Friday, May 30, 2014

Why I Run

The short story is this:
Yeah I know, the helmet. It's an 8-year-old's!

The details include this:

What happened was an (of course, self-proclaimed) awesome hit straight to the "pitcher," who wasn't supposed to be making plays. 

It was the 8 year old nephew's baseball team against their moms, one sister (Em), and an aunt (me), and the coach was running the pitching machine. But that's ok because I got a hit every other time at bat, scored, and only got that one out. 

However, a very terrible play that was luckily not caught on video was the fly ball that I had like 30 seconds to get in position for, and I still missed it. 

Jenny about to score. 

Jackson on third hoping to get his mom out. 

Emily hitting another one. 

And that is why I run. At least the toddler seems to have gotten his dad's coordination and not mine.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Fair weather running

I guess my few weeks of perfect running weather are over. It seems I do best when the temperatures are somewhere in the small range of 65-80F. Back in March I was freezing up in my half marathon since I overestimated the temps and wore a tank top and shorts. And now I've already melted in the heat this spring, and it is only May.

Sun! He came out with this right after telling me he didn't know how to draw it.
Then he asked where the cold comes from and I tried to explain how the solar system works.
I might have possibly made a few small errors that caused my 10 miler to become a stumbling walk. After my apparent overeating before my triathlon a few weeks ago, I decided that less is more, and I knew a small breakfast would  get me through an aerobic 10 miles. Despite what I actually heard a registered dietitian tell a class once, exercise is NOT solely fueled by carbohydrates. And, also unlike what some "nutritionist" told a newbie runner recently, you don't use up all your carbohydrates in 30 minutes of exercise, requiring jelly beans to get you through. Good grief. No wonder people are so confused about how to fuel exercise. 

Anyway, I had a quick breakfast--so quick that I think the only thing I drank was my delicious coffee... Oops. The night before I had been out doing hill repeats on the bike with a group, and you know how much that makes you sweat, what with the lack of cooling wind and all. Then you get to talking on the descents and forget to drink. Some people may rehydrate all night, and then others dehydrate, like from nursing multiple times. 

So! I'm sure I started out a little low on fluids. I had a small 12oz water bottle with me running, which I finished within 6 miles. It was a bit warmer, leaving my house close to 10am, than my previous runs, and everybody knows how I can melt down in the heat. I've done it in the middle of the summer while training for an Ironman, during a half Ironman, during a few full Ironmans, and countless other times I happened to not have blogged about. Heading out for a hilly, sunny, humid, warm, longer-distance-than-I've-done-recently run on little fluid and scant fuel was not my brightest idea.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, I do need to work on remembering good nutrition before exercise. Just like after a winter off from long riding post Ironman, when I would always forget how much fuel I'd need for a "short" 3 hour bike ride, ending up terribly underfueled, I have forgotten just how much I sweat, and how much I need to replenish after a 90 minute hill workout followed 14 hours later by an easy 10 miler. Learn from me how NOT to acclimate.

My regular daily nutrition, on the other hand, while needing to see a decline in daily ice cream consumption (at least I'm adding some antioxidants-- chocolate, strawberries and bananas), is based around these huge CSA baskets full of a variety of lettuces, beets, radishes, broccoli, onions, and various other goodies. I'm addicted to a couple of things right now besides ice cream, and I suppose I'll share my secrets. Try this homemade ranch dressing from the Pioneer Woman on your salads -- mine of course has modifications due to the herbs I have growing in the kitchen-- and you will never buy ranch again. And then make this broccoli, and you won't eat it any other way again. I'm not even a huge fan of broccoli, until now. Hunter actually said to me, reaching for the broccoli, "Give Hunter that!"

And speaking of Hunter quotes, he attempted to teach me a few things this week when he said, "Owl is a type of bird." And then today, "Octagon has 8 sides." Why yes it does, my miniature scientist and mathematician...

And since no post is complete without Hunter pictures...

  proud owner of his very own new basketball

best daddy ever, goes walking through tiny tunnels during his lunch break

 after the trucks go through the truck wash, they sit out on the curb to dry (where his pants should also be)


Friday, May 16, 2014

Sprint tris and moms

I got my nineteenth triathlon season started Saturday with AIM High in Bryant. It was a fantastic pool, great course, and perfectly run race by All In Multisport. In its second year, it is bound to become a target race for many, especially beginners who desire the safety of a pool swim.

Of course there are risks, for example the guy in front of you may forget, within the very first lap, that you are swimming on the LEFT side of the lanes, and gash your neck and give you whiplash when he pounds you head on. And then he may forget again in the next lane, barely avoiding you again. I don't think too many people heard my variation on a common expletive. I said "fudge," actually. 

Despite panicking when I learned Jeremy had registered me with an estimated 400 yard swim time of 5:45, which I never have accomplished even in my best  shape, he seeded me in a nice position, where I didn't have to pass anybody on the swim and had a few go by me easily. And I am actually pretty proud of my 7:20ish swim time! I swim THAT little now. 

Once out on the foggy roads on the bike, I was near a guy for a bit, determined to keep him close, until a couple of little downhills where I could not keep up. And then it was no man's land the rest of the ride. I didn't see one other bike. I enjoyed myself, a little more than I probably should've, and eventually got back around to transition. The run was similar, but with an out and back, it kept me thinking about racing since there were people out there doing just that! 

Soon after finishing I got to see Damie's sweet little Isla for the first time in most of her life, and then Jeremy brought Hunter out. Leslie was here from Memphis too, and my favorite part of the race was definitely getting to see all of them just like old times. 

We loved hanging out with D and baby Isla later that afternoon at our house. Hunter had so much fun with her, that now we are considering getting him a baby sister. Just not yet. 

Here, let's take a pic all together! Oops Isla is on the move...
Now Hunter is...
There we go!

I realized if I'm going to try to race again this year, I need to work on things like my nutrition (so I don't throw up in my mouth the whole bike, or feel like I'm in one of those awful dreams where something is chasing me but my legs won't run), and figure out what to wear (so I don't have to tuck my blousy shirt into my shorts and look really pro). 

Happy late Mother's Day to all the Mommys of human and furry babies!

The selfie captured

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

50k recovery and a 5k

The best way to recover from a 50k? Not a 5k. But if I had to pick a 5k, this was the best one to do. I ran exactly zero miles (excluding ones with Hunter) between races, instead hosting some out-of-towners: Megan and Annie, then Hunter's Mammo and Nanny. We had a blast, and Jeremy and I even squeezed a date in.

So Sunday morning was a new 5k for the Ronald McDonald house, being held in accordance with a new bike race downtown. The crit course was .8mi on South Main, a rejuvenated section south of downtown with lots of historic houses and great restaurants. And as a commenter (erroneously) said, how perfect that 4 x .8 miles is a 5k (once again, can't my races ever be short?). 

The timing was perfect since I could sneak away before Hunter woke up, and he'd be very entertained by his grandmother and great aunt anyway, so off I went. As few people as I know in town, one of the race organizers I did know, and she hinted that I might be out front. 

I was. There was a guy ahead of me through half a mile, but he took a wrong turn, squeezing through the line of barricades instead of following their curve. The guys behind me started shouting "left, take a left!!" to me, and it was more than obvious which way I was supposed to go. 

After just 8 corners and one long hill, I was back around to the start line with 3 more laps to go. Soon after crossing the line and passing the announcer and stage, a bike escort showed up beside me. He followed me and gave a few encouraging words, mostly while chatting with the course monitors who were commenting about how fast I was going! You could tell they were cyclists and not runners, though, because my less than blazing 6:38 pace wouldn't normally be commented upon. I really appreciated it, regardless. 

Probably the best spectator/cyclist comment, that almost made me laugh had I not been breathing too hard up the hill for the 4th time, was, "So what do they run, like 16 minutes?" Spoken like a true criterium racer. My escort knew it was 4 laps, but still told me "one to go!" when I actually had just a quarter mile to go. I gasped a "no I'm done after this one!", and thought of how fitting that would be after that indoor "800m" in college where we ran an extra lap on the 160m track. Torture. At the finish, the announcer asked me for my time. Ha! 

It was tough actually racing this 5k since there was no one around, not even any men close to me. I tried to push it a few times and found that my quads would let me know that they were definitely NOT recovered from the 50k. I ran a few cool down miles before driving off through the closed bike course where racers were starting to warm up (oops!), and I went straight to the bakery down the street to reward myself with coffee and muffins. 

I forgot to run again this week until today, Thursday. I did swim at one of my all time slowest paces, and made it to the acupuncturist AND the structural integrationist to work on my back and hip kinks. Maybe I'll continue this recovery/taper routine until Saturday, when my 19th season of triathlon commences. I hope this season is half as fun as my first.  

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ouachita Trail 50k

Ouch! I did not train enough for this race. Could it be that a weekly long run of only 12-13 miles, or the fact that my "trail" runs consist of either running the paved River Trail, or less than 3 miles at a time of smooth crushed gravel, did not prepare me for 31 miles and 3700ft of elevation gain over boulders, roots, and small trees? Surprisingly, I have almost all of my skin still intact, despite -- or maybe because of -- my approximately 8 year old trail shoes. I think these are the ones Damie gave me so long ago. I did notice that the mark of modern day trail shoes is their fluorescent colors. Mine are more of the camouflage variety that were in vogue many years ago.

I appreciated all the congratulatory messages about my finish! But this is my fourth (I think?) 50k, not even one of my best ones. First one at this age, on this little mileage, for sure. It seems at 27 years old I was much more capable of getting by unscathed with little training; after that first 50k, I distinctly remember saying how surprised I was that my legs didn't hurt more. Usually I say the soreness is directly related to the speed at which I ran the marathon, in Ironmans, that is. A 5:45 split = no difficulty with stairs. A 3:30 = backward curb descent.

Let me tell you, "sore" doesn't begin to describe the pain running down my quads after the 50k, even at the (seemingly) snail-like pace I finished. I wonder if I notice it more because my 2-year-old doesn't let me stop running races with him up and down the driveway just because I ran a few extra over the weekend, nor does he stop kicking me in the quads in the middle of the night. It is not unusual of me to have dreams about falling that jolt me awake in the middle of the night. Since the race I've had dreams of tripping over rocks and falling that jolt me awake.

Nancy and Cristina came in town Friday night in plenty of time for us to pick up Jenny and wait for a table at a restaurant for an hour. They scared me by saying they were going to leave the house at 4:50am and I decided it would be easier on all of us if I drove separately in the morning. They left nowhere near that early, and I left soon after, getting there just in time to pick up my packet and pee in the woods (or close -- it was dark). The race started off on the road out near Pinnacle Mountain, and the real excitement happened less than a mile in when a headlight-less car came careening around a corner, trying to hit all 200 of us like bowling pins. Nobody was hurt, surprisingly, but our heart rates all maxed. About three miles up the road we finally entered the trail, and it was just light enough to see the trail as the rockiest section began. At mile four, we headed up Pinnacle.

The ascent and descent are approximately one mile total, which we accomplished in about half an hour. On the way up, I got very familiar with Nancy's shoes, since they were right at my eye level, and she was behind a guy in a kilt, lucky thing. As beautiful as it is on top, we didn't pause long to enjoy, and just started hopping right down again. 

Soon after the mountain we started the trail going around the north side of Lake Maumelle. We really didn't get much of a view of it -- or maybe we did. I tend to stare at the rocks or shoes in front of me to avoid falling on my face. But I DID fall a couple of times. The first was coming into a water stop, and I'm surprised a photographer didn't capture it. I'm sure it was graceful, since it was in slow motion.

Miles and miles later, I just could not keep up with Nancy and her light footed flying down the hills. I was getting more and more nervous, so I had to do the opposite of what good ultra runners do; I had to run slowly downhill and faster up. Anyone who has done an ultra can tell you that the strategy, especially early on, is to take the uphills easy. If I did that I was never going to finish. So we stayed in touch, just not right together after about 20? 22 miles?

Despite my careful downhill foot placement, I kept tripping and then finally did it again at mile 25ish. I had a nice quick bust on another rock, this time cutting my hand a little and scratching up my legs and stomach. Soon after, I rolled my left ankle, stepped on the right foot, rolled the left again, and caught myself laughing. Consecutive ankle rolls!

I wasn't sure how I managed to be so clumsy and prone to falling until I saw the pictures on Arkansas Outside. Apparently I run with my eyes closed, in not one picture, but two. That explains so much.

The last three miles again were on the road, and awfully painful, but luckily mostly downhill. I had texted Jeremy with about 3 miles to go telling him my ETA, and just couldn't work up the coordination to get my phone back into my pocket, so this is how I finished.

I am happily relaxing for a few days (or weeks) until my next race, which is quite the opposite of a trail ultra. But I'm glad to have run the beautiful Ouachita Trail with Nancy! Who knew a 37-year-old could run 30 miles a week in training for a 30 mile race and survive? As Hunter answered that rhetorical question the other day: "Hunter knew."