ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
My running's been sporadic over the last two years, after my herniated disc injury, much lower mileage than it used to be, and alas much slower as well. But after a spring and early summer more devoted to mountain biking than to running, I've started to get serious again.

Though I've run a dozen races post-injury, I didn't really train for any of them, and of course that shows in my race times. In 2013 I set non-downhill 5K (21:43), half (1:35:55), and marathon PRs; post-injury my best 5K was 24:12, my best half just under 1:44, and I haven't dared run another marathon.

But I'm a competitive person. I like to race because I like to do well - and I don't like not doing well. I registered for The Other Half Marathon, one of my favorite races and the course on which I ran my half PR (these things are probably related :-) with the idea that I'd have 12 weeks after our Weminuche backpacking trip to train. I wrote an "unplanny plan" - a skeleton layout of weekly mileage goals, long run goals, and key workouts - and started doing it. And now I'm halfway there!

I'd been running 20-35mpw most weeks, with occasional weeks of 10 miles or less when I was doing other things or sick, so I decided to start out with three weeks at 40mpw, followed by three at 45 - though the second week of this included most of Labor Day weekend and our Rio Chama raft trip, so my actual mileage that week was only 38. I also started incorporating speedwork: first strides and hill sprints, which I'd done occasionally in the previous month but now do weekly, and then formal intervals, followed by tempos.

Now I'm about to ramp up to 50mpw for the rest of the cycle, and I feel pretty good about it. The more I run, the more comfortable I feel running. I also find that consistent mileage (which I haven't had in a few years!) improves my fitness quickly. And I got a reminder of that when I ran a 5K this past Saturday morning.

I was a bit handicapped by the loss of my Garmin. Well, I didn't really lose it; the strap broke when I took it off my wrist after Tuesday's run. I ordered a new strap kit from Amazon that was supposed to arrive on Friday, but somehow it ended up getting sent to the wrong transit center, causing a delay. (It's still not here. The tracking page says Wednesday. So far it's gone from the Garmin warehouse in Phoenix AZ to two different places in California, and is now in Salt Lake City...)

The day after my strap broke I had a 2x2 tempo run (after my usual two-mile warm-up: 2 miles tempo pace, 2 minutes easy, 2 miles tempo pace, where 'tempo' = 'more or less hoped-for half-marathon pace') and I thought maybe I'd try it by feel, so I put what was left of the watch in my pocket and set out. Unfortunately I couldn't feel the watch buzz at the first mile mark, which meant I wouldn't be able to tell when my intervals started and stopped (okay, I know this route so I pretty much know where 2 miles is, but still) so I took it out and held it in my hand as I ran.

My next run two days later was an easy run, so this time I did just keep the Garmin in my pocket the whole time. And what do you know, my pace - retrieved after the run - was pretty much my usual easy pace. By then I had gotten the notification from Amazon that my strap wasn't coming in time for the race. I decided that it would be good practice in racing by feel, since I knew I wasn't in PR shape so if I failed, I wouldn't be too upset. My goals for the 5K would be: a) get a new valid HRmax, b) pace reasonably despite not being able to look at my Garmin (I kept it in my pocket), c) come in 1-3 and get an award (no age groups), d) break 24 minutes.

I ran the 2.4 miles to the race as a warm-up, with my Garmin in my pocket; checking it later, I was a little on the fast side but not bad. The race itself was a typical small Durango race, though with both a 5K and a 10K starting together, so I had to look around and see both who else was lining up near the front, and which course they were running, according to their bibs. One of the fast women I know was out of town, according to her husband Steve who was there (he won the men's 5K) and I didn't see anyone else that looked definitively faster than me, so I was feeling pretty confident as we took off.

I knew I couldn't keep up with Steve, nor with the other fast men who were at the front, so I didn't try. Instead I attempted to keep a hard-but-not-brutal pace and not let any women pass me. The course went gently downhill for the first mile, then there was a short uphill followed by a steeper downhill to the 5K turn-around. Unusually for a small local race, they'd gotten three bands to play along the course, which was fun and motivating, especially since after the guys had taken off I was pretty much running by myself. Every so often I'd glance over my shoulder but never saw anyone there other than one guy who passed me about a half mile in.

When Steve passed me going the other way we yelled cheers and encouragement at each other. At the turnaround I saw there was a woman maybe ten seconds behind me, but after I glanced around at the next curve she was gone, so I figured she was running the 10K. The second half of the course was net uphill, since it was an out-and-back, and I concentrated on holding what I thought was a reasonably fast pace without blowing up.

Since my Garmin was in my pocket I had no idea what pace I was going, and so I was pleased to see the finish clock reading just under 23 minutes as I approached; I sped up to try to get a 22:xx but the seconds ticked over inexorably, and the clock read 23:06 as I hurtled myself past the finish line and then tried to catch my breath.

As far as my pre-race goals, I'll give myself 2.5 out of 4. On the negative side, my heart rate data was not as unambiguous as I would have liked, with no real legitimate max, but I think I am fairly comfortable saying that it supports the numbers I've been using for HR training. My pacing felt okay while I was doing it - I didn't feel like I was dying halfway through - but my splits were terrible, though part of that's likely due to the down-and-up course profile.

On the other hand, I smashed my sub-24 goal. Still nowhere near what I used to do but my best 5K in two years. Oh yeah, and I won. First overall woman, 4th or 5th person. Which basically means that the fast women didn't show up, but hey, I got two $50 gift certificates, one for each of the running stores in town, so that's a $70 profit on my entry fee investment!

Now I'm looking ahead to the half marathon in six weeks. While I'd like to run under 1:40 again, this 5K result is not as good as I'd need for that; plus, while my tempo workouts are indicating I'm in better shape than I was before my last half, they're not supporting the sub-1:40 either. Of course, I still have six weeks. But I'm okay with not hitting that goal, which is arbitrary anyway. I mostly want to improve on my last half time of 1:43:46, and if possible, beat the time of 1:41:44 which I ran my first time on this course.


Sep. 10th, 2016 05:25 pm
ilanarama: me in my raft (rafting)
Over Labor Day weekend we rafted the Rio Chama, a wild and scenic river a couple of hours away in New Mexico. We did this trip five years ago (also on Labor Day weekend!), with a completely different group of people, and once in between then and now. The river is dam controlled with releases on weekends; though sometimes enough water flows during the week to float it, weekend launches are restricted by permit. Fortunately, our friend Jenny got a permit, and (maybe to pay us back for including her on several backpack trips this summer!) invited us along.

Not a lot to say about the trip this time, other than it was delightfully non-eventful (where event = raft capsize or camp injury or other thing you really don't want to happen). The only minor disaster happened in our second night's camp, where Ryan misplaced her iPhone and despite ransacking the camp, none of us could find it. We were preparing to leave when she jumped into the water next to her raft and started squelching around with her feet, in case she'd dropped it into the water the previous night without realizing it...and yep, there it was! AND due to its protective case, it still worked!

But have some photos, anyway: )

Above pictures and selected others (16 total), no words, at Flickr
All the photos (34) at Google Photos
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
We did our annual backpack in the Weminuche Wilderness at the end of July, but gah, I have so many photos to go through and so much to write about that I haven't even started trying! So instead have a very short write-up about a mini-trip we did last week to the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness in New Mexico.

As you probably know, the Perseid meteor shower peaked last Wednesday night/Thursday morning, and as it was expected to be an "outburst" event with many more and brighter meteors than usual, we decided we ought to spend that night in the desert, where we could sleep outside far from city lights. For previous celestial events we've camped at Valley of the Gods near Mexican Hat, Utah, and originally we'd been planning to head out there, but at the last minute we decided to go south rather than west. Neither of us had been to the Bisti Badlands, and it's about the same driving distance, around two hours.

We headed out after work, following Google Maps. When we got there, we found a nice flat spot to park the Sportsmobile, with room to lay out a tarp and sleeping bags nearby, not far from the main parking area. Two other vehicles were parked not far away, and as we surveyed our spot we noticed a group of people with packs heading into the hoodoos. Clearly others had the same idea!

After a brief hike down a wash through some of the formations, we returned to the van for drinks and dinner. Then, as the sky darkened, we took out a pair of binoculars for each of us and looked at the various planets: Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus were all visible near the west horizon, while Mars and Saturn were in Scorpio near the moon - a five-planet night! (Mercury was particularly cool to see since it's rarely visible.) I saw an amazing meteor slash across the sky even before it got fully dark! We went to sleep around 10 and woke up around 1:30 am, after the moon had set, and watched the Perseid display for a couple of hours. There were only a few really bright ones, but the frequency of meteors was impressive - sometimes we'd see one after another, four or five within a minute.

(Alas, no photos of the light show - our camera wasn't good enough, and we were too busy using our eyeballs.)

When we could no longer keep our eyes open, we went back to sleep. The sun woke us after we'd had far too little sleep, but we got up anyway, because we wanted to hike around the badlands before it got too hot. This is seriously a wilderness, in that there are no trails and no water sources: hikers are advised to bring a GPS (we had a GPS app) and plenty of water. A map at the parking area indicated several areas of interest, and Britt had grabbed the coordinates of a few others from people's web pages.

So what did we find? Wild and wonderful pillars:


The "Cracked Eggs", oval rocks with reddish layers peeking out from under the pale tan sandstone (no doubt they hatched dinosaurs!):

Cracked Eggs

Eerie arches:

Bisti Arch

And other strange landscapes, weirdly-shaped rocks, and petrified wood that looked exactly like someone had just split a few logs and left them there with the woodchips scattered around them, and it had all bleached in the sun. Then we tried to lift them.... It was like a practical joke played by nature, "Haha, you think this is wood, but it's NOT!"

Petrified wood

The best of our photos are on Flickr. We definitely need to go back at a better time of year (spring or fall) and explore further!
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
Moab, in Utah, isn't very far away from Durango. We go there three or four times a year, for the Canyonlands running races in March and October, for the nearby backpacking when our mountains are too snow-covered for access, and for the world-class mountain biking. It takes a bit less than three hours to get there by car; how much less depends on your willingness to exceed the speed limit, and your need for gas and bathroom stops.

Or you can bike there in seven arduous days, over 215 miles of secondary roads, jeep roads, and trails, up mountains and across desert valleys along the route set up by San Juan Huts. (Here is a map Britt put together, showing the route - click "->7.5' Topo Maps" and zoom in to see it more clearly.)

Want to guess what we did? Yeah. Strenuous climbs, scary descents, rain, heat, mud, and mosquitoes - also killer views, deserted roads, and cold beers enjoyed with good friends. I call it a win.

Riding toward Geyser Pass

Day by day trip report, with lots of photos )

All the photos (119!), none of the blahblah

Advice I'd give to anyone contemplating this trip )
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
I go to a conference every June in Breckenridge, which for me is partly an opportunity to listen to climate modelers talk about just how doomed we are, partly a chance to reconnect with my old friends from Boulder and remind my co-workers that I am more than just a mysterious voice on the conference calls and a response on the other end of the email, and partly an excuse to go mountain biking on some awesome high-elevation trails. :-) Biking in Breck! With photos! )
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
I've been biking a lot lately. This isn't because I've fallen out of love with running, or because I'm too injured to run - okay, I'm a little injured, but it doesn't keep me from running. But Britt and I, and four friends, will be doing the San Juan Huts Durango to Moab ride at the end of the month: that's 215 miles over 7 days, mostly on secondary dirt road, with a whole lot of elevation gain and loss. So we've been getting our butts in shape by riding a lot of steep high-elevation jeep roads and dirt roads, and a bit of single track.

So have some photos. )
ilanarama: me in my raft (rafting)
Many of the place names here in the southwest US come from the Jesuit explorers, who tended to the religious in their name choices. For example: the river they named the Dolores, which means Sorrows, as in Our Lady Of. The most sorrowful thing about the modern-day Dolores River is that it's been dammed to create McPhee Reservoir, the water of which goes to irrigate the alfalfa and bean fields of local farmers, and most of the year only a trickle of water flows through the beautiful and remote downstream canyons. So when the Dolores Water Conservancy District announced that the reservoir was full enough - and the inflow from snowmelt high enough - to do a recreational release for the first time since 2011, local boaters rejoiced.

We'd run two sections of the Dolores before: miles 47-97 (Slickrock to Bedrock) twice, most recently in 2008, and mile 141 to the confluence with the Colorado River, the Gateway run, in 2011. When we heard that the river would be boatable beginning the weekend of June 4th, we thought of doing Slickrock to Bedrock again, but we couldn't find anyone willing to join us other than right on the weekend, and we knew it would be crazy crowded then. (You need to have at least two vehicles to shuttle between put-in and take-out, and anyway, it's more fun to boat with friends.) But then on Monday, our friend Joe asked if we'd be interested in a day trip on Tuesday, in the Ponderosa Gorge section (miles 1-19), which we had never done. And so we got to see another part of the Dolores!

At the Bradfield Bridge put-in on the Dolores

Ponderosa Gorge is a beautiful canyon, walls of red sandstone contrasting with the dark green of pine and juniper. The grass grows lushly along the banks. No bugs, and few birds, but we did get dive-bombed by a succession of butterflies who must have thought our brightly-colored rafts some new gigantic species of flower before realizing their mistake and flying away, disappointed.

We hadn't brought our real camera, and the river was busy enough that I was reluctant to take out my phone-camera while underway, so I only have a few mediocre photos from some places where we stopped on the shore for breaks. The rapids were frequent but not very difficult, and so it was a great deal of fun and not too traumatic - at least, not for us. We did pass a group obviously drying out their gear on shore after one of their number, in an inflatable kayak, bumped a rock and tipped out. We passed a few other groups taking breaks on shore, or camping, as many of them were doing multi-day trips, taking out at Slickrock. But mostly we saw only each other -- and, of course, the butterflies.

In Ponderosa Canyon, Dolores River In Ponderosa Canyon, Dolores River

The sun beat down on us from a hot blue sky, but the river, fresh from the bottom of McPhee, was icy cold, so it was really very pleasant. Toward the end of the day the walls shaded us; they'd grown impressively tall and sheer as we had continued down the canyon, and of course this was where the hardest rapids were! But they turned out to be only a very little bit more challenging than the previous ones, and none of us had any difficulties. (Which was partly due to Britt, the most experienced among us, taking the lead. So much easier to navigate rapids when you have someone else to show you the best line!)

We pulled out at the ramp, disassembled our gear and loaded it onto our truck, shared our last beers, and headed home after a delightful day on the River That Flows Too Infrequently. No sorrows here, just a great day!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
We're not often in town over Memorial Day Weekend, but this year, we'd just finished a string of out-of-town vacations (New York city, Tobago, White Rim) and a friend invited us to his birthday party on Saturday night. So since we'd be around, I signed up somewhat last-minute for the Narrow Gauge 10 Mile Run. This race is actually the oldest continuously-run race in Colorado history, dating from 1978. One guy at the race has run it every year! I've run it twice before, in 2006 and 2009. The course has changed since then, but one thing's always the same: it runs from town up mesa to Fort Lewis College, a climb of about 500 feet in a few steep pitches, around the mesa rim, and then back down to town to the finish line.

This means that even if I had been in good shape (which I am not!) I was not going to challenge my 10-mile PR of 1:13, set two years ago at the CARA Lakefront Marathon in Chicago. (Hee, looking at those statistics it had less elevation change by an order of magnitude!) In 2009 I ran 1:24:20 at this race, and three weeks later ran 1:44:19 at the Steamworks Half Marathon, a PR at the time; that's 33 seconds slower than my recent Canyonlands Half time, and the current course puts the big hill at the beginning of the race rather than at the end (which I think makes it easier), so I figured I ought to be able to beat my 2009 time. Maybe 1:22 or so, which not-really-coincidentally is the time that the fastest 50-59 woman ran last year (I looked it up).

On the other hand, I haven't really been running a lot. I'd been managing a mere 29mpw before Canyonlands, but all those vacations in April and May got in the way of running, and my average dropped to 22mpw. Then again, in the past three weeks I've ridden my bike ~160 miles, which ought to count for something, right?

Here is a map and elevation widget for the race. (I don't know why it's in metric!)

Here is my map-corrected GPS elevation chart, with pace and HR superimposed:
elevation chart

The start/finish was conveniently located at a park 1.3 gentle downhill miles from my house, so I jogged there as my warm-up. Saw my friend Allan at the start and lined up next to him. We took off across the grass of the park, through the balloon arch, and then out to the road where things started going uphill fast. I kept my heart rate in half-marathon-pace territory and just tried to keep my pace comfortable-but-steady, knowing that if I blew up on the uphill I would be too tired to push the downhill.

Mile 1: 8:58 pace, 73% average HRR since it ramped up slowly, but ended the mile with 82% (156 bpm), right in the correct zone for HMP HRR of 80-84%.
Mile 2: 9:23 pace, my slowest split, and 82% HRR. At the end of the second mile, I'd climbed almost 400 feet.
Mile 3: Up on the rim things flattened out a bit. 7:44, 82% HRR. I was running pretty close to two guys who were yakking up a storm, and I hated them for being able to talk at this pace. I consoled myself by the thought that I was probably about their moms' age.
Mile 4: About halfway through this mile the last big climb started, another 100 feet to the high point of the race. 8:30 pace (which was essentially the average of my 7:45 at the beginning, 9:15 at the end), 82% HRR. The gabby guys finally pulled away from me, the bums.
Mile 5: Allan yelled out to me as he nearly caught me at the aid station at the mile marker, but the course turned downhill for a delicious half-mile here before leveling out in preparation for the big plunge, and I turned on my motor and pulled away. 7:44 pace, 80% HRR.
Mile 6: WHEE DOWNHILL! 7:10 pace, 77% HRR, and 185 feet down!
Mile 7: Still gently downhill, with a few steeper bits. Just before turning the main road to wind through the neighborhood, some friends drove by and hollered encouragement out of their car window at me. Gave me a lift! 7:45, 75% (possibly spurious HR here)
Mile 8: On the Animas River (paved) trail now, a familiar running route. Dodging the usual traffic of kids on tricycles and dog-walkers, passing a few runners. Mostly flat with a few dips and hills. 8:01 pace, 82% HRR.
Mile 9: I can see the yappy guys ahead, too far to catch up to. I do manage to pass a few other racers, though I'm definitely fatiguing. 8:09 pace, 81% HRR.
Mile 10: Up to here my Garmin has been a bit ahead of the mile markers, but it's all added on at the end. I get 1.03 miles for this one at 8:15, which works out to about 8 minute flat pace, and an average of 83% HRR, though it maxed out at 90% at the end. At the very end, the course goes over maybe 20 yards of packed river-rock surface, like cobblestones, which almost makes me fall over; a little pavement through a parking lot; then 50 yards of grass. Oog. But the clock read 1:21:44 - I made my goal!

Allan came through maybe 30 seconds later, and we congratulated each other on a race well run. Then we got water in our finisher's pint glasses, and cans of beer from the cooler, and collapsed on the grass.

They haven't posted full results yet, but I got a look at the scoring computer before I left. My time of 1:21:44 put me in 15th place among women, and if they'd done age groups (which they don't) I would have won the 50-59. I think I was the third woman over 40 to finish. Not sure how many runners there were, something like 200, so this is not particularly a spectacular finish...but all things considered, I'm perfectly happy with it!

ETA: Yep, I came in 1st F50-59 (out of 17) by about 4 minutes, and 3rd F over 40 (out of 47). 15th woman out of 95, 36/170 overall. And here is a picture!

ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
Uh, hi! Remember me? I used to do stuff and post about it!

Last week we joined friends for a White Rim bike trip. This is the same trip we did three years ago (and look, I wrote about it here!) and it was organized by the same couple, though this year it was mostly a different cast of characters, and also in the opposite direction. And also, I have a new bicycle!

Ilana and new bike

For those of you who care about such things )

The ride was to start Wednesday, but Britt had a meeting he couldn't miss and would come later, so I got a lift to the start with some of the other riders. We had lunch at the top of the Mineral Bottom switchbacks and then rode the ~10 miles to the Hardscrabble campground. The road between the bottom of the switchbacks and the camp is often very sandy, which makes for hard riding; due to recent heavy rainfall, it was instead nicely packed, with occasional mud that was mostly avoidable by choosing a path wisely (or briefly leaving the road). Britt rolled in sometime around 8 pm, which was still well before sunset.

In addition to the mud, the rain had made the desert bloom. We rode by orange globe mallow and blue blanketflower, by the pinks and yellows of flowering prickly pear cactus. (Photo by Ryan)

Cactus flower (by Ryan)

Read more... )

All 15 of my photos at Flickr (the ones in this post, plus a few more)

Brendan's photos, which are better than mine, at Google Photos
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
The Canyonlands race in Moab, UT in March is one of my favorites, a beautiful course along the Colorado River, and I've done it every year since 2010. After running the 5-mile course last year due to injury, I was happy to get back to the half marathon at Canyonlands this year, even though I hadn't trained nearly as much as I would have liked. I paced well and felt good despite the windy, warm weather (not as windy as 2011 or 2012, though), and though this was one of my slower races, it is my "best slowest race" compared to others run on similarly low mileage and little specific training. I hope this means that if I can get back to the kind of miles and workouts I ran in 2012 and 2013, I will be able to get back to similar race times.

Training )

Weather )

The race )

Final stats

My chip time was 1:43:46 (one second less than on my watch which I must have started a little early) for the 13.18 miles I ran by my Garmin. Which means my work on running the tangents paid off, as usually this race comes in at 13.2-13.3. I was 2nd of 85 in AG 50-54F, just 15 seconds behind the winner - darn! - and actually, I also came in faster than every woman in 45-49 and all but one in 40-44, who won the Masters award - with a time over a minute slower than my best time on the course, which got me only a 3rd in AG in 2010! (I also beat all the girls under 20, but that's not as significant.) I was the 48th fastest woman out of 1083, and the 165th fastest person out of 1801. Despite all this, this was my second slowest time of five doing this race; but despite that, I feel good about it.

I do have to admit, though, that the placement is only so good because there were not many fast women running - or many at all. The race has shrunk over the six years I've been running it; in 2010 there was a lottery to get in, and over 3200 runners, but for the last several years all entrants have been welcomed and this year there were only 1800 runners. (According to a friend, the drop, which seems to have been most acute between 2014 and 2015, is because Moab hotels have become too expensive.) It's okay - I don't mind being a medium-big fish in a medium-small pond! Or a medium-fast fish, anyway...hoping to get faster!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
I've become wary about registering for races very far in advance, if I don't have to; usually entries are nonrefundable and nontransferable, and in the past five years I've DNS'ed enough races that I could fly to the east coast and back on those lost entry fees. Even though my back is apparently healed (according to the MRI) I still have a sore knot in my glute that makes my hamstring ache, so I was dithering about this spring's Canyonlands Half Marathon, which is on March 12th this year.

Last year I ran the 5-miler instead, as I was still pretty injured, and not running enough weekly volume (or long enough runs) to be able to run the half. Even though I not only won my age group but came in as first masters (over 40) woman, I felt that if I couldn't run the half, I didn't want to go at all. My placement had been due less to my nominal speed than to the fact that other than the top overall racers, it's not a very competitive race. And I just haven't been doing much fast running - I would probably be running only a very slightly faster pace for 5 as for 13.1!

But the Canyonlands race organization kept sending me email, and my running has been solid - 35-40mpw except for the multiple weeks I was traveling and/or sick and didn't run more than 6 miles, which bring down my average, unfortunately, to 32mpw. Finally they lured me with a $15 discount, so I registered both myself and Britt - Britt for the 5M, which he's done for the past several years, and me for the half. I figured, if I can't run the half, I can drop down to the 5M, and we will bring our mountain bikes and have a nice weekend in Moab regardless. (We've got a couple of major mountain bike rides planned in May and June, so need to get in shape for those!)

I have a checkered history with this race, which I've run five times. The first time I ran it, in 2010, I ran 1:37, a PR which stood for years, until I broke it at the Other Half in fall 2013. In 2012, after running a then-PR of 3:29 at the Houston Marathon in January, I couldn't overcome a cold, a calf strain, and a windy, hot day, and ran 1:45:50, my personal worst half ever since I started seriously racing in late 2009. (Race report is here.) Other years have ranged between 1:38:28 and 1:40:25. Obviously, I'm not going to come anywhere close to my usual mark here. But I'm hoping to beat that worst time.

I'd also like to beat my 1:44:33 at the Thirsty Thirteen in August. I was, I think, much less prepared for that race, and I'd been actually expecting to only run about a 1:49, but it's a very downhill course. On the other hand, it's also at or above my home elevation, and Canyonlands is about 2500 ft. below Durango.

In preparation, I've been increasing my long run (up to about 10.5 miles now - I hope to get it to 13 in two weeks) and have just added in HMP-paced tempo runs. My first tempo wasn't so great, as it's hard to get the body adjusted to the idea of running fast when all it's done is slow, but the second, yesterday, was much better: 6.3 miles with some strides and then two miles at my HM heartrate, "comfortably hard". The two tempo miles averaged 7:46, which is better than I was hoping for. But while when I'm running 50mpw, I can take my 6-mile tempo pace and aim at that for a half, with less mileage and topping off at only a 3-mile tempo next week, I can't make those assumptions. I hope I can hold faster than 8 minute pace, which would be a 1:45. By how much, I don't know. We shall see in a bit less than three weeks!
ilanarama: profile of me backpacking.  Woo. (hiking)
We went down to Tucson late last week, as my husband's company was holding board meetings on Thursday and Friday at the fancy Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. The plan was for me to work from the hotel room during his meetings, and then we would have a micro-vacation over the weekend.

On Thursday I got miserably sick (maybe the delicious food at the fancy resort restaurant had issues? It tasted good, anyway!) but by Saturday I was ready to vacation. We drove our rental car (a Ford C-Max hybrid, which we both liked very much!) to Kartchner Caverns State Park and took a tour of the Big Room. These caves were kept secret after their discovery in the 1970s, so when they were finally developed after the land was purchased for a state park, the formations were in nearly pristine condition, unlike most tourist caves (even in National Parks!) where casual use over the years has destroyed a lot of the delicate ecology. Development was undertaken with extreme caution, so that now the caves remain in exceptional condition; we've taken quite a few cave tours over the years and were very impressed! No photos allowed, but the website has a video tour.

Afterward we went to the Pima Air and Space Museum which is the largest privately-funded aerospace museum, with over 300 aircraft of various vintages. We took the (free with admission) "Highlights of Aviation" and "World War II" walking tours, and lucked out with an amazing docent, Don McLean (no kidding!) who told us many more stories than were on the placards in front of the planes.

Sunday (all of it) was spent hiking the Ventana Canyon trail to The Window, 6.4 miles and 4260 feet each way. Britt had gone to school at the University of Arizona here many years ago and had fond memories of this hike - I figured it must be good if he still remembered it after 40 years. It was pretty cool: we started out in Sonoran desert, with saguaros all around, and by the end - a natural arch in the rock - we were hiking through the snow among pines!


We should have got going earlier than our 9 am start, though, as we ended up hiking out the last half hour in the dark. Still, it was a great hike, and I definitely felt it the next day. The best of our crappy cellphone photos are on Flickr: Ventana Canyon.
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
Damn, it's been a long time since I've done one of these.

Ziggy plays guitar
Jammin' good with Saint Peter
Ashes to ashes.
ilanarama: Mountain can has santa hat! (mountain santa)
Not all tags, luckily for you :-)

Biking: Not a lot, but I did get some riding done. A few loops in Horse Gulch, a few times up and down the river trail. And in February(!) we rode in Sand Canyon for the first time.

Hiking: A good year for hiking, though as it turned out, a rainy year for hiking. Several hikes and backpacks in our home turf of the Southwest (including hiking the length of the Pine River) and of course, a lot of hiking on the way to and in Canada (more on that later).

River running: A couple of runs down our own Animas, the San Juan, and the Piedra, but the highlight was definitely the Green River through the Gates of Lodore.

Running and racing: Mostly this year was spent rebuilding from being injured last fall/winter. I won a couple of races only by virtue of nobody else fast running. I had to sit out Boston, though I went to cheer my friends, but running across New Hampshire as part of Reach the Beach in September (with many of the same people) made up for it in many ways.

Skiing: Last year was pretty meh for snow (see 'biking') but we've got an El Niño this year and things are already looking up. I only skied twice so far this winter due to catching a bad cold right when we started getting good snow, but I skied at Telluride for the first time this year and would love to go there again!

Travel: A month in the Canadian Rockies. Okay, we were only actually there for a bit more than two weeks, because of driving up and back in a leisurely fashion with many stops for hiking and sightseeing, but still. A+ would go again.

Anyway, as usual, some good things and some not-so-good things, some places I went for the first time, and some missed opportunities. See you in 2016, my friends.
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Only four months late! ;-) You can either click on the links below or use the tag (canadian vacation 2015), or if you just want to look at the photos, the mosaic below links to the collection of albums (one for each park, plus an "on the way" album) on Flickr. Each of the individual trip reports has about 2/3 of the photos inline, and a link to the album on Flickr if you want to see the rest.

On the way to Canada
Kootenay National Park
Lake Louise
Icefields Parkway
Yoho National Park
Waterton Lakes National Park

Whew! When's my next vacation?

*taps mic*

Nov. 22nd, 2015 04:41 pm
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
I, um, haven't posted for two months. How did that happen?

Just a quick update on things. My back issues have continued to bother me, so a few weeks ago I got a second MRI. It showed that my herniated disk is in fact healing just fine, so my spine doc suggested another injection in a different spot, which seems to have helped a lot though not entirely banished the pain. But things are definitely improving. Next step will be a massage therapist who specializes in recovery and rehab.

I've been running a pretty solid 30-35mpw and have recently stepped it up to 40-ish. We're supposed to have an El Niño-fueled snowy winter, so I will be happy if I can maintain that throughout the winter - supplemented with skiing, of course! We have weekday passes to Purgatory, as usual, and I hope to do a lot of skiing this year. Britt's company is sponsoring a weekend at Telluride in early December, and I'm excited about that as I've never skied there before. And I hope to get the older of my two brothers, who lives in California, out here for some skiing this winter.

Britt and I will be running the local Turkey Trot on Thursday morning, which is a five-mile mixed trail and road race. It's not a competitive race in the sense that the only prizes are supermarket pumpkin pies for the top man and woman finisher, but after the race there are always incredible random draw prizes. I've won hiking socks, a pound of coffee from a local roaster, and a $50 gift certificate to a really nice restaurant in previous years.

But my next real race won't be until March. I hope to run the Canyonlands Half again, though I don't hold out hope for any great time. If I can improve over the summer I might target some fall races as goals.

After a long hiatus I have been updating my Canadian vacation reports. Four sections are done, two to go!

Speaking of vacations, Britt had a couple of meetings in California and so I flew out to Palm Springs after the first of them. We spent the weekend in Palm Springs, hiking up Mt. San Jacinto on Saturday and visiting the Living Desert museum on Sunday, and then he attended his conference at the hotel and I worked from the hotel room and wandered around the resort. It was fun! And I've booked our next major vacation, a trip to New York City timed to coincide with our (gulp) 25th anniversary. We'll be seeing Hamilton (YAY!) and Book of Mormon, doing a little museum-ing, and then flying down to visit with my aged parents in Maryland for a few days before flying back home.

So, uh, hi, Dreamwidth! Long time no see! I will try not to be a stranger! (Well, not any stranger than usual...)
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
This past weekend (well, Friday and Saturday) I participated in my very first long-distance overnight team relay. These races have become quite popular, and now there is one nearly every week in a different part of the US. I was invited to join a group of friends from an online running forum (some who I'd met in person before, most of whom I hadn't) to run Reach the Beach, a 201-mile relay across New Hampshire from Bretton Woods ski resort to Hampton Beach.

Race report, and a (very) few photos )

Overall, this was a great experience, though I can't see myself doing this kind of race multiple times a year, like some of the people on our team. I'm not a fan of sleep deprivation, and the busy roads of this race course were not that pleasant to run on. The team aspect was a lot of fun, though sometimes my introverted side just wanted more quiet alone time than I could get in a van with five other rowdy people. The race organization was fantastic, and the van organization was fantastic as well - I have to say, it was definitely a plus that I was doing it with a team that had the logistics pretty well wired. And it surprised me that I was able to run pretty darn hard (for me) under these tough conditions. In conclusion:

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.


"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, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)

September 2016

456789 10
1112 1314151617

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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