Friday, August 19, 2011

A Little Bit Of Shameless Self-Promotion, And Friends Running A Long, Long Time

After the Boston Marathon, I posted a picture that had been taken on the course of me high-fiving some kids and having a blast during the race that almost didn't happen. My friend Lynn from the BQ Babes (we spent a lot of time together in Boston) mentioned to me yesterday that there was a photo contest through Blue Cross/Blue Shield encouraging people to submit pictures of themselves having fun while exercising. And, well, that was the photo that came to mind for Lynn. I've never done anything like this before, but truth be told, it's a photo I really like because it captures how I felt that day, and how great it felt to be able to run the race. If you feel compelled and have a few minutes to kill, you may visit the photo at this link and vote. You can comment and laugh at my roller derby on crack outfit as well...that's encouraged early and often. There are lots of other cool photos and stories on the page, so be sure to check them out.

Also, it's Leadville Trail 100 weekend. I am not running or pacing, but we have several hardworking local athletes who will be running, and many more who will crew, pace, or otherwise provide general support. There's a slim possibility that I may be able to head up on Sunday to watch my neighbor Bryan finish his first LT100 in the early morning hours, but I'll likely be cheering on from afar. Still, it's very exciting to get to virtually track these guys, getting updates via Facebook pages, text, and the Leadville Trail 100 race website. I remember how beat I was at the end of 34 miles last February, and the ladies and gentleman who have put in the training and time for 100 miles have my full respect and admiration, regardless of what happens out on the course (though I know Grand Junction is going to represent, and show that there are strong runners from the places in the state that are not as well-known for being running meccas). I'm glad I've gotten to do a little watching and learning from the training for this race, and can't wait to hear afterward what it was like to cover 100 miles on foot.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Send Me On My Way

I would like to reach out my hand
I may see you, I may tell you to run

From what I can glean on the interwebs and the Googles, the above video was actually filmed in the Badlands in South Dakota, but it sure does remind me of being up on the trails outside of Moab, Utah. Not a bad comparison. And yeah, I've outed myself again as someone who listens to hippie jam band music from time to time.

I haven't blogged in about a month, I believe, and much has gone on in that time, along with some things NOT going on...namely, racing. I typically hit up a ton of 5K and 10K races in the area in summer months, but between my desire to make a dedicated effort to a good Imogene Pass Run, and some cancellations of long-running annual events like the Pteranodon Ptrot at our local dinosaur museum, I haven't gotten my race on. What I have done, though, is two training runs in the Turkey Flats trail area near Glade Park, Colorado, one training run on the Crags Crest Trail on the Grand Mesa, and one trip down to Ouray, two hours south, for a run on the Bear Creek Trail, starting at about 8500 feet, and climbing roughly 3000 feet before ultimately turning around. Some of these runs have been more focused than others....and some, well-let's just say they included a lot of hack photography by a couple of clowns. I keep trying to leave the dang thing behind every time, but somehow we're always out there for some posing in the beauty of Western Colorado, or, as it's called when a man comes along for the run-performing stunts for the camera.

This was the scene at Crag's Crest:

And Turkey Flats:

and Ouray:

That Ouray run was a lot of fun until it wasn't...namely, when I rolled my ankle on the downhill. This would be the same ankle I rolled in Moab that nearly prevented me from running the Boston Marathon this year, and I thought I'd doomed myself to the same fate for Imogene when I went down on the same ankle a second time. I practiced the art of rest, though, and a week later, it feels about the same as it did before the fall. What this tells me, though, is that the ankle never returned to the level of strength and degree of flexibility I had prior to the initial fall in March.

This is a sign that I need to be dedicated about doing the strengthening exercises that my fab "Guerilla PT" Bryan had me doing to get ready for my marathon. I'm not ancient at 38-years-young, but I can tell that strengthening, adequate rest, and good nutrition are going to become increasingly more important from here on out. I also did that run at the tail end of an illness that was the worst I've had in a long time, complete with several days of fever, body aches, chills, headache, and the whole kit and kaboodle that comes from flu-like viruses. I am feeling just about normal now, but that sure puts a kink in training and just day-to-day living.

I've also made some important decisions, both on and off the trail. Though I've been getting in some good trail time this year and probably have better tools than I've had in any other year going into Imogene, I'm nowhere near the volume or long run distance I should have for the Run Rabbit Run 50-miler in Steamboat Springs. I do want to run a 50-mile race at some point, but I don't want to do it feeling remotely undertrained or underprepared. Therefore, I felt like it was the right thing to do when I emailed the race director, asking that my entry be transferred to a wait-listed runner, and my partial refund be issued. I feel almost relieved (even though I HATE parting with registration money already plunked down) because I know it wouldn't have been a good race. I'll take another swing at 50 at some other time when I've put in good, consistent longer long runs, and higher mileage in general.

I also just made a decision for my kids that was very difficult, but ultimately is the right thing now that I've looked at the big picture. I couldn't have predicted that we'd be moving in this new direction, but it's good, and also the right thing to do for them. Transitions and changes in direction are never easy, but I can tell with each passing day that going down a different path is going to be very good and positive. I see how good this change has already been for my kids, and any doubts or questions in my mind fade away.

This leaves me with about four weeks to get ready for my "big run" of the fall. I don't have rigid time goals this year, and am considering running Imogene without a watch, and just going on feel. I've been doing this on training runs since a little bit after the race last year, and in the end I think there's a chance I'll reverse my position. If I bring a watch, though, it's just going to be used to ballpark my time and distance on occasion. I will neither hold back nor push based on what the clock says. The focus will be on running a smart race based on conditions and how I am feeling that day.

Oh, and FUN. That may not be the word that comes to mind in one the most physically demanding non-ultra-distance trail races, but the best experience I've had at Imogene, in 2009, was filled with fun. There were no specific pre-set time goals in my head, my legs were fresh, and every time I starting thinking "man, this is hard," I looked around at all the other like-minded folks, or listened to the sound of water flowing or breeze in the trees. Somehow, just doing that got me to the top of the pass in a relatively relaxed state, and made for a very light, bouncy run down the hill. I'd like to spend the final weeks before the race in that mindset-light on my feet, and nothing heavy or weighing me down in my mind.

I'll leave it with a few couple of fun running moments from Turkey Flats run number two this past weekend (well, it was not great running from me, but I am glad I got out there and put in some miles, albeit slow and hikey). If I can make some good deposits in the training bank in the next few weeks and bottle this kind of energy, the fourth time just might be the charm at Imogene: