Friday, May 22, 2009

Last Night's Ride

So last night my honey agreed to a cross-training-aren't-we-green-carbon-friendly-are-you-freakin-kidding-me-with-this-headwind ride to our friends house. They live at 16000 feet. Really. Okay 6000 feet. Promise. Okay, maybe not. Honestly, I have no idea because the elevation tool on mapmyride wasn't working. It's still a great tool for mapping your ride or run, especially if you travel. Anyhoodle, I'm not sure how far UP THE MOUNTAIN they live, but it is "hillside".

Monday, May 18, 2009

The History of Pacemaker

When we first met Pacemaker, Nick and I nicknamed her "San Diego", because she is from {surprise} San Diego and because we lacked originality due to exhaustion from those early, strenuous training runs.

When she was just San Diego to us, I thought San Diego and I ran about the same pace. We seemed like a good match in both temperament and speed. San Diego saved me when Nick was out with his achilles injury. She ran with me and we talked for the entire two hour run. Having a running partner makes all the difference - I am amazed by how fast the time passes if there is good conversation and laughter. Plus, there is the added bonus that she drops the f-bomb with conviction as much as I do (sorry, mom).

San Diego's name evolved to Pacemaker when I saw her true inner runner. Her inner runner is really fast. My first real glimpse of this was during a Torture Tuesday. Torture Tuesdays are when we do our tempo runs. Our entire group sets off together and runs a very slow warm up together for 15-20 minutes. We then move into the tempo portion, and run at our maximum effort for 20 minutes. This is followed by a 15-20 minute cool down.

My goals during during Torture Tuesdays:

1. Don't stop.
2. Don't vomit.
3. Don't pass out.

I have succeeded thus far.

When the team changes to tempo pace, here is what happens: Nick and Prison Guard take the lead, unless Nick is on the injured list. Coach Perky has no problem keeping up or catching up to the boys if she spends time in the back of the pack with us.

Pacemaker is next. Wow. She is fast. The first time she pulled away from me and I foolishly attempted to keep up, I changed her name to Pacemaker, because she sets a pace I would like to achieve. Pacemaker is also fitting as I may need a pacemaker if I keep trying to catch that woman.

DTM is next, he amazes me on the shorter runs - I just can't keep up with him. Finally, there is H3, also known as Holly-Hell-Hills for her love and ferocity when it comes to hill workouts. H3 is a hockey player and runs beautifully, as if she is gliding on ice. H3 and I run the same tempo pace for around 17 minutes. Unlike H3, I do not run beautifully. There is a lot of huffing and puffing and arm swinging and sweating when I run. It's not pretty.

The last three minutes of the tempo portion, H3 invariably pulls away from me with a burst of speed and stamina that I lack. Or, it could be that my sweating, flailing, huffing and puffing body gives her the motivation to run away, far, far away.

You may be getting the picture by now. I'm the slowest non-walker. But I'm still running, and loving every minute of it.

Saturday Surprises

Coffee. Hot, steaming, strong black coffee.

Eggs. Fluffy, scrambled eggs.

Fruit Salad. Not the cool-whip-coconut-canned-fruit-cocktail kind, but the fresh mango and banana kind. Mmmmmm.

Sausage. Hot, tasty, good old fashioned pork sausage.

Bacon. No need to say more. Okay, I will. Bacon.

Sorry, I was overcome by the thought of glorious pig fat.

Monkey Bread. Cinnamon, sugar, pull apart goodness. I might be in love. This was my first monkey bread experience. Buddha have mercy on my soul, I nearly proposed to the maker. Then I remembered he is married to my friend and I love Nick. Instead, I had seconds.

Oh yeah, there was juice, too.

So this was the glorious breakfast prepared by SuperCool for our ENTIRE team while we were out running 10-11 miles on the hilly gravel tank trails. SuperCool is the husband of Pacemaker. He has a funky-intelligent-urbanite-groovy-NPR-wry-sense-of-humor-hip kind of vibe. We like SuperCool. He and Pacemaker are absolutely adorable together. Ohhhhh and their children. Beautiful babies.

Anyhoodle. On to the point.

Our starting location changed this last Saturday from Bartlett High School to the tank trails. During the Mayor's Marathon, we will run a portion of the race on the tank trail. You can read a blurb about the trail here. Or, better yet, you can check out the elevation (miles 7-15) here. Honestly, I was a wee bit nervous about this portion of the race, and Saturday's run did me a world of good.

When we arrived at our designated meeting spot, our first surprise was a very fun "GO TEAM!" sign hung on Pacemaker and SuperCool's garage door. Turns out that they live at the end of the street we were to park on to access the tank trails.

The second surprise came two-thirds of the way through our run: the discovery of some bear paw prints on the southern portion of the trail which led to an immediate turn around and re-routing of our run to the north. Surprise may not be entirely true, as we were all very aware of the likelihood of running into a bear on the trail after last summer. Two members of our team wore bear bells and several carried bear spray. {The joys of training in Alaska}

Our final surprise was the wonderful breakfast (menu above) that Pacemaker and SuperCool hosted at the end of the run.

The training process has been a fabulous journey so far. When we started, I really didn't perceive any motivators beyond raising money for a good cause while losing some weight. Now, I find that the camaraderie and new found friends are huge motivators. I am so amazed that everyone on our team is so great. We are all feeding from each other's strengths and stories to do something better for incredible is that?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sweet Sixteen

Sixteen glorious miles. Never thought I would call a sixteen mile run glorious. Ever.

It was unbelievable.

I am starting to think I may actually be able to complete the marathon. You probably didn't realize that up until the sixteen mile run, I had some doubts.

I'm really starting to enjoy this running stuff. Anyone wanna meet me next Saturday?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sweaty Beast

Sooo....on my journey from chubby-bubby to athlete I have learned a little something. So has everyone who runs with me.

I sweat.


I'm not talking a little feminine perspiration. I'm talking DRENCHED. I think Under Armour, REI and Nike should hire me to test the wicking capability of their clothes.

I sweat so much you can smell the sodium. No joke. After we are done running, I have streaks of white salt down my face.

When we did the Heart Run with our team a few weeks ago, San Diego and Perky joked that I could serve as the team's salt lick for sodium replenishment.

I sweat so much I have to take additional salt in while I exercise or my blood pressure drops too low from the electrolyte imbalance.

I sweat so much that our head coach, Drill Sergeant, felt the need to tell me, "You sweat. A lot." This was hurtful because (1) it was in front of the group, (2) her normally adorable face was squinched up as if she was looking at a smelly pile of dog poo, and (3) it is true.

Last week, as I was ending my Nirvana run back at the house, Nick and the kids pulled up on their bicycles. Big C looked at me, very confused and asked, "Did you just take a shower?"

It was sweat.

I am a sweaty super freak.

Friday, May 1, 2009


I just realized that I haven't written anything for two weeks now, and that maybe, just maybe, this blogging stuff is harder than running. At least I don't sweat as much while writing. At least not on the outside.

I want you to know that I have still been running, just not writing.

Our training schedule consists of five runs a week plus cross training, and, in an ideal world, some strength training and ab workouts. Real life, the spawn, the dog, the two-fish-thank-you-Jen, jobs, school, the lawn, the badly-needs-a-remodel-house, my parents, our friends, and the fact that all those mouths in our house expect to be fed before 10PM often get in the way.

Anyhoodle, our ideal training schedule looks like this:

Mondays - Rest, Abs, Strength
Tuesdays - Tempo Run (currently 50 minutes)
Wednesdays - Run (currently 40 minutes), Abs, Strength
Thursdays - Run (currently 50 minutes), Abs, Strength
Fridays - Total Rest
Saturdays - Long Run (this weekend is 140 minutes or so, maybe 13.5 miles)
Sundays - Run (30 minutes), Abs, Strength

I will tell you right now we almost always skip that darn Sunday run. Mostly because I can barely walk on Sundays. Now that it is nicer weather, I promise to be better - or at least ride the bike on Sundays.

Last night, after work Nick and I set off for our 50 minute run. We didn't have a babysitter, so the three youngest spawn rode their bikes with us. The plan was to run a loop through the neighborhood for 15-20 minutes, deposit the kids at the elementary school playground, and run the last 30 minutes while the kids played. We brought our dog Unagi, too. She has been missing out on our runs because dogs aren't allowed to run with our team.

Have I mentioned that the first mile always SUCKS? {Sorry Mom} The first mile my legs felt tight and heavy. I was out of breath almost immediately. My calves were burning. I was hot and sweaty after 1/3 of a mile. Ohhhhhhh and then those evil thoughts crept in..."If we turn around, no one has to know", "I could tell Nick I have an injury", "I'm not fat, I'm voluptuous", "Starvation would be easier than this", and my recent favorite, "Who said there was anything wrong with WALKING a marathon?"

And then Unagi decided to help motivate me. She pooped in the middle of the sidewalk. I have found that when you are a chubby-bubby-turning-athlete-training-for-a-marathon you must look for motivation in all things. Yesterday it was dog poop. Promise serious. Motivational dog poop. Coming to a running store near you.

The motivation in the sidewalk pooping was that we got to stop running long enough for her to finish her business and for Nick to pick it up. {You didn't think I picked it up, did you? One-hundred pound dogs poop a LOT. I'm not sure I could manage that load, even with the strength training.} For some strange reason, my legs and breath decided to cooperate after we started running again. Unfortunately, Nick wasn't feeling the motivation from the dog poop. It may have even been de-motivational dog poop for him. By the time we got to the school, Nick told me to go on without him, he was done for the day. We had only run 18 minutes and had 32 minutes of running left.

I am a wimp. I don't like to run alone. Running with Nick and/or our training team helps to motivate me. I was really tempted to stop running and just walk the rest of the time with Nick and then something truly bizarre happened. I found my inner athlete. I knew she was hiding under that cellulite!

I decided that finishing the run was a test of my commitment. I changed the mode on my watch from distance to pace (so I wouldn't slow down without a faster runner) and decided to run an out and back course rather than winding through the neighborhood. I set the goal to keep my pace around a 10:16 minute mile, with an allowance for hills. I ran west on Northern Lights, into the sun. The "out" leg of my run was mostly uphill, although the incline is so gradual that I had never noticed when riding in my car. I was tempted to move off of the road and onto the Coastal Trail, but honestly, I was too scared to run alone on the trail. I spent some time thinking about my fear, trying to decide if I was being a ninny or being safe. I couldn't decide...what do you think?

I would love to tell you that those 32 minutes were glorious, that you should all go out and immediately buy running shoes and start training today to reach athletic Nirvana, but I would be lying. Webster's second definition of Nirvana (after the first definition of the final beatitude that transcends suffering) is, "a place or state of oblivion to care, pain, or external reality."

Hmmphhhh. Oblivion to care? I don't think so....I ran along the road, watching out for cars, looking for moose, minding my footfall on the loose gravel, watching for frost heaves, keeping an eye on the scary looking man on a POS bicycle, and wondering exactly who was in the trees when I smelled cigarettes and saw no cars or bikes nearby. Oblivion to pain? No....I was all too aware of the cycle: shoulders (drop arms, shake loose), lungs (focus on breath), lower back (stand tall), knees (watch frost heaves), shins (watch footfall), and back to shoulders. Oblivion to external reality? How do you transcend sweating so profusely that the dust from the road is causing a mudslide down your face?

But I did it. And I loved every minute of it.