Sunday, January 25, 2009

Vancouver Lake Half.

I woke up to a small layer of snow on the ground. I was pretty much shocked because I had no idea a small storm was brewing. The temperature was 31 degrees and light flurries as I made my way to Vancouver Lake for the race. With a 10 a.m. start I got some great rest and had a very relaxed morning. As I drove over into Washington and got closer to the lake the amount of snow appeared thicker but the skies were clearing. The slushy ground would be a new racing experience for me. I was on the hunt for a new VDOT today so it was to be an all out effort to get the best time possible. My body felt nice and relaxed and all the work I had done early in the week seemed to have settled in. I was good and stretched out thanks to an intense yoga class at Body Yoga and a couple of good power stretch sessions with Gretchen. My best 1/2 marathon time is 1:36:18 (7:21 pace) and I did that last year at this same race. I was pretty confident I could do better today.

I arrived super early because I drive really fast. :) I hung out in my car with my music and heat blasting. When Trisha and Darin arrived I was pretty much in my zone and just about ready to warm up. With 30 minutes to go I headed out, stopped for a potty break then started my warm up. I did a comfortable pace for about 15 minutes then added some strides to get things revved up.

We lined up and on the go we headed for our 1.5 out and back. After mile one and comfortably in the groove I felt it was going to be a good day slushy roads and all. Everyone was out fast including me at a 7:04 pace. My goal was to be below 7:20 and I know the pitfalls of going out to fast but I gave myself 2 miles to find myself. Mile 2 was even faster at 7:01 so I thought it would be wise to use my heart rate as a guide. I was running at around 170 beats so I dialed it back to 167-168. This was a comfortable yet strenuous pace. Mile 3 was 7:07. When I clicked my lap button I thought I should bring it down another 2 beats. What I found was 164-166 was an awkward zone for me. My gate was not fluid here. I worked on it focusing and paying attention to everything trying to find my rhythm. Miles 4 and 5 were 7:08 and 7:16. Knowing full well that 7:16 is still under my goal didn't stop me from second guessing myself and forcing my pace. It was as if I had completely forgotten my limits. At this point the race does a loop inside a park so we are seeing the leaders coming back at us. It's always helpful to have other things to focus on. At this point we are fighting a bit of thick slush on the walking path. The roads were much better with traffic spreading the wet thick substance but the walking path only had the runners footsteps to break down the snow. I tucked in behind another person who was blazing a path and just followed. Mile 6 and 7 were 7:16 and 7:15. Seems I have found my pace. My heart rate was at around 167 and I know I have up to 174-176 so at least 1-2 additional gears but Miles 8-10 just sucked. Just one mile ago I thought I had found my groove and now my groove was gone. Oh, how fleating it is. I had taken gels at miles 3 and 6 so I had plenty of fuel but my legs just wouldn't turn any faster. My heart rate also took a dip. Miles 8 and 9 were 7:24! Uhggggggg. I wasn't happy. I felt like I was throwing away my PR. I went back to focusing on my heart rate which was dropping along with my pace. My plan was to do whatever I needed to drive it up to 170. At that rate I should be able to save my PR. Mile 10 = 7:29......are you kidding me. Pulling in my gate and shifting my weight to the front of my body seemed to give me a bit of a lift. With only 3 miles to go I needed to make my pace on these last ones or there would be no new VDOT for me. Mile 11 was 7:26 and mile 12 was 7:23. My cumulative time showed I had 10 minutes to find the finish line and my PR. I felt I could do that. I did pretty much everything I could think of to move my body faster and at mile 13 I found a 7:16. Now with a sprint to the finish I knew I had a PR. 1:35:10 or a 7:16 pace. I was thrilled but have to admit it was hard an I earned it, whewww. Boy that race went from great, to good, to eeeek then got saved in the end. OUCH...that was close.

I was perplexed at how my pace degraded so fast because even though my initial miles were above goal pace they were comfortable. It seemed I couldn't drive my heart rate into threshold today. I simply never saw 174 and I can run a long ways at 174. I also found a week spot in my zone 3B. That 164-166 area needs some time. I will have to incorporate some workouts that force that area to get worked. This race will move me 2 VDOT's. I should be really happy and really scared at the same time. Happy because that shows an increase in fitness and reminds me once again that the training plan does work. But....scared because that means harder M-Pace and T-Pace efforts.

This brings up an interesting question. When does a runner peak out? You hear all sorts of things that determine your limits like years of running and age. Since I have been running races for over 20 years how can I get new PR's. I know it's training, strength and probably a bit of maturity but it begs the question of limits. Knocking on 42 years old I don't feel like I have hit my limits yet. Maybe I am getting stronger but maybe I have just decided the sky is the limit. Hell what do I have to lose by deciding I have more in me......uhhhhh nothing!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hamilton Mountain

Yesterday Susan, Steve and I did repeats on Hamilton. Why Wednesday? This Sunday is the Vancouver Lake 1/2 marathon and I need to get a new VDOT at that event. That means it's an all out effort at max speed so my hill work needed to be done on Wednesday. Danni commented about the cold temperatures and still seeing us in shorts. Well, since we are almost always socked in with clouds and rain during the winter anytime we see a clear sunny day we think we are in Palm Springs. I think I got conditioned during our recent arctic blast and now I think anything over 33 degrees and clear is tropical. Unfortunately it's not and makes for some cold stiff legs. We are still be treated to the clear sunny days but now I carry tights with me every time. The shorts sound like a good idea but they're not. So, on Wednesday it was forecasted to be beautiful and clear and with promising "no snow" reports from our gorge friends (folks who live out there) I was stoked to hit either Hamilton or Dog mountain. Since I only had 2X30 minute repeats I chose Hamilton. Even though it's sunny out the east winds in the gorge have been fierce. If you aren't used to the severe winds you have no concept of how frigged and powerful they are. So, I drove east to meet up with Steve and Susan and when I got out of my car at our rendezvous point my car door would barely open against the wind. It has been clocked at crown point at 155 mph. That's some wind. I jump out dressed in shorts and a long sleeve and Steve looks at me like I have lost my mind as he buried his head in his hands while shaking it back and forth. The temperature gauge in my car read 32 degrees but with the wind chill it felt like ice on my legs. My car door slammed shut and Steve stood outside knocking on the window for me to unlock the passenger side. He was frozen. Thankful I threw in my tights I made my way into the restaurant to change fighting the wind the whole way. No shorts for me!

As we drove further east my car was being jostled due to the high winds. I was hopeful we would get a reprieve on the trail but I knew the open face of either mountain would be harsh. When we arrived it was eerily windy and with our huge fir trees it was sort of creepy wondering if one of those big boys was coming down. Bundled to the hilt we forged through the wind to the trail head where the trees and cliffs felt as comfortable as our living room. Sheeesh....if it wasn't better there is no way we would have made it up that mountain without turning into popsicles.

My legs were tired from the morning boot camp and the prior days M-Pace run. BTW - I have been doing these Tuesday M-Pace runs but the pace is actually 15 seconds slower than M-Pace. They are designed to teach the body to run in the lower portion of our 3A zone. They are incredibly effective. A bit taxing but not over the edge and sure help with the economy of your gate. For me the pace is just under an 8 minute mile. Since that run in on Tuesday and generally averages about 10-12 miles doing hill repeats right after would not be recommended but life is life and it needed to get done. We made our way to the junction where you can choose the difficult or most difficult ascent. We were using the most difficult with it's lovely switchbacks all they up to 2400+ feet. The trail was snow free except for the exposed top where the snow was packed down ice. This snow/ice lasted only about 10 feet. As we made our way up the face of the mountain the wind would roar up then disappear as you dove back into the woods. It was awesome though! The light of the day was really different. With the light dust of high clouds against the blue sky and iced bushes it made for an extra special treat. Being on Hamilton in the middle of January is cool in of itself but to have the unique visual was awesome.

We made two trips up the steepest side running every step. My body felt really strong and I am definitely one step above in fitness. I can for sure say that now. My legs felt tired but not at all weak. The terrain on this mountain is darn technical and I can tell I haven't spent much time on anything rocky. The downhill was a bit clumsy and my footing was unsure. There's nothing I can do about that except practice. I forgot how technical this trail is and it would be great training for those steep technical descents at Wasatch. Yippee!!!! Black Wednesday........

Sunday, January 18, 2009

30 miler at MLK...

Micheal, Bushwhacker, Steve and I headed south to Eugene for their fat ass called the MLK. Stephan Willow has been putting on this event for years but I have never run it. Looking for the best possible training for 2 Moon Micheal and Steve felt this fat ass would be a good one to attend and they drug me along, thanks! With 6,500 feet of climb all on single track they had the right idea. The event was a series of loops, not all the same but one would be repeated near the end. It was super cold all day with the high only reaching around 36 degrees but no precipitation. The dense fog made it feel even colder. The sun was trying to burn off the fog but only bits of blue to could creep through.

Of course we arrived very early and after some mulling around and getting ready we decided to go ahead and get a jump on the run instead of waiting until 9 a.m. Graciously Chris led us up the first 10 mile loop. It was a fast start and I was certainly working keeping Bushwhacker and Chris in my sights. We booked along the trail which was wonderful single track. It reminded me of Forest Park only in much better condition. I think since this park is much smaller it gets a lot of trail attention with nice bridges and gravel spreads to prevent erosion. Our Forest Park trails are much more rolling while these are bit more of a gradual up and gradual down. It was perfect training ground. On the first loop we got to take a off shoot on a very steep trail. It was so steep that it was hard to keep your footing on any of the mud. Up, up, up we went on the knee knocking climb and near the top we were treated to wonderful warm sun and an awesome view above the fog. A faster group made it to the top first and were enjoying the warmth and the views pointing out all the surrounding mountains. Once we got all warmed up it was a killer descent. Great single track downhill was just what we all need.

With the first 10 miles under our belt we headed out for loop 2. A six mile rolling trail that eventually climbs to the top of a butte where we did a lollipop then re-traced our steps back to the car. Now with 3+ hours of running done you would think we were warmed up. There were sections in those woods that were so incredibly cold but just warm enough to cause the ice on the high trees limbs to begin to melt. As this melting progressed we would run through areas of raining ice/frost. It was interesting. Done with another fast loop and we were off to repeat loop one without the knee knocking climb to the summit of Spencer Butte. Loop 3 would be 8 miles long.

I could feel the miles and time on my legs. I had a bit of low moment on this loop and keeping Micheal and Steve in my sights was about the best I could do. I hadn't been fueling very well. I was chugging the G2O but my gel and food consumption was on the lighter side. With the cold temps and the workload I should have eaten more. I began the rebound by shoving gels on the 20 minute bell. On the way back I started feeling more energized but still needed fuel. Back at the car and now 24 miles done I ate some potatoes and took 2 more gels with me.

We were now repeating the 6 mile lollipop loop and it was a slow first half. When we got to the road crossing just above the fog there was cool view of the trees who's tops were still covered in frost. The bottom branches were all thawed and green while the tops were still white with frost. It was a neat sight. The climb to the butte went pretty well and we began the descent to the finish. With about 3 miles to go and all of it a mild up grade Steve challenged Micheal and I to run every single step. He was off with Micheal right behind him while I brought up the rear. I was all over the challenge and got in my zone. It was hard and my legs were really feeling it but watching those guys begin to disappear on the switchbacks made me trudge on running every step. There were lots of folks out on this section of trail including a bunch of dogs. I love dogs and am not at all afraid of them. There were big ones and small ones. When I came upon 2 small Chihuahua's on a retractable leash I slowed to get around them and one of the little suckers bit my ankle. It was no big deal and only felt like a bee sting but that fat little beast thought he owned the place. The owner was of course horrified and I just laughed. I was fine but that little guy is brave.

We did the 30 miles with 6,400 feet in 5:42. It was great training for 2 moon. Look at the freaky head shot. :)

Things are heating up on the training front. I have the 1/2 marathon this Sunday and I am hoping to beat my time from last year. A tall order since I was in really good road running shape at this time last year preparing for OC100K. Still anxious to get my race plans for 2009 cemented but probably won't have anything more to add to my list until after the Hardrock 100M lottery. The results will be out sometime in early February.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Watch and learn then get inspired!

It's always interesting to hear what motivates folks to push themselves. I am not only interested in athletic inspiration but I love to know what drives people to do stuff be it work, athletics, volunteering or whatever. I think whatever the motivator is it crosses over into other venues. Meaning if you are super career oriented the reasons or drive will spill over into other things and the same goes for athletics.

I get motivated by lots of stuff but some biggies are other people, fear, disappointment and passion. Now as you read that list you are probably thinking wow, those are not good drivers but in my world they are. I will start with people. I absolutely admire people that push themselves to achieve. I am not picky about the achievement but the discipline and hard work that goes into the achievement gets me really fired up. On the athletics side of things I get inspired by the folks who push outside their comfort zone and do things that seem unattainable to them. I get pumped up watching super fit people work out. I love being around first time ultra runners and seeing their enthusiasm and excitement when they tow the line for their race they trained so hard for. I also get moved being around parents who set amazing examples for their children even when it's not easy. I am surrounded by motivators every day or maybe I surround myself with people who inspire me I am not sure. Needless to say I love it and it fuels me big time. Taking in all the energy, lessons and learning from their discipline makes me want to be better

I am also motivated by fear. Things that scare me or things I don't want to do make me want to overcome it. I am not sure why but I have been this way as long as I can remember. I absolutely despise being inhibited by fear. There is such thing as the gift of fear (I know that's a book and a must read but that's not what I am talking about here). I think the gift of fear is just a play on words. You know, those turn something bad into good things. Fear is a powerful motivator for me. I hate fear having any control over what I want to do. For me fear raises my senses, makes me a better planner and ultimately much more aware and in the moment. Fear drove me to sign up for something yesterday that truly scares the hell of me. I haven't told my friends yet but we are getting together for a goals/Christmas Camp celebration and I will share it. Fear serves me well.

Disappointment will also make me raise the bar. I hate to fail at my goals. I am certainly NOT afraid to fail but would rather not. When I do, when I let myself down, when I let my family and friends down I seem to spend very little time pouting. Don't get me wrong I am certainly not Susie Sunshine when I am disappointed but I find the emotion a captivating driver. The need to avoid disappointment gives me wings to many things I would rather not. They could be simple things like having dinner ready for my family when they get home, making sure my animals are well taken care of, not showing up late when meeting others all the way to finishing strong in a race. When I feel I have disappointed myself or others I hate it so I would say it's a huge motivating element.
Passion is always motivating isn't it? I get all excited when someone tells me their story and I can see the passion in their eyes. I don't care what they are talking about. Bill and his passion for flying makes me want to go do things. I can feel the excitement when he talks about it. The expressions people make and the light in their face when they are truly excited and passionate about what they are doing. I think this is the hardest one to find so when your around someone who truly has it it's contagious.

There are other things that get me fired up but those are some of the meat. So yesterday when I went to do my tempo run I was fearful as I approached the trails. I could feel the apprehension because I didn't want to disappointment myself. I had to do a 90 minute run. The first hour was a gradual build up to 3B or M-Pace. After holding M-Pace (7:48) for 25 minutes I had to do 3X10 minutes at T-Pace (7:17) with a 2 minute rest in between. The run was going really well so after 40 minutes all my fear left and I knew I could hit the numbers. My T-Pace effort was too fast. The first 10 minutes was a 7:06 pace, too fast. My second 10 minute segment was 7:19...better. My last 10 minute segment was 6:46 waaaay to fast. My pacing needs some serious work. This T-Pace is really good for me. At 7:17 I am close to my all time best of 7:09 and it's early in the season. I think if I can keep myself in check and not over do things I can hit that again. I felt pretty rested going into this tempo though.

After the run it's weight training with Sarah and Leta. Both are great training partners and Sarah is simply shredded. It's pretty motivating to work out with her. She is so incredibly disciplined and it shows. Plus, how can someone look so cute while working out????

This weekend a few of us are heading down to Eugene for their fat ass run called the MLK run. I have never done this event and am really looking forward to it. It has around 6K of climb in the 30 miler so that will be good training for C2M which by the way I am scared to death of!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Peak training has started!

Next week the beginning of peak training starts. 6 weeks of some pretty solid running before a taper for Coyote 2 Moon. The peak training will include the longer back to back running so finally Micheal and Steve will stop wondering when I am going to get in shape for this 100.

I am still feeling a bit flat from my training breakdown last week. I am not nearly has tired and frantic but am keeping a close eye on my state of being to be sure I don't get myself in a pickle. Seems this is time of year when I get one of those nasty bugs that is generally flying around. Probably because it's somewhere around this time the training starts to get notched up for whatever I have on my calendar. So...this year I am going to really pay attention and try to ward off any bad stuff by stepping back if I need to. Now I would call that maturity....not one of my strong suits.

This weekend was our first official Black Saturday! I was the only one that couldn't find my shirt but I found black so I was good to go. We did the Powell Butte Zipper. Up and down the steep trails of Powell Butte. It's a small park in Gresham but is good training ground for a change of pace. The gorge is shut down for us. To much snow on those trails. The coast range is always snowy this time of year and we are getting very creative with this 28K of ascent 100 looming. I am actually enjoying the fear and lack of trail control. I am going to get flack for that comment I know but keep in mind this 100 is just for fun so there's no time goals. ;0 I sort of drug myself around Powell Butte yesterday chasing the boys. Today was a long run but we did killer repeats up and over Pittock. We did enough to beat us all up and get a very solid run with over 3K of climb. I actually felt more spring in my step today and when Steve gave me grief about sandbagging yesterday I told him I adapted over night, ha, ha, ha. Powell Butte got us just over 2400 so it was a good lead in to peak training.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rooster has been cooked!

I forgot that I wasn't super woman. I am toast, ca put, thrashed, tired, sore and oh yeah....grumpy. I think that list sort resembles something I read about over training but I am ignoring that. :) I had to skip my tempo run today. First missed workout besides Muir Beach for a very long time. I was so incredibly overwhelmed with stuff this week I had to stay home and check some important stuff off my list. The list is all stupid stuff and should have been done a long time ago but I put it off until things were going to explode. Speaking of exploding I felt somewhat like that this week. With 9, yes 9 weight work outs and all my runs it seemed I barely had time to do normal stuff like shower. How did I get myself into 9 weight workouts in a week? Well I can't even explain myself so I won't. Let's just say I love to workout with people and it seems I can't get enough. So, the 9 workouts in a week will be on my schedule for another 3 weeks then the load will lighten. You might be wondering if I am doing myself any good and I would answer, ummmmm....probably not. Isn't there a saying, "Do as I say not as I do"? I use that on Alex a lot. :) Since I love every single workout for it's own rewards it's hard to say which ones will go so for 3 more weeks I won't ask myself any questions.

How did I get myself so cooked? Hmmmm, it's hard to say, ha, ha, ha but the running a 100 miles in a week, doing 9 weight workouts in a week then right after that's all done I do a race. Then to top it off Bill had travel this week and Alex has a full schedule especially with all the missed school days prior to the holiday, a Christmas program, car needs service, a Christmas party and I am the room mom, blah, blah, blah...... It's all quite funny except for when I am cranky then the funny part is missing. So......a day off and lots of things done, a bit of rest for my body and tomorrow will be a new day. Oh yeah, I did get a new menu from Mark because my calories weren't supporting all the activity and therefore it was time to make another bump up. On the bright side I am getting very strong. :)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

20.09K in 09


12.48 miles in 1:32:40

7:25 pace

1st Masters, 2nd girl

I am happy to report that my 8 mile run with Trish yesterday helped push all the cobwebs out of my legs and they were ready to race today. I woke up and it was 25 degrees at my house and the news was reporting areas of freezing fog. Please let the deep freeze in our mild mannered PNW end! I got myself all pulled together and included my studded road shoes just in case Forest Grove, OR was in a fog bank. That outlining area sits pretty low with a lot of bogs and swollen rivers and it's pretty much gguaranteed to be a couple of degrees colder and foggy. Darin and I made the slow drive over to Forest Grove. It was slow because I am an ice driving wimp and swear every little fluctuation in the road will land me in a ditch despite my AWD car. AWD's are great for almost all kinds of weather but that's only if the driver knows how to drive the AWD and I don't so it was creep along all the way to the race start. When we got out into the parking lot at the school it was definitely slippery. One false move and you were going down! Fortunately with all the recent snow and ice storms the roads are littered with gravel. Yes the gravel was under some bit of ice but it helped with the grip. A quick sign up, chat with the Beast and it was off to warm up. I thought I would check out the home stretch of the course and test the icy conditions. Apparently Darin had the same idea since I saw him out busting up the hill. If we stayed on the edge of the road the gravel and dirt was a nice mostly skid free ride.

The race was .01K longer this year and my goal was to do at least what I did last year. One added feature of this event is just as you are about the turn the corner to the finish you run by by cemetery. It has a certain appeal or irony to it (you can see the tombstones in the picture below). Last year I had Micheal pacing me for 90% of the run but this year I was on my own. Darin is way to fast to serve as a carrot so I was going to have be self propelled. :) The first 3 miles were indeed pretty slippery. You would be running along with a somewhat shorter stride and come across water that was frozen and it was whoaaaaaa...hold on.....stay up right. I told Jeff this would be a race with the risk takers prevail and that was true on the first 3 miles for sure. Fortunately I think I was one of the risk takers clocking a couple of sub 7 minute miles. That is way to fast so I dialed it in and found a good zone and used my watch to keep me in check. 20.09K is 12.48 miles and I knew I had at least 6 fast ones in me but after that it was an unknown. This course is not flat! It has some pretty significant hills which is perfect for me. I love the uphills because I feel I have a slight advantage there. As the race progressed and the 10K runners peeled off it was darn lonely. There seemed to be very few 20K runners and at one point I wondered if I took a wrong a turn or if everyone knew something I didn't and chose the shorter option. I was first woman for the whole race....that's because at mile 3 a girl passed me. I was running pretty hard and up comes a very young girl who looked like she was out for Sunday jog. I watched her pass me like I was standing still then fade off in the distance quickly. She was out of my sight within minutes. It was impressive. Coming in to mile 6 I knew I was doing pretty well and I felt really strong. My legs had come full circle from yesterday and I had plenty of power. The only thing I was lacking was good T-Pace cardio. I have just started working on T-Pace this season and it showed. My gear in the high range was pretty short....only about 2 beats. Generally I have about 4-5 beats to play with in the high zone and can feel the power within those beats but today it was red line in about 2. I kept a good clip though. At the turn I could see I was second woman and as we proceeded the last 4.5 miles there were no other woman close. The men were gaining on my fast and I didn't like that. I think I got passed by 3 men in the last 4 miles. I caught one back on the .5 miles to finish because there is a pretty steep hill and that helped me but the other 2 were gone.

I was exactly 10 seconds slower than last year and the course was 1K shorter. My pace was exactly the same. Can you believe it? How does that happen? I am happy with the result because last year I was in peak training for the 100K road run I was doing in February so I had a lot more pace running under my belt. Also, the 100M for Christmas Camp just ended on Wednesday and even though that seems like a long time ago it isn't. I know I felt stronger this year because my legs had more to give but my cardio was maxed out. Changing your physiology in the higher zone is the easiest and fastest to alter. All it takes is some track work and T-Pace training and you can make the adjustment. It's the Z3A and B that take due diligence and patience. The best part of the day was when I saw Eb Engleman he said, "Ronda am I seeing less of you than before"? That made my day. I love the high from running short road races. It's a fun and challenging change and I always surprise myself. I consider myself a pretty lack luster road runner but I do enjoy it.

Darin of course was very speedy and you can read his rendition on his blog.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Christmas Camp is a wrap!

31.5 miles in 5:11 for me on the 31st. Not as fast as I wanted but it was the best I could do with the legs I had under me. Though I was slower than I thought I should be I was surprised at how steady I was running. The CC group split into 2 camps for the final run. We had the loopy's which was Darin, Trisha, Beast, Susan and Lisa. The rest of campers went hardcore and braved the snow, slush and mud on the trails. As I said in a previous post I was pretty excited about the 2 mile loop course complete with mile markers and a wonderful surface. Of course it was flat but I still managed to get over 1300 feet of climbing, ha, ha, ha....not much but I am counting it! We all got lucky with a lovely cold but dry day. The weather man were preparing us all for record rains and possible floods in areas around Portland but they were off by one day, whew! I brought my entire running closet with me completely expecting to get soaked. Instead I wore shorts, gloves, a long sleeve shirt and was completely comfortable the entire time. Friends came out to keep us company for a few loops. Darin and Trisha had a couple of people come out for a few laps and Sarah braved the weather and joined me for 6 miles. It sure helped the time go by fast.

I sort of had a plan to get a bit faster with each 1o mile segment and I did but only by approximately 1 minute for each 10 miles. Hardly worth mentioning. The time flew. I switched directions at the 20 mile mark so I could see everyone more. Even though we covered the same 2 mile loop 15+ times it wasn't boring. There were all sorts of folks out enjoying the day but mainly the killer squirrels. These squirrels are HUGE, FAT and right down BOSSY! I am a rodent wimp so I got super creeped out when I opened the back of my car for aid and three huge monsters came over and stole my empty gel packets. They threatened to carry off my banana so I ate it. Darin thought one was about to jump inside his car at one point. These squirrels are yucky and most definitely NOT cute.

As CC came to an end we all shared our stories via email and it was super fun to have such a big crowd with such enthusiasm and creativity given our weather hurdles. Nothing seems to slow this group down. Sean pulled out more than 100M in 4-5 days pulling some doubles and maybe even a triple. A couple of folks ran their first 100M week and the rest of us who have done one got to revisit the pain. :) All in all I think we were all happy to have withstood the test and are pumped for 2009 training and racing. It was fun to push the limits of mileage for CC. Now for a nice recovery week but first a race tomorrow. Hopefully I can break my time from last year of 7:25 pace but after today's sluggish 8 mile run I am not so sure.....hmmmm. Next week is the beginning of a new training cycle with some harder workouts which will challenge me.

After camp I rushed home and shoved my fat swollen calf's into boots with compression socks. Bill and I were excited to ring in to the new year with friends so a couple of double espresso's later I was recharged, dressed up and ready to party! We met a the Ward's and began our evening celebration. The laughs were going to be big. I could tell this group was ready to let their hair down and say goodbye to 2008 with a bang. It was either the coffee, the excitement or simply hanging around fun people but I was un-phased by the run and was able to stay up past midnight. At times I was laughing so hard I had to brace my belly. We were having a good time and thought we were very very funny...I think we made have had 1 to many glasses of champagne? The champagne was the only way we were going to e dancing and dancing we did. The funny part is none of us can REALLY dance but we sure thought we were Fred and Ginger at times. I love how Bill, who is 6'2" tries to dance with me at my's so cute. Me with my wild arms can really clear out a space. I think Leta was the best dancer but her high heel balloon popping was very choreographed. Taking pictures, acting tough, telling stories and making fun of ourselves was quite entertaining. Somehow during the evening we decided were the gansta sistas...Thanks Sarah and Leta!

On to 2009 and planning races. I sent in my application for Hardrock again. With 4 of us trying to get spot one of us is bound to hit the lottery. I am guessing Micheal will be the lucky one because he really wants to do Wasatch this year instead. So it will be just his luck to get into HR100. Once the HR100M lottery is determined that will drive all my further race plans. I have a list of about 10 races I want to do so I will need to weed out the list. Either way I see a good year of joyous running ahead.