Monday, June 30, 2008

Debating the 40

Yesterday, while doing a 3 ½ hour trail run, I felt inspired to consider doing the trail 40 instead of the trail marathon I did last year. Sometimes I don’t think clearly when I run (for example—I cannot for the life of me figure out my splits during a race—I’ll see mile marker signs, and I can’t multiply something as simple as 3 x 8), so I decided I should sleep on it and not take my sudden inspiration seriously until I was in a post-run state.
I still want to do it. I guess because I’m just so bloody happy when I’m trail running—if I enjoy the marathon distance, why not stretch it out to 40? I’m intrigued by the training part, because in all honesty, I enjoyed training for the marathon last year much more than the actual marathon. I just love blasting myself on long weekend runs.
And blasting I will. I looked up some Ultra training plans today, and they all recommend doing a lot of back-to-back long runs. So you’d do a 2-hour run on Saturday, followed by a 3-4 hour run on Sunday. And this continues, almost every weekend. During the week, you do 6-10 mile runs, with speedwork.
In contrast, the marathon plan I did last year just had a long run on Sunday, preceded by a short (6-8 miles) run on Saturday, so you didn’t go into your long run already tired. And, there were no 4 hour runs in the plan. Interestingly, for a 40 mile distance, they recommend that your longest run be about 25-26 miles. I would have thought longer.
So as long as my shins and feet hold up, I should be okay. Last year I was struggling with a bad foot, which I had surgery on the week after the marathon, so my training was somewhat limited. I’m hoping I won’t destroy the other foot in the process of training for this race. But, that’s the beauty about trails—much easier on the body than the road. You couldn’t pay me enough to try running 40 miles on the road.
I was looking at the results from last year, and the winning time was over 6 hours (about a 10 min/mile pace.) The 2nd and 3rd places were in the 7-8 hour range. But, when you see a 12-13 min/mile, you have to take into account that for a 40 miler, you’re probably going to make some stops, so the pace doesn’t actually reflect your real running time.
When I was biking, I think the longest ride I did was in the 7-8 hour range, so I know that I can sustain aerobic effort for a long time period. Now, granted—cycling for long periods of time is an entirely different thing than running for long periods, but still. It intrigues me.
I’m excited about having something to really focus on this summer. I’ve been thinking about the marathon, and how I want to improve my time over last year, so that's something to focus on, for sure. But now that I've got the 40 stuck in my head, I'm feeling a whole new sense of inspiration.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer is itchy

I'm basically a walking welt right now. I love summer, I really do, but to keep a nice balanced perspective on everything, I feel it best to pick something to complain about.

I have poison oak, and mosquito bites and I itch so f#(&@^9 bad right now. I keep Calamine lotion in my purse (right next to my checkbook and lipstick), so I'm really trying to be good and not scratch. But aghhhh, it's hard.

The poison oak I got last week. I foolishly did a trail run and didn't shower right when I got home. I woke up the next morning with the consequence. A whole week has gone by, and the stubborn rash won't go away. I do pretty well throughout the day not scratching (the Calamine lotion does help), but then at night, totally not my fault! I scratch in my sleep and even have dreams about scratching.

And mosquitos love me. Looooove me. Especially my ankles. Even though I militantly spray myself down with bug spray prior to stepping outside, they still bite me. Maybe I need the stuff that has more Deet. Cancer schmancer.

Why is it that mosquitos don't bite some people, but others they discriminately attack? I can be sitting next to someone, and he/she will have no bites, no harrassment; meanwhile, my blood is the last supper for a few ratty mosquitos. And my skin welts so bad from bites--I get some kind of reaction where instead of just a little, discreet pin-head size bump, I get welts the size of dollar bills.

Maybe I'll just wrap myself in mosquito netting and don that the rest of the summer.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Road bike blues

I miss my road bike. I’m thinking about buying a new one. Why did I sell my last one? I ask myself this frequently. It was a great bike—it fit me well, it was light, comfortable…all the good things. But, I wanted to upgrade my mt. bike, which I don’t regret—but I sold my road bike to help pay for it.

I miss bikes, a lot right now. When I lived in San Luis, bikes were my life. Seriously. My whole social life, my friends, my free time, all of our conversations revolved around...yup. Bikes. I hardly ever drove my car—there was no need. SLO is replete with bike lanes, and drivers are considerate to bikers (usually), so unless I was buying a ton of groceries, I rode one of my three commuters around town.

Back then, I had five bikes, which were all crammed in the kitchen/living room of my small apartment. At one point, I lived with another girl from my cycling team. Between the two of us, we had eight bikes in that apartment. It was kind of a mess. But we loved it.

For a while, one of my rides was a fixed-gear--this was before fixies were all trendy to ride in cities. Anyways, one day, my buddy Chris and I decided that we should ride a century on our fixies. Bad idea. Fortunately, we scrapped that plan after a 50-mile training ride on the fixies. We realized that knees are important in life. Fixies beat up your knees big-time because your legs never get a break.

My guy buddies and I would frequently go “street riding.” This consisted of riding our bikes around town and looking for concrete to jump off of. It often resulted in scraped knees/elbows/teeth. We also played our own version of bicycle polo. At first, we thought we were so clever—like we had invented the game. But then, I happened to be browsing the Internet, and lo and behold—it’s actually an official sport in some places, with registered leagues and rules. I preferred our rules. We used croquet mallets, and we would typically set up in a field, or sometimes, if we were feeling particularly invincible, a concrete basketball court. Goal posts were whatever we could find. Then, it was basically a free-for all. The only rule was that you had to have both feet on the pedals when hitting the ball or going after an opponent. Our version involved a lot of crashing into each other. And contusions. Beer was a great antiseptic for that.

And then there was the Beater Bash. (See pics: Pic 1: Serving of refreshments. Pic 2: Me with my protective gear. Pic 3: How we got the bikes to the top of Shooters.)The Beater Bash was an annual tradition that began after the police auction—when you could buy a cheap, trashed bike for cheap. The tradition was to drive to the top of Shooters, which is a pretty technical descent (flanked by cliff drop-offs, I might add), drink until you wouldn’t feel what was coming, and then descend into the abyss. Each year got a little crazier. The year I did it, the guys had resorted to duc-taping beer cans to their legs and top tubes—in case, you know, refreshments were needed for the trip down.
Three or four hours later, we would emerge into Poly Canyon, from Shooters. Mind you—Shooters is about a two-mile descent. Three or four hours could be considered an excessive amount of time to ride down, but considering how much alcohol was consumed at the top, it makes perfect sense. The point was to crash. A lot. And hopefully not feel it.

Some people tailgated in college. I live in the South now, where my office mates reminisce about football games and fantastic tailgating parties.

I reminisce about getting drunk and riding my bike down small cliffs.

And my dating life? Never a problem back then. The ratio was highly favorable for women in the biking world. I only dated cyclists. I'm still partial to guys with shaved legs and great calves.

So now I’m kind of a runner. My work schedule, location, convenience-issues, have all forced me to switch teams. But cycling will always, always be my first love—and, I’m hoping to re-kindle that flame by purchasing another road bike.

The Tour de France begins next month. July is my favorite time of year, for that reason. If I were President, or Queen, or whatever, I’d mandate that every able-bodied person get off his or her duff, commute to work/around town on bikes, and I’d make July an official holiday so that everyone could stay home and watch the tour.

That’s my official stump speech. If anyone asks.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Today is Father's Day, and though I tend to be wary of holidays that seem to be invented for the purpose of selling cards, it does seem like an appropriate opportunity to write about my dad.

I'm a lucky girl. Truly. I have an awesome dad, and I know that I don't take enough time to appreciate that fact. I know many who are not so fortunate. My dad and I are close--always have been. Maybe it's the tomboy in me that relates to him. Even if he wasn't my dad, though, he's someone I would love to know and hang out with. I respect him enormously--his work ethic, his values, his success, his competitiveness, and his optimism. He is the most carefree man I've ever met--when he's really stressed, you rarely know. I wish, in many ways, I took after him more.

Living across the country can be tough sometimes--I miss seeing him, especially on days like today. Often, when I'm home, I find myself tagging along with him, his shadow. I watch him work on his boat, or I go watch his swim practice and linger for frozen yogurt at the end with him and his friends. I pester him to let me drive his car. I laugh when he lights his pipe and we tell my mom to lighten up when she complains about the smoke. We sit out on the patio in the evenings, drinking beers and looking at the stars.

My dad is the reason I got into cycling, and to this day, why I still love endurance events. Skiing, the ocean, dark beer, love of travel, non-fiction books, jazz, a good game of cards--all of this, comes from my dad. I cannot imagine the type of girl I would have turned out to be had he not been around.

So here's to you, dad.