Monday, November 29, 2010

Hilly Desert Run


"I'm going faster than I thought I would," I yelled to my support crew.
"Yeah, well, it's only been two miles!" My husband likes to sprinkle my life with reality. ; )
"9:07 average," I yelled back. : )

My husband dropped me off 10 miles from our cabin and followed behind, taking pictures and offering me a Twinkie just before I tackled this hill. Because that's what support crews are for, right?!
I kept my eye out for wild animals.
But all I saw were ten horses. 
I wish I ran by horses every day. This is livin'!
Oh, and without feeling sick, I ran within a couple of feet of a very large dead javelina. This isn't him. Your welcome! ; )
This is a javelina who visited the McDonald Observatory when we were there to see huge telescopes and viewed the sun and solar flares, too.

Eight miles into my run, my average was 9:03 (Yahoo!) and then I finished the run with two miles mostly uphill on a rocky dirt road.
And even though I was tempted to take a walk break on the hills, I never did!
 Friday, 11/26/10. 10 miles at 9:24/mi average. 50*
Ft. Davis, Texas. Elevation: 5864-5021'.
Lots of downhills, but the uphills are what I remember most. ; )

Thursday, November 25, 2010

West Texas

I'm on my first Texas desert vacation, in Ft. Davis!

After driving 10 hours to our rental cabin at Sproul Ranch, my husband and I stretched out our legs with a bike ride down the road beside our cabin.
Here's the ranch greeter who met us at our cabin - he didn't say much, but we felt welcome just the same. One of the first things I noticed when we got here was how loudly I talked. Out here in the desert, it's just so quiet.
As soon as it was light this morning, I ran 6 miles on the dirt road beside our cabin. Hello, pink sunrise! It was so quiet that I heard a bird's wings flapping in the sky - twice! And look what I ran by, making this a once in a lifetime run because I doubt I'll ever run by one of these radio telescopes again - there are only 10 in the whole world.
Time for a hike! We hiked to the top of a mountain in Davis Mountains State Park for a 360 degree view of West Texas. The elevation in the area is 5000' and higher - makes me thirsty and a little slower.
It's night time now and I just came in from the freezing cold. I can't believe the number of stars I can see in the desert sky without a telescope, but then we used it to see Jupiter's rings. And if that wasn't enough, I saw the Milky Way without the telescope.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

21 Miles with a Camelbak

I wore my husband's 70 oz. Camelbak hydration pack for the first time today. At first the 5 pound pack felt heavy and swayed back and forth, but I tied the pack's straps across my stomach to hold it steady and got used to the weight, too. Because of the placement of this pack's zipper, I was able to unzip the back pocket to get my gels out without stopping. When I opened it after my run, only a few drops of water poured out - so 70 oz. was a perfect amount for a hot day. I really liked the pack.

It was 71-76* and humid during today's 21 mile run. I took a Gu almost every 4 miles (miles 4-16) and 1 ClifBlok between Gu's, wanting to take in more carbs than usual. I drank water every 1-2 miles.

There was drizzle, rain and sunshine, too. I liked the rain, but the sun was almost too much in the later miles, beating down on me. I ran up the bridge a few times to make the run even harder. I figured: now's the time to work hard. If not now, when?

I think this is only the second time I've run 21 miles in training - usually I max out at 20 miles. My pace was slower than I'd like, but it feels good to have finished a 21 mile run on a less than perfect day. Too bad that I had to stop twice, but I knew it would be a hard run because of the humidity. Glad I did it!

Photo: about mile 20 of the Houston marathon route. I ran on the path on the right a few times today. I like running beneath those tall trees and on the soft bed of pine needles.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This & That

I received a package in the mail because I follow ClifBar on Twitter. I was only expecting the bar and... 100 calories and 4 bites later... It's good. I ate it just now so that I could tell you what I thought. Oh, what I'll do for my blog! I was surprised to also receive strawberry ShotBloks, which I know are chewy, but good, and their "new formula" strawberry gel, which I haven't had before. (Update: like the gel! Tastes like jam.)

I hope I can run enough miles to need a gel soon. I had a great six mile run with hills at the beginning of the week, but then I had to cut a couple of runs short because my right ankle hurt. Today I was so glad to run almost 4 1/2 miles before it bothered me, so it's improving.

Yesterday I bought some cranberry juice so that I can add it to my fruit smoothies. Need more breakfast ideas? Lately, I've been eating wheat toast with honey or oatmeal with lots of toppings before I run.

Houston runners: run with Luke's Locker from the Gray Street running store and get a 15% discount on many items.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Buffalo Bayou 18 Mile Run

Buffalo Bayou Park, Houston

I'm happy to say that I finally finished my long run today.
My dog and I began running down my street and a loose little, barking dog came running towards us. The owner said it wouldn't bite. Is there anyone on the planet who finds comfort in those words?! We finally outran it and ran to Memorial Park and back home where I left Zoe and drank some Gu Brew.

Then I ran to Buffalo Bayou Park. There were a few hills - yay! (Houston's mostly flat.) I saw very few walkers or runners which would have make me feel safer.

When I ran beneath one bridge, there was a horrible stench and it was dark so I turned around to run up near the road instead. Then I heard high-pitched screeching and I realized that I was at the Waugh Street bridge - known for being a bat hangout. That explained the smell.

Later, I survived running through an intersection where I hoped the driver who didn't acknowledge me when I was at the corner wouldn't run me over when I ran in front of her car. It's good to be all in one piece.

 I had wanted to slowly pick up the pace today, but by the time I ran the last 4 miles in Memorial Park, I was out of energy and had a marathon-like desire to walk. Never did, though. Stoplights and water stops don't count! I had eaten a Mandarin Orange Gu (good) at mile 9.5 and an Island Nectars Roctane Gu (tastes like pineapple) at mile 13.5, so what was my problem? When I got home, I saw the temperature: 76*F. I'm pretty sure the heat zapped my energy.

Running in a new place, Buffalo Bayou Park, made the miles go by faster. Even though it was warm, I didn't get a stomach ache and my fingers didn't get puffy which sometimes happens on a long run - maybe because I drank less. So glad to be finished!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Denver RnR Marathon Too Long!

Bunny Love!

Yesterday I had a great 10 mile run. Temps were down in the 50's and I took Zoe, my dog, with me for the first four miles. She's fast and I just hung on! For at least a mile, one of her long floppy ears was thrown up over her head - silly dog! Photo: you know she wants to throw that bunny in the air and chomp it right down!

Running Journal, Post-run Smoothie & My Favorite Running Gadget

Today I woke up to find a message in my Google Reader stating that the Denver RnR Marathon course was .14 of a mile long at the bridge (the toughest stretch). Here's part of the post from the RnR folks, "Unfortunately, the marathon turnaround on the 8th Ave viaduct was placed incorrectly. While the course certification and measurement were both done accurately, race morning the turnaround was mistakenly set up in the wrong place due to confusion with other painted marks on the road. We sincerely apologize for any and all disappointment and inconvenience this has caused our runners." Here's a Denver Post article on the subject.

Ronald says, "That was your longest marathon ever!"

Fortunately, I had been told by a couple of people about the long course/update already. Thank you, Steve, Kim and Jill! I was glad to see my time adjusted from 4:11:35 to 4:10:38, a 57 second difference. It's too bad about the mix-up and I hate that it happened on the toughest part of the course, but the training continues. Next goals: train hard, have fun, and finish in 4 hours... Or less! ; ) No harm in hoping!

Can you see Ronald McDonald in the photo?! I can't believe that I can't remember seeing him standing there at the marathon finish even though the man in the orange cap handed me some sliced apples and talked to me, too! (I'm in the pink/white tank.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Houston Marathon Miles 17-21

This Run Powered by GU Brew & Chomps
I ran 16 miles, partly on the Chevron Houston Marathon route on Friday. I ran through Memorial Park and ran miles 17-21 of the marathon twice and then ran back into the park. There was a downhill section that I hadn't noticed before and miles 17-19 felt shorter than I remembered so it was a good training run.

I missed a turn and went through a couple of extra intersections that I didn't need to, bringing my total number of intersections that I ran through to 12 - running through them and over the buckling sidewalks on Woodway were the only negative parts of the run.

Here's what the marathon portion was like. Let's start at mile 17 at San Felipe and Tanglewood. Turn right onto Tanglewood, a shady street with big trees and big houses that might distract you from your exhaustion just a little bit, I hope.


 During the marathon, there will be people standing outside of their houses and sitting in lawn chairs cheering you forward. One year a family handed out cold water bottles.

Make two right turns and run down Woodway. Enjoy the gentle downhill section. Don't forget to look to the right to see the large church building - a pretty sight.

Once you run under the freeway underpass, you'll have a couple of gentle uphills (they aren't fun, but they aren't as bad as the bridge in the Denver Marathon around mile 23 that we ran over twice and they're nothing compared to Big Sur). These are not the kind of hills where once you top them, you'll soon be coasting downhill because you won't be, but at least the road does flatten out. You want the truth, right?!

Once I got into the park, I turned off the marathon route and ran on the park path. I picked up the pace and was feeling great. Getting home and seeing my pace for the last five miles (marathon pace!) didn't hurt either!

Speaking of hurt, I skipped the ice bath because I was cold when I got home. The verdict: I didn't notice a difference from the times when I do torture myself with an ice bath, but maybe that's because 16 miles isn't too hard on my body, unlike a marathon. 

The next day, I enjoyed dressing up and going to Jones Hall, just a few minutes from home, to see the The 5 Browns, a sibling group of five pianists who played these five grand pianos. Fun! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Runner's Safety Light

The goal: to be seen when I run on the road.

My husband spotted the NiteBeams light at the Denver marathon expo and we bought one. I wore it on my run after checking with my husband to see if I looked funny. "No", he said, "you look safe!" So off I went. The first thing I noticed was that a passing driver gave me plenty of space on the road even though it was dark and I had hopped off the road onto the grass, so I know that I was seen.

After half a mile, the strap slid down from my upper arm to just above my elbow. I tightened the strap to fit and it was comfortable. I tried the strap on my wrist and ankle, too, but the velcro enclosure covers more of the light if you make the strap tighter (and put it on a smaller body part) which defeats the purpose so I left it on my arm.

 I wish there was more velcro on the strap so that there was more room for adjustment and I'd also like the stretchy part of the strap to be shorter so that it doesn't cover the light as much when you tighten the strap, but overall, I like the light strap. You can easily change the light from a solid light to a flashing light or turn it off while running. Nitebeams also makes wrist straps and dog collars, too.

Run safely!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Denver Marathon Too Long?

The 26.3628 Mile Denver Marathon Finish Line
Sunday, I did some treadmill speedwork and Monday, I ran a little faster than usual for a recovery run which made me very sore that night, as in I can't remember the last time I was this sore!

Tuesday, all was well and I ran 8 miles in the rain. I was starving (unusual) and didn't bring any food (more unusual) so I filled up on water at the water fountains. The dark sky, the gentle rain, the quiet path, running fast for 4 miles - liked it!

Looks like there's more than one reason that my Garmin told me that I ran more than marathon distance on October 17, 2010 in Denver and it's not just that I'm really bad at running tangents. According to my Garmin: 26.62 miles.

And at RunColo the race measurer of the Denver Marathon states the route was .144 mile long at the bridge that we crossed twice at mile 23.5 - my "slowest" mile.

This would be a different post if I missed my goal by a minute, but I missed it by 11 minutes, so with the marathon length at 26.344, my average pace drops 3 seconds per mile to 9:33. Getting faster. Like that!

Update: The course was too long and our times have been adjusted. It was 26.3628 long.
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