27 January 2014

Home Sweet Home

“It's not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. 
What's hard...is figuring out what you're willing to give up 
in order to do the things you really care about.”  
- Shauna Niequist
The snow. It comes, it melts quickly.
In addition to my running, I'm enjoying some serious domestic bliss right now. The routine of transporting my kids to and from school, managing the household affairs, getting the kids out to play, watching them grow and change and having low stress levels continues to nourish my soul in extraordinary ways. 

Friday, I had a rare glorious day in which the kids were off to school and I didn't have to leave the house. I got so much done I was practically dancing out the door when I left to pick up my boy. One of the things I did was plan out our spending for the next month and that is always a downer as I'm reminded of how tight things are financially for us. But the thing that dawned on me was how incredibly happy I am to be home right now. I'm happier to be less busy, even if we can't spend like we used to. 

It's been a really great week. There's been quite a bit of socializing going on with folks from Westside with not one, but three different engagements as well as a mom's night out. After almost three years of living here, we're finding that deep friendships are really hard to come by. It's easy to look longingly at where we came from, a place where friends would light up when they see us and cross the room to talk. After this week, I'm more hopeful that those kind of friendships will eventually form and determined to keep initiating and plugging away at making those moments of community happen. 

“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and errands and receipts and dirty dishes...
I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, 
glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”  
- Shauna Niequist

Now that I have time to read, I'm seeing just how A.D.D. I am. At any one time, I've always seem to have multiple books in my Kindle queue that I'm partially through. I had 6 books this past month, all very different.
The book that has been capturing me the most the past couple of weeks is Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist. My husband and I love having people over to eat with us and this book really captures why it is such a sacred and profound event when you nourish and love the people that come to your table. It's these kinds of moments that I live for -- when real and honest friendship is fostered -- not just the incredible views on top of the mountain. Big moments aren't just made in the extraordinary or the emotionally intense ones, though. If we have the eyes to see them, we will find life beyond what we could have dreamed in the normalcy of the day-to-day. I'm seeking to develop more of that kind of vision in my life at home.

I choose to believe that there is nothing more sacred or profound than this day. I choose to believe that there may be a thousand big moments embedded in this day, waiting to be discovered like tiny shards of gold. The big moments are the daily, tiny moments of courage and forgiveness and hope that we grab on to and extend to one another. That’s the drama of life, swirling all around us, and generally I don’t even see it, because I’m too busy waiting to become whatever it is I think I am about to become. The big moments are in every hour, every conversation, every meal, every meeting.
- Shauna Niequist 

Another thing that made this week a great one was that I ran the second PPRR Winter Series race (8 miles) on Saturday which showed that my speed work and low HR training are beginning to pay off. Not only was my average pace lowered by 2:28/mile, but my ranking improved. (Full disclosure: This course was a mile longer, 1/4 of it on pavement and about 330 ft less climbing.) Most people look at how far they are from the top; in my case, I look at how far I am from the bottom. In race #1, I had only 12 people finish behind me. This time, I had 23. Yea me! I treated it like a 7 mile tempo run with a fast finish and came in 6 minutes earlier than two weeks ago. Booyah!
Final mile was the fastest
With the theme of this year being "run uncomfortable", I'm getting acquainted with the feeling of pushing hard enough that I'm unsure if I'll be able to sustain it through to the end. Thankfully, I'm finding that I can dial in the level of effort that can be maintained. Now, I hope to extend that intensity to the longer distances required for the last two races of 10 - 12 miles coming up.

I tried a carb-targeted Ketogenic pre-race meal of scrambled eggs with cheese and sausage, coffee with heavy cream, a side of sweet potatoes and apples and a cranberry spritzer. I ate this two hours before so there was no stomach issues and my legs felt strong the whole time.
Pre-Race Meal: high fat with targeted carbs 
After the race, it dawned on me how much ultrarunning has slowed me down. Back in Nov 2012, my 4 mile tempo runs during lunch were averaging in the 8:40s after only two months. This gives me hope that I can get my averages down even lower, if I keep getting after it.

These are days you'll remember
Never before and never since, I promise,
will the whole world be warm as this.
And as you feel it, you'll know it's true
that you are blessed and lucky.
It's true that you are touched by something
that will grow and bloom in you.
-R. Buck, N. Merchant

I can't quite believe that this song is over 20 years old, but still one of my all-time favorites. You're welcome.

Happy Trails,


20 January 2014

2014 Ponderous Posterior

Photo: Sandra
We were treated to some spectacular weather this year for the annual CRUD Ponderous Posterior fat ass run. While there were fewer folks out this year for the altered course, I met up with Sheila, Lori, Lynne and Sandra at JT's house for the 7am start. As Sheila took off with some of the faster runners, I hung back with the rest of the girls initially before settling into a solo run. With fewer people out this year, there wasn't as many tales to tell as last year. The goal was to do around 12 miles (the half-ass), which took me through Garden of the Gods and over to Manitou where I caught the Intemann Trail to Red Rock Canyon. Others went up the Incline and to Mt. Manitou to tick off closer to 23 miles, too much with my early season fitness.

When we started off towards the Garden, the moon had yet to set and we were snapping pictures to capture it as it sat above Pikes Peak and eventually fell below the horizon. Thankfully, the trails were in good shape and the only ice I encountered were very short sections on the Intemann. All in all, a great day on the trails even if it took me a over 3 hours to cover my shortened course.
(L-R): Me, Sandra, Lori & Lynne
View of Pikes Peak through Siamese Twins

9 miles later, looking back from whence I came

I am experimenting with a high fat, low carb Ketogenic diet and found that a breakfast of cheesy eggs and sausage made it easy to keep the pace in zone 2. I’m seeing a lot more runners embracing the “eat fat to burn fat” philosophy so I’m doing more of a targeted method and using starchy or sugary carbs specifically for speed workouts. Otherwise, my only carbs are non-starchy veggies and daily serving of fruit and higher fat yogurt. I’m also allowing myself to eat a more moderate amount of carbs either Saturday or Sunday which allows me to eat normally when with friends or after my weekly training is complete. I'll let you know how it goes and how my body adapts as time goes on.

I’m seriously not much of a TV watcher, but January being Downton Abbey month, you will find me succumbing to the gravitational pull of my couch. Though I’ve been less excited about this year’s season (thanks Dan Stevens for your untimely departure), I have jumped on board the Sherlock train and what an fantastic ride it has been. Last night's season premier was simply brilliant. I’m really looking forward to watching the remaining episodes on PBS. Watch the first episode (PBS or Netflix) and if you love it, then you’ll love them all. Highly entertaining and well written show.

Happy Trails,


15 January 2014

Back in the Saddle with Buffy

"Why do you write strong female characters?" 
"Because you're still asking me that question." - Joss Wheden
"I always say that a day without an autopsy is like a day without sunshine."
Buffy's been on heavy rotation the past month as I've been revisiting one of my favorite series while cross training on the bike trainer. So many memorable quotes from one of the greatest writers of our time, Joss Wheden. Besides his great wit, the way he developed his characters and told stories was nothing short of brilliant. It certainly makes the 90 min go by fast. 

On the running front, I'm easing back into training mode again with 60-120 min easy runs, stamina runs and as of this week, speed work. I did 5 sets of Yasso 800s on Monday, with the plan of adding one set each week until I reach 10. With 37 mph headwinds to contend with, I wasn't surprised they ranged from 4:08 - 4:20. Felt good though to feel my body moving efficiently and get some faster turnover going. 
New Year's Run
I've been keeping my climbing on the low end, but with the upcoming Ponderous Posterior fat ass run coming up this Saturday, I expect to clock at least 2k of gain for the half-ass run I plan to do. Starting next week, I'll be adding weekly hill repeats to round out the training plan.
Snow Run
The first race of the Pikes Peak Road Runners Winter Series was held last Saturday and I got the 7-ish miles done in 1:27. Couldn't have asked for better weather -- sunny with just the slightest breeze -- and no jacket required. The course was snowy with ice underneath with a few short muddy sections, but with spikes I didn't have much trouble with it. My running motto for the year is "run uncomfortable" and I pushed the pace enough to keep it in that zone the whole time, without burning myself out.
Had a great day, except for getting my head cut off.
Speaking of races, I've been tweaking my 2014 schedule a lot this week. I decided that due to finances, I'd take both Bryce & the Bear off my calendar this year and replace them with North Fork 50 and Run Rabbit Run 100. Samantha is running RRR too and since it's less than 4 hours from home, I expect my family to be able to come up for at least part of the event. Besides being closer to home, it's run in early September, so it'll give me more time to recover and train for the Denver Marathon, 5 weeks later.

I've been trying to figure out what race or run I might do in August as I prepare for RRR. The race I want to do is TMR, but being a more expensive one to travel to along with having steeper climbs, Sheila and I put the Maroon Bells Four Passes Loop on the calendar instead. This has been on my bucket list for the past year and it's considered by many to be the best hike in Colorado. It's a must-do adventure run for ultrarunners and I'm really looking forward to it.
Maroon Bells (Photo: S Oachs)
That's all the news for now. In closing, I present Buffy's bud, Xander "I do not babble. I occasionally run on, every now and then I yammer" Harris -- the perfect combo of loyalty, wit and nerdiness. Some of his best quotes are captured here. Enjoy!
Happy Trails,