ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
Huh, from recent posts in my journal it looks like all I'm doing is building a house. Well, that's...not far from the truth. I see that the last time I posted about running was last August, when I decided to DNS the Thirsty Thirteen half marathon, and the last biking was our Thanksgiving vacation to Scottsdale. But I get super antsy without physical activity, so I've definitely been doing stuff, I just haven't been writing about it.

After several years of "exceptional drought" we finally had a relatively epic winter. It snowed a lot in town, and it snowed a LOT up at Purgatory. We pretty quickly earned out our ski passes, going once or twice a week.

IMG_20190315_140609 IMG_20190222_145121

Even with the snow, I was able to run 4-5 times a week throughout the winter, because Durango keeps the (paved) river trail plowed, and at midday it was usually pretty pleasant. Because of the issues I had after my pelvic stress fracture, I've been trying to keep up my stretching and core exercises and increasing mileage verrrrrry slowly, so I'm only up to a slow 35mpw right now, but I registered for the Steamworks Half Marathon in early June, so I've got something to train toward.

We also took out our mountain bikes for the first time since our Arizona trip! Things are still muddy up here (though rapidly drying out), but there are a few trail areas near Farmington, New Mexico, about an hour's drive away. Last Saturday we went to an area new to us, the Road Apple Rally trails, and spent a very pleasant couple of hours.

On the Kinsey Trail, near Farmington NM

Other than that, we are still madly packing and moving things and cleaning. The movers come on Friday! The closing on our old house is a week later!
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
Two weeks to go to the Thirsty Thirteen half marathon! I'm...less excited than I might be, because I seem to have pulled a muscle (?) in my groin; it started hurting while in Telluride (where I was doing biking only, no running!) and it hasn't stopped yet. At first I was nervous that I'd somehow re-injured my stress fracture, because it hurts in about the same place, but the pattern is different: it hurts most at night and in the morning, and when I start walking (or running), or stand up from a sitting position, but it eases up after some activity, and doesn't bother me much on runs after a mile or so. My body guy thinks it's a case of inner thigh muscles working when they shouldn't, and I'm doing exercises and have my second appointment tomorrow, but I'm really not pleased with the way things are feeling.

Anyway, the last two weeks. First week was mostly in Telluride and therefore mostly biking:

Monday: 27 mtb with ~2300' climb/descent
Tuesday: 14 mtb and 3.8 hiking (total ~4000')
Wednesday: 14 mtb with ~1200'
Thursday: 11 mtb with ~400'
Friday: 8 miles running with 2x2 tempo (7:57 average tempo pace)
Saturday: 3.8 easy
Sunday: 13 easy and quite a bit slower than I'd like (10:15 pace)

For a total of just under 25 miles of running, plus 66 miles of riding. The second week was back to running, and although I had planned on doing some riding too, it didn't work out that way:

Monday: rest (trying to ease the groin issue)
Tuesday: 6.3 easy
Wednesday: 8.3 with 5 tempo. I have been feeling as though my HMP goal is a bit aggressive, so I deliberately didn't push too hard out of worry that I wouldn't be able to complete the whole distance, but 8:17 was way slower than I wanted! I didn't feel I could go any faster at the end, either, so...I dunno. Maybe I'm delusional about my half goal. :-(
Thursday: 6.3 easy
Friday: 4.9 trail. A bit faster than my previous trail run, yay!
Saturday: 14.4 with 1-minute surges at the beginning of miles 6-14. It went really well, and I felt really good; overall pace was 9:18 which surprised me. I don't record the surge pace specifically, but generally it was in the 7:30-7:45 region, even in the last miles.
Sunday: Had been planning to mtb, but got a migraine and basically vegetated all day.

Total 40 miles nearly on the dot!

Now I'm planning to cut back my running volume and work in a bit more faster running in small doses, as my taper/sharpening period. As I commented four weeks ago, looking at past race failures has suggested I need to be more serious about my taper, even though I never used to do more than front-load race week (back when I was doing half marathons as marathon tune-up races). Hopefully this will give my adductors and glutes a chance to settle down, and give me a better race on the 25th.
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Just under 40 miles running (because I forgot to check to see how long I needed to run to make exactly 40!) and about 19.5 miles cycling.

Monday: easy 4.6, felt kinda creaky since I'd run long the day before.
Tuesday: 8.7 with 5 tempo miles. Aimed on the slow side for the tempo and averaged 8:08, which is...a little slower than I wanted. HR was also a little low. But I feel like it was a good workout anyway, and built confidence.
Wednesday: rest. Normally I bike up to get my CSA veggies at the college on the mesa but it was hot, so I got a lift from Britt, who was going up to check on our house, and then hiked down.
Thursday: 9.6 in the morning, started out a little late and it got hot, so it wasn't very fast. In the afternoon I did 4 miles of biking to pick up eggs and some peaches and corn at a farmstand.
Friday: 4.6 trail running with Britt, rather slow but a pleasant run.
Saturday: 12.4 miles with surges in the first minute of miles 5-12.
Sunday: 15.5 miles mountain biking. We did part of this route back in April and I was much faster this time!

Next week will be a mulligan of sorts for my half marathon training, as we're taking a mini-vacation to Telluride to go mountain biking (and incidentally for Britt's birthday, which is August 1st). So Monday through Thursday will be biking rather than running, but I'm sure I'll get lots of exercise in.
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Another good week, 41.5 miles running and 28.5 miles cycling.

Monday: 8.1 easy with 7x10 sec hill sprints.
Tuesday: 8.7 with tempo. I'd planned on the 2x2.5 tempo I didn't do last week, but I forgot to program it into my watch, and I don't like having to look at it during hard running, so instead I did 3 miles tempo, 2 minutes easy, 2 miles tempo. I think I pushed too hard early and so didn't quite hit my hoped-for pace in the second part, but it was a good workout nonetheless.
Wednesday: 8.7 mile mountain bike ride (680') ending at the college to pick up my CSA. It was quite hot and so when I got caught by some rain sprinkles it felt good!
Thursday: 6.3 with strides, the hard end of easy.
Friday: 4.4 trail running. I haven't done any trail running since last year, as any trail running here involves lots of steep hills, and between that and the technical difficulty I'm much slower on trails, so they take longer, and as I was trying to build my mileage I figured I'd stick to pavement until my paces got back to more or less normal. Well, my trail pace is still very very slow! But it was nice to do the college rim trail on foot instead of on my bike for a change!
Saturday: Biking with Britt, a big loop of a combination of road, dirt road, and trail, ending with going up and over a ridge I've done a few times now (my fastest time on it so far, but it's still hard!) and then going to check on our house-in-progress. (More photos soon!) Nearly 20 miles and 2000 feet of climbing.
Sunday: 14 miles, yippee! That's the longest I've run in 22 months. Got hot toward the end but it felt pretty good.

I have been trying to do a set of hip mobility exercises before each run. It's not very much - a couple of minutes of dynamic stretching - but I think it helps.
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Look, I'm actually getting a post in after only one week! The rains have indeed started to fall in the high country, so we no longer have smoky mornings and I can run before breakfast as I prefer in the summer.

This week I still had 35mpw on the plan, but I ended up running 40mpw (which I'm going to try to keep up), and it felt good.

Monday: 8.1 easy outside (yay!) with 6x10 sec hill sprints.
Tuesday: 7.9 with tempo. I'd penciled in 2x2.5 tempo as a treadmill workout, but since I could run outside I decided to do the same I did last week on the treadmill, 2x2 with 3 min jog. Tempo miles averaged 7:52, HR smack dab HMP HR.
Wednesday: biked to pick up CSA and run other errands, 5.7 miles mixed trail and road, 450' vertical.
Thursday: Easy 5.3 with strides, cut short from planned 6.3 because I got a call from my dentist's office (while running!) offering to move my afternoon appointment to get my permanent crown to the morning.
Friday: Easy 6.3, which came out at 9:20, a fast pace for me, probably because I started earlier than usual and it was nice and cool.
Saturday: 12.5 on a moderately hilly route (not as hilly as last week's) which I did as a progression since I wanted to make sure I had energy for the whole thing. Started super easy, last three full miles between 9:15-9:20, then an easy half-mile warm-down.
Sunday: 10-mile MTB ride consisting of about 1500' climb (with a lot of hike-a-bike) over an often-steep, often-rocky 4.5 miles of old forest service road and singletrack (and old forest service road that had deteriorated to singletrack) followed by a long downhill on a dirt road. The view from the top was worth the climb:

Overlook Point

Total 40 riding, about 16 of biking. It all looks very good on my training log program, especially when I looked back at my log from this time last year, just before I ran Kendall Mountain and gave myself a stress fracture - in fact my paces are quite similar, including my tempo runs. But I was running higher mileage then, and doing trail running (which I haven't started up again), and I still only ran 1:47 at the 2017 Steamworks Half last June despite thinking I was in 1:43 shape. In my post-race analysis, I attributed this to 1) a hot day, 2) being overly-optimistic about my fitness and going out too fast, 3) failing to recover from a race two weeks prior, and 4) tapering poorly.

At the end of my race report from that half, I wrote: Anyway, I think it comes down to this: Now that I'm an old lady, I can't just half-ass my training and still improve. I need to allow a lot of recovery after races, I need to get and keep my mileage (relatively) high, I need to be conservative with my taper, and I need to be realistic about my goals. I think it's good that I was inspired to revisit that report, because these are the things that I will need to keep in mind going into the Thirsty Thirteen in six weeks!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Things are going fairly well despite the complication of having to run either on the treadmill or in hotter-than-comfortable temperatures over the past two weeks. This past Friday and Saturday night we got a little rain in the mountains where the fire is, and the following mornings were much less smoky, so I'm crossing my fingers that this pattern will continue and I'll be back to my usual morning outside runs soon.

Week 4 plan: 35mpw, 10M LR with surges, key 3x1M with 3 min jog between, plus hill sprints and strides. Too hot for hill sprints and strides, and did two long dayhikes instead of a LR. )

Total 26.1 running, 13 biking, 25.5 hiking (which I posted about here).

Week 5 plan: 35mpw, 12M LR, key 2x2M with 3 min jog between, plus hill sprints and strides. Too hot for hill sprints and strides, split the difference on the LR between last and this week, and babby's first hash run )

Total 35.5 running and 25.4 biking - that's the kind of week I like!

Next week I'm hoping to do more running outside. If it's smoky early I'll have to do my workout runs on the treadmill, still, but now that we're regularly getting afternoon rains we should be getting clearer mornings.
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
At the end of May I posted about training to run a half marathon in August as the next step in my comeback from the pelvic stress fracture I suffered last July. I began my "official" training program the following Monday, three weeks ago. (I should point out that I don't use canned plans, but instead write my own "unplanny plan" based on the principles and workouts in Brad Hudson's Run Faster, which I have been doing since - gosh, 2009? By "unplanny" I mean that, rather than having specific distances and workouts for each day, I list only a mileage goal, a long run distance goal, and key workout(s) for each week. Actual distances and the days I do them may vary. Also per Hudson, I may change the plan as needed along the way.)

I started the plan with 31mpw the week before on 5 days running (all easy, one run with strides, another with hill sprints) and a longest run of 8 miles, plus two biking. I've maintained the 5/2, and last week bumped up to 35mpw (well, actually 34, but the goal is 35), which I will hold for a while before bumping up to 40mpw mid-July.

Week 1 plan: 30mpw, 8M LR, key 6x0.25 with 3 min jog recoveries, plus hill sprints and strides. Week 1 went pretty well except the LR became a hike. )

Works out to 23.5 miles running (with the 7.6 hike that gets me 31.1 miles on my feet) and 11 miles riding.
No hill sprints or strides, oops.

Week 2 plan: 30mpw, 10M LR, key 4x0.5 with 3 min jog recoveries, plus hill sprints and strides. Week 2 was largely on the treadmill due to smoke. )

Total was 32.9 miles running and 6.2 miles riding. The city and county had closed all the trails due to the fire danger, so there was nowhere to actually go for a ride, and the smoke was pretty bad all week. (I bought an N95 respirator mask for wearing to ride to the gym. It's okay for easy effort but I can't imagine running with it on.)

Week 3 plan: 35mpw, 12M LR, key 0.25/0.5/1/0.5/0.25 ladder with 3 min jog recoveries, plus hill sprints and strides.Week 3 back on the roads and trails, yay! )

Total was 34.2 miles running and about 17.2 miles riding. And no hill sprints or strides, bad me.

The fire's perked up again as we've had hot, windy weather. I couldn't start today's run until 10:30, as I was waiting for the air quality to get decent, and by then it was really warm and my heart rate was too high for the slow pace I had to run. So it's back to the treadmill, sigh. No rain in the forecast, either.


Jun. 11th, 2018 06:39 pm
ilanarama: my footies in my finnies (snorkeling)
If you know where I live - Durango, CO - you may know that we are currently on fire. I am not personally burning, at the moment, but the "416 Fire" ten miles north of town has grown from 50 acres on June 1st, when it was started by (presumably, and supported by eyewitness accounts, but not officially) cinders from our coal-fired historical tourist train, to over 22,000 acres as of today.

Here's a photo from near our new house-in-progress on the afternoon after it started:

June 1 view from Rim Drive

And here's a photo from more or less the same place on June 9th:

June 9 view from Rim Drive

Yesterday (June 10th) we went up to Animas City Mountain at the north end of town (the long green mesa on the left side of the above photos; [personal profile] blnchflr, this is where we walked and you petted ALL THE DOGS; [personal profile] catbear, I believe we hiked there with you also, when you were in town oh so long ago) and hiked to the far northwest point where we took more pictures. A few days ago a second fire, called the Burro Fire, started about 13 miles west of the 416 fire as the crow flies, and that's the plume on the left side of the pano photo below. It's not nearly as big - as of today it's 1000 acres - but it's in very rugged terrain with a lot of fuels.

June 10 pano from Animas City Mountain

As I mentioned above, the fire's ten miles north of town, and my house(s) aren't in any immediate danger. The real problem is the air quality. As is typical in the springtime it's quite breezy during the day, blowing those magnificent plumes to the north and east (and incidentally making it tougher on the firefighters). But after dark, the wind dies off, and the smoke drifts down the valley into town. It's been really bad for the last four or five days. Normally we have the windows open at night; now we have installed our bedroom window air conditioner (that we usually don't put in until late June) and run it with the filters on so we can keep the house air a little cleaner. Unfortunately it's an old house, and not very tight, so smoke still seeps in, and both Britt and I have been waking up with headaches every morning.

How bad is it? Well, here's some photographic evidence from this morning at 6:30 am, looking east, south, and west:

June 11 east morning June 11 south morning June 11 west morning

Fortunately when the wind picks up in the afternoon the smoke blows out, as you can see from the same photos taken at 2:30pm:

June 11 east afternoon June 11 south afternoon June 11 west afternoon

The mountain you can see in the middle view of the second set (and can't see in the first), is just a little over a mile away; the one in the right view is a bit under two miles away. Here's a second set of photos taken from the campus webcam at the college, which is up on the mesa where our new house is. These are looking down into town; the white sky in the second one is, I think, an artifact of the position of the sun, but I think there still is a bit of smoke haze in the air.

June 11 college webcam morning June 11 college webcam afternoon

Needless to say, I'm not running in this! It's actually dangerous in the morning, and by the time the smoke clears enough that it would be reasonable to run, it's too hot. Fortunately I still have some entries left on my rec center pass that I bought when I was injured last fall, so I've been riding my bike up a little before noon and running on the treadmill. (Actually today I drove, as it was still smoky by 11:30 and I didn't want to breathe any more of that stuff than I had to.) The treadmill is SO BORING. But at least I'm getting some fake-running in.

We are all doing rain dances, though the earliest possible precipitation in the forecast is looking like this weekend, courtesy of Hurricane Bud. Nobody's surprised by this fire, I should point out - we had an unusually warm and dry winter and spring, with a fraction of our usual snowfall in the mountains - and the southwest monsoon, which brings afternoon rainstorms, doesn't kick in until early July. The county was under fire restrictions, and there had been a number of small fires that had flared and been put out, making us all nervous. With only 10% containment currently (and zero on the Burro fire) it's going to take more than a few rainstorms to make a difference.

I heard rumors it's been raining a lot over on the east coast. Can you guys pack that rain up and send it over, please? :-)
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
We had a great trip on the White Rim, and even though I wasn't in awesome cycling shape I managed to make it up the Shafer Trail without walking (though not without stopping to breathe. Other climbs I did have to walk a bit, particularly Murphy's). I didn't take photos, but if you haven't heard of/seen this epic trip you can look at my write-up from last year, which has links to two previous trips as well. Despite it being awfully late in the spring season, we had decent weather, not too hot. We did have some mechanical failures - one bike (not mine) and one support truck - so three of our group of ten ended up driving all the way out and heading home on day 3 (of 4).

As I was hoping, this trip jump-started my fitness somewhat, and I'm trying to keep it up. To that end I (gulp) signed up for a half marathon, the Thirsty Thirteen, which I ran in 1:44:53 in 2015 as my "comeback race" after recovery from a herniated disc. I half-assed the training, by which I mean I went on a month+ roadtrip vacation just before the race during which I ran twice (but hiked a lot), and the only reason I ran that well (relatively speaking) is that the race is net downhill (though there are some steep uphills). I'm just hoping to train a bit better, and beat that time this year.

My plan is to push my running from 4x/week to 5x/week, and bike 2x/week. I hate to admit it, but my running seems to improve more when I'm biking, perhaps because it is additional aerobic exercise without the impact (except when I fall!). I should probably lift weights, too, but that's so boring. I'm hoping we get in some backpacking as well. I'm still about 5 pounds over my preferred weight, and I'd sure like to drop that - but I hate dieting more than I hate being a little heavy!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
This morning I ran my first race since the Kendall Mountain Run last July, a low-key local Earth Day 5k. As I've only been running consistently for a couple of months, and haven't done any speedwork other than strides, I wasn't expecting much - and my run lived up to my expectations! :-) On the other hand, it was a lovely (though warm) day to be running on the river trail, I got in a good workout, I made my ad-hoc goal of "no mile slower than 9 minute pace", and my HRM performed well enough that I can reasonably use my highest HR+5bpm as my new HRmax.

By low-key, I mean that there weren't race numbers, or recorded times or places, though there was a finish line clock and mile markers which, surprisingly, matched my Garmin pretty well. I lined up in the middle of the pack in an attempt to keep myself from going out too fast, which didn't actually work, but I don't think I paced too horribly. The course was on the (paved) river trail, out upstream and back downstream, which made for generally uphill with a tailwind out and downhill with a headwind back, though there were bumps here and there and overall there's not much elevation change.

My splits were 7:50, 8:31, 8:22, and 8:21 pace for the last 0.1 mile, for a total of 25:35 on the clock. This is my slowest 5k since I started keeping track ten years ago, though I seem to recall running about that time in a 5k in Australia when I was in grad school. Still, I'm happy that I could get out and race (sort of!) again. I feel as though I did as well as I could - I was nauseous the entire second half, which is about right for a 5k for me, and I felt limited by my stride/turnover rather than my lungs, which makes sense considering I've just been doing easy runs. Less than a year ago I ran a half marathon at pretty much the same pace, so I'm hoping things will improve!

Using it as a training-pace gauge suggests that I should be running slower in training than I've been doing, which is odd because usually I run much more slowly than the calculators suggest I should. However, my training runs are in the correct HR range (based on my new HRmax) and so I think that this result is due to being limited by speed and power. Hopefully doing a little more speedwork will improve this - I'd like to start doing our club track workouts again, as I enjoyed them last summer, but wanted to get some consistent running in my legs first. And hopefully once I get back into speedwork, the speed will follow!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
Early last month I was up to 17.5mpw and a 5-mile long run, and finally saw one of my runs get below 10 minute average pace for the first time since my injury last July. I said then that I hoped to get back above 20mpw and start doing strides again. Well, it's a month later, and I'm steadily making progress.

I ran 98.5 miles in March, which is more than I have in run a month since July 2017 (which was only 101 miles due to not running the last week). My longest run is now 8 miles (this past Saturday) and I ran 24 miles last week, 25 the week before that, and 20 each of the previous two weeks. My pace is still in roughly the same range it was a month ago - generally 10:30 to 9:50 - which is okay by me. ("Easy pace" is not a good gauge of fitness, as what is easy varies from day to day, and it's easy to push and convince yourself it's actually easy when it's not. My runs are complicated by Britt running with me occasionally, as I think I tend to run faster when I'm with someone else.) I've been doing strides once or twice a week.

I've also been mountain biking once a week, and skied a couple of times. (The skiing's been terrible, though. The resort is open on weekends only through April, but unless we actually get some snow we're not bothering. It's been one of the driest winters on record.) I should really bike more, as we've got a White Rim trip coming up in May. My plan is to bike 2-3x/week and run 4-5x/week. No racing plans yet, but I'm starting to think about the possibilities.

Anyway, for now everything works, nothing hurts (much), and running has begun to be fun again. Yay!
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
I was recently reminded that I used to write clever things; I'm a bit rusty, but here's a stab at RIP Dr. Sir Roger Bannister:

Milers' records fall
So, too, inevitably
Roger Bannister

Even though I'm more inclined to longer distances and am much slower, I still really enjoyed the book The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb, about the quest for the sub-4 mile - strongly recommended.

I'm still working on resurrecting my own running. I finally managed to do a 5-mile run in early February, my longest since last July, as part of a 17.5-mile week - then had two down weeks due to travel and weather. But this past week I did it again, 17.5 miles in four runs with a 5-miler, and actually my pace seems to be improving (finally) - not that I'm back to my old paces, but I am getting out of the basement.

I would really like to get back above 20mpw, consistently, even! (Which - that's such a sad goal for me. I used to run at least 40mpw just as a base, when I wasn't training for something - now that seems so far away!) And start working in some strides, which I've done all of once; I don't like doing speedwork unless I'm running more volume, but strides and hill sprints are good no matter what.

I don't have any race plans at the moment. We've got a White Rim mtb trip planned for May, so I'll have to work in a little mountain biking as well. (Which okay, that's not a terrible thing!) And hopefully some backpacking this summer, since I missed out on a bunch of it last year.

But still, I love running, and I will try to keep doing it - even if I'm never going to run a sub-4 mile.
ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
Yesterday I ran the Kendall Mountain Run in 3:17:45, making both my goals of a) under 3:30 and b) not falling. I felt a little guilty when I proudly announced my time on Facebook and a few people thought it was a marathon time (26.2 miles), since it's about five minutes under my marathon PR and a plausible result - at least if you didn't know that I haven't been training for a marathon, or that I've had a big slowdown in the past few years. So then I hastily added that it was for a 12-mile race, which immediately had people boggling in the opposite direction, considering my half marathon PR (13.1 miles) is less than half that time! But it becomes more understandable when you see the elevation profile:

The course runs up a freakin' MOUNTAIN. (And back down again.) I didn't take pictures, but for some historical background and video shots of runners on the course (all much faster than me) from previous years, the organizers have put a nifty video on Facebook.

Blathering about the run )

My final statistics were not actually that great. I came in 188th overall out of 236, 62/87 women, 5/6 in my 10-year age group (nearly an hour ahead of #6). Actually there were only four women older than me in the race - the F60-69 AG contained one 68-year-old - and all of them beat me! Oh, well. I have not been running nearly as much as I was back when I regularly ran this type of mountain race, so I'm not really surprised. I'm happy enough that I beat my nominal goal of 3:30, and most especially, that I didn't add any new scabs to those currently healing on my knees!

Now, my legs hurt like you wouldn't believe, though I don't think I actually injured anything, just overused the muscles of my quads and glutes. Hopefully everything will feel good by next Saturday, when we head out into the wilderness for a week of backpacking. Then it will be time to turn my exercise attention to mountain biking in preparation for the Telluride-to-Moab ride in September. But I'll still be running 3-4 days a week, including attending the club track workouts, and hopefully by the time October comes around, I'll be ready to run a decent half marathon, and maybe even sign up for a late fall/early winter marathon.
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
I haven't been posting in a while, bad me, so you're forgiven if you've forgotten that I'm doing the Kendall Mountain Run tomorrow. I'm a little less prepared than I'd like to be, mostly because I fell really hard while trail running twice in successive weeks, then also fell hard mountain biking, and so I've been more cautious and doing less trail running than I really should have been. But I have been hiking and biking and running!

On top of Graham Peak

Read more and see more photos )

So, tomorrow I am getting up way too early and going up to Silverton (it's about an hour's drive) with a friend who is also running. Now that I've seen what the course is like (we drove the first three miles to get to the trailhead of our late-June overnight backpack) I don't think I can make sub-3; I'm hoping to come in somewhere around 3:30. But my main goal is to NOT FALL.
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
The title of this entry is a reference to this race report from 2009, when I ran the Steamworks Half Marathon for the third time, but the first time having actually trained for it (and by training I mean running more than twice a week and 15mpw). That race, I had hoped to get under 1:50 - all my tempo running had been at around 8:20 pace - and shocked myself by clocking a 1:44:19, which is slightly better than an 8 minute pace. I ran this race two more times before this year, in 2012 (1:38) and 2014 (1:36).

This year, I had hoped to come in at maybe something like 1:43, but instead I couldn't muster any speed at all. After three sub-8 miles, my pace was mostly around 8:20, and toward the end of the race I was just hoping, you guessed it, to get in under 1:50. I managed 1:47:21, my slowest half time since those first two undertrained races. Still, that was fast enough to give me first in the F50-59 age group (out of 17), and 13th overall woman, 38th overall human being out of 260 finishers. Also, to my surprise, looking through the results I just discovered I was also the female Masters winner, that is, first woman over 40. These placings are more due to the fast old ladies staying home than due to any speed of mine, though!

It was a hot day (for a race), and the sky was cloudless, which made for a beautiful but sweaty experience. I took two cups of water at every aid station (they were two miles apart) and dumped one on my body, except at the mile 10 aid station where a guy with a SuperSoaker offered to squirt runners, and I said "Yes, please!"

Steamworks Half 2017

I'm #286; the other woman in a turquoise top and I leapfrogged each other for much of the race. She passed me for good around mile 8, saying she was going after a woman ahead of us in red shorts, and finished at just under 1:46, about a minute and a half before me. I eventually also passed Red Shorts, though she was waiting in line for a porta-potty and so maybe that shouldn't really count. :-)

It was 70F by the time I hit the unshaded uphill section just past the 11-mile marker, and it was unsurprisingly brutal. (The course climbs 70 feet in half a mile, dips slightly, and then climbs 80 more feet to the finish.) It's also brutal to hit the end of the course because the quiet country road with little traffic ends, and the course turns onto a busy road with cars parked along both sides, making it feel quite narrow and dangerous. Fortunately the course marshals are there to guide runners and drivers - I did this job one year when I couldn't run due to injury - and so I pushed along to the crossing where the policeman stopped traffic for me, hooray, and did a pathetic sprint to the finish line, where members of the Durango Roller Girls encouraged finishers.

Steamworks Half 2017

The usual navel-gazing )
ilanarama: my footies in my finnies (snorkeling)
Like I did last year, I signed up for the Narrow Gauge 10 Mile at nearly the last minute, when it was clear we'd be spending Memorial Day weekend in town. I figured that I'd be able to improve a lot on my time of 1:21:44, since last year we had been on vacation a lot and I was biking more than I was running, in preparation for our epic Purgatory-to-Moab ride. This year I've been gradually increasing my mileage since my long string of illness in February, averaging over 36mpw, as compared to last year's 23mpw over the same period. I've also been riding, though not nearly as much.

Spoiler alert: I ran 1:22 flat, 16 seconds slower this year. (I still would have come in first in my age group, if there had been age groups. Also I'm pleased to see in the results that my "age percentage" of 71.0, which I assume is some form of age/sex grading, puts me in 10th place by age percentage!)

Why did this happen? Am I in worse shape now than I was then? Was all that riding actually more beneficial than running more miles?

Short answer: possibly poor execution, definitely lack of taper. Long answer under the cut. )

So I think that what happened is that I just had too much residual fatigue to sustain a hard 10M race, and ran out of energy. Which is an object lesson for me with Steamworks coming up, especially since...I'm doing another White Rim trip the week of the race, unless the weather is too hot (which it might be, Moab in June). I knew it wasn't going to be a goal race anyway, and some old friends invited us on the trip, and even though we just did it last month we would like to spend time with them, and hey, White Rim's pretty awesome. Hopefully if I do a very short run on Friday when we're back home, just to remind myself how to run, I will be okay for the race on Saturday. Because even if it's not a goal race, I would like to finish strong!

Anyway, it wasn't really a failure. I enjoyed myself, I had a good workout, and when I finished, I had beer AND ice cream - for breakfast!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
It's been six weeks since I posted about my slow increase of running mileage and my upcoming racing plans, and (knock wood) things are going pretty well. From 118 running and 41 cycling miles in March, I managed 157 running and 135 cycling miles in April, and if I can stay healthy, I may get to the vicinity of 200 running miles this month. My paces are still fairly slow, but improving relative to my heart rate, and last week I hit 46 (running) miles for the week with a 12-mile long run, both of these high points since last October.

I've started joining our running club for Tuesday night track workouts, which I haven't done in a few years. Usually when I do speedwork I just program a workout into my Garmin and run intervals on the rec path, but I have to admit that I work harder in a group, with other runners around me, and of course tracks are flat and have measured distances that don't depend on the vagaries of GPS. So far I've gone twice, and enjoyed myself both times (for values of 'enjoyment' that include 'finishing an interval feeling like I might throw up'). I'm about mid-pack out of the dozen or so club members who have shown up at these, as far as speed goes, so I don't feel too bad about my ability level. In only two sessions my short-distance speed has improved, which is encouraging!

I've also started doing tempo runs, which I do at half marathon pace and so are a key training run for me. These have been going well also, though I have to remember not to compare myself with my 2013-self - my expected HMP right now is slower than my marathon pace was that year, sigh. But the real test will come in (gulp) just under four weeks, when I will be running the Steamworks Half Marathon for the, hmm. Sixth time? Wow.

I also have a race on the calendar in July: The Kendall Mountain Run, which is six miles and 3200' vertical up a jeep road, and then a 300 foot scramble to the 13,066 foot summit - and then back down again. A non-running friend won a free entry in a raffle and gave it to me, and I gladly accepted. It's going to be tough, but I am hoping I can do it in under 3 hours. (The course record is just under 1:35; for a woman, a bit more than 1:55.) To train for this, I'm going to do more of my runs on trails (right now I run once or twice a week on trails) and do a lot of hills.

After that, my plan is to cut back on running slightly and ramp up the mountain biking in preparation for our mid-September Telluride-to-Moab ride. We'll probably be doing some backpacking as well, so I expect my weekly mileage will vary wildly, but as long as I can maintain fitness and get a few long uphills on the bike, I will be happy.

I have vague ideas for running another half marathon or two in the fall - maybe the Other Half, which I always enjoy, maybe something else instead or in addition. And if things are going well, I may try to schedule a marathon in the late fall or early winter. But that's so far off it's not even worth thinking about yet!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
A month after my last post in which I bemoaned my February lost to illness, and I'm happy to say that things have been on a steady upward climb. I managed just under 118 miles in March, a huge improvement over February's 48 and the most since last October. My pace is also getting back under 10 minute miles for the most part, which - this is a small victory, since back when I was actually in shape my pace was generally 9-9:20. But it's still a victory.

Last week I ran 35 miles, which is, again, the most in a week since October 2016, with a 9-mile long run yesterday (at 9:54 pace!) that was my longest single run since The Other Half on October 23rd. Today I ache like I was hit by a truck, but I did it. Victory.

I'm trying to stick to a 5 days run, 2 days bike schedule. During the winter I skied once or twice a week, so this is just the logical springtime extension. Plus, we have a White Rim bike trip (four days) planned for mid-April, and a week-long ride to Moab in September (the same hut system as, but a different route from, the ride we did last summer) and anyway I have that gorgeous expensive mtb we bought last year, so riding doesn't suck so bad (and I have to justify the expense). So far we've been on our local trail system three times - it's really only recently become dry enough to ride - and we took one jaunt out to Phil's World, a fabulous trail network about an hour's drive from here. (I should probably go for a ride today, but the weather's kind of icky. Plus, I ache like I was hit by a truck.)ETA: We did actually go for a ride when it cleared up in the afternoon, 12 miles on the paved rec trail. Felt pretty good, actually!

If I can manage 35mpw more or less through April, that would be about 140 miles. (I'm talking running, now.) And if I can manage 40-45mpw in May, the Steamworks Half in June might not be horrible. I might even win my age group, though that's more because I'm old than because I'm any good. Which would be awesome, since prizes are beer. And then I'd have a real victory!

tiny update

Mar. 4th, 2017 09:23 am
ilanarama: my footies in my finnies (snorkeling)
You might be wondering if I've dropped off the face of the earth, since I haven't posted since October! The truth is that when I went on vacations I wanted to post about, I was too busy to compose posts, and running has not been worthy of being posted about because I've been sick most of the winter and am only now beginning to get out again (even though I'm still not completely well).

Vacations were a week in the BVI on a sailboat charter with friends over Thanksgiving, plus a few days of land-based tourism there and in San Juan, PR on each end; and a long weekend over Christmas in Santa Fe, eating delicious food and visiting museums.

As far as the running goes, I dithered on signing up for the Canyonlands Half in March before the price went up in February, but ultimately decided I didn't have enough base to get in the shape I wanted to be for it. Turned out to be a good decision as I came down with a respiratory thing the first week of February and am still fighting it. I did register for the Steamworks Half which is in June; hopefully I will be back on form by then!

Being sick most of February also meant that my skiing ground to a halt, but I finally got out yesterday for a glorious bluebird day which reminded me of how nice it feels to twist one's body around and work with gravity to glide across the snow. Looking forward to our next storm!
ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
Me cresting a hill in The Other HalfThe last time I ran The Other Half I was light, strong, had just turned fifty; and not only did I set a PR, I was the first female Masters (40+) finisher. That was three years ago, and a lot has happened since then. After herniating a disc in late 2014, I had to stop running for a while, and though I've been clawing my way back to fitness I'm a lot slower and running much lower volume than I was then. Also - and I'm beginning to think this is more of a factor than I originally expected - I've hit menopause head-on, though it's not strictly official yet (the medical definition is one year without periods; I'm now at six months). By contrast, in 2013 I still had a more or less monthly cycle, though not long after I started getting hot flashes and ever more widely-spaced periods.

In my previous post I said "While I'd like to run under 1:40 again...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." Well, I managed those last goals by the skin of my teeth!

I drove out to Moab on Saturday afternoon, stopping in Cortez (about an hour from here) to ride a quick loop at Phil's World on my mountain bike. I met my friends Kevin and Nora for dinner at Miguel's, which is a venerable pre-Moab-race tradition, and then went back to my motel to lay out my clothes, take a soak in the hot tub, and then get to bed early to rest up before my 5:50am alarm. It was a great plan, but alas my sleep has been terrible lately (another consequence of menopause) and I did not get nearly as much sleep as I really would have liked.

I walked the few blocks to the Moab Valley Inn to catch the 6:30 shuttle to the start. A tall young man with a shaved head slid in next to me, and as the bus turned up the canyon and the predawn darkness began to lighten, he commented on how beautiful it was, with a distinctly non-US accent. His name was Kees ("Case"), and he was from the Netherlands. He had just finished the first week of a three-week vacation around the US southwest with his wife, at the end of which he would run the New York City Marathon. "My wife saw there was this race while we were here, so I signed up for it," he told me. We ended up chatting the rest of the way up the canyon, and also hanging out together in the starting area. He would be taking it relatively easy since he'd be running the NYCM, though as a much faster runner his "relatively easy" was still faster than my "all-out"!

At the start, I drank some coffee and attempted to eat the Clif bar that had been in my packet. (Usually I have something with me for breakfast but I didn't manage to get anything this year!) Unfortunately, it tasted terrible to me - it was the new "nut butter filled" and I am not a fan, as it turns out. So I only ate a few bites and then threw it out, but I wasn't really that hungry, and there would be Clif shots at mile 6.

I started just in front of the 1:40 pacer, which was more an accident than anything else. I have noticed that the pace team the Moab races use seem to be fairly bad more often than not - once I was on pace for 1:35 when the 1:40 pacer passed me - so I wasn't planning on running with him. But as it happened I ran pretty much alongside him (either in front of - I could hear him talking - or next to him) until just after the big hill at mile 8, at which point he seemingly accelerated away from me.

What really happened, of course, is that I slowed way down. It wasn't a horrible fade or anything, just that the hills took it out of me, which has certainly happened before. Also, it was a very hot day, or at least, hot for me. I overheat very easily, which is why I'd made the last-minute decision to wear only a sportsbra and shorts. I drank at every aid station, but I still felt as though I wasn't getting enough fluids. I took a Clif shot as planned from the people handing them out at mile 6, but I only managed a little squeeze of it because I was just too thirsty. In retrospect I should have stopped taking water and gone for the sports drink instead.


Here are the splits. I set my Garmin to manual split, as I almost always do in races, but for some reason my watch was misbehaving and frequently when I poked the button as I passed the mile marker, nothing happened, and I had to re-poke it a few times before it actually registered. I also missed the mile 7 marker somehow. So instead of reporting the actual splits I'm reporting the pace per split, which might be .99 miles or might be 1.01 (or 2.01).

mile  pace  Average HR      Max HR    Elev chg
 1   07:37.36	139 (68%)	151 (78%)	65
 2   07:28.61	151 (78%)	155 (81%)	-52
 3   07:27.11	152 (78%)	155 (81%)	57
 4   07:34.76	154 (80%)	157 (83%)	-54
 5   07:33.63	154 (80%)	156 (82%)	-4
 6   07:41.24	156 (82%)	159 (84%)	-20
7-8  08:20.85	156 (82%)	165 (89%)	210
 9   07:27.91	157 (83%)	165 (89%)	-107
10   07:57.92	157 (83%)	165 (89%)	5
11   07:34.99	157 (83%)	160 (85%)	-60
12   08:01.73	156 (82%)	160 (86%)	-9
13   07:18.58	158 (84%)	162 (87%)	-82
13.1 06:56.10	161 (86%)	162 (87%)	-1

A couple of things. First, the elevation change is just the difference between the start and finish, and can mask a lot of up-and-down in between. (Here is a map and elevation chart.) Second, the HR is given in both beats per minute (bpm) and % of HR reserve, which is the difference between resting and max HR. However, I'm pretty sure that what I'm using for my max is wrong and should be lower. This is supported by my max readings being only 165, when in previous Moab half marathons they have been in the lower 170s, and my average reading has been in the lower 160s. Finally, as usual my Garmin read more than 13.1 at the end, though with a Garmin distance of only 13.17 this was one of my shorter half marathons - I guess I'm getting better at running tangents!


My final chip time was 1:41:32, just 12 seconds faster than my first time on this course and my nominal goal. This was good enough for first in my age group (50-54F) out of 42 as well as placing me 16th woman (out of 526) and 57th person (out of 845). Though also, I came in 6 seconds behind the 55-59 winner - and both of us beat all the 40-44 and 45-59 women except for two, one of who came in second overall, the other who came in first Master's female (with a slower time than my win 3 years ago la la la!)

I ran in the Saucony Fastwitch, a shoe I bought at a fairly large discount not too long ago. Good thing it was cheap:


I have a terrible footstrike with my left foot. :-(


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

April 2019

14 151617181920

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

You can reach me by email at heyheyilana @



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