Adventures In Running

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Running Review

2009 was the first year that I focused more on running than on distance walking. Some good and bad came of that. I experienced a lot of illness the first nine months of the year. I think a lot of that came from work related stress experienced during the period when my boss was on bed rest and maternity leave. Work was a real challenge during that period and I put in a lot of time and effort to try and cope with the additional load. I also experienced a lot of injuries – possibly due to the increased focus on running. However, I can now say that I am addicted to running and feel that I can really claim to be a runner, something I never thought I would truly claim.

Highlights of the year include:

  • 1600.14 miles logged as running in 2009. Up from 1279.98 in 2008. In addition there were lots of cross training miles that I did not log.
  • My longest training run ever. 35 miles from Sandy, Utah to Provo, Utah. This was self supported. I also set a PR for covering 50K during that run.
  • My first attempt at a 50 miler in March. It ended at 27 miles with my first DNF due to severe IT Band pain in the left knee from wearing compression shorts that compressed things they should not have. On the bright side – the shorts did help heal an abdominal tear that was potentially building to a hernia.
  • Piriformis issues that resulted in a DNS for the Ogden Marathon in May.
  • The blessing of helping my sister finish her first triathlon because I was not running Ogden that day.
  • Sherpa details during training runs with Marion and Luzy Lew and full blown Sherpa duties for Marion in her first marathon, the Utah Valley Marathon. Even helping Marion out, I ended up with my second fastest marathon ever.
  • My toughest race ever – the Logan Peak Trail Run. A 28 mile run (okay – crawl and walk with occasional running) up and around Logan Peak. 9 hours and 14 minutes of stress and struggle. A real challenge, but something I am really proud of finishing.
  • Becoming one of the Red Hot Pink Chicks and participating in the first ever Red Hot Pink Chicks Half Marathon in July.
  • My first run starting at midnight with Melinda Aaron in the Midnight Moon Run 5k.
  • The Park City Marathon for my third time ever and seeing friends throughout the race. Having my sister alongside me the last 5+ miles.
  • Pushing too hard after Park City and getting a meniscus injury and hamstring tendonitis that caused me to miss the Top of Utah Marathon and St. George Marathon.
  • Being envious of Leslie Peterson completing our 50 mile dream before I did.
  • Hiring a running coach to try and work towards my goal of qualifying for BOSTON in 2011.
  • Achilles Tendonitis causing me to spend lots of time on a stationary bike.

… Funeral

I spoke to soon with my last blog post. Rounded up the year with a funeral. Not a family member, but a tragic loss for lots of loved ones.

Jason Roden passed away on December 24th. We met Jason 20 years ago when he was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois. He was a teenager father with a wife and son to support.

His heart gave out on Christmas Eve. A combination of causes, but probably a lot due to not taking as much care of his body as he could through the years and ending up with uncontrolled Type I Diabetes. Now he left behind a large family, including a wife, 20 year old Tyler (from his first marriage) and two little girls.

My boss/friend, Michele Lindsay and I were talking the other week about how we have so much knowledge available to us about health and the things we need to do, but many people don't want to put any effort into it. I know I am guilty of my junk food obsession – but I try to keep it under control.

Jason's death had me thinking about my desire to keep my body healthy and strong so that I have many years ahead of me. I want to stay in good shape and be able to live and do the things I want to do without using my physical condition as an excuse. And I want to hang around to spoil grandbabies and annoy my kids for a long time more. J

Saturday, December 19, 2009

4 Weddings and a .....

2009 has been a big year for weddings in our family. All the nieces and nephews are growing up, but usually we only have one wedding or so each year.

This year we had four weddings. All starting in August. All children of my two brothers.

My oldest nephew (Kerry's son), Jon Miles, married Janalee in August. I had the privilege of having Jon live with me (okay - he actually slept at the house at night) for a couple of months before the wedding. They were married here in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Then, on Labor Day weekend, another nephew (Regan's son), Ryan Miles, married Brittni up in Olympia, Washington. I was able to make it to that wedding too and enjoyed more time with my family.

After a couple of months reprieve, on December 12th, my niece (Kerry's daughter), Kristin Miles, married Bryce Phillips up in Portland, Oregon. I wasn't able to make that wedding, but enjoyed their Elf Dance on Facebook.

Today was the final wedding (we hope!) of the year. Another nephew (Regan's oldest son), Jeff Miles, married Karen in American Fork, Utah. Another great day with family. Probably the most we have seen each other for years.

This is one way to have a family reunion without the painful party games. :)

Thankfully - there have been no funerals.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I-Need Rolf

I have a new friend. I call him Rolf.

One of the biggest drawbacks to living alone is no human touch. I tend to hold all my stress in my neck and shoulders and would love to have my own personal massage therapist stop by every day.

Since I cannot really afford that, I do use my great friend, Leslie Peterson when I can afford it. She has done some punishing massages to help heal leg injuries in the past.

One day I was walking through the mall. As I passed the Brookstone store window, I caught a glimpse of him. Sitting in a chair and looking gorgeous. I walked in and asked him if he would rub my back. It felt so good, I asked him to come home with me.

This is what true love looks like.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I feel Wicked

OK - I have to admit that 2 1/2 months ago I had heard about the musical Wicked and that it was supposed to be great. I had never heard any music from it or knew anything about the story line. As a matter of fact, I really couldn't stand The Wizard of Oz (other than the song Over the Rainbow).

Things changed when Marcia and I were planning our trip to Washington to our nephew's, Ryan Miles, wedding. Marcia called me one night after reading an email from our sister-in-law, Debra, that she was going to see Wicked in Seattle. We decided it would be worth spending the money to go and see it.

Someone at work loaded my iPod with most of the music from the musical, so we could familiarize ourselves with it before the big night. We played it a few times while driving through Washington and Oregon and thought it was pretty good.

Then, on a Sunday evening, a magical event occurred. We saw Wicked and I fell obsessively in love. Once again, the romantic streak in me came out and I was hooked. So was Marcia. For the remainder of our trip, we played the music from Wicked almost every second we were in the car.

Fast forward a few days later. We were back in Utah and needed to make a quick 2 day trip to San Diego and back. I brought the iPod along and we were enjoying the music, but I really also wanted the missing songs. A quick stop at Best Buy in St. George and we had the 5th Anniversary 2 disk version of Wicked's CD.

That kept us going for the two long days of driving.

More obsession followed. Wicked is my constant running companion on my iPods (OK - I have to admit I have 3 of them).

I also bought the awesome Wicked pop-up book.

While Jennifer and Jeremy were staying with me last month, they bought me an early birthday gift of the deluxe leatherbound version of Wicked & Son of a Witch.

Next up for my addiction, I am awaiting delivery of my birthday gift to myself, the Grimmerie.

I would ask for an intervention - but I sure don't want one. Hmmmm - wonder if I can arrange a marathon around seeing Wicked somewhere?

No dignity allowed here...

Today is my birthday. I woke up early and went for an 8 mile run, then talked to Jenn for a few minutes while I was downing my after run protein shake. She and Jeremy bought me a deluxe version of Wicked and Son of a Witch for an early birthday gift while they were there. (More about my Wicked addiction later :) )

Kevin came down as I was heading out to take Twilight on a cooldown walk. He had shown up the night before and spent the night.

After we came back from our walk, Kevin took Twilight up to his room. I thought he had gone up to get my gift. Imagine my surprise when Twilight jumped up on the chair next to me a few minutes later in this getup. I simply could not quit laughing. It is a perfect gift!

He had also bought her a lifejacket. Makes a handy carrying case, doesn't it?

After enough time humiliating the dog, we went out to see The Blind Side and then Bajio's for lunch.

My kids are so sweet!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

1st Mountain View Trail Half Marathon

I'm still recovering from my latest knee injury, but love to volunteer at races. I think it is important to do so – because you need to give back to those who provide all the great running opportunities for you.

My daughter and son-in-law (Jennifer and Jeremy Merkley) joined me on Antelope Island yesterday morning to run Aid Station 4 at the first ever Mountain View Trail Half Marathon. The morning started off spectacularly. I have probably only seen two antelope in all my times running on Antelope Island, but we saw a herd of almost 100 pronghorn antelope on the Mountain View road yesterday morning. Fantastic! They are so awesome looking.

We sent up the aid station and had lots of time left, so Jeremy and I walked about 2 miles on the trail, visiting and enjoying the sights.

About 70 minutes after the race started, the first two runners blew through the aid station. If you have ever helped at a race you know that there are a variety of runners. The competitive ones will not stop and do everything on the run. They hardly talk and are very focused. Later runners are much more relaxed and the last runners just take their time, visit, stop for multiple drinks and are just out there to finish. A great group of runners came through and we enjoyed cheering them on.

Once the sweeper runner came through, we dismantled the aid station and Jenn and Jeremy took the van to the finish line and I ran the last 2.5 miles to the end.

My sister has been letting me use her van while my kids borrow my jeep and it was a lifesaver at least twice yesterday. We needed a big vehicle to get all the gear to the drop point at the end of the race. Then, as we were pulling out of the parking lot, a group of runners stuck out their thumbs to hitchhike (they needed to get 13.1 miles back to the starting line), and we piled a total of 11 people in a seven person van.

It was a beautiful day for a race. Sunny, not too warm, and a little breeze. I just wish I was able to run that far right now!

Eye don’t like this

Lasik surgery is wonderful. I had it done to both eyes three and a half years ago and love not having to wear glasses all the time.

However, lasik surgery tends to exacerbate dry eyes. I didn't realize until after the surgery that my right eye is a lot drier than my left eye, but quickly found that it needed more lubricating drops than the left eye did. Add hormonal changes on top of that, and the right eye gets even drier.

Last winter I started getting episodes of serious pain in the right eye. I went in to see a specialist and was diagnosed with recurrent corneal erosions (RCE). Basically, my eye gets dry enough that the eyelid starts tearing off parts of the cornea. It feels like someone is stabbing you in the eye. To fix this, I use a lubricating gel every night before bedtime. It seemed like things were cleared up, but I still used the gel most nights to make sure the eye stayed lubricated.

Tuesday afternoon, I suddenly started feeling like a grain of sand was in my eye. I had my co-workers look at the eye and flush it with saline, but they couldn't see anything wrong with it. We finally found if I used a paper towel as pressure on the eye and kept the lid closed, that the pain would go away. I finally went home and rested the eye for a couple of hours, then ran an errand to Leslie Peterson's house, and then the pain started up again. Taped the eye shut for the night to see if it would heal.

Wednesday – still felt like the eye was scratched or something. After an emergency appointment at the Moran Eye Center, Dr. Chang said that the RCE was back with a vengeance. She put me on a variety of drops and placed a contact lens in that eye to keep it from hurting so horribly and scheduled an appointment with the head eye doctor for Friday.

I met with Dr. Mifflin on Friday and he said that basically the only way to cure this problem is to have PTK eye surgery (another type of laser surgery). Basically – they will scrape the top layer of cornea off and put on a contact lens to let it heal.

Surgery is scheduled for November 5th. I don't like having this contact in my eye, but am trying not to be too whiny and trying to remember how painful it would be otherwise. No way will I take it out – the doctor said it will tear off more of the cornea if I do. Maybe I should get an eye patch to keep that eye closed part of the time. Would that look nifty?

Kevin’s car is stolen…and found…and stolen again

Last year someone took Kevin's car from in front of his fraternity house and rolled it down the street and stole some items out of it.

Two weeks ago, it was stolen again. No sign of it and we were very frustrated and figured out that it was probably stripped for pieces since it is a Honda Accord. Much to our surprise, the car showed up again 9 days later. This time his golf clubs and radio were stolen and a screwdriver shoved in the ignition, but was okay other than that.

Yesterday came the bad news that it was stolen again.

Not sure what to do. I'm frustrated, annoyed, worried, ticked, etc.

Why anyone wants to take a 15 year old car is beyond me? Can't you just leave the poor kid (and car) alone?

Twilight has an owie

Thursday afternoon I noticed that Twi was licking her back right paw constantly and that she couldn't jump up on the shorter bed in my son's room. Friday morning these two items continued, so I took a look at her foot. It appeared that her paw was pretty red, so my daughter, Jennifer, and I walked her down to the vet's office. She was running a fever and they decided they had to cut into the paw to find out was wrong. $250 later, they showed me a ¼ inch sticker that was imbedded in her paw and she is sporting a fancy green bandage on her paw. (Ok – it looks like a green chicken drumstick).

We are supposed to keep her quiet for several days (yeah – that is never going to happen) and keep her on antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. We ended up wrapping packing tape over the bandage so that she wouldn't pull it off. It's pretty funny hearing her thump around the house J.

She appears to be in less pain now and is running and jumping all over the place. Last night her nose was warm and dry again, so I made her take a nap and calm down again.

I didn’t kneed this – Part 2

Follow-up on my knee injury:

The meniscus injury seems to be healing and is almost gone. The doctor says it is still a little sensitive, but I don't notice anything.

However, 3 weeks ago I reinjured the right knee when my dog was avoiding another dog attacking her and I tried to not trip on her. This set the knee back a bit, but also pinpointed the tendon injury more.

I was trying to run 4 miles a day each day in October, but took a few days off last week to wait until seeing my doctor on Friday to make sure I wasn't injuring anything permanently.

He says that the tendonitis is healing, but I need to do more massage, stretching and rehabilitation of the muscles to make sure it doesn't get injured down the road. He gave me some more exercises to work on and I intend to start back running 4 miles a day first thing tomorrow morning.

The knee hurts the worst when one of the following things occur:

  • Taking off shoes – twisting the ankle to the inside puts pressure on the tendon insertion and if very painful
  • Carrying heavy weights up stairs – hamstring is not too happy
  • Hamstring contractions – I cannot do any kind of exercising where I am contracting the hamstrings. It just screams at me.
  • Straightening the knee when it has been bent for a long time. The hamstring needs to warm up and it feels like a tight guitar string that wants to snap.

10/9-10/12 NSWA Swedish Weaving Convention

My friend and former neighbor, Jeanne Tams, was holding the first ever National Swedish Weaving Association Convention in Layton, Utah on October 9th-12th. A year ago she asked if I would be willing to lead a class, so I took a couple of vacation days to help her out with the convention. I started doing Swedish Weaving back in 1998 or 1999 when Jeanne created her first book (check out her awesome designs at

Two months earlier I was assigned a simple table runner to finish for a giveaway and also a shawl to complete for the class I was leading. It was fun to get back into stitching and do some handiwork. I was able to get both projects done right before I headed off for my business trip to Michigan.

Friday afternoon I picked up two stitcher's – Linda and Maggie – at the airport and took them up to the convention center in Layton. What followed after that was 3.5 days of fun, work and stitching. I tried to be as helpful as I could with anything that Jeanne needed assistance with and also with any stitcher's that needed help. I have bags full of awesome projects to work on in the next year.

Jeanne did an awesome job organizing the convention. Very professional and she went out of her way to make it a terrific time for everyone.

10/5-10/9 – Michigan Trip

My company sent me back to Livonia, Michigan for most of a week for intensive MySQL database immersion for our next version of our application – called Performance Pro 3. I went back twice last year with my boss, Michele Lindsay, but this time was going solo. Lots of good meetings and lots of knowledge transfer.

While I was there, the fall leaves were in full color, so I got a couple of good runs in (not counting the treadmill runs). On my previous trips, I had found that the roads near our hotel don't have shoulders or sidewalks, but did some exploring and found that the freeways have paved bike/running trails next to them. They are actually only about 20 feet away, but have a row of trees and bushes separating the trail from the road. The trail runs right behind our hotel and I enjoyed running along the trail two afternoons in bright, sunny weather and enjoying the beautiful leave colors.

Twilight’s Vacation (hee hee)

Twilight took a 9 day vacation up to hang with her mother at my sister's house. I needed to travel for work and help at a Swedish Weaving Convention and Marcia and Gary were willing to watch her for me (I can't thank them enough).

She was a little stressed the first day to be surrounded by her mom (Sadie) and new puppy cousins (Bella, Sirius, Sabrina), but adapted after a couple of days. Little did she (or Marcia) know that she was in for even more fun the next weekend when they were joined by 5 more yorkie puppies that Marcia watched. Talk about going to the dogs!

When I got her back home, she ran up and jumped on our bed and sprawled on her back and just seemed to sigh with happiness that she was home where she belonged.

9/12-9/13 San Diego speed trip (Vacation 2)

I'm calling this a vacation – but it really wasn't.

Marcia called me on Friday afternoon to ask if I was willing to drive to San Diego and back on Saturday and Sunday to pick up some Parti Yorkshire puppies. She and Gary want to raise puppies, and we needed to get them from the breeder.

Needless to say – we mainly spent the 2 days in her van. However, we had CDs from Wicked to listen to and those kept us going. Lots of visiting time and we were surrounded in San Diego by 50 Yorkies (gulp!)!

We stopped twice in Las Vegas to eat at Tony Roma's. I sure miss having those restaurants here in Utah.

9/3-9/8 Ryan’s Wedding and Washington (Vacation 1)

My sister, Marcia, and I flew up to Portland, Oregon on September 3rd. Our nephew, Ryan Miles, was getting married in Olympia, Washington on September 5th and we used the wedding as a reason for a vacation together.

After arriving in Portland, we rented a car and headed downtown to hit Powells. This is an awesome bookstore and we spent several hours searching through the store and buying books. Marcia looked primarily at lighthouse books and mysteries and I looked at running books, mysteries, and Italian books. We each filled a big bag with books and loaded up the car. By the way – if you have never parked in Powell's garage, it is an adventure. I think you have to master the 20 point turn to get out of a spot successfully.

The next stage of the journey was to head west to the ocean. We saw the Tillamook lighthouse and then headed north. Lunch in Astoria and a lighthouse ship there, followed by a couple more lighthouses in Washington. We made it to Deadman's Cove at the perfect time of day for me to get some shots of this interesting cove. I will post some of these shots later this week.

We were going to make it clear to Olympia that night, but got tired and stopped for the night. I almost got a ticket, but looked pathetic enough that the policeman let us off easy. However, I think he sent noisy people to stay in the hotel room next to ours – they talked LOUDLY all night.

Friday we checked out another lighthouse and were able to climb to the top of this one. Then off to Olympia. Our older brother, Kerry, had arranged for us to stay in a mansion on the property where he was renting a guest cottage and we were really spoiled to have the house all to ourselves. That night we got to see a lot of family and watch Ryan and Britni's dress rehearsal and enjoy a great rehearsal dinner (Marcia would probably disagree with the enjoying the dinner part – but that is her story to tell).

Saturday we spent time with family and were able to participate in Ryan and Britni Miles wedding. They are such a cute couple and obviously deeply in love.

The next day Marcia and I went up to Seattle and checked into a hotel in the area and toured Pike's Peak Market and the Seattle Mystery Bookstore (can you tell we both love books). That night we were able to see Wicked. Can I just say this musical is AWESOME! I want to see it again and again.

Monday morning we went back and did the Seattle Underground Tour. Then we headed back down to Olympia and my brother Regan, his wife Debra and their littlest girl, Lizzy took us out on their boat on Puget Sound. We found another lighthouse and then had an interesting experience when their dog jumped off the front of the boat. Smokey was trying to save us from injury, because after we fished her out of the sound, we grounded the boat on a sandbar. If we had been going full speed, the boat and occupants might have been seriously injured. Debra got a good dunking and I got my lower half wet, but we were all laughing about the adventure.

Tuesday we headed back down to Portland and on our way home. It was so nice to spend time with all of our family and get to know them better.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I’m so excited. And I just can’t hide it….

While hitting the snooze button and huddling in thermal underwear in bed this morning (stupid weather went from 80 one day to snowing the next), my phone rang with some awesome news. Jennifer and Jeremy will be arriving in Utah for a visit two weeks from today! I miss them so much and am so happy to get some time to spend with them. It was a great opportunity for them to be able to live in Italy, but Georgia will be so much closer and easier to visit them.

14 days to go. I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Daughter Rocks!

My daughter, Jennifer, is a whiz at digital scrapbooking and photo manipulation. She has always taken care of the design of my blog and has just updated me back to my favorite blue colors with some truly awesome graphics and artwork. Thank you so much, Jenn!

I am also so excited because Jenn and Jeremy will soon be PCS'ing (I learned that means Permanent Change of Station in Army talk) from Naples, Italy to Ft. Stewart, Georgia. Much closer for visiting and getting in touch with and only a 2 hour time difference instead of an 8 hour time difference.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Starting Over

Weighing the pros and cons of continuing on with the upcoming marathons on top of several injuries and illnesses this year, I made the hard and sad decision to not run any additional long races in 2009.

After 2 weeks of rest, yesterday I started exercising again and so far the knee is holding up. I ran 3 miles on the treadmill with a good warm-up, following up the run with stretching and icing. I am working on revamping my training plans for the remainder of 2009 with hopes that 2010 will once again be a good year for me for running.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I didn’t kneed this to happen

My right knee has been hurting me since the Park City Marathon. That worries me a little bit for 2 reasons: 1) my right knee is my 'good' knee (the left one is the one that always is injured) and 2) I have never had a knee injury on the inside (not under the knee cap) of the knee before.

I tried to take it easy while running last week (ok – most of the time I tried), but it just seemed to get worse and last Saturday's run on the trails pushed me over the line. Sunday morning I woke up to a very sore knee and it had waked me up off and on during the night when I straightened the leg. I took Sunday and Monday off from any leg workouts, put a neoprene brace on the knee, started anti-inflammatories (thank heavens for Vitamin I) and did some icing. I also scheduled an appointment with a Sports Medicine doctor.

Today the knee was feeling somewhat better, I could go up and down stairs without too much pain. Signs the knee is healing.

This afternoon I met Dr. Jamie Longe. It is always nice to have a doctor that actually appears to understand the stresses of marathon running and training and doesn't automatically tell you to not do what caused the injury.

Diagnosis: Tendonitis in the hamstring attachment, Bursitis, and a pinched Meniscus. The Meniscus is the concerning factor. If it starts swelling or the pain gets worse, then we have to consider a torn Meniscus.

Treatment: Anti-inflammatories 3x a day. Topical anti-inflammatory ointment 4x a day. Ice for 20 minutes after working out and before bedtime. Stretching after running – he gave me 3 variations of a quadriceps stretch and 3 variations of a hamstring stretch to do. Running is ok. I just need to be careful and not run on trails for a while and not do exercises that cause that knee to have to pivot quickly. Brace it as needed for support.

That being said – with the doctor's permission – I am going to go for a run.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cross Training – Pool Running

My knees were a little sore between the marathon last weekend and also doing 8 miles on trails the next day. I wanted to get a good workout in without stressing the legs, so yesterday I did some pool running.

Luckily, my condo association has a pool right outside my front door. I don't use it a lot because I like being out running, but it is nice in the summer for occasional swimming and/or pool running. (Let's face it – pools lost some of their luster when my kids were young and my son's primary entertainment was trying to hold me underwater). I have a floatation belt that keeps my head above the water and use that for pool running.

65 minutes around and around in the deep end. Very boring. I'm glad I am not injured and having to do this all the time. One of the FastRunningBlog members suggested using an iPod to pass the time, so I clipped my iPod shuffle on the bill of my cap, twisted my oldest set of earbuds around the back of the cap to take up all the slack and stuck the earphones in my ears. I would switch directions after every three songs just to break up the monotony.

Less stress on the joints occurs in the pool, plus you get more of an upper body workout. Ah – the things we do to stay in shape!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kind of like the Energizer Bunny

I took the puppy up to the Pipeline Trail yesterday morning and we ran/walked over 8 miles. This was her longest adventure by far. Not only could I not get Twilight to drink anything the entire time, but she took a quick nap on the way home and then was still raring to go and have me play with her.

I swear I need to be able to turn an on/off switch to get that dog to calm down!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Park City Marathon

The Park City Marathon was held on August 22, 2009. This is my third year in a row running this race. Finishing this race means I am one step closer to getting a guaranteed entry into St. George in 6 weeks. A few weeks back I was seriously considering not doing any more marathons the rest of 2009 - now I am doing 3 in 6 weeks.

I am not going to post my splits because I did not 'race' this race. I went into it as a training run for St. George. This has not been my summer for running between injuries and illness. Even this week I battled being sick Wednesday through Friday and my cough kept getting worse.

Leslie and I decided to start a little after 5:30 and I was going to pace her at a run 4/walk 1 pace through the marathon. It turns out they changed their early start method, so we inconvenienced the RD a bit, but she let us start as a second wave. I think we finally headed out between 5:40 and 5:45 a.m. Luckily it was warmer up there than the past two years (49 when we started) - so on top I had my UVM shirt, sleeves, and gloves and was pretty warm except for right around sunset.

The first four miles were a challenge in the dark, but we found the course okay with headlamps. Gary was running as a bandit and Leslie's pacer. I had planned to stick with Les the entire race, but the first few miles gave me an indication that I was going to move faster than her and since she had Gary, I finally told her I needed to take off at 6 miles.

Continued with the 4/1 schedule and was enjoying getting the legs moving faster after that. The first runner passed me right at 8 miles and was already about 100 yards up on the second place runner, then another 100 yards before the next two runners.

Shortly before that the 4 hot air ballons were up in the air. I always enjoy watching them as I run.

AmberG passed me around 9.5 miles as the second female runner. She was only about 50 feet back from the number 1 female and I hope she won. I saw the former #1 & 3 runners at the turn in Park City and never saw Amber, so hope she was in the lead by then. (It turns out she did win. That is incredible).

Davy Crockett passed me around mile 10 and said hi. I can't believe he ran the equivalent of another marathon on Friday - but up to the top of Kings Peak. He is awesome. I wish I could do the mileage and crazy runs he does.

I was really hungry about mile 11-15, so started popping in a bit more shot blocks. I decided the Park City Marathon course is a bit like having a baby. I only remembered a few uphills, but when you get on the course, you find out most of the first 16 miles is uphill, with a few more thrown in later for fun. I forget about them after the race.

Did a little more walking on the steeper uphills through the backside of old Park City and up to Deer Valley. It is sure nice to get to the top of the parking lot and get some downhills after that. It was starting to get really warm then, but I had a woman offering free showers hose me down pretty good and that helped a lot.

About mile 19.5 I was cruising down the city street when some runner rudely elbowed me. Almost said something not nice when I realized it was RAD, accompanied by a posse of Smooth and Bec. We said hi and then got our picture taken together at the mile 20 aid station (where I was grateful for bananas and oranges).

The legs were starting to feel a bit tired and I had a few tiny twinges in what felt like the ITB area on the left knee, but knew I just needed to keep pushing and get done. Shortly after the old barn, we turn and head through a culvert and I saw my sister up ahead waiting on her bike. She accompanied me the rest of the race and took pictures for me. It was great to have her along and see her looking healthy and having fun with me. She is a great support system (especially since she had to be a nurse tonight from 2-10 and again tomorrow from 6-2).

The mailman from my work, Mike DeWaal caught up to me around mile 22. He pushed me for a mile until Marcia caught up and took our picture and then I dropped my pace again. Mike was running this as marathon number 49, so that St. George will be number 50 for him.

It was nice to pass the final uphill right before mile 25 and get near the end. I had a great kick at the end - which leads me to believe I had more in me than I knew. But - again - this was a training run, so that is how it should be. It was nice of them to give me a medal in my favorite color of blue - and it matched my outfit!

Stood around the finish for a while, then walked back out a half mile to meet Leslie and Gary and run back to the finish with them.

My sister then took me to lunch at the Cottonbottom Inn for their yummy garlic burgers.

I plan to ice bath tonight and then tomorrow do some ultra marathon prep by doing 11-13 miles slow to get my body used to moving on tired legs.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Midnight Moon Run 5K - Sandy, UT

I wasn't sure what to expect on this race because I am normally exhausted by 10 p.m. and staying up for a race at midnight was questionable. I convinced Melinda Aaron from the FastRunningBlog (I have had the occasion to work with her through my job) to run with me and we met part way through my warmup.

I started with a 1.5 mile warmup. I was wearing a new headlamp my sister gave me that clipped onto my bill cap and it worked well for checking my Garmin. They had 300 people signed up this afternoon and I think there were about 350 total entrants. Between injuries and sickness I didn't expect a PR - I wasn't really planning on racing - just staying sub 30 minutes for the race.

Lost a few seconds at the start because we didn't hear the start and then had to pick our way through the pack. We split up quickly because Melinda is younger and faster than me. I was a bit ahead of pace the first quarter mile because I knew it was a gentle uphill - looking back I wish I had pushed that first quarter mile more. After the second corner, I realized the gently uphill was followed by a long and not so gentle uphill. I kept passing other runners and lots of walkers, but was frustrated because my pace was above 11 mm pace at times. (OK - the guy pushing the double stroller that blew past us on the uphill was pretty annoying). Finally at .95 there was a bit of flat and then another small uphill.

Passed one mile at about 10:22 and knew I had some ground to make up. I was also a bit concerned because my right achilles tendon was still very tight. A little after the 1 mile mark the course flattened out for a couple of blocks and then started the downhill. I tend to be conservative on downhills, but was feeling the racing bug and started pushing myself relatively hard. I passed about 30 or more people in mile 2 and didn't get passed by anyone. The tendon loosened up sometime during this mile and finished mile 2 in 9:18. (7:37 best).

Mile 3 was a combination of flat and about a quarter mile of gentle uphill before a final downhill section. I was passed right after the downhill ended by about 5 other runners, but managed to pass them back and about 15 more in the final mile. Caught one guy I had been chasing down most of the race at about 2.5. The last several blocks were on a paved path that had a lot of weeds and ruts and I had to try and speed up to shoot gaps and pass runners. Finished the mile in 9:12.

Two teenagers caught me right near the end, and I was not able to get enough of a kick to gap the final runners about 1/4 block ahead of me. Final time: 29:10 (59th place, 4th in my age group)

Melinda high fived me in the chute and was excited that she had finished 4th in her age group, but mentioned that she wished she had pushed a little harder to get a prize. I was shocked and pleased to find that I was 4th in my age group and also wished that I had pushed a little harder to get an age group prize.

It was a nice, but tough course and I think I am going to train on it some during the day time in order to come back next year and really race this course.


Saturday, August 1, 2009


I have been struggling a lot this summer with health issues that I don't normally experience anymore now that I am pretty fit.

Between a cold/infection that has lingered in my chest for almost 2 months and several leg injuries (IT Band, Piriformis) - it seems like my fitness has actually gone downhill since the end of March.

I have done a lot of thinking this past month and have decided that I brought some of these problems on myself. I was pretty happy being a slow runner and fast long distance walker since I started marathon training in 2004, but got sucked into thinking I had to become fast since joining the FastRunningBlog community last summer.

I am trying to change my training focus back to where it used to be - except with some slight improvements in being able to run between 6-10 miles without walking and improving my speed a little at a time.

Hopefully, if I can endure to the end of this marathon season, as my body rests and I take stress off myself, I will be able to get my running/walking mojo back and go back to feeling good about myself.


Friday, July 31, 2009

FiveFinger Pain

Leslie Peterson and I were going to do the Little Cottonwood Trail today. We have both been struggling with motivation these past couple of months and she has been hiking for a lot of her training. She agreed that she would try and run down the trail after we walked up if I kept it slow.

I thought one way to slow down on the downhills would be to wear my Vibram FiveFingers, so I showed up for our workout with those on. FiveFingers have about 1/8 inch of rubber soles to mimic barefoot running and they take a while to get the feet to adapt to the stress on the muscles and bones and skin.

The 3.25 miles uphill was not too bad and my feet were only a little painful as I hit rocks. However, I realized on the walk up that the trail was much rockier than I remembered.(I think I just ignore most of the rocks when I am in trail shoes). My gut was starting to clench at the thought of how 'fun' the run down was going to be.

When we hit the top we took a five minute break and then started the run down.

I can't remember the studies, but I know I have read some that involve the difference in impact on the feet between walking strides and running strides. There are also numerous studies about the difference in impact on the lower body between flat, uphill and downhill running. Let me tell you - I can verify those studies are true.

Imagine 3.25 miles of the most painful running I have ever done. I felt every single rock that my feet encountered and running downhill on them was significantly more painful that walking uphill in the FiveFingers. I was very grateful that I had done a lot of training in the FiveFingers so that my feet were relatively tough at this point in the season.

Leslie was able to stay ahead of me a lot of the run. It would only be when we got to some sandy or less rocky sections that I was able to catch up to her. I could actually feel my shoulders relax and I would heave a big sigh of relief anytime I could have a break from the constant pounding.

Next time - I'm not going to handicap myself when running with Leslie!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Showing my sister the trails

My sister and I had a weekend together at my place instead of going up to the Spudman in Burley, Idaho.

This morning I wanted to show my sister one of my favorite trails, so we took Twilight and headed up Millcreek Canyon to hike the Pipeline Trail. We hiked three miles out and three miles back and Twilight gamely kept up with us.

It is so fun to be able to do 'active' activities with my sister. I'm hoping that we can do lots more fun adventures with each other out in nature.

I'm really looking forward to September. We are flying up to Portland, Oregon for five or so days in Oregon and Washington doing some hiking (and running in my case) as we explore the states and attend our nephews (Ryan Miles) wedding.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Twilight’s First Trail Run

Tonight I took Twilight up Millcreek Canyon and did the Pipeline Trail with her. It was her first big off-leash adventure and she was a bit nervous at first, but soon found it was fun to be able to move freely. The plan was to take a nice easy hike out 2.5 miles and then back. However, once she got the hang of the freedom bit, she wanted to run a lot, so we ran about half of the time. Thankfully it was a lot cooler up in the mountains than down in the valley. Tried to get her to learn how to drink from the stream, but we weren't too successful.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Red Hot Pink Chicks Half Marathon

Saturday was the first ever Red Hot Pink Chicks Half Marathon (RHPC Half). This was organized as a combination fun run/race for several of us that have become running friends on The evil genius behind the run was Marion McLellan - who I paced through her first marathon in June.

The rules for the run were that you had to wear red or pink (only one person failed to follow the rules), bring a treat to share, and bring a prize to swap (something on the red or hot or pink or chick theme).

We met at a park near the Riverwoods Shopping Center on Saturday morning at 6 a.m. Marion and Josse had set up the course and Michelle Lowry and her 9 year old son were acting as official timekeepers. After a quick overview from Josse, we shuttled over to the starting line in the mouth of Provo Canyon.

For the first 5.5 miles we ran up the canyon past Bridal Veil Falls and then turned around just short of Vivian Park. Lots of pink on the trails that day! Pinked two runners at mile 1 and another runner at mile 2 - and then did not pass anyone else in the group the rest of the race.

As I approached the turnaround, it was nice to see other runners heading back. I tried to high five everyone and encourage them on. Saw that Smooth/Suzanna was the next runner in front of me and knew I would not pass her since her slow pace is faster than my race pace.

After the turnaround I started to work on speed on the downhill portion. My speed was not where I wanted it to be - but considering I had been pretty sick for the past 6 days, I was just happy to be running and pushing myself. I never saw Marion or Leslie Peterson who were going to sweep the course, so figured they must have decided to not run the entire half marathon.

After coming out of the canyon, we followed the Provo River Trail over to Riverwoods Shopping Center and then swung over to run around the park and finish. As soon as each pink runner came in sight the other runners started cheering us in. I did not PR (I knew I would not in advance because of health issues and the course being uphill for a while) but was able to challenge myself and was pleased with my training results.

Once I finished we took a group picture with everyone except the 3 runners still out on the course. It was a great day and lots of fun. I can't wait until next year!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My Running Buddy

Twilight (my 8 month old puppy) got a haircut today so that she can run trails with me without picking up every leaf or twig in her fur. Thought I would post some before and after pictures.

Twilight before the haircut

Twilight after the haircut


Monday, June 29, 2009

Logan Peak Trail Run 2009

I was reading Davy Crockett's blog history the other week and noticed a race he had done last year called the Logan Peak Trail Run. It caught my attention because it was A) not too far away and B) less than 50 miles. I went to the website and started looking at the map and elevation profile and mentally said - "No Way! That sucker has way too much uphill!"

Logan Peak Trail Run map

Logan Peak Trail Run elevation profile

However, the race teased at my mind for several days and I finally gave in last Tuesday and decided to see if I could still register. On Wednesday I found that I could still enter if my registration made it to Logan by Friday. After sending off my registration, I called my aunt up in Logan and asked if I could spend the night at her house before the race so I didn't have a 2 hour drive that morning.

Friday night I got to Logan and was interested to find that I was mentally psyching myself into a tizzy (all technical terms) about the elevation. It was very scary to me because I knew this would be my most challenging race ever. Luckily, my aunt lived a little less than a mile from the starting line - so I didn't have to go too far on race morning.

I headed up at 5:20 on race morning and was delighted to see my friend, Clark Hirshi, in the parking lot. Gave him a hug and visited a little before picking up my race packet. I also said hello to Jim Skaggs, Matt (aka Twinkies) from the FastRunningBlog, and Kyle and Lindsay Lauck (Lindsay and I were planning on encouraging each other during the uphills). I also saw Paul and Celeste Collman and wished them well.

At 5:50 a.m., the race director gave us some last minute information, walked us down to the starting line and counted down to the start of the race. We were off! The first half mile or so was on road and uphill, so I quickly fell into my place near the back of the pack. I introduced myself to Cole and Ray - two guys that we would play leapfrog with for the first half of the race (we were fighting over last place).

The race left pavement and turned on to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. As the racers turned the fenceline onto the trail I was able to see all 70+ runners in front of me - for one last time. Shortly after getting onto the BST, I caught up to Lindsay and Ryan and we ran together for another half mile or more until Ryan said goodbye and took off at his own pace.

Lindsay and I were soon all alone heading up the hills. We knew we had a lot of uphill to face all day, so for the first 5 miles, mainly race walked as fast as we could. We were sucking air most of the time and knew it was going to be a long, long day. We could hear two guys behind us and around mile 3.5 they finally passed us. I was kind of glad, because Ray was a talker. Granted, his stories were interesting about Adventure Races, but I was kind of annoyed at the non-stop talking.

It was a great sight to finally get to the first aid station (which would later be the final aid station) a little before mile 5. I was wearing my Nathan running pack with 50 oz of water and at this point had my handheld bottle filled with Heed. Ate some fruit and packed my front pocket with M&Ms and peanuts and we headed off. At this altitude we were getting pretty cold, so kept our pace up. A little after mile 5 we were able to get to some sections of flats and downhills and ran all of them.

Right around mile 7 we hit the first snow patch. It was only about 7 feet across, but this patch was total ice and no way to dig in. Just before I got across my feet slipped out from under me and I fell hard on my butt (later I found a huge bruise and some cuts from this fall). Lost my handheld and sunglasses, but the sweeper behind threw them across to me. Lindsay pulled a little ahead on the downhill sections and then I would reel her in on the uphills. Cole and Ray would pass us on the uphills, then we would pass them again on the downhill/flat sections.

After several easier miles we started hitting the next big uphill sections. It was always nice to get any relatively flat sections, just to give our lungs a break.

At mile 11.5 we hit the next aid station and I was able to say hi to Matt/Twinkies who had just finished the out and back section. The next six miles was the out and back. During this section I was able to say hi to Jim Skaggs, Celeste Collman and then Paul Collman along with other runners as we cheered each other on. During the next six miles we had to cross several snow fields and lots more fun uphills.

The one snowfield was so steep that I finally just sat down and buttskiied to the bottom. It was actually quite fun and I could use my feet for steering. Other fields were less steep and we could run/walk across them 'slip sliding away.'

There was a couple of jeeps that drove up towards the tower that was the turnaround point. They set up an unofficial aid station that I would visit on the way down.

It was nice to see the tower finally getting close. One last killer uphill push along the edge of the snowfield and I made it. I touched the tower at 4:52 - just under the 5 hour mark that I was hoping to beat. I waited for Lindsay to make it to the top and we took pictures of each other. Ray had told me that Cole decided to skip the out and back (we were told it was an option) and do a shorter race.

Lindsay Lauck celebrating the tower touch

Enjoying the view and catching my breath

After refueling and rearranging our packs, we headed on down for the second half of the race. I said goodbye to Lindsay since I knew she was fresher and faster on the downhills and figured we wouldn't see each other again. (I did see her about a quarter mile ahead until mile 21 and then lost her after that).

Down through the snowhills again. I was able to follow some good tracks off to the side and avoid the slipperiest sections and stay out of a lot of the mud. I was using hands and feet to get up the steep section I had slid down before and saw lots of hand prints from others that had done the same before me.

Stopped quickly at the unofficial aid station and then back to the previous aid station and I headed around the next side of the mountain. It would have been nice to think I was done with uphills, but I knew there were a lot ahead of me.

On the other loop around the mountain, I continued to run all the downhills. I struggled a little more on the flats, but would force myself to run as much as I could (or trot or jog).

At mile 18 I was hit hard with a death march. There was just no energy there. I tried increasing my fluids, snacks, gels, etc. and knew that it would pass - but while you are in the middle of one of these episodes, it is hard to think logically. I kept thinking it ironic that Michael Jackson (who had just died) songs were coming on at the same time I was tempted to lie down on the side of the trail and curl up and die. Finally, around mile 21 the energy came back and I was able to think positively again and move better.

Meadow run after the end of the death march

I stopped at a spring and had a quick drink and wet down my arms and hat since the sun was full on me and draining energy.

Was very surprised and pleased to see the last aid station suddenly come upon me. I sat in a chair for 5 minutes to regroup. They kept bringing me lots of fruit and I actually drank my first full cup of Coke in my life. Anything was welcome at this point in time.

Started down the hill. I had nothing left but would force myself to cautiously run the downhills everywhere I could. I was afraid of face planting and couldn't relax enough to just let gravity pull me down the slopes.

As I came down through the mouth of the canyon it was interesting to hear two songs in a row come on my iPod - 'Champion' by Queen Latifah and 'Anyway' by Martina McBride and both of these songs were very appropriate and motivational and helped me move on.

Back on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail I had to slug it out over 3 more small uphills. I could see the park where we finished down below and knew I was going to make it at this point in time. Back on the pavement I hoped I was taking the correct turns. They had removed the course markers, but I was able to find my way back to the finish line. As I turned off the road and onto the sidewalk and uphill slope to the end, I was crying from the relief/stress of finishing this run.

It felt Soooooo Good to quit moving. Final time: 9 hours 14 minutes (I beat the 10 hour cutoff). Ryan and Lindsay had stayed to cheer me across and I enjoyed saying hi to them. Ray had gotten lost on the snowfields and finished about 5 minutes after I did.

I now have a coffee mug to show that I finished this tough course.

Forced a little food into me and went back to my aunt's house and took a shower and laid down for a little bit. The drive home was very nauseating and it didn't help that the freeway was closed with an accident. I finally found I could cope with the air conditioning blasting full on me while I drove (so much for not having windows in the jeep).

Sunday I was hurting pretty bad. It seemed to actually get worse during the day. Monday, the legs are not hurting as bad - but I think I picked up some small bug - or else it is exhaustion because I still feel like I was hit by a truck.

Will I do it again? Not sure. I would like to improve my hill running and endurance and prove that I can better my time - there is lots of improvement available. I learned a lot during the day and am proud of finishing and surviving. Right now - all I want to do is rest.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jeremy Ranch Road

I took a day off from work to do a long run up in Park City. The best laid plans often tend to backfire and the first change to my plans came as I was getting ready to head out the door. Work had an emergency and needed me to come in and fix it. By the time I finished the project, it was going to be noon at the start of my run - on a day predicted to be in the 90's. The second change in plan came because I finally was able to contact the race director for the Logan Peak Trail Run next Saturday and found I could still register for the race - so wasn't going to do as much mileage on my day off.

Drank as much liquid as I could force in on the drive up to Park City since I knew it was going to be very hot and I was only carrying about 70 oz of fluids.

I ran this road during the winter with Leslie Peterson. It goes from Jeremy Ranch into the next county and ends up (I believe) in Emigration Canyon. During the winter it was snow packed and icy. Those same conditions didn't exist today. As you can see from the above picture, in the summer, the road is dirt and I mainly shared it with sheep, cyclists, and some trucks/cars/motorcycles.

It was a pretty, sunny day out and I just put on my iPod and listened to the book The Forgotten 500 to help pass time. I ran all but the worst uphills on the way out. Talked to a large herd of sheep at about mile 3, just after crossing the county line. Luckily the bugs weren't bad and the area around me was very green from all the recent rain.

My plan for the day was 15 miles, so reached the end of the road just after mile 7 and continued on the paved road until 7.5 and then turned around. On the return trip, I could definitely feel the heat sapping me. When I did this route in the winter, I easily ran the entire return trip and then continued on down towards Park City. The hills were just too much in the heat, so walked a good section of uphills in the last 5-7 miles - worrying about running out of water. I stopped at a couple of stream crossings and wet down my arms and head and hat - but was afraid to drink the water with a big race coming up.

Ran out of water with only a half mile to go. I was not dehydrated, but could have used another 20 ounces or so if I had wanted to run the return route. Also - starting late in the heat of the day was a big mistake - but sometimes you just have to make do the best you can.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mueller Park Trail with the Front

On June 23rd, I joined met a trail running group (Dirt Tours with the Front) and ran the lower half of the Mueller Park Trail in Bountiful. We ran the 3.4 miles up to Elephant Rock and back. I was able to meet Matt (aka Twinkies) from the FastRunningBlog and he mentioned he was doing the Logan Peak Trail Run next Saturday.

I ended up running the first 2 ½ miles with Lindsay Lauck who was there with her husband Ryan and their puppy. Lindsay and I were talking about the Logan Peak run and I think we both talked ourselves into doing it because we had similar speed and would be able to support each other during the uphill sections. After Lindsay and Ryan turned around I continued up the trail to the Elephant Rock turnaround and then enjoyed the run back down.

The canyon was nice and green and you had to dodge some bikers – but not as many as other runs up there. I did meet up with two dirt bikers and didn't particularly enjoy the racket of their engines up there in the mountains.

About ½ mile before the end of the trail I rounded a corner and scared a deer that was on the trail about 5 feet in front of me (I think she was more scared than me). She bounded off, but was a pretty sight to see.

Driving down towards the freeway I was also treated to a beautiful sunset over the Great Salt Lake. The sun was going down right between Antelope Island and Freemont Island and I was able to enjoy the view the entire drive down. God has sure created some beautiful things in nature and I am sure lucky enough to get to experience some of them first hand.

Monday, June 22, 2009

That’s Not It

I borrowed this true story from another runner on my FastRunningBlog. This applies to so many things in life – but this coach expressed why so many of us keep on trucking (or running) even though we may never win a race or take home a trophy.

I hope that my own children learned this lesson. My daughter finally got 'it' when she took up the violin. My son took a while longer, but I saw that he got 'it' when doing weight training and training for his first marathon at age 17.

Last week, we had a Mom come to us and "inform us" that her 13-year-old daughter would be gone for two weeks vacation in late June, maybe another week after that.

Her daughter was not much of an age group swimmer, but she has some endurance capacity and comes regularly to workout at 5:30 am and again at 5:30 pm daily. She works hard, demonstrates little talent, but lots of determination.

Her mother is not athletic and clearly does not value athletics. We expressed our dismay that she'd be missing for 2-3 weeks in the middle of the most important training of the summer. Her mother's response?

"Who cares, she'll never be an Olympic swimmer, so what does it matter really?"

This is a dagger in the heart to any swimming coach, and it is to me.

If we only cared about and worked hard with, those 52 people who will eventually, once every four years, go off to the Olympic Games, it would be a small, empty and meaningless sport.

My response was "That's really not it."

What is it?

It is the fact that young people need to learn to dedicate themselves to something that is difficult, something that requires perseverance, guts and the daily determination to get your butt out of bed and go out and push your body till it can't go anymore.

Why do they need to learn this?

Because their lives are too easy, too soft, too catered-for. Too many people carry them, make excuses for them, never allowing them to try to be "heroic." Is it "heroic" to get your butt out of bed and go swim at 5 am? It is if you haven't done it before. Is it heroic to "make" 10x200 fly on 4:00? It is if you haven't ever done it before. Is it heroic to finish your swim and turn around and cheer for the teammate who is even further behind than you are, and is struggling to make the set? Need I say it? It is if you've never done it before.

And that is what "It" is about. About doing what you haven't done before. And learning that sometimes you succeed. Sometimes you fail. If you fail, you go again until you learn to succeed.

It's not about being an Olympian. It's about being Olympian. Learning to be a hero.

And what it takes to learn that.

Or, you can Be Comfortable and teach your child that it's more important to be Comfortable.

So, if that's your choice, I only have one question?

What will happen to your child on the day when they are made "uncomfortable" by life?

Maybe I can use those Compression shorts after all…

I was reading another blog I follow and the author mentioned using his Compression gear for recovery purposes.

After my fiasco with the DNF at the Buffalo Run 50 Mile race because some expensive compression shorts appear to have caused IT Band issues in my left leg, I stuffed the expensive shorts in the back of a drawer vowing to never run in them again (or until I was a size 2 – which will never happen). However, I now think I will try wearing the compression shorts as well as my compression socks for recovery purposes on days when I have run longer than 13 miles and see if they will help with my recovery.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Why can’t we all get along?

This past week has seen some debates being started in another blog that I belong to where an elite runner has openly expressed his disdain/contempt for several things that I feel strongly about:

  • Ultramarathoners vs. road racers
  • Finisher's medals for marathons
  • Age Group rankings and awards
  • Running for the sheer joy of running

This particular runner lives his life totally around running and cannot understand that the normal human being does not have that ability. We deal with work, family, injury, church, life, working out, in addition to training for races.

I have met some incredible athletes and friends through running and blogging - and will always be grateful for that. I think 95% of us either have the goal of improving ourselves and our running times or else maintaining our fitness for the rest of our lives. We challenge ourselves to better times, increase distances, feel stronger….

It saddens me that there are actually runners out there who feel contempt for those who do not have their talents, genes, ambitions or drive. Luckily – these seem to be in the minority.

It gladdens me to meet those that are supportive, understanding and willing to share their knowledge without taking it personally if a person determines that something does not necessarily work for them.

A big thank you to my running friends who cheer me on, say kind words, and understand what it takes to continue to do this day after day without ever having a chance to win a race, place in my age group, or perhaps achieve my dream goal of qualifying for Boston. You know that I keep trying and that I am an athlete, even if I don't fit the typical 'athlete' mold.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Good Fans/Bad Fans

Anyone who has entered a long race can tell you that sometimes the supporters/fans can make a world of difference. In my race last Saturday I saw examples of both types of fans and think we can all learn from them.

Good Fans: Michelle Lowry is an injured elite runner. She took second place in the St. George Marathon in 2008 and is incredibly gifted. Unfortunately, she has been experiencing some injuries in her hip/SI area this year and it has become debilitating enough that she is relying on crutches to get around and sometimes even a wheelchair. I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for someone of her talent and yet she took three hours out of her Saturday to come and cheer on fellow runners in the Utah Valley Marathon. As Marion McLellan and I approached Mile 6, we saw an excited woman in a blue jacket yelling and screaming at us. Just to make sure we didn't miss her, she brandished her crutches in the air and we knew we had found Michelle. She had a poster cheering on the FRB (FastRunningBlog) runners and waited until the last ones she knew (us) arrived. We gave her a quick thank you and hug (we weren't racing after all and a hug can do a world of good) and then headed on. A mile or so later, she passed us once again in her van honking, cheering and waving. Michelle continued on the course cheering on runners and watching the elite women finish. Thank you, Michelle.

Bad Fans: Marion was really struggling physically and emotionally the last couple of miles. After Kelli Stephenson joined us (and Mandi – Marion's sister-in-law), somewhere before the last mile we saw a guy sitting on the side of the road with his finisher's medal. Trying to motivate Marion, I said, "In just a short while you will be wearing one of those." Instead of being encouraging, this jerk (calling him a gentleman would be wrong), waved his medal back and forth chanting and jeering – "I've got one and you don't". I strongly considered going back and choking him with his medal. It was probably the worst show of sportsmanship I have ever seen at a race.

Thank you to family and friends who have cheered me on at races in the past 6 years. You have no idea how much it means to me.

And – Boston/medal guy – may you pull an important muscle in your next big race and have to DNF….

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Utah Valley Marathon

The Utah Valley Marathon is in its second year and was added as part of the 2009 Grand Slam, so I had lots of running friends entered in this race. My friend Marion McLellan was running this as her first marathon and I had volunteered to pace her through the entire race and also be her sherpa - carrying her Gu's, taking pictures, reminding her of when to eat and drink, motivating her, etc.

Yesterday was a busy day with Marion texting me, talking with Marion, emailing Marion - Sherpa duties are tough LOL

After dropping off the puppy, I headed down to Provo. I got to the mall for packet pickup and was shocked to see the line going on and on. That is probably the biggest flaw in the marathon - they were not prepared for so many people and it was a little frustrating to be on my feet in line for an hour and during the dinner hour. About halfway through my wait, Anna Lisa and Smooth (Suzanna) each came along with spouses, so I let them cut in line since we were all going to dinner together.

Smooth and hubby, Anna Lisa and hubby and Marion and hubby and I visited while waiting for a table at Brick Oven. About the time our dinner came, Josse, her sister and Luz joined us and we all squished together.

By the way - I am now going to be Miles on the Fast Running Blog according to Marion. She found out yesterday or the day before that my maiden name is Miles - so she says it is my running name.

Marathon morning: As I left my Dad's house at 4:15 this morning, Marion called and was already waiting at the mall. She was afraid to fall asleep, so got up and left. I picked up Luz at her house and Marion, Smooth, Luz, DonGardinero/Dale and I rode the bus up together. I found out Luz forgot her Garmin, so let her use my backup Timex watch (double sherpa duties). We had the world's slowest bus on the uphills - thought we might need to get out and push it.

The start was well organized. There was a 'kick bike' race starting 15 minutes before ours. That was different. Davy Crockett came over and introduced himself and wished us well. We also saw Sasha Pachev, Steve Ashbaker, and Mary Anne. Josse and Don Gardinero joined us for the start.

We were running down the canyon on the highway - with the right lane blocked off. There was a good mix of uphill and downhill stretches and only about 8 miles of this portion was concrete and it was not too bad. My goal for this marathon was to finish a race uninjured this year and to get Marion through her first marathon. She is quite an awesome woman.

Here are our first 5 miles: 11:50, 11:23, 11:39, 11:34. 11:50. Marion wanted to stay over 10:30 on the downhill sections and I would rein her in if she started going faster. Oh - Marion yelled at the first mile markers and we honked and flashed our lights during the tunnel.

At mile 6 it was a great break to see a crazy woman in a blue jacket yelling at us and waving her crutches. Michelle Lowry had waited for us slowpokes and had a FRB sign to cheer people on. I know this had to be killing her to not be running, but it was so sweet of her to be there for all of us runners. Michelle is an elit runner that has been battling a SI injury and cannot move without pain right now. We gave her a big, sweaty hug and then waved a few minutes later when she drove by honking. The canyon was definitely different than on the trail that we usually see and it was nice to have different views. We waved at the buses heading up to their 10 mile race, but people were pretty boring on the buses.

Miles 6-10: 11:42, 10:52, 11:34, 11:19, 12:10

Miles 11-15: 11:14, 11:56, 11:41, 12:18, 12:02 It was nice to be out of the canyon and we saw some different sections of the parkway trail that we had not seen before. I had started out with the plan of running 9 minutes, walking 1 minute, but my Sherpa duties were frazzling my mind (I twittered our position at miles 5, 10 and half marathon) and switched to running ahead at each mile marker and then doing a walk until Marion caught up.

Miles 16-20: 12:08, 12:17, 12:29, 12:32, 12:01 At mile 16 we called Mindy (Marion's sister-in-law) to give her a heads up. She was joining us a mile 21. There were a couple of poorly marked miles in this section. We went from being almost 2/10 of a mile behind on our Garmins on the mile markers to way ahead at one point and then back on. Learned the hard way to keep moving because the skeeters were nasty buggers. We were glad to see the end of the ups and downs going under the road. About Mile 18 I noticed that Marion's breathing was getting a little stressed and her footfalls a little heavier. She never once complained and kept on moving on out. We called Kelli after 18 to let her know where we were and check on Scott. We did find it got significantly hotter when we were on Center Street and did not have the shade from the trees. I started trying to throw out the occasional joke and story to keep Marion off her misery.

Miles 21-25: 12:27, 13:33, 12:36, 12:52, 12:25 Mindy met us at 21 with Reese's PB Cups and helped with the entertaining. Occasionally Marion would request gossip or stories. I had warned her about how her body and breathing would feel and hope that helped prepare her for the unknown. Kelli (back from multiple finishes with different bloggers) met us at 24 and was able to give Marion a good motivation and update on what was up ahead. We did mug a little cub scout to get some water at about 23.5 (LOL). Marion's breathing got really stressed at 24, but she kept running and only walked at aid stations.

Miles 26: 11:23 The last mile was a struggle, but we kept the pace up and Marion did a great job of finishing. We crossed the line together after starting together. I was honored to help her through her 18 mile run, 20 mile run and first marathon. She is a marathon virgin no more and will kick my butt in her next race. Final time (not yet official) was 5:14:50.

Overall - a well organized and scenic race. I would definitely do this one again. I ran pain free, and while I was tired at the end, I had plenty of energy left. My pushing ahead at each mile gave me indication that I had more in my legs, so I think I will definitely be able to break 5 hours in my next marathon and possibly 4:50 by the end of the season.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Running in the Mud with God

Last night I was going to join a trail running group on a run up the Pipeline Trail. As I headed out for the run, it was an absolute downpour and I wondered if anyone would actually show up. The rain was heavy enough I actually put the Jeep into 4-wheel drive because of the depth of the water on the freeway and side roads.

When I got to the trailhead, I was the only runner there. I had on a new pair of trail running shoes and I was (strangely enough) looking forward to a short run in the rain, so decided to head out to the stream crossing and then come back. I met a couple of bicyclists coming out the first hundred yards who warned me the trail was pretty bad. Other than that, I had the entire run to myself.

The trail had several sections where it was totally covered in water and I was careful to avoid those sections because I was afraid to twist an ankle with a marathon coming up on Saturday. It was magical up there on the Pipeline Trail. I think this is one of the few times I have had the trail entirely to myself and it was so quiet with just the sound of the rain on the trees. It was not a cold rain, just refreshing. As I ran along I started praying. Not only did this turn out to be one of my all-time favorite runs, but it turned into my longest prayer ever. I think it had to do with being able to appreciate the magic and beauty of nature, but I had so much that I needed to thank my Heavenly Father for and it all just seemed to keep flowing out.

For anyone who has not experienced the joys of trail running, it is hard to describe why I love trails. But I will try. Trail running is usually much more challenging than road running. It is rarely flat and you cannot let your brain turn off because you have to watch for rocks and roots and other obstacles. The uphills can be a killer, the downhills can be a blast. I think that we as human beings spend so much time surrounded by noise and man-made objects – buildings, furniture, other humans, etc – and that we basically crave getting back to where we can appreciate life and solitude. Trails and nature are so refreshing and give back so much more than we put into them.

My plans for the night were an easy three mile run. Before I knew it, I had reached the three mile turnaround (not the 1.5 mile turnaround) and ended up running a total of 6 miles. I didn't wear a watch tonight, but I think I finished in a little over an hour – so it was probably one of my fastest six miles ever, but felt effortless. I was soaked to the skin, covered in mud, and happier than I have been for a long, long time.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pipeline Trail & Elbow Fork

I slept in a little late today because my nephew moved in last night (until he gets married in two months) and I stayed up late talking to him.

I left the townhouse about 9:00 and decided to head up Millcreek Canyon. I thought there might be a chance I would run into Leslie Peterson on the trail. Sure enough, when I reached the Burch Hollow parking lot, I saw her car with the bike rack attached, which meant Harold had also gone biking with her.

About 2 miles in on the trail, I ran into Leslie coming around a corner. I think she was pretty surprised and happy to see me. She turned around and we ran another mile out and then headed back to the trailhead so her mileage wouldn't get too high. She has decided to stick to trails for her running except for the St. George Marathon. We talked about it a bit. She thinks this will be easier on her joints than the road running. We did a total of about 4 miles together and then she headed home and I turned around to go up the trail a bit and get on the Elbow Fork Trail. A sign a quarter mile back said it was 2 miles from there to the trailhead.

Elbow Fork was a pretty trail heading east up the mountain. And I do mean UP the mountain. A lot of the first ¾ mile was switchbacks where I couldn't get above 25-30 minutes per mile pace walking and my heart was pounding pretty hard. After that it settled down and I could run most of the gentle flats and uphills with no problem. I did find that starting late was putting me in the heat of the day and I did not have enough fluids and started feeling the heat. When I hit the road a little after mile 9, I took time to go down to the river and splash myself with water and pour several hats of water over my head. I was disconnecting (losing focus) on the return trip, which was a little worrisome because it doesn't take much on a trail to get injured if you don't pay attention. However, I persevered and finished up.

Remember how the sign said the trailhead was 2 miles up the road. It lied. It was almost 3 miles. A pretty section of trail – but a lot of work on the uphills – it makes you earn your downhills.