Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Week 5

Okay, so I have some great pictures this week. Our week started off great with a couple of light days on the trail at sunrise.

This pictures sums up all the reasons why I love running. Out on the trail, with the sun coming over the mountains (hills) everything seems so full of possibility, life, and hope. It feels great to be alive.

Light days usually consist of 5-7 miles at a pretty light pace. (Okay... so everything I run these days is at a "light" pace. No speed demons here.) We solved our running partner dilemna and roped my brother David into running with us. We are much too slow for him but he doesn't seem to mind too much, (or doesn't let on that he does.) He is just trying to get a good base under him because he wants to do an Ironman in the Spring, so it works out well.
So at the beginning of the week, all of us were feeling pretty good. How could you not with views like these?

This is the view at the top of some of the hills we run. I don't care what you say, the desert does have certain momemts of charm.

So then we got to Saturday where the fun began...and by "fun" I mean anything but.

The plan was to meet at the trail head at 4:15. We were going to do about a 4 mile loop on the road and then do another 10 on the trail when it got light enough. David was suppose to be at my house at 4:00, but slept through his alarm. I finally left my house about the time we were suppose to meet. And then we waited around the trail head for a while.

It did give us some time to shoot a couple of early morning glamor shots though.

At about 4:40 we decided David probably wasn't comin and so we started down the road. There are definitely ups and downs to street running. The upside is that their are a lot less ups. For the most part, it's pretty flat running which means you can get more miles logged in less time. And those miles can be logged before it gets light which is always a plus during the AZ summer.

The downside is that it does a number on my shins, (and my whole legs for that matter.) Plus, because the heat radiates from the asphalt... even in the wee hours of the morning, it is much hotter.

So once we finish our road loop, we refill water bottles at the car and swallow some food. At this point I had a total of 48 oz of water between my 2 water bottles. I figure this should be enough to get me through the next 10 miles, but I am a little bit worried. Melissa also has 2 water bottles although I think the are slightly smaller. About a mile in though, she stashes one of hers because she hates carrying two.

The next couple of miles pass pretty uneventfully. We even have enough energy to take some action shots.

I have decided that the camera just doesn't do justice to some of these hills. They seem so much steeper in person.

About 3 or 4 miles on the trail and we we run into David. Apparently one of the messages I left woke him up and he decide to try to catch us on the trail. That was great! But he came without WATER. So to make a long story short... we were out on the trail without enough water, way later in the morning then we wanted to be, and then Melissa lost her key (To get an account of that you can go to her blog). The combination of the 3 was less than desirable. I was still able to get in my 14+ but the last three miles were done without water and I was completely dehydrated. It was 92 degrees when I pulled out of the parking lot to go home.

We have since made some definite changes. Our first is that our loops are going to be no more than 6 miles. The second is that everyone has to carry 2 water bottles. (David may resist and only carry one. If he can survive on that..more power to him. )

I am sure this will be only one of the many adjustments we will have to make as our runs get longer and the days get hotter. So much for the desert charm.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Week 4 Evaluation and Course Change

Note: If you haven't read the daily posts, this probably won't make as much sense so you might want to start reading here.

Okay, so here are my main concerns at this point with some solutions I have been throwing around:

1. Hydration. This has to be a top priority. I have to figure out a method that works. I do really well hydrating on my runs, but I have to do better hydrating throughout the day which is almost more important. It is a MUST! And it might mean that I have to start setting a timer so I have a reminder to drink a glass of water.

2. Summer Heat. Really, I think the only way we can get around this, is by starting our long runs earlier. I think what this means is that we have to start our runs on asphalt and do the first miles there and then hit the trail when it is light enough. Not what I'd prefer, but I think that is the only way around it. It just isn't safe to run on the trail much before 5 and really isn't smart to extend our runs into the heat. I think we will be okay for another couple of weeks, but once we hit close to 20 miles we need to be starting earlier.

3. Staying Safe. I think this is Kent's main concern. And to be honest, the last few times out I feel the same. There are just so many variables from desert wildlife, to a potential bad fall, to some weirdo out on the trail that make it all a little risky. And especially on days like Saturday when we split up. And that is almost guaranteed to happen, because some days are just bad running days. On Saturday that happened to Melissa. I can guarantee that on another day it will happen to me. And really, because of the time frame, we really don't have the option for both of us to stop when that happens and start again on another day.

I think the best solution, is to find another runner to join with us. Ideally we would like to find a guy to run with us. But that poses another challenge in finding a man who wants to run a 50k, but that we can keep pace with. Male or female, we need to find someone who like us, isn't too fast, but is in good enough shape to do about a half marathon on terrain. I know...Picky, Picky.

I have been racking my brain but still haven't come up with someone. Any other solutions or suggestions to any of the above problems is very much welcome. In the meantime I am sure I will keep mulling them around in my brain.


We met at the trail head around 4:45 am. It was still too dark to really hit the trail and be safe. So we stretched and waited around for about 10 minutes until we were assured that we would be able to see well enough for proper foot work and that all nocturnal animals were back sleeping. The main trail is 7 miles round trip. Our plan was to do that twice and get a total of 14 in for the day. We stashed water and some food at the trail head so we could refill our water bottles and get some energy in before we headed back out for the second half. I carry two 20 oz hand held water bottles. I think this is my preferred method of hydration. I think the camelback would drive me crazy bouncing up and down on my back. And I don't care for the hip holsters because your arms brush them as you run. Plus the hand held makes for easy access. I probably could get away with one because the aid stations are going to be every 5 miles, but I feel much more balanced with one in each hand. I was worried about how they would effect me when I got really tired, but even within these few weeks I am use to running with them and my muscles have adapted so I don't even really notice them anymore.

We reached about mile 3 or 4 pretty uneventfully. No chills which was a definite plus. And again the desert was beautiful. You get up on some of those rises and you can see for miles. In the one direction you look over the city, and in the other, the desert stretches as far as you can see. The sun is coming up and the beauty, in combination with those running endorphins, makes me feel complete joy. I feel absolutely ALIVE and blessed beyond measure. In those moments, I feel like I could run forever.

Unfortunately, about that point Melissa wasn't feeling quite the same thing. Her head was spinning and she was felt a sharp stabbing pain in her abdomen. We tried making some adjustments in the pace and with walk breaks, but nothing seemed to help. In fact it seemed to get worse. When we hit the trail head at mile 7, we grabbed more water and something to eat. Melissa said she wanted to keep going, despite the pain so we headed back out. About a half mile out, we both decided this probably wasn't the best idea. She decided to head back to the cars and I was going to try to finish.

I was worried about the time though. It was getting a lot later in the morning then I wanted to be at the point in my run because of the delayed start and pace adjustment. I picked up the pace a bit and settled in. At some point I hit a trail sign that had crossroads that I knew I wasn't suppose to be on. I had taken a wrong turn AGAIN. This really isn't that big of deal since all the trails will eventually lead you out. It's not like you really risk getting lost. But it is inconvenient. I decided I would rather just turn around and get back on the trail I was familiar with. I got back to the crossroads where I took the wrong turn and couldn't figure out why it had happened. It was clearly marked with a trail sign. I think I just get in a zone and am paying attention to different things I guess. Like:

1. My form
2. My water intake
3. About being aware of the mountain bikers and so there is not a mishap
4. My pace
5. Keeping my heart rate low enough and not getting into oxygen debt
6. Watching the ground so I don't have another intimate encounter with it...

And before you know it I am off on the wrong trail.

So, once back on the right trail I kept heading out but turned back before I hit the trail end. The way back I pretty much put it on cruise control and was feeling good except for the last mile when my knee started to bother me, and made me grateful that I was nearing the end. I don't know exactly how many miles I did because of the course change, but from what I could tell from the map and from my finishing time I think it was pretty close to 13. Not as far as what I had planned, but still it felt good to finish a half marathon.

I got back to the car to find that Melissa had stuck around and waited for me. I had agreed to call her as soon as I got to my car and let her know that I had finished okay. But she had waited around just to be sure, bless her. It made me feel a bit guilty that I didn't turn around with her, and end at mile 8. It's just such a hard decision to make though because we only have 3 months to get ready and every Saturday counts. We need to figure out a better system for moments like this.

All in all though, I felt like it was a good run for me. And the only blood involved was from a couple of blisters...a great improvement from the last trail outing.


Friday, was a no run day in preparation for the long run on Saturday. My goal was to hydrate. Still, I didn't seem to get around to it until the afternoon. I don't know why this has become such a hangup. How hard is it to raise my arm and swallow at the same time? And it's not that I don't like water. I do... a lot. It just seems to be that I get sidetracked doing and thinking about a million other things and suddenly I get to 2 or 3 in the afternoon and I realise that I haven't even had a decent glass that day. I read somewhere that the best way to remedy this problem is to carry a water bottle around with you all day. That way it is constantly in your hand as a reminder to drink it. Whoever wrote that article doesn't have a baby and 2 other small children. Or now that I think of it, any kind of job that requires 2 hands. I read somewhere that they have keyboards that are designed to only require one hand. I figure the author of this "handy" tip must be putting one of those to good use. But I did pretty well Friday afternoon and evening and hoped that it would be enough for Saturday.


Thursday, was much better. I ran with a friend from the neighborhood and we had our 6 done just shortly after 6:30. I was feeling much better about things. Still, at about half way point I was getting chills again. The water issue DEFINITELY has to be adressed.


It is HOT!

That is most definitely what I was thinking on Wednesday morning around 8. It was my first day back actually running (I had done a little aqua running) since "the incident." Everything healed up pretty nicely, although I thought for a day or two that my elbow might be getting an infection. But with a little attention, everything was back on track and healing nicely.

So Wednesday morning it was time for me to get moving. My problem was that I really didn't want to get on the treadmill, and Kent plays basketball at 5 MWF. So Melissa and I made plans to meet at the trail head a little after 7 and put in about 6 miles. We figured we'd be done somewhere between 8 and 8:30 and that shouldn't be to bad, right? WRONG!!

Melissa ended up calling a half hour before we were to meet saying she was feeling pretty sick. I decided I would just hit the canals on my own instead. But I didn't actually end up leaving my house until 7:30. In the first 1/4 mile, I dropped my water bottle and it cracked wide open, pouring it's precious content all over the ground. I figured, it's just 6 miles, no big deal. Around mile 2 or 3 I was already getting chills...a sure sign of dehyration, (Apparently, I am a slow learning and am not drinking enough water throughout my days) and was wondering just what was I thinking about not turning around for a new one. The rest of the run I was feeling pretty miserable, and wondering just what exactly I was doing out here. The treadmill was sounding more appealing by the minute. For safety reasons, I had my cell phone with me... A detriment to be sure, as I had more than a few thoughts about calling Kent to just come get me.

But I endured, and came home to an air conditioned house (yeah!!) and a big glass of water. One of the first things I did when I got home, was jump on to weather.com and check exactly how hot it was. It said 92 degrees. While not exactly cool, it defintely wasn't as hot as it is going to be on some of the mornings when we finish our 20+ mile long runs. I began to worry a little. Noble Canyon only allows 175 runners. 60 have already registered. We are the only ones so far from AZ. I began thinking maybe this wasn't such a great idea afterall. Training through an AZ summer definitely will present some problems. I decided I better re-address that on another day when my brain wasn't suffering from heat exhaustion.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hey TURBO...why don't you slow down before you hurt yourself??

Not a good running day.

First, I missed my alarm. I still haven't figured out why. Here is a picture of what my cell phone said when I woke up and checked the darn thing to figure out why it didn't go off.

Actually, this is a picture taken this afternoon. But it looks the exact same as this morning.

Looks right to me. Melissa was picking me up at 4:30 and the wake-up time gives me just enough time to wake, nurse Lora, get her changed, settled back down, get my running clothes on and grab a bite. And that is one jammed pack half hour. So I was late. And I didn't get anything to eat.

We stopped by a cirlce K on the way out to grab a granola. I went in; spent 4 minutes and came back out with 2 granolas I could not eat. Just as I was opening the package, I read the label which said that it contains peanut ingredients. Back in I went. The cashier looked at me like I was crazy when I put my next two granola's on the counter.

We didn't hit the desert trail until after 5, which means we were going to be hard pressed to finish our 12 miles in time. We modified our course to 9. Near mile 7 1/2 or 8 I was feeling really good, although a little cold (apparently I need to hydrate better the day before). I wanted to pick up the pace a little and cruise to the car. Melissa wanted to stick to our current pace and so we decided to meet up ahead a ways. When we met back up, I was not nearly as happy as when we had parted.

First, I added another near mile to my run when I took a wrong turn and ended up at a dead end. That wasn't so bad, I just decided to pick up the pace so I could catch Melissa. I got to the point where I could see her ahead, and had my eyes on her when I ate it. Hard. Rule number one of trail running: EYES on the TRAIL!! Here are a few of the pics:

I'll spare you the pics of my bruised and battered hip. My legs and hands weren't as bad as the elbow. But what really got me was that I thought I really hurt my right knee. I can see now that the pain I was feeling is just a bruise. It is a little swollen but I think with 3 or 4 days rest, it will be good as new.

I guess that will teach me. A desire for a big finish, and I just cost myself several training days. Ones that I really can't spare. Hopefully, it will be my one injury of the season. Good to get it over with early I guess.