Week 16: It Begins

Guess what I did. I made a training plan for the Dead Horse 50 miler! Yes an actual plan. Like days and weeks and stuff that include how many miles I’m hoping to … I mean I’m planning to … I mean I’m GOING to run! I even registered for a 50k in September to use as a training run.

It’s funny how things change. I used to be ridiculously OCD when it came to training. I followed plans. I avoided certain foods and alcohol, and I certainly never ever shorted the Garmin. #parkinglotlaps But somewhere between road and trail I turned a little type B. I stopped picking clothes and pre-filling the hydration bladder the night before a long run. I drank beer the night before a race. Hell I drank beer mid-race in a few. And I kinda liked it. At least during the “training part”. But come race day I missed goals. I hurt. I failed. And it sucked. So this training stuff is going to be a challenge but I’m ready.

My plan officially started today and I stuck right to it! Good thing day one was a rest day.

Sixteen weeks until Dead Horse. Let the fun begin.

Muskrat Love: How I survived The Evergreen Sprint Triathlon

It might have been a bit over-zealous of me to register for the Evergreen Sprint Triathlon. Post-race I finally decided to look it up and turns out the last tri I did was in October 2016. Almost three years ago. And in those three years I’ve swam maybe a dozen times. Ridden my bike a handful more. But I wanted to swim in the Evergreen Lake and I didn’t want to wait another whole year to do it so … Yeah, bad reasoning, but admittedly I’m the master of.

The first thing to hit me race morning was the temperature. Where two days before we had reached a crazy Colorado high of 93 degrees in our little mountain town, I woke Sunday morning to a crisp 45 degrees. No joke! Some huge front had pushed through and dropped the temps by almost 50 degrees. Now, it’s no secret I far prefer the cold, but I’m a runner NOT a swimmer and I started to question my choice of a sleeveless wetsuit, not to mention open water swimming period! But rain, shine or frost bite, I’ve never quit a race due to weather and I wasn’t about to start.

For a small town, mountain race, the logistics were pretty good. This is the first tri I’ve done that didn’t have assigned rows for transition but was rather a free-for-all. Granted the field was only about 220 athletes and I’d never want that kind of chaos in a large race but it worked. My kid, Sierra, and her BF, Kenzie, were my support team since Don was out of town and they made sure I got there on time and had everything I needed though I almost forgot to get body marked. There are so many little things that go into triathlons!

I was in the last wave. You know the old-farts wave. And for once I was truly happy to be back of the pack. Each added five minutes between waves let the sun come up a little warmer. There was nothing about the swim I was really nervous about so standing lakeside a little longer didn’t increase my anxiety and when it was time, I dove in ready to rock.

But not even a few minutes in, I couldn’t quite regulate my breathing. Maybe it was the wetsuit. I hadn’t worn one since 2012 and being encased in a skintight, rubber, full body condom was a bit restrictive. Or maybe it was swimming at 8,000 feet. What, you need oxygen to swim?! The more I overthought it, the more I started to struggle, and the more I started to struggle the more I started to panic. I scanned the lake for a rescue boat and saw a kayak heading towards one of only a few swimmers still behind me but with another boat pulling up the rear, I claimed this one for my own. I held on for a minute until the volunteer asked me what I wanted to do; quit or go on. I hesitated. I am not a quitter but drowning didn’t seem like a fun idea either. “Can you stay with me”, I asked. I figured having someone right next to me if I started to sink like a rock would quell the nerves and thankfully being almost last meant I could have a private boat.

I couldn’t freestyle. At all. Every time I tried to put my face in the water I felt my pulse freak out. So between breast stroke, back stroke and doggie paddle, I inched my way across the lake. Donna, my captain kayak, made small talk to keep me going. At the last stretch I saw Sierra and Kenzie on the shore. They knew something was wrong. I’m historically front of my wave in the swim. But as they urged me on towards the finish I heard Donna yell out and swimming right in front of me was a muskrat! I guess the little critter thought he had his lake back, or maybe he just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It totally made my day though! A little muskrat love to lift my drowning spirits.

Finally out of the water, I made it through transition in just a little more than two minutes. The bike was what I feared most given the first seven miles were all up hill but my only goal was to stay in the saddle. It was a gorgeous ride! Upper Bear Creek is lined with some of the most incredible homes and properties in Evergreen and I simply enjoyed. I wasn’t fast but I held strong and I even made it to the top of Witter Gulch, the hill I was most worried about. The next couple miles were some awesome rollers with downhills where I hit upwards of 36mph! I was surprisingly loving the ride but as I came off of one of the hills and went to downshift for the climb, my damn chain came off. Seriously wtf. I got it back on quickly but there was no way I was able to get going again facing the climb so I had to hobble walk the hill. So. Damn. Annoying. I made it through the rest of the ride with no issues thought I did have to walk one more hill. I feel much better after looking through race pics though because there were A LOT of people caught on camera walking. So glad I wasn’t the only one.

This obviously isn’t me but apparently the cameraman gave up on us stragglers but I really just wanted to show some of the size hills we had to tackle.

I was out of T2 and on the run in less than a minute. Not bad for a novice! Thankfully the run was uneventful. Not fast but consistent and I even got cheered on by a deer hanging out in someone’s front yard.

So. Not a pretty race by any means but I wasn’t last. Close to it (192nd out of 216 finishers and 7 DNFs) but I finished and that’s what counts. Moral of the story … there may actually be some benefit to training.

I’ll Tri Again Tomorrow

Well, ready or not (definitely not) the Evergreen Sprint Triathlon is tomorrow. I swam once. I rode once. And I ran — eh — here and there. BOOM! Trained! Ready to rock it. Seriously though … I may die.

Just so I knew exactly what I am getting myself into, I drove the bike course today. With a starting elevation of 7,133 and a 1,536 foot gain, it’s far different from the Florida riding I rarely participated in. I wonder if I’ll be the only idiot walking my bike up the hills.

At least the swim is short and easy, plus it’s wetsuit mandatory for added buoyancy. The last, and not to mention only, time I swam in a wetsuit was the Augusta half iron back in 2012 so I hope it’s not too weird. Best part of this whole race though is that I get to swim in the Evergreen Lake which doesn’t allow swimming any other day of the year. To be totally honest, that was the primary reason I registered for this race. May have been a tad bit smarter for me to consider doing it NEXT year instead of with a mere few weeks notice but I’ve never been the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to going into races unprepared.

I think I have everything

So wish me luck. My kid and her bf will be there as my cheering squad so if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram keep an eye out for updates. And of course, assuming I survive, there will be a race report.

Beating a Dead Horse

I wanted to write this post on my birthday but somehow I got distracted … for two weeks. I figured an annual milestone is always the perfect place to make life goals and adjustments. Actually the only thing I find more asinine and cliche is to do so on New Year’s Eve but at this point I’ll try anything to get my butt back in gear.

I need some accountability. Because apparently I’m not a good enough self-motivator these days. That said there are two things that typically get my ass in gear; sheer embarrassment and an over-achieving race. I know I just registered for the tri in a few weeks but I can fake my way through that one. So, that said, today I registered for a 50-mile race in November and this week I’m starting to actually track mileage. Thankfully my friend Miriam gave me super cute training journal for my birthday! Maybe, I’ll actually even make a training plan (WHAT?! Who am I?).

20 weeks until the Dead Horse 50 in Moab!

contemplating Moab

Torreya Draggin’ Tails

torreya entrance

I’m way behind on posting a couple race reports so though this race was a few weeks ago, I didn’t want to not write about it. There’s another one to follow as well. 

torreya entrance

I was first introduced to Torreya State Park in 2012. Fresh off a break up and nursing a stress fracture in my metatarsal, I readily jumped at the invite for a trail runner’s camping trip with a group of friends. Given the slight nuisance of a broken foot, I knew I wouldn’t be able to actually run so I laid claims to the position of resident campsite drunk and went along for fun. That weekend ended up being one of the best of my life. I hiked incredible trails … yes in a boot. I met Renee, one of my now best friends. And I found one of the most magical places in Florida. Almost every fall since then has seen a Torreya camping trip. Some of the people have changed and some have stayed the same but the good times and amazing trails have never disappointed.

I’m not sure who met Joe first or why he stayed connected to our hodgepodge group of runners from hundreds of miles away but every trip we’ve made up, Joe has made it a point to not just come run with us but to guide us through the history, flora and fauna of the trails. He would often talk about the race he put on out there in the spring but for some reason it just never came to fruition for us to run it. Until this past November, that is, when our annual trip resulted in the decision that we would finally go back to race.

I was so excited when my boyfriend Don agreed to go. He’s not a runner but he fully supports my crazy and, if I ask, he’ll always come support when he can. But this ask wasn’t just about wanting a cheerleader. I wanted to share Torreya with him. I felt I needed to for him to see yet another part of who I am. But Don is also not a camper. At least not in the typical tent style I’m used to. He’s done more than his share, he claims, and doesn’t care to subject himself to it ever again. At the Croom Fools Run the weekend before a friend had mentioned the lack of use her R-Pod camper had been getting lately and we were super lucky when she offered to let us take it for the weekend. I admit, I felt guilty and maybe a bit of a diva rolling up in the luxury of real walls and air conditioning but it wasn’t long before I felt the comfort of a tent to camper conversion pushing the shame aside.

Don and I, and Renee and her guy Kurt got up there Thursday and after settling in headed out for our regular first night run/hike down to the trick of a waterfall not far out of camp. In the pitch dark, headlamps turned off, listening to the woods, Don told me later that is was a moment of pure zen.

The rest of our group arrived Friday and we opted for a short run at Garden of Eden, another nearby trail system that will quickly make you forget you’re in Florida. The hills are crazy and the views pretty impressive.

I had toyed all week with the idea of swapping from the 50k to the 25k. I wasn’t really trained. In fact the 25k I had last minute decided to do the weekend before was my only double digit run in more than a month. And though I knew I could eke out 31 miles on an easy course, the atypical-to-Florida Torreya hills and elevation weren’t going to be easy and I was already registered to run another 50k on a tough course the following weekend. Plus, everyone else was running the 25k and the sooner we all got done, the sooner we all had beer. Decision made. 25k it was.

Saturday morning after coffee, we walked the half mile to the race start. Temps were semi-cool but the weather forecast was looking a little ominous with fast approaching severe storms. I’ve been caught in the middle of a race when hit by crazy weather before and it ain’t fun. But what’s a trail runner to do except take their chances and maybe run a little faster.

Though there was no talk about staying together somehow that’s exactly how we ended up running. Nick left us for a little bit but after he took a wrong turn that led to an extra half mile or so, the rest of us caught up to him and we opted for camaraderie over competition.

It was around mile 11 that we welcomed the rain. Much to our happy surprise there was very little thunder and lightning and by the time we finished it tapered off a bit. At 3:44:58 we were right around the middle of the pack for finishers proving that this course ain’t no joke!

That night we played a crazy hysterical game of Cards Against Humanity under a tent while the rain came and went. Maybe it speaks for my deep-down level of immaturity but good God that game gives me the inappropriate giggles every time I play it!

We headed out Sunday morning and I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be my last time at Torreya. With a fast approaching move west, it’s hard to think these places and faces I’ve come to know and love may soon be long-distance memories. But I’m going to get in as many adventures with great friends as I can before we go!

 

Croom Fools Run

croom fools run mugs

A couple weeks ago, I made a last minute decision to run the Croom Fools Run 16-miler. Though I’ve been running, I haven’t been doing what I need to for my other upcoming races so I figured a race would force me to get it at least one decent long run. And besides, I love running at Croom and I’ve only got a few months left on those trails.

One of the things I love most about trail races is the relaxed simplicity of them. About a month ago I ran the Skyway Bridge 10k, a rare for me road race, and the logistics and stress of packet pickup, getting there super early, a parking nightmare and the crowds of people reaffirmed that big road races are not my thing. Don’t get me wrong, it was a cool, unique experience but one I definitely would not do again. How awesome is it to be able to message a race director the night before his race and ask if he has room for me.

I rolled into Croom about half an hour before race start. Chatted with the RD for a few. Got registered. Got my gear together. And then … promptly locked my keys in my car. I had locked the car, put my keys in my backpack, made mental note of it, grabbed my hydration pack and closed the trunk to venture into the woods for a quick pre-race pee when it hit me that my backpack was still in my car. But as I said … no stress. I had mostly everything I needed and there was nothing I could do at that moment so off I trotted to meet my friend Sandy at the starting line.

There’s not a whole lot to report about the race. Temps were gorgeous. Skies were cloudy which helped keep things cool. Sandy and I just chit-chatted for an easy 16 mile Saturday morning run. One of my favorite things at Croom is the pinecone peace sign. Over the years it’s been built and re-built after storms and burns. I’ve never once run past it without scouring the woods for a pinecone to add to it. This time was no different.

croom pinecone peace sign          croom pinecone

I ended up finishing the race in 3:03:29. Not fast by any means but I’m just not there again yet. And I felt surprisingly good given my longest run recently was 10 miles so I  can’t complain. With my camping chair, fresh clothes and post-race recovery drink (aka beer) locked safely away in my car, I called AAA, bummed a beer, spare t-shirt and hat off Sandy, and enjoyed the post-race fun.

croom fools run

Doggies 4 Duchenne 5k

I ran the Doggies 4 Duchenne 5k last weekend. First 5k I’ve run in two years. As an ultra runner, it’s hard for me to justify paying to run 3.1 miles but I love this race and the charities it supports; The Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch and Another Day for Gray. The best part though … there’s a human only race and a canine-human race! What’s not awesome about being to race with your dog?! Sign. Me. Up.

But herein lies the problem. I run with Ellie, my border mix, all the time. Buuuuuuut she’s psychotic. We run trails mostly. Primarily because I prefer being in the woods but it’s also the least mortifying experience. Ellie has a tad bit of reactivity to bikes. And skateboards. Don’t even get me started on rollerbladers. Even the occasional runner. She just wants to chase. The prey drive in that dog is insane! But since I can’t keep up with every cyclist that flies by, the result is an ear piercing squeal that rivals the sound of nails on a chalkboard.

I know what you’re thinking and yes, we do own a dog training company. But haven’t you ever heard the old adage that the maid’s house is always dirty and the mechanic’s car is always broken down in the driveway … so yeah, don’t judge a dog trainer by their personal dogs. Please.

doggies for duchenne 5k start
Runners And Their Humans

Dogs and humans lined up at the start line were, not surprisingly, more than Ellie could handle. We opted to hang off to the side and keep our distance but Ellie’s squealing still resulted in more than our fair share of stares and I came close to calling the race before it even began for us. We stuck it out though then jumped in somewhere between leashed pups and the doggie strollers. Yup, apparently even dog 5ks have a stroller option.

Watch the video of the start and you’ll see us coming from way off to side at around the 20 second mark.

Ellie loves to run. She’s done up to 16 miles with me and freaks if I walk out the door without her when I’m wearing running shoes so it didn’t take long before she settled into a good pace. We chatted with a couple runners along the way, including my friend Tam whose puppy Lucy was doing her first 5k ever and even dodged a few mid-run poopers. Seriously how does a dog crap without breaking a single stride?! Impressive! And I likely know a runner or two who would welcome some advice.

Hi Tam and Lucy!

We ended up finishing the race in 26:07 which was a good minute faster than my last dog-free 5k. One of these days I would love to do a one mile time trial with Ellie. Well, not actually with her. I have no doubt that dog would need someone far faster than me. But I’m so curious to see what she could do.

The after-race party was a bit more than I wanted to handle Ellie during so she hung out with one of our trainers while I sampled the local brew and eats. Though a far shorter day than most of my race days, it was a fun time for all!

If you’ve ever considered racing with your dog, this is a great one to start with. Hope to see you out there next year!