Adventures In Running

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Taking an idea and "running" with it

Thanks to Jim Kern for a great idea!

While volunteering at the Pony Express Trail Run in October, Jim Kern showed me his organizer for running supplies. I thought it was brilliant, so created two small versions of the same thing so that I can keep one in my car and have one as a backup. They have similar but not identical contents.

Container: Tool box

Top Layer: Container for holding S Caps, eyedrops, lap counter (for Olympic Ice Oval), emergency headlamp, blister pads, corn pads, alcohol wipes, ginger chews, S Caps, Ibuprofen, small lubricant packs, emergency electrolyte tablets.

Layer 2: Roctane gus, regular gus, shot blocks, kleenex.

Layer 3: handwarmers, various sizes of coban wrap, various types of tape, emergency water bottle, electrolyte powder, KT tape, bag of emergency TP, doggy waste bags (useful for dog and other purposes)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Antelope Island 50K - I gave up

I participated in the Antelope Island 50K race today. I knew going into this race that I was not as trained as I should be, but there was a large time limit and I figured I could easily walk it in.

The weather took a turn for the worse during the week. One week earlier it was sunny and warm. By Saturday it was cold, snowy and miserable.

I drove out to the race on Antelope Island early on Saturday morning and shortly before dawn, a bunch of crazy ultrarunners headed out. (We were not the craziest - because the 100K had started 2 hours earlier). After less than a mile, the first few miles became a series of uphill switchbacks. I was power walking well on this section and passed several other people. I was able to run a lot of the next section and then once again walked the painful section up past Lone Tree to Elephant Head. Here is a picture of me at Elephant Head - enjoying a fun day on the trails.

After Elephant Head, we ran down into Death Valley and then started up the next set of switchbacks. Still feeling fine and walking strong. At the top of the switchbacks (around mile 8) we dropped down into the back section of the island onto trails I had never been on before. I would be on these trails until about mile 17.

Around mile 9 I started to get the first inkling of troubles. The left IT band started bothering me a bit on downhills so I took some ibuprofen and hoped it would help. There were several really rocky sections and areas of deep sand and I started to feel like I was losing energy faster than I should. I went from feeling really strong to feeling totally week in about a one mile period. While I was still enjoying the sights of the back of the island, I started to think it was going to be a longer day than I had planned and my hopes for a PR went out the window.

As I started up Sentry Peak, I looked up the steep incline and really got mentally depressed. Time to put my head down and soldier on. The problem is - I bonked really badly. Tried to put more food into me - but it wasn't helping. I slowed down considerably and was passed by three of the four people behind me. When I got to what I thought was the top of Sentry Peak - I realized it was only halfway up and just wanted to lay down by the side of the trail and quit. The hike up Sentry Peak was from miles 12-14 and I just got slower and slower and couldn't recover.

The temperatures dropped significantly and the wind picked up as we neared the top of the peak. I was so glad to see the aid station tent. I told the volunteers I needed to regroup and sat in the tent for about 10 minutes drinking a lot of fluids and eating what I could. I then realized I hadn't been drinking as much as I thought during the race. Probably because of the cold. I vowed to drink every mile after that.

While sitting in the tent, the last place person passed by - putting me at the back of the pack. Bummer. I decided it was time to get moving again, and headed out at a trot - mainly to stay warm. It was nasty up there! After the long hike up, there was a long run downhill and as I started into the downhill, the IT Band started screaming at me and I found that I could not run the downhill sections anymore. This was a real bummer, because if I had been able to do so, the next few miles would have flown by.

At this point in time, I had been cold for over four hours, was tired, had little energy (although it was coming back), could not run downhills, which meant I would soon not be able to run flats either. I faced a long day and I was just not able to think about continuing. I had cell phone service and found my sister willing to drive out to the ranch and pick me up. I still had three miles to go to get past the ranch and just kept putting one foot in front of the other and running whenever my leg would allow me to.

As I approached the ranch road, there was a lone buffalo on the trail and he was heading in my direction. I approached slowly, hoping he would give way - but I ended up about 15 feet away before I chickened out and headed off onto another trail. He continued sauntering up the road and was determined to take the easy routed this time.

Marcia picked me up at mile 18 and we drove to Nine Mile Gate where I officially DNF'ed. I should have been devestated - but I was not. I just gave up mentally and physically and that was that. I made a lot of mistakes and could have toughed it out - but at that point in time, it was just not worth it to me.

I accomplished what I set out to do - run trails that I had never run before. I didn't wimp out and not show up to the race. Now I have to get over the feeling of defeat and move on with my running career.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pony Express Volunteer

I volunteered a week ago at the Pony Express 50 and 100 Mile Trail Run. I was so excited to be out there again – even bought myself a tent and sleeping pad.

I arrived Thursday afternoon and talked to Davy Crockett for a while. He was pretty bummed because his van had died a few miles pack and that was messing up a lot of his race plans. He said talking to me helped calm him down – so at least I was a little useful.

We set up a start corral and I was trained in the maintenance of the port-a-potties. And these were very portable potties. Emptying those was one of the highlights of the next morning (insert sarcasm here). Can I just say – I couldn't believe that: 1) someone actually took the liner out without replacing it with a new one and 2) people continued to use the potty after that and didn't seem to notice pee dripping all over the tent.

Enjoyed visiting with campers/runners as they arrived and had a nice reunion visit with Jim Kern, who I ran with for 15+ miles during last year's race. Jim and I helped hand out packets and tried to make ourselves useful. I then proceeded to lose my Jeep keys down the back of my dashboard – which resulted in several hours of frustration until Jim Kern and Craig Lloyd retrieved them.

Had a nice visit around the campfire that night. Some people had a longer visit since they got drunk and told loud stories until Davy finally kicked them off to bed late at night.

The next morning I was up at 4:15 and we started handing out race packets. There were four races starting at 6, 7, 8 and 9 a.m. We would give a little pre-race speech and then send the runners off on their respective races.

Jim and I broke down the starting line (with the help of some other volunteers and race crews) and headed out for a day on the trail. Jim was trying to find one group that rented a satellite phone and had forgotten to pick it up. I cheered racers on as I passed them and then worked at Simpson Springs calling off race numbers and directing runners for a couple of hours.

The rest of my day was spent driving back and forth checking on runners and trying to motivate them. I did some chauffeur duty for a woman that forgot to fill up on gas and needed to get her sons out on the course as pacers. I gave words of advice. I admired runners for their fortitude.

It was a great day and so much fun to volunteer for the race. Ultrarunners are a different breed – but such a nice group of people to hang around with.

Halloween Half Marathon

I agreed to run the Provo Halloween Half Marathon with Leslie Peterson on October 29, 2011. Luckily, Leslie picked up my packet at the fiasco they called packet pickup. And Harold drove us up the back side of the Alpine Loop to the start at Aspen Grove and we were able to sit in the warm car until the race started.

Leslie ran the race as a clown and I was a running ladybug. It was a lot of fun seeing all the runners in costumes.

We took it easy on the first five miles which have a lot of steep downhill and didn't want to blow out our legs. It was a beautiful day up the canyon and we enjoyed running past Sundance Ski Resort and then down into Provo Canyon. A couple of miles on the highway, then they moved us over to the Provo River Parkway.

My legs were feeling strong and I was running fairly well. My endurance improved a lot the past month or so.

About mile 9 Leslie started struggling and told me to not wait for her, so around mile 10 I took off and ran alone the rest of the race.

I finished in 2 hours 35 minutes. Not racing at all because I had a 50K the next Saturday - but just enjoying a beautiful fall day with a great running friend.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vehicular Fun on the Pony Express Trail

Last Thursday afternoon I headed out to the Pony Express Trail to help volunteer at the Pony Express Trail 50 and 100 mile races. I ran the event last year, but was not in shape to do it this year and wanted to be part of the fun.

As I pulled into the campground, I saw the race directory, Davy Crockett (also known for running incredibly extreme and crazy distances) sitting surrounded by two tents and a bunch of gear. I asked him where his vehicle was and he mentioned it was the van that was broken down on the side of the road about 3 miles back. Apparently some hoses were not fully tightened when maintenance was done on it and the bumpy roads caused the oil to drain out and ruin the engine. Not only did he have that stress added on to all his other duties that weekend, but had to run in to the camp and get friends to help him transport all the race gear.

After setting up my new tent and campsite, I helped Davy with some of the starting chute setup and visited with other runners and race staf as they arrived. When it started getting dark, I went to change out of shorts and into sweatpants and threw my keys up on the dashboard of my Jeep. Imagine my horror as I watched the keyring start sinking into the corner of the dashboard and grabbed futilely to try and save my keys. No luck. Everyone wants to be far away from civilization with no way to start their vehicle – right? Jim Kern (my racing companion from the year before) had some tools and I tried in vain to take apart my dashboard. Jim tried again later and was more persistent than me. Prayers were answered when he finally somehow found the keychain wedged in a metal compartment (they would have never been visible). More prayers were answered when Craig Lloyd was able to get his skinny fingers in there and unwedge the keys.

Of course, my stress level was very high because I had called a neighbor to see if they could find my spare key and he looked in the places I asked him too and could not find them. My sister was willing to help me out by searching and driving me around as needed, but I was glad I did not have to do that. Imagine my chagrin when I got home on Friday night and opened the first drawer I had asked the neighbor to look in and saw the spare key laying out in the open. (Never ask men to look for something – but they are great at being willing to help out).

Friday morning, once the race started, Jim Kern put my dashboard back together (I only have 8 screws missing a home now) and we were taking down the starting area to move the materials further down the race course. Jim tried to start his truck and the battery was dead. It took him quite a bit of work, but he finally was able to get the truck started and he drove off wondering if it would start again when he needed it to.

Final bit of fun – I was driving back and forth on the road and had told myself I would turn around for good when my tank got half empty. (75 miles back to the nearest gas station). My blood pressure was once again challenged when I noticed my gas indicator had dropped from just over half a tank to one quarter tank in a five mile stretch. Did I have a hole in my tank? How was I going to get back to civilization without running out of gas? I drove on to the 50 mile finsh/turnaround to see if I could bum some gas off of anyone and Brad was able to give me a couple of gallons of gas. Of course, it turns out my panic was unneeded because the gas gauge was acting up and the two gallons of gas actually put me back to ¾ of a tank.

Ah – the fun of vehicle problems when you are out in the middle of nowhere….

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sweeping the Mountain View Trail Half Marathon

On Octboer 15, 2011 I was able to volunteer at the Mountain View Trail Half Marathon on Antelope Island as the sweeper. I think sweeping is fun in races for a variety of reasons:

  • You get to start late
  • You are expected to finish last (or near the end)
  • You avoid the crowds at the start of the race
  • Volunteering helps you appreciate Race Directors and the volunteer efforts

Actually – if you have never volunteered for a race and have run in several races, can I just say, "Shame on you!" I think volunteering should be mandatory for every 5 or 10 races that you participate in. People who never take any effort to thank the volunteers as they race by need to quit thinking of themselves and do so. (Note: If you are winning the race at the moment, you can do this later. Since I will never win a race – this is not an issue for me.)

Beautiful drive up to the island. It was going to be a nice, sunny day. The race started at 9:00 a.m. and I got there a few minutes before to hassle Jim Skaggs about his Buffalo cap. (A treasure I found up in Yellowstone and felt was totally appropriate for the RD of the Buffalo Run). Once the race started, I waited about 12 minutes and headed out myself.

The race starts with a loop around the White Rock Bay campgrounds and then cuts over to the trails by the buffalo pens. After a bit on the jeep trail and some bushwacking, at mile 3 you turn onto the Mountain View Trail and follow it out to the Ranch. I started out running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute and figured I would probably catch the last place runner by Frary Peak. The trail was reaping the benefit of a wet spring and summer and was pretty overgrown. Some of the grassy sections has grass over my head and it was like running in a tunnel. A neat feeling to be totally surrounded and you basically could only see a few feet ahead. The sunflower sections were more painful and I was surprised I wasn't really scraped up when the race was done. They were pretty – but I could have used a little less pretty.

Nice sunny day, great temperatures and the legs felt strong. At the first aid station at mile 5 I asked where the last place runners were and was told they were 2 miles ahead. Mentally, that let me know they were probably less than a half mile ahead. Volunteers rarely get these things right – unless they say 20 seconds or something like that. When I reached the next aid station at Frary Peak, I could see a couple about 100 yards ahead – so knew that my guess was much closer. Talked with the volunteers at the aid station for about 5 minutes to allow the runners to get farther ahead and then headed out again.

About one mile from the finish I finally caught the runners and they asked me to go ahead. Since they were looking strong, I took off again. I finished sweeping the half in a little over 3 hours. Not bad considering how many times I stopped to let the runners get a head start.

Ate some hamburger, then switched over to driving a bunch of runners back to the start in Karen Skaggs' pickup truck. Helped take down the course and then Jim dropped me back at the start. It was a wonderful way to spend the day. Out of cell range, in the sunlight, outdoors and no buffalo scares.

To finish off the day, as I drove out of the campground, an antelope slowly sauntered across the road about 10 feet in front of me, so I just sat there and enjoyed watching it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Everyone has struggles in life. That is what makes life interesting. I will admit that when I am "struggling" I really wish I wasn't. Aren't we all that way?

I have struggled with running this year. Last year I could run 13 miles without walking. I was doing 10-11 minute miles easily. I ran several marathons and completed a 50 mile race. While I was not in top physical condition, I was pretty proud of myself and had all sorts of goals for improving speed and conditioning in 2011.

Then I got sick. Running the Goofy Challenge (half marathon + marathon in 30 hours) while dealing with bronchitis and other infections was fun – but I paid for the fun later. My lung capacity decreased. I felt awful for a couple of months.

I decided a full-time job plus marathon training wasn't enough. I added a part-time job on top of that. Add on the fun of many stressful 70+ hour weeks at my full-time job and I quit running for a few months.

Oh – did I mention the tendon problems in the right ankle? And spending time in boots, braces, tape jobs?

Needless to say, 2011 has not turned out the way I wanted it to be.

However, I also have a dream. It is a dream I have had for many years. That dream involves completing a 100 mile race. I want (okay – I covet) a 100 mile finisher belt buckle. Is it because I think belt buckles are cool? NO. It is part of the dream. To finish 100 miles means I will have conquered myself mentally and physically. I will have done something that an extremely small percentage of the world's population has done. It will take time. It will take suffering. It will involve struggles.

So – while right now I wish I wasn't struggling – I am dreaming of voluntarily putting myself through serious struggles. I can't explain it – it just is.

My current struggles include depression. After weeks of "just not feeling right" and insomnia – it finally dawned on me that I had forgotten about my ongoing battle with depression and that it was time to get back on medication. I hope that between medication and working out – that I will get back on track really quickly.


Because I signed up for the 48 Hour Race at Across The Years in Phoenix, Arizona starting December 29th. That belt buckle is going to be mine! Wouldn't that be a great way to end the year and start a new one?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I have not forgotten

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. So many lives were lost and so many have been changed forever as a result of the terrorist attacks of that day.

I remember being a student at Weber State University and sitting in my car waiting to head to class when the reports of the first plane crashing into one of the Twin Towers was broadcast. And the sadness that hit at that moment, not even fully realizing that it was not just a horrible accident.

Then, sitting in my class, browsing the Internet and seeing another plane crash and then the collapse of the towers and the other incredibly sad and poignant events of that day.

Going home and watching the events occur over and over again on the television. Feeling pain at so many lives lost. Wondering how I could explain this to my children. Crying with my children over the horrors of the day.

While I did not personally lose a loved one in the attacks that day, there was an incredible feeling of sorrow at the cruelty of these attacks. I cannot say why it is more horrific to have man-made attacks take lives than cruel acts of nature, to me the events of this day hit home and changed my life forever.

Ten years down the road I look at how my life has changed. I never envisioned one of my children joining the military and I never envisioned them becoming a military spouse. Yet my daughter fell in love with an Army sargeant and I have since learned how being in the military affects not only the person but also their spouse, children, parents, brothers and sisters, and even in-laws.

My son-in-law sacrificed many years of custody of his children and time with them in order to serve his country. He and my daughter will both have to deal with loneliness and challenges when he is on deployments. How many of us do not even appreciate what these men, women and their families deal with in order to protect our country?

As I led the closing song in church today (America the Beautiful), I had tears streaming down my cheeks thinking of how proud I am to be an American and also how proud I am to understand better the sacrifices that are made for this great land.

Thank you to all the men and women serving in the Armed Forces and to their families for the sacrifices and service they make. Thank you also to the members of the Police and Fire Departments throughout this land who put their lives on the line every day for people they have never met.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Suncrest Half Marathon 2011

I saw signs advertising "Conquer the Mountain" and Suncrest Half Marathon last weekend while running the Porter Rockwell Trail. I decided to check this race out and signed up this week.

Right from the moment I checked out their site, I knew that this would not be a half marathon that I raced. It was going to be a matter of survival and a training run (or walk or crawl) more than anything.

The elevation profile for the race says it all - it was going to take my breath away.

Since I have never been in the Suncrest area before this race, I will be taking a lot of the course descriptions from the PDF document.

The race started at 7 a.m. with the half marathoners heading down Suncrest Drive to some trails and a fire road that lead to the Richmond Homes Development. At this point there were only a couple of other competitors behind me - so I figured I could just sit back and "enjoy" the race. The mile markers were totally off for the race, so I relied on my Garmin. Mile marker 1 occurred at 1.5 miles and mile marker 2 was at 2.4 miles - I was worried it would be a long course. Near the end they were occurring every .75 miles or so and it actually ended up being a little bit short of 13.1 miles (not that I cared).

After a couple of miles on trail we headed up the road again (there seemed to be a lot of "heading up" in this race) through a subdivision and then onto another jeep road and some single track. This portion of the race had some nice views of Utah county to enjoy. I probably should have stopped and taken some picture - but I was too busy struggling to breathe.

The uphills continued for a few miles until we passed the Deer Ridge Drive Bridge. This aid station actually had gummy bears and M&M's and I loaded my pockets with fuel.

We ran on the roads in the subdivisions for a few more miles - this time with some pretty views of the Salt Lake Valley. You really couldn't enjoy the downhills too much - because they meant that there would be more uphills ahead of you. On this side of the mountain there was a really enjoyable stretch of singletrack that I was able to cruise down and made the entire race worthwhile.

Unfortunately, the end of the trail meant a long climb back up Traverse Ridge Road to the start of the race and another looping section. After a few miles of road we were sent on the Suncrest Trail back up to just above the gummy bear aid station and the final section of road to the finish.

It was a nice race - small and well organized. The aid stations were well stocked, there were only a few turns where you had to wonder if you were going in the right direction (usually on roads) and they had lots of volunteers.

Will I do it again? Probably not. It was enjoyable to see new trails, but it is the hardest half marathon I have ever entered and not one I can even run half of. Still, all in all, I'm glad I took a chance on it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Guardsman Pass and Sheepdog Trials

I was thrilled when Leslie Petersen called me yesterday and suggested a running adventure for Labor Day. I've been feeling sorry for myself because it seems like I have very few friends and am too often alone - so having someone to hang with on a holiday cheered me up.

I drove over to Leslie and Harold's house at 7 a.m. and we loaded up their SUV. Harold drove us up to the top of Guardsman Pass and Leslie and I started the run down. I worried the first half mile because it was pretty steep and I was having to use the quads fairly heavy to 'brake' myself, but then the downhills eased up.

We were able to run most of the time - I think we started throwing in occasional walk breaks around mile 5 or 6. I'm sure our quads will complain tomorrow, but it was great downhill training for Leslie for St. George. We had planned to run between 9-13 miles, but Leslie decided she wanted to get to the second part of our adventure while it was still overcast, so at 8.65 miles we called it quits. We had just reached Midway at that point in our run.

Part 2 involved the Grand Championships of the Soldier Hollow Sheepdog Competition. These dogs and their handlers are pretty amazing. The dog is totally controlled by whistling commands and a few verbal commands. They had 24 minutes to gather 2 different herds of 8 sheep each, put them through various gates and other maneuverings. A very tough workout. The last two teams we watched ended up taking gold and bronze in the competition - so we got to see some of the best.

I'm going to hold off taping my foot again until Friday when I run part of the Wasatch 100 course to cheer on runners. Some skin came off with the tape today - so my skin definitely needs a break.

All in all - it has been a great weekend.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Building up mileage

Since I have decided to do a 50K in November, it is time to build up my long run distance again. I have to admit that it is actually easier to consistently run longer distances than it is to build up. I think the body adapts to the longer distances and you get less inflamation and soreness as a result.

I was too lazy to get up and run early in the morning, but it is cooling down a little earlier at night, so around 5 p.m. I packed up my running gear and headed to Draper. The plan was to run two loops of a 7 mile route on the Draper Canal Trail and the Porter Rockwell Trail and then run around the Draper City Park for the last mile as a cooldown.

First loop I went out on the Draper Canal Trail to the big bridge and then back on the Porter Rockwell Trail. Draper Canal Trail this way is a very gradual uphill and the Porter Rockwell Trail is rollers that eventually work their way downhill. Lots of hills on the Porter Rockwell Trail.

Second loop I went out on the Porter Rockwell Trail and then back on Draper Canal Trail to give myself the gradual downhill when I would be most tired. I did remember to grab a flashlight for this loop so I wouldn't have to focus on not running into the trail gates.

The body and legs felt good. Since my endurance is not where I want it to be, I ran 3 minutes followed by a 2 minute walking break. I was tired at the end - but not too tired, so I hadn't pushed too hard. I didn't tape my foot for the run and it felt fine.

Thanks to my daughter for calling and talking me in the last mile.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Posterior Tibialis Tendonitis

I first went to see Dr. Royall (a podiatrist) about 10 days ago and he did a lot of checking on my feet. He said that my feet are very strong (guess all the running paid off) and that it appeared that my right foot pronates just a tiny bit. Based upon my mileage (and that nasty thing called AGE), the pronating was causing my poterior tibialis tendon in the right foot to be inflamed.

His remedy was to do a taping technique on the foot and ankle called "Modified Low-Dye Strapping". You do a basket weave of tape around the foot and ankle to support the foot and then follow up with three strips of a stretchy support type tape under the arch of the foot. I was supposed to use this technique until he saw me again and not do any icing, ibuprofen or other treatments to see if the strapping worked.

The great thing is, I was able to run again. The tendon on the outside of the right ankle has been a bit painful (nothing serious) because the strapping was focused on supporting the inside of the ankle - but within a day or so I had no pain when running on the formerly inflamed tendon.

I saw Dr. Royall again today and we decided that the strapping proved I needed some orthotics, so was casted for and ordered a pair of them. He also did an ultrasound of the tendons and showed me the inflamation that still exists around them. It will take a while to fully heal - but I am on the mend!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Little + Big + Ouch x 2

Needed to burn off some stress, so headed over and did the Little Cottonwood Canyon Trail last night after work. My Garmin kept losing satellite reception for some reason, so just turned it off after a half mile and ran free. The mind and legs did better on the downhill and I am getting back to being able to pick my way down rockier sections again.

My right ankle has been hurting me a lot for the last week or so and I think it started after my run on this same trail a week or so ago. Maybe the uphill sections and downhill sections were aggravating my tendon injury from the previous year. I considered bagging a scheduled run the next morning, but decided I wanted to do it too badly and would go to a doctor afterwards, if needed.

Early this morning I met Leslie and Harold Peterson and some of their family (some who had never run trails before) and we went up to run the Wasatch Crest in Big Cottonwood Canyon. We ran from Guardsman Pass to the spine, then down to Desolation Lake and over to Mill D. A great 9.3 mile run. My ankle hurt each time I started a new uphill section, but then would quit bugging me.

After dropping Leslie off at her car, I then headed over to Brighton Ski Resort and did another 1.3 miles around Silver Lake and a little towards Twin Lakes, but the ankle was bothering me – so I decided I had better quit before I did something seriously wrong to it.

As I neared the bottom of Big Cottonwood Canyon I came around a corner just a few seconds after a bike crash had occurred. I used my Jeep to block the lane since the bicyclist that was seriously injured was laying half on the road and half on the gravel shoulder. Several people stopped to help until the ambulance arrived. I had blankets in the back of the Jeep that we used to pad her where the gravel was digging into her. Her name was Jennifer and she had done a double flip on the bike and had smacked her head, had road rash all over (probably the worst case I had seen) and was worried that she had broken her hip when it impacted the pavement at about 40 mph or faster. She wasn't bleeding seriously, so we tried to keep her talking and assess her condition before the Fire Department arrived. By the time they came we had a physician who was riding his bike up the canyon and a nurse who had been passing by also assisting. Poor woman – she was going to be hurting something awful. Her fiancĂ©e had wiped out trying to not crash into her, but he was walking around, although I had scraped off most of one butt cheek when he crashed. They are getting married next Saturday and she kept telling him she was sorry she had hurt him and that she would be injured for their wedding. We were all just glad she had a helmet on and had survived the crash.

Later this afternoon I got up to walk around the house and my ankle was hurting a lot – especially on stairs – so went by the After Hours clinic. They recommended I get an appointment with a podiatrist and put me back in my boot for at least a week. Probable tendon injury. Bummer.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Draper in the Dark

I decided to do my long run tonight instead of tomorrow because of some plans I have for the day, so waited until a little after 7 and drove to Draper to run the Draper Canal Trail (paved) out to Point of the Mountain and back. It took a while to get there because of major holes in the road from road destruction and backtracking. I started late enough that it was cooling down and only the first hour was ridiculously hot. It got dark just as I reached the turnaround point. I had underestimated the lighting on the trail (none) and did not bring a light of any kind, so decided to do an out and back instead of a loop onto the remaining portion of the Porter Rockwell Trail because I had seen where all the horse and dog droppings were and that there weren't any major cracks or limbs on the path I ran out and did not want to risk injury. It was so nice and quiet and peaceful. I really enjoyed running in the dark. It is a good thing I am a slow runner because a couple of times I almost missed the bars that prevent vehicles from getting on the trail and that would have been painful to slam into them at waist height.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Little Cottonwood Trail

I was in the mood to run trails today since Leslie Peterson and I had planned a long run before she decided to go to the 'Beach House'. I was not sure how well I would do since I had a hard time falling asleep last night and was functioning on only 4 hours of sleep time.

After work I changed and headed up to the Little Cottonwood Trail at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon (what a coincidence). I have not done much hill running this year, so this was a good way to jump in. The trail is 3.25 miles each way and climbs about 1200 feet in that distance. Last year when I tried to run this trail I found a lot of it washed out from spring floods and actually went past the closed signs and had to balance over washed out bridges.

This year the trail and bridges have been repaired. The trail is in great shape and they have done a lot of work digging diversion ditches and placing 'speed bumps' on the trail to ensure it won't get washed out in the next few years.

Since it has been relatively hot and humid this year, I decided to run 100 steps/walk 100 steps on the way up. This year I have had so many runs where I am almost blinded from the sting of sweat in my eyes and it occurred again today. I reached the top in 58:02 and sat on a rock for a few minutes to get my heart and breathing under control. The ground under me was soaked with sweat after just a few minutes. Plenty hot out! Ran the entire 3.25 miles down to the Jeep in 45:01. I want to track this every few weeks to see if I can improve both the uphill and downhill times. I could tell my 'route sensing' abilities are not where they used to be – so need to spend more times on trails to improve that. If you run trails enough – you get a sense of where to pick a path that has the least chance of providing you with catching a toe or face plant opportunities.

I can tell tonight that I need to do lots more hills. After sitting here working on documentation for a Kindle app for 2 hours, I stood up to go downstairs and was so stiff I could hardly walk. Ah – the joys of getting in shape.

One sign of progress – my son, Kevin, told me tonight that my legs are looking fit. He's a good critic – so I accept his kind judgment.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Increasing Mileage

I have several ambitious plans bouncing around in the back of my head for 2012. A lot of them depend on getting in shape, losing weight and increasing my mileage again. So – as of today I increase my race plans for the remainder of 2011 from one race to three races.

September – Dirty Dash – a 10K at Soldier Hollow involving running, wallowing, obstacle courses, and lots of fun.

October – Mountain View Trail Half Marathon – I've volunteered at this race on Antelope Island – this year I will run it. And maybe I'll turn around and run it back to the start when I am done. I would just have to figure out logistics for having fluids and gu available. Maybe just carry it all on my back?

November – more fun on Antelope Island. Jim Skaggs started a 100K last year and this year added a 50K option. This includes trails I have not yet run on the island. With a 12 hour cutoff – I could walk the course and finish in time.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pipeline Trail again

I had plans to run the Pipeline Trail weekly this summer until I started hearing tales of rattlesnakes being seen on single track. Since I am slow and usually run alone – it worries me that I might run into one and get bit – so have stayed on either roads, paved trails, or wider trails.

A bit cooler and overcast this morning – so I headed back up to run the Pipeline Trail. I just love it up there (once you get past all the cars doing to the cub scout camps). Lots of runners, hikers and bikers on the trail. Most of them were pretty gracious. I did get frustrated with one group of 5 mountain bikers that had one rider who either had lousy gears or was lousy at gearing and they would stop and wait for her to catch up – about the time I caught up and passed them and then had to give way for them to pass me again. It was getting annoying, but I think she dropped down at Church Fork since the other four passed me before then and I never saw her again.

A great day for running. Overcast and even slightly drizzly until 6 miles were down. After that the sun came out and things started heating up.

I moved up to 3 minutes running/1 minute walking for my long run today. I'll increase it to 4/1 in September. I am in no rush – just want my endurance to get back to where it was. I can feel the legs and the lungs slowly coming back. It wasn't a struggle today like it was when I ran the trail in June. And the last couple of miles I even put some speed on during the downhills. Nice to see a bit of progress.

As I was finishing up, I starting thinking of a song that expresses my love for my mountains and trails. I don't have a ton of happy memories from vacations as a child, but there was one song my mother taught us that we sang on trips that puts my sentiments out there:

I love the mountains,

I love the rolling hills,

I love the fountains,

I love the daffodils,

I love the firesides,

When the lights are low,

Boom di ada, boom di ada, boom di ada, boom di yay,

Boom. Boom. Boom.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Jeremy Ranch Road

I had lots of good thoughts about running Jeremy Ranch Road up in Park City this winter. Every time I wanted to attempt it – we got snow. And I knew that it would not be packed enough to run.

I finally had a chance to run it yesterday – gave me some time to think of my daughter on her 24th birthday.

This road is a nice way to get some trail running in without actually being on trails. The road is either hardpacked dirt or gravel. Lots of uphills and downhills to challenge the legs. Lots of nature and not too many cars.

I think I might try to run this every 4 weeks or so during decent weather. I am a little chicken this year after hearing about all the rattlesnakes people are seeing on trails and worry about them because I almost always run alone.

During my run, I remembered (or thought of) the following:

  • Nature heals me. I need the mental refreshment it brings.
  • Pushing my limits is worth it. I get tired of sitting so much and love the challenge of pushing my muscles and lungs and heart. The aches and pains afterwards (and sometimes during) are so worth the outcome.
  • I really need to appreciate more the fact that I can move and run and walk with very little pain. I don't know where I would be without this physical release – but am really grateful I can experience it first hand.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Endurance builds slowly and star-gazing during the day

One of the hardest things about coming back to running is gaining endurance. It is very frustrating to see how far I had 'fallen' when I think of running a marathon of 26.2 miles and an ultramarathon of 50 miles in a 13 day period in October and then a half marathon and a marathon in two days in early January. Now, to struggle to run 5 miles and know that I have to take walking breaks just makes me feel pathetic and out of shape.

However, two weeks ago I was able to run 5 miles non-stop on the treadmill (granted at about 4-4.5 mph) and have done that a couple of times since then. Last Saturday I did my first long-run in several months and made it to 8 miles, but was pretty tired after that. Today, I set out to run 10 miles and was feeling pretty good, so ended up doing a total of 13 miles. I am currently running 2 minutes and then walking 1 minute on my long runs, but the fact that I am in double digits for the first time since the first week of March and have done long runs two weekends in a row makes me feel like the endurance is coming back and that I am making progress.

I had a really neat experience on my run this morning. I ran down to the Jordan River Parkway and then ran north on it to my turnaround point (5 miles based on the planned 10 mile run). Right where I turned around there were a bunch of telescopes being set up. I had to admit it was pretty unusual to see telescopes out in the daytime (it was a little after nine on a bright, sunny morning) so I wandered over and asked what they were doing. The owners were thrilled to show me. One said he was star-gazing. Of course, then it clicked on me that the sun is indeed a bright star. With the filters they had on you could see solar flares and all sorts of awesome features. I think I will try to run that way more often on Saturdays to see it again (they say they are out there about once a month).

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Running time again

I have let my running slip (a lot). Work has been consuming my life and I let a lot of exercise go by the wayside (except for getting Twilight out). Since I was heading to Georgia for a family vacation for a week, I decided it would be a good time to start running again.

One slight problem with that equation – 100+ degree heat each day and close to 100% humidity. Running was very hard. Most days I settled for running two minutes, walking one minute for the length of the run. It was hard to breathe and I was soaked with sweat. I tried to get out early each day – but the heat and humidity still drained me. However, I persevered and most days ran between 4-6 miles and walked anywhere from 1-3 miles more.

Now that I am back in the land of "it's a dry heat" – I need to maintain the running and get out early each morning. It was a mistake to let my jobs consume my life so much and I think I will probably be more effective if I workout each day. Me time has to be a priority or everything else suffers.

In the back of my mind I would really like to do a lot of trail running next year – the Buffalo Run 50 Mile in March, a Rim To Rim To Rim of the Grand Canyon in April, Squaw Peak 50 Mile in June, and Pony Express 50 Mile in October. If I am going to do that – I need to get my daily mileage up to around 8 miles a day at least 4 times a week (plus a long run) and lose 20-25 pounds. Still, having a goal might get my focus where I want it to be.

I'll keep you updated (whoever you are).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Trail Therapy

I've been working lots and lots of hours lately. Combine those hours with working two different jobs and there hasn't been as much free time for working out as I would like.

So many times I have told people that they will be more effective at work if they take some time to work out and get their minds clear. I must admit I am guilty of not following my own advice. I think that needs to change.

Anyway – I had worked from about 6-9 a.m. yesterday and was starting to feel frazzled, so asked if I could take a few hours off to go running. I changed clothes and headed up Millcreek Canyon to run the Pipeline Trail. The weather alternated between being sunny and sprinkling on me – but it was so nice to be back on trails. There is nothing like being back in nature to allow your mind to clear. Especially on shorter runs when I don't turn on music and force myself to detach from electronics (except my beloved Garmin, of course). 9.25 miles and 2 hours and 15 minutes later, I was refreshed and ready to go back to work and be productive.

As close as I live to trails – I really wish they were even closer. This so beats running on roads in any way, shape and form.

Biking to Work

I've been meaning to start riding my bike to work when the weather was good. The problem is – I started to wonder if the weather would ever be good. How many days in a row do we have to have rain? I don't remember moving to Seattle!

Anyway – the rain finally eased up for a few days and my son has been having car problems, so I have ridden my bike to work two of the last three days. A bit chilly in the morning – but it is a good way to get the blood flowing and I only live 2 ½ miles from the office.

A couple of issues the first day – found one of my brake cables was not working on the way in. Luckily the back break was working and I didn't do a face plant. And on the way home my backpack strap got caught on the seat so I couldn't get up into the saddle. But I now have a nice new helmet (not one of the old bucket ones) and I am in the groove – so hopefully this trend will continue and I can get more exercise and save on gas.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Depression and the weather

I was very proud of myself this winter for being able to wean myself off of anti-depressants after several years of requiring them. Winter is probably the worst time of year to try and do this (unless you happen to reside in Arizona or Florida) because of the lack of sunlight. However, between my usual working out a lot and switching over to using a regular Magnesium supplements (I had read several books that suggested this as a possible solution) – I was able to continue functioning without the usual side effects.

Things were going fine – until a week ago. Then the rain started. And the rain continued. And the rain seems to never want to go away.

I can tell that depression is lurking on the edges and wanting to pull me into its nasty little grasp.

I could never live in Seattle. I need (make that NEED) sunlight way too much in my life. Running outside can often help bring my mood back into its happy place. And running in the rain can be peaceful and leave you with a clean, calm feeling. But not every single day. That just makes you cold and wet and more depressed.

So – the light box is going to come out again. It helps with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

And maybe several doses of chocolate…..

Monday, April 18, 2011

Being in shape is not the same as fit

Since running a half marathon and a marathon two days in a row in January while suffering from bronchitis and other bodily infections, I have struggled with my running. At this point in time I can hardly believe that I ran a marathon and a 50 mile race in a two week period in October. I am still able to run, but I think my lungs were weakened by doing the Goofy Challenge while sick.

This has led me to thinking about my healthy.

I am the first to admit that I went from being in great shape in 2008 to letting myself gain weight and lose muscle and being in not-so-great shape in 2011. I could kick myself for letting this happen. In fact, I have mentally kicked myself most days for letting it happen.

Compared to a large portion of the population, I am in good shape. I am slightly overweight, but I am not obese. I exercise regularly. I eat somewhat healthily. But am I fit?

The answer to that question (at least in my opinion) is NO.

I was working out with my trainer the other day and he kicked my butt in a matter of minutes with some of the exercises he gave me. I can run and walk for hours on end (at least when I am trained for it). I can lift weights sitting at a machine and get strong and push myself hard. But going through a series of functional exercises requiring me to use different muscles one right after another and balance and tighten my core left me ready to pass out.

So – I am on a course to get fit in 2011.

What is being fit to me? Fitness to me will consist of the following:

  • Eating healthy and breaking my addiction to junk food for once and for all (see previous post). This does not mean giving up junk food. I like it too much and I think it has its time and place in my life.
  • Getting my body fat percentage down below 20%. I was down to 22% in 2008 and have let it get back up to 32%. Again – I am kicking myself – but it is what it is and there is no denying it.
  • Pushing myself with a variety of weight training methods so that my body can handle not only static exercises at machines, but balancing, plyometrics, and movement related exercises. I want to be able to jump on benches, box, etc. without it taking a toll on me every time.
  • Using a variety of cardiovascular type exercises instead of focusing on running alone. Start riding my bike to and from work, swimming, rowing, stair climbing.
  • Break that elusive 10 minute mile base for running.

Now – I need to eat my breakfast consisting of Dancing Berries cereal, almond milk, an apple and a hard-boiled egg.

Eating Healthy is Hard Work

Today marks day 7 of eating healthy. Here are some thoughts on the subject:

  • It takes a total mental refocus to eat healthy. It is not going to happen unless you really want to make the change.
  • It is a lot of work to eat healthy.
  • Eating healthy requires planning. Meal plans, shopping lists, etc.
  • Eating healthy requires cleaning junk out of your kitchen (and spare room - and office drawers).
  • Unless you are independently wealthy – eating healthy requires cooking.
  • Cooking requires extra time. But – you can cook multiple things at once and prepare for several days in advance, so not too much extra time.

I am 50 years old. I have been reading a lot about nutrition and the body. I have also been reading about body weight and aging (sad to think that aging applies to me). I have let junk food and my beloved friends chocolate and sugar control my life for too many years. (Don't worry friends – I am not the type to turn my back and abandon friends entirely). If I want to live many more years to torture my children and grandchildren and enjoy myself while doing so – I need to make these changes.

Some of the changes needed:

  • Remove sugar and fat as major parts of my diet. (sniff, sniff, sob)
  • Lose at least 20 pounds and possibly 30 to get my body to where it should be to handle the fact that aging causes muscle and bone loss unless you prevent that.
  • Incorporate fruits and vegetables into every meal I eat (this is a hard change).
  • Plan meals and menus in advance.
  • Grocery shop.
  • Pack my breakfasts and lunches the night before.
  • When I slip or eat junk – make sure it is what I want and that I at least am enjoying myself and not stuffing my face mindlessly.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Just call me Cap’n Mo

I had quite the running adventure this weekend and it didn't involve me running a single step.

I have been involved with the Buffalo Run on Antelope Island since its inception in 2006.

  • 2006 – signed up for the 50K. First year of the race and the race director, Jim Skaggs had a 4 hour cutoff for the first 25K loop. I was about 5 minutes over the cutoff and knew there was no way to finish the race in under 8 hours (even though Jim said I could continue since I was so close) – so dropped down to a 25K option.
  • 2007 – raced and finished the 50K. This is the year that I met Leslie Petersen and protected her from her fear of a buffalo stampede.
  • 2008 – raced and finished the 50K.
  • 2009 – signed up for the 50 Mile. I ended up with serious IT Band issues and had to DNF at mile 28. I will be back to conquer this beast.
  • 2010 – signed up for the 50K. Ended up in a cast on my right ankle. Volunteered for most of the afternoon and the finish line.
  • 2011 – inception of the 100 mile race. Volunteered to help out. Was asked if I would run an aid station overnight at the Ranch. Agreed to do so.

Once I contacted the volunteer coordinator and agreed to do anything they need – I got more adventures than I had planned. Britta asked if I would be willing to camp at the Ranch. It sounded like a lot of fun so I agreed. Then I suggested it to my sister and (brave person that she is) she agreed to camp out with me. I have to admit – my sister is very game and willing to support me in a lot of my idiocies.

As the race drew nearer I found out that I was an aid station captain. This also meant getting all of the gear across the island and setting up my aid station. This was not going to happen in my little Jeep, so we involved my brother-in-law, Gary, who was willing to bring his truck out on the island and move gear for me.

The week of the race we all started watching the weather. Rumors of extremely cold temperatures and possible wind, rain and snow had the racers and volunteers all adjusting their expectations and gear for the race. And yes – volunteers do need to have gear.

Friday morning I loaded up the Jeep with food and essentials for two days. This also included extra camp chairs and lots of blankets for runners because we knew that we potentially might have cases of hypothermic runners to deal with – especially if the conditions were wet. It was pretty discouraging that as I headed through Salt Lake and into Davis counties I was facing almost white-out conditions, but as I drove out to Antelope Island, the skies cleared and the snow stopped.

Marcia, Gary and I all headed out to the Start/Finish area and loaded up the pickup with our supplies for the Ranch aid station. The 100 mile runners would be coming through this aid station at Mile 38 and again at mile 82. The 50 Mile runners on Saturday would hit the aid station at mile 32 – but I would be long gone before that occurred.

We had our aid station setup by around 2:00. Lindsay Lauck arrived to help me for the first few hours and Marcia and Gary headed off the island. As with any first year race (and this was the first year for the 100 mile option) – there is a lot to be learned. Lesson number 1 – this aid station does not need to be set up until after 4:00 p.m. We sat and we talked and we sat and we talked. I finally headed back down the road to get an idea of where the leaders were. I came back and told Lindsay I saw two runners just past Frary Peak and that they would probably cover the 4.5 miles and be to our station around 4:45. I was right.

Dan Varga came bounding in first. All he wanted was to have his water bottle topped off and he was out the door and back on the course. A few minutes later, Karl Meltzer repeated the same request and handed me a pocketful of garbage to dump. These guys were cruising. Over the next hour we had three more runners – Mark Tanaka, another runner, and Davy Crockett. We had been waiting for Davy and sang him in and cheered him on.

Lindsay left for the night a little after 5 p.m. and another family showed up that had never volunteered or ran in a trail race, so I told them what to expect and what to do. Marcia came back out for the night around 5:30 and we settled in. More and more runners started coming through. All of them had struggled a bit more because of the wet conditions on the first half of the course and all were covered in mud. The mud had definitely added some extra work for them to run through.

Before it got too dark, we changed into our heavy duty winter clothes. My right piriformis area was really hurting me – but once I got into my thermals and snowboarding pants, the pain eased up considerably and I eventually forgot about it. As it got dark our volunteer family left for the night and Marcia and I started setting up for a long, cold night. About 11:00 p.m., the last racer came through on the first lap and we started predicting when the leaders might come through again.

We hunkered down in the tent. Marcia had a folding chair and a sleeping bag and blankets. I had a reclining lawn chair (that was a life saver) and my son's sub-zero sleeping bag and blankets. Marcia had also brought a propane heater that helped to keep us a little warmer. We put up a blanket to block the worst of the cold on the front flap of the tent and just talked the night away.

We had predicted the runners would come in around 1:15 a.m. and suddenly, about 12:50 Marcia said, "Runner!" Dan Varga was wandering around the tent trying to find a way in. We filled up his water bottle and he raced out of there. Karl Meltzer came in at 1:00 a.m. and also was quickly on his way. It was awesome to see the speed these runners were putting in. Davy Crockett had told us he expected to be in around 4:00 a.m. at the earliest, but we knew there were two more runners in between him, so we left the tent door open and turned on a lantern we had left out by the gate to help show the way in.

I ended up dozing off around 2:00 or so and suddenly Marcia whispered something about being surrounded by buffalo. She could see the silhouette of buffalo crossing in front of the lantern. We then started being pretty scared. I could see a lot of buffalo eyes reflecting off of my headlamp, we heard buffalo snorts and woofing that sounded like they were within 10-20 feet of the tent. We would then hear a lot of buffalo feet stampeding down the road that was not far from our aid station tent. I will admit that two women all alone with no radio or cell contact with the race directors and quite a ways from the next aid station left us very scared for a couple of hours. We kept talking because we think our talking earlier had kept the buffalo away.

It was after 4 a.m. before the next wave of racers started trickling in. Ultra runners are such a great group. They all tried to joke around even as tired as they were. Everyone was positive and thanked us for being there. Davy was in third place at this time and about 8 minutes in front of another runner and racing to keep his position. With no radio contact we had no idea whether runners had DNF'd earlier in the race.

One runner that had us a bit concerned was Mark Tanaka. He had been in third place Friday afternoon and came in after 6 a.m. He was extremely cold (but not hypothermic) and extremely tired. We ended up putting him in my subzero sleeping bag, piling several blankets on him, putting hand warmers in his gloves and pouring chicken broth down him to try and help him recover. We put back the lounging chair and he dozed for quite a while. He was determined to finish and felt that sleeping would help him get some energy back. I think he ended up being in our aid station for about 70 minutes, so we had a good visit with him before we wrapped him up in a space blanket to help him get warm before the sun fully came up and sent him out the door.

It was blissful to see the sun come up. We were tired from not sleeping and tired from the cold and anxiously awaiting the backup captain to arrive on Saturday morning.

It was a great afternoon and evening and quite an adventure. Right now I am a bit scared about the idea of being there overnight again because of the Buffalo. It might be that if we can come up with a better lighting system and a way of making some automatic noise that I will be less fearful and ready to repeat the adventure. But probably not for a few years.

The reason – the 2012 Buffalo Run 50 Mile Race has to be conquered. I cannot let that 50 mile DNF be my final attempt at that race.

A final thanks to my sister for being there for me and being a good sport.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Antelope Island - Then and Now

I've been walking and running on Antelope Island since about 1996. When I first started going out to the island, hardly anyone would ever be there. I would say this lasted until 2006 or so. I would be pretty well alone on the island with the buffalo (aka bison), antelope, rabbits, birds and "no see-ums". In fact, I would often worry that if something happened to me out there (attacked by a buffalo, fell off Frary Peak, etc.) that it could be a long time until I was found.

In 2006, Jim Skaggs started the Buffalo Run. This was a 25K and 50K trail race in March on some of the island trails. Since then, the Buffalo Run has expanded to include 50 mile and 100 mile options and Jim has also added in other races during the year and training runs.

Now, anytime I go out and run on Antelope Island – the crowds are there. In addition to horses and riders and mountain bikers (and those pesky Boy Scouts), there are always runners on the trails. While it is nice to see the island being used well and comforting to know I will quickly get found if I was injured – I kind of miss the solitude of the trails.

Last Saturday I needed some outdoor time, so I grabbed my gear and headed up north and out to the island. It was the final training run before this year's Buffalo Run, so between 75-100 runners were on the trails, in addition to other outdoors enthusiasts. I was able to push my mileage, get in some great mud and trail running, and breathe some fresh air. Nothing beats being outside and pushing the limits of your body. These are the days that make all the other days worth while.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Anemia again?

The last few days I have been incredibly tired. No energy when I run or try and work out. Today I have been freezing no matter what I wear or eat or how high I turn up the thermostat.

I am thinking I got sloppy about taking my iron pills lately and that my anemia has come back. I'll take them regularly for the next week and hope that they symptoms go away.

Athlete the movie

One of my co-workers let me borrow a movie called Athlete. It is the story of four endurance athletes and some of the challenges they face and overcome. One is a blind athlete running with the Achilles Track Club in New York, one is a cancer survivor competing in marathons and other endurance events and the other two are twin sisters preparing for and competing in Ironman Triathlons. It was a really neat motivational movie and reminded me a lot of Spirit of the Marathon.

Paul's sister was in the movie – so that made it fun to watch for. She was one of the guides with the Achilles Track Club. I loved how he said I would know it was his sister because she is the one who calls someone an 'a$$hole'.

It is always inspiring to see other athletes conquer an event or comeback from incredible challenges.

Also – the movie reminded me of volunteering at the St. George Ironman last year and the incredible athletes that were there. In the back of my mind I still want to do an Ironman – but not until after I complete a 100 mile run.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Speed Work

As I mentioned earlier, 2011 is the year I am bound and determined to get my running speed up to the point where I don't feel like I am 'jogging' all the time (not that there is anything wrong with jogging). One of the reasons I want to do this is to speed up my average workout. Running 60-75 minutes a day is a lot less stressful on your body than running 90-105 minutes a day doing the same mileage and if I ever want to achieve some of my marathon goals/dreams, I need to get so that I can run 8-10 miles 3+ days a week (plus a slower and longer 'long' run).

Towards this end – I have been trying to have Monday be my 'speed work'/intervals day, Tuesday be a tempo run, Wednesday be an easy/recovery run, Thursday be a tempo run, Friday be another easy/recovery run and Saturday be the long run.

It is going to be interesting to see how much my lack of speed is attributable to heredity or body type or 'gifts of God' and how much is just from not pushing my comfort zone on a daily basis for years on end.

I have been doing my speed work on the treadmill. Eventually I will move it to a track in the summer, but for now, it makes my mind a little happier to be on the treadmill. The first two weeks I was alternating 8 mile per hour (mph) pace for 30 seconds at a time alternating with 4 mph recovery pace for about 60 seconds at a time. I found that I was able to do this for a couple of miles without me allowing my mind to take over and force me to slow down. A lot of speed work (at least for me) is a mental game and I am going to have to work on building up those mental skills. This week I changed it up a bit and did 7.5 mph intervals for 60 seconds alternating with 4.3 mph recovery for 2 minutes.

My current goal is to eventually get the 8 mph segments up to 60 seconds in length and the 7.5 mph intervals up to 120 seconds in length.

As far as the tempo runs go, I am still trying to find out what works, but I am already seeing that my body is adapting to a faster pace based upon the speed work. Some of these runs are on the road, some on the treadmill (mainly it depends on how windy it is when I am ready to run). I have been trying to maintain sub 11 minute miles (mm) when running on the road and actually find my pace is getting down towards 10 mm. The legs like to give up the last mile or on more uphill routes, so at those points in time I will let myself cruise for about 25 steps every time I cross a road and it seems to allow me to conquer those mental break points.

Yesterday was a windy afternoon, so I hit the treadmill. I worked on starting out at a faster pace and then decreasing the speed .1 mph every tenth of a mile until it started getting comfortable and then cranking it back up again.

It's a work in process, and I think the first half of the year is going to be the hardest as I work on conquering the mental hills ahead of me and also on building up my daily mileage, but I am looking forward to seeing the changes I can accomplish.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You should read this – Unbroken

Last Saturday I was glued to the couch half of the day reading "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand. This is the true story of Louis Zamperini – an Olympic runner that had the potential to be the first person to break the 4 minute mile barrier but was called off to serve in World War II as a bombardier. Life takes a drastic change for Louis Zamperini after his plane crashes and he survives 40+ days at sea near death in a life raft and then years of torture in Japanese POW camps.

Without giving away the story, I will say that I was touched, cried, and felt like an absolute wuss for complaining about being hungry, tired, overworked, etc.

As a teenager I read every book I could find about survival in Vietnamese POW camps and this brought back all those memories and made me realize the potential we have within ourselves that usually remains untapped and the ability for God to help us every day in our lives. I was also left with renewed gratitude to the many men and women who are willing to serve in the Armed Forces throughout the world and the sacrifices they and their families make.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Various Images of Disney Fun

These are some images of the neat Toy Story characters around our hotel at Disney World:


Mickey going down in strawberry syrup:

These are various topiary plants in Epcot center. I passed them in both races, so was glad to be able to go back on the Monday after the race and actually take some pictures of them.




Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Christmas part 2 in Georgia

On January 5th, I flew from Salt Lake City to Savannah, Georgia to spend some time with my daughter, Jennifer Merkley, and her family. Since my grandchildren, Elise and Brad, had spend Christmas in North Carolina with their mother, the decision had been made to hold the holidays when I flew in to visit them.

After three flights and lots of hours, I finally arrived in Savannah. Jeremy and the kids met me at the airport and took me by Jenn's work so that I could visit with her during her lunch break. I also picked her up at 11 that night and we did some final shopping.

'Christmas' morning was fun. It is kind of boring when I am alone or with my grown son. Let's face it – children and teens make Christmas a lot more interesting. Anyway, we all enjoyed our stockings and opening presents together. I think everyone was really happy with what they got. Elise had asked for my old guitar and so I toted that out here and bought Brad a multi-tool that he has been dragging out for any possible purposes. It was a lot of fun to spend the day with them (although Jennifer ended up working that afternoon and evening).

I made my favorite spaghetti sauce for Christmas dinner and it was a big hit.

Some new presents I received were:

  • A 'peacock feather' ornament to go with the peacock stained glass window I bought on my last trip
  • An Amazon gift card to buy more kindle books
  • 1000 places to see before you die desk calendar
  • The book – Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (set in Savannah)
  • The Last Dragon DVD

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

On Sunday, we went over to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This is about all we saw because we were both wiped from racing.

This was our first glimpse of the castle. We both got all squealy upon seeing this.
Jennifer waiting in line to go in to the castle for it's ride.
Hogwarts Express:
This is just inside the entrance to the Harry Potter section of the park. Wish we could have taken a real ride on it.
Sorting Hat:
The sorting hat was talking at various points as you approached it.
Tracking House Points:
Sure glad I had flash on my camera. The inside of the castle was appropriately dark and you missed a lot of details without seeing it from the flash of a camera.
Dumbledore's Office:
Reflection Bowl:
Gallery Photos:
I tried to take photos of some of the talking pictures - but the flash just wiped them out. So got some gallery photos instead. A lot of the pictures were talking to each other.
Gryffindor Fireplace:
Stairway to Harry's Room:
Harry's Closet:
Potion's Classroom Door:
The Mirror:
Other Castle Images:
Hagrid's House
Flying Car: Photobucket
Cauldron Shop:
Quidditch Ball Set:
I couldn't capture it in a photograph, but the snitch is flying around in the back of the store.

This was well worth the $80 we spent for only being there 3 or so hours. The rides were fun. There are only 3 of them - 4 if you count going on the Dragon Challenge twice - which you really need to do to find which dragon ride you like best.

I could have gone through the castle several times taking in the sites - but was a bit tired. It is fascinating. Watch out for the spiders spitting at you on this ride. :)

Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley were also awesomely done and gave a good sense of the books. I did spend quite a bit of money and got the following loot:
- Hermione Granger Wand
- Gryffindor patch (I am going to make my own cape - I couldn't see spending $100 for a black cape, but will sew on the patch to make the outfit complete)
- 2 Gryffindor mufflers (one for my son)
- A chocolate frog
- A chocolate wand (already consumed)
- Triwizard cup

Now I have to follow through on the urge and reread all of the Harry Potter books as soon as I get back to Utah. I can practice spells with my wand while doing so.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Disney World Marathon 2011 + Goofy Challenge

Sunday, January 9, 2011 was part two of the Goofy Challenge, the Disney World Marathon.

The prep work for this actually started the day before. As soon as we got back to the hotel, I downed some recovery drink and started getting protein and carbs into my system in order to be ready for the longer race the next day. Usually I don't sleep well the night after a race and rarely nap, but was lucky enough to be able to nap for about 90 minutes that afternoon. I also did a cold water soak in the tub before going to bed at night.

Once again, my alarms both failed to go off in the morning. I've never had that happen before. Luckily, Jennifer has set a backup alarm that got me up and moving. I didn't get up as early this morning because I knew that I had more than enough time to get to the race without being cold as long. I did not bother with a drop bag because it was pretty useless the day before and the weather was supposed to be good (just a bit cooler than the day before). In addition to my regular race gear, I was wearing a second pair of throw away gloves, my arm sleeves, a pair of yoga pants that Jenn said I could throw away. After I got to the race venue, I asked a custodial person for a garbage bag and used that to keep the upper body warm until the race started.

Only about 18000 people in this race meant that the waves started every 4 minutes instead of every 7 minutes, so I was able to get across the start line before 6 a.m. (the first wave started at 5:35 a.m.).

A bit worrisome when my ankles were hurting the first couple of miles, but once I warmed up, the pain went away. I decided that the first 10 miles I would run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute. My plans were to basically run the marathon like an ultra – walking any uphills (not that there are many on the course) and not pushing myself too hard. A lot of the first half of the course was very familiar from the half marathon, but more winding around and back through Epcot before heading off to the Magic Kingdom. A lot of people doing the Goofy Challenge were struggling a lot more than I was – I'm not sure what it says about me that I was happy about that.


Laurie Pope had recommended I take some pain meds during the full to help the legs deal with pain. After 2 hours I took a leftover lortab from my kidney stone and my legs felt a lot better for a while and I had about 9 miles of easier and pain free running.

They had some neat 'Sharpie' education signs after you left the Magic Kingdom that gave some nice reading. I was really glad I had bought a new running belt at the expo to hold all my gus and gels because at the two aid stations that were supposed to have some available, the first had totally run out and the second only had mocha available.

The second half of the marathon does a lot more running on the main roads and also heads through the Animal Kingdom. Not too bad – except for the running by the waste water treatment facility. They had lots of lovely educational signs about recycling and water treatment, but not anything we enjoyed – especially since the area was pretty smelly.

The legs were pretty tired by the time I headed into the last two park runs. It was just a matter of hanging on. We were all doing a lot more walking – I couldn't believe how bad some people looked. Hunched over and really sad. I was hurting – but not that bad.

Crossed the finish line at 5:49:25. My goal had been to try and do sub 3 hours on the half and sub 6 on the whole, do with a cumulative time of 8 hours 53 minutes 56 seconds for the Goofy Challenge, I met that goal.


After getting my aluminum foil blanket and Donald Duck Medal, I headed over to the Goofy Challenge tent and received my Goofy Medal.


Met Jennifer and headed back to the hotel. Since our plans were to head over to Universal Studios, I took an ice bath while she fetched lunch.

I went to Disney World in 2011 and all I got was three races shirts and three race medals.