Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A year of racing...

It was quite a year of running for me. I'm not sure I'll ever do as many races in a year again but I definitely want to have as much fun running as I did in '08!

Amazingly just about every race was a good one. I suppose the only exception might be Trail Mix but I had pretty much made up my mind in the first few miles that I wasn't up for running 50K (having run Chippewa the previous week and with Promise Land planned for the following one) - so no real disappointment there.

But of all the races a few stick out in my mind...

Voyaguer - everything about this race was fun. Well, ok not the stomach problems that dogged me pretty much all day. But even that seems to have faded among the good memories. Like Afton it is a race I hope to run for many years.

Chippewa - as much fun as it was I won't be sorry to (hopefully) enjoy better conditions in '09.

Jemez Mountain - there are not many races where you get to alternate running through snow and sand, rain and sunshine, over summits and across valleys. This was one to remember.

Sawtooth - where do I start? It was simply amazing. All of it. Even the rough parts. Especially the rough parts.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Wishing everyone a happy, peaceful and relaxing time with family and friends. I am back in Ireland for a week and so far have slept more hours per night than I generally do in several nights, drank more tea than I normally do coffee (i.e. a lot), and cursed the rain about as often as I curse the sub-zero Minnesota winter. Ah yes, it's good to be back...

I think my shin is almost healed. I felt a little pain on Thurs racing around at the airport (me, late?) but nothing since then. So I'm going to walk a few miles with my sis this afternoon and if that feels good I'll run a few miles easy tomorrow night. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Weekend Ramblings

Nothing terribly important to report on the training end... did 3 sessions of weights this week. I am looking forward to keeping this up through the spring and adjusting the program depending on what phase of running training I'm in. I feel like it is keeping my legs in shape and I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing some upper body strength improvements in the pool.

Spent a few hours at Midwest Mountaineering yesterday - what a neat shop. But waay too much stuff I want! I am going to Argentina for 3 weeks in February to climb Aconcagua (I may have to be out of town every February from now on as an excuse never to attempt Arrowhead...). I am really looking forward to the trip. It's been 4 years since Kilimanjaro and in that time I've known my next mountain trip would be to South America but it wasn't until Igor told me during the summer that he was planning a trip that it started to become a reality. I was on the fence for quite a while given the cost/vacation deficit but it was just too good an opportunity to pass up. I have a lot of gear already but needed new boots (my feet appear to have grown a half inch in the last 4 years...) and a backpack. So I showed up early at Midwest yesterday. Got the boots sorted pretty quickly and then walked around in them for about 2 hours while I tried a few different backpacks with multiple adjustments to get the right fit. The staff were extremely helpful and knowledgeable.

Enjoyed watching the Hawaii IM coverage on NBC yesterday. Chrissy Wellington is something else. A flat on the bike - including minutes lost waiting for a CO2 cartridge - and she still started the run first. All with a smile!

I was busy baking cookies (hold the laughter) while watching it. Thought I would treat my neighbours. I delivered them this afternoon and haven't heard any emergency vehicles yet so that's a good sign. Needless to say I kept it simple with the recipie but was still not prepared... but a beer bottle makes for a good rolling pin.

What miserable weather today. A day for laying low. Which suited me just fine. After a pool run with Kami this morning I picked up some books in Barnes & Noble and chilled out for the afternoon. And started a new jigsaw. It's been too long!

I am being spoiled this weekend for evenings out. A fun holiday dinner with The Family last night. Good times. Great company and a desert platter straight from heaven. And tonight Mark and Brenda are cooking Shepard's Pie. Yum yum. I guess I should go shovel some snow first to work up an appetite...

Be careful on the roads tomorrow.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Over it

Like my temper, my bad moods are generally very short lived. I can't run for a few weeks BUT I can do most everything else. And all of a sudden swimming has actually become fun! How'd that happen? In the lead up to IM I used to dread my visits to the pool. Now I can't get enough of it. One reason for sure is training with Tanya. We trained togther a lot for IM Wisconsin in 2007 but this year with me devoting more time to trail running and Tanya kicking ass on the bike our schedules diverged a lot more. But the past few weeks we've been swimming and pool running a lot. We are about the same pace in the pool and it definitely helps to have someone alongside pushing you through the workout. I know I would not swim nearly as good a pace by myself.

I think the leg is healing slowly. It is difficult to know. Some days it feels better than others. My rule is no running until I cannot feel any pain no matter what way I twist/turn/stand/jump. It might be a week, it might be two. Hopefully no more than 3! But whatever it is I will wait. I want 2009 to be an even better year on the trails so it will be worth it. Meanwhile it will be a mix of rest, kicking back and enjoying the holidays... and trying to stay somewhat in shape by swimming and building strength in the gym. My eating habits are pretty dismal right now but I am not going to fight it until the new year...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Reality Bites

No more drama! I sent the email. No Hellgate for me. At least not this year... WTF was I thinking? I feel my shin almost every step I take. Not searing pain. But nagging pain all the same. Yes, my ego was getting in the way! Even after a 5 mile run today during which it never felt good I was still comtemplating it. And then I got a text from my straight talking friend... "Think about Paula Radcliffe. The first 10 hours might feel ok but the wheels are bound to start falling off the wagon during the next 6." And I'm no Paula Radcliffe... Thanks Dee!!

Monday, December 8, 2008


So I guess I forgot to hit the send button. I knew I hadn't sent the 'not doing Hellgate' email to David Horton before I posted last night but I had drafted the email and had every intention of sending it. But then I got busy with something. I woke up this morning and it was literally the first thing I thought of. Well, no it was the second thing. The first thing will be mentioned at a later date. Maybe. But I had to go to PT so I told myself I'd send the email when I got back. I worked from home today as I have a rotten cold. Another good reason not to race next weekend. But then at PT I was very pleased that my shin didn't feel near as bad as last Friday... You know where this is leading...

THEN, I get home and I have an email from Dr. Horton... full of random instructions for the race and the seedings... he always does this - I think just for the fun of it as they often seem very random to me though of course there are a lot of names on there I don't know. For the 3 races in the series that I ran in 2007/2008 I was in the lower third so my goal was always to place higher than my seeding. Which I did by quite a few spots in each race. There are 22 women entered in Hellgate. And I am seeded first. When I look at the other names this does not make sense to me even with the results I had in recent months. If I was healthy my goal was to place in the top 5 and run sub-16hrs. Dream goal was sub-15 but there are a lot of variables in a race like this. Although the weather looks fairly decent for that area next weekend. Temperatures anywhere from 20-40F and not much snow/ice.

So the bottom line here is I am still on the fence. Matt wants me to go to Hell though so I might just have to... I ran an easy few miles on the treadmill this evening and that felt ok. I am going out for a snowy run tomorrow morning to see how the leg feels so perhaps that will make the decision for me. I hate this. I am normally so decisive!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

No trip to Hell for Helen...

As stubborn as I am there is no denying my shin pain has only improved marginally since last weekend. SO, I emailed rd David Horton tonight to let him know I won't be running Hellgate next weekend. I am bummed. I have wanted to do that race all year and was thrilled to get a 'lottery' spot after registration filled immediately. But whatever's going on with the muscle/tendon at the base of my shin is taking longer to heal than I hoped. Nothing good will come from running 100K with an injury.

To add insult to injury (no pun intended) I realized I booked the flights to DC with frequent flyer miles and to cancel will cost around $75!! Having already booked my flight to LA for Angeles Crest next fall (I know, a little excessive planning there but I had another flight booked that I needed to cancel a few weeks ago...), I might just have to break my rule of not adding another race to the schedule. Or I could just go somewhere for a weekend and not race. Hmmm... I guess I'll think about it for a few days.

Meanwhile, the snow continues to fall. It is pretty but soon loses it's charm when there's shovelling to be done! But it will be fun to get the snowshoes out again. I have PT Mon/Wed/Fri this week so fingers crossed the shin improves enough to do a few miles next weekend.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Slow Progress

Was at PT this morning for my leg. Nothing much to report other than it seems to be improving disappointly slowly. Got ultrasound AND cold laser treatment so maybe I'll wake up tomorrow like a new person. Unlikely I guess. They have a new lady at the center so I got the usual "One hundred miles?? All at once??" So by the end when I asked if she thought it would heal quickly as I sort of wanted to run next weekend I omitted to mention that I wanted to run 100K. All at once preferably.

Full disclosure? Only when necessary.

Have fun on the trails this weekend. Yes, I am jealous!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


At least that's what it feels like this week. Winter has finally arrived and it's all too easy to stay under the covers for as long as possible in the morning. And generally stay indoors and keep myself to myself! Probably just as well this week since my shin is bothering me so I can't do much anyway. I had my chiro look at it this morning and he thinks the fascia around the muscle (tibialis anterior) is probably torn. Great. Well, what do I expect hammering down those hills at Afton on Saturday a week after IM...

I'll never learn. So, Hellgate is not looking good. I'm getting ultrasound and/or cold laser treatment on Friday and probably again Monday/Tuesday so I'll see how that goes. Icing it all the time and trying to keep off it as much as possible. Feels like it should clear up quickly but I suppose even if it does it won't appreciate 66 miles in the Virgina Mountains.

I know, I should abandon all thoughts of the race right now but I just can't get the idea of a trip south out of my head. I have loved running in the Blue Ridge Mountains, twice at the Promise Land 50K and one time at Masochist 50M. A wonderful community of runners and very scenic trails.

In other news... actually I don't have any other news. Hiber-nation is a quiet place.