Friday, November 19, 2010


I ran into some snow today, literally. I'd heard there was some up on the mountain, and sure enough, it lingered on road 634 where I ran. (This road is too out in the middle of nowhere to even have a name. I think it's the 634th Lincoln National Forest road. I really didn't know there would be that many.)

What's up with my sudden inability to rotate pictures? Actually I did rotate it, but it rotated itself right back when I put it here. Anyway, if you don't mind turning your head to the side, it's a beautiful view...

I don't expect much snow down in the valley this year, and it's certainly too warm right now to have any. Remember monsoon season? Well in comparison to what we've had since then, it's appropriately named. 

I was driving home from the gym the other day when it started raining! I actually had to use my wipers like twice. Coming up on the city, I could see a strange dust cloud forming over it. My picture out the car window doesn't give the full effect, but here it is. (I know, beautiful foreground. Sorry.)

It wasn't quite the dust tornado that we frequently see out here. One that size would've been exciting, especially right over my house. 

I'm really adapting to this dryness. Coming out of the grocery store on another day, I started driving into a strange wetness on the streets. Looking up at the sky, there were no clouds whatsoever. Maybe a little one rained itself completely out while I was shopping. 

This reminded me of a ride we did with the local group. They just went plowing right over all sand, dirt, or gravel that was in the road. I commented that gravel scares me on the bike. One man said, "We're scared of water."

I'm headed out to Phoenix for the weekend for some IM spectating (and sign up), and just to visit another state in which I've only set foot in the airport. Next week it's back to the rainy south. Should I bring galoshes and a poncho? I'll be checking the forecast.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Decision Time

Even with the elections over, I still haven't made my big decision this fall, which is to race, or not to race. The most urgent (and expensive) race decision involves Ironman Arizona. This Monday we will be D-day. Jeremy and I will be in Tempe, having watched the race and previewed the course over the weekend. 

You may wonder why I'm having a hard time deciding on this, since my past behaviors seem to indicate my haste in registering for yet another Ironman, year after year. But I'm hesitant this time. The past almost two years -- since I feel like I lost my running legs and lungs -- have thrown me for a loop. I don't know what's going on with this body that refuses to get back in shape. And while I, of all people, am not afraid to go out and crash and burn on an Ironman course, I sure don't want to set myself up for failure. A year out. 

I know once I get to the race and feel the excitement and remember why I love these events, I'll be pushing my way into the registration line and thrusting my $600 check at the nearest taker. But for this week, I'll be weighing the pros and cons (which are mostly my athletic inabilities) over and over.

The next racing decision I can wait just a little longer to make. Jeremy has signed up for the Phoenix marathon in January. I couldn't pull the trigger last month when he was offering to register me. And I'll probably wait until the last minute or until I discover that the race is full.

Last time I was in Memphis I went to my favorite running shoe store where I talked to my favorite running shoe store manager. He happens to be an incredible runner, and is training for his next 100 miler. Deciding when exactly to race, he said to me, "Like you, I don't race just to do it, I want to do well." Yes! Thank you for remembering that about me, when I almost forgot. I can't bring myself to do a marathon just to do it. Why would I want to run the same speed I ran in my last decent Ironman? I don't even think that's an accomplishment worthy of the leg pain it causes. And my only flat out marathon -- my first one, 10 years ago-- was just 3 minutes faster than that. I'm not going out there to PW, or to even PR by a minute or two. And at this point, my legs aren't proving to me that I would do any better than that.

Of course I could be using a false measure of slowness. I am comparing my Garmin data to my many years of runs lacking data. I've always just assumed I did whatever distance my legs felt like they did for that day. I'd go by time a lot, but never charted or measured distance. Now I'm obsessed with and my Garmin. Ackkkk. 

So maybe I've been running this slowly for years now, but just didn't know it. Maybe I could run a decent marathon. Maybe I'll just sign up under an alias, so my results won't be posted on the internet forever, just in case. 

Yes or no?? I guess it's still TBD.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cool Running

I had the best run yesterday. It started out near Cloudcroft, our local mountain town. I had looked up the weather and found the first report to be unbelievable, so I checked two more sites and got a twenty degree discrepancy. Turns out it was the coldest of the three -- 42F! But it was sunny and comfortable.

The first trailhead at which I stopped marked the entrance to the Vista Trail, which turned out to be full of nice vistas, but only about a third of a mile long. I got right back in the car and headed just a little further down the road to the Rim Trail. I'd heard of the Rim Trail, but hadn't actually set foot on it before. It started out rocky and rooty, but only for a few short sections. Soon it turned into a nice 18-inch-wide ledge, covered in pine straw and hard packed dirt, that rose steeply to my left up the mountain. To the right, it dropped steeply off into the... well I couldn't see the bottom. At least there were a few trees there to break any potential falls before sliding into the deep abyss. Not sure if I'll bring my shaky mountain bike skills out here any time soon. It was a well trodden trail, but some parts were full enough of roots and rocks that I had a perfect excuse to walk and catch my breath. 

Just under 2 miles in, I hit a road crossing. Deciding that I liked the looks of this road, I turned on it instead of continuing on the trail. Now THIS was a nice running road. It was hard packed, smooth dirt with just a bit of gravel. At this point I was feeling the searing in my lungs, and even though the hills weren't bad, I walked some of them. Jeff Galloway said to do it!

Soon I hit a highway and realized that this was in fact the same highway I had parked on. Just not here. But it couldn't be far away. I kept running until the Garmin said 4 miles, since I'd planned an 8 miler. I turned around and must've dazed off for a few miles. Next time I looked down the mileage said 6.4. Oops, wasn't I supposed to get back on the T105 trail at 6? Hmmmm, this looked familiar, but how unfamiliar can a dirt road with lots of evergreen trees look when that's what I've been running on for 4 miles? I kept going. At 7.5 I KNEW I had gone too far. Trying not to panic again (and keeping thoughts of bears this time out of mind), I tried to check my google map on the phone. No service, of course. How is it that I can be up here, higher than anything within like 100 miles, and still not get service?? I knew worst case scenario, I could run a few miles back to the highway and try to figure out which way to run back to my car. It was right at mile marker 5, and I knew I'd parked between, like, 3 and 7. Somewhere.

I turned around and was admittedly unsurprised when the trail marker was very easy to spot going the other direction. Not sure how it's so easy for my brain to faze out for over 2 miles. Can't it do this in my next race? Please?

I ended up with over 10 miles of trail running (read: slow running, Galloway style), plus I learned a new spot to get some off roading in. Very excited to take husband with me next time, and his sense of direction may be what I need to find my car more easily. That or I'm getting the get-me-back-to-my-car-I've-lost-in-the-parking-lot app on my phone.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Travelling the State

Last weekend we found out just how tall a state New Mexico is. We went 3.5 hours north, still not very close to the north border, but to a beautiful city: Santa Fe. We left early Saturday and got there just about lunch time, so our first stop was a "local" favorite, according to my Yelp app. The bean burritos were good, the green chile sauce was excellent as always, but the red sauce still leaves something to be desired by my taste buds.

We had to walk off some of the lunch, so we oriented ourselves to the downtown area. The square had vendors and artists sprinkled around its borders, and the Native American jewelry artists located along one sidewalk, their turquoise and silver spread on blankets in front of them. 

A few blocks over is the Santa Fe "River," which consists of a beautiful smooth stone ravine lined with the yellowest leafed trees you've ever seen. This goes directly through downtown for several miles. I overhead a tour bus guide saying it used to be a raging river, but... I missed the ending. It's barely a trickle in late October.

After lunch was sufficiently settled, we headed over to the Dale Ball Trails, just a few miles east of downtown, for our long run. Now the city of Santa Fe has the #1 for highest elevation of any state capital at 7300 ft. We didn't know how much higher these trails were going to take us. I picked the south set of trails for some reason, and it turned out to have some great elevation gains. Our long run turned into a hike of about 5 miles that took us up to a peak at 8500 ft. Even running downhill was difficult with the rockiness of the trail. I managed a nice controlled fall/rock slide down. But it was totally worth it. Beautiful.

That evening we found a sushi restaurant, which is something we've been sorely missing since moving from Jackson. It was fantastic. We didn't stay out on the town too late that night; we were tired and eager to rest up for more adventures on Sunday.

Our first stop Sunday was at the Aspen Vista Trail, up on yet another mountain. We got there a month or so too late for the peak of the aspen leaves; they were bare. It was also about 37F up there, so we headed back down a bit to the Borrega trails. Now I know I talk about elevation a lot, but I really do need an excuse for my slow running. This one started around 8300 ft and we only gained 1200 or so. It was SO much more runnable than Saturday's. Still very pretty (I mean, I find trees in general just gorgeous after so much scenery that only involves cacti and tumbleweed). There was even a creek that we crossed on a log. Thankfully Jeremy got video of my ridiculous inability to balance on a 2 foot wide flat topped fallen tree. I can never forget it now. And I'm not posting it. :)

After an Italian bistro lunch, we went to the New Mexico Museum of art to check out some Georgia O'Keeffe paintings, then headed to get souvenirs from Trader Joe's (namely, a case of Two-er..Three-Buck Chuck). And then it was time to head home.

I spent the ride home putting together a playlist for my new spin class on Mondays! I love teaching spin, but was a little torn when, after I agreed to it, the lead instructor told me that it's a volunteer class. Whatever, I'll just get such a following that they have to pay me, right? It has to be better than her class. I mean, she wears a weight vest to ride a bike...

The class Monday went well. It consisted of my two workout friends and one guy. Good start. now I need more good spin song ideas! Give me some suggestions, please! I can't play the CDs from 9 years ago when I first started. Right?