UPCOMING EVENTS: Hartford (RI) marathon, Newport (CT) marathon in October,
Soldier (GA) marathon, Pensacola (FL) marathon, and Pilgrim Pacer Marathons (KS) in November

It's never too late to be what you might have been. --George Eliot

This blog is about my journey as an asthmatic, hypothyroid, formerly plus-sized endurance athlete. It's occasionally interrupted with things that have nothing to do with that or whining about my weight and horrible eating habits. "You're never too old to be what you might have been" --George Eliot

Friday, August 27, 2010

I went for a run this morning.

Dear Diary,

I went for a run this morning.  It's part of my "self care" that clinicians are supposed to engage in.  It's how I process my week, and things that can really get to me, like the kid that was in my office yesterday.

Usually the kids I see have some pretty chaotic upbringings.  They've seen mom get beat up. They've seen people get knifed.  Maybe they've been beat up.  By mom or dad.  Others have been sexually abused.  As horrifying as it is, I've gotten used to it.  I'm not numb, but it no longer haunts me. 

But the kid who was in my office yesterday had none of that in her history.  She regarded me suspiciously, staring at me intently under heavy-lidded eyes. The receptionist at the front desk later commented to me, disapprovingly, "That kid sure has some attitude. Hostile."

"She's not hostile," I corrected her, "She's severely psychotic, and heavily sedated."

When the kid blinked, she blinked slowly. Her mouth hung open. She would sometimes speak in response to questions, but it took a while, and the answers were hard to understand and usually just one word.
And there was that stare.

She was 17, and would turn 18 in 2 months, the age at which she would drop off the edge.  Deemed by society to be an "adult" who was perfectly able to take care of herself, and the benefits of being an ill child would disappear once she became a mentally ill adult. 

"Heavily sedated, flat affect, psychomotor retardation," I jotted in my notes. 

She has schizophrenia.  Out of nowhere, at age 15, she started hearing voices.  The many voices provided a running commentary of her thoughts and actions to each other, and sometimes to her. She started mumbling to herself in class, and would say and do things inappropriately sexual. She was convinced she had a chip or wire implanted in her, and prepared 12 pages of single-spaced, typewritten information supporting her theories, which she asked her psychiatrist to get to the government.  She believed in a plot by Nazis and the occult to overthrow the US government.

Several different medications had been tried.  But the girl she was, well-behaved, straight-A student who never did drugs or got into trouble at school, she was never going to be again. 

Most of the medications that they had tried so far caused sudden severe weight gain, or movement disorders, such as dystonia, a kind of twisting motion, and akathasia.  Akathasia is what causes the pacing and walking you sometimes see in people who are on antipsychotics. The medication makes their legs feel twitchy and restless, so they walk to get rid of that feeling.  Some antidepressants do it, too. 

The kid's Mom could barely speak English.  Dad couldn't speak any.  I could stumble through a tiny bit of Spanish, but not this.  How do you say "Treatment resistant psychosis" in Laotian?

I tried not to let my horrified sympathy show through too much when I spoke, to keep my face even, as I read through the case notes from the hospital that they'd brought with me.

They looked so hopeful.  I wanted to honor that hope.  I wanted to tell them that we had something that would fix their daughter, and that she would be the child they used to know.  But we didn't.  We don't.

"We don't have a program for you," I finally said, carefully placing the papers on my desk. It was hard to look them in the eye when I said it.  Their daughter had no behavior problems that we could remedy, and we only treat kids under 18.  I wanted to convey sympathy.

We can fix her, I wanted to tell them.  But we can't.  She'll need long-term care.  This kid has severe, unremitting psychosis that causes her to do stupid, dangerous things, mostly dangerous to herself.  Ever seen the scars where a kid has tried to dig out those implanted chips?

She also has a much higher risk than others her age of committing suicide. She's already told one psychiatrist that she didn't believe anything would ever work, and that "this is who I am now."  Hopelessness has settled in on a 17-year-old. 

She would need a treatment guardian, and a transition plan for adulthood.  I assigned her a case manager to start that process, and moved on to the next case.

Stuff like this gets to me.  The bright future extinguished, it stays with me longer than the rest.  I think about the dreams that we have for our children, and often for ourselves.  I wonder about how it would feel for that to be snuffed out, without warning.

In many ways, it would be worse than a death, I think.  You have the person in front of you, and they look like the kid you used to know, but that kid is gone.

Occasionally, you would see glimpses of the person they used to be, and you would hope. Then, hope would disappear again. 
 

Sometimes I process these thoughts by writing them out, in my silly little blog.  But more often than not, I run.
As I run, I imagine the wind blowing the images in my head--grief-stricken, worried faces; twitchy, nervous kids; staring girl, and angry boys--through me and away.

So, as I said earlier, I went for a run this morning.  It was a nice, long run, about 6.5 miles in the cool dawn.

At the end of it was a smiling, handsome man with a cup from Starbucks.

...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Life, A.L. Thursday 13.

Dear Diary,

13.  Signs, part 1.  While in Leadville, Baboo and I noticed this sign:. 

So, I'm not sure why "Asian" was in quotation marks.  

Is it just pretend Asian food?
Is it figuratively, but not literally, Asian?
Is it, *wink wink* "Asian"?

and what's with the dot, dot, dot?




12.  Signs, part 2: Then there's this one: 


Um, can I have a side order of BITTER with that?  A second sign in this restaurant lists rules for mountain bikers and racers on what can and cannot be worn and how to behave.  Yet a third sign in this establishment informs you: "We are one of the few restaurants left in town, so be patient waiting for your order."

So, let's break this down:
We like your dollars, but we hate you, and we feel utterly self-entitled as "locals," to turn our noses up at the people who provide our tax base. We're also blaming our business problems on a president who has been in office for less than 2 years, rather than our uninspiring menu and our hostile, crappy attitude.   
 
Um, PASS.  I do not want my food prepared by bitter, angry people, regardless of their politics.  I was told by friends that even the hostess was rude.  There are actually several very good places in town to eat other than this one, which apparently is for sale.


11.  Annoying, part 1.   No matter how awesome you think your ringback tone is, I promise you somebody, somewhere, is grinding their teeth while waiting for you to answer your phone.  Ones I've heard lately: "Nasty Girl," and, "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere."
Seriously?
Are you really expecting someone to hire you after hearing that?  

10.  Annoying, part 2.  I have a daughter who refuses to email me, insists that I call her and is now attempting to emotionally blackmail me into calling her NOW.  No, NOW.  I want to talk NOW, because everyone knows that moms have no life. Ahem.  Well. Many, many others (students, for instance) have tried emotional blackmail, and they wore it out. I was a bit BUSY, this past weekend, m'kay?? Read and  write, chicka, if you want to be in touch.   


9.  Altitude.  Once I'd gotten past my 30 hours of headaches, nausea, and fatigue, I went for a nice, 6 mile run that was mostly on an old railroad bed. Some paved, some not.  Here's a picture. Very cool.  Since I was at 10,000 feet, it felt like fall. It's already fall in Leadville.  Beautiful.  I can't wait for fall!


8.  Attitude.  Lest you be put off by my comment on the local restaurant in #12, I loved just about all of Leadville. The country is beautiful, and 99% of the people there, like anywhere, were perfectly lovely.  The blonde-streaked-hair lady at the Proving Grounds Coffee shop was a bit bitchy, but maybe she was just having a bad day.  Or three bad days.  In a row.  

7. Brush with greatness, part 1: I was told Deseree Flicker was at the Leadville 100 race.
I told DreadPirate she should trip her "by accident" and then help her up, so that she should tell everyone that she got to touch and talk to Deseree Flicker (She ignored me). I confess, I had to search my brain for who she was.  I'm not one for remembering sports icons.  I'd barely remember Lance, if it weren't for his name being constantly repeated by my friends who are all involved in a cycling cult.

6. Brush with greatness, part 2: My friend Courtney is in the next (September) issue of Fitness magazine.  Pick up a copy.  She's on her bike, and it's a feature on how fitness has improved the lives of women.  She's wearing her New Mexico Outlaws uniform.  KEWL. 


5. Life, A.L.  (After Leadville).  I had this brilliant idea that I would look up people who finished close to me at various events.  I would find out what their times were at other events that I'd also done, as well.  Then see if they had done Javalena, to get an idea of what time I should be counting on.
But. So.  It turns out that,  Most people?  Who are as slow as I am?  And live out here?  Usually they've done 1-2 ultras, total.  Unless they are in their 70s.

4. Insulation.  I'm not sure what to expect from this winter, given that I've lost most of mine.  

3. Training.  I've put in 175 miles for August so far. My knees and ankles, quads and hamstrings have all stopped aching. It is much longer into the run that I feel tired and ready to quit.  Saturdays, I have a long, long run, but Sundays, my medium-long runs are being changed to long power walks.  Power walking is very useful in ultras, but it uses a completely different set of muscles.  It's one of my strengths, and I frequently pass people at the end of these things, walking, because even people that run faster than I can often can't walk faster than I can. 

2.  Insulation, Part 2.  I walked into the first day of fall classes on Tuesday, and people who hadn't seen me since April did a double take (OMG I LOVE THAT!!!!!) and asked me how much weight I had lost over the summer.  Um, over the summer?  I guess about 10 pounds.  
  • How did you do it?

  • WeightWatchers.

  • Wow, WeightWatchers did that?

  • Oh, and also I run about 50 miles a week now. 

    >cricket<  >cricket<  

  • So, do you think WeightWatchers will work for me? 

Well, Virginia, probably.  But the truth is, I cheat.  I lot.  I always track it, mind you, but I get to store up a lot of those running points for my more-than-occasional fried food binges.  If running does nothing else, it does that: Allows me to indulge in my crappy eating habits a bit more than I should.


1.  Insulation, part 3.   My weight, as charted from February 1:


...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Other People's Race Reports: The Leadville Trail 100 mile endurance run.




Dear Diary:
Map of the course can be found here.

It's hard to put into words how awesome it was to be able to accompany my husband in finishing this dream he has had for so long, the "race across the sky".

But you know I'm going to try, right?

I didn't even know how important it was to him myself until after it was all over. He'd become increasing preoccupied, churning out spreadsheet after spreadsheet of pace charts, food charts with calories and grams of carbs.  I would sometimes find myself talking to him, look up and see him staring out the window.  Huh?  What? 

Now, about ultra running.  The aid stations are not water tables.  They are small cities, with places to sit for runners, and scales where they must weigh in. If they've lost too much weight, they have to stay and drink. There is am area for special needs bags, knowledgeable volunteers milling about, several tables of drink (coke, sprite, Gatorade, water, coffee) food (ramen, boiled potatoes, sandwiches, tortilla roll-ups, small candy bars, m&ms, chips, crackers, cookies) and supplies (Vaseline, bandages, Tylenol, etc) and one or two medical personnel on hand.

That might sound like a ridiculous amount of crap food, but deep into a race you want to have things on hand for people to eat regardless of how finicky their stomach is. It isn't important that pop-tarts might have some transfats in them. It's important that they have carbohydrates that are simple and easily absorbed.

And now you know the secret of why we love these things so much.  Unlike triathlon, which pounds efficiency and sleekness into you, ultrarunning is a 31- 50- or 100-mile buffet of the crappiest food that you normally do not touch because, OMG, it's how many damned weight-watchers points?  

Anway, my job: make sure he had 500 calories each hour, watch his hydration and his feet.  And to be there.  This might not seem like much, but it should be noted that of the four 100-milers that Baboo has attempted, the two he did not finish were the two where I wasn't there.  Coincidence?  I think not. Yeah, I know.  AWWWWWW.

Don't stick your finger down your throat at me. It's cute and you know it.

Ultrarunning is hard core. You will, at some point, cross a river, climb a mountain, eat some dust, get rained on, run through snow banks in July, trip and fall, and your feet may be a bloody mess of blisters. Getting help does not necessarily disqualify you, either. Both Sweet Baboo and I have had the experience of a volunteer wrapping our feet in duct tape and kicking us out of his aid station.  Suck it up, princess, you're got 40 more miles ahead of you and a pass to climb.
The worst can be altitude: Many people will train at lower altitudes, not knowing that they are one of the 20% of people who are sensitive to high altitudes.  For those 20%, the ascent up to Hope Pass doesn't leave them breathless, it might leave them with pulmonary edema.  Dean Karnazis attempted this race twice before finishing on his third try, so maybe this was his issue. It's mine.  I'll never be able to do this one, because I'm one of the 1/5.

My first stop of the day was a boat ramp.  The race had started at 4 am, and silently we stood in the dark and cold, seeing our breath, on the shore of Turquoise Lake. Then came the first flicking lights of a miles-long line of small lights flickering and bobbing along the shore, reaching back into the distance.  The runners came through, having completed their first 7 or 8 miles. They ran through silently, watching the ground intently, since it was still pitch black out, and disappeared back into the darkness.

Of course, ultra runner peeps have cowbells. Of course, they were rung. And air horns. At least one camper came down to complain.  Oh, C'MON, fisherman.  You can sleep later.  This is a race!

At the May Queen campground aid station, 13 miles into the race, I had to park over a mile away and hike in supplies. I was continuously pissed off that official crews, with special vehicle tags, had to fight for parking with spectators, who mostly stood around and got in the way. What were the point of those vehicle tags, anyway? This is the largest race of its kind, and there needs to be a "crew only" designated area, so that we can take care of our runners without tripping over someone's 6-year-old who is pitching a fit because she wants some m&ms from the aid station.

This isn't a grumpy issue. It's a safety issue. My need to take care of my runner supersedes your need to take pictures of the race, Cowgirl, so back the f&*# off.

At each aid station I check his pace, time, and prepared a baggy of food for him to take on his way, before he gets there. I also had two prepared bottles of Nuun for him to swap out his old bottles with. Sometimes I had spare shoes, if he had just crossed a river. Sometimes I had spare socks. Usually, I would prepare two bottles of Nuun, and two bottles of water, so that he could grab what he needed. 

At Twin Lakes, about 40 miles into the race, I got there 2 hours early, since the runners had to climb up and over Sugar Loaf Pass to get there. I had a snack, relaxed, and then around 10:30, set up a small "Baboo" aid station, laying out things he might need. My job is to get him out of there as quickly as possible, and to do his thinking for him.  Twin Lakes is gorgeous. 

Now, he was expected about 12:17. I didn't know that he was running really well, so just before noon, I headed for the portable toilets to, um, well.
Dammit, wouldn't you know at that exact moment, he came into the aid station, running past the portables. I exited and walked down to the place where runners were coming into the aid station, not knowing he'd come in.
So there we were - 20 yards apart in a crowd of people. I waited for him to come in, not knowing he was there, and he wandered for a bit, then got some fluids and left the aid station, headed for Hope Pass. After about 30 minutes, I thought, he CAN'T be this slow. I texted a friend and was told he'd come through 40 minutes earlier.
I was devastated. All I could think of was him crossing the river and then going up and over Hope Pass, in the heat of the day, without enough food or fluids, without a change of shoes. His race would be ruined, and it would be my fault.  I would go down in history as the worst wife and crewer ever.
Friends that I shared this with told me not to worry, he'd gone in and gotten fluids at the aid station, but still, I worried. 

I headed back to the hotel and picked up Tim, who was to be his first pacer. Pacers are people who run along with you, usually after dark, keeping you on the trail, talking to you to keep your mind off your discomfort, and they are allowed at Leadville after the turnaround at Winfield.

Winfield was mile 50, and it was a nightmare. We had 15 miles of really rough dirty road to get in. We shared it with the runners for the last 3 miles, and needed to drive 5 miles an hour to avoid sending up clouds of dust. Many non-crew vehicles ignored this, and ignored people telling them to slow down. There was a long wait for parking, as I had to wait until someone else left before I could go in. Many non-crew people ignored the requests of the race organizers not to go into Winfield, so again I had to compete with them for space. The aid station itself was crowded, and looked a lot like an outdoor rock concert, with dogs, kids, etc., running around. It was hard to get to a position to see Baboo behind all the people holding up signs of encouragement and holding 3-year-olds on their shoulders.  yeah, I know, Find your inner Polyanna, Misty.  You know what you can do with your Polyanna, right? 

So.  Baboo was expected at 4 pm.  I joined up with DreadPirate, Bones, and others, who were crewing for Mo, and they helped me with Baboo, getting things he needed. Baboo came in as sweaty and tired around 4 pm as we thought he would.  He sat for a while, tired, but happy.  Tim held an umbrella over him for shade. I gave him a wash cloth dipped in cold water to wipe down his arms and legs, lots of coke, ice, some food, and eventually sent him on his way, to climb back up over Hope Pass with Tim. I headed back to Twin Lakes. The sun was setting, and it had cooled off. I hoped Baboo would perk up now that it was cooling down. I hung out with DreadPirate at Twin Lakes, and then after seeing him off at Twin lakes, I went back to the hotel briefly to get a bite to eat.  I felt somewhat guilty about having a pre-made meal of punjab eggplant and rice, but not too much.  I didn't sign up to starve and beat myself up over 100 miles, why should I suffer?

So.  By the time he came back to a place called Treeline, it was after midnight, and I was tired. Baboo had set up an area in the Element that had a thick futon mattress and thick quilt on it, and I lay on that and dozed, despite the cold. I kept the engine running and the back hatch open so that he could spot me. When he came in, I got him his supplies while he retaped his feet.

Then I headed for Fish Hatchery, mile 75ish. At this aid station he cut the socks off his compression socks, because he said they were squeezing his feet together.  That left him with compression leg sleeves. His pacer, Tim, had gone 25 tough miles with him and was relieved by another friend of ours, Mark. Mark would take Baboo up and over Sugar Loaf pass to May Queen, about 13 miles. Mark had already paced another friend of ours that night, so his plate was full.

I headed back to May Queen, mile 87ish (the course is 102 miles) and got a decent parking spot, since it was well after midnight and most of the spectators were tired and had gone away. I set my alarm for 3:30 am and got about 2 hours of sleep, the first I'd had in 24 hours. Then I took off my jeans, under which I'd put on running tights, and grabbed my headlight and running gear. Baboo came in about 4 am, so after loading him up with foods and fluids, I headed out with him.

Now, I was pretty sure that even at mile 90, he was going to be able to outrun me, so my plan was to switch off with Tim again at the Boat ramp, and Tim could take him the last 7 miles in. We moved so fast, however, that they weren't there yet. We yelled for Tim a couple times, and then just kept going. Luckily for me Baboo did start to wind down a bit, so it was easier for me to keep up with him.

We each have awesome headlamps, so running through the woods alongside Torquoise lake in the dark was no problem. As we circled the lake, still at a good pace (mostly running) dawn came, and the sun rose. We left the lake and headed back into Leadville. The last few miles were cruel: long uphills, the last being a long uphill, short downhill, and another uphill to the finish line.

Baboo finished in 27:35, far less than he had predicted. He was hoping to finish under 30, since that was the cutoff, and had fantasized about being under 29. He never thought he'd be able to finish in less than 28, and the knowledge that the course was 102.5 miles was just that much sweeter.

Pacing him the last 15 miles was a really fantastic. Not only did I get to see parts of the course I would not have gotten to see, but I felt those weeks of him being distant and preoccupied disappearing. At one point, he started moving ahead of me, thinking he would move ahead of a runner he thought he could finish ahead of. Even at mile 90, he was faster than I.  He saw me falling behind, and slowed down. When I pointed out that he shouldn't have to worry about leaving his pacer behind, he said, "But I'm not leaving my wife behind."

I know, I know. Say it with me now: Awwwwwwww. Hands off, he's taken.

So, we finished together. Whenever we came near people, I would drop back a little and motion wildly for people to cheer for him, which they did. As we approached the finish line, I peeled off, and he broke the tape and got his finisher's medal, one of the 52% of those that finished that race, of the nearly 700 who started.

So, is this for everyone? Maybe not. I've heard that, like a lot of intense things, crewing your spouse will take your marriage in whatever direction it's going and send it that way that much faster. This is the third time I've crewed from Baboo, and I enjoy it each time. Normally Baboo is the strong one who takes care of things for me, so it's nice for me to take care of things for him for a change. I really, really like the ultra running community, and I like being in beautiful places, and it's unlikely I would ever do this run myself, given the difficulty and the altitude - so I get to participate this way. 

Plus, Baboo has always stood behind me and supported anything I wanted to do, or try to do, so it feels good for me to be able to be part of him succeeding, as well.  Call it being supportive, or call it storing up brownie points, it works. 

Mostly, I like the opportunity to run alongside my husband, something that I can normally only do if he's already gone 80 or so miles. ;-)

Next up: Rio Del Lago. I'm doing the 50K alongside Cuteness Herself, RBR, and then we'll crew Baboo as he finishes the 100-miler.

 ...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Crewing Notes:

I liked crewing for Baboo and am already processing it and working on ideas to make it easier, more fun, and more useful for him.  

Why I liked crewing:
  • In ultra running, there is the tactic acknowledgement that the crew is critical.  You're not just a tangential bystander; you're part of a team.
  • Although it's good to have a runner that is hyper-organized, ultimately, they can get a little loopy and make poor decisions.  The job of the crew, including the pacers, to make decisions FOR them.  Eat this now.  Drink this.  Have you gone to the bathroom lately?  You're warm?  Fine.  You don't want an extra shirt for going up over that mountain pass?  Well, tie this shirt around your waist, in case you need it. 
  • It's a great way to be involved in this event in case you are not insane enough to want to actually run 100 miles.  :)

What worked:
  • We used a little cabinet with drawers that were see-through.  This was very useful.  It was easy for me to find things that were arranged: medical, nutrition, hot weather stuff, cold weather stuff, nighttime running stuff.  
  • I made a chart for each aid station, telling me what I needed to do, inside a tiny notebook.  I would just flip to the page, and it would tell me about what time he was expected, and what he would need.  
  • We emptied one side of the element and laid down a futon mattress and a thick quilt.  While waiting for Baboo at night, I was able to get a few minutes of Zzzzz.  Before he reached May Queen inbound, I was able to get about 2 hours.  This was pretty important since I was getting ready to run 15 miles with him and had been up for over 24 hours already.
  • Prior to the race, Baboo and I had driven around to each aid station and loaded it into our Garmin Nuvi.  When it was time for me to drive to the next aid station, I didn't have to think - all I had to do was call it up and it told me how to get there.  
What didn't work / Needs changing:


  • Baboo needs a way to get calories for when it's really hot or he's going up a steep climb, and they need to be in liquid form, because his stomach gets upset - he'll even throw up.  These need to be just very lightly flavored so he won't get sick of it.   I'm thinking of Succeed.  Baboo likes it, so I'm going to have him test it on a hot hard run.

  • Next time, instead of the little notebook, I'm going to use a index-card flip book.  Each aid station notes will involve expected times of arrival, what he's just done (just crossed a river, so he's got wet shoes and wet socks.) what he's about to do (he's got another climb ahead of him, will need more liquid calories, electrolytes, fluids, and clean socks.)  I can get this information from the race course profile, aid station descriptions, and the course map.



  • I am usually crewing Brian alone.  At Leadville, I had to park a ways away at some of the aid stations.  I need stuff that's transportable and on wheels.  Leadville gave out crew vehicle tags, but I'm not sure why, because I had to fight for parking along with spectators.  It would be nice in the future if Leadville did something with those tags, like limit parking near the aid stations to those with "CREW" vehicle tags.  This was critical at Winfield, where I had to wait in line for quite some time.  I would respectfully suggest that at Winfield, which is the smallest area in the race for parking, they limit it to ONLY crew members.  



  • We had awesome pacers. In the future, I'd like to have extra supplies on hand for them.  



    • I need an organizer that's on wheels, or at least something that can hold clear containers and is on wheels.  I'm thinking of this rolling thing.   
    • I need a small folding table.  I'm thinking of a cooler that has sides that flip up and become a small table.  This would be good for carrying cold drinks, and Baboo can sit on it, as well.   
    • For races that we fly to, instead of the cooler, I need a folding chair that is easy to carry.  This one (above, left) can be carried as a backpack.  I'll also need to bring a sleeping bag liner because those nights get chilly, for waiting.  
    • I need to bring real food for myself - cruising the aid station, when I'm not doing running, is not a good idea. The food is designed to provide lots of fast calories and sodium, neither of which I need while crewing.  
    • Some of the crews there had ways to make themselves visible to their runners, such as bright colors, a large estrella on a stick, and lights on their vehicle at night.  I'm going to try to find something like this.  

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    the Greater Baboo at Leadville

    UPDATE: He finished in 27 minutes and forty-something seconds. Much faster than we expected, despite the fact that the course is actually 102.5 miles. ($*&%!) I crewed him from 4:00 am until I paced him his last 15 miles the next day, and so I'm whooped *whine*.

    We're both headed for a hot bath and a nap. I'm sure his race report will be up soon.

    http://www.leadvilletrail100.com/lt100races/LeadvilleTrail100MileRun/course.aspx


     

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    All towns should be named after toxic metals. Thursday 13.

    Dear Diary,

    13.  Today I am in Leadville, the highest city in the US.  Baboo is doing the "Race Across the Sky" Leadville Trail 100, which has about a 50% dropout rate.  It's just crazy hard, even as 100-milers go.  It's going to be a busy 24-30 hours.  This ia a 50-mile out and then 50 mile back course.  This is the profile:

     The top of the batman ears is called "Hope Pass" which I wrote about when I was in Leadville last month.  It's a long, grinding hike, done very slowly by people such as myself.  Baboo bounds up it like a mountain goat.  Not a real mountain goat.  The kind in cartoons. 


    12.We've had a couple unpleasant surprises since buying The Dream House, but this was a pleasant one.

    When Baboo was mowing this week, he found grapes, and most of them are ripe.
    I shall eat them, I shall.


    11. Monday I wore my belt buckle to work on its new belt.

    yes, some people noticed.  

    yes, it was fun.

    Except for the person who asked me if I was into wrestling.  >:-(

    10. I have a complicated running week planned. It is a cycle-down week, which occurs every 4th week of training:
    M&F: off
    T: 4 miles
    W: 10 miles
    T: 6 miles
    St: 10 miles
    Su: 10 miles

    However, I'll be traveling to Leadville on Wednesday, and once I'm there, have to rest a couple days before I can exert myself.  So, my training will actually look like this:
    T: 6 miles
    W: 19 miles (early, before leaving)
    Th: 5 mile hike and jog. 
    F: 5 mile jog

    Su: 5 miles (while pacing Baboo)

    9. The best greatest sources of protein that I have found so far are salmon, crab, and shrimp.  Love those.  Worried about toxins.  I'm wondering if anyone knows how to get those foods without a build-up of toxic metals?

    8.  I've gotten frustrated and tired of Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, and the like.  The ones that are truly healthy are too expensive to eat every day, and the rest, well, at best we can say that they won't actively reach up and try to kill me.  There's never enough protein or vegetables, and most of the time they don't use whole grains.

    So, I decided to make my own. I bought a pesto sauce packet, some whole wheat penne, and a pound of small shrimp, and a large bag of "Normandy" style mixed frozen vegetables.
    The result: four meals, each with a cup and a half of whole veggies, a cup of whole wheat pasta, about 3/4 cup of small shrimp, and some pesto seasoning.

    Mix it up in a bowl, portion it out into food containers, freeze, and voila.

    The next batch will have low-fat Alfredo whole-wheat noodles, salmon, and mixed veggies.

    7. So of course, on Monday, I walked off and left my brand new lunch sitting on the counter.  But I had it for dinner.  It was good.

    6.  More on the grapes.  I went out to pick them this week, and although I didn't get all of them, this is what I wound up with:

    What the heck  do I do with all this?  I know, jam, wine, etc.  But that's so much work. *Whine*

    Isn't there something easy and freezable I could do?  There's still some out there ripening. Freezer jam?  Seems like I've heard of that. 

     5.  Saturday, as well as Wednesday, I did a run that went from where I live all the way across town.  It's 19 miles.  I tested this item:

    and, I liked it quite a bit . It's designed to keep the sun off your neck and face while you run, and it's super lightweight.

    4.  Today's "hike" is planned to be at 12,000 feet.  Yeah. Ulp.  Only a couple miles, though. 

    3.  I've decided since last week that I can do without being blond, so long as my hair is longer.  I liked the short hair, it was sporty, but I feel more like me with long hair.
    However, I've noticed two things: a) I sweat way more than I used to.  This is apparently my body becoming more "efficient" at cooling itself.
    and,
    b) My longer hair wicks the sweat away from my head.  My entire head and all my hair get sopping wet.  Pretty disgusting.

    2. This morning, we did a very short quick jog up at Independence Pass, which is why I delayed writing this.  I started getting a headache, coughing, and feeling dizzy.  Then we returned back down to 10,000 feet.

    In case you didn't notice, the clouds are behind and below me.  

    1.  There are, apparently, a stunning number of "bogies" here in town.  This is what ultrarunners call Newbies.  They is their first 100-miler, and in some cases, their first distance over a marathon EVER.  Some of them don't even have crews.
    In case you didn't already pick up on it, these are not smart ideas.

    ...


    Sunday, August 15, 2010

    Rio Grand Half Marathon, Race report.

    So, this week's training went like this:

    Tuesday: 4.2 miles
    Wednesday: 10.3 miles
    Thursday: 6.2 miles (slowly, painfully)
    Saturday: 19 miles.  19 hot, sweaty miles, at the end of which I thought I was hallucinating when I looked up and saw this:


    Yeah.  that is EXACTLY what it looks like.  Behind horse fencing, in north valley Albuquerque.

    So anyway, two weeks ago Courtney asked me if I wanted to do this one.  At the time I was stinging from my dismal performance at the Chili Harvest Triathlon (riding my brakes on, yo) and uttered my famous line of stupidity, sure, why not?


    So, this morning Sweet Baboo, who is tapering and not allowed to run, drove me down to the Hispanic Cultural Center in south valley. I wore my cuteness outfit, which I have discovered by accident is an M.  And M. Not an L, or and XL.  An M.


    The first part of the half mary was okay.  It doesn't get any flatter than this!  It was cool out, starting at 7 am, and a nice paved trail.  I had planned to trying to keep my pace at a steady 12 minute mile but heading out, I felt pretty good.  Courtney had told me to just take off when I wanted, and she would keep up with me as long as she could, so I finally pulled ahead around mile 3.

    I circled up and around, crossed over the Rio Grand on central, ran down a side street and then was out on Bridge street, crossing the Rio Grand again, and then I reached the 7-mile out and back at mile 6, with an 11 minute pace.  As I headed into the out-and-back,  Sweet Baboo was waiting for me, looking dry and fresh, sitting with a book and a Starbucks.  Damn it.  I was happy to see him, but did he have to look so relaxed?

    I held my 11 minute pace as I headed down, down, further south of town to the turnaround, but I was starting to struggle.  The only thing that kept me going to picking out various people to try and pass, and certain songs on my iPod that were engergizing.

    By 8:00, the temperature had started climbing into the upper eighties.  This out-and-back was bounded on one side by thick trees and brush and an acequia, and on the other side with fencing.  We passed the chile factory, and then a few junkyards, and headed further south, running by fields.

    We also passed a few rude cyclists.  Occasionally a run in Albuquerque goes up onto the paved multiuse recreation trail, whitch a few local roadies feel they own.  Oh, yes.  They ride on by, yelling and refusing to yield, even though cyclists are supposed to yield to everyone on the trail.  Most cyclists are pretty cool, and are there to have a good time on a nice day.  However, there's handful that think that the Bosque Trail is a good place to timetrial, and they get all bitchy if you're using it, too.  But anyway.  

    There was no breeze that could reach us, and in New Mexico, once that sun is up and on you, it's ON YOU.  And you know I loves me some hot.
    Since we were running down by the river, there was a pocket of high humidity right where we were running.  So it was hot and humid, and I was tired from a week where I'd put in 40 miles already.

    By mile 9, my pace had started climbing, and I was struggling to hold it down.  Sheryl Crow on the ipod helped. My cuteness clothes probably had about 2 pounds of sweat in them, further weighing me down.  My legs, surprisingly, didn't feel too bad, but like with run every I've done in the heat, I could feel my heart-rate climbing, and I was starting to get breathless.  Each aid station I passed through, about every 1.5 miles, I grabbed cold water and dumped it down my back.  I had a pack on, so I drank from that. 

    I was determined to do a personal best.  I wanted to know if it was possible.I came out of the out-and-back with less than one mile to go, and  Sweet Baboo was waiting for me, still looking fresh.  He started trotting across the parking lot to the finish line, and then rounded the last turn.  Jane's Addiction "Been Caught Stealin'" was playing on my iPod.  PERFECT finishing song.  I sped up, and I finished up.  Total miles, according to Garmin, 13.2, average 11:13 minute pace.

    They had free burritos, but ran out just after I finished.  I had no idea.  That means the last finishers didn't get any.   I think that sucks.  Courtney didn't get one.  She had a personal best, too.  If I'd known, I'd have saved part of mine.

    This pool, at left, was a cruel enticement.  It was not accessible.  It was sharply steep with slippery looking stuff in it.  No standing in it for me.

    I went home and ate. And napped.  And ate some more. 
    Next up: Um.  Mostly training.  I'm thinking of the Chips and Salsa half mary, since they've canceled the New Mexico Marathon this year. 
    ...

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    Adventures in Hunger

    Dear Diary,

    I've discovered what true hunger is.  True hunger is being in the food isle at Walgreen's and having trouble deciding what to buy because everything looks good.
     EVERYTHING.

    Every crappy food on the shelf, even non-refrigerated steamable meals that are, in my normal opinion, slightly greater in quality and value than an MRE. They may be less.

    Normally, I know that I must be hungry because I start "noticing" food, food ads, food signs, etc. Like, "Oh, KFC. I wonder if there's anything vegetarian there? Man, I miss fried chicken." or, "Oh, Wendy's. Their fries are awesome. Hey, frozen pizzas are on sale at Smith's"

    But on the day that I had completed my 64th mile for the week (the most I've ever done in a training week, so far)  my stomach was wrapping itself around my spine, there in the isle at Walgreen's. A noise emitted from my contracting food bag that, I swear, made the guy standing further down the isle edge a little further away. I just tried to affect a neutral face like, noise?  what noise? 
    No, that did NOT come from me, because I am a delicate flower.

    Still, I couldn't decide what to eat. So many awful possibilities...I finally chose a reasonably low-fat Simply Asia noodle bowl, a can of tiny shrimp, and a can of crab meat, to get protein I need. It was a crazy 12 or some points in Weight Watchers, which means I will, literally, eat into my activity points for the week now.

    I climbed the stairs back up to my office, and started opening things and preparing them for the microwave, and went downSTAIRS to microwave them, and came back upSTAIRS to find that MREs would have been better, because THEY come with UTENSILS.

    After briefly considering using my Purel to disinfect two pens to use as chopsticks, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I'm going to have to go get a spork. From the cafeteria. Which is downstairs. Down. STAIRS. 

    I put my head down on the desk for a moment and tried not to cry.  Yeah.  Big baby.  My legs were tired.  I was so.  Hungry. 

    I considered, for a moment, taking the elevator down one floor, but that would be ridiculous, even for me. But I considered it.

    I went downstairs and got a spork, climbed the stairs again to my office, and ate my space meal, which amounted to a bowl full of barely flavored low-fat high protein nutrients with some flavoring. And then, inexplicably, I wanted some cheese popcorn.  But that will have to wait.

    I've heard that you should carefully examine your cravings and they will tell you what nutrients your body is missing.  I've decided that is a bullshit excuse for people to give into their cravings. 

    There is no reason for my body to crave most of the things that it craves.  There are no "missing" nutrients for me in coconut m&ms, cheese popcorn, a cherry coke, or fried ANYTHING.  None.  is my body short on oil?  How about carbon dioxide?  salt?  Nope, none of those things. 

    I will accept that I have cravings for Advil and protein, but that's about it.  And maybe breading.

    ...

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Fancy running bling.

    Dear Diary,

    I made a comment earlier to my facebook friends that ultrarunning doesn't include spandex or bling, but sometimes it does.

    It all started with that email from SkirtSports.  On Thursday, I sent Baboo a message from work.

    Subject: DROOL.



    Now, I don't expect my hubby to be excited about clothing.  This is my early warning system to ease into the idea that I'm going to buy something, some day.  But the next afternoon, the UPS guy bounded up the steps and handed me a package, which I immediately turned over to Baboo, since it was addressed to him, and I figured he had lots of last-minute Leadville equipment and accoutrements coming in.  He handed it back to me. 

    He'd had it shipped.  Overnight. Without saying anything to me about it.



    I'm now properly outfitted for running with Ms. Cuteness herself at Rio Del Lago. 

    I'm ready for my closeups, Stacey.

    I love Lucy.

    Dear Diary,

    This week as I was slogging it through miles 40-43, I don't recall going that slow since I first started running.  It was barely a shuffle jog.  But I hoofed out the last of the planned 4 miles. 

    Part of the training is toughening myself, emotionally and physically, so no matter how crappy I feel [unless there lots of blood or a bone poking through the skin] I finish every single workout I have planned.  I dragged myself into the back yard at mile 3.99 with an average pace, slightly under 15 m/mile, I think.  Yike.  But waiting for me was Sweet Baboo with a nonfat cinnamon dulce latte.  I had oatmeal, a shower, and a nonfat cinnamon dulce latte.  In that order.

    Will I always feel this crappy?  I can barely make it up a flight of stairs,  I complained.

    "While you're base-building, Yep.  But you'll start feeling better."

    Sweet Baboo is the boss of my training for JJ100. He has devoured the "Lore of Running," and every ultrarunner and trail runner magazine, and is a storehouse of knowledge for ultrarunning theory.  He has devised my running schedule up to Javalena:
    • Tuesday, I always do 4 hilly "fast" miles
    • Wednesday, I do 10 miles.
    • Thursday, I do 6 miles, as part of our Thursday night "beer" runs, when we all go hill running and then have a beer after. I do not. I hate beer.  Don't try to ameliorate that.  Many fine people have tried.  I'm not a beer kind of person. 

     Anyway.  10 miles is tricky on a workday, for me.  Baboo has decided that, Wednesday mornings, I should do about 6 of it going downhill early, before work. He then picks me up at the bottom of the hill.  This started at 5:30 am, and ended with me showering and going to work.  There is a net 500 foot decrease, mostly on a paved bike path, ending in a mall parking lot in midtown.  The purpose, he tells me, is to gently build up my quads and increase my foot speed. 

    I don't care.  Everything is eclipsed by the word, "downhill".  Booyah.  Love the downhill.

    Tuesdays, and after work on Wednesday, I do one of my favorite runs:
    This isn't as dramatic as it looks.  The trip back down is my absolute favorite part.  I know that sometime soon, Baboo is going to point out the need for me to do long steady uphills, which means doing this run backwards.  Ugh. 


    Baboo is all proper and serious-like when explaining my training to me.  Tuesday night, while he was explaining the importance of the dowhill run, the route, and so on, I was wearing running shorts, and my "I love Lucy" apron.  And that's it.

    It's fun, because it takes him by surprise, and he seems flustered, and sometimes loses his train of thought for a moment.  

    I picked this outfit just for you, I said.

    "I, uh, and, yeah.  I like that outfit," he said, momentarily losing his train of thought.

    Weekends, I do my long runs.  Runs, with an S.  I do my longest run on Saturday, and then a slightly shorter run on Sunday.  This week it's 20 and 15.  So, I signed up for a local half marathon on Sunday.  I'm starting it with Courtney, so if I finish before she does, I'll run back out and find her. that will give me an extra couple miles.  But the way I'm feeling, she'll probably beat me.

    I'm told I'm supposed to get 130 grams of protein a day during all this.  That's a lot of damned protein for someone who doesn't eat meat, or soy - where the hell will it all come from?  Looks like I'll be eating a lot of eggs, whey protein drinks, and fish.  I need to find some organic fish, so that I don't start building up toxic levels of mercury or something.

    This sounds like a lot, I know.  It sounds like a lot to me, and I'm doing it!  Five years ago, I was training for my first triathlon.  Now I'm training for my first 100K, maybe more if I can pull it off.

    Do you think I have a chance of finishing all 100 miles at Javalena?

    "It's possible.  It might just be sheer stubborness," said Mr. Serious, thoughtfully. 

    Stubbornness I've got.  In spades.  We'll see.

    Meanwhile, a very good friend of mine has announced that she has signed up for her first 50K.
     Welcome, young apprentice.  Here's some inspiration: 

    ...

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    I miss being blond. and 12 other things.

    13.  I've been a non-blonde for nearly a year because my hair grows so fast that it takes some serious coin and time to keep it blond.  Until I get out of grad school and find a job where they not only adore me, but pay me well, too, I stay a brunette.  But for the record: I miss being a blond.

    12.  In fact, they don't even have to adore me.  The job, I mean.  They can just like me a lot.  Or just respect me.  I don't care--just give me a living wage.  (And by living wage, I mean the wage of a person whose living includes triathlon, marathon, and ultrarunning racing fees, travel expenses, and gear.)

    11. Friday, I did a moderate run on the Bosque for 9 miles, and held an 11:35 pace. I couldn't believe it.  I've never done that run that fast! WHOOSH!  At least, that's how it felt to me.  That used to be my 5K pace.  The next day was the brakes-on triathlon debacle.  Quite a workout I got!

    10. Week 1 training: planned: 50.  Actually done: 50.

    9.  Week 2 training: Planned, 50.  Actually done, 47.5.  But my knee and calf are pretty pissed at me, so I'm calling it good. Me and Advil, we're planning to elope.

    8.  Saturday, I did my LSR on the Bosque, which is as flat as it gets around here.  It's at 5000 feet, but there's a net elevation change of about 44 feet from one end to the other and then back again.  Still, I was surprised to find that I easily kept a sub 12:30 pace for 20 miles.  This is important because...

    7.  Baboo has signed us up for the Las Vegas Marathon in December.  They have a "run through" chapel at mile 3, where we can renew your vows.  But. The 3-5 minute ceremony begins a minimum of 45 minutes after the race starts, and the race has a 5:30 cutoff.  I'll have 4 hours and 43 minutes to finish this marathon.  My marathon PR is 5:39.  I did this marathon in 2007 in 5:46:29
    So, what to do?  Right now, options being explored are:
    a) I try to run 23.2 miles at a 12:00 minute pace, and suck it up, call it a challenge....
    or
    b) we do a homemade vow renewal when it's convenient for us, not for people keeping a 15 minute pace, and then I try to do a marathon a bit faster than I ever have.  Which is possible, I think.

    Hmm.  Decisions, decisions.

    6.  Also, the LV marathon is the day after the Death Valley Trail marathon, which Baboo has also signed us up for.  Further complicating my ability to finish a marathon in 4:45 minute (or 5:30, depending on the option chosen) is doing one the day before. Baboo has this crazy idea of us doing 3 marathons in 10 days. 


    Are you with me so far?  I'll wait until you finish laughing.

    The next day, 2. the Las Vegas marathon on Sunday the 5th.  I've done this one.  The profile looks like this:
    (Before you get too worried, look at the elevation on the left.)

    Then 6 days later, 3. the Tuscon marathon, which is essentially a long downhill run.  

    5.  I told Baboo after my 20 mile run that I still needed to get in a few more miles to round out my week, but they needed to be easy miles, more hiking than running.

    For future reference, do not say that to a 100-mile run finisher. 

    Baboo took us on a hike that went up 1000 feet in 1.5 miles. I'm not making that up.  The trip back down was on trails covered with pea gravel.

    4.  But in the middle of all of it--while wondering if being the highest thing on a mountain top is the smartest thing with a thunderstorm rolling our way--I realized I wasn't out of breath.  It's taken me over a month, but I finally have gotten back some of the fitness that I'd lost over the winter.

    3. With respect to the debacle of this past Saturday, it has of course occurred to me that if I got on my bike more than 4 times a year, I would be able to quickly tell when something was wrong with it.
    Shhhhhh: Don't let DP know I said that, or she'd think she was right about something.

    2. In case you're wondering what prompted my rant on Monday, partly, it was this:
    This is the only picture of me that exists for the latest triathlon I did, waiting for the swim to start. Indeed, it's the only photograph that exists of many people that were in that race; the photographers mainly photographed the front third of finishers.  Can you find me?(hint: you can only see half of my face.)

    1. Be aware that my training will be a bit interrupted by Baboo's run not this weekend, but next.  And here it is:


    ...

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Now, having said that...

    I have a confesson to make: I'm used to be the best, or pretty darn near it, at everything.  As a result, endurance sports have caused me no small of distress.

    However, I've come to believe recently, very recently, that I need this distress.  As long as I can recognize it for what it is, and take it in perspective, that is.

    As I've said before, if you surround yourself with people who are largely unmotivated, unambitious, then you get to be the one that others look up to, which is a pretty shaky foundation for self-esteem. You shouldn't have to have your ego stroked by always being #1.   

    I'd gotten used to being "the smart one".  I always explained things to people who didn't understand them.  When I take classes, and the professor says something, people look at me to see what I think.  Wherever I work, people ask for my opinion or for information or help, whether it be with their statistics homework or advice on the DSM.  "Book learnin'" is easy for me.  I played it safe.  I did a lot of what was easy for me; I didn't just get one master's degree, I got three. I stayed away from things that weren't easy for me, unless it was absolutely necessary.  Doing things that don't come naturally to me, or being around others much more talented or accomplished than I, has often been anxiety-provoking. 

    For some reason I cannot put my finger on, I suddenly started doing things that are anxiety provoking.  I married a high-achiever, and then cultivated a cadre of friends and acquaintances who are highly motivated and accomplished.  I went from big fish in a small pond to big fish in a big pond full of other big fishes, and then to being an equal among a group of brave, strong, and ambitious people.  In in competitions, I'm at the back of that pack.  It's been surprisingly difficult to get used to.    

    I imagine that a large number of smart, successful people get into endurance sports and have the same experience. Some might not even be able to overcome the threatening results of not being even in the top half - they fade away, find something else to do, and avoid that discomfort. They seek only those competitions where they know they will win, and only the company of those who will stroke their ego.   

    When they do poorly, they lay blame.  It's someone else's fault.  The event was poorly planned.  My bike mechanic screwed up.  It was so windy out.  My coach didn't prepare me for this...rather than accepting that this is what is.   I know.  I've done it.     

    That's what acceptance is, I guess. Accepting a 'problem' without trying to fix it, just recognizing it for what it is, not taking it personally or attaching emotion to it. I can't be the best at everything, but I pretty good at being me, at trying, and at being brave. 

    I'm not the best at this endurance thing.  I won't ever be the best.  I'm aiming for middle-of-the-pack.  Along the way, there's every liklihood of DNFs in my future, because I keep trying to do things that are harder.  Doing things that are hard means I might occasionally fail.  The knowledge of that possibility makes the successes that much sweeter . The uncertainty is frightening, and thrilling. 

    So this is my current biggest challenge: accepting that I can't always be the best, and that I may fail, but sometimes things are just what they are, and that it's nobody's fault, not even my own.

    ...

    (I've disabled comments on this post on purpose, because I didn't put it here fishing for assurances of how good or capable or worthy I am. That's my stuff to sort out, on my own, in my head. )

    :-)