Thursday, May 31, 2012

May Madness

Hmmm, okay maybe madness is the wrong word. Because May was a LOT of fun! Nothing hurt. I was able to get some good mileage in.Ran some fun races.Saw the Tour of California.Started my training for the Javelina Jundred. Oh, and it was my birthday! :)

I've been feeling really good since the Nanny Goat 12 HR too which makes me very happy. I was back on the bike the next day and got a massage to help loosen up my legs. I also took Monday and Tuesday off of running but hit the road yesterday and today and both runs were great. I was amazed at how speedy I felt yesterday for that 10K. I kind of expected my legs to be sluggish & heavy but that wasn't the case at all. Maybe I'm channeling some of Josh's (@bayou) Wolverine super powers! :) Today's 8 miler was less speedy but felt good. I was a tiny bit tired which is to be expected. I think.But other than that, I felt fine.

My mileage for the month of May was 234.2 miles for the run and will be about 430 miles for the bike after tonight's ride home.It felt like the first really solid training month in months. It's so much easier to get miles in when it's warmer and there's more light. I love, love, love spring and summer for that reason. I need sun! I'm solar powered. :)

I didn't do much speed work or hill work during the month but I guess I'm okay with that. I can feel my legs getting stronger again so I feel like I'll be ready to tackle the 100 miler training schedule I have. It's a little scary but I think I can do it. The hardest part for me will be the mid week long runs. I'm going to have to get up REALLY early for the 12 & 14 milers.Which is maybe a good thing though since I need to get in some night running!

I'm trying to plan out the rest of my year now. I'm signed up for 2 half marathons next month and I'm thinking of doing a third. I'm also debating about signing up for the Long Beach Marathon and using that as my last long run before Javelina Jundred. Then I hope to do the Flying Monkey in November. I'm signed up for the Death Valley Trail Marathon in December and if all goes well, I'll be doing the New Years Double Marathons in Texas to finish/start the year. I just have to figure out my 50 miler and I'll be good. I think. I didn't really expect to be doing so many races this year but I.Just.Can't.Help.Myself! I'm totally addicted. Ha!

I really need to win the lottery. Or find a sponsor. Or a sugar daddy. But that's a WHOLE other story. ;)

How was your May? Anything exciting planned for June?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nanny Goat 12 Hour Race Report

On Saturday, I ran my second 12 Hour run - The Nanny Goat in Riverside, CA. I had the option of starting at 8am or at 8pm. I was leaning toward running at night but the weather forecast said it would be cool & partly cloudy so I decided to run it during the day and I'm really glad I did.

Since I decided to do the 8am start, I carbo loaded on Friday and I think I did a pretty good job of it. On Saturday morning, I got up at 5, ate breakfast, and got dressed. Then I packed my backpack and a chair for the day. I made sure to pack a couple extra pairs of shoes and socks along with food, Scaps, Aleve, and body glide.

Once I got to the ranch where the race was at, I set up my chair in a strategic location - close to the porta-potties and the food! :) Then I checked in, got my bib, timing chip, shirt, and mug.
The Plan
My training for this was pretty much non-existent because I hurt my foot back in March. My longest run in the last 2 months was the 19 mile run/hike on my birthday last weekend. I also had one 16.5 mile run and a handful of half marathons and that's it. No back-to-backs either. Like I mentioned before, I wasn't scared about this but honestly didn't know what to expect. I dreamed about hitting 50 miles (A goal), or my age (B goal), but hoped to just be on my feet all 12 hours (C goal). With that in mind I decided my plan for this would be 5 min running/1 min walking. It felt doable. I hoped. :)

Steve, the RD, gathered us in the barn for last minute instructions and then we were off! Lucy Jacobs (carrying the flag below) led us out of the barn. It was a reminder of why and who we were running for at the Nanny Goat. FYI - Lucy did the 24 Hour and she carried the flag the entire time!
I ran the entire first loop to get the excitement out of my system. When I came to the barn (where the timing mat was), I heard "Hey, Run It Fast." and then "Go Lisa!". I looked and it was Kylie! I knew she would be there. :) On the second loop, I started the interval timer on my watch and started the plan. I had to stop and say hello to Kylie and give her a hug when I got back to the barn but other than that, I kept to the plan for the first 30 miles.

I did have some extra breaks in there - bathroom breaks (damn hamster bladder), 2 shoe/sock changes. Also, about 2 hours into it, I walked a little bit with Kylie who, by the way, went into labor last night and little Mackenzie was born this morning! Congrats Kylie and Mike! See, my plan to help her start labor totally worked. ;)

Back to the race... My feet started hurting around 3 hours into the race. I'd brought 2 other pairs of shoes with me because I wasn't sure which I would want and I decided to change shoes at 3.5 hours to see if it would help. It did for a little while though not much but I stuck with the plan. Those laps seemed to go by quickly but things were starting to go south. Every lap, my feet felt heavier and heavier. I changed my shoes and socks again at 6.5 hours and I think that was a mistake. The sock change was good but I saw I already had a blister on each foot. Even with the gaiters, the dust/sand got in my shoes. I think once I knew for sure they were there it was harder to ignore them.

I told myself I had to stick to the plan for at least 50K but I couldn't resist the hamburgers they were barbecuing and grabbed 1/2 a cheeseburger as I finished lap 30. I walked while I ate it and then finished a run/walk for the lap but not really the plan schedule. Probably more walk than run. After that, I thought maybe walking a couple of laps would give my feet a rest. I grabbed my camera as I finished lap 31 so I could take some pics of the course while I walked.

There were basically 3 types of terrain there: the grassy/gopher hole section (above right), the dirt orchard lane section (right), and a stretch of road (below).
That's Run It Fast - The Club Member #121 Ed Ettinghausen in the Jester costume! He had a whole bunch of hats and changed them throughout the day. When I heard a jingle, I'd know it was him and check to see what he was wearing next. His hats:
One more thing about Ed. He was a fabulous cheerleader on the course. He learned everyone's name and he greeted you by name every time he saw you and offered encouragement. Totally cool! Here's a few more pics of the ranch:
Nice course, huh? Interesting stuff to see and different surfaces to keep you paying attention. Though I think the gopher hole section contributed to my calf problems later I enjoyed it. After this, I put my camera away but continued walking. I was at the 8 hour mark and sort of resigned myself to walking the rest of the day. The next 90 minutes were all walking. I am a slow walker but I was trying to do at least 3 laps per hour. Each lap, my feet felt more and more like bricks and I was so frustrated. It wasn't just the blisters but the whole foot and ankle that were hurting. I didn't even pay attention to laps but I think it was lap 36 were I seriously considered stopping. In my mind, I said I would rest for 30 min or an hour and then start again but I kind of figured if I did that, I wouldn't go back out. :(

Not only were my feet killing me but so were my calves and my legs were complete noodles because after the cheeseburger, I hadn't felt like eating and all I was doing when I stopped was a cup of coke or sprite and  a slice of fruit. I decided I would try changing my shoes one more time and take some Aleve and see how it went. I changed back into pair #2 for the day but didn't want to take my socks off  (or look at my feet). I also grabbed some peanut butter & jelly crackers. I tweeted my frustration while I was sitting there but then I made myself get up and start walking again.

I walked for about half that lap, read the encouragement from my tweeps and then a funny thing happened. I decided to see if I could start running again. And I did! Woo! Maybe it was the Aleve kicking in or the pb&j crackers or a second wind. Whatever it was, I was so happy. I was running! :) So then I decided that I didn't want to risk walking again and I finished that lap without walking again and then ran the next 5 laps. They were slow but I didn't care because I was running.

Towards the end of lap 42, my stomach started feeling not so good and my right calf started to twinge like it wanted to cramp. It was getting close to the 11th hour and I think I burned up whatever second wind I had because I started feeling noodley again. I was so happy to finish lap 42 and see I only had 1 hour left! I ran/walked the last hour and got 3 more laps in. I finished lap 45 at 11 hours and 53 minutes so not enough time for another lap or new PR. :( But hello, I ran 45 miles! I was so sure I wouldn't even make it to 40 that I was thrilled with 45. I had run the last part of that lap with another runner and when we finished we congratulated each other. Turns out we both ran 45 miles. He said "We could have run the whole thing together." and I wondered to myself how different our paths were to the same place.

Post Race & Thoughts
My second 12 Hour was in the books! They took my chip and gave me my medal:
The medal also has a magnet on the back and can be used as a refrigerator magnet. I think it's a fun medal. This is what the 12 & 24 hour people got. If you ran the 100 miler, then you got a buckle. Once I had my medal, I went back to the barbecue and grabbed a piece of tri-tip (no bread or anything else - coyote style ;) ) that I had been smelling for the last few laps and ate that while I rested for a little while. I was starting to get cold so I packed up my stuff and headed home to clean up and take care of my feet.

So...I reached my B goal for the night. My age - 44 plus 1 to grow on. :) I was really surprised that I ran 45 miles yesterday when I considered myself undertrained vs. 45.6 miles for the New Years 1 Day where I considered my training just about perfect. I wonder if it's just that I had done it before so knew I could do it again? What do you think?

All I know is that though I had not so much fun with my feet, I had fun talking to the other runners, watching the horses, the dogs, & crazy guard chickens on the farm, seeing the runner's family cheering everyone on, that it was a beautiful day to run, and it gave me an opportunity to battle some demons. When I was getting frustrated, I tried to remind myself that I was lucky that I COULD put myself thru that torture, I mean, fun. I would see Lucy on the course, carrying that flag and not complaining, and just keep moving forward. I thought of my grandpa walking everywhere. I thought of Joshua and Naresh running Vol State 500 last year when they were tired and their feet hurt. I thought of all my twitter friends who've run 100 miles and suffered more than I did. But most of all, I tried not to think at all and just keep moving.

This was the first race in a long time where I listed to music (last 8 hours) to fill my mind with something else besides my feet. I had to laugh because the song that was playing when I finished was Fallin' by Alica Keys.
Oh, oh, I never felt this way / How do you give me so much pleasure and cause me so much pain? / Just when I think I've taken more than would a fool / I start fallin' back in love with you
Definitely some lows/pain during the day but a happy ending. Running can be a bitch but you gotta love something that can give you such amazing experiences and teach you lessons like this. :)  

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Round and Round

Saturday is the Nanny Goat 12 Hour! I can't believe it's here already. It seems like New Year's was yesterday and it's already Memorial Weekend.

I'm excited about the race. My training is nowhere near where it was when I did the New Year's One Day so I should be scared but I'm not. Whatever happens, happens. I have no expectations for the day except to have fun. I've heard so much good stuff about the Nanny Goat from my friend Kylie that I have no doubt it will be an interesting day. I wish Kylie was going to be there this year but she is waiting for her little one to be born ANY minute now. I told her if she wanted to hurry the little one along to come out and do some laps with me. ;) She laughed. Knowing Kylie, I bet I do see her!

As I've mentioned before, the Nanny Goats are raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project. I set a goal of raising $300 for them & so far I've raised $260. Thank you to all of you who helped me get that far! I really appreciate it. Oh, and it's not too late to help:

As I prepared for this & read the emails from the RD, I've been thinking about my grandpa. My grandpa Chuy, my dad's dad, was a World War II veteran. While he was in the Pacific during the war, he contracted Malaria and he had seizures from that the rest of his life. Because of the seizures, my grandpa wasn't allowed to drive so he walked everywhere in town. He never said he missed driving. He may have been too stubborn to admit it though. My grandpa's birthday was May 14th and we often celebrated our birthdays together. Here's a photo of him holding me as a baby (and my mom & grandma).
Pretty old picture, huh? Yes, I'm that old. ;) God, I miss my grandparents and that little kitchen. There was soooo much love and laughter there. It was the hub for all of our family gatherings. Good memories.

Anyway, my grandpa was VERY stubborn and my mom used to say...ok, still says that I took after him with the stubbornness. I hope to channel some of that stubbornness and determination to get where I want to go on Saturday. I'll be thinking of him as I run. I wonder what he would think of me now? He would probably tell me I was crazy. But then again, maybe not. I think he would get that I see my riding and running as independence and I think he would approve. :) I hope he would be proud. He died when I was 27. I was pretty messed up back then and I wish he could have known the me I am today...a much stronger, healthier, and happier Lisa. So Saturday is for you, grandpa. :)

If you'd like to follow me on Saturday, you should be able to at this link:

I'll have my phone with me and may be tweeting too. Wish me luck!

Have a great weekend! Have fun and stay safe.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Birthday Fun

Saturday was my birthday. I’m sure you know that since I have sort of, maybe, been pretty loud about it. Sorry bout that. Fair warning: the party will PROBABLY continue thru Memorial Weekend. I have it on good authority that I’m allowed to keep celebrating thru the end of the month. That MIGHT be overkill but the til the 28th sounds good. No?

So, on Saturday I slept in until 6, had breakfast, and started getting ready for my day. I knew I would be out on the trails/roads for probably 8 hours so I needed to carry plenty of water and food for the day. There is nothing up there so I wouldn't be able to refill my water or buy anything. You'd think that some smart person would be selling snacks/drinks to the people along the road but no such luck. Anyway...I ran into a slight glitch in that I couldn't fit my sandwich and my camera in my Nathan pack so I decided the camera was more important. I decided I could carry my sandwich in my skirt pocket. As long as I didn't fall, it should be fine. Which is kind of iffy with me but sometimes you have to take a chance. So I packed 70 oz of water in my Nathan, 1 sandwich, 9 pretzels, a couple of clif bars, a lara bar, and popped an 8oz FuelBelt bottle filled with GuBrew in one of my Nathan pockets. I was good to go.

I drove over to the trail and got there just before 9. Already there were a ton of cyclists starting the climb up on the roads. I stuffed my pockets with food, threw on my Nathan and headed up about 9:15. I was ready to get the party started!

Then...snake! Ha. Luckily, I saw my 1st and only snake for the day within the 1st mile and it was dead. Whew. (though I'm pretty sure I heard a rattler a few times during the day I never saw one). I took it easy going up, running and hiking and trying to play it smart. The Nanny Goat 12 HR was in one week and I didn't want to leave it all out there. I have some running in circles to do! So I stopped when I reached each peak/viewpoint to just take in the day and watch the parade of cyclists make their way up.

When I popped out at the top, there were tons of cars parked at the top trail head, barbecuing and partying but I needed to head out on the road to find a good spot to watch. About 2 1/2 miles out, I found the perfect spot. One where I could see the road for a ways and where they would be on an uphill climb to slow them down some. I had a great view while I waited.

I thought I would have a 30 min wait for them to come by so I ate my PB&J sandwich, which did surprisingly well and was just a little smushed, and some pretzels. Then waited...and waited...and waited. Turns out, a car went off the road earlier so they delayed the race til they could clear all the equipment out. And that's exactly why I'd rather run up there than drive! Much safer. But finally, a TOC car came by and let us know the lead pack was just a few minutes behind and GUESS WHAT? Jens was in the lead pack with Chris Horner. Jens is my favorite rider. He is hilarious and just a total work horse. Not after the glory but just in it for the love of riding. My favorite story about Jens is when he crashed during the Tour de France and his bike was broken. The team car had gone ahead so he didn't have a bike but he refused to quit! Instead, he borrowed a bike to finish out the stage. A junior bike that was too small for him and not the slick machine he's used to riding. Now THAT is a winner in my book and one of the reason's he's my fave rider. Here's a pic of him on the yellow bike.

And this is a pic I captured of him (2nd rider) in the lead pack:

And then a few minutes later, the rest of the train:

After they went by here, I ran back to the King of the Mountain line which was at the trailhead to wait for them to come back up. It was pretty warm by then and standing around in the sun didn't help. When I ran by some spectators an angel in disguise offered me an icy bottle of water. Which tasted like heaven! The wait at the KOM was a ton of fun because there were a lot more people. And then there was Jens again!

After they went thru, I headed back down the mountain. I ended up running out of water a mile or so from the bottom. What with being late and doing a little extra running up at the top, I decided to take a shortcut and took Mystic Canyon down. I fell twice going down Mystic! But both times were on my butt so I just scraped my hands and my Garmin. I made it the rest of the way down in one piece...filthy, sweaty, thirsty, and hungry but very, very happy.

On the way home, I stopped for pancakes and scarfed them down . Then I picked up some Pop Tarts for my birthday cake.

Really, this is my favorite way to spend my birthday. Doing exactly what I want, when I want. It was perfect. :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

43 In Review

I turn 44 on Saturday. On my long run the other day, I started thinking about how my 43rd year went and I have to say it was pretty darn awesome! Like if I died before Friday, I would be happy with how I lived this past year. Kind of morbid, I know but you know what I mean. ;) Anyway, I have no regrets at all and that’s not something you get to say often.

Here’s a recap of the best of year 43: 
  • I rode 5,900 miles and ran 2,400! (Never, never, never thought I would say that.)
  • I ran 1 5K, 1 10K, 6 half marathons, a 16.5 trail race, a 30K, 2 marathons, 2 50Ks, and 1 12HR!
  • I visited Washington and Tennessee for the first time and hung out with friends and did a little running.
  • I also travelled to Utah, Arizona, and Nevada.
  • I ran in places I’ve never run before (San Francisco, Santa Rosa, San Diego, Zion, Death Valley, Seattle, Jackson).
  • I met a bunch of twitter friends in person.
  • I set PRs for the 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, and 50K. :)
  • I met Scott Jurek, Marshall Ulrich, and Macca (ohmygodohmygodohmygod).
  • I conquered my fear of running up a mountain solo.
  • I bought Ned! My gorgeous 29er.
  • I started run commuting. (Love having options like that.)
  • I ran my highest mileage for a week ever: 92 miles. (Holy cow, I remember when I didn't even hit that in a month!) 
Pretty good year, don't you think? I wouldn't change a minute of it.

Last year, I celebrated my birthday with a long run. I plan to do the same thing this year and get at least 20 miles in for the day. But not all at once. I plan to run up Lower Monroe Truck Trail and then out GMR to catch the Tour of California riders as they head west. Then, I'll run back to LMTT and wait for them to come back up GMR at the KOM line (King of the Mountain) and then run back down LMTT. I should be up there about 8 or 9 hours total but not all of it will be running as I'll be waiting for the singing tires to come roaring by me. (one of the coolest sounds ever!) It might not be the smartest thing to do 1 week before my 12HR but it sure will be fun! I cannot wait to see Jens & Levi and all the other bike boys. It's gonna be wild. I better take my camera. :)

Thanks for tagging along with me thru the year. I hope you'll follow along with me for year 44. I wonder what it has in store for me. Besides running & riding, that is. Because those two are non-negotiable!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday Runday

This morning, I went out for a run. I kind of wasn't feeling it before I went out and it took me a while to get out the door. Finally, I made a deal with myself...all I had to do was 10K and I was good. Since it was going to be a short run I didn't eat anything before I went, didn't take water, my mp3 player, or money.

It was a cool morning and there weren't too many people out and the run was nice & easy. I decided to take a route I haven't taken in months and what do you know? When I got to my turnaround point, I decided to keep going. I thought about my route options really quick and decided to continue on the horse trails here in town since they went by two parks where I could get water. And go to the restroom. New plan set. I was still feeling great. Plenty of energy and nothing hurting so why not?

Today's run was wonderful. I didn't think about much. Just slipped into a zone and listened to my breath, my footsteps, and the sounds around me. I just ran. Those kinds of runs are a blessing and when they happen, you don't want them to end. I ended up doing quite a bit of extra roaming and finished at 13 miles. Which was my original plan for the morning! But where it had seemed like such a chore before I started, while I was running it was fun and relaxing and didn't feel like work. I even thought about going a couple more miles but I was running short on time. Once I didn't HAVE to do 13 miles, I found I WANTED to do 13 miles. It's all in the mindset. :)

Speaking of... What's funny is that I kept waiting for the bonk and for the last mile or whatever to be a slogfest. That's happened to me before when I forget to eat before a run over, say, 10 miles. But that didn't happen today at all. Isn't that weird? Cool, but weird.

I have to admit I may have been a little influenced by the 50K I volunteered at on Saturday. I was at the first aid station which was about 11 miles in. It was a warm day in SoCal so everyone was carrying multiple bottles or hydration packs especially since there isn't much tree cover on our mountains. One of the runners, Eric (coming into the aid station in this pic), wasn't carrying any water though and when he got to the aid station, all he had was cup of coke. Not any food either. And I heard it was the same at the other aid stations. After he left, I made a comment to Andrew (who was working the aid station with me) about that and he said something like "Oh, that's Eric Clifton. He's a whole different animal.". Eric Clifton, the Badwater winner? From Running On The Sun? Who held the record for the JFK50 for 17 years before it was finally broken by  David Riddle in 2011? That Eric Clifton? Yep!!! I think I was speechless. Yes, I know you're shocked that I was speechless. ;) But really? Who shows up at an underground 50K in the middle of nowhere Southern California expecting to see someone with creds like that? Not me, for sure. I was talking with his wife, Noni,  after the race and she said he'd felt fine but admitted that if it had been longer, he'd have needed more drink/food. Wild, eh? I don't know how he did it. I was drinking a ton and I wasn't running on Saturday!

So maybe a little of that rubbed off on me for today's run. Or maybe it was my mind figuring that if he could do it, I could do it. I find that a lot of my running limits have been about my own mental barriers and once I see someone else "breaking" those barriers, I stop seeing them as barriers. Maybe today was just a fluke but maybe not. Whatever it was, I'm thankful I had such a great run! I'm hoping the Nanny Goat feels as great as today did. 13 days and counting!!!

What mental barriers have you broken with your running? Have you ever gone out on a run and added bonus miles that you didn't plan?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Early Birthday Fun Day

My birthday is May 19th and I usually take a day off of work around then to do something fun. This year, that day was today! I am losing one of my staff this week and we haven't hired anyone to replace her so I wanted to take a day before we were short-staffed. I asked my boss and she said okay so I immediately started making plans.

What would my ideal day look like? Well, it would have to include running of course. Preferably a long run. And there would have to be riding. :) Okay, check...and check. What else? Ooh, how about a massage? That definitely needs to be added to the mix. To polish the day off, I decided a movie was in order and one with some very hot superheros fit the bill quite nicely! So, this is how my Birthday Fun Day looked:

  • 16.5 mile long run
  • 13 mile ride
  • The Avengers
  • A 2 hour massage
  • Peanut Butter cookies

Pretty good day, eh? I hadn't planned on the peanut butter cookies but when they "fall" into your lap, you just don't say no. Especially when you had a good day of running and riding. In fact, I think I would take a peanut butter cookie instead of birthday cake any day. Ideally, I would have both though.

The run was pretty good. It was the longest I've done since I hurt my foot back in March. I should be worried about the Nanny Goat 12 HR but I'm not. Not really. The part that worries me most is my plan to run from 8pm to 8am and staying awake the whole night. But the pancake breakfast at the end should be incentive enough.

The spin w/Ned was, as always, fun and fast.

The Avengers was fantastic! Great action and lots of fun stuff. I'm a huge fan of Joss Whedon and he did not disappoint. I'm also a big fan of Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans and they didn't disappoint either. Awesome to see Scarlett Jo kicking butt too. Curvy girls got moves. Don't forget that!

The massage was torture and awesome. I haven't had a massage since February so I had extra massages at Massage Envy just sitting there. It was a no-brainer to decide on a 2 hour since it wouldn't be extra. I figured the first hour would be about working out the aches and the second hour would be just for relaxing. Jen, my usual massage therapist, said she'd never felt me that tight before. Oh man, my legs & glutes were a mess. I have been doing a terrible job of rolling them out. My shoulder wasn't too happy either but they feel better now. The second half was definitely more fun. I almost fell asleep!

And that was my fun day! I packed a lot into it but it was all good. The only thing missing was the aforementioned pancakes. How did that happen?

So, now I'm ready for the weekend. I volunteered for an underground 50K on Saturday but haven't heard back from the RD yet so not sure what's happening there. I'll be running & riding either way on Saturday, of course. I plan to run the trails in Bonelli on Sunday before spending the day with my mom & grandpa. It should be a good weekend of running & riding & being outside. Hopefully yours will be the same.

Have a great weekend and Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

P.S. If you can spare a little bit, I'm trying to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project with the Nanny Goats. We are trying to raise $50,000 for them this year. If you can help us reach that goal, I would be very thankful!

My Donation Page

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Safari Park Wild Thoughts

So why was the Safari Park Half Marathon my favorite half marathon to date? I mean, I didn't PR, I didn't travel out of the state to run it, and I didn't win (ha!). But none of that matters. The reason I sign up for races is to experience new things - new places, new challenges, meet new people, and have fun while I'm doing it. This fit all of that.

These are the elements of the race that I loved:
  • The course was interesting - it included road and dirt and hills. I like variety in my races.
  • The course had great views - there was lots to see and Curious Lisa loved seeing all of it. I have to say that I loved the ostrich farm. The ostriches were wacky. I didn't know they made sounds like that and to see them watching us and running around was fun.
  • The race was really well organized - Everything went off without a hitch this year. I heard they had problems with parking last year but there were none this year. The race started on time and the buses back to our cars after were easy peasy to catch.
  • They also had really well organized aid stations. It was doubly nice that they sent out an email before the race telling us that water would be in clear cups and the electorlyte drink would be in solid cups. Except for the aid station outside the winery that was serving drinks up in wine glasses! Sorry, but I think it was just water and electorlyte drink. ;)
  • Packet pickup, the drop bags, post food/water, directions/support on the course were all excellent too.
  • There weren't a lot of spectators, practically none actually except for the families that were bused into the park and the one housing tract we went thru, but I didn't care. I don't need crowd support. And less crowds means you can focus easier. At least I can.
  • One of the runners complained that she'd never been in a such a "chatty" race but I loved it. She's right, there was a lot of talking going on between the runners but isn't that why we race? To run with others? I had a lot of fun talking to various people on the course. It's always disappointing when you talk to someone and they are wearing headphones. But it was fun to be in awe of something we saw and to have someone else acknowledge they were thinking the same thing.
  • The race had Race Guards running with us. There were also some on bikes out on the course. I'd never seen that before and I thought it was a very cool idea. A couple of them were running around my pace so I saw them all the way up until the end. I would like to look into doing something like this.
  • The Wild Animal Park was VERY welcoming to us. All day, the people at the park congratulated me or asked me how I did. It was fun to see the shirts/medals all day too. Like a not-so-secret club. Also, a good conversation opener with strangers.
  • A lot of the runners dressed with ears/tails/animal prints so that was fun too. I was mostly glad that I beat Tony the Tiger. :)
  • Um, did I mention there were elephants and lions and cheetahs? Seriously, how cool is that!!! :) I am still going through my photos for that day! Hopefully, I'll have them ready tonight.
So yes, I absolutely will do this race again. Next time, I'm going to do the Roar and Snore and spend the night before in the park. I talked to some of the runners who had done it and they said it was a ton of fun to hear the lions and other animals at night and that the dinner had been yummy. I think it would be a blast. Who's going to join me?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Safari Park Half Marathon Recap

I ran my 10th half marathon today and I have to say that it was my favorite one so far! The Safari Park Half Marathon had all my favorite elements in it. More on that in a bit.

I didn't really have any expectations for this half. The start of the week totally sucked and my runs on Monday & Tuesday were no bueno. I could barely get a full breath which makes it really hard to run unless you are going really, really slow. But every day got better and better and my 9 mile run yesterday went really well so I was hopeful for today.

I woke up at 3 today since I had a 90 min drive there, had to pick up my race packet, and the race started at 6:30. I kind of regretted that this morning because I only got about 4 hours of sleep but it turned out okay. I got there in plenty of time, got ready, and then met up with Moonkin Running. It was fun to meet another twitter friend. I can't tell you her name or show you her picture because she is another Super Spy. ;) Then we split up to head to our corrals. I got in the corral with the 2:15 pacer which I thought I could do without dying. The plan was to just have fun, not worry about time, and enjoy the run.

The start was full of energy and packed with people which forced me to go out slow. I couldn't have gone faster if I'd wanted too. Which was fine. We headed out and turned on to rural roads that would take us past wineries, dairies (some of the cows even came out to watch us), a horse ranch, and an ostrich farm! It was cool and overcast and the surrounding views were beautiful. At mile 6 we had to climb a steep long hill into the Wild Animal Park. We were all groaning going up it and not just because it was so steep but also because the race people had put up signs with really bad jokes going up them. Like: "How do you know when a rhino is about to charge?...He pulls out his credit card!" and "What do elephant trunks and this hill have in common?...They both suck!". Yeah, they were all bad like that but you had to laugh.

Once we were over the top of the hill, we were in the park and we had a fabulous downhill that wound thru it. I was laughing w/ a couple of the runners about what the animals thought of us crazy humans running by them! We left the park for a little while and some of the keepers were out there with a camel cheering us on. We had one more hill at mile 12 as we went back in the park and then it was all downhill to the finish. I'd lost the 2:15 guy a while back but caught and passed him at this point. I'd had a low energy point around mile 10 but then felt better so picked it up a little at the end.

It was hard to stay focused though, especially when we ran by the elephants and there were baby ones! It was almost torture to keep running and not stop! But I told myself the faster I finished, the sooner I could come back with my camera. You could hear the finish line party for the whole last mile and it was really energizing. The finish was a lot of fun, with the lions to the right and the cheetahs to the left...I found myself speeding up. Be fast or be food, right? ;) I finished in 2:12:35 which I was very happy with. Frankly, I was thinking it would be more like 2:30 because I've been so slow lately. But I did pretty well considering the slow start and the hills. And best of all, I felt great at the end. I probably could have pushed harder but who cares, I had a blast!

I got my medal, grabbed some water, banana, orange, and a bagel and went to sit in front of the cheetah enclosure and watched them while I ate. I swear the cheetahs were licking their chops as they watched us and were pacing back and forth. Later, one of the keepers told me that all the keepers were talking about how much the cheetahs enjoyed watching us. Ha! I bet! :) The medal is very cool, don't you think? I love it.

After that, I went back to my car and got my camera and spent the rest of the day exploring the park. I even splurged a little and did the Photo Caravan tour which is a 2 hour tour on truck that goes into the animal areas so you can get up close and personal with them. You get to feed giraffes and be just a couple of feet away from rhinos. And take pictures galore. A photographer/wild animal lover paradise. Spring is a wonderful time to visit the park with all the babies and the frisky animals. I highly recommend it.

All in all, today was fabulous! A perfect early birthday present to myself. Holy cow, I'm going to be 44 in 13 days! I don't feel old though. I feel like a kid. Especially today. :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 1 - A New Diet & New Beginning

I'm sure you're probably tired of hearing about my stomach issues. Frankly, I have had it up to HERE with them myself. This last bout was bad. Really bad. On Friday, just before I left work, I started feeling crummy. I'd planned on riding an hour after work but instead I rode straight home. I barely made it. It hurt so bad I thought about going to emergency but I couldn't move. It was like my whole stomach was cramping and wasn't pretty. The next day, I felt better but my stomach still hurt. Like my cat had been using my stomach as a trampoline while wearing cowboy boots...and a weight belt. Ok, slight exaggeration there. But only slightly.

I didn't run or ride on Saturday and went to the Renaissance Faire instead. Because I, of course, don't know how to sit still. I did pretty well for a few hours and then I just couldn't take it any more. I was disappointed because I didn't take as many photos as I wanted to. :( There were some new creatures there called the Fantastikals that were a dream to photograph. These are a couple of photos of them.

You can see the rest if you'd like on my website: New Images. Not even the plethora of photo opportunities could keep me there. Also, really disappointing that I didn't get to enjoy some of my favorite foods there. Sigh.

Anyway...I decided to take Sunday off completely too. And on Monday, I rode to work and decided to run during lunch. My stomach was still not happy during that run but it wasn't bad. I just took it easy. The thing that freaked me out was that I couldn't breathe very well. It's like someone has tightened a strap around my middle so I can't take a full breath. It wasn't an issue on the bike but when I was running, it became an issue. It's a rainy/drizzly day in So Cal today so I ran to work. Same thing this morning. I had to slow WAY down so it didn't hurt. It isn't the bouncing around that bothers me (though my mantra for the morning run was Light & Easy), just taking deep breaths. Of course, the first couple miles have some nice little hills so those weren't a lot of fun.

It was very, very frustrating because I'm supposed to be working on speed! All my plans for getting faster are falling by the way side. It's not fair!

Ok, I know life isn't fair but still...this has been a pretty crummy year so far and I'm just ready for there to be no more pain or stomach issues for the rest of the year. Anybody listening up there? Please?

With that, I am starting a new diet today. I thought I was dealing with the stomach bug that was going around the office but this has been going on way, way too long. So I'm going to start eliminating food to see if that helps. (Although I got sick on Friday after eating pretzels. What could be more bland than that?). I don't think it's dairy causing the problem but we'll see. My plan is to pick one type of thing and eliminate that and see if I start feeling better.

I have got to do something. I just hope this works. Did you have to cut anything out of your diet? How did you figure out what the problem was?