell Micheal was tired and I am sure I griped enough for him to know I was pooped. A shell of runner, a beaten soul, a battered body and not a mental giant, at least not today, those are the feeling and thoughts running rampid through my mind. It was like a bad movie or a record with the needle stuck repeating the same chorus over and over.

The fourth lap was daunting as my body was gathering soreness but most concerning was my soleus muscle on my left leg. It seemed to twinge with every step and there were a lot of steps. I told Micheal, "I don't think I can do this". He quickly replied in perfect pacer/crew/friend/supporter/counselor fashion, "yes you can"! I fought back with words I can' body soleus is talking to me and it's not good pain....I don't want to hurt myself. He just ran and kept quiet not indulging any of my poor me talk. I made bargains....If my pace degrades I am quiting.....just one more loop and I am DONE. When we finish the 4th loop and Stacey comes bouncing in with a smile so wide the enamel from her teeth was blinding saying, "just three more and we are done, this 5th one will be the hardest". I look straight at her and say, "The 5th loop is it for me, I am toast". She looks backs concerned and says, "you can do this". Growling we all leave for number 5 and work hard to keep my heart rate above 153 and deal with a whirlpool of negativity trying to recall the last time I have been so NOT into a run. It's been years since I have been this poopy to be around. I could barely stand myself!

The bargains and agendas continued in my mind....the battlefield. The war was waging between the body,the brain, the determination, the quitter, the winner, the whiner, the achiever, the baby, the mature woman and anyone else that possesses my phychy. There were so many players I can't even remember them all. The 5th loop was a bit slower but unfortunately I was still able to MAKE PACE.....the only legitimate reason I had for quiting was a degrading pace. Micheal cried "uncle" after 5 loops or 31 miles. His hellish week got the best of him and really he has no reason to be out here running on a hamster wheel. I just appreciate him and his support so much but I could see he reached his limit. Perfect! I could quit too.....but then here comes Stacey bouncing in again and I say I am done! She says one more loop and I say, "that's it for me then" in a sharp unpleasant fashion. With Micheal's car fading in the distance it was just me and my mind.....lovely. I cranked up my headphones in desperate hope to drown out my demons with some great song and it helped. Not that my bargains and nasty disposition didn't scream louder than Def Leopard but I held pace.....darn! "Home stretch" that's what I tell myself at the turn and with that knowledge alone many of aches, pains and stinky attitude seemed to fade making that 3.1 miles one of my fastest! That's just not right! How could that be? Why is that true? 37.2 miles is enough, right? Your pace will certainly degrade if you continue! All that stuff plus a couple of tears went on before Stacey arrived. This is where friends who know you well can save your day. I am firm about being done but Stacey says, "Now Rooster I don't want you to get in the car and pissed in ten minutes because you didn't do a full 40 miles so I say we go out another 1.5 miles and then turn around, that will give us a full 40 miles". Knowing full well she was right but I still negotiated, "I will go to the 1.25 mark and turn around"! I run off but make sure I tell her she is mean! She just looks at me with a smile and tucks in behind. I run and my first mile was an 8:06.....come on....that means I have to go the full 1.5 like she says so I just keep going and she follows. We make it back to the car and WE ARE DONE! 40.2 miles in 5:34 for me! RUNNING IS SO MENTAL!

My body ached but she was so right. I would have kicked myself ten times over if I hadn't done at least 40 miles. I got home and plunked in my numbers and was shocked at the pace given how I felt. The mental challenge of the day was exhausting. I honestly could find nothing positive to grab a hold and use as an anchor. The running pace was actually fairly easy but the mental battle was so difficult, one of the most difficult wars I can remember waging with myself. On the positive side of things I got to try out the new 10oz ultimate direction handheld. A perfect size and amount for me on short runs!

Today was 1.5 hours easy "internal massage" running or at least that is what Scott calls it. I met Kris and Tom on the trails and Tom takes one look at me and says, "You look like SH--". We all laugh because it was true. He proceeds to point out that my eyes are swollen and blank and I look gaunt. Lovely description but again true. Bill and I went out for Mexican food yesterday after the run. It was the perfect splurge from my nutrition but the immense amount of salt didn't help the puffy eyes. The run started out rocky but ended wonderfully. I felt better and better as we moved along the Wildwood. Barely sore or fatigued but it could be the high from all the earlier compliments so I won't get to excited.:) I got to show off my new Cascadia 3 trail shoes. I just love them! The old model did not fit my wide forefront with their sock/tongue system and they did away with that and I am happy to have them back! Cool color huh!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fingers Crossed!

Me thrilled to have pulled off my tempo run today!

I woke up on Monday morning and when I went to wash my hair I had pain behind ear. Not only pain but a huge hard bump about the size of a robin egg (candy...not a real egg) and it's inside my head! It was pretty painful to the touch. I guess it must be swollen glad or some out of control lymph node. I had Monday off running but a hard upper body workout. I stuck out the lifting but it was lack luster either because I was taxed from Sunday's 32.5 miler or the giant thing that has nested inside my skull. I thought about jumping on the treadmill for 30 minutes to get my legs moving but life got in the way and it was probably a good thing since I wasn't feeling to peppy.

With Hagg Lake Trail Runs right around the corner it seems Stacey and I are always on the phone and taking care of details. I almost have all the permits filed and approved, shirts are in the making, awards are being printed. Stacey is busy with volunteers and supplies and we are doing at least 3 days of trail work. Stacey scouted the damage last weekend and we have 11 big trees down and most are impassable. We will be out there with 2 chainsaw crews removing those big boys before we do any reclaiming. Even though Hagg Lake puts our lives in chaos for about a month we love it. This year the race will fill which will make our day of race activities more smooth since no one can sign up on the spot. Life is busy right now! Basketball season is in full swing and Bill is super busy at work so it's hang on for the ride until the end of February. Adding serious training for a 100K sounded like a great idea back in the Fall but I think the training with all the other stuff has left me a bit run down. Bill and Alex took a look at my robin egg and Alex says, "oh my Mom that thing is huge, what is it"? Bill looked very concerned and try to order me to the doctor but I convinced him it would be better.

Tuesday was track day and this is a Peak week so it was 10X400 meters. My morning got sidelined since school was delayed so I had to squeeze in my track workout in between a couple of appointments. The temperatures have been cold for us Oregonians and I opted to do my workout on the treadmill so I went at it and despite the weekend runs and my bump I felt better than I did last week making all my paces. Wednesday came the crash! I had a scheduled weight workout then a recovery run. After an awful nights sleep because the pain in the side of my head had moved clear up to my eye and down my neck I awoke feeling puny. In typical type A Ronda style I ignored it and headed to gym for my workout which actually went well but when I thought about doing my run I had nothing. So, I dug deep and found some maturity and went home. Instead of running I cleaned up the office and worked on Hagg stuff. I picked up Alex after school and when we came home I feel asleep on the couch while he was doing his homework. I slept for 2 hours! I never take naps and when I woke up I still felt drained. That night I was in bed at 7:30 and was fast asleep for 10 hours. I guess I was trashed. Today I woke up to find my robin egg about half the size it was......progress.

Today was the tempo run with 60 minutes at threshold, ouch! I set my sights low and allowed myself to quit if I felt the quality was bad or I felt like my head was going to explode. Kris was coming out to join me but would be a few minutes late and Trisha was also out there somewhere. We all met on Lief as I was about half way through the AT portion and I was feeling really good, making all my paces and my heart rate was low. reason to cut it short! We finished up the tempo portion then headed back up Alder trail to the cars. I was thrilled to be able to do this workout since it was the toughest tempo so far and I wasn't exactly fresh.

I feel like I may have dodged a bullet but am not out of the battlefield yet. I still have my robin egg although it's much smaller but my energy level is good and I don't feel like a wet noodle anymore. I think I am riding the edge of training right now.....pushing but hopefully not going over the edge. One more big run followed by two smaller ones then the taper. I have my fingers crossed that my robin egg will not multiply or turn into something more than a bump in the road.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

It can be done.....

Micheal can be broke or at least wounded. :)
After a good quality 2.5 hour trail run yesterday with the gang just to tire out the legs for today's 30 mile pace run I was ready to get home, get to eating and get to bed. Before I could get myself in preparation mode I had the privilege of watching Alex's Basketball team take another win! This is big deal since last year this team only won 2 games the whole season. They have become so much better and a bit more aggressive and it helps. After the victory party at Wendy's where Alex and his buddy talked about their great shots and fancy moves over a frosty we were headed home and my preparations began.

My body was not feeling race ready but then again this is not a race but more like race practice. I am tight and the pep that I generally have going up the stairs was not as peppy. I decided it would be prudent to stretch for like an HOUR! I got out all my stretching toys, bands, foam roller, tennis balls for really digging out those knots and just in case I had a stubborn spot I used my yoga block to stabilize the ball as it digs into the glutes. All of this really helped get things loosened up but I knew I would feel some of these areas yelling at me during the run. After dinner we all went down to watch a movie and Alex helped me stretch some more and said, "Mom you have been doing this all day and I think it's time for you to stop". Who's the mature one in this house? Apparently it's not me! :)

Alarm was off at 5am and the whole family was bustling around. Bill and Alex were going skiing today so they were busy gathering all their gear. I had prepared all my bottles and food the night before so my morning was almost relaxing and gave me a moment to work some numbers. We all met at 6:30 to carpool out to the Banks-Vernonia Trail which is a nice rails to trails project about 20 miles out of Portland. The trail is 22 miles one way so we picked a 5 mile section we would run back and forth until we reached our goals. Steve, Susan, Stacey, Micheal and I all started in the dark for a 2.5 mile warm up. The weather was nice but cold. It was supposed to be a beautiful day with temperatures reaching 44 degrees, no rain and believe it or not....THE SUN! After the nice warm up we began the pace run, 5 miles one way, turn around and then repeat.

One thing became very apparent right of the bat. We were running uphill. Not anything steep but the grade was definitely up. As we continued on into unknown territory the uphill grade only got worse. It was a constant uphill pull with absolutely no downhill breaks which Steve confirmed by yelling, "it's all uphill to the end of the trail". Oh well, it wasn't bad and on the first 5 mile stretch Micheal and I were at exactly 8:30's. What goes up must go down so that was something to relish. Using nice leg turnover it seemed like before we knew it we had covered another 5 miles making up a ton of time. Due to all the recent storms there were bits of debris along the trail and Micheal could not resist showing off his fine tumbling moves by lobbing himself over a stick into a complete roll down into the drainage. I gasped as he went down but then couldn't help but laugh as he sprung up and continued running without missing a beat. 10 miles completed and now the fun begins. Since we are no longer ignorant to the terrain we knew we had to work it to make the split. At this point Susan is out on the trail running her own plan, Steve is still with Micheal and I who are being tailed closely by Stacey. She is running the Orange Curtain as well but got side lined by a broken toe for about 4 weeks. It's obvious she barely missed a beat during that time as she was only about .5 miles behind Micheal and I. "Time for music", that's what I said to Micheal. I was going to need to focus to make the pace on this grade which is exactly 591 feet per 5 miles and we had to repeat this 3 times! After about 2 miles on the second trip up Steve backed off and slowed to enjoy the scenery the wonderful day was providing. One of the great parts of this trail is the trellis section from the old railroad. They have re-surfaced and rebuilt the whole trellis so you can run on it. This section comes about 1.5 miles after you have blasted down grade, turn around and start heading back uphill. My heart rate needed to be over 163 on the uphill 5 for me to make the splits so I worked on keeping it at least 163 but it was hard. This trail has awesome mile markers about every quarter and they are accurate according our splits which were very consistant. These quarter mile markers saved my bacon on the uphill stretch but were not necessary on the down but were a nice gauge. Before we knew it we reached the turn around, another 5 miles uphill and the pace portion of the run was half over! That was a comforting thought but not more comforting than the knowledge we only had to go up this one more time. Down we went again at what seemed like a blazing speed. The sun was now out and the air was warming up. The fog rising from the fields and the views of fog still lingering in the hills was a pleasant distraction. Letting my mind wander and ponder the surrounding versus the pain and tightness that has now gripped my back side was refreshing. All the gazing cost me about 2 minutes on my downhill portion but we arrived at just under an 8 minute pace. When we got the the turn for our last 10 miles of pace running and our last trip up behind blaster hill Micheal comments, "This is gonna be a killer". At this point my back side was so tight that all I could do was focus on my form. Trying so hard to keep my stride just a bit shorter and my turnover quick to ease the push off which was really not fluid. Micheal reminded me to drop my shoulders and calm my breathing and I knew I needed to push my heart rate to at least 160. I glanced at my watch periodically and it seemed to be stuck at 159! Knowing the watch wasn't stuck but rather my back side was stuck I knew we would not be under 8:30 pace for this trip. Arriving at the turn slower than the other two was not surprising and is to be expected but I was determined to make it up on this last and final 5 mile stretch. Micheal even used a swear word before we headed off and that is amazing since I can probably count on 2 hands the number of swear words I have heard from the General......that is why I titled this, "It can be done....the general can be wounded". I love Micheal but the guy is NEVER sore, beat up, fatigued or running in pain but today he was in at least a tiny bit of pain. :) Feeling like the horse who knows the barn is just around the corner I watched the quarter miles clip off...2 min., 1 min. 58 seconds, 1 min. 48 seconds.....I was sure this would be our fastest time down. Sure enough we arrived in under 38 minutes and it was done!

We celebrated, high fived and began to walk back to the car and we could see Stacey coming in for her home stretch. She looked strong and excited to have reached the final quarter mile and sprinted to the finish. We all felt worked but the pain was no match for the excitement of achieving the goal and far better. 32.5 miles, 1841 feet of climbing in 4:27:05 or and 8:13 pace. The 30 mile pace portion was done at an 8:08! We walked the entire 1.75 miles back to the car laughing and talking about all our inner voices, inner battles and inner bargains we made along the way to get us through. We talked about the need for an ice bath and how the run off water in the ditch seemed inviting. The entire run seemed to fly but it always does when you are having the time of your life, doing what you love and sharing it with others.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I can't eat another bite!

I met with Mark Friday to be weighed, pinched and measured. I suspected I may have lost a bit of weight but was fearful it was the wrong kind. Since I am oh to familiar with burning muscle as fuel and all the feelings associated with that process while training I wasn't jumping up and down with excitement when I stepped on the scale. An interesting change in perspective is taking place when I think about how much I weigh and whether I should eat more or less. It is somewhat of a complete 180 degree shift from my past thoughts. Unfortunately old habits and pathways in the brain are extremely tough to retrain and I can almost hear myself fighting the new habits. Strange but mostly interesting for me to watch myself behave. :). Stepping on the scale showed a bit over 1 pound of loss. In the past I would have been pretty excited to see any movement down but now I am not sure it's a good it fat or muscle. We leave the scale and move on to pinching and measuring and again I see the numbers going down. My entire upper body lost fat including my neck! The lower half lost a tiny bit but not enough for me to even remember. Then the the measurements coincide with the fat loss or are they too big???? He sat down and plunked in calculations as I stared intently. First the fat percentage......down .56%......I think nice job but I knew .56% does not account for 1+ pounds on my frame. Before he even finished doing all the calculations on the spreadsheet my mathematical mind knew the numeric answer and I had to restrain myself from taking over that computer! The mind works really fast because before he even looked over I had run through about 3 scenarios in my head......going over what I would/could say to convince him I didn't need to eat anymore food. Fortunately for me my compulsive controlling side can be out ruled by logic. The logic I am referring to is....."I have paid this man to help me not enable me so that means you will do what he says and keep your mouth shut"! The verdict was a little over .5 pounds of muscle has been chewed up, utilized to run my body and frankly cannibalized!

We talk and converse and I stop myself from making excuses, coming up with ideas and instead just listened. The menu will be reworked and the 1965 calorie day GONE! The 2645 calorie plan will now be my base and the higher days will be over 3000! He manipulated the foods so I can get them in by adding some liquid calories and some insulin boosters to increase my appetitie. On Monday after my usual back to back long days my calories will be a bit higher and he upped the protein intake by 2% on that day. He said the 2% doesn't seem like much but should aid in muscle repair.

Today is my first day on the new 3000+ plan and at 5p.m. I only have 1 more meal to eat! I think I can do it, yeah! I was somewhat cranky about my perception of my inability to lose more fat faster. He was shocked at my displeasure with 14.6% but he realizes he is dealing with a type A with high expectations. We talked about the fat% vs. pounds of fat and he gave me a good education there. Since I only have 15.7 pounds of fat on my body it will take time but he assured me it will happen. I am really happy about the changes so far but I had no idea how stubborn my body was going to be about muscle wasting. Since I was feeling sluggish and tired this last week I knew there was a good chance I was underfed for the workload the prior 2 weeks. That alone should be motivation for eating more! I can't afford to have these next 2 big runs (tomorrow 32 miles and next Sat. 40 miles all at 8:25-8:30 pace) be icky. Less than 15 hours before I will see if I can pull it off.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Progress Report

Last week was a recovery and ended my 4 week cycles. Scott moved me to 3 week cycles from here on out for Orange Curtain. Generally I get shifted because I cry, "uncle" because the 4 week cycles are definitely more challenging for me. This time I didn't cry, "uncle" but instead he made the shift to accommodate races and make the most of the time I have left. After reviewing my lovely detailed schedule I see he is taking no prisoners with the workouts. After last Sunday's race it was right back at it with track on Tuesday, a hairy tempo run today only to be followed by 2.5 hours on Saturday in Z3A just to be backed up by 27-32 miles at 8:25 pace on Sunday. That's just this week and next week is not any easier.

Kris was talking about how tight her hamstrings were from her killer Crossfit workout follwed by 20.08K chaser. I replied that my rear end was so balled up that after my track workout I will either be loosen up or have a real pain in my behind. I sort of felt like a stink bug. When you poke a stink bug it curls up into a ball and doesn't come apart unless you wait patiently. I know this because I did it as a kid all the time and still to this day when I see one I have to poke at it. Anyway....that is how I felt going into Tuesday's 10X400 meters. At the track I got a rare treat. Tom AND Steve showed up for the workout. Now this might seem normal if you have followed this blog because I run with these guys all the time but not on track days. I got out of my car in the freezing rain and said, "this is a special day" and Tom replied, "what's so F$%&*ing special about today"? I said, "Here I am at the track at 8 a.m. on Tuesday and you two are here, now that is a special rare occasion and one I never thought I would see". A few laughs and choice words just to let me know that nothing is SPECIAL we were off. After a good 30 minute warm up it was time to move it out. The first three 400's were clumsy as my body tried to remind me of it's stink bug status. It was kind of like pulling a wagon with a bum hitch squeaky and tight. The next sessions just got better and better and I was able to maintain and gain a bit on the last few. So, I came out of the track workout only a half a stink bug and was reminded that Scott is a genious pushing you just to edge but not over.

Wednesday I met Kris and her pooches on the trail for a nice recovery run. Ultra was happy to see Zoe and Emma again and they pranced along the trail trying to be top Wiem the whole way. I was somewhat fatigued all day Wednesday and took this as a sign to go to bed super early if I could as I must not be fully recovered from the last cycle of training. In addition I knew that today's tempo run would be very hard and I didn't want to be tired or feel fatigued.

Today offered a nice break from the relentless cold rain we have been having and 44 degrees felt like 65! I put on shorts and layered so I could strip down to a tank top if I needed. Meeting Tom and Trisha for this workout was a bonus. The workout was: warm up for 30 minutes, 15 min. in 3A the .5 miles at 3B then 55 minutes at pace followed by 20 minutes cool down. I was still a bit tight but nothing like Tuesday. The pace I need to hold was 7:44 and felt pretty confident I could maintain that but 55 minutes was a long time. During the AT portion I tried to focus on relaxing my shoulders and my breathing because I have noticed I have a tendency to really tighten up and force out my air. I don't know why, where or when I picked up this habit but none the less it has become a habit that needs to be broken. I always think focusing on form helps the miles tick by faster during a hard session or when your really fatigued. It seems to move the mind from the negative part of the workout onto something more useful. My 7.5 miles of AT went by fast and I made all the pace between 7:26-7:44 but a couple of them were very challenging and I had to do some sprints to meet some of the markers in time. Overall it was a good workout but I didn't feel like I was on fire or had much more to give. This better turn around before Sundaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyy!

This weekend will be a great test of my ability to run fatigued at pace and I feel that is unknown I will experience at this 100K. I know I can run 40 miles well but I have no idea what's going to happen to my body after that. Doing 2.5 hours at Z3A Saturday on trails then turn around and do 27-32 miles at 8:25 should be interesting and give me ton of information. Sunday calls for 50 degrees and no rain! It's going to be like running in Palm Springs I can't wait.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Fast times at Forest Grove High....

At least it used to be Forest Grove High School but now it's Tom McCall elementary. How do I know this????? I know this fact because Bill graduated from Forest Grove High along with his mom, dad and many other relatives. When Micheal came to pick me up this morning Bill gave us a history lesson on our race destination. Today was the 20.08K in 08....clever name huh. This race has been around so long I have ribbons with 9.7 in 97 on them and I am sure the Beast and Steve have some from the 80's. If your asking yourself how far is 20.08K it's 12.48 miles.

After a wonderful recovery week which included New Years Eve with friends, a trip to Deer Valley with just Bill and watching Alex's knock down drag out Basketball game I was physically and mentally prepared to give this road race a go. Not only was I ready to run but hanging out with Micheal, Tom, Kris, Trisha, Steve, Bob and Anna made it even more fun. Ultra runners were well represented and didn't let anyone down as they collected ribbons.

The morning started with a cold 37 degrees and after a fun warm up we all lined up ready to race. I got right up front. Off we went on the streets of Forest Grove, Or. Winding and weaving through the small town then down into wine country. The rain held off at the start but I knew where we were headed and there was snow in them there hills.....a bit a wind caught our jackets as we ran down the paved path which lead us to the country road and into falling snow. Miles ticked off at something like 7:10...7:15...7:20. Not paying too much attention to my heart rate and trying to find my groove as I followed Micheal's lead and pace. It wasn't long before the competitive road runners sized us up and set walls as they moved in front. Not having any of that I made my move and created my own wall....isn't that what you do in a race?? ;). I saw Micheal glance over as he watched this cat and mouse game and as we approached mile 3 and I wondered if this was way to early to be playing chase? I had a comfortable but determined pace set in at about 7:20 to 7:25 and was able to maintain this up and over the rolling course. I thought this was a flat race but from a road running perspective climbing 420 feet in 12.48 miles is not flat. I loved the hills because that gave me a bit of edge on the two woman that made me their target. Not knowing if I wanted to let them go by or maintain my lead bounced back and forth in my mind as much as we bounced back and forth. I took the lead on the climbs and descents and they would catch me on the flat. At the turn which came at approximately mile 9 I was second woman. Shocked and determined to keep it I pushed as much as my legs would allow. Seeing all my friends very close on the turn was fun and they all looked strong and full of working smiles.....the slit kind of smile but not a full teeth smile.... My second place position was not going to come without a fight as I was still being shadowed by two very strong girls. Then out of no where comes a stealth and relaxed she passed me like I was standing still. As much as I wanted to flex my competitive muscle I knew she was way out of my league. With only 2.4 miles to go, two good sized hills and a seizing rear end I fought hard to keep my now 3rd place position. My two competitors made their move and pushed hard on the flat before the hill. I tucked in behind them and told myself to just hold their pace and push on the hill where I know I am stronger. I did just that but they were relentless and kept step, breathing harder and harder we all crested at the same time. Another long flat section before the last big hill. Once again I was taken over forcing me into 5th! Now 5th is good but I was 2nd.....come on that is just not going to work. I fought hard pushing my heart rate near 180 as I tried to keep step with my girls. They were pulling away as we approached the last hill and less than .4 miles to finish. I gave it all I had on the last climb as I watched their fatigued stride pushing them. I powered up the hill but I knew I had to give it the all out 400 meter sprint to keep them off. I didn't look back and felt as if I was about to red line. Making the last turn to the finish I see Micheal jumping up and down waving his arm as if I was in the fight of my life. 1:32:?? finish time, 7:22 pace and 3rd girl. My girls were so close we almost caused a collision at the banner. Hand shakes and congrats came from all three of us to the other on a well run race. Making each other give it their awesome way to finish a race.......camaraderie between strangers is cool!

The whole gang did some great running today and we laughed as we fed ourselves. The race had a free pancake breakfast but Kris and I opted for training food. Micheal said I could dip my sweet potato in his maple was FAT FREE! :). I thought about but just stuck to the plan. Now this is the way to end a recovery week. Next week is a Build which ends with a rockin 27-32 mile run at 8:25 pace........yowzaaaaaaaaa.