Category Archives: TRAIL RUNNING

IT CHEEPED

This weekend Pigeon and I continued with our training by heading out to Auburn for a long run. We have not been to the Overlook since well before Thanksgiving. I admitted to her early on in the run that my motivation was lacking lately and that I had hoped that this run would bring back that excitement. Running up in Auburn always seems to ignite something within that gets me excited about the running and racing road ahead.

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We met at the Auburn Dam Overlook or ADO at 7:30. Waking up was really hard for me. I was just tired and it seemed so cold in our house that I figured it had to be colder outside. I decided to wear my Athleta Relay Capris for this run. I have never worn capris or tights on a long run before, not even for CIM. I wanted to give it a try to test how hot I might be on the run.

There were not many car at the overlook when I arrived but I saw Pigeon’s car. We pretty much both jumped out, changed out of warmer clothes and started off down the trail. I didn’t bring any gloves which normally is fine as I tend to take them off anyway but today I was carrying a water bottle which mean my hand would be holding a cold bottle. Ouch. Pigeon had gloves. I went digging into my car and I found my weight lifting gloves that I keep in the car for my Breakout Fitness workouts. Basically they are gloves minus the finger tips. I don’t typically care what I look like when I run, I just throw on some stuff (usually I match) and go. Well these gloves not only matched they totally worked at keeping the palm of my hand warm while holding the bottle. Pigeon laughed at me but it was okay. I actually kept the gloves on for the entire run too.

My legs were stiff. My back has been giving me problems all week and I think the tight muscles in my back are streaming down the back of my legs and hitting my hamstrings. Not totally uncommon. It was definitely hard to feel free and flexible on this run.

At one point we saw three deer just walking across our trail. Shortly after we saw Diane Cressey and stopped for a quick hello. Then we rounded a corner and continued on when all of sudden I heard some rustling in the bush next to me which caused me to jump which caused whatever was in the bush to jump too and take flight and it started chirping quite loudly. I flew even higher which caused Pigeon to do this crazy ballerina move in the air. She really got some air between herself and the ground, I was quite impressed. She was like “What!? What is it?!” totally panicked at whatever had scared me. I yelled, “It cheeped!? It cheeped!” She stops and looks at me, “It cheeped? Don’t birds CHIRP? Not cheep?” We laughed and I still stand by the fact that little birds can “cheep” it is the action verb of “chirp” … um yea, sticking with that. 🙂

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Back to the run, we ran over No Hands Bridge and up the hill towards K2. I have not run up K2 since I ran with Pigeon and Be-Well-Run two summers ago. It felt a lot easier climbing this time than it did before which made me feel a little better.

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We eventually found ourselves at the Cool Fire Station where I made a brief pitstop. Then it was back towards ADO. When we hit the down hill section leading to No Hands Bridge Pigeon took off. She was just coasting the downs and I wanted to as well but had this nagging feeling in the back of my head (fear?) that I didn’t want to roll my ankle again. With my hamstrings and back slowly cramping up, I was just a little hesitant. I long for the day when I can fly down that trail though. It’s just a great trail with easy footing (minus a few rocks and roots).

Once we hit No Hands Bridge we stopped so I could stretch out my back and my quads which like I said, were really feeling super tight. I think at that point, Pigeon realized her quads were not feeling as springy as they might have felt at the start.

The trail back to ADO from No Hands was long and slow. We did walk/hike quite a bit both of us just feeling the day’s work on the trail. I just have to be patient with myself and realize that one run doesn’t determine my fitness and one run two weeks after a road marathon (that I didn’t train for) shouldn’t feel like a total walk in the park.

The run this weekend did accomplish something though, it motivated me and got me excited about running again. I am looking forward to my workouts this week which I have to do solo but I promise myself I will do despite it being holiday week and not having to work a few days this week.

As with most holidays, I am sure everyone is feeling some stress. Just remember to be patient with yourself, life and others. Not every day will be an easy training day.

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Squeaker: I love you SiSi! I love to follow you, copy you, break your toys and annoy you.

Peanut: Leave me alone.

🙂

~Trailmomma

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CIM 2013 RACE REPORT

Three months and 3 days ago I had my ankle surgery and today I ran the California International Marathon.  A few weeks ago, this was not my plan. A few weeks ago I  thought about perhaps running 13 maybe 15 miles of it and then calling a friend to come and pick me up.

What changed? I am not really sure. I think when Pigeon and I ran our 14 miles in Auburn I felt a little stronger and more confident but at the same time, I had finished that run in some ankle discomfort. Then we went to Tahoe for Thanksgiving and I had some decent 5 mile runs on the road and figured, “Why the heck not? Why not start the race and just see what happens?”

When my friend and running buddy, TiggerT offered to get my packet and give me a ride to start she joked that doing all of that would require that I run all 26.2 miles with her as she had not had the best training either for the marathon.

The day before the race I had attended the Western States Lottery in Auburn and then I traveled up to Apple Hill with the family to find a Christmas Tree … in the snow.

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It was a wonderfully cold and wet day that resulted in a larger than life tree that is currently taking over our living room.

I went to bed immediately after the girls and had probably one of the most restful sleeps I have had in a while. I woke up at 4 am feeling rested and excited about the race. I dressed and made my way to the kitchen to have my bowl of oatmeal and tiny cup of coffee.

Soon TiggerT arrived with a truck full of trouble friends. It was 24 degrees outside. That.is.cold for this area. Super cold. Luckily I found our goodwill pile in the garage at the last-minute and discovered an old pair of yoga pants that I was going to toss. I grabbed them and cut the ankles a bit so they’d fit over my running shoes.

I have to admit, TiggerT had the whole morning of CIM dialed down complete with multiple porta potty stops. Eventually we found ourselves near the starting line ready to go. The first mile was pretty uneventful. I never stripped any of my layers the entire race because the temps never seemed to rise very much.

Mile 3 is when insanity started. All the aid-stations were sheets of black ice. We’d approach them running only to slide about 3 feet trying eagerly not to fall. I saw quite a few men slip feet in the air landing flat on their backs. I heard that a few people fell and hit their heads. It was brutal. At one of the aid-stations I slipped while walking and holding my water cup only to have the water fly up and up and out of my cup and land on my head. The lady next to me laughed. I did too.

By mile 13 the bottoms of my feet hurt. It felt like I had no padding on the bottoms of my feet. It was not the feeling I wanted to have that early in the race but I couldn’t help but notice that my ankle was doing great.

At one point we caught up with one of TiggerT’s friends and ran with her. She mentioned to me that the bottoms of her feet were killing her too and for some reason, that made feel a lot better. My shoes are pretty new so the only explanation is that perhaps it was lack of training (imagine that).

I took two Tylenol around mile 15 hoping that might help the pain. A lot of the in-between miles TiggerT and her friend would be chatting away to waving to people they knew. I kept fairly quiet trying hard not to go into a mental zone but I was doing an internal check to see if perhaps I might pull off and call a friend to pick me up.

The next thing I know we are at mile 20. The miles truly flew by and we walked through almost every water station (at my request) as it seemed to break up the monotony as well as keep us safe during the icy conditions. Mile 20 is a special mile. Not only is the aid-station near my old house but Vans and the girls had surprised me by being there!! It was the lift I needed. I don’t think I would have quit (who quits with 6 miles to go!?) but it made it much easier to continue having seen them.

The last six miles of CIM are brutal though. You start running through a neighborhood where the streets are numbered so of course mentally you are looking at the street numbers counting down. This year I was smart and never once looked at the street numbers, not even through the downtown stretch (okay, maybe I looked once and it was bad idea).

I believe around mile 24 I turned to TiggerT and said “Tell me a story. I don’t care what, but tell me a story.” TiggerT came to my rescue and told me a story about running in Boston. You have to love her. At one point she turned to me and said “are we stopping for water?” and I was like, “no! no more stopping” and we pretty much jammed to the finish.

Soon the turn towards the Capital was there and we cruised into the finish. Our unofficial time was 4:30. That is by far my worst marathon time but I had a good time and I finished feeling okay. I still feel okay. Of course I am a little bit stiff and tomorrow may be a whole different story but today is a good day. This was my 5th CIM and my 6th marathon total and while I don’t recommend running one without training, I am kind of on a high that I actually did it. The body is an amazing thing and often times you can find strength when you thought you had none and sometimes, that takes having an awesome friend believe in you.

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Fueling Session

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TiggerT, Me and friend

~Trailmomma

 

 

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WESTERN STATES LOTTERY

Today was another one of those “kick myself” moments. I was sitting in the auditorium at Placer High School in Auburn, waiting for the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run lottery to start. I was there because my friend and training partner Pigeon was hoping to have her name announced.

She has previously entered the race three other times plus the current entry which brings her tally to four tickets with her name written on it amongst thousands in the bin. She also was entered into the “lottery within the lottery” for just being present at the auditorium, kind of a ‘last chance’ if you will.

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Pigeon with her “last chance” ticket.

We had arrived pretty early because the weather was bad and the parking is notoriously difficult and because Pigeon wanted a good seat. While we sat and waited I watched her talk with tons of other runners who had showed up hoping for a chance to toe the line at states in 2014. After that the race entry requirements change and the race will become even more difficult to enter, hence why everyone really wanted to get picked this year.

While I was sitting there I saw legends like Gordy Ansleigh who is the founder of the Western States Run, Tim Tweitmeyer who is a legend in Auburn as well within Western States and so many other people who I have heard about, read about or perhaps even passed occasionally on the trail. The feeling was really surreal.

The great thing about ultra-runners is that they are the most friendly supportive people you will come across. That competitive drive is not really on the surface and they are more than happy to cheer for a buddy or an acquaintance then bring them down.

Unfortunately Pigeon’s name was not called for the 2014 Western States, and I know she is really bummed about that. However I know in my heart that her first 100 will happen when the timing is right.  I can’t say exactly when that will be but Pigeon is and always has been about redemption. It is practically her middle name.

She suffered miserably during the Sierra Nevada Endurance Run a few years ago only to redeem herself the following year. I have no doubts that Pigeon can conquer 100 miles. She is one of the toughest runners I know.

I hope to have her strength and perseverance tomorrow when I am at the starting line for the California International Marathon. I am not a fool to think that I will do well or PR tomorrow, not 3 months post ankle surgery but if I can have just one ounce the strength that Pigeon does, I will be happy.

I apologize for the lack of posting on the blog lately. We were away on vacation as a family over the Thanksgiving holiday and I was enjoying the quiet family time. It was a glorious week giving me lots of time to think and boy did I think … I’ll be back to share how CIM turned out and perhaps will share some of my recent news with you all tomorrow.

Happy Trails.

~Trailmomma

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PIPELINE

I’ve been thinking a lot about 2014. Generally I like to think I am a “live in the now” kind of person. However, by nature I plan. I make lists for myself and the kids whenever we travel (for Van’s it is kind of hopeless), I write out grocery lists and meal plans for the week but for the most part, I would like to live a life of spontaneity and with no regrets. Of course having two kids under the age of 5 inherently makes that very difficult (um, nap time).

However, when it comes to running and training, I have generally never jumped into a race “just because” or signed up for something last-minute. I always get the “early bird” sign up and never the “day of” registration. That is just the way I have been programmed. I have learned my lesson a few times by signing up for races and then having ankle surgery.

But I have been putting a lot of thought into my 2014 racing/running plans. Way back before my surgery I even made (yet another) list of the races that I wanted to do. I tried to ease myself back into things with Resolution Run in January in Auburn followed by that little old thing called the Western States Training Run in February and well, that itty bitty race called Way Too Cool 50K in March. However, WTC is a lottery and what if I didn’t get into the lottery next year? Of course I’d have to sign up for the Tahoe Rim Trail 50K too (which is also a lottery for 2014). Both Way Too Cool and Tahoe Rim sign ups are in December so essentially, I have to sign up for BOTH at the same time and run the risk of being picked for BOTH races. I am not, by nature, a lucky person. Lucky things do not happen to me generally but I think in this case, I WILL get picked for both races because well, that would be Vans’s bad luck (and my good fortune) butting heads.

I also just discovered that the American River 50 Mile race, which I had no intentions of doing again, at least not this year, had a course change. The start is about a mile from my house (again)! Now if that is not fate knocking on my door I don’t know what is. Right? (Van’s don’t answer that).

My other main focus in 2014 is pacing. Pigeon is throwing her name into the Western State 100 Mile race again and I am finally healthy should she choose me to be her pacer. My love of all things Western States stems back to my first few months in California (1999) when my local PBS station (and past employer) did a documentary on the race (Race for the Soul). I fell in love then and the love still stands. I was fortunate enough in 2010 to do a few of the WS training runs as part of my training for AR50 and then for fun after AR was done. That is my goal this year. I want to be out there on Memorial Day weekend running those beautiful trails again getting muddy, wet and dirty but having the time of my life! I love it. I have goosebumps just typing about it.

I have too much to think about and all of it wonderful. I truly am lucky in that my surgery was done well and I am back running and feeling so great. My only hurdle these days is time but I am managing. I have a lot of support in Vans, my girls, my running and non-running friends as well a few new friends that I have met along the way.

I am healthy, my family is healthy and we have so much to be thankful for these days. This solo parenting week has really opened my eyes to how lucky I am. Spending quality time with my girls has really been wonderful. They  make me laugh daily and I love to make them laugh. I love seeing bits and pieces of Vans and myself in them and I only hope that we can pass on our love of the outdoors, sweat, fitness and being active to each of them. What they decide to do with that is their choice. We don’t demand that they are competitive but as long as they can realize and understand how movement can improve how they feel and how they think. We are blessed with healthy bodies and our job is to keep them healthy.

my girls

How are you treating your gift today?

~Trailmomma

 

 

 

 

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BACK ON THE TRAILS

First let me say thank you to all of you that read my last post. I appreciate those that commented, shared it on Facebook or even emailed me directly in support. I also thank those that didn’t necessarily agree with my post and told me as such. As a reminder, that post was the letter that I WISH I could have sent to the PTA President and was not the actual letter I emailed (which was much nicer, sort of). My biggest issue with her initial response was how dismissive and rude she was to me and my concerns. She clearly could have just said something along the lines of “thank you for your email. I understand your concern and will take that into advisement next year when planning.” But she didn’t do that. Instead she tried to draw me into championing a new game to rival the ring toss and was downright rude about it. I am not going to beat a dead horse about this. I sent my letter last week in response and I cc’d the school principal so she was made aware of what her PTA president was doing and how she handled parent’s concerns. I have not heard anything from either one of them. I will be more on top of things next year when our Harvest Festival planning is in the works.

This past weekend marked a small running milestone for me. On Friday I was able to run the Ridge Loop of Death (7 miles) for the first time and boy was it disastrous. Not only was it sweltering (what the heck, it IS October right?) but I had forgotten that I had gone to Breakout Fitness that morning and had done a series of leg drills (squats, burpees, lunges). Not the wisest decision on my part however, I was thrilled to be getting an extra day out running in the first place since I don’t often get extra days to run. This also was the first time since surgery that I did the Ridge Loop of Death!

On Sunday, Pigeon and I had agreed to run when she got off from work which would be late afternoon. In a way, I enjoyed this late start because I was able to enjoy a nice leisurely morning with my family but it was also harder to motivate and figure out the meal situation. However, I could not complain because Pigeon had been on her feet working a 9 hour day prior to meeting me so really, hush up Trailmomma right?

I decided that I wanted to test out my new socks. I recently purchased the Injinji lightweight no-show socks (from Amazon).

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I don’t typically (knock on wood) have blister issues when running but I have noticed that my running form has suffered post-surgery because I have been running as if my ankle is GOING to hurt and therefore have been running on the outside of my foot. The Injinji socks really let you focus on putting more weight evenly on the front/ball of the foot including the big toe. The sock is really light weight, almost nonexistent compared to my Drymax socks that I usually wear when running trails. I am not entirely sure how these socks will hold up when running through streams and river crossings but overall on a dry hot day, they were great. I really liked how they felt and I didn’t have any issues when running. I purchased two pairs and will continue to wear them running to see how their fare through some winter running. Maybe I’ll do a search and see if they have a trail version that is perhaps a bit thicker. I have an old pair that I won years ago when they first came onto the market but I prefer the no-show look and the older pair was more of a crew sock.  Okay enough about socks.

Pigeon showed up and instead of taking her on the Ridge Loop of Death we decided to try a new loop that Vans suggested that takes us on a bit of road and trails but ultimately dumps us into Browns Ravine and we found ourselves running right by a very dried up Folsom Lake.

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Brown’s Ravine

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Folsom Lake

It was a fun run and I brought my phone because well, running with Pigeon always involves the historical pretend we’re in a JCPenny Catalog Photo Shoot (probably just an excuse to stop running periodically).

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JCP Photo: Voila, the Trail!

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JCP Photo: Oh dear, what’s my time?

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JCP Photo: Focusing on the sun.

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JCP Photo: Mighty Thirsty

The weather was pretty warm and sunny with little shade cover on most of the trail. I was having a blast. Running with Pigeon is fun regardless but just being back out there running up the hills (or power walking) and getting a little dusty felt awesome. Once we found ourselves on the levee by the lake we took the pavement back to my house by cutting through a fairly festive neighborhood.

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Scary spider!

In total, we did about 7.25 miles which is roughly what the Ridge Loop of Death is distance wise. No matter what you are running some massive hills on either route but I would say the hills on the Browns Loop were a bit worse and/or steeper. There seemed to be more of them and maybe that is just my recollection because I was dying from the heat and from being out of shape. Baby steps. Our fitness is coming.

Gear: For this run, besides my new Injinji socks, I also sported Athleta’s Stability Shorts  in black and their Printed Tinker Tank both of which are on sale (hint hint). The shorts I love and wear often (I have 3 different colors) and the tank,  which I usually reserve for Breakout Fitness type workouts did well for me on the run although I had to pair it with a sports bra for added support. When I can, I will try and do gear updates like this as often as I can so that perhaps someday Athleta will give me a shout out and welcome me into their wonderful world as a Featured Athlete. (hint hint). For hydration I brought my Camelback insulated handheld. I love this water bottle. I never leaks, holds enough cold water for distances up to 10 miles or so and has a handy little pocket that fits gels or in my case, dates in it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about 2014 and what runs I’ll be doing next year. Perhaps I’ll do a post on what my plans are and what I’d like to accomplish next year. Right now, I have no real races scheduled that I plan to race. I do have an entry into the California International Marathon that I am toying with right now.

In other news,  sadly Van’s is on a business trip this week so there will be no Breakout Fitness classes this week or trails runs until Saturday. I am okay with that. I look forward to spending time with these two little monkeys.

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 ~Trailmomma

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