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? )
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
I had all sorts of grand plans for dominating my new age group at the Imogene Pass Run this year, but it was not to be. I did not get the consistent mileage, nor the long runs, nor the trail hill repeats I'd planned. My stupid blisters had kept me from trail-running on our layover day on our July 4th weekend backpack, but I had managed to at least get out hiking at high elevation fairly often, including much of the previous week, and so I clung to my unrealistic hopes until they were cruelly dashed.

Getting ready to start

Read more... )
ilanarama: profile of me backpacking.  Woo. (hiking)
I need to write up my Imogene report (spoiler alert: it did not go very well) but I am behind! I still haven't written up anything about our Labor Day Weekend vacation (which was a little longer than planned - we got home Wednesday morning, and then I left for Ouray on Friday afternoon, thus the backlog)...and I don't think I will get the chance. But have some pictures of the trails around Crested Butte, and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
I'm getting nervous about the Imogene Pass Run, which will be a week from Saturday. I have not managed to get either the mileage or the long runs that I did last time I ran it, two years ago, so I am probably not going to PR, or place in my (new) age group. Oh, well. My own fault. I think I can come in under 3:45, anyway, and maybe around 3:40, five minutes off my PR.

In fact, I haven't actually done any long runs since CIM. A couple of half marathons and a couple of 13+ runs have been the max, so on Sunday I decided I'd better run on some steep trails for at least 3 hours, which I figured would be about 14 miles. In fact those 14 miles ended up taking me 3:14, with a lot of walking involved, but I know I'll be walking a lot at Imogene, so that's okay. And I got some excellent views! )

Imogene will only be the beginning. I've got big plans for the fall - for some value of 'big', anyway. First up will be a 5K the following week, on September 13th. It's a benefit for the local Alzheimer's association, as one of the local runners (and a guy I know through both running and politics) has developed this disease, and his wife has organized this race. I've signed up both me and Britt. I'm hoping to do well in this race as I have been doing coached track workouts lately - more on this later, probably in another post. I doubt I can PR since my PR is a downhill race, but if I get a "loop course PR" I will be content.

The following week is the Animas Mug Run, a trail 10K-ish which I ran once, back in 2009. (I actually drank my tea out of the mug today.) I'd like to run it again, just because it's a cool race.

Then three weeks later - on October 11th and 12th - it's time for the Durango Double. For the past two years it's been a trail 25K/50K on Saturday, and road half/full marathon on Sunday, but this year there is a new race director, a new format of trail half Saturday and road half Sunday, and new (and I think better) courses. I did the trail 25K/road half combo two years ago, and enjoyed it a lot. Last year I volunteered, but this year I'll be running again.

The main reason I volunteered rather than ran last year was that The Other Half, the Moab half I run every October, was scheduled for the following Sunday, rather than two weeks later as it was in 2012, and that was my goal half (and I ran a PR, so, yay!) But this year, as last year, the races are a week apart - too close, I think, to be able to run a quality race at TOH...

...so I'm thinking about a 50K instead. Um. I know this sounds crazy! But the Dead Horse 50K will also be in Moab, on Saturday October 19th, and as this is the opening weekend of hunting season here and Britt will be otherwise occupied, it's a good weekend for me to do a race. This is a new race, but the company that's organizing it is an established one, and they put on many ultras including the well-regarded Red Hot 55K which several of my friends have run. The course is near Dead Horse State Park on the Gemini Bridges mountain bike route and other nearby jeep roads, and the course profile looks relatively easy - for an ultra, anyway!

The thing is, it is probably easier to run an 'easy' ultra (that is, just complete the distance at a comfortable-ish pace) a week after the double than it is to race a half, and if I can't give a good effort at TOH I don't want to do it. And then I'd be out there for the weekend, anyway, and could cheer my friends on at TOH, and go out for dinner with them as usual, etc. Anyway, I haven't yet committed, but I'm strongly tempted.

I haven't even looked at November.... ;-)
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
Last week I was in Boulder to take a class on the climate model we use. I didn't think I'd be able to get a lot of running in while there, since I would have to catch a shuttle bus at 7:45 each morning, but it turns out that when I'm on my own I am pretty good at waking up early early, rolling out of bed and into my running clothes, and hitting the path. I ran between 5-8 miles each morning, got in another 4-miler on Wednesday evening (I ran to West Flanders Brewery on the Pearl Street Mall for beers and dinner, then took a bus back to my hotel), and did 11.5 miles on Saturday morning since I didn't have to go to a class that day. I wasn't much of a runner when I lived in Boulder, but it was nice to run on the creek path where I used to ride my bike.

Britt drove up in the Sportsmobile on Thursday, carrying our bikes on the back rack, and on Friday after my class we biked up the path to our old house at the mouth of Boulder Canyon, where we lived from 1987 (well, Britt did; I moved there in 1990) until 1999. It broke our hearts a bit to see that it's now a rental, and the guy who lives there now didn't want us to go inside or even walk around the yard, but he moved in three weeks before the Great Flood of 2013, and he told us all about the damage the house and yard sustained when the irrigation ditch at the top of the hill behind the house failed.

We got together with old friends on Friday night and Saturday morning, then headed out of town to take the long way back home. Where US285 turns south, near Buena Vista, normally we head south for Poncha Pass and the San Luis Valley; instead we went north and then west toward Cottonwood Pass. For our first night of camping we took the side road to Cottonwood Lake, but we had not realized it was a major 4WD/ATV camping destination and pretty much every spot that could be camped in, WAS camped in. We finally found a tiny but acceptable pull-out spot four miles past the lake. Fortunately we'd bought a bottle of wine in Buena Vista, and could drown our sorrows as we ate dinner. (And yes, we DID remember the lighter this time!)

In the morning we returned to the main road and drove to just short of Cottonwood Pass, where there is a trailhead for Brown's Pass and Mt. Yale. As Yale is one of Colorado's Fourteeners (mountains 14,000 ft high or taller) and it was Sunday morning, the trailhead was, predictably, very crowded. But we turned off at the junction for the pass, and saw only a few people.

It was a lovely hike. After having lunch at the pass, we followed a trail to the ridge above, and when the trail crossed to contour around the side, we left it to strike out straight up toward the nearest high point. This turned out to be the cleverly-named Point 12,955 (wanna guess how high it is?) which gave us excellent views of Mt. Yale and the surrounding peaks.

Mt. Yale from Point 12,955 cool rocks above Brown's Pass

Britt atop Point 12,955 Ilana on the rocks

We also saw a whole family of ptarmigan (including adorable chicks!) but unfortunately their gray-and-white color scheme blends into gray-and-white rocks so well that I couldn't actually find any birds to point out in any of my or Britt's photos!

A lot of thunderbooming accompanied us on the way back down, but we didn't get rained on, and we stopped here and there to pick some mushrooms we'd seen on the way up (boletes and hawkswings). Then we drove over Cottonwood Pass and down past Taylor reservoir, camping for the night off a dirt road close to the intersection with the road that continues on to Crested Butte. The next day we continued south through Gunnison, then veered off onto the road to Cochetopa Pass, which rejoined our usual route between the Front Range and Durango in the San Luis Valley. And now we are home again, home again....but Labor Day Weekend's coming up soon - which means, time for another road trip!
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
Some people choose the peaks they want to climb by their position on a list: the Colorado 14ers, say, or the highest 100 in Colorado, or the highest point of every state. We choose our destinations because they look cool. In the past years, we've climbed a lot of mountains just because we've seen them from the other places we've been. So it is with Lone Cone, which at 12,618 feet is not a very high mountain at all by Colorado standards. But standing alone at the western edge of the San Juan Mountains, it's a distinct landmark, and after seeing it in the distance countless times on drives to and from Utah, we figured it was time to get out and climb it.

"trailhead"

We left town early Friday afternoon. Easy highway miles to a turn-off past Dolores led to a narrow road through remote mountain valleys to the ghost town of Dunton, now a breathtakingly expensive hot springs resort. Here we turned off onto a Forest Service road which we followed on a combination of GPS waypoints derived from Google Earth, and old maps with old roads, until we reached a point pretty much directly under the Lone Cone, where we pulled off the road, popped the top of the Sportsmobile, and started making dinner. There was just one tiny little problem...

Read more... )
ilanarama: profile of me backpacking.  Woo. (hiking)
As we did last year, we got together with friends for a backpacking trip in the Weminuche Wilderness over the 4th of July holiday weekend. This year we headed for the Poison Park trailhead northwest of Pagosa Springs, which is a good access point for the upper Pine River and Rincon La Osa, where we'd spent the same holiday weekend in 2008. But this time, instead of sticking to the main trail, we bushwhacked along game trails up the west side of the Pine River valley until we picked up an old and overgrown trail leading to Elk Lake; from there, continued up and over Mesa Lato and then down into Rincon La Osa from the south, where we laid over a day before heading back down the valley to the Pine, then up to the bench above Granite Lake, to rejoin our inward path.

route and camp topo

across the meadow Wilderness boundary

Six days in the backcountry )
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
Ten years ago, I ran the Steamworks Half Marathon - my first race of that distance - in 2:01:30. On Saturday, I ran it for the fifth time, in 1:36:28, which though not a PR is my second fastest half time and my fastest on this course, and won my age group.

The gory details )

Here I am after the race with my friend Kevin, who took 1st in his AG and 3rd OA:
Steamworks Half Marathon 2014

And here we are after getting cleaned up a little, with our well-earned post-race libations:
Steamworks Half Marathon 2014

ETA: Also, you can see me crossing the finish line at 1:21 of this video which is also on the website version of the newspaper article about the race): http://www.durangoherald.com/article/20140607/NEWS01/140609615/Fourteen-years-of-13-miles-

Today I didn't hurt at all (other than some epic sportsbra chafing /o\) and I ran a 4-mile recovery run at around 9:30 pace - I felt fatigued, but not sore. Which suggests to me that maybe I didn't run 'all out', perhaps because of the heat. I think I could have run substantially faster in cooler weather. Time to scope out some winter half marathons!

race math

Jun. 4th, 2014 04:49 pm
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
I'm running the Steamworks Half Marathon on Saturday, which was actually the first half marathon I ever ran (back in 2004); since then, I've run it three more times and volunteered at it twice (when I was injured and couldn't run). The course is rolling, generally downhill but with an uphill finish (grr). My best time was 1:38:10, the last time I ran it, which was two years ago.

Key workouts and numbers )

So, that's the plan. My A goal is a PR, or sub-1:35:55. My fallback goal is to beat my 1:38:10 from two years ago. My super-stretch goal is sub-1:35, which would be a 7:15 pace and is probably out of reach on this course at this time.

core stuff

May. 19th, 2014 06:55 pm
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
I keep telling people I'm going to post my core routines, and then I end up typing and cutting and pasting elsewhere. Time to post things here for my own reference (as well as everyone else's).

Tasty crunchy core exercises! )
ilanarama: my footies in my finnies (snorkeling)
mudder's day

We went out for our town's Gallery Walk on Friday night, and the running store was open as well, so when we passed by I went in to sign up for the Mother's Day Telegraph Trail 10K, an annual event which is a charity fundraiser. Oddly, I've only run it once before, in 2009. It was a warm, sunny day and the race started at 10am; I almost passed out a few times, but ran the 5 miles (by my old Garmin) in 58:07.

But on Sunday morning, I woke to the rumble of thunder and the spatter of rain. Getting out the door was more a matter of proving something to myself than anything else - the race was only $20, not a big goal or anything - but I swapped my shorts for capris and put a wool singlet on under my short-sleeved shirt, then put on my rain jacket for the short run over to the start. Which turned out to be even shorter than I'd thought, as the start had been moved down the jeep road to the parking lot, which made a lot of sense (but added some elevation). To compensate, an extra loop was eliminated, though as the organizer said, "We call this a 5K and 10K, but really it's a short course and a long course."

It was the most miserable race of my life. Pouring rain, thunder and lightning, sucking mud, 800 ft elevation gain in the first 2.6 miles. I ended up leaving the jacket on - I'd planned on taking it off for the race, but the cold rain changed my mind. So I froze in the first mile and a half, overheated in the next, almost lost my shoes to the mud several times, and was passed by four people and only passed one. No awards other than random draw and I didn't get ANY. 1:00:24 for the 5.3 miles by Garmin. UGH UGH UGH.

A lot of my friends are 'real' trail racers, who have laughed at my distaste for less than perfect conditions, who have assured me that there is nothing so fun as trail running in the rain through thick mud. I want what you're smoking, is all I can say. Because UGH UGH UGH.
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
A few months ago I received a notice of a conference to be held at the Argonne National Laboratories, near Chicago. The first thing I thought was, "Hmm, this might be useful and interesting." The second thing I thought was, "Hmm, I wonder if there's a race I could run there?"

IMG_20140418_150307

Indeed there was: the First Merit Bank Lakefront 10 Miler, a race put on by CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association). My online friend [blogspot.com profile] justrunjim belongs to CARA, and had run the race before and said it was a good one. I decided that it would be a fine way to update my very old (2009) 10-mile PR with a nearly-sea-level race, and made arrangements to stay after the conference with Jim (who'd be running it with me) and his wife (who'd be running a 5K instead).

I had a good time at the conference, getting in three nice runs around the Argonne campus and the lovely crushed-limestone path which encircles it, but my stomach did not handle the conference-catering food well, and I was also not feeling any faster at Chicago's elevation than I am at home. In addition, I had not managed to run as much as I had wanted in the five weeks since running the Canyonlands Half Marathon, averaging only 40mpw rather than the 55-60 I had hoped for. Still, it was a perfect day for me, cold, sunny, and a little breezy, and I thought a target of about 7:20 pace (the slow end of my original goal, also Jim's goal) would be reasonable.

Jim and I lined up fairly close to the front; our friend Scott, a Chicagoan who has several children living in Durango and who I'd met running there, was coming back from injury and placed himself a ways behind us. After too much speechifying and the National Anthem, we were off!

The course begins with a loop to the north on a closed section of road, then hits the bike path and goes south to loop around a small-boat harbor before heading back north again. Along the way it stays on the path except for one short section routed over a grassy knoll, which I think is just the race organizers' way of trying to get a little more elevation change in there than Chicago normally provides. The path was open to other users - walkers, runners, cyclists - and it astonished me to see just how many people were out there. I think I saw as many runners just out for their Saturday morning run as I did actually in the race, and there were nearly 1400 racers!

There was a timing clock at each mile mark, a very nice feature. The first mile seemed awfully long, though, both by comparison to my Garmin (which had beeped some time back) and in absolute terms, and I suspect it was not quite where it should have been. However, it was easy enough to check my own time at each clock, and my total Garmin distance of 10.08 was reasonable for typical Garmin error/tangent issues.

I lost Jim pretty quickly, then caught him again at the grassy knoll around mile 2.7 - then lost him again as my stomach started to complain and my pace slowed. As I approached mile marker 4 I was thinking I might have to duck into a porta-potty, but I held it together and eventually the sensation passed and I felt good enough to accelerate again. I spotted Jim again around mile 7 - he was wearing a black shirt with a distinctive greeny-yellow neon hourglass shape on the back - but although I closed the distance bit by bit, I never could quite catch him. I crossed the line exactly 20 seconds behind him, in 1:12:59 - a 7:18 average pace (7:14 by Garmin) and good enough for 2nd in my age group.

(Also, a woman fell almost directly in front of me about a mile in. The guy who was directly in front of me stopped to help her up, and I zigged around them - but this is the second time in three races someone has fallen right in my path!)

Splits (note that I didn't stop my Garmin immediately; and the HR for the first 3 miles is artificial and should be ignored):
Dist	Pace	Elev chg   Avg HR      	Max HR          Elapsed
1.00	7:20	  -11	  157 (83%)	165 (90%)	0:07:19.69   
2.00	7:14	  +7	  166 (91%)	166 (91%)	0:14:33.68   
3.00	7:12	  +1	  166 (91%)	167 (92%)	0:21:45.57   
4.00	7:22	  +3	  152 (79%)	161 (86%)	0:29:07.29   
5.00	7:17	  -20	  152 (79%)	159 (84%)	0:36:24.72   
6.00	7:09	  +12	  162 (87%)	166 (90%)	0:43:33.64   
7.00	7:14	  -7	  165 (90%)	167 (92%)	0:50:47.71   
8.00	7:07	  +1	  165 (90%)	166 (91%)	0:57:55.18   
9.00	7:12	  +14	  165 (90%)	168 (92%)	1:05:07.49   
10.00	7:07	  -2	  166 (90%)	168 (92%)	1:12:14.00   
10.12	6:52	  -1	  168 (92%)	169 (93%)	1:13:05.26  

I put in a few fields I don't normally post, just to point out that 1) HAHA those elevation numbers! They are NEVER that small around here! and 2) you can see where I wasn't feeling so hot, the slowest miles other than the crowded first. Also my heart rate is interesting because it got right up there to what is basically my 10K HR - yet I didn't feel as though I was (aerobically) particularly working hard. My legs, on the other hand, could simply not go any faster. I was entirely limited by my legs, not my lungs.

This makes me wonder about how I can overcome the limitation of not being able to train my legs to the same level as my lungs, running at altitude. I mean, I can't maintain these 7:07-7:14 paces for longer than a mile at a time, at home; yet here I was, reeling them off if not with ease, at least without too much trouble. Maybe I need to run lots of mile repeats (and half-miles), and run downhill repeats, to get my legs used to rapid turnover.

Anyway, it was a good race (other than the gut issues early), and I'm very pleased with my final stats: 1:12:59, 2/61 AG, 24/742 women, 129/1351 OA. Here's a photo Jim took of the awards ceremony; the woman to my left (on the right) ran 1:06:10, which is like a 6:38 pace - I can't imagine!

lakefront awards

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

January 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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