Saturday, May 31, 2008

54 miles on the bike...

And I think I complained for 50 of them! My legs just did not want to spin as fast as my head wanted them to. But I guess there'll be days like that. Despite my lethargy I had a lovely morning hanging out with friends, checking out a new route in Scott County - and finally biking in decent weather! Carrie (a.k.a Hawaii qualifier) and Pam were in flying form, as were the boys - Eric was more than able for the distance on just his second ride on the new wheels, and Igor was getting in a warm-up before a half-marathon tomorrow. What a bunch of level-headed folks we are. To further illustrate this point, Igor, who I had not biked with before, explained to us how he is doing his first triathlon at Lifetime in July, followed by a half IM in Chisago. And yes, you've guessed it - next stop is IM Wisconsin in September! Makes my 2008 race calendar seem altogther reasonable...

Heading south to Zumbro Bottoms tomorrow morning to run the trails Pam & I discovered courtesy of Larry etc back in April. Should be fun - assuming the legs feel a little more alive!

end of post.

Hail Storm

Wow - that was not a fun experience. I was driving home from Ridgedale listening to the storm warnings and figured I'd be okay to get home as the storm was heading southeast and was hitting downtown at that point. Well, I guess it decided to come a little west so once I got onto Excelsior Bvld the hail was coming down pretty heavy. I pulled into a gas station as soon as I could and it blew past pretty quickly. And yes, I did snap a few photos while driving though it... exactly the sort of thing I would call someone stupid for :)

end of post.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Yoga by Candlelight

Ah yes, this is the way to finish off the week and ease into the weekend. I usually count my yoga classes as strength training (thereby allowing myself to never go to the gym) but this one was a little different than the 6am Vinyasa flow. Kim took us through a very relaxing, restorative sequence in a heated room lit by candlelight. I've often taken her Vinyasa classes and she is great at introducing new poses to release particular areas of tension. A whole hour of this was just what I needed tonight... before a long bike ride tomorrow and an even longer run Sunday!

Enjoy the weekend - looks like we might finally be heading towards summer...
end of post.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The (magic) Stick

I tend to go a little crazy at pre-race expos (and sports stores in general) but the $16 spent on The Stick at Grandma's marathon last year was absolutely money well spent. I am convinced this nifty little device has rescued my hamstrings more than once. It's essentially a massage tool that is very easy to use. However, as with everything regular use is the key. I've been pretty dismal on that front, just picking it up when I feel tightness. But recently I've been trying to use it for 15 minutes every night - hamstrings, quads and calves. And given the absence of tightness in my hamstrings the mornings after tough workouts I think it's working. Just need to keep it up...

Biking in the wind
Pam's theory is that we will be biking in the wind all summer long - but that come IM Arizona in November it will be totally calm. And we'll fly. I sure hope she is right. It would be just reward given that we seem destined to train in dodgy weather conditions. This evening was no different. It looked like we'd have to cancel but by 6pm the severe weather warnings were expiring and none were too close to Plymouth anyway so Pam, Eric and I decided it was worth a shot. It was either that or Eric might have found himself shopping at Gear West again, without having road-tested his fabulous new Trek Madone 5.2! It was fun heading out on rt. 24 with the wind behind us. Not so much on the way home, after a loop around Lake Independence. But the rain held off until close to Lifetime and we managed to average 17.8 for approx 30 miles so can't complain about that.
end of post.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


It was finally time to attempt the Cadence Multisports/Gear West sponsored Tuesday Night Time trials. After a quick swim (all pull-buoy to save the legs), I met up with Pam at the Holy Name church car park on county road 24. I have to say I got a bit of a shock seeing how big a deal this event clearly is. Top of the range bikes in every direction and some folks even had trainers set up to get warmed up! We were towards the end of the line signing which was just what I wanted since I knew there'd be no chance of me passing anyone out there.

The teams started first at 7pm and thereafter us individuals set off 30 seconds apart. We were number 50 & 51 so we got going around 7:30pm. It's an 11 mile out-and-back route along 24 with the turnaround just before the junction with 19. I know the road extremely well from numerous training rides the past few years but those unexpected hills get me every time. Of course with only 11 miles I figured I would just hammer from the get-go... I was gasping for breath within about 2 minutes! Pam caught me just after the turnaround and I struggled to keep her in my sight. But it was good motivation on pretty tired legs coming back... I messed up with my computer so I'm not sure it got the average correct but it read 20.2 mph so I'd say that was about right. Whew - given how my legs feel right now I can't imagine ever being able to keep that pace for a triathlon of any distance!!

Nevertheless it was a fun way to spend a Tuesday evening and I expect I'll be making another trip back there for the next one in 2 weeks time.

post note: turns out I averaged 21.28 mph and Pam 21.71. Not bad for our first attempt!
end of post.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sweet Afton

No not the poem. These are a brand of cigarette I became all too familiar with as a teenager. I didn't smoke them but may as well have. I worked in a pub at the weekends. A 'real Irish pub' - the kind where they didn't believe in ventilation, where 90% of the clientele were male, 90% of the males were smokers, and 90% of the smokers enjoyed this brand of filterless cigarette. Boy, did my eyes burn. On more than one ocassion my boss asked me who said something to upset me and make me cry. I needed the measly 5 pounds a night (the equivalent of about $7 at the time) too much to tell him he ought to cough up for a few fans around the place.

I digress. Afton, the park, is very sweet indeed. And doesn't make me eyes burn. Just my quads. Nonetheless Pam and I ran a very fun 16 miles yesterday and this morning I headed out again. Eric (the first person I have met in years who, like me, has been to Laos!) is signed up for the 25K in July so I took him around part of the course - the part I usually manage not to get lost on. My legs felt great. I know I probably shouldn't have run 2 days in a row but it's hard to pass up an opportunity to run out there, especially with the lovely weather early this morning.

I should have left it at that but instead went for a 2hr+ bike ride with Tanya this afternoon. It was my first time to ride the Orbea since I got the computer put on. Given how pathetic my average speed was I am hoping it just isn't calibrated correctly!

end of post.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


It's seems way longer than a week since I was battling with the mountains in Jemez - although my legs would not agree. Definitely not quite recovered yet. I had a massage Monday evening which really helped and since then it's been mostly yoga and a few swims. Yesterday I did a 6 mile run. It felt okay but the legs were a little heavy. This morning the MN Tri club had their first century ride of the season - followed by a picnic pancake breakfast! We started at Lake Independence so we got to check out the new Liberty course (one word - hilly!). NO, I did not attempt 100 miles... I'd been hoping to do 50-60 but legs felt quite tired. And it was windy out there. So Pam and I did 45 and then I proceeded to eat way too many pancakes!! Now for the fun part of the day - it's time to make the yard look pretty...

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Jemez Mountain - the full story...

New Mexico – The Land of Enchantment

This was my first visit to NM and I would have to agree there is something mystical about the place. Though it could just be a dulled sense of reality that comes with being 7000-10000ft above sea level which is where I spent my three days there. I signed up for what would be the 3rd annual Jemez Mountain Trail Runs (there’s also a 50K and a 20K) back in January after a friend from Colorado emailed me about it. Kristen had planned to run it but unfortunately ankle problems prevented her from signing up. I had been looking to do a 50 miler in the first half of the year but hadn’t found one that really appealed to me. A lot of the races I’d researched had multiple loops or were in places that would make it difficult to get to for just the weekend. So when Kristen mentioned this one I immediately checked out the website and I think I was so concerned about the altitude that the elevation gain/loss didn’t really sink in. I’d run at altitude in Utah last year and while it didn’t seem to affect me the highest point on that course was 7000ft which was the lowest on this course! Still, the prospect of another trail running adventure in the southwest and the excellent reports I’d read about this relatively new event was enough for me to send off my entry and use up a few more frequent flier miles...

I flew into Albuquerque on Friday afternoon and after a quick stop in Santa Fe, arrived in Los Alamos around 4pm. I decided to take a drive out to the race start to get my bearings for the morning. It was pretty easy to find the starting area at the Posse Shack on the edge of town and would take about 10 minutes to get out there in the morning. The race started at 5am so it would be an early one. The pre-race dinner and meeting was at the local High School so I headed over there after checking into the hotel. The race director’s briefing was very helpful, if a little alarming. I discovered the course was different from last years in that a fourth ‘significant’ climb had been added. Just in case it wasn’t difficult enough already they had decided we needed another trip above 10,000ft. Also, there was quite a bit of snow remaining in some of the higher elevation and heavily forested areas. With all this in mind I began revising my goal time once more. This would be my second 50M and while the first one last November was a pretty tough course it had less than half the elevation gain/loss and started not much above sea level. I’d been telling myself 12hrs until last week when I finally got around to looking up last year’s race results and recognizing a few of the leading ladies decided that 13hrs was a more likely result. Now, upon hearing of the added difficulty and the snow I decided to add another hour.

After a pretty decent sleep I got up at 3:45am, had a light breakfast and headed off to the start. Got signed in, handed over my drop-bags and chatted to a few other runners – including two of Kristen’s friends, Brian and Theresa, who’d traveled down from Boulder for the race. After a half cup of coffee, and a quick trip to the bathroom I lined up at the start and a few minutes later we were off. I immediately regretted my decision to abandon my headlamp at the shack as it was pretty dark once we turned off the gravel road onto the singletrack. But thankfully the guys ahead and behind me had good lamps. And within about 20 minutes it started to get light – so we had no excuse for taking a wrong turn about 3 miles into the race. We’d been following the trail through a dried up river bed for about a half mile and a small group of us that were running together continued straight instead taking a left turn. Just as the trail started to get quite gnarly we heard a guy shouting at us from the turn. I guess we’d only gone about a quarter mile… but it wouldn’t be the first time I’d lose concentration that day!

I was carrying 2 hand-held water bottles with a gel and clif-blocks in each so I didn’t stop for anything at the first aid station at mile 5. By this time we were already climbing towards Guaje Ridge which took us above 8800ft. Just after leaving the aid station I needed a quick bio break – I’d been drinking water nonstop since getting off the plane as I knew I needed to be extra-hydrated for the altitude. We were running through a burnt out forest area so there wasn’t much coverage but I found a rock just large enough to hop behind. Continued up towards the second aid station where I took a few nibbles and a drink of coke. Mostly hiking along here until we reached the top of the ridge and started the descent on soft trail through thick forest and across a few streams. Along this section I chatted with 2 guys who scared me a little with their tales of 50-70 mile training weeks… my response: “Jesus, I’m in the wrong race”. Since January I’ve run 40+ miles a week on two occasions and one of them was a week with a 50K race. I know I do a lot of cross-training and it definitely helps my fitness and helps prevent injuries but I sometimes think to really improve at running I should do more of it. The pace was pretty easy at this stage and I was feeling good so I continued on ahead of these guys at the next aid station at mile 10 at the base of Caballo Mountain. Upon exiting the aid station I saw the lovely notice on the tree – 1800ft climb over 2 miles. Whoa, this will be fun. Up we went, and up and up and up. Hitting patches of snow along the way and crossing dozens of fallen tree trunks. I soon realized this section of the course was an out and back (or more precisely an up and down) as the leading guys and ladies flew down past us. Of course I couldn’t help but count the number of ladies and discovered by the top that I was in 16th place. I’d been in a group of 4 ladies for most of the climb and as soon as I tied my shoes tighter at the top and started to descend I passed these ladies and caught a few others by the bottom. I wasn’t consciously trying to catch them (me?) as it was way too early for that but I can’t help myself on the downhills!

Back through the base aid station, quick refill of water and headed off for yet more climbing. Just under 1200ft gain for the next few miles with some downhill also. It was very pretty as we climbed the switchbacks and then later we ran through a nice soft section of trail in a heavily forested area. Our first drop bags were at the next aid station at mile 17 so I stopped to grab a stash of gummi bears (of course) and refilled my water. I’d taken one gel by this stage and a few clif-blocks so I replaced these also. And then the serious fun started. The Pipeline - it was like stepping off the edge. Down I went along a 75% grade gravel slope, sliding all over the place, bashing my left elbow on a rock one minute and then slid painfully along for a few yards on my right hip. Ow! Worst of all I got lots of gravel in my shoes. So that’s why so many people were wearing gaiters. Another quick bio break about halfway down – not exactly the safest place to stop but it had to be done! Once I finally got down the hill the trail emerged from the woods onto a dirt road and we continued along a relatively flat section for a few miles through Valles Caldera National Preserve. I felt pretty good at this stage and the weather was holding up nicely. Warm but cloudy so the sun was not too intense. I passed a few people along here and shortly after arrived into aid station 6 at mile 21. The guys here were hilarious. It goes without saying that all race volunteers are complete angels but it just seemed like every one of them at this race would not have wanted to be anywhere but here helping us get through the day. I spent a few minutes here, downed a few cups of coke, took a handfull of M&Ms and a few fig rolls and sat down to take off my shoes and shake out the gravel. My blisters from Promise Land had just started to bother me a little but I decided not to take off my socks to look at them! While I was having a seat I asked the guys what time it was. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know but was curious all the same. 10:26. WOW – I’d been out here for five and a half hours! I wasn’t happy or disappointed regarding the time, just amazed how quickly it had gone by. I took off my gloves and long sleeve and tied it around my waist – and attempted to stuff my gloves in the sleeves as I figured I’d need them again up on the snowy peaks yet to be climbed. But I discovered a while later that I’d dropped one of them.

By the time I’d left the aid station a few of the people I’d passed had already come through. We continued to trade places along the next section as we started to climb towards Cerro Grande at 10,200ft – which was the added feature this year. Along the way to the top we crossed a boulder field, quite the thing to get the heart rate going. A wrong footing here and my knees would look even less pretty. Close to the top I met up with Olga, a neat Russian lady living in Portland. Not only did she manage to take dozens of photos* while running a great race, she also seemed to be having more fun than the rest of us put together! After taking in the fabulous views at the summit, across to Pajarito Mountain and down into the valley, we then descended into Canyon de Valle – encountering a steep section of forest trail and then the other side of the boulder field. I’m not sure which was more dangerous, going up or down. Once through that we were out into a very picturesque setting running though high altitude meadows with some rolling hills. This was one of my favourite sections of the course. The trail was rough in places, the grass was quite long and there were small rocks strewn all over the place but it was so pretty. I passed a few ladies along here and figured by now I was maybe number 7 or 8 but I had lost track going through some of the aid stations. Not to mention that it was only the halfway point!

This was the longest section of the course without aid stations but I had plenty of supplies. The two water bottles were definitely a good idea and I didn’t seem to be as hungry as usual. Not necessarily a good thing but I felt like I had plenty of energy. I was able run at a pretty good pace for the next few miles of relatively flat section. Although I came to a sharp stop upon encountering a barbed wire fence – and not a little one you could step over. No, this took a bit of work to avoid a nasty injury. Once through that I caught up with a few guys and ran behind them for a while, listening to their stories, falling flat on my face as I started to lose concentration! I think I gave the guy in front of my quite a shock as I tumbled down and my water bottle went flying. No lasting damage. Off we went again. I stayed with these guys until we hit a few hills and they were taking it easier. The next aid station at Pajarito Canyon was a busy spot, a few people had got there just ahead of us and there were others taking a break. Our second drop bag was here but I decided I didn’t need anything from it. In retrospect I think I was a bit out of it here as I had no sooner left the aid station than I realized I was almost out of clif-blocks and really really wished I’d grabbed some more gummi bears! I started out from here feeling pretty strong, cruising through the next mile or so of forested trail. But before long the climbing started again with almost 1300ft gain and very little downhill over the next few miles. It had been pretty warm for the past few hours but the clouds were starting to gather. My legs didn’t feel awful but I was beginning to feel mentally drained. The fact that it was only around the 50K mark was getting to me. So by the time we reached the ski lift at mile 32.6 I need a boost. And what did I see as soon as I reached the food table…. McDonald’s French Fries!! Now, I know that McD’s is an evil empire. I haven’t seen Fast Food Nation. I don’t need to, I see it everyday. But at that moment in time I don’t think anything else could have tasted quite as good as those fries – complete with salt and ketchup! Did I mention how wonderful the volunteers were? Energized, if only for a brief time, I put back on my long sleeve top and faced up the mountain once more. About 10 minuntes later I caught up with a Canadian guy living in Texas and we chatted for a little while. I knew I didn’t want to hear the answer but I asked anyway – is the last of the big climbs? No. Oh dear…

I continued on but began to get more and more pissed off as the wind picked up and it got quite cold. Yet another bio break. This was unusual for me but at least my stomach was feeling pretty good and I guess I was drinking more than usual. I thought the uphill would never end. It turned out this was in fact the last journey above 10,000ft (10,441ft to be exact) but I didn’t know this as the time. Adam has an inspriring 6 word mantra he likes to use – I opted for a simpler one… f**k f**k f**k, f**k f**k f**k. My lower back was starting to ache a little. Nothing terribly worrying and I was sort of expecting it. I knew I just had to keep a good posture but that was getting more and more difficult. I regretted not doing more core work. I’d really worked on it last year and was in better shape for my first 50 miler that I felt I was for this one. My off-season layer around the middle just doesn’t want to budge. I guess opting for desert at every opportunity doesn’t help (or french fries). Finally, after passing the black diamond sign verifying just how steep the uphill had been I reached the top and it was time to see if my legs could actually run. There was quite a bit of snow and damp ground along the flat section and I had more than one flashback to Chippewa. But at least it was a good 20 degrees warmer here. Before long I hit the downhill. And I mean DOWNHILL. As in straight down the middle of the ski slope. As one guy I spoke to at the finish asked: Don't they believe in switchbacks in New Mexico? I normally love downhills but I this one took more out of me than any of the climbs. I was so scared I was going to turn an ankle. My right one is quite weak from pulled ligaments many years ago (not running related but a good story all the same…) so I side-stepped down with my left foot first, with the result that the outside of my left calf is aching even more than my quads right now.

Mile 36 aid station. If ever there was a time I wanted to drop out of a race this was it. I almost cried. I just didn’t think I had another big climb left in me. I barely spoke to the volunteers other than to take a quick look at the map and ask how far to the next aid station. Only 3 miles and thankfully not too much climbing. So on I went. The funny thing was that I knew my legs were fine. I just couldn’t get my head and body to connect. I walked several times in this section even though it wasn’t that hilly. I would tell myself I had to run the flat parts but at the sign of the slightest incline I’d slow to a walk and try to justify it to myself. The guys behind me were gaining on me but I didn’t care. After my first 50 miler my friend Susan had asked ‘What do you think about for 50 miles?’ A lot I guess but mostly (1) how grateful I am that I can do this; (2) how stupid I am that I choose to do this; and (3) how amazing I’m going to feel when I cross the finish line. Right now I was focused on number 2.

About 40 minutes later I got to the next aid station at Pipeline Road where we’d been before. This was a cross-roads on the course. On top of everything my blisters had gotten quite painful so I decided to sit for a few minutes and check them out. I patched them up and changed my socks. Olga and a few others had come through in the meantime. I took another gel with me and a bag of gummi bears (anything to cheer me up) and as I was leaving asked one of the volunteers how bad the next section was – assuming that I was facing into the last big climb. But I was told it was nothing compared to what I’d just done. Weird. I took off anyway and wracked my brains trying to visualize the course profile. I knew the last 10 miles were practically all downhill. The next section had a few big hills but they were short and on a dirt road so it wasn’t too bad. I could see several runners spread out ahead of me. The temperature had picked up again and I was starting to feel a lot better. I slowly began to convince myself that climb up the ski hill must indeed have been the last trip to 10,000ft. But it wasn’t until the next aid station at mile 42.8 that I knew for sure I was done with the uphill. Hooray!!!! This next section was awesome. If I’m allowed to say that after 40 miles on the go! But it was truly beautiful and I was feeling stronger with each step. It is amazing how quickly my mood had changed. 50 miles can be one hell of an emotional roller coaster. We had a mile of nice soft trail through some woods but mostly it was out in the open on rocky terrain, quite similar to sections of the Moab race last year. The guy behind me (chatted to him at the finish - Aaron from CO) was catching me but I didn’t really mind. I’d passed him earlier so I figured he was allowed to pass me back! If he’d been a girl it might have been a different story. Just was I was thinking that I spotted a girl up ahead and immediately sped up – seriously I don’t even think I processed the thought but my legs just picked it up. Turns out she was a 50K runner but I had discovered my legs had some juice left so I kept it up… I found that I was running all the little uphills that a few hours earlier I would have walked without question. This really motivated me and before long we were descending into the canyon. I decided to take another gel at this stage with about 4 miles to go. Just in case. Along here a guy who I’d passed way back flew by me – what a super finish he had! It is so cool to see people having fun like that at the end. Though if I hadn’t been feeling good myself I guess I might have looked at it in a different way…

It was getting very hot again now so I stopped to pull off my long sleeve. And to take in the view. But not for long. I decided no one else was going to pass me! A few minutes later I was running through the floor of the canyon along some sandy trails – just as well I was nearly done as sand is my least favourite running surface. I passed a guy here and soon arrived at the last aid station at 48.1 miles – to the sound of U2’s “Beautiful Day” – there is nothing quite like that song to get you in the mood for a good finish! Not to mention the great volunteers – like at all of the aid stations they were friendly, helpful and fun. Myself, the guy I’d just passed and Aaron all left the aid station together and started out on an uphill. Once it flattened out I took off again and the guy told me I’d finish in under 13hrs. Ohmigod. I realized I hadn’t been thinking about my time for the past several miles. I was just so glad to be enjoying myself again. No stopping me now. It amazes me as I write this but I practically bounced up a few of the little climbs as we wound our way back onto the start of the course that we’d covered in the dark earlier that morning. Just as I was coming up to the tunnel which ran under the road at about 1 mile to go I saw Olga up ahead. Part of me didn’t want to pass her but she was full of encouragement and after a quick exchange of words I continued on. I think I passed one more guy after that and soon started to see the houses up on the hill to the right. I got a little confused in this section as it looked nothing like it had in the dark that morning! After a moment of panic I spotted the chalk markings and knew I was okay as I emerged out onto the gravel road, a hundred yards or so and there was the finish line. The glorious finish line. What a day. 12:49:18.

I’m not sure I ever want to repeat some of the experiences I had that day but knowing I can feel so low at one point and a few hours later run as strong as I’m ever likely to at the end of an ultra is one heck of a confidence booster. Olga finished a few minutes later. I loved chatting to her and hearing about her vast résumé of ultras. More and more to put on the calendar. Short term memory or what! I chatted to Brian and Theresa from Colorado who finished either side of me. I tried to eat a bit but didn’t have much of an appetite (don’t worry it came back with a vengeance later). The guys from aid station 6 were there and as soon as they spotted me asked if I’d lost a glove - I couldn’t believe it when one of them pulled my glove out of his pocket. Now that’s what I call service! I told him I’d dumped the other one but that I’d keep this one as a souvenir.

It was so much fun relaxing in the warm sunshine chatting with everyone I'd met along the way and sharing stories. I couldn’t stop smiling. Especially after I checked out the results posting a little while later and saw I’d finished 4th! Very cool - I’d totally lost track by the end and just thought I was somewhere in the top ten. I probably went into this event over-raced and under-trained. But I emerged feeling stronger and more in love with trail running than I can describe in words.

*All pics on this page are courtesy of Olga.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Jemez Mountain - part 1

I'm alive. I think. Today's race was incredible. Mt. Masochist on steroids. I wanted to drop at mile 36 but after a short pity party for Helen I pulled it together, discovered my legs had plenty of juice and finished strong.

I didn't wear a watch/HRM but felt like my HR was pretty normal for this type of race. I didn't really know where my time was at for most of the run until a guy near the end told me I'd finish under 13hrs. I was delighted to hear that as my time goal had been revised to 14hrs by mile 2! Thankfully the altitude (7000-10000ft) didn't seem to impact me other than make the climbs a bit slower.

12:49:18 4th female, 41st overall (~145 starters, 92 finishers)
First male 8:08:15 (Kyle Skaggs, 23 - course record)
First female 11:30:22 (Susan Brozik, 41)

end of post... for now...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Taper - Day 4

Success - I managed to completely rest today! And get a massage. And continue the carbo/calorie loading with another lunch out from work and a delectable chocolate torte to finish it off. And a taste of the alernate desert (apple pie) while I was at it.

I guess I did do a little activity - the lunch was part of a team builder for the department at work and afterwards we went Curling. Yes, Curling. It was very entertaining. Though I can't see myself becoming a regular. But its good to know that if I change my mind the St. Paul Curling Club is the biggest one in North America with 1200 members. And there's a decent chance I'd get to rub shoulders with Olympians!

The massage was mostly for my hamstrings. Fingers crossed they stay loose for Saturday...

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Taper - Day 3

Started my carbo-loading today. Or at least my calorie-loading. One of the ladies in my department at work is retiring this week so we had lunch at Rush Creek Golf Club. Very nice indeed! The food was relatively healthy – salad, chicken, pasta and tons of asparagus. Yum. Followed up by not so healthy chocolate cake. Did I stop at one slice? Hardly…

Yoga again this morning which felt good. But my right hamstring’s been bugging me all day. Maybe it’s in my head. I’m getting the pre-race despondent feeling. But I know that as soon as I get on the plane Friday it’ll be quickly replaced by butterflies.

I ran a very easy loop of Lake Harriet this evening – I wanted to try the new shorts and top and also my Montrails to make sure they didn’t rub my heel where there is still signs of a blister. I know I can’t really tell from 2.75 miles but at least that much felt good! I think I’ll sleep in tomorrow morning and then I have a massage in the evening – hopefully that will loosen everything out nicely and I’ll be all set…

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Taper - Day 2

Well, I managed not to run or bike today... but I did make 2 yoga classes and a 2200 yards easy swim! One of the yoga classes was a hot one and felt really good. Then I spent an hour in Dick's trying to find something to wear on Saturday... I know, I know I shouldn't be thinking of wearing new gear for a race. But it will be such a mix of conditions that I can't figure out what I should wear. It will be cold at the 5am start, but will warm up quick, and be sunny and hot for much of it - but then the 10,000ft peaks might get a little chilly... at least I have 3 drop bags along the way so I'll have lots of supplies and some spare gear.

Very light run tomorrow evening - I want to see how the Montrails are because I got 2 blisters at Promise Land and that's the last thing I want this weekend. I think it was due to my overheating a little that day and also my socks were a little rough.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Taper - Day 1

Not terribly successful today since my easy run turned in 7:30's around the lakes! HR spiked at 178. Whoa. But my hamstrings felt good. More use of 'the stick' tonight (I must confess, while watching The Batchelor finale). Did yoga this morning also, which felt pretty good.

Got my road bike fitting this evening in Grand Performance. I've had the bike 3 years but of course I haven't looked at it never mind sat on it since I got the Orbea. But I would like to use it for some training - especially in crappy weather etc. I must have changed the way I position myself over the years - or else it was just a real bad fitting to begin with as Jeff made loads of changes to the set-up!! And I got new bars since I've gotten very comfy with the tri bike set up. It's an aluminum frame, way heavier than the Orbea so it will be harder work... so that when it comes to the racing it will be like a breeze! Or at least that's the plan.

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Finally we got to bike in the sunshine yesterday. It was a little windy, and I got another flat, but it was still a great day to be out and Carrie, Tanya and I were happy to get in a solid 50 miles. It ended up being a pretty full day as I'd taken a yoga class in the morning and then swam 2800 yards before the bike ride. Which we followed up with a nice easy 20 minute run. My first brick session this season!

Now for the taper... yoga and swimming is all that's allowed this week. Possibly an easy run tomorrow morning if the rain holds off.

Thankfully my hamstrings felt better this morning than they have in days. I've been using 'the stick' for 15-20 minutes every night so I think it is working...

CONGRATS to all who ran Ice Age yesterday - I've heard a few reports so far and it sounds like a great day out there.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

The things that keep me awake at night...

I was lying in bed last night thinking about next Saturday’s race when I had quite the revelation… there is a new 100 miler in Virginia this October called The Grindstone. It is part of the BEAST series which incorporates the two races I’m familiar with (Promise Land 50K and Masochist 50M). Assuming I survive Sawtooth, I was thinking I'd love to try it next year but I'd like to see this year's times before deciding. It is being hailed as the toughest 100 miler in the east, with good reason, there is 23,000ft elevation gain/loss over the out and back course. Twenty Three Thousand. Sounds brutal right? The revelation – that would be equivalent to 11,500ft over 50 miles – which is EXACTLY what the Jemez Mountains race promises!!

What have I got myself into?

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Rain, rain, rain...

After an enjoyable 10 miles this morning with the run club - great to catch up with Jodee, meet some new people, AND be treated to a yummy breakfast courtesy of Debbie & Brad - I met up with Susan and Tanya for a bike ride...

The girls had been out for an hour already and Susan actually made the smart decision to head home and finish her ride on her trainer (she did THREE hours on it - never!), while the pair of us headed north on 116. Ah, it all seemed like a great idea at the time. But the clear skies did not stay that way for long. About 40 minutes later the rain started, and looking at the sky (and remembering the weather forecast) we knew it was not likely to stop immediately so we found a diner in Rogers and hung out for a while - chatting, reading the paper and sipping hot tea. When it finally cleared we headed back out - only to find a flat in my back tire! 10 minutes and 3 CO2 cartridges later we were back on the road. By the time we reached St. Michael the rain had started again and eventually after about 90 minutes on the road we decided to call it a day. We rang Susan who very kindly came to our rescue! Thank you Susan!!

I was glad to get in a yoga class this evening - my hamstrings are really really tight so I think it did them good. Looking forward, sort of, to a massage this week. Will be taking it easy in the run up to Jemez, mostly swimming and yoga. Well, that is after tomorrow - assuming the rain clears we're hoping to get in a nice long ride down in Scott county.

I spoke briefly to Kami & Pam this evening - they were scouting for coffee shops in Madison enroute home from Ice Age. A very enjoyable run by all accounts. I can't wait to hear the detailed accounts of Pam's first and Kami's 3rd (since January!) 50 miler. It was also Todd's first one and I know several others who ran it so hopefully they all had a good day.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Running at sunrise...

The joys of early morning runs...

I'd arranged to meet Bronwyn at 5:30am at Lake Harriet so I was out the door at 5:15am - after 4.5 hrs of sleep with the concert last night - I'm not sure I would have dragged my ass out of bed had I not made arrangements to meet but I am very glad I did. It was a glorious morning for running. About 50F - perfect for shorts and longsleeves. I had my hand-held water bottle as I wanted to go for about 10 miles or so. We looped around Harriet and over to Calhoun and then peeled off onto 36th and down along Kings Highway, over to Minnehaha parkway for a bit and back to Harriet - it was a nice route, different from just circling the lakes. After Brownyn turned off at Sheridan I ran back over to Calhoun and did a few extra miles to get just over 12 in total (12.4mi, HR 149). I kept the pace pretty consistent around 8:20s and it felt really good. I think I need to start doing more of these longish mid-week runs as I probably can't fit in more than 3 runs a week but need to be keeping my mileage up at the same time.

I was home by 7am which a few years ago is probably the earliest hour I would ever have thought of setting my alarm for. Spent a bit of time stretching and using "the stick" on my hamstrings and quads, while watching the morning news and then off to work... via s'bucks of course - where my friendly barista had my triple venti nf latte ready before I even paid for it :)

A great way to start any day. And I ended it with a run also - the TC1mile event was downtown this evening so myself and Pam met at Loring Park and sauntered through downtown for probably the slowest mile we'll run this year (well, at least on the road - I have a feeling some of the miles next weekend will take twice as long...). It was a great atmosphere around town. Normally I would stay around to watch the elites but I had some work to do last night so we just jogged easy for a few miles along Kenwood Parkway so Pam could stretch her legs before her big adventure this Saturday - Ice Age 50M!

Good Luck to everyone running out there this weekend!!

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The Swell Season

Excellent concert last night. Glen & Marketa really lived up to expectations with this gig. And Damien Dempsey supporting was a nice bonus. Glen went a little overboard with some of the story telling but he was pretty entertaining and given that they stayed on stage until 11:30pm he didn't take away from the music time with his winding tales about the head and the heart, not to mention "those people who cannot be seen"...!

I loved his performances of the The Frames songs. He can sing me to sleep any night with "I will write you letters...". And their performance of Falling Slowly was incredible. There's a song that rightly deserves the limelight as much as sometimes might want to sometimes "take it back".

Check out the music and interviews on NPR where you can even download a podcast of one of their concerts!!

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Swimming - TWO days in a row!!

Although it wasn't intentional... I headed out on the bike around 4pm thinking I'd avoided the rain. Yeah, right! Twenty minutes later I was soaked. I had arranged to meet Tanya at Lifetime at 4:45pm so was just doing a short loop to begin with. But decided to call it a day as the skies were just getting darker and darker. (11mi, HR 122)

So we headed into the pool instead - which was empty for once - the synchronized swimmers from Wayzata high school might be fun to watch but not when they decide to take up ALL 8 lanes in the pool! But no sign of them this evening so we got a little over an hour in. 2600 yards. I was really tired at first but soon warmed up and I guess I enjoyed it. Sort of.

I'd ran this morning (7.5mi, HR 156) so it ended up being a mini-reverse-tri! Had a great run. My right hamstring, down towards the back of my knee, felt a bit tight in the first few yards but seemed to go away almost immediately. I am loving my morning runs around the lakes, either by myself or with others. No better way to start the day.

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Monday, May 5, 2008

Swimming - always worth the struggle...

The only time I don't struggle with getting to the pool is when I've arranged to meet Tanya there at 5:30am and I get out of bed at 4:45am and make it all the way to Plymouth while still half asleep... before realizing I have to swim... (thankfully the nice policeman down the road from Lifetime decided I wasn't worth the hassle of a ticket on the one occasion he caught me rolling through the stop sign).

But getting up before 5am became a bit too much so we've recently been swimming in the evenings - which is okay when I am sticking to a routine but otherwise I tend to find an excuse not to swim. It's my weakest tri event but also the one I am least likely to improve on even with dedicated training. Still, I do want to make another 1:20 swim at Ironman this year so I've been trying to make it to the pool at least twice a week since January. Mostly I've made it but this evening after my massage I was definitely planning on heading straight home until I saw a text from Tanya and decided since I was just down the road from the gym and had my gear in the car I really had no excuse!

And as always, once I got in the water and got moving I was glad I'd made it... ended up doing 3200 yards which is the most I've done since Madison last Sept! I was taking it quite easy - with regular chat breaks to catch up with Tanya and Karen - and I actually enjoyed it...

Speaking of Ironman I decided on a goal for Arizona. I like symmetrical numbers so 11:22 it is! Quite a leap from the 12hrs in Madison and mostly it means improving my bike time as well as a few minutes off my run. Here's how it breaks down:

1:20 swim
0:10 T1
6:00 bike
0:10 T2
3:42 run

It's a wee bit ambitious but sure that's never stopped me before! I think I can make the run but it depends how hard I push it on the bike. I expect to be in much better biking shape this year and the course is more forgiving than Madison. And obviously having paid a pretty price for my fancy new tri bike I fully expect to have a great ride :)

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Concert Tickets for Sale!!

Really looking forward to the Swell Season concert on Wednesday night but despite a mad scramble for tickets when they went on sale over a month ago I now have 2 extra due to conflicts - minor things like closing on a house etc...

Glen Hansard is frontman for the Irish rock band The Frames, while the Czech-born Marketa Irglová is a classically trained singer, and their music serves as the centerpiece of the surprise hit film Once (Oscar Winner for Best Original Song). The movie, which also stars Hansard and Irglová, tells a guy-meets-girl love story largely through song. Before making the film, Hansard and Irglová recorded a collection of songs together titled The Swell Season - and that wonderful music is what's on offer Wednesday night!

Orpheum Theatre, May 7, 8pm
2 Balcony seats (not together)
$47 each

Let me know if you are interested!

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Lake Minnetonka Half

What a glorious day for running!! It was near perfect conditions the whole way around - a little chilly at the start so of course I overdressed - again! And a little windy right by the water - but given that it snowed the first time I ran this in 2005 I couldn't complain. Pam and I were both a little tired so we were planning a fairly easy pace - I was thinking 1:45. I'd run the past 2 days on not yet fully recovered quads and was planning to bike this afternoon so I figured just get out and run it and have fun. And Pam had blasted a 5k in 21mins yesterday - and is supposed to be tapering for Ice Age 50! But of course we started out at sub-8 min miles and never really backed off. But boy it felt pretty tough. Not helped by a bad stomach from mile 6 to mile 9 - I was glad to see the biffy at the aid station! My quads felt heavy but the good thing was they felt pretty much the same at mile 2 and and mile 12 so I don't think I was risking any damage. Still, I'm looking forward to a massage tomorrow night. We finished up at 1:41 which was a minute slower than last year which was a minute slower than the year before - I guess that's what happens when you keep adding ultras in the preceeding weeks...

Saw quite a few people from the run club and had a cheer from Adam as Pam and I were getting ready to sprint the last 300 yards... fantastic 4th place finish for him!! And Todd (thanks for the photo!) was at the finish also aswell as a few others I have not seen in ages so it was nice to hang out in the sunshine for a while. And despite the warm conditions no run would be complete without a nice big coffee afterwards... headed over to Caribou with Pam and Paula and caught up with more of the run club folks including Debbie, Eric and Jen who are all running Fargo in 2 weeks. Good Luck!!

Met the girls at 1pm for a ride out from Lake Independence to Watertown - and finished up with that killer hill on rt. 201 to get back onto 24 - I did not need that!! But it was such a lovely day for biking and I had not seen Carrie in months so it was great to catch up. Caught a bit too much sun though - time to crack open the sunscreen again... roll on summer!

Run: 1hr41m, HR 159
Bike: 2hr, HR 130

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Active Recovery...

My legs were finally feeling up to a run by yesterday so Pam & I hit the loop around Rice Lake in Maple Grove after work, managing to avoid the rain. We kept a pretty good pace for the 6.5mi with an avg HR of 160. Everything felt great except my quads were a little tired by around halfway. So I looked up my training log from this time last year and it turns out I didn't run for a full 7 days after the 50K - until the Wells Fargo half - but instead did 7 classes of yoga!! I didn't get back in town this week until Wednesday and slept in the past few mornings so I haven't actually made 1 class! But I think I'll try to hit a Vinyasa one later - great for stretching the quads.

And I need it after this morning's run - I should of course have rested but the weather was so lovely by the time I got up at 8:30am that I decided to head out to the RTA. A trip I will have to take more often - I love running in Afton but it is quite a hike for anything less than a 2hr run whereas it's only 25 mins out to Eden Prairie. I didn't really know how much I felt like doing but ended up at 4 loops which my watch recorded as 10.8mi (though I haven't yet calibrated it...) with an avg HR of 153. It was just gorgeous being out there especially getting to the top of the big climb and standing in the breeze looking south. Not to mention the wonderful sight of the 3 young deer I had disturbed. It never fails to bring back memories of my earliest running days when I come across deer while out on the trails. There is a park near my home where I used to train which has a large herd of deer. It frightened the life out of me the first few times I was running there alone and suddenly a deer would run across the trail in front of me. But it soon became part of the experience and something I looked forward to.

Tomorrow morning will be a nice easy pace around Lake Minnetonka. It's the only race I've done every year since moving here so while it may be a bit cracked to run 3 days in a row when not fully recovered I just can't quite say no...

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Thursday, May 1, 2008


Legs were not quite ready to run today but they felt great out biking! Pam & I covered something over 40 miles this evening heading out from Plymouth LTF on the Liberty course around Lake Independence and then out Rt 6. Thankfully the rain held off and apart from a little wind it was perfect biking conditions. We were taking it pretty easy for the most part so I kept my HR below 140 with an average of 119 over the 2.5hrs. I am so happy with the Orbea - JJ's spin classes are definitely paying off, trying to concentrate on high cadence and feeling really comfortable in the aero position. Looking forward to building up the long weekend rides over the coming months. Great cross-training and of course I'm hoping to take a nice chunk off my bike time at Arizona...
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