Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December 2008 Runathon Report

This is a picture of my BT calendar for December. The squares turn pink when you do something swim/bike/run related on that day. The green squares are for races (the green square on 12/6 was the Dawn to Dusk race). This is the first time my calendar has been pink for the whole month. Usually there is at least one white or yellow square each week for a rest day. But not this month! This month I completed the December Runathon!

I joined the December Runathon because I need to improve my running. Last year was the year of the swim. This year is the year of the run. It's a wake-up call when you place mid-pack on the swim, 2nd fastest on the bike, and last in the run in your age group in a race (those were my results for the PBR tri). So the answer is to run lots! And run I did. And not much else. Actually, I did 0 yards of swimming in December. I think this is the first month I did no swimming. But in December, running sounds better than swimming.

So here is my December Runathon summary points, in no particular order:
  • Having no rest days really sucks. That is the first thing to get added back in. I need at least one day where I don't worry about scheduling a workout and get to just rest and relax. Even though a 2 mile run isn't difficult, it becomes mentally taxing after a few weeks to constantly be scheduling runs.
  • A group run at least 1 day a week can be a big motivator. I joined the Wednesday Dawn Patrol runs with Julie at Sabino Canyon. This made me get my ass out of bed at 4:30 AM to go run some ghastly hilly course in the dark. I think it's best to not see the hills. And it's so early I often forgot I had already run by mid-day. But knowing people are expecting you to be there makes you set 3 alarms and get out of bed and go run.
  • Headlamps are your friend. I bought a pretty bright lamp at Home Depot for $15 in the construction section. Cheaper than what you'll find at Summitt Hut, and it got me out there on days where I could only fit a run in in the evenings in the dark (which were a lot).
  • 2 miles can feel like 20. My minimum run requirement was 2 miles. Some days I had been busy all day and I didn't get out until 8 PM, and I dragged just to get through those 2 miles.
  • Tell everyone you know about your plans and that you're doing a runathon. This makes you get out and do it. Zac would keep me in order and tell me "You still need to go out and run," "It's runathon not walkathon," and stuff like that.
  • No excuses. For some runs I pulled out the tools from the Ironman training toolbox to get through them. I had plenty of excuses not to run. "I'm too tired," "I just rode 60 miles on a mountain bike and it's 11:55 PM," "It's raining/snowing," etc. But you have to do what you can to push through them and get out there and do the run to meet your goal. You feel like a rockstar afterwards!
  • Multisport = more balance. There's a reason I like to train for triathlons, and that's because I get bored with 1 sport easily. This month I got to experience what it's like to be dedicated to one sport. The biking and swimming definitely suffered. I'm looking forward to going back to a more balanced training plan because it allows me to mix up the week. Sometimes swimming isn't that bad. (OMG did she just say that?!!?)
  • Running is better than swimming when it's cold out. My run gear didn't freeze to the ground like my swim gear did last December.
  • Trail running is more fun than road running, but more dangerous. I never fell on the road, but I did have one nasty fall on the trail. But it was worth it to get out on the trails a few times a week. I don't think I could exclusively run on the road.

Some fun facts of the December Runathon:

  • Total miles ran = 92.05
  • Best run: Has to be my Saguaro East bike/trail run/bike brick. This was the most creative and it combined biking, so it was less monotonous.
  • Worst run: The one at 11:55 PM after the Dawn to Dusk mountain bike race. My legs were fried and I was tired, but I got out there and did it anyways.
  • Favorite place to run: I really like running the Agua Caliente Hill trail at least once a week. It is crazy hard and technical, but I feel like I get a good workout in just a short distance.
  • Least favorite place to run: The residential street Lenher Schwerin (across from my house) and all of the side streets. I ran this a lot as my minimum 2 mile run, and it was always late at night and in the dark.

Here's how I did against my goals that I posted on the first day of the Runathon:

  • "Run everyday in December and not miss a day." Done! 100%!
  • "Minimize treadmill running." 100%! I never ran on a treadmill during the Runathon.
  • "Do my trail run at least once a week. (Run from my house and do part of the Agua Caliente Hill Trail)." 80%. I missed 1 week, but that's because I ran a different trail instead (Cactus forest in Saguaro East).
  • "Try to go 0.5 miles further up the trail each time I do the ACH trail run." I'm going to give myself a 75% on that one. I discovered the trial is pretty tough and could only go 0.25 miles further a week.
  • "Keep this blog updated with my Runathon results." 100%! I cheated a few times and grouped some days together, and sometimes they were one-liners, but each day is mentioned. :)

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how I did against my goals. So what is next after the runathon? Well, tomorrow is the Egg Nog Jog 5K, which I'm running as a quantitative test to see the results of the runathon. And I've joined Mary's Core 2009 challenge, where I've pledged to do 3 core workouts a week in 2009. Core and strength training are always the first workouts deleted from my training plan each week in order to fit the prescribed swim/bike/run workouts. This time I'm hoping to do the core and strength training because it will be important for mountain biking. And now that I'm not doing ridiculous volume training for an Ironman, I should be able to fit it in better. We shall see!

While I'm not in love with running (yet), the December Runathon was a great motivator to get out and do something each day during the holidays and off-season. Now that it's time to start officially tri training again, I think it will be easier as I've already done a month of consistency.

Runathon Day 30 & 31, The FINAL day!

Day 30
My day was busy working on re-finishing cabinets. Throughout the day I kept saying, "I'll go out and run later." But then I'd get hungry and eat lunch or something, and then have to wait even longer. Finally I decided to mask the ceiling of the room, go for my run, eat dinner, and go to bed. I did have Dawn Patrol the next day, and I didn't want to be up late again. So at 8 PM I put on my headlamp and ran Lenher Schwerin AGAIN. Yes, that's right, the same horrible run as yesterday. I'm ok with that though. Running the same route over and over again ruins it, and ruining the Lenher Schwerin route isn't a bad thing. Rarely do I run at Udall Park anymore because that got ruined with Ironman training.

The last day of the runathon fell on a Wednesday, which meant Dawn Patrol at Sabino Canyon would be my last run of the year. I got up at 4:30 AM and met Julie and the gang in the parking lot at 5:20 AM. By 5:25 AM we were running. Here's where things get strange. I had to take it easy because I'm planning on doing the Egg Nog Jog 5K tomorrow. WHAT?!?! Yes, more running. I want to run the 5K as a test to see if anything changed due to the Runathon. And I have to pay money to push myself and it helps to have other people to chase. This was the only 5K I could find on January 1st in Tucson (kind of strange) so tomorrow I'll be driving to Continental Ranch on the other end of the earth to run 3.1 miles as an encore runathon performance.

So anyways, I took it easy at the canyon, and completed 3.47 miles. This closed out the end of the Runathon. I made it! I ran everyday in December!!!

I also need to post an overall Runathon report, but that deserves it's own post. :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Runathon Day 29

This was probably my least favorite day of the Runanthon. I got up early and headed out the door to pick up my mom, and we drove up to Tohono Chul Park. We walked around the park for 3 hours straight, and got lunch at the Tea Room. This was my birthday gift to her. Afterwards I got home, and found that Zac had glued my base cabinets together. So I quickly set to work sanding them and starting the stain process. I got the staining done at 6 PM, which meant at 11 PM I could put the second coat on.

I STILL had to get my run in. At 7:30 PM I reluctantly put my headlamp and running gear on. I saw Zac in the hallway before my run.

Me: "I don't want to run. I walked around for 3 hours today. Shouldn't that count for something?"
Zac: "It's Runathon, not Walkathon."
He reached up and clicked on my headlamp.
"Now you're ready to go" he said.

I have a feeling Zac thinks he's my coach much like Nate thinks he's Liane's coach. Note to self: Husbands of Tri Girls give each other bad ideas.

So I set off and did a miserable 2 miles on Lenher Schwerin, hating every minute of it. I got home, showered, made dinner, and took a quick nap before getting up at 11 PM to put the final stain coat on my cabinets.

Runathon I do not like you.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Runathon Days 26 - 28 & Week 4 summary

Day 26
This was the second Dawn Patrol run of the week. I decided to join Julie and the gang at the Rillito River Path at Craycroft at 6AM. We discovered that the path was under construction and had to park on a side street. The weather had been a mess at my house with rain, and it looked like it could rain on the run, so I wore my rain pants and tied my jacket around my waist. A little over a mile into the run I had to strip the pants off and tie those around my waist too (I had Underarmor shorts on underneath for those wondering). So I was hauling the laundry on the run that day. I never needed my rain jacket, and when I got home the rain hit and didn't let up all day. During our run it was 50 degrees out, which turned out to be the warmest time of day. So we managed to run in the only hole in the weather all day. Total of 6.23 miles completed.

Day 27
The winter storm the day before brought snow to the mountains, and I wanted to do a snow hike. But I also needed to get my run in. So I ran to the trailhead to Agua Caliente Hill trail that is 2 miles from our house. I had packed my hiking gear in the Jeep and told Zac to meet me at the trail head in 24 minutes. After running 26 days in a row, you can be that accurate in estimating your running times. He drove up and parked the Jeep, and I changed out of my running gear and into my hiking gear.

We hiked to the 3 mile mark of the trail, and the summitt is at 4.5 miles. We had to turn around because Zac had blisters as he had worn the wrong socks and boots. We took lots of pictures though, and on the way down we ran into the Purple Mountain Goat tour group. 4 goats were on the trail with a group that was heading up. I got a quick picture with the goats, and we continued on. By that point it was getting warm and the snow was melting. I was glad we had decided to do Agua Caliente Hill, because Mt. Lemmon was a mess with traffic.

Day 28
Just a quick 2 mile run, done as an out & back on Ft. Lowell before we left to meet my parents for dinner. Very boring. (The run that is, not dinner).

Week 4 Summary
Monday = 2.01 miles
Tuesday = 2.01 miles
Wednesday = 6.03 miles
Thursday = 2.00 miles
Friday = 6.23 miles
Saturday = 2.04 miles
Sunday = 2.00 miles

Total = 22.32

Only 3 more days to go!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Runathon Days 22-25

Day 22
This was an easy 2 miler, and when I set out from the house, the sun was setting. So I decided to head west so that I could enjoy the sunset on my run. The sky was an awesome fuschia color, and when I turned around at the 1 mile mark, the Rincon mountains and Reddington pass were a cool pink color. Definitely a good time to run.

Day 23
The day started with rain, so I decided to delay my run as long as possible. Just when I was coming to the reality that I may have to run in the rain, there was a break in the weather. I set out at 5:30 PM. I didn't want to go too far from home as the weather still looked dicey, so I did my usual run around the Lenher Schwerin neighborhood. I got home just as it was starting to sprinkle again. Treadmill avoided!

Day 24
Today was the Dawn Patrol run with Julie in Sabino canyon. This meant getting up with a 4:30AM alarm and getting to the parking lot by 5:15 AM. Sure enough, Julie pulled up. At 5:20 AM we set out, as no one else showed. This is the great thing about Julie, as I can always count on her to be there and force my butt to run. We went just past the 3 mile mark in the canyon before turning around. On the way out we finally started to come up on other people that were in the canyon with lights, so it was a little less creepy. After the run I went to Basha's and picked up donuts, came home and devoured 2 donuts, fed the doggies their breakfast, got a shower, and went back to bed. My plan was to nap for an hour. Well, 3 hours later I got up. Oops! Good thing I'm on vacation.

Day 25
I headed out first thing in the morning to get my 2 miles done before the day started to fill up with opening gifts. Since traffic was so light, I ran down Ft. Lowell and only got passed by 3 cars. No other runners or bikers were out. Kind of strange. I have a feeling that on New Year's that's going to change.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Runathon Day 21 and Week 3 summary

Day 21
I wanted to get some projects done around the house, like painting my workout room closet and sanding more cabinets, so I pushed this run out until the afternoon. For some reason, Zac wanted to go too. So we set out at 3:40 PM in shorts, short sleeved shirts, and sunglasses. I've noticed that this month I've run very few times in sunglasses because most of my runs are at night. We did a quick 1/4 mile warm-up, a 2 mile run, and a 1/4 mile cool-down.

Week 3 Summary
Monday = 2.00 miles
Tuesday = 2.00 miles
Wednesday = 6.00 miles
Thursday = 2.01 miles
Friday = 2.01 miles
Saturday = 5.03 miles
Sunday = 2.54 miles
TOTAL = 21.59 miles

Next week is the last full week of the Runathon, followed by a 1/2 week. I'm almost there!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Runathon Day 19 & Day 20's bike/trail run/bike brick

Runathon Day 19
Ran 2 boring miles on the road, up Ft. Lowell to Fennimore and back. Once again, not deserving of it's own post.

Ruathon Day 20
Day 20 was much better, as I got creative. I'm sorry Day 20's awesome workout has to share a post with Day 19. Day 19 is bringing it down.

I decided to mix biking and running in a sort of reverse duathlon. A duathlon is run-bike-run, whereas this was bike-run-bike. This morning I packed my cyclocross bike's trunk with my trail running shoes, hat, water pack, and enough locks to keep any thieves at bay. Zac was up for a ride, so I suggested he put the knobby tire wheelset on his cyclocross bike and join me on the trail.

We rode from our house at Soldier Trail and Ft. Lowell (you know, the round one) to Saguaro East via Tanque Verde loop and Freeman. Surprisingly, there were very few bikes on the road. Perhaps it's the colder weather, or that El Tour is over, or that everyone is out doing crazed shopping. Either way, it was nice and quiet. We took the paved loop all the way around to the north end of the Cactus Forest Trailhead, where I set up my bike-run-bike transition area. Out came the running shoes, hat, and water pack and in went the cycling shoes, sleeves, and vest. There is no bike rack at the trailhead, so I locked my bike to a sign. My trunk was locked to the bike (with the zippers locked shut) and my helmet was locked to the trunk and bike. Since this is a busy trailhead, I wasn't taking any chances.

Running gear inside my trunk:

Bike parking:
My complex locking system:

From cyclist to trail runner, ready to run the trails:

Zac heading out to ride the trail:

The Cactus Forest Trail is the only trail in Saguaro East that allows bikes. So Zac took off on the knobbies, leaving me for my trail run. It's 2.5 miles long one-way, so I decided to run the entire thing as an out & back for a total of 5 miles. Zac did the out & back, stopped at the trailhead to chat with cyclists who didn't know what a cyclocross bike was, or that they came with knobby tires, then headed back out to the steep hill to try to clean the climb (he dabbed).

This is my, "I officially made it to the other end of the trail" shot:

Shots from the trail taken while running:

I finished the 5 mile trail run in 56:33, for an average of 11:14 min/mile. I always like to shoot for under 12 min/mile on trail runs, since running trails is slower than road running. After my run I unlocked my bike, changed from running shoes and gear back into cycling gear, re-packed the trunk, and headed out for the second half of the loop. My legs were not too fond of the idea for the first few feet of the ride, but quickly switched back into biking mode. Then, an amazing thing happend on the big climb on the backside of the loop. I did the entire climb while standing up out of the saddle! I felt more comfortable standing, and discovered it engages the muscles I've been using to run for the past 20 days. So it was very much like stair stepping or running up a steep hill. Maybe this runathon IS paying off?!? I don't know, but I totally wasted the climb and Zac. ;)By the time we got home, my legs were toast.

Total biking = 26.69 miles, 2:04:46
Total running = 5.03 miles, 56:33

And according to my BeginnerTriathlete training log (where I have logged EVERY workout for the past 4 years since I started triathlon) I just passed the 3,000 mile mark for total miles ridden in 2008! Woohoo!

Friday, December 19, 2008

New bike project

I know, like I don't have enough projects to work on! I don't care. Some projects are just fun (re-finishing laundry room cabinets is NOT fun) and this is one. This bike has been at my parent's house for over 30 years. I remember riding on it as a kid. It has been sitting outside rusting for decades. My dad doesn't seem to be able to observe current conditions of objects. "It's brand new and a good bike." Um, dad, it WAS brand new, until you left it outside for 30 years. I decided to rescue it and dragged it home to fix it up.

Here's what I know so far. The bike frame is actually a regular production bike frame, with the rear wheel removed and a triwheel kit installed. Kind of a cool idea. Use just about any production frame and bolt a kit to it. This is the head badge on the frame:
I'm still researching the bike, but this is what I've found so far on The Hawthorne bikes were sold through Montgomery Ward stores from the 1930s - 1960s. There is also a Wikipedia page on Hercules Cycles. So first guess is this frame is somewhere around the 1950s. More research is needed though. I love projects that require research!
Here's a closer look at the sticker (or what used to be the sticker) on the Tri Wheel:
PATENT NO. 3,368,823
A patent number! What luck! Off to the USPTO to dig up the patent, and here it is: Means for Converting a Bicycle to a Tricycle. The patent was filed May 26, 1966 and filed Feb 13, 1968 by Raymond E. Templeton of Peoria, AZ. Hence the "RET BAR CYCLE" (RET = Raymond E. Templeton). Wow, that was a quick turnaround by the USPTO (my patent took 7 years to get through the USPTO...oh how times have changed). I shall continue to Google and research this more later.
I have restored a couple of motorcycles in the past, so this is a pretty simple project. So far, my list of what it needs is:
  • Handlebar grips
  • Head badge (either new or clearcoat and attach the old one)
  • Headset
  • 26 inch diameter rims (3)
  • Tires
  • Seat
  • Seat post
  • Bottom bracket
  • Pedals
  • Crank
  • Chain - front and back
  • Coaster hub

Without an engine, projects become much more simple. I will disassemble and clean everything, and then re-assess what is needed. The frame will be sandblasted and painted Pepsi Co. blue. Why? Because paint is expensive, and I happen to have Saturn Red, Pepsi blue, Penske yellow, fuschia, and silver available in automotive paint leftover from our motorcycle roadracing days. I think Pepsi blue will look the best. I will pick up a can of white, for the Tri Wheel and basket as I think those would look best in white, even though I have silver available. For now, the fenders will get sandblasted and painted silver, until I can find better chrome ones. The front fender is in good shape, so some chrome polish will help. The same goes for the handlebars. The basket is held on by a hose clamp, so after sandblasting I will spot weld it back onto the rear frame. I'm considering having one of my dad's friends do some pinstriping in white on the chain guard and frame as a unique touch.

The chain guard has a dent in it, but I can pull that out and re-work it. If smaller dents remain, I can take those out with bondo and sanding. Rebuilding the Tri Wheel drive shaft shouldn't be too bad, but I need to tear it down to see what it needs. The patent drawings will come in handy. I'll pick up a singlespeed chain and cut it to the right length for the front and back. Everything else should be easy to pick up at bike stores, eBay, or at the March bike swap. I'll probably keep my eye out there for the chrome fenders.

So that's where it stands. I'll be posting progress pics, and pics when it's done. I can totally see cruising down to the nursery to get flowers in this, or the grocery store up the street, or just hanging out at bike events with it.

This brings our total household bicycle count up to 11. The bicycles are trailing the motorcycles by only 2.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Runathon Days 16-18

Day 16
Ran 2 miles. So boring it wasn't worth it's own post.

Day 17
Dawn Patrol run at Sabino Canyon with Julie and 4 other gals. It was the biggest turnout so far. We went to the 3 mile marker before turning around.

Day 18
Quick evening run, since it was raining this morning. I barely got this run done as my mom was in the ER all day with kidney stones, and this evening I ran to the store to get her some fluids to help with the hydration for the next few days. So when I got home I grabbed the headlamp and headed out for a quick 2 miler. Got it done.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Runathon Day 15

I really, really, REALLY miss my Monday rest days. I want my rest days back!

This morning I got outside and did 2 miles on the Ft. Lowell trail. The weather was cold and overcast, and I wondered if I was going to get rained on. Thankfully it cleared up and I didn't need to worry about getting wet. Tuesday and Wednesday of this week are at risk though. The weather is supposed to get cold and rainy those days. I'll still find a way to run, one way or another. I'm trying to avoid treadmills at all costs, but it may come to that if the weather gets that extreme.

Today was the first run in my new running shoes. I've been running in Ascics (or however you spell it) Kayanos for a few years now. I went to Performance Footwear on Sunday, and they were out of Women's 8.5. So I ended up with a pair of Saucony HurricaneX's. They feel lighter than the Kayanos. The first run in them went well. They will need to break in, but the December runathon should help with that. I also picked up 2 pairs of Tucson Tri Girl logoed running capris, and a nice TTG jacket, which I will probably also use for biking in cold weather. You can never have too much TTG gear! ;)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Runathon Day 14 & Week 2 Summary

Runathon Day 14
The weather was cold and rainy, but at 9:30 AM Zac and I headed out the door. We did a slow 2 mile run to the base of the mountain and the Agua Caliente Hill Trailhead. There was a group of runners there hanging out in the parking lot and drinking beer. I don't drink, but this seems a bit early. On the trail, I planned to go 1 mile in and 1 mile back. Zac would hike for 15 minutes and turn around, and hopefully we would reach the bottom at the same time. My run started out well, but past the 1/2 mile mark on the trail, it was getting loose and nasty and my legs were screaming from yesterday's ride. Even though it was windy and cold, I was sweating as if it was 110° outside. I revised my plan and decided to go 0.75 miles into the trail before turning around. Increasing the distance on the trail by 0.5 miles each time wasn't an "A" goal for the runathon, so I think revising the goal is ok. I turned around and headed down, and alerted Zac who was on the trail below that I had turned around. We reached the end of the trail at the same time, and ran the 2 miles home. Zac hasn't run in months, so the 5.43 miles he ran he did quite well. I covered 5.64 miles total, with 1.53 miles done on the trail.

Week 2 Summary
Monday = 3.10
Tuesday = 2.02
Wednesday = 4.04
Thursday = 2.01
Friday = 2.01
Saturday = 2.01
Sunday = 5.64
Total = 20.83 miles

Kentucky Camp Epic & Runathon Day 13

On Saturday, Liane and I did the AES Kentucky Camp Epic ride. Here's the map of the ride to give you an idea of where we traveled.

I met Liane at the bottom of her mountain at 7:30 AM. Before we left, she pointed out the flags flying in the breeze, and mentioned how the wind was howling at her house on top of the mountain. I was hoping that some of the hills we would be in would block some of the wind for part of the ride. We caravaned to the event site down in Gardner Canyon, and found a bunch of cars parked with bikers mingling around. We aired up our tires, decided how many layers we would wear for the day, and joined the back of the pack. At 8:30 AM, the group of 25 or so riders rolled out. Liane and I started with a very casual pace at the very back as the group pulled away. We weren't "racing" the event (it is, after all, the off-season) but wanted to get a long ride in. So our plan was to stick together for the whole ride and keep it at a conversational pace.

The ride immediately started out with a climb on the 163. We took that all the way to a gate and down to Kentucky Camp itself. If you've never heard of Kentucky Camp, here's the Wikipedia page. The camp buildings and area are being restored, and the restoration is going very well. There is even a public toilet available, so Liane and I stopped here for a quick pit stop before continuing on. The Arizona Trail singletrack goes right through this camp. We hit the singletrack, which cut through a huge field of very tall, golden grass. It was awesome! The trail joined up with another Jeep trail, which meant more climbing. Liane and I have done the two loops before on separate rides, so we kind of knew the route and what to expect. Or rather, it was more like "I seem to remember a sketchy, rocky hill coming up soon." Anyways, we ended up riding much more of the trail than we did on the previous rides. Liane just had one little mishap where she unclipped one foot and fell on the opposite side on an uphill. I turned around to find her lying sideways with her head in the grass and laughing. It appeared she decided to take a little nap on the trail.

The trail wound around through mining areas and creek crossings. Just after one creek crossing we were looking for the next trail segment, and a rider popped out of a side trail. Turns out we had missed a turn and some of the AZT singletrack. We had ridden that part before, just didn't seem to remember the turn. Ah well, we weren't going to go backwards to find it, so we decided to press on. Of course, this meant we were now in 7th or 8th rather than last. Much fewer tire tracks to follow. The next part was a horrible climb up the side of a mountain, that I've never been able to ride and this time was no exception. I was first on this section a few years ago, when SDMB had a trail work event where we built that part of the AZ trail. So it was kind of cool to see a part of the trail I had worked on. It was on this climb that I felt like doing only the low loop than both loops. But we continued forward.

We wound our way through Jeep trails and got back on the AZT singletrack, remembering where the sketchy bits or switchbacks were from last time. We made one last stop at Kentucky Camp before starting the Greaterville loop. The Greaterville loop started with a major climb before we descended down a rocky slope. We then rode up another Jeep trail before a long hike-a-bike of singletrack we recalled from last time (and hiked just as much last time). The ride concluded on more Jeep trails, and at this point the wind was horrible. We were getting sandblasted and pushed around on our bikes. We finally turned onto the 163 and finished the ride 5 hrs and 48 minutes from when we started. My Garming has the autopause feature running, so I logged 3 hrs and 45 minutes of moving time (probably includes the hike-a-bike) and 25.76 miles covered. This is by far the furthest we had ridden in Gardner Canyon. We also timed it well because we were out of junk food by the end of the ride. Liane had eaten all of her Rice Krispie treats and I was out of Snicker bars.

Some memorable comments from the ride:

Me: "This is a 'crail'...a crappy trail."

Me (while Liane was on a bathroom break): "If you fall down that hill I'm not hiking down to dress your dead body."

Me: "I'm going to die."
Liane: "Well do so on the dowhill so that I don't have to climb a hill to get around your body."

And for those wondering, yes, Liane did get her finisher's medal. I'll have to think of something else for next time. Because, of coruse, there will be a next time.

Runathon Day 13
At 8 PM I went out for my token 2 mile run for the runathon. I had rested and eaten when I got home, but even after that my body protested. My knees were killing me and it was all I could do to keep moving forward. I told Zac to order pizza for dinner, and I hoped that I timed it so that the pizza arrived when I finished my run. It did! I collapsed on the couch all shaky and tired and the last bit of energy gone. I didn't care that the breadsticks were dripping with coronary butter. I inhaled those and the pizza and could finally move after about an hour. Yeah, Day wonder.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Runathon Day 12 & Bribing Friends

Sunrise pics from this morning:

Today was a quick 2 mile run. I decided to push the pace, as I figured the faster I go, the less time I have to spend running. Well into Week 2 of the runathon, and I don't love running yet. Still, I'm running more than I'm swimming right now, which is none. I averaged 8:42 for the first mile, and 8:57 for the 1.75 miles overall. Then a nice, easy 0.25 mile walk.
Tomorrow is the AES Kentucky Camp Epic ride. Liane is already planning to DNF the ride, as she too has a work-related holiday party tonight (her reasons for attending her office party are probably slightly different and more positive than mine), and the weather is probably going to be less than ideal. It was tough to convince her to even show up as she has a strict "I don't do races unless there's a finisher's medal" policy. I am not above bribing my friends in doing races and events with me, so I made Liane a finisher's medal. She doesn't get it unless she finishes tomorrow's ride...he he. If she DNFs, I may just keep it and pretend it's my Snow Valley medal, thus replacing the cheap piece of plastic that is the real "medal." Or I'll save it and use it to bribe her for future races. It sure would look nice on a Christmas tree though. ;)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Runathon Day 11

First, Liane has posted her Dawn to Dusk race report. And thanks to Nate for the cool photos of our team during the race.

I should just stop with the runathon posts as they are getting pretty boring. Today I couldn't find my house key and spent way too long looking for it before my run. So I only did the minimum 2 mile run. I'm now going to push the trail run to Sunday when I have more time and will be able to run in ample daylight.

Tomorrow will be another 2 miler so that I don't kill my legs before the Kentucky Camp Epic ride. Not good to pre-trash the legs. I have to pack everything this evening since tomorrow night is a company party. I'm only going so that I can see people that I hate from work drunk off their ass.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Runathon Day 10

Julie is evil!!!

Ok, maybe it was because I was shining my snake eyes light at her.

This morning Julie and I met up for our Wednesday Dawn Patrol run at the canyon. Just as I was getting into a groove, she pulls me off the road and yells "Go right!" and we're on Bear Canyon Rd. I've never done this road, and found that in the dark it gets interesting. I was either slogging uphill or flying downhill. I really need to see this place in the daylight. We did a total of 4.04 miles, and at the end I was feeling pretty good. In the future (when it's light out) we may run Bear Canyon Rd first, then do Sabino Canyon. That would be quite the 10 miler.

Tomorrow I shall try to get up on time and get out the door to do the Agua Caliente Hill trail run.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Runathon Day 9

Today's trail run didn't happen as I overslept. So I did a quick 2 miler on the trail that I fell on last week to avoid having any mental block about it. In the rocky sections where I fell I worked on picking up my feet extra high.

I am really missing my dedicated rest days where I don't do anything, not even a 2 mile run. That will be the first thing to get added back in after the December Runathon. I'm so used to having a day where I don't worry about anything training-wise that now I really miss it. And it's only Week 2!

Tomorrow is the dawn patrol run with Julie and TJ. I have everything packed and ready to go, and 4 alarms set for 4:30 AM, including my cell phone positioned across the room.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Runathon Day 8

Week 1 Runathon Summary:
Monday – 2.4 miles
Tuesday – 5.11 miles
Wednesday – 4.10 miles
Thursday – 2.12 miles
Friday – 2.00 miles
Saturday – 2.01 miles
Sunday – 2.02 miles

Total = 19.76 miles

Today was a simple out & back run on Soldier Trail. I walked for 5 minutes, ran for 30 minutes, and walked for 5 minutes to cool down. Total for this run was 3.1 miles. It was pretty uneventful, which lately is a good thing.

Tomorrow I shall run the Agua Caliente Hill trail, and try to go 0.5 miles further up the trail, for a total of 1 mile in and 1 mile out on the trail. Wednesday will be another Dawn Patrol run with Julie and TJ in Sabino Canyon. I'm now looking forward to the Tuesday and Wednesday runs. Once again, I have a mountain bike ride on Saturday, so that's why the harder runs are getting pushed up earlier in the week. Saturday's ride in Gardner Canyon is 34 miles with over 5,000 feet of climbing. We'll see if I still have legs for Sunday's run after that.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Runathon Day 7

I woke up this morning feeling like crap with how stiff and sore I was. We had a ton of errands to run, so moving around throughout the day helped to loosen everything up. At 8 PM I strapped my headlamp on again and headed out the door and completed my token 2 miles. My legs weren't too bad considering the torture I put them through yesterday, but I still took it slow tonight.

Tomorrow I will be running in the early morning. Geez, it feels like all I do is run lately!

Dawn to Dusk Mountain Bike Race

Last year, this race could've been wetsuit legal with the amount of rain dumped on the course. Liane and I managed to do 2 laps each last year. This year, the weather was much better, and I upped my goal to 4 laps. Zac was joining us this year as well, racing in the solo category.

We got up at 4:30 AM, prepared the bikes, and got dressed in several layers of clothing. The camping area where we were was 3.5 miles away from the start/finish area, and Zac and I still had to pick up our packets. We got on our bikes at 5:30 and started the ride to the venue. It was freezing cold, but we got our packets and racked our bikes for the start. We froze under a little tent while we visited with the guy next to us, who was also racing solo. We found Nate and Liane and gave them our warm weather gear, and at 7:00 AM it was time to line up for the start. Zac and I lined up at the back of the group, as our plan was to take it easy for the first lap. The gun went off and we waited a few seconds for the mass of riders to start moving.

Our ride started on a short section of road and then we turned onto the singeltrack of the Pemberton trail. Zac had never ridden the course, and I had never seen it dry. So the first lap was all about learning the course. The first half is a gradual climb, and on the first lap the deep sand still didn't have an established line through it. I had to dismount and walk through a wash section when a newbie just about crashed into me. After that it was smooth sailing. I chatted with Zac while we continued the climb and took in the scenery around us. We were going at a nice, social pace of about 8 mph. Finally the course turned and headed south, and the rolling hills gave us a chance to get up off the bike seats.

About a mile later we entered The Land of 1,000 Waterbars. Throughout the trail there were logs in the ground, even in the flat sections. We'd have to weed our way through the rocks and over the waterbars. I knew this would be a pain in the later laps. We finally topped out on the top of the climb and started the fast descent. The sun was coming up, causing horrible glare, and I had a hard time seeing the waterbars at 18 mph. There were also a couple of sharp turns where you had to scrub speed fast in order to make the turn. One turn had a nice cholla cactus waiting for those that blew the turn. I lost Zac in this section where I zigged instead of zagging, and he knew where to go after watching me. He went ahead and cruised on the downhill.

Towards the end I found myself in the familiar wash from last time. Last year, this wash was flooded with several inches of running water. This year it was dry, and I had no problem riding through it and making it up the climb on the other side. I crossed the road, and finished up the last short section of rolling singletrack before the campground. The course looped around the campground, and in the back section there was quite a bit of loose gravel, waiting to take riders down that tried to make the turn too fast. I made it around and saw Liane at the end. Riders were given the choice to exchange at the campground or the race venue. Since we were camped in the campground, exchanging there worked better for us. I handed Liane our punch card, which really looked like a Subway card, and she was off to start her first lap.

(From Garmin) Lap 1: 12.84 miles, 1:18:49, 9.77 mph average, 18.7 mph max
(My first lap was short because we were exchanging in the campground, which was 3 miles away from the timing tent. However, I would make up the distance on my last lap).

Zac had come in just before me, so he went straight out for his second lap. Right after my lap I ate a Cliff bar, nibbled on a Builder bar, and mixed my next round of Infinit for my Camelback. I also made myself a PB & honey sandwich to have ready for after the next lap, and made Zac a surprise PB sandwich for after his second lap. I had enough time to sit down in the sun in my tights and long sleeves and warm up. Talk about a difference from last year!

For my second lap I decided on shorts, bike jersey, and arm warmers as it was still a little chilly in the shade. Liane came in right around 1.5 hrs and said she had passed Zac on the trail fixing a flat, and he wasn't far behind her. I grabbed the Subway card and was off to start my second lap.

From the campground, the course wound around for 3 miles and hit the road, where we had a lane on the pavement blocked off for us. I came into the transition tent, got my card stamped, and headed out for the start of my lap. I was feeling really good this lap, and figured this would put me about half way through so I could push it a little and see how I felt. I also knew the course better this time around. On the sandy climb I averaged about 1 mph faster, and on the fast downhill I topped out at 19.5 mph. I discovered it was easier to jump the waterbars on the fast downhill. During this lap, the fast riders were catching and passing me, but I wasn't slowing down. I'd move over on the trail, but would still be pedaling hard. At some points, we were jumping over waterbars and flying through the air at the same time. It felt like I was in a motocross race! It was so cool! After one of the slow turns in the fast section, Brian Grasky caught me and yelled "Go Tri Girls". Actually, this lap a lot of people yelled "Go Tucson Tri Girls!" including the race director. I came flying into the campground and handed off to Liane, and told her that would be my fastest lap of the day, and I wasn't inteding to repeat that performance. I had also carried our Subway card under the leg of my shorts for part of the ride until I discovered sweat destroys the cards. So halfway through I had put it in my Camelbak to dry. I handed her a soggy card and she was off to get it punched for our team.

Lap 2: 15.57 miles, 1:26:05, 10.9 mph average, 19.5 mph max

Lap 2 was the fastest I had ever averaged on a course on a mountain bike, at just under 11 mph.

I got back to our camp spot, devoured my sandwich, made another sandwich, and filled my Camelbak again. I decided to make a seat adjustment for the next lap. This course was fast and not very technical, so I didn't need my seat to be back very far. I moved it up on the rails to see if that would help some of the lower back pain I was feeling. I was able to sit down and doze in the sun for about 20 minutes before getting back up and ready for the next lap. The sun was out and it was finally warm, so I switched to my sleeveless TTG jersey for the next lap.

Liane came in very close to her previous time, and handed me a tired looking Subway card. She said the timing folks said other cards are looking way worse than ours. I stuck the card in my back pocket, and rode the 3 miles to the timing tent to get it punched. The timing lady had a hard time getting a hole punched in our moist card. After that, I trotted out of the tent and started my 3rd lap. Holy crap, who stole my legs? Ok, this lap was starting to hurt. Maybe it was the fact that this race fell in our off-season, and I hadn't really been training for it? Yeah, probably. As I rode I started doing the math and wondered if this would be my last lap. The race directions said riders had to be out on their last lap at 4:20 PM. There was no way I was getting back in time to have Liane back before 4:20 for me to go out on a 4th lap. So I started to think this could very well be my last lap. That made me feel a little better.

During this lap one guy passed me and said "Geez, look at your legs. I wish I could spin like that." I hadn't realized it, but I was sustaining a really smooth cadence spin in the sand. I looked at him as he passed and he was a slow masher of the pedals. Of course, he was the one doing the passing. I told him my legs probably looked better than they felt. On this lap I started to pass riders that were looking ragged and going pretty slow. I gave everyone encouragement and told them good job. After all, this was probably my last lap! I started the fast descent and realized the waterbars were very painful this time around. I had to work hard to get the bike up and over them, and in the spots where I was lazy I was happy to be on a full suspension bike. It can correct those mistakes better than my hardtail can. At this point, I just wanted to be OFF the bike.

I rolled into camp and Liane was all set to go for her 3rd lap. She asked if I was up for 4, and I said I didn't know if we could make the cutoff in time. She said we could and was off on her last lap. I heard over the PA system that the cutoff was now 4:30-something PM. Time to get ready for the 4th lap.

Lap 3: 15.57 miles, 1:20:02, 10.5 mph average, 21.2 mph max

For the last lap, I reached into the Ironman toolbox and pulled out everything I had learned this past year. I quickly ate another sandwich while cleaning and lubing my chain. I went over and got one of the free 15 minute chair massage's that Nate said Liane did, and made her feel better. I dumped my nutrition mix out of my Camelbak and replaced it with water. I was over the nutrition mix. I de-fizzed some Coke by slowly pouring small amounts into a bike bottle an stirring it around to force the CO2 out. I packed my Camelback pouch and jersey pockets with fun-sized Snicker bars. And I taped my camping headlamp to my helmet. I was pretty sure I would be coming in in the dark, and was not going out without a headlamp. I was kicking myself for not packing my Niterider HID. I strapped my windbreaker to my Camelback, pulled on my armwarmers under my bike jersey, and sat down for a short bit before heading over to the exchange.

Nate said Zac said this was his last lap. Sure enough, he came in just in front of Liane and said he was done as this was lap #5 for him. Liane rolled in as some guy was racing her to the corner, and she handed over the remains of our Subway card. I told her my last lap was now sponsored by Coke and Snickers and that it would be a slow lap. I mounted up and started chasing Zac down.

It didn't take me long to catch Zac, and I chatted with him before passing him and heading to the timing tent. I rolled in and the punch card girl said, "You missed it by 30 seconds. Are you going out again?" Now, these sound like contradictory statements to me, so I just said "Yes." I walked my bike out of the tent, and as I rounded the corner she was on the phone. I asked if I could go out and she said yes, so on I went. As I got to the start/finish arch, the gatekeepers were watching me and said "Ok" and got their barriers ready. I asked them if I was the last one, and they said yes, I was, and they barricaded the lane behind me. I was now the last rider on the course. I told Zac "I'm the last one" as he rolled into the timing tent area and I headed in the opposite direction onto the course.

In a way, it was kind of nice knowing I was the last one out there, as I wouldn't have people coming up behind me saying "on your left." I was now racing the sun. I was hoping to get to Mile 8 before the sun went down. The sun was slowly dipping behind the mountains, and I began to think there was no way I'd make it. My legs were so tired and sore. I made myself drink a sip of Coke every mile, followed by a sip of water. After having my nutrition mix all day, the Coke was a nice change.

I reached a point where the sun was in a low spot in the mountains, giving me more light. I wondered if I could make far enough to where I could view the sun past the mountains. It was a long shot, but I kept pedaling. The further northwest I went, the more light I was getting. Finally the sun peeked out from beside the mountain. I had bought myself a few more minutes of sunlight! I made it to Mile 8, and stopped briefly to take off my sunglasses and put on my clear glasses, and eat a Snickers bar. Mile 8 was where the course turned and headed south and got into the rollers. I knew the downhill wasn't far behind. My new goal was now to make it as far as I could before turning on my headlamp.

It is also spooky knowing you are the last racer on the course. If I crashed bad, there would be no one immediately coming up and finding my body on the course to call for help. The course sweepers were out, but they were moving slower and picking stuff up along the way. So I decided not to chance it, and in some sketchy areas I decided to do get off and walk just to be safe. The light was getting to low to risk it. I finally reached the downhill for the last time, and as before, it was difficult to see the waterbars, this time because the sun had gone down. I switched on my headlamp and tightened the back of my helmet to keep it from slipping down each time I hit a waterbar. I just wanted to get to the road because that meant I had a short way to go before getting to the campground. It felt like it took FOREVER to hit the road, but at least the road was easy to see from all the traffic of everyone from the race leaving.

It was now really dark at this point, and I couldn't go very fast because my camping headlamp doesn't throw enough light to ride by. It's fine for trail running, but not mountain biking. I swear at this point I was using some sort of 6th sense to get through the trail as I was practically blind. I finally made it to the road and crossed over, and slowly made my way to the campground. Nate and Zac were waiting there, and said something to me. I thought it was something like "You've been DQed", or "the race is over, pull in here," or something to that effect. Instead a flash went off and Nate yelled "I got her!" and I passed by and rode the loop around the campground. On the way out Zac said they moved to the awards to the campground, and to take the trail back from the timing tent. Forget it! There was no way I was doing that! I was blind and trying not to crash and there was no way I was coming back on the trail. I would hitch-hike back if I had to, but I was NOT riding the trail once I was done.

The last 2.3 miles were pretty touchy out there. There were riders coming back from the timing tent and some didn't have headlights, so I had to watch out for them to avoid a head-on collision. There were also side trails that intersected the race course trail, and at one point I was sure I was on the wrong trail. I couldn't see tire tracks or anything, but decided the only thing I could do was keep going and hopefully end up in the right spot. It turns out I was on the race course the entire time, I just didn't recognize it in the dark and with practically no light. I somehow made it to the road alive, and followed that to the timing tent. I rolled in and stopped at the lone volunteer there and told her I was the last one in. I leaned my bike against the tent wall, grabbed whatever free food they had sprawled out on the table (pretzles, cheese popcorn, and cookies) and called Zac on the cellphone. I told him I needed a ride back and to meet me at the end of the road. He said Liane was coming to get me in their Jeep. I pulled my windbreaker on and got to the intersection of the road just as she drove up in her Jeep. We threw my bike on the rack, and she already had the ass heaters in the seats cranked up on high. I was so glad because I was freezing to death.

Lap 4: 17.88 miles, 1:48:26, 9.9 mph average, 19.5 mph max

Total mileage I rode for the day: 65.36

We got back to camp and I quickly changed and we headed over to the awards. Turns out we came in 4th out of 5 in the duo female category, which was pretty good considering we hadn't been training for this race in our off-season. We completed a total of 7 laps and miraculously didn't die out there. Liane did great and cranked out 3 very consistent laps. Zac had finished his 5th lap, and survived his first solo endurance mountain bike experience, which is awesome for him.

What about the December Runathon?

Ah yes, the runathon. My post from Friday said I was planning on running before the race. Well, we got up at 4:30 AM and had way too much stuff to get done the morning of the race that it didn't happen. After the race we went directly to a restaurant, and at 7PM Liane and I were discussing if 2 runs in one day would count. I was pretty sure at this point my run for the day wasn't happening. On the drive home I fell asleep. I seem to remember having a conversation with Zac in my sleep about wheels on walkers for old people. Turns out I did. I tend to talk about strange things when I'm half asleep, so this is not out of the ordinary. Zac is alwasy quick to remind me about the conversation about lawnmower spark plugs that I still don't recall (probably because I was asleep!).

We rolled into the driveway, and maybe because I was still asleep I made the decision to put on my running shoes. Anyways, it was just before midnight, so I threw my shoes on, grabbed my Garmin and headlamp, and started running at 11:55 PM. I ran down the residential streets by my house and did my 2 miles for the runathon. This is probably the stupidest thing I've ever done. I'm going to blame the lack of sleep and too much time on a mountain bike in one day. But, I did my runathon run for the day, so I'm still at 100% for running everyday in December.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Runathon Day 5

This will be a quick post as I got stuck at work later than expected, and I still need to pack for tomorrow's race and get on the road. Today I did a very slow 2 mile run (including the 5 min walking before and after). Everything is very stiff and sore from yesterday's biff, but I got out there and got it done before hitting the shower and rushing off to work.

Tomorrow is the Dawn 2 Dusk mountain bike race that I am doing with Liane out on the Pemberton trail. Since we'll be riding around in circles in the desert, there will be no Runathon report for tomorrow. I still plan to run 2 miles before the race to get my run in.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Runathon Day 4

I was thinking this morning, as I left the house, that I wouldn't have anything interesting to post about today's run. I was planning on doing a short, easy run, out & back. Maybe I would mention my new headlamp that I bought last night at Home Depot for the Wednesday Dawn Patrol runs at Sabino Canyon. Or maybe I would talk about how this is the last workday of the week and the runs that are hard to schedule are over. That is, until I crashed.

I left The Round House and headed west on Ft. Lowell. There is a nice running trail that parallels the road that people run, walk their dogs on, and ride horses on. I started out with my usual 5 minute walk, and just as I started to run, passed by 2 ladies walking their dog. I headed down a rocky hill. Not more than a minute and a half into my run, I was doing the Superman through the air and found myself splayed out on the ground in the rocks. Of course, a car was driving by on Ft. Lowell to witness my awesome display of grace. I tried to get up and run right away, to change the situation from "Wow, look at that clutzy chick running in the cold" to "Wow, she crashed hard and is getting up and running right away! That's hardcore!" Funny how we seek to cover up embarassment in front of strangers passing on the road. I tried to run it off but couldn't from the pain, so settled on a minute and a half walk while I brushed the evidence of the soil samples from my jersey and pants. No, no fall here...move along folks...nothing to see.

I don't know how to classify this type of crash. And I feel it was a crash more than a fall. A crash (which I've done plenty of on a mountain bike) is pretty spectacular, where a fall is what grandma does just before paging Life Alert. In the mountain bike world you have crashes like the following:
  • The Auger - Usually done at the bottom of a steep hillside. The back end of the bike comes up and when the front end hits the ground, the impact sends the rider flying off the bike. Similar to OTB.
  • Yard Sale - Usually done at high speeds down a scree slope. The rider crashes so hard and has so much momentum that they roll down the hill, loosing items and clothing along the way so that the trail behind them looks like a yard sale.
  • Over the Bars (OTB) - One of the most common crashes where the rider flys over the handlebars, leaving the bike behind them.
  • The Lowside - The back wheel slides out, causing the rider to fall on one side.

And the list goes on. All I know is, I was planted completely flat-out on the ground on my chest with my arms in front of me and my legs behind me. The post-crash investigation and analysis revealed that I landed on my left side first. A rock impacted my thigh just above the knee and as I slid it took the skin off in a nice line. Of course, I didn't look at my legs or arms right away. I decided to keep running and finish off my 2 miles. I ran for another 15 min before stopping to do my cool-down walk. By then my clothes were sticking to me in the areas that hurt. That can only mean blood is the source of the stickiness.

I got home (2.11 miles completed) and took off my jersey to find a nice ground spot in my left elbow. This spot is just below the scar from my last motorcycle roadracing crash that opened up a gash in my elbow (the transmission on my Buell XB9-R ate itself just as I was heading into Turn 1, causing a nice highside). The left leg had a nice scrape from the aforementioned rock, along with another on the knee. The swelling most likely means pretty good bruises will follow. I'm glad I had my purple running gloves on, as those saved my palms from being eaten up and they are just a little sore.

So this was my first trail running crash. I don't want to make this a habit. I feel like crap now that the adrenaline has worn off. Should I be wearing a helmet, body armor, and padded gloves? Well, I guess it beats getting hit by a car.

I should be back to normal (no comments from the peanut gallery! :-p) in a few days. Liane will be happy to hear I'll still be racing Dawn 2 Dusk this Saturday and not forcing her to ride the race solo.

Once again, most likely this means no pantyhose modeling career in my future.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Runathon Day 3

Last night I had a class (Landscape Design through Pima, for those curious) so I got home at 9:30 PM. I set 3 alarms on my watch and put my watch on the nightstand, rather than wear it on my wrist where it's easier for me to turn off and ignore. I set the alarm on my cell phone for 4:30 AM and put that on the other side of the room. I also set all my running stuff out and was in bed by 10:30 PM.

This morning I successfully got up and got out the door on time. When I arrived at the Sabino Canyon parking lot at 5:15 AM, I was the second car there. Julie and TJ arrived shortly thereafter, and we switched on our lights and headed out. There was much talk of pumas and other creatures that mangle people as we did our warm-up walk. We started our run just as the first hill starts. 5:30 AM, dark, cold, and I'm running up a hill. Oh well, at least I was with 2 other crazy people. Julie and I made it to Mile 1 where we had to stop to remove our long-sleeved shirts. I was really surprised how warm I got running. Must be the hills. There were a ton of stars out, and seeing them peeking out behind the silouettes of saguaros and the canyon walls was awesome. We decided to go to Mile 2 before turning around, and on the way back we saw a lot more people. No pumas though in the 4.11 miles we covered.

Julie and I are probably going to continue to run the canyon on Wednesday mornings. I'd like to keep up with it once a week, and it's nice to have someone to run with. I noticed during the Turkey Trot that we were really close in speed, and thought "I definitely need to run with Julie more!"

It was so early this morning, that now as I write this it feels like it happened a few days ago. *yawn* I've been up way too long already today. That coupled with staying late at work tonight means I'm going to have an absolute fun day watching the clock today.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Runathon Day 2

That would be the sunrise hitting the Catalina mountains, and the view from the Agua Caliente Hill Trail this morning.

Once again I overslept and got out the door late for my run. I wanted to get my trail run done early in the week, so I decided today would be the day. Of course, I decided this yesterday. I wasn't feeling it this morning. I did a 5 min walk, a 22 min run to the trail head (if you can call 12:28 avg pace a "run"), ran/hiked 1/2 a mile in and back on the trail (took 17:48 to do that mile), ran home (10:50 average, which is better) and a 5 min cool down walk. This was a total of 5.11 miles. I had no energy and was going really slow. I can't believe how slow I was going! My guess is the lack of dinner last night. I went straight to the TTG party after work, and didn't have any dinner. Well, "dinner" was chips and salsa, potato chips, and cookies. Hmmm...maybe this is why I felt like crap this morning? Oh well. The party was fun though!

I have to remember that not every run can be a good run, and probably over the next 30 days there will be a few runs like this. I did see 4 deer as I left the trail, though. They were munching away on barrel cactus fruits.

Tomorrow I HAVE to get up early and be on time as I told Julie I would run Sabino Canyon with her ("run" being a loose term). I'm hoping having an appointment to run with someone will help me get out of bed early. We are meeting at 5:20 in the AM, so I have to be up by 4:30. Yikes! But I'll get my run done nice and early and have the rest of the morning open.

So my trail run goal for the week is done. The trail is so much fun. I'm thinking I may host a post-runathon trail run/hike party on January 3rd on the trail. We can hike/run up the trail a bit, come back down, and then have a picnic lunch at Agua Caliente park that's just a few miles away.

Total number of words in " " in this post = 3.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Runathon Day 1

I overslept by an hour, but still got out and got my run done. I need to go to bed an hour earlier. There's a big difference between 6 and 7 hours of sleep, and my body protested for 7 (and won). I walked 5 minutes, ran 20 minutes at an easy 10:45 average pace, and a 5 minute cool-down walk for a total of 30 minutes and 2.4 miles covered (Hey...I swam that in April). I headed east up Ft. Lowell at 6:30 AM when it was still dark and very cold out. I was in my geek squad outfit, with earwarmer headband, headlight, orange knitted gloves, and reflective please-don't-hit-me safety vest. When it's dark out it doesn't matter, but when heading back in the daylight this outfit is really goofy. Oh well. At least I was warm.

Mondays are normally my do-nothing rest days. Those are gone for the month now thanks to the runathon. At least my BeginnerTriathlete (BT) log will have pink squares on the calendar for the entire month. I don't think I've done that before.

With Dawn 2 Dusk on Saturday, I'll have to get my trail run done earlier in the week so that my legs aren't too trashed. I think I'll do it tomorrow and get it over with. The Agua Caliente Hill Trail is really technical at the beginning, so it's best that I wait until the sun is up before getting on the trail. If I leave my house by 6:30 AM, the sun should be up by the time I get to the trailhead. I'm thinking at that time of day I should have the entire trail to myself.

After my run today I tried a new powdered protein. I bought some whey protein at CVS, and bought a tin of vanilla and a tin of chocolate. The vanilla didn't taste very good on oatmeal, so after this morning's run I tried the chocolate in some milk. I tend to have chocolate milk after my runs anyways. It was a little frothier than Nestle Quick, but I was able to drink it pretty well. So that gives me 32 grams of protein as opposed to 9 in plain chocolate milk. I'm trying to increase protein intake as I don't think I get enough. One of the BT training coaches who is also vegetarian suggested that I try this. So we'll see how it goes and if it affects how I feel in training.

Tonight is the TTG holiday party, where I will be partaking of the many desserts that will be there. Hey, I did my run so I think it's ok. ;)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

December Runathon Goals

Tomorrow kicks off the December Runathon with the Tucson Tri Girls. Alejandra posted this idea to the group, and I jumped on board. The goal of the runathon is to run everyday in December, with a minimum run of 2 miles each day. I really need to improve my run. At the PBR off-road tri I had a mid-pack swim, 2nd fastest bike, and slowest run in my AG. That's just not acceptable. So this will help motivate me to get out there and run.

I have some additional goals for the runathon, and divided them up into A and B goals (A is most important). So here they are:
  • Run everyday in December and not miss a day. A
  • Minimize treadmill running. B
  • Do my trail run at least once a week. (Run from my house and do part of the Agua Caliente Hill Trail). A
  • Try to go 0.5 miles further up the trail each time I do the ACH trail run. B
  • Keep this blog updated with my Runathon results. A :)

The Agua Caliente Hill trail is 2 miles from my house, but the first part is crazy hard and steep. I figured if I can get strong running up that, I'll be in good shape for other trail runs, especially those in XTERRA.

This weekend is the Dawn 2 Dusk mountain bike race, and the weekend after that is the Kentucky Camp epic mountain bike race. So I'll have to run before those races, as I'm pretty sure I won't feel like running after.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Starr Pass

Today was an absoloutely awesome day to be out on the trails. Our friend Jeff (who is in a band with Zac) wanted to do a ride, so we settled on Starr Pass. We hit the trail a little after 9 AM. It was a bit chilly at the start, but quickly warmed up to a comfortable temperature. Less than 2 miels in I was stripping off my arm warmers.

Given the recent rains, the trail was in great shape. It was nice and tacky without being muddy. Jeff had a few mechanicals, with a slit sidewall and a snapped chain. We couldn't believe it as this was the 4th or 5th ride on the bike! But this gave me a chance to take some great pics.

This is at the top of Goat Hill. On the other side of the saddle is Gates Pass. Jeff and Zac and in the small clearing below, fixing the chain.

While I snacked on Shot Blocks, they made their way up the hill. Zac climbing:

And Jeff and Zac:

We finished up right around 11:30 AM and hit Chipotle for recovery burritos. We covered 9.5 miles today, which was the perfect distance for having fun and not killing ourselves. I'll be killing myself next weekend in the Dawn 2 Dusk race with Liane. Given the recent rains, and our past history, I have ordered a motocross mud coat to pack just in case of bad weather. Hopefully the weather from this weekend carries over in to next weekend and I won't need it.

Turkey Trot

The Turkey Trot is quickly becoming a Tucson Tri Girl tradition. For the past 2 years I've gone out and run with the TTGs in this race, and it's been a blast. It's a 5K through Reid Park, complete with hay bale jumps and water hazards. So it's sort of like cyclocross without a bike.

The water hazards increased this year with rain. As I drove to the park, I passed through torrential rain on the east side of town, but thankfully reached blue sky at the park. When I arrived the men's wave had already gone off, and they were dashing their way through the park. TJ called and parked next to me, and made sure I changed my hairstyle to pigtails for our team, the 2008 TTG Board team. Little did I know there would be much hair pulling at this race!

We hiked our way to the starting area and found the mass of purple TTGs. Iron Holly had awesome purple bags complete with the TTG logo and a T-shirt inside. I was grateful for Holly's T-shirt, as the one provided from the race was less than attractive. It had a drawing of a turkey in a sports bra and a running skirt. Do turkeys have boobs that they need sports bras? I shudder to think.

We made our way to the starting area and before we knew it, the gun sounded. We were off in a mass of estrogen. Of course, the drainage ditches that the course passes over filled with water between the men's wave and our wave, so at the first crossing we had to run through several inches of water. It was hilarious hearing the girlie screams and squeals. Princesses! The course was crazy muddy and I started to like the wash crossings to wash my shoes off. Robin and Jen came by and I told Robin this was exactly like an XTERRA (minus the swim and bike). We headed up a short muddy hill, followed by a downhill and a stream crossing. There was actually a bottleneck due to people trying to cross at the rock crossing. I headed straight through the stream. The worst was the steep hill just before the hay bales and water crossings. The mud was crazy slick, so I resorted to a snowshoe technique of turning my heels inwards and forming a "V" with my feet. Granted, I've never worn snowshoes, but I would guess this is how you climb hills in them. I avoided falling in the slick mud on the other side of the hill, and made huge splashes in the man-made water crossings after the hill. The water crossings provided for the race seemed kind of hokey after the flooded arroyos we had previously crossed.

On the second lap Julie caught up with me, and so I moved over so I could run with her. We had a fantastic time chatting as we made our way through the course. Even though it's a 5K, it feels much harder. On our last lap we mugged for the cameras of the TTGs cheering for us, splashed through the water crossings one more time, and made the last sprint to the finish. I looked down at my watch and saw 30:19 on my Garmin as I crossed the line, a full 2 minutes faster than last year and on a much harder course. That's always my secret goal for this do better than the year before.

Afterwards I hung out to visit with the TTGs, photo ops, and finally made my way back to my car. I came prepared with a towel and sandals and a plastic baggie so that I could wipe my legs down and take my soggy shoes and socks off. What a great way to earn that Thansgiving pie!

I stole the following photos from Julie and Danielle. :)

The clean Tri Girls before the race. What an awesome turnout from the club!

Here we are being well behaved and looking normal.
Then all hell broke loose and the hair pulling began. Jump on the Tri Girl train!
Danielle caught a great photo of my splash, which was my big goal for the race. Biggest splash! Mission accomplished.

A tour of the riverpath

A few weeks ago, I decided to try out the Rillito River Path, as I had never ridden it. I looked at a few maps, and determined I could potentially get from my house to the Sweetwater trails on mostly bike path and river paths, minimizing road time. So one day I pulled out my trusty hardtail mountain bike and set off to see if I could do it and find a route. I settled on the hardtail as my weapon of choice as I doubted I would need any suspension, it wouldn't bob on the road, and the fat tires would help keep me out of trouble if the terrain got rough. I also don't feel bad about tossing it over fences.

After studying satellite images, I found a nice little dirt trail not far from my house. My journey started by taking a trail that parallels Ft. Lowell that many people walk everyday. I hopped on Conestoga and the bike path for a short distance before turning on Sundance and the dirt trial at the end of this residentail street.

I've run this trail a few times and it's a nice way to break up a training run. This connected to the Tanque Verde River Path, which is very short. Perhaps someday it will connect to something. But this path cut my normal ride down by a full mile by the time I hit Tanque Verde road. I did have to lift my bike over a guard rail to get to Tanque Verde, and this verified my bike choice.

I took the dirt shoulder of Tanque Verde east to the Tanque Verde wash. I was hoping to get on the river path there, but was instead greeted with a very foreboding fence. The nirvana of river path was just beyond this fence. The fence was too high for me to toss my bike over.

So I continued on the road to Pantano, and found another entrance on the south side of the wash. This looked much more inviting.

The Tanque Verde river path on this side was quite nice. Residents along the path had landscaped the area around the path, making for a scenic ride.

That is, until I hit Sabino Canyon Rd. The path came to an abrupt halt, and there was a steep drainage ditch in the way. I didn't want to slip in the bike shoes I was wearing, so I opted to go back to the closest ramp and cross over through the wash.

Unfortunately, the ramp on the south side of the wash that I took to get down in the wash did not line up with the ramp on the north side of the wash that I would need to get out. I ended up hiking a quarter of a mile in the wash! Later, when I did a return trip of this ride with Zac, we just rode up Tanque verde to Sabino Canyon road and stayed in the bike lane.
From the satellite images, I couldn't figure out any trails that clearly stayed on the north side of the wash to the Rillito River Path, so instead I took Sabino Canyon to Cloud up to River and down Craycroft. This is where I found the "official" start of the Rillito River Path.

The parking lot was packed! Being that this was my first time on the path, I took the north route. Well, turns out that was under construction, so I had to do some back-tracking. But the north route did take me past a round house. It is now a side project of mine to find all of the round houses in Tucson and document them. I don't know why. Maybe it's kind of like when you get a new car and suddenly you start to recognize all the other cars like yours on the road. This round house was a 2-story rock house with a Spanish tile roof. This made me glad we went with a metal roof for our round house, as ours looks much nicer.

As I rode the river path, I crossed over from the north side to the south side and back so many times that I can't remember where I crossed over. But from this point on there was great pavement to be had.

I also discovered the river path has really cool bridges. I have a thing for bike bridges. They are so cool!

Right around Campbell Ave is where I came across the first map of the river park. Of course I had to take a pic of the map (add maps to my list of bike bridges and round houses).

The path goes right through the Children's Memorial Park, where I stopped for a brief rest and snack and a chance to take a pic of my steed.

Not far from the park was an awesome tunnel of trees. The path was completely shaded by mesquite trees. This is looking back at the tunnel.

There are also really nice bathroom and water stops all along the path. This was the last one I came across before the path ran out.

The path comes to an abrupt stop at the train tracks and I-10. I'm not sure what they are planning for the path in this area, but I was kind of a bummer to have the path end so suddenly.

Each bridge has unique artwork. This was the last bridge before the end.

I took a few side streets down to Ruthraff and crossed under the freeway. Holy cow is that scary! No bike lane and a ton of traffic. I crossed over the Santa Cruz and rode the dirt shoulder up Camino Del Cerro for a bit, before deciding I was too hot and tired to continue. I took this pic of my turn-around point. The dip in the mountains just to the left of the phone poles is Reddington pass and where my house is and my starting point, 28 miles away.
I stopped at a Circle-K to fill up on some Gatorade. I didn't want to ride another 30 miles back that day, so I hopped on the Sunny Tran and for $1 got to rest for an hour while it took me and my bike back to the east side of town all in one shot.

The bus dropped me off at Golf Links and Harrison, and I rode the remaining 7 miles home. Even though I didn't quite make it out to Sweetwater (the trailhead was still a few miles past where I turned around) I did find out it's possible to get myself out to those trails via bike and the river path. I just have to leave earlier and know where to cross over on the river path to save some time. And if I don't feel like doing 60 miles on the mountain bike that day, I can always take the Sun Tran across town. I had a blast on the river path, and will definitely be doing this ride again in the future.