ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
I haven't posted much about running over the summer, partly because I haven't been running a whole lot. I spent early summer slowly building up my miles (which were also slow! :-) to about 40mpw - then we left on our roadtrip vacation, and I only ran three times in four weeks. The week we got back I managed 32 miles, last week about the same. Oh, and on Saturday I ran a half marathon. *whistle*

Back in April I mentioned that I was thinking of registering for the Thirsty Thirteen, a local half in its second year (I worked an aid station last year). After an email from the club warning it was likely to sell out (it's limited to 500 racers) I went ahead and registered. It's a point-to-point massively downhill race (though with a few significant uphills), it is on scenic country roads with views to a reservoir, and it ends at SKA Brewing with a free beer - and a ticket for the San Juan Brewfest in the afternoon. What's not to like?

Other than the fact that I was massively unprepared, of course. Granted, massively unprepared means different things for me than it does for most people, or even compared to how I used to approach racing when I started, over ten years ago. I probably ran 2-3 times a week, 15mpw for my first half marathon. My second, I only started running again after a long layoff, and I ran maybe twice a week. (That time remains my Personal Worst.) Once I started getting serious about running, proper preparation for a half became 35mpw...then 40mpw...then 45mpw, at a minimum.

So clearly my 20mpw over the past several months wasn't going to cut it. Also, my last run over 10 miles was six weeks ago. On the other hand, we did a lot of hiking on our Canadian roadtrip, including two hikes of half-marathon distance or longer. My last long run might have been only 9.5 miles, but it was a trail run that took me over two hours, longer than I expected to run in the race. I did a test tempo run with a three-mile section at 8:20, and my heart rate was about where it should be for a half, and the effort felt right, too. Of course, I didn't know how much advantage I could reap from the enormous downhills, nor if I had enough endurance for the distance, but I figured I could reasonably aim under 1:50, which would be an 8:23 pace. Considerably slower than my 1:36 PR, but I was okay with that.

Race report )

Stats and splits )

So, what's next, you ask? Well, as it happens, some friends of mine - some I've met in person, some I only know online - have put together a team for Reach the Beach, a ~200 mile relay from Bretton Woods to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire in mid-September, part of the Ragnar series of relay races. And one of the women had to drop out, so...they invited me. I warned them that I wasn't in my usual shape, but they swore it would be okay, that I wouldn't even be the slowest person on the team.

I was still hesitant, since a) it's on September 18-19, which includes my birthday, and b) Britt isn't generally keen on me larking off to run races without him. But just as I was dithering, he got a phone call inviting him to give a talk at a conference in Grand Junction that weekend. So - I'm going to be on a relay team, woohoo!
ilanarama: me in my raft (rafting)
(Even though this came at the end of our Canadian trip, it's neither in Canada nor was it the mountain hiking vacation the rest of the trip was, so it really deserves to stand alone as a completely separate post.)

This river trip had been planned since late winter, when our friend Steve lucked out and got a permit - the Green River through the Gates of Lodore section is lottery-controlled, and a lot of people try for years and never get picked. We'd done it once long ago, when we'd lived in Boulder, but this would be my first time rowing my own boat.

P1040348

"The Gates of Lodore", strictly speaking, refers to the dramatic entrance to the Lodore Canyon of the Green River (looming behind me in the above photo), which ends at the confluence of the Yampa River with the Green, but people often use it to mean the usual river trip through Lodore, Whirlpool, and Split Mountain canyons, a distance of 43 miles through the Dinosaur National Monument in far northwest Colorado and northeast Utah. We'd do it in four days, which is typical. The name was given by the 1869 Powell expedition and is a reference to a poem by Robert Southey called The Cataract of Lodore. (If you thought Poe was into onomatopoeia with his clanging bells, he ain't got nothing on Southey.)

Our trip, in words and pictures )

The Flickr album, with 36 photos
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Jiggety-jig. Assuming you even noticed I was gone! Anyway, we are back home from our epic Canadian Rockies National Parks adventure, with a rafting trip on the Green River tacked on at the end, and I'm sorting through the photos and starting to write up our adventures. I'm thinking of backdating the posts much like I did for our England trip, so that they form a coherent set of posts at approximately the right dates, and then posting an index. If you'd rather see the posts as posted, you can track the tag: canadian vacation 2015
ilanarama: me in my raft (rafting)
Prime season for boating in the southwest is already over, but our rainy May and June did not inspire us to get our boats out until just recently. All that rain has kept the rivers relatively high, though, and our little "kitten rafts" don't need a lot of water to float, especially when we are just doing day trips and aren't loaded down with camping gear. As long as the rocks are smooth rather than pointy, we don't need much clearance to make it over - just a bit more than a "happy enchilada."

If you're furrowing your brow at that reference... )

(Spoiler alert: we didn't drown.)

We started out on the Friday holiday with a run down the section of our own Animas River south of town, putting in at Santa Rita Park just past Smelter Rapid (which still had enough water to be scary high, flipping boats with regularity), and running the three miles to Dallabetta Park. This is a rocky stretch that can only be run with a decent water level, but it was a good re-introduction to my boat, which I had only been in once so far this year, on the stretch through the center of town. It was still high enough for the commercial trips to run, and we waved to a lot of tourists who looked happy to be on the water on a sunny day.

It was so much fun that I impulsively suggested to Britt: "I know we had talked about going backpacking this weekend, but what about going to Pagosa Springs instead and running the upper San Juan?" (We have run several sections of the San Juan in Utah, but our only experience with this part of the river far upstream from there was just looking out of our car windows as we crossed it on the Hwy 160 bridge.) I should know better than to open my mouth. A few hours after we got home, Britt had our river guidebooks spread out in front of him and browser windows open to the USGS river gauge website and Google Earth, and not long after, we had a plan to float not just the San Juan, but the nearby Piedra river as well.

Narrative with photos )

For those of you who are thinking of doing this yourself, here's the basic beta:  )

Just these photos plus a few more - 12 in all - at Flickr
ilanarama: profile of me backpacking.  Woo. (hiking)
For the last several years we've done a summer backpacking trip in the Weminuche Wilderness with more or less the same core group of friends. This year, because we'd had little snow, we'd planned on hiking a route in the high mountains east of Silverton, but then May happened, with near-record precipitation and more expected. Instead we decided to do the prudent thing and choose a lower route: the length of the Pine River from north to south within the wilderness area. Britt and I have hiked (or ridden on horseback) every bit of this ~30 mile route at different times, but never as a continuous route, partly because the northern trailhead is quite far away by car, as one has to drive around the wilderness. Fortunately, Frank and June, who had wanted to come along but were not able to spend the whole week backpacking, offered to drive us all up and hike part of the first day with us, and Steve and Ryan, who usually join us at the weekend, would drive to the southern trailhead with our van, and then hike in and meet us.

Route map )

You won't find the Pine River on the map. That is, it's there, but it's Los Piños on the map, as well as on the little signs at every highway bridge crossing; but there is no surer way of branding yourself a tourist or a newcomer than calling it by that Spanish name. All the locals call it the Pine, and there are many businesses named for it as well, e.g. the Pine River Bank and the Pine River Library.

Our route started at the Thirtymile Forest Service campground just below the Rio Grande Reservoir and contoured along the bank of Weminuche Creek about five miles to Weminuche Pass and the headwaters of the Pine. At just under 10,600 feet, Weminuche Pass is one of the lower points on the Continental Divide. Weminuche Creek falls steeply into the Rio Grande, and with all the recent rain, it was very high, nearly undermining the bridge over the waterfall a few miles in, where we ate our lunch. But on the Pine side, the valley is broad and flat, and shortly after we crossed the pass we set up camp at a small established site.

More trip report, with lots of photos )

All 83 photos that didn't suck (more than in this post) plus a map, few captions, in a Flickr album
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
I'm still getting over the cold I got while in Maryland (my third this spring, gah!) and my back is still giving me grief. But I'm trying not to let my stupid body prevent me from having fun.

This past weekend Britt and I went to a climate conference thingy in Paonia, a small town about 3.5 hours north of here. We have good friends who live there, so we stayed with them, which was nice. We headed back on Sunday and decided to stop more or less halfway home, in Ouray, which I think is the most beautiful setting for a town in Colorado (and the second prettiest in the US, behind Seward, Alaska). As you can see in this picture we took from our hike above town:

Looking down on Ouray

Ouray is famous for many things, including its natural hot springs. We checked into a nice small motel, the Wiesbaden, which features not just hot pools but also a vapor cave under the building, which used to be a sanitarium for treatment of arthritis. Despite the dicey weather we went for a hike; sure enough, we got rained on on the way back, but we warmed up in the hot spring water!

The trail we climbed (and I do mean climbed - my map-corrected GPS track claims we ascended over 2500 vertical feet in 2.6 miles before turning around) goes to the upper Cascade Falls and the Chief Ouray Mine, but we had to turn around less than half a mile from the end because the trail hit a deep snowbank on a steep slope, and proceeding would not have been safe. But we did get some good exercise as well as interesting photos.

More photos! )

Anyway, good preparation for this summer's first backpack trip which will be in just five weeks!
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
As some of you know, after my glorious victory at the Canyonlands 5-mile I had a relapse of the lung rot that had plagued me since the first week of March. When it just seemed to be getting worse I went to the clinic and was diagnosed with bronchitis and prescribed a number of things, including an antibiotic "to take if you don't get better in a couple of days," because apparently these viruses often mask bacterial infections. I got worse and began taking the antibiotic a week ago, and things turned the corner pretty quickly after that, and today I went for a run for the first time in ten days.

It was extremely slow. I coughed every so often. But those problems, I know, are temporary. What may not be temporary is that my gluteus medius ached - not horribly, but enough to concern me. I had noticed the butt-pain starting to return last week, in fact, which dismayed me since I wasn't doing any physical activity at all.

The spine guy had said that it often takes more than one shot to fix the kind of problem I had. I hope I don't have to do it again - it's expensive (I've maxed out my deductible, but I still have a co-pay which comes out to about $500, and even though it's not a problem for me financially it freaks me out a bit - and my insurance company is beginning to get nervous, which makes ME nervous) and it's a bit of a hassle/pain.

I am going to try to work on those core exercises, keep running, and see what happens. I guess if things get worse (or don't get better) I will have to get a second cortisone shot. I hope I don't have to. I also hope I'm smart enough to see if I DO have to, and do it.

Some weight and bodyfat talk )

Boston plans )

Other running plans )

Other non-running plans )
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
My expectations for the Canyonlands 5-miler were pretty low. Not only would this be my first race after the disastrous Winter Of Back Injury, I also caught a bad lung-rot virus on March 4th (ironically, the day after I posted about looking forward to this race!) and didn't run for 8 days. Still, I was hoping to win my age group, or at least top three, since except for a few short-distance specialists, the 5-miler is mostly run by people not fit enough to run the concurrent half marathon (which I usually do), so the level of competition is pretty low. I also hoped to clear out the cobwebs and jump-start my fitness with some (relatively) fast running, and get a read on just how out of shape I am.

When my lungs finally cleared, I did a few short, easy runs, and then a test speed run on the Thursday before Saturday's race: I ran an easy warm-up mile, a second warm-up mile with strides, and then held a tempo-ish hard pace for a mile, something that didn't wear me out but felt hard. Based on my recent easy pace, I figured this pace would be something around 8:15, and sure enough, my test mile came out at 8:08. I can work harder in a race than I can in training, and Canyonlands is about 2500 feet lower in elevation, which also gives me a little advantage. So my plan for the race was to go out at 8 to 8:05, hold that if I could for the second mile (which had a nasty hill) and then push as hard as I could without blowing up.

No plan survives first contact with the enemy )

By the numbers )
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
It is March! And just as this is the month when winter turns the corner and heads toward spring, I feel as though my fitness is, finally, doing the same. (And what's funny is that I just noticed I used almost the same phrasing in my first post in January, talking about starting over with the new year! Me and calendar metaphors...)

To recap a little: )

In November, I ran 17.6 miles. In December I basically didn't run at all. In January, as I was (in the words of my previous post) "preparing to begin to start from scratch," I ran 65 slow miles. In February, I ran 84 slightly less-slow miles. I am hopeful (see me knocking on this wood, here? Knock! Knock! Knockity Knock!) that in March I will finally get back above 100 miles!

I'm still a lot slower than I used to be, but it's been really interesting watching my pace vs heart rate improve. My easy pace heart rate is around 128-140 bpm; my average for a run is usually right around 136. Back in September and October, before I was injured, I'd run my easy runs at a pace between around 8:55-9:35/mile. In January, when I started running again, to keep my HR at the right level I had to run at around 10:30-11 minute pace - though running felt hard enough physically that I often ran even slower.

By the third week of February (a bit more than a week after the injection) I had my first run in which I averaged under 10 minute miles (a blazing 9:53 pace!) The next week most of my runs were 10 minute pace or under, and the next week - well, that's this week. And so far I've kept up the trend! \o/ Monday's run was the fastest yet at 9:42 pace (though the run included a half-dozen strides - short accelerations - which make the overall pace faster). Today was a slower but still sub-10 pace. And you know, I look at 9:53@133 today and compare it to 9:53@136 two weeks ago and it looks like improvement.

I've also been watching my weight come down; very very slowly, but it's coming down. I weighed around 115 in October, not the lowest I've been recently but a weight I'm happy with. Once I stopped running, it climbed, and I stopped weighing myself in mid-December because numbers above 120 depressed me.

The weight goes up, the weight goes down - at least, it's starting to! )

In less than three weeks I've got my first race of the year, the Canyonlands 5-miler that is concurrent with the half marathon I usually run. I don't expect I'll be very fast, but as most of the fast people run the half, I am likely to get a medal for top-3 AG, and possibly even win it. Then, in just under seven weeks: the Boston Marathon. I'd pretty much resigned myself to spectating, but I have a few friends who are injured and planning to run/walk at an easy pace, and I'm thinking that might be doable. I started my distance running with run/walk, and I know that this technique can be used to extend endurance and run farther with low injury risk. This past Saturday I ran (and walked) 10 miles, even though my longest run up to now has been 6.3, and felt fine. So I'm going to try to ramp up my long run with walk breaks, and see how things go.
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
Well, as you do in southwest Colorado when you're having an unusually warm, dry winter. We usually go skiing every Friday, but we punted the last two weeks because our ski day on January 30 was the last time it snowed up at Purgatory, our local resort. But Valentine's Day fell on a Saturday this year, a great day to take off and do something special with my sweetheart...so why not go mountain biking?

Here in Durango the trails are still muddy, with snow lingering in the shady spots, but I had learned from the website of the local trails advocacy group about trail conditions elsewhere, and so I decided we ought to go to Sand Canyon, in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, which is about a 1:15 drive from here. The canyons here are south-facing and on a broad mesa about 1200 feet lower than Durango, so it's even warmer and drier. If you scroll down on that link you'll see a map; we rode to the first dotted-line connector trail, then rode around East Rock Creek Trail in a counter-clockwise loop and back to the connector, and back to the trailhead. It was mostly easy riding, but we had to frequently stop to walk through steep, rocky sections, particularly at the head of the canyon.

Britt and alcove ruins Ilana by pillar

More photos and a few more words )
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
So since my last post I've been steadily ramping up the running. That first week I ran 5 times, 3 miles a day with 4 as my long run on Saturday, for 16 miles. Last week I ran 24 miles, with a "long run" of 6. I'm hoping to get to 30 this week, probably hold that for another week, and then give another push.

There are three problems, though. The first is that...my pain in the butt is back. And I have no idea what to do. It's not as bad as it was originally - it doesn't radiate down the leg, and I can still run, and actually, the pain goes away after about five minutes - but it hurts all the time. In fact, it hurts more when I'm not running! I've been doing some stretching and strengthening exercises, but I'm reluctant to go back to PT when it didn't do me any good before.

Second, I am soooo slooow. I'm running by heart rate, keeping my HR in the 'easy' range, and my pace is 1-2 minutes per mile slower than it used to be. I am so out of shape! It should improve as I run more, but it's just depressing.

Third, I am soooo fat. I gained ten pounds since October, and that's a lot for me. I don't fit in any of my clothes and I feel terrible. Almost terrible enough to diet. It's just so hard for me to restrict my eating. I'm eating a little less, but I haven't e.g. given up drinking wine, and I probably should, but - I hate dieting. HATE. So I rely on my eating a generally good diet and running to keep the weight off. I'm hoping that when I get back to my usual running volume all this fat will go away, because I really don't want to go on a diet!

Anyway, I feel like I am clawing my way up out of the pit. I can see the sunlight, but man, it's so far away.
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
The steroid pills I was prescribed last Thursday worked miracles. On Friday I barely hurt and walked a mile and a half, Saturday I walked 2.75 miles with a little jogging thrown in, and on Sunday I ran THREE MILES.

Okay, it was a slow jog - I didn't dare bring the Garmin because I didn't want to know just how slowly I was moving - but I RAN THREE MILES. And it felt FINE. Yesterday I walked 3 miles, mostly because it was snowing and I was worried about slipping and re-injury. I think I'm going to run again this afternoon!

This morning I saw the doctor again, who had looked at the MRI results. Apparently I had a herniated disc that was leaking gunk into my back and causing inflammation, but this was cleared up by the steroids and it's pretty much healed over, so the doctor thinks I don't need to do anything other than just work on core strength, be alert to future issues, and come in and get steroid shots if it happens again. And now I can run. Sort of an anticlimax, but I'm glad not to have to have surgery or major treatment needed. And my hamstring is still kind of sore, so I do need to keep an eye on that.

I'm delighted to be cleared to move ahead! But I'm also annoyed that it took so long to deal with that now I am starting from scratch, much too late to be able to race this spring. Oh, well. My big problem, I suspect, is going to be reining myself in and not doing too much too soon and injuring myself in some other way while I ramp back up to running again. ("Running again!" Doesn't that sound LOVELY?!)

looking up

Jan. 8th, 2015 06:34 pm
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
I had my meeting with the specialist today, and I'm in a lot better mood this evening than I was a few days ago. Although the prescription painkillers may have something to do with it...

I had been referred by my PT (Advantage Physical Therapy) to Animas Spine; Mike said they'd worked a lot with Patrick McLaughlin, "who is a runner, too," so naturally I had to look him up on Athlinks! Turns out he ran both Imogene, and the road portion of the Durango Double. (Also, he's slow, which surprises me as he's a fit-looking guy of about my age. But that's okay!)

Anyway, he seems like a good guy, pleasant and knowledgeable. I got x-rays taken today, have an MRI scheduled for Saturday, have bottles of three different pills (painkiller, steroid anti-inflammatory, and muscle relaxant), and will be going back in on Wednesday morning to hear the verdict. He thinks a disc problem is likely, but that surgery is probably not necessary, and he was super-encouraging about being able to get back to activity soon, so, yay!

update

Jan. 4th, 2015 11:18 am
ilanarama: my footies in my finnies (snorkeling)
With the start of the new year, there is a sense of beginning anew, of starting over, even though all we've marked is an arbitrary spot on the calendar. Even so, for me things feel like I'm starting from scratch again - actually, like I'm preparing to begin to start from scratch, because I'm not even there yet!

In the fall I was looking forward to taking a short break from running during the second half of October, then ramping up my training for the Boston marathon. Well, you know what they say about best-laid plans. At this point, not only am I not running, I'm unable to do any exercise at all. I'm fat and cranky and hurting. While I have not yet ruled out going to Boston to cheer on my friends, the marathon is out of the question.

The story thus far )

When I told Mike (my PT) that I thought it was getting worse rather than better, he suggested that I see a back specialist; he says my lower back is really tight, and he suspects the source of the problem is there, not in my glutes. This is a reasonable possibility, as I've periodically had back issues. So I made an appointment for this Thursday.

And then, on Friday, Britt and I went skiing. This was our first time up to the mountain this season, and we didn't know how his knee or my butt/hip/leg would do, so we planned a relatively short day on easier terrain.

The first couple of runs I felt great. I didn't even notice my usual low-level pain. Plus, I just got new skis this year, longer and smoother and lighter than my old ones, and so it was a real delight to be making turns on the lovely new snow we got on Thursday! Or at least it was for just short of three runs, because I was nearly down to the lift on the third run when suddenly, for no apparent reason, something went SPROING in my back. I came to a screeching halt and tried to put myself into the least painful position while I waited for Britt to realize that I was waving and screaming for a reason :-(

Fortunately, we were not far from the lift that ended at the restaurant, where we'd been planning to stop for lunch anyway at that point. Between the slow lift and the slow service, we took a two-hour break, and I had a pint and a half of muscle relaxant, so our return to the base (which requires two runs with a lift in the middle, taking the easiest path and going slow) was not as miserable as I had feared.

So there you have it. I'm even more crippled up than I was before; I'm sprawled in a recliner, downing copious amounts of Aleve and carefully doing my old McKenzie Method back exercises several times a day. But in a way this is confirmation that the trouble is in my spine, after all. So I'm hopeful that Thursday's appointment will bring some answers, or at least put me on that road.
ilanarama: Mountain can has santa hat! (mountain santa)
After my third massage, things were leveling out, so on Sunday I decided to make another try at running. And by "running" I mean "jogging at two minutes per mile slower than my usual easy pace," but it did not feel that great, and the next day I was hurting again.

So I threw in the towel and went to a physical therapist, which, maybe I should have done it sooner, but I was hoping that rest would take care of things, and obviously it didn't. They think that the tight knot in my butt should resolve with dry needling (which sounds terribly scary, but I have it scheduled for Monday) and at that point they can address the hip imbalance they feel is the source of all my troubles (hamstring, ITB, peroneal tendons). We shall see.

Also, it's December, which means it's time for Vestal Peak to put on the Santa hat!
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
I haven't been posting lately (geez, in over a month!) because I haven't been doing much. After the 1-2 punch (or 2-1, actually!) of the Double and the 50K, my right hamstring and ITB let me know in no uncertain terms that they needed a breather. So I have been taking a break from running in the hopes that I'll be able to start training for the Boston Marathon on schedule at the beginning of December.

In the meantime I've been getting massages and doing strengthening and stretching exercises, and biking a lot, or at least, a lot for me. When the weather is crappy I spin on the recumbent exercise bike in the basement, which is seriously boring, so I can't manage it for very long at a time. When the weather is good, though, I go mountain biking. I am not very good at mountain biking, and there are only two local loops I can do without carrying my bike over large portions of the trail. Fortunately, the more I do it, the less I suck at it - but I still suck!

Here is someone who does not suck. I don't think I could make some of these jumps on foot that he does on a bike! But wow, what amazing scenery porn this is. I would love to hike this mountain ridge (without a bike)!

ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
I'd been toying with the idea of running an ultramarathon for some time, but it wasn't until this autumn that the stars finally aligned. I had signed up for this year's Durango Double because I really liked the new format and courses - not to mention that I had friends coming in from the midwest to run it, and it seemed awfully rude not to run it with them! But that would be the week before my usual fall half marathon, The Other Half (where I set my half PR last year). Then I discovered that the organization that puts on several well-regarded ultras in the Moab area was doing a new 50K/25K, the Dead Horse, on the day before The Other Half. In a burst of what probably seems like insane troll logic to anybody who isn't a competitive runner, I decided it would be easier to fun-run an ultra on the weekend after the two-day trail half/road half combo, than it would be to race a half, and signed up for the 50K.

race logo: Mexican-style skeleton rider on skeleton horse.

50K worth of words and pictures. Take your time. )

So, what's next? My husband admitted that he secretly hoped I would hate ultrarunning; he's not a fan of the amount of time I spend running, which certainly can add up. (He'd rather I got more into mountain biking, which we can do together - his knees are too worn out for running.) I am a better road runner than a trail runner, and I would like to keep chipping away at my half and full marathon PRs for as long as I can. But - I really enjoyed this run. I kind of want to train hard and run it next year as a goal race, and see if I could come in under 5:30. I am also contemplating the other area ultras, of which there are quite a few, 50K and 50 milers; I have promised Britt I don't aspire to a 100-miler. (Which, I really don't, because sleep deprivation.)

But, as Ned Stark said, Winter Is Coming. I might run our local 5-mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, but other than that, I'm looking forward to ski season - I just bought new skis! Except...the Boston Marathon Is Coming, too, in mid-April. I guess I'd better start training...

(PS: No horses were harmed in the writing of this report.)
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
This year's Durango Double was vastly changed from the races I ran in 2012 (Saturday trail 25K, Sunday road half marathon), with a new race director (Brendan Trimboli, a local ultratalented ultrarunner), a new distance for the trail race (13.1 rather than 25K), and only a single distance option for each day. The courses, too, had been changed - for the better, in my opinion, as the trail race made a big loop over two ridges with instead of being a lollipop, and the road race finished generally downhill rather than uphill.

I knew I was not quite in the shape I'd been in two years ago, but hoped to have a good showing. I was also excited about two friends from the Midwest who I only knew via the Runner's World Online forums (and Facebook) coming to run the races with me. I'd posted a photo of one of our hikes on Facebook, and Katie, who runs a lot of ultras, commented that she needed to come out and visit Colorado sometime. The conversation then went something like this:

Ilana: Come out and visit me, yes! We can go running!
Katie: I don't know - I'm traveling to a lot of races this fall...
Ilana: The Durango Double is a trail half marathon on October 11th and a road half marathon on October 12th.
[two minutes pass]
Katie: Okay, I've registered.

She and her boyfriend Thom flew out on Thursday, bringing the rain with them. In fact it rained a lot on Friday, too, leaving me a bit worried about Saturday's trail race. The race director had already announced that due to severe erosion on part of the course caused by the flooding we'd had in late September, the trail course would be reversed (which turned out to be a good decision), but I was concerned about mud. (As readers of this journal know, I HATE MUD.)

Fortunately, things dried out overnight and in the morning - the race started at the relatively late hour of 9am - and when the metaphorical gun went off and we hit the trail, there were only a few damp patches. We cruised up the fairly flat trail along the river, cut across the road, and went up Horse Gulch, which had been rearranged by the recent flooding into a rocky mess. Still, going uphill was slow and therefore not too difficult.


Picture from Trails 2000's photo set just after the flood.


Racers near the top of Horse Gulch

I typically get into these trails from a different access point and so don't usually go up or down the Horse Gulch road, but once we turned up onto the Rocky Road trail, we were on familiar territory - but steep territory. The climb from the bottom of Horse Gulch to the high point of Raider Ridge is 870 feet in 2.6 miles, and I was not speedy, averaging 13:35 pace. I got moving a little faster along the top of the ridge, and then bombed down Flame Out back to Horse Gulch.

raiderridge2
View from the top of Raider Ridge, taken with my crappy old cell phone on a training run last summer.

Then it was time to cross onto the Meadow Loop trail, which at this point is uphill but not particularly steep, and take it to the Telegraph Trail which is both uphill and steep. My pace, which had gotten back into 10-minute range, started slowing again. My only consolation was that the trail was in the shade of the hill, and as the day had already warmed significantly this was very welcome. (I was wearing a singlet and shorts, but there were quite a few people in tights and long sleeves. In fact, one woman wore not only tights and long sleeves but a jacket and wool hat, and to my surprise and dismay I could not catch her! I have no idea how she managed to run without spontaneously combusting!)

Telegraph
Why it's called Telegraph Trail.

In the 2012 Double's 25K, when we reached the top of Telegraph we went down the other side, down the Carbon Junction trail. We'd be doing that this year - eventually. But first, we had to climb to Patusky Point. This evil little side-trip is basically straight up a tilted rock slab, then back down; not only is it unrunnable unless you're Dakota Jones (a local elite ultrarunner, who won by an entirely ridiculous fourteen minutes), you pretty much want to be on belay the whole time. I scrambled up, went around the tree that marked the turn-around under the watchful eye of the course marshal, and then ran gingerly down. (Most people around me were walking down, so I made up a few places here, but they all passed me later.)

patusky hikers
The white rock slab to Patusky Point. The red circle shows where two people are going up.

Seriously: 170 feet in 0.15 miles, something like 40% grade. My ascent averaged 30 minute pace, but I descended at a blistering 16:42.

That got me to the 8 mile point of the course. Then it was downhill more or less all the way to the finish, which actually was pretty much 13.1 by my Garmin; I only managed about 10:45-11 minute pace here because of the terrain and my fatigue, and I was passed by a lot of people, only managing to pick off a few. I finished in 2:32:39, second in my age group (50-59) out of nineteen, but 16 minutes behind the winner who is seven years older than me, wow. I was 73/197 out of all runners. My average pace by Garmin was 11:50, nearly two minutes slower than in 2012, though this was a slightly harder course.

The next morning it was time to do it all over again, this time on the roads - or rather, on the paved rec trail along the Animas River. I was definitely hurting, particularly in my left hip (which had been bothering me since early in the week) and in my right hamstring (compensation?), but I remembered from my previous double that I had loosened up over the first few miles, and sure enough, this happened again and my run was mostly pain-free.

(Unlike for the trail course, I don't have any photos from the river path other than a few shots taken during a snowy winter. ETA: I have added one of the official photos from the road race!)

The course started with a short climb out of the parking lot and then a gentle descent down a closed road to a trail cut-off that took us to the river path at mile 2. Then it was generally uphill to just past 7, then generally downhill as we looped back through a neighborhood and rejoined the path.

My first two miles were 8:13 and 8:15 pace, but I must have placed myself poorly at the start because a lot of people passed me during this period. My third mile was my second slowest at 8:28 due to substantial uphill, but I passed a few people here, and kept passing people through the rest of the course. In fact nobody passed me after the second mile, other than one woman who zoomed past me in mile 6, then a few hundred yards later turned and ran back, and I realized she wasn't wearing a bib and thus was not in the race.

In contrast to the sunshine we'd had on Saturday, the sky was cloudy, which was awesome for me. I stayed mostly at around 8:20 pace, entirely limited by my legs; my heart rate was in my marathon zone rather than my half-marathon zone, which supports the theory of running the long run after a harder run the day before, to mimic the end of the marathon. (Also, it makes me wonder whether this run implies I'm in about 3:40 marathon shape...)



I felt pretty good coming down the trail in the last miles. I'd passed a good dozen people, and was feeling comfortable, though tired. When I passed the mile 12 marker, though, I started getting nervous. The first several mile markers had appeared well before I was expecting them, and then the mile 4 marker showed up just as my watch buzzed - perfect. After that, as is typical due to imperfect tangents, the mile markers were just a tiny bit late, but not enough to worry about.

But I know this path well, and so when I passed the mile 12 mark I knew that Animas Surgical Hospital, the start/finish staging area, was less than a mile off. Maybe we'd have to run uphill and around the building, which would not be a fun ending. But as soon as I crossed the bridge over the river, I could see the finish just to the right, and I crossed the line at 1:45:31, with 12.74 miles on my Garmin.

Despite the short course, I was pleased with my performance, as based on my average pace of 8:18 I would have finished a complete half in about 1:48:45. I came in 41st of 194 participants, a much better placement than my 73/197 for the trail race, which just goes to show what a lousy trail runner I am. Again, I came in second in AG (behind the same woman, argh, but at least not by as far as in the trail race!) out of 25 runners.

Instead of medals, finishers were given stainless steel logo cups - and those who did two races got one for each. (And we got to fill them with Ska beer afterward!) "Doublers" also received a cute logo hat:

doubler swag

There were 89 people who did both races, and interestingly more women (52) than men (37). I was 15th among the women doublers as measured by total combined time, and 32nd overall.

Whew! Now it's time to rest up...until this weekend's ultra!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
Well, I did it. I signed up for the Deadhorse 50K (yikes! Baby's first ultra! I AM EXCITE but also NERVOUS!) which will be in three weeks!

So I've been doing my long runs on the trails, in an attempt at preparation. (I would feel a lot more prepared if I'd been running more, aie!) I have been bringing my phone/camera so I have an excuse to stop and breathe - I'm not resting, I'm taking pictures!

See? )

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ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Ilana

August 2015

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My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31

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