Monday, December 31, 2012

That's All She Wrote

For 2012 anyway. ;)

These are my 2012 stats:
Ran 2,674 miles (Yay!)
Rode 3,593 miles ( poor bikes!)
Racing: 30 races (see below, the monthly # in the top row is the number of race miles for the month)
Little did I know when I started the year that I would be racing that much or do that many ultras. I wasn't even planning any marathons for 2012 but ended up running 4! And 5 ultras? Yeah, that was a surprise to me too.

This year hasn't all been peaches and roses (foot injury, DNS for Old Goat 50, DNF for Death Valley, that stupid ER trip that cost me so much money...sigh) but the good far, far outweighed the bad. When I think about 2012, I have some incredible memories that make me smile. I had some awesome adventures that I never dreamed I would have. I saw some wild and beautiful places that took my breath away and raced in the Happiest Place On Earth! Because of running, this year I got to visit Graceland and Mt. Rushmore and run near Area 51. What more could a girl ask for?

So many times when I clicked the submit button for a race this past year, I was scared out of my running shorts. Could I do it? Could I run technical trails? Could I run a race with 5700 ft of climbing? Could I run at 7000 Ft elevation? Would I get lost during a trail race? Would I get eaten by a mountain lion or a bear? Heck, I was even worried about crewing Josh (would I lose him/fall asleep/get maped by a moose). Yes, I have a great imagination but sometimes it's a disadvantage when you think up worst case scenarios!

So obviously, I didn't get eaten by a wild animal. And I did get lost a couple of times but managed to find my way back! And I survived all of the challenges that I put myself through and had fun while I was doing it! That's one of my biggest lessons from 2012. I CAN DO IT. It may take me a while and I may have some things to learn, but I can take care of myself...and others. I just have to take things one step at a time and not let it overwhelm me.

One other great thing about this year was the camaraderie I felt with runners at races. A lot of my races have been lonely. Oh sure, my family has gone to see me race and I've met runners on the course but for the most part, I run by myself. This past year was filled with running with others though and I really appreciated it. It made me feel like part of a larger community. Some of that has come from Twitter and Run It Fast - The Club but some of it has also come from meeting local runners and catching up with them at races. Some of the moments that bring a smile to face are finishing the JJ50K with Josh and Naresh, running ETFMM51K with Cliff, running Disney with Teal & Beth, and running with everyone at Flying Monkey.

What else did I learn in 2012? I learned I love trails. I learned I love doing things I didn't think I could do. I learned that I don't want to just do a race because it's a fast course but because the course is beautiful or challenging or unique or because there's something about the area I want to explore. I don't want to race for racing's sake. I want adventure. I need adventure. It makes the Indiana Jones in me very happy. :)

So I plan to do more of that!

Happy New Year! May 2013 be a fabulous running year for you!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Top 10 Running Moments of 2012

Everyone keeps reminding me about what a fantastic year I've had. And I have. 2012 was amazing and took me on some incredible adventures and to some very cool places. I had no idea when I started my Year of Animal Racing for 2012 that I would be racing that much or that far or meeting so many great runners. My only goals for 2012 were these:
  • Have fun!!! 
  • Run on dirt more. 
  • Run races with the names of animals in them. 
Woo! Mission accomplished! I love that I accomplished all my goals for 2012. Even though it doesn't feel like I'm having that much fun this month, I have had fun this year. I've also done a ton of trail races. And I ran all kinds of animal races.


Since it's the end of the year and it's fun to look back, I thought I would share my Top 10 Running moments of 2012:

10. ET Full Moon Midnight 51K - This was my 3rd 50K but also my first night race. This was one crazy run but a lot of fun since it was outside Area 51 and really made my inner geek happy. :) I may or may not have seen any UFOs or aliens but I did get to meet an RIFer there and got to run a lot of miles with Cliff and made a great friend. :)

9. Big Sur Trail Marathon - This was one of my slowest marathons so I'm kind of surprised I included it in this list. But it was hard and challenging and a beautiful run and it was the comeback race I needed after not getting my 50 miles in 2 weeks before it. And it was a fun and cool road trip that I could enjoy because I wasn't driving for once!

8. Leading Ladies Marathon - This was my first trip to South Dakota and I got to see Mt. Rushmore! Something I'd never thought I'd do. I did this only 2 weeks after the ET Full Moon Midnight 51K and didn't train for marathon speed and didn't taper but managed to pull out a 4:25 there so I was very happy with that. Not to mention the course was GORGEOUS and I got to meet 2 fellow RIFers (Run It Fast - The Club members) there. The Leading Ladies is my favorite marathon so far.

7. Crewing Josh at YT100 - I'm including this in MY running moments because although I didn't run, it was a great weekend of running and being inspired. Plus, I'd never been to Idaho or Wyoming before and I got to see plenty of both states while crewing for Josh (@bayou).

6. Flying Monkey Marathon - This was my 2nd race in Tennessee race and it was a ton of fun because I met so many RIFers there and got to catch up with some RIFers that I hadn't seen since February. Basically, it was like a big running party. And the bling was awesome!

5. My Birthday Run - Not a race but a run I did on my own on my birthday. I ran up Lower Monroe Truck Trail to watch the Tour of California. It's not often I get to combine 2 of my favorite things in one swoop. Not only did I get some great trail running and climbing in but I got to see boys on bikes (especially Jens Voigt)!

4. Disneyland Half Marathon - This was my first Disney race and it was a total kick. It made me feel like a kid and I was grinning from ear to ear the entire time. I also got to meet Teal & Beth (@LifeIsARun) there! Another total blast! The Disneyland Half is my favorite half marathon so far.

3. Joining Run It Fast - The Club - Not one running moment exactly. More like lots of them! Wearing the RIF shirt has been a ton of fun at the races...lots of cheers. It's also allowed me to make some great friends and get to know some very inspiring runners. I'm also getting to do a lot of fun stuff for the club like interviews and newsletters, etc. Some seriously major fun the whole year!

2. Endure the Bear 15K - This was my first race at altitude and it was hard, but beautiful! I went into it intending to run it hard and I did AND got 2nd in my age group! Woo! Loved, loved, loved getting on the podium. :) This one is definitely a fun memory. The day was made even better because Josh (@bayou) was there running the 50K and I got to meet and hang out with his family while we waited for him to finish the 50K. His kids are SO cute!

1. Jackson Jackass 50K - This was my first 50K and my first trip to Tennessee thanks to an invite from Josh (@bayou). It had poured the night before the 50K so the trail was a muddy mess  and it was HARD and I was nervous as hell but I finished it! And I got to hang out with some very cool, fun runners. Total blast!

So that's my top 10. Pretty cool list, huh? Kind of funny that I have 3 marathons on the list when I wasn't planning to run any this year. It was actually kind of hard to narrow it down to 10 because I left off some really cool runs like the Safari Park Half and Stonewall Peak Half. And I didn't even have room for my 1st 100K or all the other tweet-ups I had. Sheesh.

What a year! :) I was pretty lucky, eh?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holly Jolly Half Marathon Recap

On Sunday, I ran my 19 half marathon and it was my second weekend in a row for back –to-back races.

Sunday’s half was the Holly Jolly Half Marathon in Camarillo, CA. I didn't race this half marathon either. It would have been a good course to race though since it was double loop, flat road course and the weather was cool with a light rain. PR weather and course...but not for me.

I didn’t push myself during Saturday’s Paramount Ranch Trail Half so I didn’t feel tired and since it was a trail race, I didn’t feel beat up either. I was good to go for my last race of 2012!

This race didn’t start until 8 but was a little farther away so I only got to sleep in until 4:30. I got up, ate, got ready and then drove over to Camarillo. It was raining a little but for once there were no accidents on the freeways so I made it in good time. I got my shirt and bib and then went back to the car to stay warm. At the last minute, I decided to wear the shoes I’d worn for Saturday’s race so I spent about 30 minutes prying the mud from the trails off the shoes. What a mess! I almost gave up and wore the ones I’d driven over in but I would be thankful I did later.

The race started exactly on time after a few instructions from the RD and we headed out. The first 2ish miles were on the road and then we turned onto a river bike path for a while. It was nice and quiet and a good surface to run on. My left knee was a little sore from Saturday but after the first couple of miles it was fine. Although the majority of the course was flat, there were a couple of dips and small hills on the course and it was when we first hit those little downhills that I realized my quads were toasted from the day before. They did okay on the first lap though. I ran the first loop in a little under 1:15 and hoped the second loop would be the same.

When we headed out on the second loop, there was a man in front of me with a shirt that said Gooner 1 on it. I’m not sure why but I decided that I could not let someone with a shirt like that beat me! We were going pretty much the same pace but I was slowly reeling him in. Then about a mile into the second lap, he started walking a little so I passed him. But then he started running again and passed me back. :( But I just kept running my own pace. Pretty soon, he started walking again and I passed him again and then that was it. The course was a little curvy so I would catch glimpses of him behind me until about 4 miles to go. Then I wouldn’t see him again until the end.

Up until mile 11, I was thinking I would make it by 2:30 but at mile 11, my legs went dead and from that point on I started doing a run/walk. :( Mostly running with a small bit of walking here and there and the last mile had almost no walking. I kept looking over my shoulder for the Gooner guy because I still was not going to let me beat him! And I’d also passed a 14 year old boy around mile 10 and I didn’t want him to pass me back either. Hey, I’ll take motivation from wherever I can get it!

Finally, I was almost at the finish. We actually have to pass the finish and do a little out and back to get the whole mileage in which is not very nice. But it did give me a chance to see that boy again and then the Gooner guy so I could make sure they wouldn't catch me. ;) The Gooner guy gave me a smile and a little clap when he saw me and I laughed and smiled back. He must have known that I was using him to keep going!

And then I was across the line and I’d finished my 13th half marathon of the year in 2:35 and change. Blah. But I was just glad it was done. My legs were sore and tired and I was hungry! Here’s my medal:
Cute medal, eh? 

So that's all the coyote wrote for 2012 racing. I wish I could have ended 2012 with a bang instead of a whimper but I can’t be too upset because this was my 30th race of 2012. Looking back on my race history, I did a total of 18 races from 2009 to 2011. 18 races in 3 years versus 30 races in one year! And this was the first year I did some Christmas runs which are a lot of fun. I would not give up any of the medals/buckles/coasters I've earned this year so I would not have done anything different. I think. It was a fun, amazing year and I'm glad I did all this racing. If nothing else, I learned some good lessons!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Paramount Ranch Trail Half Marathon Recap

Today, I ran my 18th half marathon and the 12th this year. I had NO idea when I started 2012 that I would be running that many. It wasn't planned but I find that I really like running halfs. All the fun of a race, putting in some good miles and time on my feet, and I'm not beat up by them. Usually.

Once again, I had no plans to race this half. I wanted to do it but not dig myself into a deeper hole than I'm in. I wanted to do this one for a couple of reasons. First, Keira Henninger (@KeiraHenninger) puts on quite a few local races that I've heard great things about. I have a couple of them on my to-do list, especially her Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon and the Ray Miller 50/50. Second, this was the inaugural running of the Paramount Ranch Trail Half Marathon and it's held on an old western movie set on National Park Service Land. How often do you get to run a race on a movie set?! I could be discovered! Well, probably not...but you never know. ;)

So I was going to run it and take lots of pictures and just enjoy my time on the trails. No worries about cut-offs or pushing or pace. Just savor the adventure of a new trail. As an added bonus, I found out in the last couple of days that some runners I knew were going to be there. Yay!

I got up at 4, did my usual pre-race routine, and left about 4:45 for the race. I love early starts but they sure are hard when the drive to it is over an hour away. I got there a little after 6 and went to check in to get my bib and shirt. When I walked in the barn door, I was greeted by Tiffany (@RunningHutch) who I met in May when we volunteered for a 50K. We talked for a little bit and then I met Ricardo (@Ribeezie) who I met thru my blog. That's one great thing about wearing Run It Fast're easy to recognize! I went back to my car to stash my shirt and get my shoes. Then I hit the restrooms and went back to the barn to wait til it was time to race. I got to talk to Ricardo for a while more and then Ryan (from the Old Goat races and Big Bear) came in so caught up with him a little. Fun times! :)

The race started promptly at 7 after a few words from Keira about us paying attention so we wouldn't get lost. LOL. I think she was looking at me! Well, maybe not. But she could have been. So everyone, the 10K and half marathoners, set off together. It was a little crowded in the beginning so there were places we bunched up and had to walk but that was okay. I wasn't in a hurry.

The trail was lush and a little damp...and muddy. Yeah, cuz it rained pretty hard the past couple of days and there wasn't a chance for the trails to dry out. I hoped it wouldn't be too bad though! I was having JJ50K flashbacks! But no, it wasn't that bad. A little sloppy in parts but very run-able. It was foggy and overcast on the first loop but still very cool. It was pretty much all hills so we were either going up or down but there wasn't anything very technical.
I always worry that I'm going to hold people up so the 2nd loop was more fun for me. It really thinned out so it was just me an few others running about the same pace for most of that lap. The sun had burned off the fog and it was very pretty.
The only really technical part was a river crossing on boards. I'm happy to report I didn't fall in the river and I didn't fall in the mud! No falls for me today so that was a victory right there! I also found this sign which made me smile.
See...I was meant to run this race! I joked on Instagram that this is one of the reasons I get lost...too many choices on which direction to go. But I didn't get lost once although I had to think about which way to go once. But I also helped reel back in another runner who missed one of the turns. :) The course was really well marked and there were volunteers at some of the trickier turns but if you were daydreaming...which I was that one time...then you could go astray. Luckily, that didn't happen.

When I was on loop 1, I felt tired. I seriously thought about dropping to the 10K when I finished the first loop (well, it was actually 6.5ish miles) but when I got back to "town", I found myself in the lane for the 2nd loop and just kept going. I'm glad I did because I had more fun on the second loop. It was slower than the first but I stopped to take more pictures and talked to some fun runners and had a great time out there enjoying the views.

I was happy to finish. Yay! And get my medal from Keira...
Which I thought was very cool. :) My first pair of cowboy boots! And then I wandered around town for a while and took some pics.
And then I drove home.

I felt pretty good. My foot did great during the run. My left knee wasn't happy on the downhills but it was fine. I wasn't overly tired or achy. I feel okay with my effort today. I have another half tomorrow...the Holly Jolly Half Marathon...and I feel like I left enough in my legs to run it tomorrow. Hopefully. :)

All in all, today was a good day. The race was awesome: great course, great support and aid stations, well marked, and sweet bling (we also got a drawstring bag, a whistle, and the latest issue of Trail Runner besides the medal and the shirt). Definitely would recommend this race if you are looking for a fun trail run next year!

And most of all...mentally, I had a good day on the trail. Something I REALLY needed. Whew. :)

The only disappointment I have for the day is that I forgot to get pics with the Tiffany, Ricardo, and Ryan. Oh, and I didn't see any movie stars. Not even @bayou. Darn. ;)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nothing Is Impossible

But something's gotta change first.

So…I've been doing a lot of thinking about what I want to do next year. I actually started rethinking my goals for next year during the Death Valley Trail Marathon. I had a lot of time to think out there.

Do I want to keep doing marathons? Do I want to keep doing ultras? Do I want to continue my runstreak (Day 65 now)?

What do I want?

I feel like there are things I need to do next year…things I didn't finish this year...unfinished business. But right now I don't want to train for a 100 miler. I don't want to do Death Valley again.

Mostly, I don't want to be slow.

And that's my problem. I don't want to just finish or just get them done. I don’t want to have to worry about missing cutoffs. I want to finish strong AND fast. I don’t want to do a 100 miler or DVTM again until I know I can do them well.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about the Savage Gulf Marathon. I don’t really want to do it. I’ve seen the pictures and it’s beautiful but it’s also incredibly hard. He told me that right now, I wouldn’t be able to do it because I couldn’t make the cut off. Ouch! I know he’s right but damn it…I don’t want him to be right! :( Yeah, I know that’s contrary of me because I said I don’t want to do it but I do want to be that runner that he thinks COULD do it. Does that make sense?

One of the things that really frustrates me is that I see others who've been running as long as I have (or less) and they are running a LOT more…doing 100s or marathons every weekend…and getting PRs left and right. They’re pulling out BQs and going sub 24 at a 100 and running 20 min 5Ks. How come I'm not doing that? Why am I getting slower? What am I doing wrong?

I WANT to run ultras but I want to be fast too. I'm not sure I can do both right now. I think I need to work on getting my speed back. Really work on that. I can do that, right? It's not impossible. Nothing is impossible.

As much as I don’t want to, I think I need to cut back on racing long next year. Less tapering and recovering will give me more time to fit in speed work and tempos and hopefully leave me less exhausted so I can be faster. Right now I’m thinking that 3 marathons next year is all I should do. 2 for fun and 1 for fast. MAYBE 1 or 2 ultras in the form of a 10 HR or 12 HR so there's no pressure and I can just do what I want. I plan to fill up the rest of the year with 5Ks, 10Ks, and Halfs. Not a lot but enough to keep me satisfied and get me running/racing fast. 

It's so hard because there are so many great races out there. How do I pick just a few to do? I love racing. I love the atmosphere and pushing myself. Or at least I used to. It hasn't been like that lately so that's why I know I need to change something or I'll burn myself out. I definitely don't want to do that.

Here's what I'm planning:

My first marathon in 2013 will be the Bataan Memorial Death March in New Mexico in March. It's hard and hot and sandy but I want to experience it before the veterans are gone.

Then I will use that as a jump off for the Run Under The Stars 10 Hour Endurance run in Kentucky in June. I might do the Nanny Goat again or a 50K in May to celebrate my 45th birthday. Something special. (I'm open to ideas!).

After RUTS, I'll have 2.5 months to get ready for Leading Ladies in August. I think this will be the marathon that I race. I think I can do really well there. I liked the course and it was a beautiful place to run. Plus, I would like to explore more of the area.

My third marathon next year will hopefully be the Flying Monkey. I want to go back and run that better. I want to run it rested and after having trained specifically for it. I know it probably won't be a PR marathon for me but I want to put in a good effort there.

Right now I'm signed up for 2 half marathons in 2013 - the New Years's Half on January 5th and the Rock 'n Roll Los Angeles on October 27th. I would like to do at least one more new state next year so will look for something fun to do somewhere but the rest will probably be local halfs.

And then I'll fill in the year with a bunch of 5Ks and 10Ks.

My goal is to drop my PR for the 5K through the marathon next year. I'll flesh that out more the closer we get to 2013 but I wanted to put that out there for now. I also have an idea for my theme for next year but I'll wait on that too.

For now, I want to end on a fun note...I may not be having the greatest month running/riding wise...but I have had some good stuff happen. RIF #72 Natalie (@NattieRuns) was doing a SUPER Fundraising Raffle on her blog and I won not one but TWO items in the raffle! How cool is that? I won an Oiselle shirt and a bling holder from Allied Medal Displays. Allied Medal Displays contacted me last Monday and let me choose the display I wanted and it arrived a couple of days later. This is the one I chose.
Pretty cool, huh? I should be getting the Oiselle shirt this week. I am a lucky runner girl.

I might need a reminder of that every now and then though. Feel free to kick me in the butt if I start whining again. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Non-Racing Racing Weekend - Part 2

In yesterday's Part 1, I left off having picked up my shirt and bib for Sunday's Holiday Half Marathon. The bib was pretty festive and I had a nice surprise when I saw it because I'd forgotten that they put our names on them. I, of course, chose Coyote. :)
After the expo, I went to my grandpa's to shower and get ready for the 50th Anniversary party I was taking him too. The party was for his compadres (my grandparents baptized their daughter) and they had asked me to bring him to the party and then take photos while I was there. It wasn't long but it was more time on my feet when I should have been resting. I enjoy taking photos though so it was fun. The family photos were a riot too. Lots of characters in 5 generations. 

When it was over, I took my grandpa back home and then went back to my apartment to get ready for the next party for my friend Mondi's 40th birthday. It was a surprise party and I was looking forward to it because I hadn't seen her since Halloween and I hadn't seen most of the crowd in forever because of all the racing and traveling I did this year. I planned to leave around 10 to get home and get a good night's sleep before the next day. I'd also planned to eat before I went to make sure I ate the "proper" pre-race meal. But when I was getting ready for the party, I said "screw it, I'm going to have fun tonight". And if that meant I skipped Sunday's race, so be it.

So I went to the party and ate some awesome carne asada and carnitas tacos, had cake, and danced and laughed until almost midnight. I love to dance. I cannot not dance if I hear music. I can't help it. I hear the beat and my body just moves on its own. :) I was so tired when I got home. It had been a very long day but it was totally worth it. I really need to make sure I get to our gatherings more often because I heard "I haven't seen you in so long" too many times. :( It wasn't until then that I realized how much I missed out on the past year. 

Anyway, I fell into bed and set the alarm for the morning and figured I would see how I felt when it went off whether I would race or not. And oh boy, did I want to go back to sleep when the alarm went off but I got up and started getting ready. Only I wasn't prepared and it was a scramble to get my stuff together and I cut it pretty close getting to the start. But luckily, they started a little late. When I was walking up to the start, I heard the announcer say something about the Jester Nation and I realized that RIF #121 Ed was there so I found him and got a picture.
Love his Christmas Jester hat! 

Notice I'm wearing headphones? I don't usually race with music. The only time I've done that is at the 2 12HRs and at JJ100 but I felt like I needed it for this race. There weren't as many people dressed up for this one but still a lot of festive gear. No Santa hat for me on but I did wear a green bandanna and red calf sleeves. :)

The race started at 8:15 and it was pretty crowded. A lot more people (about 5000) than I expected for a home town race. This race starts and ends inside the LA County Fairgrounds and goes around Bonelli and the surrounding areas. I knew it would be a rolling hills course and my only goal was to finish in 3 hours and I wasn't even sure I would hit that. I figured I would probably walk the hills. I had purposely not worn my Run It Fast shirt (sorry Josh :( ) because I did not have the proper attitude going into this. My level of caring on whether I completed this was non-existent. I hadn't even told my mom I was racing it because she lives a few blocks from the Fair and I knew she would probably come see me and I didn't want her to see my suck. But I knew I would be pissed at myself for not getting to the starting line so that's why I showed up. Who knew what was going to happen.

I wore my garmin for this race mostly because I wanted to at least TRY to get in by 3 hours. I wish I could say I found a deep reserve and raced it well but I didn't. I just ran. It was kind of fun running thru the Fair and we got to run on the NHRA drag strip (twice - leaving and returning to the Fair grounds). And I loved running thru Bonelli because the familiarness was nice. I knew what was coming and that I'd done it tons of times before and I could do it again. I think the fact that I was familiar with what the course was like helped me run it better than I expected because suddenly it was mile 9 and I looked at my watch and did some quick calculations and figured that all I had to do was 12 min miles for the rest of the run and I could finish around 2:30. So that was the new goal and it helped at the end because everything hurt: my feet, my knees, my left hamstring, my left shin. After just 13 flipping miles. Sigh. 

But I finished. 13.44 miles in 2:30:25. And I got my medal which I thought was cool and I love the green ribbon. 
So the race didn't totally suck. I beat my time goal by a lot more than I expected/hoped. I'd only walked 3 times for a little bit of the steepest hills. It was great to see all the Students Run LA there. Loved seeing all of them and hope they continue with running for a long, long time. I wish I'd started back then! I also got to see some fun costumes and got to see Ed. Who, by the way, parked himself at mile 13 after he finished to greet/cheer on the returning runners.
The way he gives back is the total opposite of how I feel I'm doing right now. I'm so sorry that I've gone MIA. I have some things to figure out and I need to get my head on straight and then I'll be back and I won't be so anti-socialnetwork anymore. I hope. I know that it's because I'm still so tired. After Sunday's half, I went home and went to bed. And pretty much stayed there the rest of the day, sleeping off and on. My legs and feet were really sore and I was wiped. I went back to running a 1 mile streak saver yesterday but it took me 20 minutes to get out the door for that. I just sat on my bed debating whether or not to go and finally made it out the door. I also am still not bike commuting. Half of me feels guilty about this and half of me could care less. I feel like right now my theme song could be this:
It IS getting better though. This morning, I made it out the door without any debate. I planned another 1 mile streak saver and ended up doing 5K and it didn't suck. It was slow but I felt like a runner. I even thought about doing 4 miles but decided that wouldn't be smart. No bike commute today because I took the day off but at least the thought doesn't make me cringe. 

Next weekend will be more of the same. I signed up for back-to-back halfs this coming weekend and I intend to get to the start line for both of them but not race them. I CANNOT add more DNSs to the year and I'm just praying I won't add another DNF. I HAVE to finish 2012 on a positive note. This has been an amazing year for me and I don't want a crappy December to be the thing that lingers when I think back on 2012. If that means it takes me longer to recover, then I'm okay with it. I don't really have anything planned for 2013 yet anyway. Mostly because I don't know what I want to do yet.

So the weekend wasn't pretty but I got 3 more races in, got a fun shirt and a cool medal, and had some fun. That's what counts, right?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Non-Racing Racing Weekend - Part 1

This past weekend, I was signed up for 3 races. I wasn’t sure if I was going to do any of them. I didn’t really want to do them. But I’d already paid the money for them and I wasn’t injured and there were no family commitments keeping me from doing them (my only 2 acceptable excuses for a DNS, Did Not Start) so I ran them. I don’t know if it was smart or put me in a worse place but they are done. On Saturday, I ran the Santa Monica-Venice Christmas Run 10K and 5K. It took me back to the place where I’d run the Summer Spectacular and ran myself into the ER. I’d hoped to run a 10K PR on Saturday to slay the dragon from that day and tie Santa Monica to good memories instead of bad. I’ve never done a Christmas run either so I was looking forward to the holiday spirit.

The only other 10K I’ve done is the San Dimas Turkey Trot 10K and that is with rolling hills and a little dirt. This would be my first 10K on a flat, road course and in cool weather so I was hoping to pull out a really good run there. It seemed like the perfect recipe for a PR. I’d planned on running the 5K after sensibly. Unless I felt really good. ;)

Well, at least that was my hope when I signed up for it. On Saturday, I woke up at 4am and got ready and left by 5 to get down to the race. I had to get there with enough time to get my shirt and bib and take the shirt back to the car and you never know about traffic in So Cal. Sure enough, one of the freeways I'd planned take had all lanes blocked by an accident and I had to take a different route and ended up getting lost twice on the way there. Even got turned around and was heading back towards home. Hey, it was foggy! But I was thisclose to just going back home. It was a whole lotta trouble for a 10K and a 5K.

But I eventually got there and got my shirt and bib.I had bought a Santa hat on Friday and I planned to wear that for the run but when I saw the shirt and how cute it was, I decided to wear it for the race. To put me more in the holiday fun spirit.
So I quickly changed and headed back to start and got there just as they were calling us to get in the corrals. I got in the start chute and checked out the costumes around. There were Santas and elves and reindeer and snowmen and a penguin. All the usual suspects. Very cute costumes. I really need to step it up for next year.

The race started at 7:30 and it started right on time. We took off thru the streets of Santa Monica and there were a couple of out and back sections so we got to see the fast guys and then got to see a lot more costumes which was cool. While running, I also saw a candy cane (which didn't look like an easy outfit to run in!) and a Rudolph and his 8 reindeer buddies pulling a sled with a Santa in it (also didn't look like an easy outfit to run in!). And lots of cute dogs and kids in strollers also dressed for the occasion. It was a lot of fun and helped pass the time.

I was just running easyish. I didn't wear my garmin so had no idea what my pace was. I had my watch but I didn't see any mile markers except at the 5K point and then for mile 6 so didn't really know how I was doing for most of it. I just remember I felt tired and I was ready for it to be over pretty much from when it started but just kept going. After what seemed like forever, we hit Venice Beach and there was just a mile and a half left to go. Venice is full of a lot of crazy people and a lot of street art. There wasn't too much of that yet because it was so early though. Then we had one tiny hill and then it was sweep into the finish. I finished my 5th 10K in 1:05 and change.

I tried not to think about what might have been but I have to say I was a little disappointed. And tired (after only 10K! Who is this person I've become?). And thirsty. So I headed over to the food and grabbed a water and a banana and looked around while I waited for the 5K to start at 9:15. I'll admit I looked at the results when they were posted and I felt like telling everyone around me "I didn't race that.". But I didn't.

Finally, they called us for the 5K start and I gotta tell you...I almost just went home. Why the heck was I running a 5K when I was tired already? There was no medal at the end. I already had the shirt. Why? But I got in the chute. Because that's what I do. I had a total sense of deja vu as I waited in there, looking at costumes, and listening to the Star Spangled banner. I felt like I'd done this already. Oh, wait...I had! Sorry. Couldn't resist. Anyway, we started off promptly at 9:15 and headed out back on to the course which was mostly the same except we didn't have to do 2 of the out and backs of course.

I wasn't any more tired than before and again I didn't have my garmin so I felt like I was running slower than I had in the 10K but this went by much more quickly. I don't know why. I finished this one in 32 minutes and change. Turns out I ran them consistently. The 10K was at a 10:32 pace and the 5K was at a 10:31 pace. Weird! So disappointing that I didn't have it in me to race them but also glad that I did them. I'd been wanting to do a double race like that and I think I could do good if I went into it rested and ready but this was not the year. You know what that means! Yep, I'm gonna have to go back next year and I'll do even better because now I know what the course is like and what to expect.

I seem to have a lot of unfinished business from this year. Sigh.

Anyway, when it was over, I walked back to the car and headed home. I had a busy day ahead...a 50th Anniversary party at 1 and then a 40th birthday party at 6:30. And I wanted to pick up my shirt and bib for Sunday's race. Which I did and during the walk to the expo, I thought "If I'm this tired after a measly 9.3 miles...with a rest in the am I going to get thru Sunday's half?".

I guess I would find out soon enough.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Death Valley 2, Lisa 0

On Saturday, I ran the Death Valley Trail Marathon...and did not finish.I wasn't hurt. I didn't fall. My left calf that was bothering me leading up to it was fine. My foot was fine. I didn't have problems with heat. I was just too slow.

I had no doubts about finishing this when I went into it. Maybe I was being ignorant but it didn't have as much elevation gain as the Flying Monkey (which I finished in 5:16) or the Big Sur Trail Marathon (which I finished in 5:40) and it had a fabulous downhill at the half way point so I THOUGHT I would finish between 4:45 and 5 and easily beat the 6 hour time limit.

This was actually going to be my second attempt to run this race since it was cancelled last year because of high winds. I ended up running 26.2 miles on my own then since I needed to get the miles in but it wasn't thru Titus Canyon (you can read that blog post here). It was one of the most expensive races I never ran, not only because of the price of the marathon ($110) but also because there's pretty much only 2 hotels in the area and your choices are $$$ or $$$$. Oh, and I got a speeding ticket. Yeah, last year sucked.

But when they said they would give us a credit to use for this year, I signed up again.I had to. I had unfinished business and I wanted to run thru Titus Canyon. They had given me a medal and shirt last year but I didn't "earn" it. I needed to earn them.I wanted that race listed as official in my Race History page. I did a LOT more hill running this past year and I was ready for it!

Except I guess I wasn't.

In my San Dimas Turkey Trot Recap, I talked about how disappointed I was with my time there. I think I'd run myself into a black hole during the ARR Thanksgiving Classic 10 Mile I ran on Thanksgiving. That and the fall combined to really zap my energy. I never really recovered after that and started feeling really tired and cranky that week and by Tues/Wed was toast. I almost cried at work and that's when I knew I was in trouble. I felt stressed, tired, and depressed. So I decided to shorten my run to a 5K and skip the bike commute on Thursday and then on Friday I ran 5K but skipped my regular strength routine and drove to work again. I tried to get a lot of sleep too. I felt better by Saturday morning - less emotional and less tired but it probably was not enough.

Because of my job, it's hard for me to take time off on the last and 1st days of the month but it can happen. The only problem is that I had already done that a couple of times this year so I had to work the November close. Luckily we close at 4 so once I do that, I can leave. And that was the plan. Part of the plan anyway.

The whole plan was that I would carbo load at lunch since I would be driving 4-4.5 hours to Death Valley and would arrive too late to eat. Well, too late for me since I like to eat the night before the race at least 12-13 hours before the start. I didn't get a chance to go out to lunch though so ended up eating 2 little frozen burritos and picking up some Uncrustables to eat as I drove. Turns out those 2 meals are probably not the best carbo loading meals I could have eaten but you do what you gotta do, right.

There wasn't too much traffic so I arrived  in Death Valley about 8:15 and then checked in and got my room. I walked over to the little store for orange juice for breakfast and then went back and got my race stuff ready for the morning and then watched tv for a while. I set my alarm for 5 the next morning and went to bed some time after 11.

On Saturday, I woke up up at 4 and couldn't go back to sleep. I eventually got up, ate, showered, and got ready. Then I loaded up my car and went to the race check-in to pick up my bib and pay the park fee. (Oh yeah, more money you have to spend for this race). I saw RIF #24 Emily (@trailjunke) and Josh (@bayou) picking up their bibs and then we all met up again to wait for the bus that would take us to Titus Canyon. It was a beautiful morning in Death Valley!

The bus ride over took a while and we joked around the whole ride. Josh asked me about what I thought I would do and I told him I would be very happy to finish around the same time as Malibu. I should have told him I would be happy to finish but I think I was lying to myself still at that point. I wasn't nervous at all but I wasn't excited either. When we got there, I hit the porta pottie and then we took a couple of pics and then it was time to race.

The race started just after 8:30. There was no start line, no gun, just when the brake lights went off on the RDs car, we should start running. We were near the back so all of sudden we saw runners heading out and we took off too.

I felt okay at the beginning. I wasn't pushing it and was just running relaxed. I think the first couple of miles were around an 11:30 pace and there were a few stops to take pictures.

I wasn't really looking at my watch. I just knew I wanted to make it to the top by 3 hrs. I figured with the downhill after, I would have plenty of time. But I started getting slower not much but enough that I was starting to worry a little. I had some good speed on the small downhill before the peak at Red Pass so still felt like I would make it. The views thru here were amazing. This is looking back on the climb back up to the peak after the downhill.

I hit mile 12 at 3:05, I think and then the top at 3:20. I figured all I had to do was do 12 minute miles on the downhill and I would still be good. Piece of cake, right? I mean, it's downhill! I figured it would be more like 10:00 min miles. So I took a few minutes to take in the view and get a couple of photos. Luckily, there was a group of geology students at the peak so I asked one of them to take my picture.

And then I headed down the hill to the finish. And that first mile was 11:48. And the next one was 12 something and then 13 something and I was so flipping frustrated! I had NOT pushed to hard on the uphills. I SHOULD have had plenty left for the downhill but my legs refused to go any faster. What the hell! It never got better. It just got worse. My energy was totally zapped and I felt a little shaky at times so started walking. I should have stopped at the aids stations to take more food in (they only had food in the second half) but I didn't want to waste time. And with no porta potties out there or few and far between, I didn't want to risk stomach issues. I had GuBrew in my bottle and that's usually enough for a marathon.

And some point, I think around mile 16/17, I realized I was not going to make the strict (or so I thought) cut off of 6 hours.

I gave up.

Part of me hoped the sweeper van would come along and pick me up so I could just get it over with! I was done. Cooked. Road kill.

I waffled back and forth for a while. I'd cry and start running. Then give up. I'd cuss myself out and start running again. Then give up. It was not pretty. I did not want to be the Lisa who gives up when the going gets tough. I am not that Lisa anymore. But I was just so tired I just didn't care anymore.

Maybe if would have helped if I knew there was a cool, shiny medal waiting at the finish line for me but they'd given me one last year and it wasn't that great so no motivation there.

You know those geology students I mentioned? They were in 4 cars and when I heard them coming, I cringed because I thought for sure they were the sweeper car. I knew then that all hope was not gone so I just kept running and walking. The scenery was still pretty cool but it was lonely. At the last aid station I passed, a couple of the girls there asked if they could run with me for a little bit and they brightened my mood a lot. But it was too late.

Just before mile 22, a truck went by with one of the race people and he told me "the van is coming" and I deflated. But then the next car that went by was a van and it didn't stop and I thought "ooh, maybe I'm far enough along that they'll let me finish". At Big Sur, they'd had a cutoff of 6 hours too but recorded runners thru 6:34 so I thought maybe I still had a chance to finish on my own.

But I was wrong. The next car I heard slowed to a stop beside me and the RD said "sorry, but you have to get in". So my day was over. We picked up 3 more runners in Titus Canyon but there were a few still a couple of miles from the finish that he let continue even though they wouldn't make the cutoff either. He said then that the cutoff was the published time but that he let people finish until about 6:20 if they were out of the canyon.


I was SO pissed at myself when I heard that. If only I hadn't given up. If only I'd kept running instead of giving in to the pity party.


When I got back to the finish, I jumped on the bus for the drive back to the hotel. Once I got there, I was just going to get in my car and drive home but then decided I needed a little company so I wouldn't drive upset. I found Josh at the pool and then Emily showed up too. After a while, we went to eat at the restaurant. It was a good dinner, more so because of the company than the food, and it really helped. Thank you Josh and Emily for cheering me up! I drove home after that and got home about 10:15. It was a LONG day and I was glad it was over.

So...I haven't really been running since then. I've done 1 mile streak savers the past 3 days. I was sore, especially my lower back (which is partly from missing the last step while going down the stairs on Sunday) and I'm not sure when I'll get back to real running. I haven't been bike commuting either. I don't feel like doing anything. I have 3 races this weekend - a 10K/5K double and then a Half on Sunday and I don't know if I'm going to race them yet.

I know it's just a race and a DNF is not the end of the world. But I don't WANT to be THAT girl who gives up. I am tired of being slow. I'm tired of having to worry about cut offs. I'm just flipping tired.

And I don't know what to do because I don't feel like running or reading about running or talking about running. I'm sick of it all right now!

But at the same time, I love to run. I love the adventure and the amazing places I've been and the crazy beautiful landscapes I've seen and all the wonderful people I've met. I love that I've traveled to places I've never been and done things I'd never though possible.

I just...

I just don't know what I want to do anymore.