I had such high hopes for getting back on track this week and was looking forward to my first week of official training for the Jemez 50K. Things didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted, but I was able to get in some great running by the end of the week. Sore muscles from Sunday’s trail run, a migraine, and lots of rain derailed my plans for the first part of the week, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. I still only ran three days this week, but am determined to get back on a regular workout schedule next week. Winter temperatures are on the menu for the entire week — and I couldn’t be happier about that!
MON: REST DAY – Yoga – 20:00 – OUCH. Woke up this morning to calves that felt as sore as if I had run a hilly marathon. This was very unexpected. I know we kept up a good pace during yesterday’s trail run in Grapevine, and we ran up every single hill, but geez, my legs are really sore. As in, too sore to run tomorrow. Michael says being sick for nine days was like a taper, and a fast, hilly trail run at the end of 16 miles midweek was the equivalent of a race. Therefore, really sore legs. I guess what’s the most surprising is that I rarely have sore calves, so I’m going to claim running up the hills and taking no walk breaks after time off from running as the main culprits. I thought I was listening to my body, but have to admit that my legs did feel very tired by the last few miles of the run. D’oh, rookie mistakes! Did yoga (Standing Poses) to loosen up the legs, but it didn’t really help all that much. Time for the compression sleeves . . .
TUE: Yoga – 20:00 – My calves are still so sore that there’s no way I can run today. I am one grumpy woman because of it. I was looking forward to my first official week of training for Jemez, and here I’m having to miss the very first run on the training plan! Not happy at all. Yoga (Twists) helped some, but the cold, rainy day matches my mood. I’ve always taken pride in knowing when to back off and rest when I need to, but I know that these sore muscles are my own fault. I should have started back more conservatively than I did, after being sick for nine days. Grrr.
WED: Rainy Rest Day – Still too sore to run. Rained all day again. Decided to take a full rest day and hopefully I’ll be able to run tomorrow. This is not how I wanted to start my first week of training.
THU: Rest Day – Made plans to meet Liz for a run this morning and woke up with a migraine. Feeling very frustrated.
FRI: Run – 6.13 mi, Yoga – 40:00 – Finally able to run today for the first time all week. Liz and I ran on the Katy Trail on a day with spring-like weather. Unbelievably, my calves still felt a little tight when I ran. My conditioning seems fine, and we kept our regular pace and I wasn’t out of breath, but the time off seems to have affected my muscles and tendons more than anything else. Oh well, I just need to have patience in ramping back up to my former mileage. Did forty minutes of yoga later in the day (back bends and forward bends) to try and get back into a regular yoga practice. I think I’ve missed yoga more than I’ve missed running.
SAT: Long Run – 10 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – After yesterday’s high temp of 71 degrees, couldn’t believe when I woke up at 6:00am and it was still 68 degrees! It was supposed to be 58, so I made sure to wear shorts and a short sleeved tech shirt for the run. Not only was it warm, but the streets were wet from fog, and the humidity was 93% when we started running at 7:00am. Now I know where the expression “pea soup” comes from. The short and simple of it: it was a tough run. Nothing makes a run tougher for me than high humidity (except maybe a strong wind), and I think most of us feel that way. Nevertheless, we had tons of new faces show up for our group run, which was awesome to see. After more rain this morning, a major cold front is supposed to roll in later today, and it looks like next week will be perfect for running. With all the rain we’ve had this week, though, it looks like a trail run tomorrow is out of the question. Yoga after the run (hip openers) was just what I needed. As the cold front rolled in, more rain, including hail, graced our thirsty gardens.
SUN: Long Run – 10 mi – Woke up with another headache, horrible asthma, and 30 degree colder temps than yesterday. With a stiff 25 mph wind from the north, the wind chill factor was 23 deg. BRRRRRR. Since we got almost three inches of rain this week, no one felt like slogging through a trail full of mud. Liz and I started from her house and ran a loop around the lake. The entire west side of the lake was head first into the wind. Liz, who struggled in yesterday’s warm humid temps, said she preferred today’s cold wind. She said at least it made her want to keep moving. I didn’t want to complain too much because at least it wasn’t 120 gazillion degrees like in the summer, and I promised I would love every single moment of running this winter, but I didn’t find the cold headwind at all pleasant. Having a throbbing headache didn’t help.
Thank God for hot showers, Extra Strength Excedrin, asthma inhalers, and friends who push me on tough runs.
Stats for WEEK 1: Run – 26.1 miles, Yoga – 1:40:00
It was a crazy busy week with lots of celebrations: New Year’s Eve, a brand new year, MY WEDDING, and a return to running after being sick for nine long days. It felt great to finally be able to run again. I missed an entire week of cold, perfect running weather, which was the worst part of being sick — even worse than blowing my nose every two minutes and feeling like I was breathing through a straw. Even better, I returned to the trails after a two week absence. I came up with a new training plan for my next big race, Jemez Mountain Trail Run 50K just outside of Los Alamos, NM at the end of May, and the training won’t officially begin until next week (hence the Week 0 in the title). I’m also running the Cowtown Half Marathon in Ft Worth in February, so I have two great races to look forward to.
MON: REST DAY – New Year’s Eve – I love a brand new year. There’s such a feeling of expectancy and renewal. Now that I’ve decided not to run the 50 mile race, I’m excited to start training for Jemez. There’s plenty of time to build back up to the distance and get in great shape for this challenging race. Even though I’m still congested, I’m looking forward to my first run in nine days tomorrow.
TUE: Easy Run – 4 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – A chilly, drizzly 42 degrees for a late morning run with Liz, Todd, and their neighbor, John. I was really looking forward to running again after being sick for so long, and my legs and lungs felt surprisingly good. I have to admit that I enjoyed my brief hiatus from running, but I’m even happier to be up and running again. I even loved the cold, drizzly weather. Did some power yoga for the first time in weeks, and my stuffed up head was not happy at all with downward dog pose. I ignored it and kept going. I also realized how much easier yoga is when my legs aren’t sore and stiff from so much running.
WED: Tempo Run – 4 mi – Had to drag myself out of bed to run all alone in freezing temps. Boo hoo. Of course, it was nevertheless a great run, and I ran the last two miles at an 8:50 and 8:43 pace, which is pretty good considering I’ve only run 4 miles in the past 10 days. I run so much better in the cold weather — and when my legs are fresh.
THU: WEDDING DAY – What a wonderful day! It was amazing. I am so blessed to marry such a wonderful man, and to be able to spend it with so many great friends. It’s going to be a great 2013.
FRI: Rest Day – Exhausted from the wedding. Slept late, and spent the day on the couch reading, watching TV, nodding off, and eating leftovers. It was a a perfect way to celebrate my first day of being married.
SAT: Run – 8 mi – Cold morning run with the group. Legs felt great, awesome conversations with my friends, and lots of fun at breakfast. I’m so happy to be running again!
SUN: Trail Run – Grapevine – 10 mi – A beautiful morning for a run. Met Michael S, Jennifer S, Vicki C, Mary Sarah, and Vijay at Grapevine for a great run. I seriously considered sleeping in and being lazy (hey, it was a very busy week!), but I hate missing a trail run and I hate not keeping my promises. It was worth it. We kept up a pretty good pace and ran up every single hill, and I was glad to be done at the end of 10 miles. It feels so good to be back out on the trails.
Stats for WEEK 0: Run – 26.2 miles, Yoga – 20:00
Plans change. Sometimes we expect it, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes the decision is made for us, and sometimes things happen that cause our original intent to merely fizzle out in a rush of an expired oh well . . .
There’s not much point in writing out a day-by-day recap of the week because I was sick and didn’t run a single day this week. No guilt, no regrets. I didn’t do any yoga either. My head felt like it was parked under a car tire this entire week and running and doing downward dog were the last things I felt like doing.
I did, however, enjoy the holiday week. I got to visit with my son and his girlfriend, pigged out on Christmas dinner, and actually enjoyed taking a short break from running.
I had my first White Christmas EVER here in Dallas. EVER.
Michael and my son, Nicolas, finished building the fence in the backyard, and Nicolas also built us our very own fire pit. They also spent two full days fixing a plumbing issue. Not so much fun, especially when your house was built in 1926 and the pipes are made of clay. Even worse when the outside temperature barely gets above the mid 40’s.
So while I may have been down for the count, hyped up on Mucinex and taking it easy on the couch, at least the boys were busy.
I got a lot of knitting done.
But I digress. The subject, after all, is running. Every day since Friday I thought I might feel well enough for a short run, but the congestion in my head and chest were just too bad. My training partner, Hari, also got sick the same day I did, with exactly the same symptoms, even though he was in another state visiting friends for Christmas. Liz is now sick with the same thing. Susan’s hand is in a cast after breaking a finger in her first 54K and needing surgery.
My friends and I are a little beat up at the moment.
And speaking of Hari, this brings me to the change of plans I mentioned earlier. Poor Hari. Feeling sick in Phoenix, he took a hot epsom salt bath, fainted afterwards from low blood pressure, and snapped a rib in half in his back when he hit the edge of the bathtub. Thankfully, he remembers nothing, but the doctor has told him to lay off running for six weeks.
Our 50 mile race is in five weeks. I have no intention of running it without him — I only signed up because he asked me to — so I’ve decided to withdraw and focus on the Jemez 50K at the end of May. I am perfectly okay with this decision. I hadn’t put in enough really long runs before I got sick, and I’m thinking this may give me a chance to shake off the asthma and coughing that have plagued me for the past three months. There will be plenty of other opportunities in the future to train for and run a 50 mile race, if I so choose. At this point, I’m happy to stick to 50K’s for awhile.
So, after a few more days of rest and a new 50K training plan to come up with, which will include lots of squats, lunges, and stair master, I’m looking forward to 2013 and a whole new year of running and training.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Stats for WEEK 10: Run – 0 miles, Yoga – 0:00
It was a tough week. Coughing and asthma returned for the third time since October, I felt a little burned out from running, and ended the week with a really bad cold. Whine, whine, whine. I still got in three great runs and two great parties this week, though, and that’s more important than feeling sick. Happy Holidays everyone!
MON: Yoga – 20:00 – Woke up at 4:30am thinking of things I need to do this week, but stayed in bed until 8:30. Feeling tired and a little grumpy from last week’s mileage. Did some power yoga (stamina) to try and get back into the routine.
TUE: Tempo Run – 6.09 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – Nice, cool morning for chasing Liz around the lake. My legs were still a bit sore from last weekend’s mileage, but they loosened up enough to give us negative splits and one sub 9:00 mile. I am still feeling a little burned out on running, and hoping it goes away soon. Next week will be an easy week, so I will keep that in mind as I continue to struggle.
WED: Christmas Lights Run – 4 mi – Our third annual Holidayz in the Hood Christmas Lights Run. The past two years we’ve run from our house and had a great turnout both years. Last year we bundled up in gloves, hats, long tights, and double layers; this year we wore tank tops and shorts and pretended it was winter. When we left the house around 7:20pm the temperature was an unbelievable 76 degrees. On December 19! But this IS Texas, and within an hour of finishing the run, while sitting on the front porch eating pizza and drinking beer and visiting with old and new friends, lightning appeared in the west, the rain came down, and a cold front blew in from the north. Gotta love our Texas winters.
THU: Rest Day – After another night of coughing and trying to sleep on the couch so as not to disturb Michael, woke up at 6:15am and decided to cancel my usual weekly 10 mile hill run with Hari. I hate missing any scheduled runs on my training plan, but I just felt like I needed an extra day of rest. Boo to not feeling well.
FRI: Rest Day – After yet another sleepless night of coughing, decided to make another visit to the doctor. Had to sit forever at PrimaCare since my doctor’s office was already closed for the holidays. I actually saw a great doctor at PrimaCare who also happened to be a serious cyclist. He did blood work, said I didn’t have an infection, and that I just have really bad allergies and asthma. He said it’s been a particularly bad allergy season this year since we didn’t get a hard freeze until a few weeks ago, and that there’s really not much I can do other than get another shot of cortisone and another round of Prednisone.
While I’m glad I don’t have an upper respiratory infection, I’m not so happy about the severity of the allergies this year. I’ve never coughed as much in my life as I have these past THREE MONTHS. Talking to a doctor who is also an athlete and could understand my frustration did make me feel a lot better, though. We also had a good discussion about the fact that this is the first fall season I’ve done trail running, which could be resulting in worse allergies due to the simple fact of spending more time outside, and we talked about the possible correlation between higher mileage and a lower resistance to getting sick. Food for thought.
Trying to run through all this coughing and asthma has been a real challenge these past three months. While it certainly adds a physical obstacle to work through, it’s the mental aspect I’m still trying to overcome. I can push through a lot of pain, but THREE MONTHS of this is starting to wear me down mentally.
SAT: Trail Run, Oak Cliff Nature Preserve – 7.5 mi – A great run with a great group of runners this morning. It was colder than expected (36 deg), especially after Wednesday night’s balmy Christmas Lights Run, but perfect for a trail run. Most of the people had never run the Oak Cliff trails before and were pleasantly surprised at how pretty — and challenging — it was. Decided to run all the loops once like everyone else and stop at 7.5 miles. Even though it was a short run, it was just challenging enough to pack a powerful punch. Afterwards, introduced those who could stay to an Oak Cliff landmark, Norma’s Cafe, for a recovery breakfast. It was a very good start to the day. (Even though I did trip over a root hidden in the leaves and skinned up both knees. I will wear the trail scars with pride underneath my wedding dress next week.).
SUN: Sick – Woke up this morning with a congested head and feeling like I have a really bad cold. Decided to take a day of rest on the couch, watching TV and knitting. My coughing is better, but my head feels like it’s going to explode. A really blah finish to a tough week. I hate being sick. Here’s hoping next week will find me on the road to recovery and back on my feet stronger than ever.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone!
Stats for WEEK 9: Run – 17.6 miles, Yoga – 40:00
After last Sunday’s warm, humid weather for the Dallas Marathon, a major cold front blew in just a few hours after most people had finished. My three mid-week runs were all in the upper 20’s/low 30’s (heavenly!), but it had already warmed up significantly again by the weekend. This was my highest mileage week so far in this training cycle, and aside from some minor soreness in my quads following Wednesday’s hill run, my legs felt good for the 20 miler. The high mileage caught up with me somewhat this weekend, especially since we immediately jumped into another training cycle after our last 50K without much of a break, and I found myself feeling a little burned out. Planning a wedding and the usual Christmas chaos also played a part, I’m sure.
MON: Rest Day – Woke up to a light dusting of snow and 30 degrees, which is amazing considering it was 67 degrees when I got up the day before. Crazy Texas weather. Too bad the marathoners had to slog through the humidity and warm temps at yesterday’s Dallas Marathon. Spent the day posting photos and video Michael took at the race, and getting some writing done. Forgot to take a photo of the snow before it melted.
TUE: Run – 6.09 mi – Oh, happy day! 28 degrees for this morning’s run with Hari, and a beautiful crescent moon with Venus shining just below. I always say that it can’t be cold enough for me when I run, and today proved me right. It was an amazing run on the hilly path. The hills felt puny and it was an easy run at a fast pace.
WED: Hill Run – 10.6 mi – Another gloriously cold morning run. It was actually so cold this morning, 27 degrees, that I had a brain freeze headache towards the end of the run. It was worth it. The hills felt just a little bit easier today, and Hari and Mike F kept up a good pace. Wedding plans and my son’s return kept me from yoga yet another day.
THU: Run – 6 mi, Yoga – 25:00 – Met Liz at the lake for her first run since the marathon. It was 34 degrees and a perfect blue sky. My quads were a bit tight from yesterday’s hills and two days of a fast pace, and I was glad I only ran 6. Did yoga for the first time in over two weeks (hip openers) with my son’s twenty-something year old girlfriend. I used to think I was pretty good at yoga; after doing yoga with Nicole (her first time ever doing yoga and she could do full lotus right off the bat) I felt like the old, rusty Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. So not right.
FRI: Rest Day – Enjoyed a full day of nothing athletic. Quads were still a little sore so I took the entire day off.
SAT: Run – 15 mi – After two parties last night and two glasses of champagne, getting to bed at midnight, plus the return of bad asthma and warmer temps, I was feeling pretty grumpy when I met Hari at 6:00am. For the third weekend in a row we’ve had warm, humid temperatures after a week of cold mornings, and the back and forth between cold/warm runs is starting to get to me. We had discussed doing back to back 20 milers this weekend, but because of my asthma, lack of sleep, and general grumpiness, we settled on only 15. I felt less than stellar the first 10 miles, but from mile 10 on I felt great. The temperature stayed the same the entire run (57 deg) but the humidity took a nose dive once the sun came up and it felt cool and pleasant. 20 mile trail run tomorrow — hope my legs cooperate!
SUN: Trail Run, Rowlett Creek Preserve– 20 mi – Woke up this morning feeling a little burned out and not looking forward to spending five or six hours of my day running, even on trails. Even though trail running is the thing I look most forward to, it’s still a long time to be running. When I got to Rowlett, however, and saw friends who don’t usually come out to run with us, it completely turned my day — and the run — around. Plus, we had perfect weather for running: 55 and overcast skies. We brought food to eat in between the two loops (PBJ sandwiches, dolmas, Newman-O’s, and Coke) and kept the pace nice and easy. It was a good run. Once again I’m reminded how friends can turn a blah morning run into something special.
Stats for WEEK 8: Run – 57 miles, Yoga – 25:00
* Photo courtesy of Serena Lambiase
My friend Hari likes to aggravate me by telling others: She used to be so fast. I never really was that fast, and I haven’t really gotten that much slower either. He’s the one who finally caught up with — and now runs faster than — me.
I did qualify for and run Boston two years ago, I used to regularly place in my age group in local races, and I even won second place in my age group at the Borax Death Valley Marathon last year. My bright, shining star of speed seems to have fizzled out this past year and a half, but I’m okay with that. I’ve discovered my one true love, trail running, and no one seems to care as much about my speed out on the trails.
When I run with the group on Saturday mornings I’m always in the back of the pack. I generally like to keep a 9:30-9:45 pace on those 10 to 12 milers, mainly to save energy for the longer Sunday trail runs which can entail up to six hours of running 20 to 26 miles at a time.
On those Saturday runs with the group, the majority of my friends are way ahead of me, running in the 8:30-9:00 pace range. Apparently, a new study shows that running with people faster than yourself is a good thing.
My old Garmin used to have a Virtual Partner that I could run against. I never once used it the entire life of the watch. Maybe I should have.
I prefer to use my friends to keep me fast. Running with my friend Susan is always a race to the finish, especially on the trails. Though she’s only a few years younger, she’s much faster than I am, and much stronger. My friend Hari turned vegan, dropped some weight, and grew a pair of wings on his heels. I always knew it was just a matter of time before he would run me into the ground. And Bionic Liz, who has pins in her leg from a stress fracture that took her off the course in her first marathon attempt, can stay ahead of anyone by sheer force of will.
My friends are good for me.
Trail running, a challenging weekly hill route, running five days a week, cooler winter temperatures, and increasing my overall mileage have all helped me to get faster again without really trying. That’s exactly the way I like it. If I have to work too hard at something, it takes all the fun out of it.
And if it’s not fun, why bother?
Okay, I went a little crazy this week. I got engaged, signed up for a super challenging 50K, got my picture taken with Scott Jurek, bought a wedding dress, picked out a ring, planned an entire wedding in one week, worked an expo booth, and updated Facebook posts for the Dallas Marathon. And did I mention that I GOT ENGAGED??? I really know how to pack it in, don’t I? I was so busy I didn’t have time to do one minute of yoga, either.
MON: Rest Day – Too busy to do anything but fit in an evening with Scott Jurek. Not a bad way to spend a Monday night, if you ask me. What an incredibly down-to-earth, friendly, nice guy. I missed the group run beforehand, but really enjoyed hearing him speak for about 45 min or so afterwards. I wrote an entire blog post about meeting him, and my friends have threatened a Scott Jurek intervention, so I will force myself to stop now.
TUE: Run – 6.09 mi – Liz chose New York City over me this morning, and I couldn’t talk Hari into running with me, so I was forced to run all alone. I decided to run with music to break the monotony — and had a great run. I never run with music, but it really helped keep me on pace. Plus, I have great taste in music, so it was win/win all around. Best of all, it was cool! It was only 56 degrees and 60% humidity, which, when compared to Sunday’s mug fest, was downright glacial. Even Scott Jurek mentioned the weather last night. But there I go again, off the Scott Jurek deep end . . . (someone please make me stop).
WED: Hill Run – 10.6 mi – 45 degrees at the start of today’s hill run, and I couldn’t have been happier. I’m still trying to purge Saturday and Sunday’s warm and humid runs. The hills were a little taller and steeper today after three nights of little sleep (wedding plans kept waking me up), and Hari kept a blistering pace. Gorgeous sky and perfect temps.
THU: Run – 9.56 mi – A wonderful run at the lake this morning at 6:00am, in thick fog, with Hari. Announced the engagement on Facebook and came home to an explosion of congratulations. Heard great songs on the radio both on the way to the lake and on the way home. It was a great day!
FRI: Rest Day – Spent the day setting up and working at our WRRC booth at the Dallas Marathon expo. It was so much fun to see all my running friends and talk to new runners who might be interested in coming out and running with us. I am so blessed to be part of such a wonderful running community.
SAT: Trail Run, Rowlett Creek Preserve– 10 mi – Great morning for a run. Temps in the mid 50’s and overcast. Met up with Michael S and Jennifer S for the first 4 miles, then Hari and I continued on our way alone. Michael was trail guide for the first 4, and we actually didn’t get lost the last 6, even though Hari and I were on our own and ran around in circles last week. It was a nice, relaxing run. Spent the afternoon at the expo seeing friends and helping out in the booth, and managed to fall flat on my face at the Run On! booth when my Nike Free got caught up in the table skirt as I walked away from paying for a t-shirt I had just bought. Yep, down on all fours, laptop skidding across the floor, and concrete rising to greet me. I knew those shoes were super grippy, but sheesh, it’s pretty embarrassing when my trail klutzery goes on the road with me in a public place filled with hundreds of other runners!
Went to bed that night after reading that Bob’s daughter and wife spread his ashes on the marathon course at Winfrey Point at White Rock Lake. I loved knowing that thousands of marathon runners would be carrying a small part of Bob to the finish line with them.
SUN: Off Day – Volunteer at Dallas Marathon – Got up at 4:30am and headed down to the Convention Center for the Dallas Marathon. When I let the dogs out at 5:30 before I left it was 66 degrees and 89% humidity. Not exactly ideal marathon conditions. For most people, it was a tough day of running, though some of my friends did really well (yay Nicole, who placed 9th female overall!!!). I spent the day in the media room updating Facebook posts during the race and hanging out with local reporters. I got to see the male and female marathon winners interviewed, and then be the first to see how my friends did on the live results web page. It was a full day. As so often happens here in Texas, a cold front blew in around 2:00pm and the temperature dropped all afternoon. Rounded out the day/week at a Ozona’s with running friends, talking about the marathon, tossing back some drinks, and enjoying life. What a week it’s been!
Stats for WEEK 7: Run – 36 miles
Ultrarunner Scott Jurek came to town last night. I was so beside myself I could hardly stand it. I felt like a teenager again.
I may run ridiculous distances, toss back an occasional beer with the guys, and pee in the woods when I have to, but I am, first and foremost, a girl. All I wanted last night was to have my photo taken with Scott Jurek.
Of course I wanted to hear what he had to say, and was sad I didn’t make it home in time to change clothes to run with him and the group. But like the Celebrity Runner Groupie I have apparently become, the photo was paramount.
First things first: What a nice guy! The number one comment I heard from all my friends who met him that night was how nice and down-to-earth he is. He seems to have an inner happiness and enthusiasm for life that is infectious. He’s the kind of guy you would want to spend a lot of time with — like on a 100+ mile trail run, perhaps — and you can tell he genuinely likes being around people and having fun with them. He is unpretentious, humble, and willing to share what’s he’s learned about ultrarunning.
I am starstruck.
Some things I learned from Scott:
1. Favorite races: Hardrock 100 and Spartathalon. That’s 100 as in 100 miles long, and the Spartathlon as in 153 miles from Athens to Sparta. Hardrock is considered to be one of the toughest races in the country, with 33,000 feet of climb at an average elevation of over 11,000 feet (thank you, Wikipedia). I guess I’ve got some training to do. (Note: this question was personally asked by me — I was sitting on the front row with little hearts and angels floating around my head so I wasn’t hard to miss — and he looked into my eyes the entire time he spoke to me. I’m not even sure how I remember his answer. Read it and weep, ladies. And yes, I know he recently got married, so hush.)
2. He’s run Badwater twice and does not want to run it again. I cannot for the life of me imagine why. The Badwater Ultra is a 135 mile road race through Death Valley in mid-July, starting 282 feet below sea level and ending at an elevation of 8360 feet at Mount Whitney (thanks, again, Wikipedia). I ran a marathon in Death Valley one February. Just sayin.’ But it’s nothing compared to the Badwater Ultra.
3. Eat real food early in an ultra, and eat often. Save the GUs and energy gels for later in the race. Real food for him is tortillas filled with beans, or rice balls, for instance. Vegetarian dolmas work for me, if you’re wondering.
4. He looks forward to being a middle of the pack runner one day, but for the time being wants to remain competitive. He says winning is fun. I’ll take his word for it. I believe he said that Leadville is his next race.
5. He’s a humanitarian and will be taking a team of runners to Ethiopia to help fight blindness there. There are still a few places left if you’d like to accompany him. You can find more details on his blog. (And yes, you know I want to go.)
6. To train for a trail race with lots of hills or elevation, he recommends lots of strength training (2-3 times per week) and core work, squats, lunges, downhill repeats, and running down the stairs of tall buildings (if you live in a large city, of course).
7. He had just come from a memorial event for Caballo Blanco, aka Micah True, in Copper Canyon with the Tarahumara. He told us about searching for Micah when he went missing, expecting to see him come running out from somewhere at any moment, but knowing if he had to go it would be a perfect place and way for him to leave. He also said that doctors believe running may actually have extended his life an additional ten years or so, based on his family background. Nice to hear after my post last week about long distance running and damage to the heart.
8. The actor Peter Sarsgaard is working on a movie version of the book Born to Run. Scott says he doesn’t know who will play him in the movie, but that Sarsgaard, a runner himself, has said he wants real runners in the movie. He has hinted at Scott playing himself, but Scott’s not sure if he’s kidding or not. Cast him, Peter!
Scott spoke for almost an hour, and gave lots more information, but it was all just a little too much by the end. Remember, I was starstruck. And I was sitting on the front row.
If you haven’t read it yet, his book Eat and Run is fantastic. Read it. And then get out and run.
* Thank you, Luke’s Locker, for bringing Scott Jurek to Dallas, and thank you, Scott, for coming to visit! Please come back soon so I can run with you next time!
Dear Weather Gods:
I know I complain a lot about the running weather here in Dallas, especially in the summer. But remember when I sacrificed my new pair of $100 sunglasses in St George and you gave me perfect weather and a Boston qualifying finish time? Well, this Saturday I dropped my brand new $70 sunglasses, got a scratch on them, and the next day you punished me with summer temperatures and high humidity. Have you failed to notice that IT’S DECEMBER??? Can’t you take pity and cut me a break on at least one of my 20 mile trail runs, especially when it’s supposed to be one of the best two running months of the year in Texas? Obviously my sacrifice wasn’t large enough.
A Very Frustrated Texas Runner
MON: Yoga – 25:00 – Quads are pretty sore from the weekend runs, so I did a vigorous power yoga sequence (stamina). It felt great, and the power yoga seems to be helping to facilitate a lot more flexibility in my legs and making my core even stronger.
TUE: Run – 6.37 mi, Yoga – 25:00 – Great run with Liz at the lake this morning incorporating the hilly path on the east side. It was overcast, breezy, and cold — just how I like it for running. Quads are still a little sore, but we kept a brisk pace nevertheless. I tried a new power yoga sequence in the evening (strength) that kicked my butt. It was nothing but sun salutations and arm poses, over and over. I can definitely tell the effects of the more strenuous yoga, in a good way, especially in my spine, back, shoulders, hamstrings, and Achilles tendons.
WED: Hill Run – 9.01 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – GREAT run with Liz this morning. Cold at the start (39 degrees) and hills, hills, and more hills. My legs felt great, the cold weather was invigorating, and the variety in the route kept it fun. The only downside was the heavy morning traffic on some of the busier roads. It was one of those great morning runs where you feel like you could keep running forever and reminds you why you love running so much. Legs were feeling a little achy from the hills, so I did some forward bends in the afternoon to loosen up.
THU: Run – 7.05 mi – An absolutely gorgeous morning greeted us on this sad day of laying our good running friend, Bob Philpot, to rest later in the day. Liz met me at my house for a run over to the Katy Trail, and though I am sad and wistful at knowing Bob won’t ever get to run on a beautiful morning like today, I’m happy knowing how much joy days like today brought to his life. Selfishly, I’m happy for myself because I was fortunate enough to cross paths with him and spend time in the pleasure of his running company. It’s hard to lose the good guys, but it isn’t a cliche to say that the world was left a better place because of the years Bob spent here with us. His memorial service later in the day was the most moving Celebration of Life I’ve ever attended, complete with Bob’s favorite music: Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, and Neil Young. It was standing room only and not a dry eye in the place. What a guy!
FRI: Rest Day – An entire day off. Wanted to do yoga but just never found the time.
SAT: Run – 9.06 mi – Another great run, even though the weather was unbelievably warm and humid for the first day of December (at 7AM: 66 deg and 90% humidity). Since it was the last Saturday run before the Dallas Marathon next weekend, we had a huge turnout. The pace was easy, the conversation was stimulating, and the distance just right. It was really fun to see everyone in top form for their marathons next weekend, and being reminded that proper tapering really works.
SUN: Trail Run, Rowlett Creek Preserve – 20 mi – 69 degrees at 7:30AM and 81% humidity. 82 degrees at the finish and sunny. MIS-ER-A-BLE. Yesterday I was patient. Today I struggled. It was, however, still a great run. When we ran Rowlett Creek this past summer we all stumbled, tripped, and fell on the roots and stumps. Today it was like a completely different trail. My trail form has drastically improved these past six months, and except for one near-death slide down a steeply sloped embankment while walking (thanks for grabbing me, Hari!), I didn’t fall once. We kept the pace very slow and easy, trying to simulate how we will run for the 50 mile race, and my legs felt great. I could easily have run at least another 10 miles. Starting around mile 14, though, my stomach became very uncooperative — which was no fun at all. Maybe it was the heat, or the meds I’ve been taking for the cough, or the energy chews and GU, or all of the above, but it wasn’t a fun way to finish off a great day of running.
The trails at Rowlett are supremely confusing to both me and Hari, and we literally ran around in circles all morning, never figuring out how to reach loops 11-14. A very friendly mountain biker took pity and stopped multiple times to help us out, admitting that the signs need to be updated, but we figured it didn’t really matter where we ran as long as we got in our mileage. We just kept following trails, happy in our clueless circling. We saw the biker again in the parking lot after our run and had a good discussion with him about the local wildlife. Apparently there are lots of coyotes, owls, bobcats, rabbits, and armadillos out there, and he was very adamant about the number of copper head snakes there in the summer, much to Hari’s chagrin. I hope I can get Hari to go back out there into the wilds of Rowlett because I really like those trails, snakes and all.
STATS for WEEK 6: Run – 51.5 miles, Yoga – 1:15:00
Last year, after running my sixth marathon — in Death Valley of all places — my doctor gave me a sobering look during my annual physical and asked how many more marathons I planned on running. I told him maybe a few more and he proceeded to tell me about a study he had recently read that was undertaken by a doctor and his son, both marathon runners. They loved running and wanted to study how running a marathon effected runners’ hearts.
They were surprised by their findings. Apparently, at least in the people they studied, in the days following a marathon the runners’ hearts showed just as much damage as if they had suffered a heart attack. Sobering findings indeed. Even worse, people who had run ten or more marathons showed increased blockage and calcification in their arteries. My doctor, who has known me for 22 years, quietly told me he hoped I wasn’t planning on running that many marathons.
I laughed and agreed. I had, after all, just run 26.2 miles in Death Valley! In the back of my mind, however, I was rolling my eyes and thinking there was no way running could be bad for you. Data can be manipulated.
Today a friend posted a link to an article in The Wall Street Journal about two new studies on the effects of running, especially in older athletes. The news is, once again, not very good. Here’s the part that stood out the most to me:
What the new research suggests is that the benefits of running may come to a hard stop later in life. In a study involving 52,600 people followed for three decades, the runners in the group had a 19% lower death rate than nonrunners, according to the Heart editorial. But among the running cohort, those who ran a lot—more than 20 to 25 miles a week—lost that mortality advantage.
It’s that last sentence, emphasized by me, that makes me cringe. In my circle of running friends, 20 to 25 miles a week is small potatoes. Especially now that I’m training for a 50 mile race in nine weeks, and regularly hit weekly mileage of 50-60 miles, I often run 20 to 25 miles in one run.
This sentence from the article calmed me down somewhat:
Meanwhile, according to the Heart editorial, another large study found no mortality benefit for those who ran faster than 8 miles per hour, while those who ran slower reaped significant mortality benefits.
It would take about a 7:30 minute pace to run 8 miles per hour, and I’m far from ever achieving that pace for longer than, oh, ten seconds, maybe? I’m a solid middle of the pack runner. I like an occasional good, fast tempo run, or a race where everything comes together and I surprise myself with a faster than expected pace, but I don’t train for speed. If it’s a byproduct of hills and distance, all the better, but it’s just not that important to me anymore. I guess I’m starting to mellow in my old age.
I’m all about distance. Nothing makes me happier than spending a few hours on a Saturday morning running a 20 mile route around the city with my friends. Even better, spending five or six hours on a trail, pushing just hard enough to enjoy the experience and still have enough energy to make it back to the car and the drive home, is what fills me with the deepest sense of accomplishment I’ve ever known. Nothing else in my life has ever made me feel as satisfied with myself as running.
I like to think I run intuitively and listen to my body. I’m pretty good about taking rest days and not being a slave to the training plan. I don’t race half as much as others I run with, and I don’t push myself as hard either, especially on long runs.
It seems like common sense that running really hard, day in and day out, over fairly long distances, will eventually wear out your heart faster than if you did nothing but sit on the couch. Moderation is the key. Maybe speed is the culprit, and the studies don’t give us all the variables.
I have a deep down feeling that our bodies were made to run. The only thing more natural than running would be walking, something I plan on doing more of when I get much older. And I don’t intuitively feel that running long distances, at a comfortable, conversational speed, can really be the same — or worse than — doing nothing at all. Someone will need to show me the data on that to make me a believer.
For me, at this point in time, I’m in the best shape of my life. It took me 52 years to get here, and nothing beats the feeling of power and strength I’ve gained from running these past seven years. I love being able to go out for a 10 mile run on a cold autumn morning and have it feel easy. I feel energized the rest of the day, it keeps me in a great mood, and I sleep better and deeper than when I’m not running.
But, honestly, if I had to, I could be happy with 20 to 25 miles a week. If someone could prove to me that I would be able to have an extra five or ten years of running if I cut my current mileage in half, and have the same physical and psychological benefits I garner with 50 mile weeks, I could do it.
Because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Being healthy and staying alive, and being able to appreciate the gift of running — even if it’s “only” 25 miles per week.
Besides, we all know that anything done to excess can be bad for you, and that includes something as healthy as running. Just keep it simple, and listen to your heart.