Adventures In Running

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Running in Circles

Today I ran in circles for 3 hours. OK - I actually ran in ovals - but it doesn't sound as good. My running buddy Leslie Peterson and her friend Gary wanted to do a 15 mile long run for the day and I had agreed to go along. Then the weather started dumping snow. I did most of my running outside this past week, but I wasn't in the mood to run for so many hours in fresh snow and ice. Instead we went to the Olympic Oval in Kearns.

This is the ice oval set up for speed skating for the 2002 Olympic games in Salt Lake City. We ran here a couple of times last year. The track runs on the outside of the ice and 3 1/2 laps equals a mile. I purchased a lap clicker last year which was invaluable (it would drive me crazy remembering how far I had gone otherwise).

We arrived at the track a little after 9 a.m. and agreed that 52.5 laps would equal 15 miles. We each had our own little goals and I think we each achieved them. My goal was to run longer than I previously had without any walking breaks. My previous record was 10 miles back in November and I was hoping to at least do a half marathon without needing a walking break.

The nice things about the oval are that you don't have to dress warmly, there are lots of people to watch and talk to, and they pipe in music. (The bathrooms are warm and that is nice too).

For the first 10 miles I would try and do a 25 step strider to shake my legs out from running a consistent pace. My knees were a bit sore, but I wrapped the left one after 5 miles and it held out okay. After passing the 13 mile mark without stopping, it got a little harder, but I actually made it all 15 miles before stopping. Endurance has obviously increased as well as my will power since the St. George Marathon.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Gift Suggestions

To your enemy, forgiveness;

To an opponent, tolerance;

To a friend, your heart;

To a customer, service;

To all, charity

To every child, a good example;

To yourself, respect.

    -Oren Arnold

Monday, December 22, 2008

Treadmill Test - attempt 1

I went to Gold's Gym on my lunch hour to do my treadmill test. I honestly thought my lunch hour would be sufficient for this test.

As I mentioned yesterday, Sasha P challenged me to run on a treadmill at 6.6 mph (just over a 9 minute mile pace) as long as I could until I collapsed. I thought I might be able to do a couple of miles at the most.

One year ago Leslie Peterson and I both set a goal of running a 5K on a treadmill in under 30 minutes (slightly over 6.0 mph pace) and I was dying for breath at the end of that 30 minute session. I know my fitness has improved this year - but I am not sure exactly how much.

Anyway, I warmed up on the treadmill for 1 mile at 4.5 mph, then kicked the treadmill into gear at 6.6 mph. The first quarter mile I felt really great and thought, "Wow, this is going to be easier than I thought." Then next half mile I felt like I was only going to make it about 1.5 miles before dying. I determined there and then to try and make it to 3 miles no matter how bad it felt (and it felt bad at that point).

About 1 mile into the treadmill test I started settling in and my body got into the groove. Yes, I felt like I was running fast, but my heart was not pounding and my perceived exertion level was not as high as I expected it to be.

Two miles into the test I began to realize that Sasha was right and my body was in better shape than I thought. I still thought 3 miles might be my maximum, but either way I was surprising myself and knew I had to end at the 3 mile mark to get back to work. As I finished the 3 fast miles - my body was starting to feel more stressed with my breathing starting to get harder and heavier.

I will wait another week and attempt this again. I am very happy with the results.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Talking with Sasha and Sarah about Fitness

I was visiting my dad for his birthday (yesterday was Dad's and Kevin's birthdays) and dropped by Sasha and Sarah Pachev's house and ended up visiting with them for a couple of hours. We talked with them about a lot of things, but - most important - their whole family gave me lots of running information.

Sasha wants me to start doing some 5K's so that I can get an idea of where I am fitness wise. I have agreed to do one on New Year's Eve afternoon in Provo, but it may take a couple of tries for me to learn to push myself. One of the things I have learned the past year and a half is that I have not lived up to my potential. In order to get to my potential, I will have to learn to live with some discomfort and that is going to take some practice (this makes sense to me - but might not to anyone else). I have to learn to train and race hard instead of just training and racing comfortably and being pleased with improving as my fitness improves.

One of the steps Sasha recommends that I do is start doing striders on my runs. Right now I am doing 25 step increments of pushing myself hard and then slowing down, recovering a bit and doing this over and over again on a run. When this starts getting comfortable I will increase to 50 steps, then 100, 200, etc.

Sasha thinks that I am actually faster than I think I am. He challenged me to do a treadmill run. What I need to do is set the treadmill at 6.6 mph (which would put me on track for a close to 4 hour marathon) and then run until I get thrown off the treadmill. Gulp!

In order to cope with the snow and ice they also recommend that I run fast when the ground is clear of ice and then run slow when it is slippery. That way I will vary my pace during a training run.

Sasha suggests I work on modifying my diet and trying to get my weight down to 130 pounds. He thinks that would be an optimal weight. Both he and Sarah gave me some good ideas on eating better by eliminating processed foods and sugar out of my diet. I don't think I will go as extreme as their family does, but I plan to implement most of their suggestions. Sarah has a recipe blog in the FastRunningBlog community and I am going to check it out more.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Twilight Update - 6 days have passed

Jennifer was asking for some more Twilight pictures - so here they are. The picture above is Twilight's home. She has her bed, potty pads, toys, etc. Today I added the crate and am feeding her in it to start her on crate training.

Twilight seems to feel my monkey slippers are ominous and was attacking them and dragging them around the house today.

Here she is asking me to let her go free.

Silly dog - she is laying on her back in her bed and whining at the same time.

We have had some good days and some bad times. Yesterday afternoon and evening were bad. Lots of accidents and poop being left everywhere. Then she peed twice on my bed and kept jumping on my face and trying to bite it and wouldn't settle down. I finally took her downstairs and made her sleep in her cage all night.

We have a lot of fun playing together. Today I have been working on potty training her. Also focusing on not allowing her to bite my hands and feet unless it is just in play. Her favorite place today is my big couch and she loves to run around on it and climb on me and get buried in blankets and wrestle her purple animal. She kept trying to jump up there on her own, so I brought her little set of stairs down and she is learning to go up and down them - although they scare her a little.

My favorite men

Today is December 20th and I would like to honor my two favorite men in my life - my son, Kevin Christopher Lee and my father, John Kenneth Miles. Today happens to be both of their birthdays. Kevin is 19 years old and my dad is 82 years old.

Kevin is such a joy in my life. I always wanted to be a mother and Jennifer was my first treasure given to me and Kevin was my second. I remember my pregnancy with Kevin - I kept telling my doctor that the baby was huge - but only my internist believed me. After endless hours of labor (with no drugs), they finally took Kevin by C-Section and the doctor later apologized that he had gained 2 pounds in a few minutes. Kevin was 9lb 10 oz and about 3 1/2 weeks early. We called him 'Kevin from Heaven' when he was little (or relatively little), and he was such a sweet baby.

When he was a few weeks old he got the first of numerous bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis and would be deathly ill for a week at a time. Finally at 10 months old he was diagnosed with asthma and after a hospitalization at 11 months old he was put on nebulizer treatments. These helped us cope with the sicknesses, but we never really thought he would make it to 5 years old. Finally, at 3 years old we had his tonsils and adenoids removed and it seemed to cure his asthma (although he suffered from croup until he was at least 10 years old).

Kevin has always been an outstanding child. School came too easy for him because he was a genius, but in High School he finally started challenging himself. We could rarely punish Kevin because he was skilled at always making everybody laugh. He has always had a knack of being entertaining and looking at life with a different perspective. Video game champion, scholarship student, marathoner, athlete - a terrific son to have been granted the privilege of raising.

Kevin - thanks for helping me to laugh at life. I've always loved your hugs and you are such a cute kid. You are turning into a terrific adult and I am proud of you.

Then there is my dad. He is a terrific father. He was very supportive of us growing up (as long as it didn't cost money). He set a good example of living the gospel and working hard. My dad put up with a lot of years of emotional and verbal abuse from my mother and his personality has totally changed the last 3 1/2 years as he has been on his own. He has been great at helping me through my divorce and is there for me when I need him. As he has had health struggles in the years since he has retired, both my sister and I have been blessed to be able to be there and help him out. Oh yeah - and where would my dad be without golf (several holes in one) and watching sports on tv. I can't picture dad without those pasttimes.

I love my two favorite men.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Twilight makes her official debut

People have been telling me I need to get some puppy pictures up - so here they are!

Here is Twilight shortly after my sister dropped her off. She is a scared little puppy wondering how her world suddenly ended up turning upside down.

By day two she was much more comfortable. Here she is during a 90 minute long play session. (This toy is about 4 inches long) Here are the official 7 week old puppy pics!

My sister spent last night at my house and Twilight was playing up a storm in the late afternoon. She wore herself out so much, she slept all evening. Big mistake on my part - she then wanted to play a lot during the night. Her favorite spot to sleep was in the crook of my neck. If I turned my face away or slept on my stomach, she would get up on the pillow next to me and bark until I turned around so that she could start licking my face again. The only really funny part about it (I was pretty tired from a long run last night) was when she would fall off the pillow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mamma Mia!

My sister and I bought Mamma Mia tonight and were singing along with the movie. I decided that the reason they made a sing-along version was to keep people from noticing how bad Pierce Brosnon really sings.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Twilight is coming home tomorrow morning!

My sister is bringing Twilight over tomorrow morning! I am so excited to have my newest addition join my family! Oh man - I may not be able to sleep tonight........

Too much of a good thing?

I decided it was time to straighten out my cabinets today and get rid of some of the junk food hiding in them.

When I was living in an apartment the past two years, my cupboards were overflowing and I had a lot of dishes and appliances in storage and food hidden under my bed in order to keep any kind of order at all.

As I looked through my cabinets today, I realize how lucky I am. I have everything unpacked and there are cupboards that are empty or only have a couple of items in them. I think I could almost store an entire year's supply of food in my cabinets (granted there is only me that I am feeding) and still have room to spare.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Running in adverse conditions

It looks like winter has finally hit the northern Utah region with a big snowstorm hitting today. From now on the winter running will be increasingly challenging. I'd like to stay outside as much as possible, but that means taking even more precautions against the changing conditions.

Summer running is pretty simple - throw on a technical running shirt and some running shorts and your shoes and head out the door. If it is really hot - add some water for a daily run and you are good to go. Oh yeah - don't forget a hat and sunglasses. I think those are invaluable. I read somewhere that you use a lot of energy and facial muscles squinting against the sun, but the hat and sunglasses allow your face to relax more. On a typical daily run this might not be significant, but when you are running for hours on end, small things like this can make a big difference. Plus, I'm not as good as I should be about throwing on sunblock, so this helps me keep the sun damage to my face down a little bit.

As the temperatures cool, the first change is usually switching from a singlet and/or t-shirt to a long-sleeved running shirt. If it is a little cooler, some lightweight gloves will keep the hands warm. This can keep me going through a lot of cooler temperatures - usually down into the low 40's. As long as the upper body stays warm and I keep moving, I am okay. I have also been experimenting with 'arm sleeves' this year and like them because they help keep the upper body warm, but can be removed as my body temperature rises from exertion.

Now that the weather is cold every day, I have to check the weather before running. Then I have to decided the following each day:
  • Head - how cold and windy is it? Is it a bill cap, ear warmers, light skull cap or heavy skull cap type of day. Do I need to wear a face mask to help warm the air a little and keep my face warmer?
  • Hands - thin gloves, heavier gloves, heaviest gloves. Gotta keep the hands warm.
  • Upper body - will one long sleeved shirt be enough? How about arm sleeves? Or do I need a t-shirt underneath, running vest, warmer outer shell, running jacket. Upper body can be adjusted by adding or removing layers and zipping and unzipping zippers.
  • Lower body - shorts, capri tights, full tights, warmest tights? Hopefully I won't have to wear thermals underneath - but it might come to that.
  • Feet - socks: lightweight or winter weight? shoes: any pair, or is it slushy and a water-resistant pair needed? Is it slippery out? Can I just run slower, or do I need yaktracks?

If that seems confusing - factor in the time of day to determine if I need to wear any reflective items or if I need to use a headlamp.

My goal is to run outside as much as I can. However, I can tell you this much - I am already looking forward to the ease of summer running.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tis the reason for the season

Today my goal was to get in the Christmas spirit. I have had a hard time getting used to being alone at the holidays this year - so thought it was time to invite the spirit of the season into my home.

This morning I spent several hours chatting with my daughter in Italy. I miss here even more around the holidays, so enjoyed the chance to talk with her off and on.

I wrote my family Christmas letter and finished stuffing the envelopes I had already addressed and got the letters in the mail. I then packed a box to ship off to my son-in-law, Jeremy in Afghanistan and another box to ship off to my daughter, Jenn in Italy.

It was also time to dig out the Christmas decorations. I am not purchasing a tree this year for my townhouse, but I put out my Christmas village, several wall decorations and then set up some of my nativity collection.

I love nativities. I think I bought my first nativity about 15 years ago and after that started getting nativities from friends and family as gifts.

Some have come and gone - but most of they have stayed around and I put out different ones each year. This year I put two of the bigger nativities in my Christmas window and several small ones in my curio cabinet. My newest nativity this year is a handblown glass nativity ornament that Jenn bought me in Venice, Italy.

My father passed on a lladro nativity set to my sister and I to share starting last Christmas and as soon as I find it and get it set up I will post pictures of this treasure.

Puppy Prep 101

Friday and Saturday I started in on my puppy prep. I figured it was time to get some of the necessities for my newest addition to the family before she actually arrives (17 days - but who's counting?)....

So far I have:
  • 3 books on dog training
  • A magazine on Yorky puppies
  • 2 different packs of pee pads
  • A set of stairs for my bed for the puppy (courtesy of my sister)
  • A retractable leash
  • Dog brush
  • Regular leash
  • Toenail clippers
  • Baby/Dog gate
  • A dog pad for the tile floor she will be on when I am gone
  • Doggy toothbrush and toothpaste
  • About 6 puppy sized toys
  • 2 puppy outfits
  • Some training treats
  • Some wire for my balcony so the puppy won't fall off (courtesy of my sister)
  • Teething toys
  • 2 water bowls and a food bowl
  • Tray to put the food and water bowls on

My sister is also providing me with:

  • Puppy chow
  • Some shampoo and conditioner
  • A collar
  • A toy
  • A blanket or bed for the puppy
  • The puppy pen they are currently in
  • More piddle pads
  • Twilight the awesome, beautiful, adorable puppy!

I went by my sister's house last night and held Twilight twice. The first time she was pretty scared and kept shaking until I wrapped her in her blanky. The puppies are all getting pretty active - but still clumsy. The first girl went to her new home yesterday morning and all the puppies experienced their first bath.

Later in the evening I came back and picked up Twilight again and she crawled up my chest and started licking my face like crazy. Guess she got used to me again.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Trails on Antelope Island

Antelope Island is a great island to run on. The only time I don't really enjoy it is during the summer when the 'no see-ums' attack and even that is liveable if you put on enough bug juice.

I have run all of the allowed trails on the island and thought this would be a good time to post about them:

The Lakeside Trail: This trail is about 3 miles long each way and runs between the White Rock Bay campground and Bridger Bay campground. Except for one really rocky section in the middle, this is an easy trail and great for taking young families on hikes.

Frary Peak Trail: Not for the faint of heart or legs. The first mile of the uphill is literally breathtaking, after that it is just tough. The uphill slog is worth it for the run downhill when you are done. I have done the section after the antennas to the top of Frary Peak several times, but it is really rough and exposed and quite scary (some scrambling on all fours). I think everyone should do it once to say they have done it and seen the views - but no longer think it is worth the risk to my body and mind and avoid it.

White Rock Bay Trail: 7-8 miles around this. There have been some new sections cut in the last two years, so this trail keeps changing. This is a good trail for hiking and running - you don't have to focus on your footing and will see lots of horses, buffalo and other runners/hikers/bikers. It is also worth taking the side trail up to the antenna towers to see the old buildings up there.

Elephant Head Trail: This trail has some nice single track, but you do have to watch your footing. It is an out-and-back trail. One of the two trails that you have to do part of White Rock Bay and then head up the steep uphill past Lone Tree to get to.

Split Rock Trail: This is the other trail that requires you to go on White Rock Bay to get to. This is a nice loop trail and you can choose to either run down a long downhill to the valley and then up several miles of switchbacks or run the several miles of switchbacks and then face the long uphill run (my preferred version). This is the first place I was ever charged by a buffalo - I went up the side of the valleys that time. Take time to stop and view the old horse corral and read the signs when you are going by. Sometimes in the winter this trail can get a little slick because the sun doesn't melt patches of ice on the south walls.

Mountain View Trail: This trail runs along the front of the island. It starts just after the causeway, passes the start to the Frary Peak Trail and ends up at the ranch houses. A nice easy trail with short uphills and downhills.


The Causeway: 7 miles of flat running and biking each way. Kind of stinky near the start of the causeway. This used to be a lot prettier before the lake receded. The Great Salt Lake is at a pretty low level and definitely needs some good rain and snow fall in order to get it up higher. You often have to deal with a crosswind - but I highly recommend this for biking with young children.

Running on Antelope Island

I went for a run on Antelope Island this morning. It used to be a lot easier to get to the island when I lived in Layton - now it is about a 40 mile drive just to get to the causeway. However, it was a nice sunny day and a beautiful day to be experiencing nature up close and personal.

I am running the Buffalo Run ( in March, 2009 for the fourth year in a row and they hold training runs on the island so that we can get some trail running in and get used to the conditions. I took my friend Leslie's dog Odee along for some company and to get him some exercise. I had to have Odee on a leash and that was an experience, because he is not a tiny dog.
As you can see in this picture of Leslie and Odee - Odee is about the size of a small horse. He is part Great Pyranese and is a sweet dog. He even has his own set of running saddlebags so that he can carry his own water and treats.

Odee and I did 11 miles yesterday. That was my goal to hit 40 miles for the week. Odee decided I wasn't allowed an easy warmup and took off running and I did my best to keep up. Luckily, he is still a dog, so had to stop and christen a lot of bushes the first two miles before he could settle down and be serious.

We first ran the White Rock Bay trail. In my previous years of running on Antelope Island, I always walked the uphills, but thought I would just run slow up them today. We took our first break at the bench at mile 3 on the White Rock trail and Odee downed an entire bottle of water. It has a long, slow uphill that we had steamed up. Some of the runners headed up past Lone Tree to run the Elephant Head trail -but I honestly didn't think Odee would be able to handle the steep uphill and knew he would block my view of that trails rocks, so I went left and continued around White Rock.

A mile or so later we hit the next uphill and it was steeper and Odee just couldn't run it, so I used him as an excuse to walk. About then, Jim Skaggs, the race director of the Buffalo Run caught up to some of us and told us he had just got permission for us to run a new section of trail that would mean we could avoid the next big hill. I love exploring new trail and jumped at the chance. It took us back down the north side of White Rock and was a series of sweet, easy uphills and downhills. There were 6 buffalo grazing in a small area and the trail actually looped around them for about a mile. Odee was tired enough that he didn't bother with them and I think the buffalo thought Odee was big enough that they didn't want to mess with him either.

About mile 8 we could see the jeep and Odee wouldn't even take a break to drink and was pacing me pretty fast. He could smell the barn - as they say. I tried to tell him we weren't done running, but he wouldn't listen. I think he had a sad look on his face as we ran past the car. We headed around the White Rock Bay campgrounds and over to the Lakeside trail and ran it a mile or so before turning around and heading back to the car. Odee was 'dog tired' - so it was time to call it quits.

If my training continues and I can stay healthy - I should be able to take another 30 minutes to an hour off my 50K time come March.