My friend Tim Smith redesigned my blog page and it’s up and running today. It has a new address and everything. From now on I’ll be posting at www.lizahoward.com. Everything’s been transferred over except the last few days of comments. I’ll get that done today. The rest of today’s blog post will be over there as soon as I fix my coffee. See you in a minute.
This is Asa’s last full week of summer vacation. He starts preschool next Wednesday. This coincides very nicely with the mileage ramp-up for Javelina, but I will miss the little fellow. It’s early in the morning and the house is quiet, so I can notice these feelings. I was not noticing them — or feeling them — yesterday afternoon around 2:30. It was in the low hundreds (again), Eliot had been at the office since 9am, and I was not I was not meeting firefighter dress code. (No! You have to wear your helmet when you’re in the fire engine!!) (Is this true real firefighters out there? Helmets whenever you’re in the engine? I feel like I was right and the 4 year-old Mussolini was wrong.) This morning though, I am thinking I will be sad next Wednesday. Maybe all the way to the car in the parking lot…
I’m feeling a bit groggy. Do instant coffee crystals lose their potency as they get older? Now that I am back to one cup a day, I might have to drag out the coffee press. I ran with Chris at 7 last night on flat trails. Eliot went mountain biking in the morning at Government Canyon and I realized as soon as we dropped him off at work afterwards that it was going to be a struggle to make it out the door for an evening run unless I had company. Thanks Chris. I’ve had a lot of good conversations on the trail lately. I get to give a little talk next month (hour-long) about running. It’s supposed to be interesting, fun, and inspirational. I’ve got good stories to cover interesting and fun, but inspirational is a tall order. I’ve been talking to the guys a lot about it. Who’s inspired their running? What’s inspirational for them? I still have a lot of conversations and runs to have. What do you all think? What makes for an inspirational runner? Do you have a particular runner who is your touchstone? Are there any speedy-and-in-the-magazines runners out there who inspire your training or racing? I would guess that would be the exception rather than the norm. Our group was inspired by people they know. I’ll post the speech for your feedback as soon as I get it together. What’s gonna work? Teamwork! (I am inspired by the Wonder Pets.)
Here’s a Tedx talk by Krissy Moehl that I saw recently.
Well done, eh?
And here’s what my friend’s son did to her couch cushion yesterday while she was checking her e-mail.
Running: 40 minutes
Push-ups: 6,6,4,4,5 (So weak.)
Nutrition: in a bit
I told you how I had the trees in the front yard pruned in a wildly expensive way, right? Now we’re in Phase 2 of the yard project. This is the phase in which the landscaper shows me a gorgeous xeriscape design, gives me a quote, I consider selling blood and then reconcile myself to the fact that this will be a glacier-paced do-it-yourself project. I’m happy to do the work now that I have a vision. Mostly I just need help putting in a curvy metal edging. I need some tools too. And I need to review the child labor laws. (PS. If you have hoe or other type of gardening tool that would remove the dead grass in my yard and you live near me, please write.) I’ll be posting pictures (to amuse you) as we go.
As for running, this week is my last week of taking things slowly to make sure my foot is healed. I’ve located my Garmin and it’s charging. Time to start ramping up for Javelina.
I am also doing push-ups daily using hundredpushups.com. I used to have arm muscles, and one summer I even did 1000 pushups in a day in sets of 100. (Summertime dare.) Now I struggle to lift Asa into a shopping cart. Want a scrawny-armed before picture?
And finally, you know how they’re making Born To Run into a movie? Well, they’re going to need stunt doubles, right? A life goal of mine is to list stunt double on my resume. (How great would that be?) So if you’re reading this and you have connections to this movie (improbable, I know, but hey, the blog gods might be feeling generous) I want you to know that I would make a great running stunt double. I’m really good at falling on technical terrain and I look great from a distance. OK, it’s out there…
Running: 45 minutes
I woke up at 4:10 yesterday morning. This was wildly and immediately upsetting because I was supposed to meet my friends at the Exxon Tiger Mart at 4. We were heading out to Bandera for a run. I was only supposed to run for two hours, which doesn’t really merit the two-hour Bandera commute or a 4am meeting, but I miss my running friends. (And this is the time you get up for a long run in Bandera in the summer.) In any event, I was up and swearing and running through the house with untied sneakers in seconds. I woke Eliot up and employed his help. While I pony-tailed, he filled my hydration pack. You heard me right, swearing a blue streak, I woke Eliot up and “asked” him to fill my hydration pack – so I could go running and leave him with our child for most of Saturday morning. Apparently he accumulated quite a karmic debt at some point. Anyway, as I chugged gas station coffee and chatted happily with my friend Tony en route to Bandera, Eliot lay awake for a couple of hours. He doesn’t fall back to sleep easily sometimes. Fast forward through one great run and wonderful friends. Eliot’s in the yard clearing brush. He isn’t upset with me. He doesn’t really do upset. He is tired though. Weary even. I needed to make amends. My opportunity came when he offered to cut down a dead tree in our neighbor’s yard. (Long dead tree threatening the road, our driveway and possibly some powerlines. Cash strapped single mom living with elderly mother. No chainsaw savvy.) While Eliot labored, I chatted with the neighbor lady. (Best not to interfere with karmic debts.) It turns out a tree service was going to charge her $300 to take the tree down. I made my move. Would she be able to watch Asa tonight while Eliot and I went out for dinner? Free sitter in hand, I headed to the computer to find a nearby date night restaurant. Fast forward through Eliot’s three hour nap and Asa and me using walkie talkies to coordinate our firefighting efforts and then rearranging the rocks in front of our house. It’s time to walk Asa over to the neighbors. Eliot walks outside wearing a clean shirt. Asa and I are covered in dirt and sweat. (Pictures of our rock-scaping to come.) He looks mildly irked. OK, he doesn’t look that way at all. He doesn’t do “irked” either. But I perceive a subtle disappointment that I’m not ready to go. Shoot. I run into the house, shower off quickly, and put on a Dress. And I apply make-up. And I blow dry my hair. Big guns. Asa is present for my speed makeover and asks for hairdrying, perfume and eyeshadow too. I touch his lids with the tip of the eyeshadow applicator, spray perfume in the air, and aim the hairdryer in his direction. We run back outside to present our gorgeous selves. Eliot is pleased. It was a great date and I feel safe I will not be reincarnated as a cockroach for the time being.
Running: two (and a bit) hours
I was dreaming I was outside on top of the Empire State building and a huge thunderstorm was rolling in. I had to fight against a strong wind action-movie style to get to the door to the stairs. Crash! Boom! And then I was awake and it was pouring outside. It’s still raining and I can hear the trees cheering outside the window as I type. The National Weather Service says we get an average of 29.12 inches of rainfall annually. We’ve only had 7.6 inches since October, which is “the least for that period since weather service measurements began in 1871.”(San Antonio Express-News) Let the fact that I’m bothering to blog about rain speak to how desiccated we feel. I’m hoping for some puddle stomping later this morning.
So I came across this piece on hydration and electrolyte use on Alex Hutchinson’s Sweat Science website that I thought you might find interesting (if you haven’t already come across it). Hutchinson presents a study involving 18 South African Special Forces soldiers marching with heavy packs in temperatures reaching 112 degrees. They’re out for about four hours. Here’s the sentence from the study I thought you’d find interesting. “This confirms the now well-established finding that serum sodium concentration can be maintained during exercise without the need for acute sodium replacement during exercise.” I did not know this was well confirmed. Hutchinson says you can’t extrapolate this finding to ultras in the comments, of course. (So don’t get all excited or agitated.) He speculates electrolyte replacement during 4+ hour events might allow for greater effort over time in hot conditions. “I’m not sure what happens when you translate this to an ultra race, where your motivation to place as highly as possible might override your body’s desire to slow down. In this case, can taking extra salt allow you to maintain a harder effort before being cued to slow down by hydration limits? I don’t know, but this study certainly doesn’t rule that out.” The piece led to some fun discussion among us San Antonio runners — most all of whom take electrolyte tabs during training runs and races. Everyone agreed they helped ward off leg cramps– or treat them. There’s no science behind that popular notion according to Hutchinson, (I can post that info if you’d like) — just lots of runners swearing it works. I drink GUs Electrolyte Brew these days. And I don’t take electrolyte pills — usually because I forget them or they melt into a salty blob in the pocket of my hydration pack. You? I love how none of these studies can really be extrapolated to ultras.
Running: 60 minutes hilly
Sorry for the late post. Now that I’m running again and not just sitting around on my bottom building Lego fire boats, I have to plan out my blogging time better. Well, that and I’ve been taking Benadryl the last two nights to get to sleep, which causes me to ignore my pre-Asa alarm in the morning. Yes, I know I shouldn’t rely on sleeping pills to get a good night’s sleep. But I haven’t slept more than a few hours for three days I thought I needed some sleep to figure out why. Sadly the sleep hasn’t helped with that conundrum, but I’ve been much more pleasant to Eliot and Asa these last two days. I’ve used up the Benadryl supply now (I think we got it when Eliot’s back went out) and I don’t intend to replenish it. So keep your fingers crossed for some insight and some good sleep after I finish typing.
I got to take part in the group Thursday night run for the first time since May tonight. So good. I wish you all could come — at least to Freetails bar afterwards anyway — because it’s freakin’ hot on the trail. (100 degrees at 6pm) We talked about marriage during the run (training and coaching at the bar.) A few folks in our group have been married a long while and I’m grateful to hear their thoughts. (No worries. Eliot and I are super duper happy. Rottenly so, really.) One of the reasons I love running is the opportunity to have these conversations. Running makes me more willing to ask questions. And share history. And be obnoxiously chatty. Tonight’s thoughts: It’s foolish to think your spouse won’t change over time. And it’s foolish to think your spouse won’t falter. (Except Eliot.)
Right, I’ve got to try to get some sleep. Tomorrow’s topics: Electrolytes and preschool.
Wanna come for a run?
Running log: 60 minutes hilly
I stayed at a fancy hotel in Salt Lake City. I’ve only stayed at such a fancy hotel once before. My dad was stationed in Saudi Arabia and we went to visit him and my mom at Christmastime. We stayed in a place with a harpist in the lobby and a crew of workers that raked away our footprints in the sand. (Military discount.)
I was told I was staying at the Little America Hotel initially. It sounded kind of side-of-the-highway, but it turned out to be like this:
I walked up to the desk to check in feeling entirely underdressed and rumpled. They didn’t have a reservation. Nothing. I tried a bunch of different names. Nope. I sat down in the fancy lobby and waited for someone from New Balance to call and rescue me before they kicked me out. It turned out I didn’t have a reservation at the Little America because I was in the Grand America next door.
Here’s the bathroom.
I walked around on the marble in my bare feet as much as possible. I also came away with a ziploc bag full of shampoos and sundries. I was happy to leave though, because I couldn’t stop sneezing and blowing nose the entire time I was there. I’m sure the housecleaning staff must think I stuffed the full box of tissues in my bag along with the lotions, but I used them all up. Everything cleared up as soon as I got outside the next morning. Too clean? Too fancy? I made the mistake of telling one of the New Balance folks and she said they’d keep that in mind the next time. Hello Motel 6.
Running log: Rest day
One of the nice New Balance folks called me a “pragamatic” runner. I’d just told her the story about having to have my sports bra cut during Rocky Raccoon this year.
Me: “Why do you say that?” (I mean, besides answering the question about my running history with a story about having to have my sports bra loosened with trauma shears.)
She said Anton Krupicka was a very philosophical runner, but that I seemed much more pragmatic. What?!? I’m chock full of philosophical thoughts! They’re just covered in a veneer of 4 year-old mothering thoughts — and they’re not nearly as entertaining as the sports bra story. (I tell that one pretty well now.) Really, I think she should have said that Anton (who sent me some very kind thoughts about not vomiting on the Uphill Challenge) is very articulate and his thoughts on running are refined and expressive. Many people find them meaningful.
Pragmatic: relating to matters of fact or practical affairs often to the exclusion of intellectual or artistic matters
Whatever! You just have to run with me for a few hours to me some to hear my profound-er thoughts? Right guys? 😉
Truly, I am not all that articulate about things that are most important to me. Certainly not with strangers over dinner. I’m going to have to work on that. Eventually. Right now I need to work on training hard — and being a good mom and better spouse — and keeping the bathrooms sanitary. (All while thinking deeply.)
Here are some pictures of yesterday’s festivities.
Running log: 40 minutes
One of the nice New Balance folks asked if seeing all gear at the Outdoor Retailer show made me want it. Nope. It was like sitting at a table covered with all the food you’d eat in a week. Overwhelming and unappetizing. There was great people-watching on the other hand. It was fun watching the vendors pitch their wares. And I liked hearing about people’s jobs with their companies. It was like walking into a house you’d driven by for years, but never been invited into before. I have the most superficial understanding of sales and marketing. I’ve never been curious about the details of how it all works. I also have a very limited understanding of running shoe design. I am more curious after meeting the New Balance people who do these things. Maybe curious isn’t the right word. I am more appreciative of the talent that is involved in some of the work. And I am more cognizant of people’s efforts — particularly on the shoe design side. The NB folks made me feel my feedback was valuable. Now, I’ve never been a running shoe geek. There are so many large-scale things to work on with my running that shoes seem like a detail. It’s like when I was on the swim team in high school and someone asked if I was going to shave my arms for a meet. Um, less arm hair (even on my Italian arms) was not going to keep me from finishing last in the breaststroke. Large scale: bad swimmer. Detail: arm hair. I’ve always seen running shoes the same way: details. But really that attitude is a holdover from my road running days. Certainly different trails require different shoes and in 100k and 100 mile races on really rocky terrain like Bandera, a little padding can change a race — and a recovery. I’m not ready to buy my running shoe geek hat yet, but I’m looking forward to paying attention to how the tread on my shoes wears and handles more. (As I work on getting back in shape again.) For the most part though, I felt like a fish out of water at the event — flopping around on the convention room floor. My time was mostly my own and I spent a lot of time wandering feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff on display. I probably should have gone outside for a run, but I’d used up my running minutes that morning. (45)
Before I go any further, I should tell you about the Uphill Challenge on the treadmill — or my 15 minutes at a 15% grade running “against” Krissy Moehl. It wasn’t really all that horrible. People, especially Krissy, were wonderfully nice and the “run” didn’t last all that long, — but the whole thing was so surreal and it had enough unpleasant parts, that “nightmare” seems the best word for it. The two treadmills for the Challenge were set up in the back of the convention center in the climbing gear section. They were not easy to find and I started to feel hopeful that I might miss the whole thing. “Oh, gosh, I’m soooo sorry I missed my time slot. I was lost somewhere in the gear-for-dogs section.” But I did find the treadmills set up side by side with the two guys in the 2 o’clock time slot warming up for their sprint. There was a good crowd ready to cheer them on and a whiteboard with all the participants mileage listed next to their names. I told you that my ego was not tied up in running fast on treadmills, but I figured I needed a goal (besides not vomiting or reinjuring my stress fracture), so I looked for the lowest mileage and figured I’d try to match it. (Wanting to make New Balance proud and all — since Anton wasn’t able to participate.) 2:3opm rolled around before I had time to have a stroke, so I mounted the treadmill after a few hints that it’d be okay to warm up. (Whatever.) Signs with our names were hung in front of the mills. Krissy had a large crowd of fans. (And rightly so.) The announcer introduced us with a microphone. (This is where it gets surreal.) I stood on my treadmill and listened to the announcer catalog Krissy’s accomplishments. And I stared at the crowd of strangers in front of me. I thought: this is the part where I look down and see that I’m naked — and then I’ll wake up and get Asa’s oatmeal ready for breakfast. Nope. And the dream continued. The announcer said some things about me — including that I was coming from sea level. I told her to add that to whatever she was going to say. I know, it was weak, (SLC is 4300 feet), but I panicked. I didn’t tell her to add that I haven’t really trained since May when I fractured my foot. So my dignity’s not totally gone. And then we started. The actually running part was fine. I’m not in super fit, but I can still run slowly for 15 minutes up a hill. There was lots of cheering for Krissy, (as there should be), but it did make me imagine my own afterschool-special-underdog-makes-good movie. The announcer moved back and forth between our treadmills to see how far we’d each gone before announcing it to the crowd. “After three minutes, Krissy has gone 97 miles. Liza 0.04.” Well, not quite, but that’s how it felt. About halfway through, Krissy felt ill and had to step off the treadmill. I quickly suggested that we could pause the event. 😉 “I’m happy to stop really.” They told me to keep running. I had to do the last five minutes or so on my own. The crowd was nice, but a lot quieter. Nightmare. Krissy cheered. (The ill feeling was random and had made it hard to keep her footing.) And then it was over and I was out the back door of the convention center chatting with Krissy. Still surreal.
I’m going to finish up this story tomorrow. We had Asa’s birthday party today and both he and Eliot are already in bed fast asleep.
Running log: 1:45