Tuesday, August 28, 2018


At last weekend's Capt'n Karl's race at Reveille Peak Ranch (RPR), two runners got married on top of the granite dome during the 10k.  Although Joe and I didn't get married at the ranch, it's also a special place for our relationship.  

We started dating the night before RPR in 2016.  On Saturday (race day), we carpooled to the race together, ran our races (Joe did the 30k, I did the 60k), drove back to San Antonio together in the early hours of Sunday morning, separated for a few hours so Joe could buy a washer and dryer and I could get one hour of sleep, and then we got back together for Mass at the Cathedral, a walk on the River Walk, dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings, games at Main Event, and finally a Rockhopper picnic.  Whew!  It must have been new love fueling that big weekend.  Nowadays, we don't have nearly that much energy.

Another key remembrance about the RPR 60k in 2016 was that Joe had to wear a t-shirt of my choosing, since I won our bet about the Fossil Valley 9-hour race.  We had Chris Russell help us figure out a handicap for the bet, and we ended up saying Joe would win if he ran two more laps than I did.  It turned out that we ran the same number of laps, so I carefully chose a My Little Pony shirt, which I gave Joe the night before the race, as his punishment.  He dutifully wore it for the entire race, and actually got some nice compliments on it.  I think the fact that he wore it with such confidence is what won people over.
FB reminded me that this was our first photo together!

I made him stand in a boat for some reason.

He's so adorable. 💕
Hopefully in 2019 we can both run the race together again -- and for many more years to come! Love you, Joe!

Reveille Peak Ranch 60k - my 6th year in a row

On Saturday night, I ran the 60k at Reveille Peak Ranch.  I love that race.  However, on Saturday afternoon I was still feeling like I'd rather stay at home with Joe and the girls than leave by myself, drive up to Burnet, and stay up all night running.

In the end, of course, I'm glad I went.  I felt like I was able to push myself to keep running much better than I was able to a few weeks ago at the Colorado Bend 60k.  I know that I still have a ways to go to get back to the ultra-ready type of fitness I've had in the past.  But maybe my plan of "racing my way" back into fitness is showing some results, anyways.  I've also been doing one hill repeat workout a week, which I hope will pay off as well.

According to my GPS, this year's course was 34.5 miles.  (A 60k is the equivalent of 37.2 miles.) The ranch is under construction, and the course had to be re-routed slightly, so I wanted to go back to my old data to see whether it was drastically longer than in previous years. I can't compare it to my GPS data from 2017,  because my watch had died mid-way through that race.  However, in 2016, my data said the course was 35.4 miles, so maybe it's always been a bit short.

If this year's course was shorter than last year's, that's sad for me, because that means I'm not only slower than I was last year, I'm even slower than my times indicate:

2018 - 7:59:23
2017 - 7:30:14
2016 - 7:57:01
2015 - 7:43:20
2014 - 7:39:31
2013 - 8:11:00

Ultimately, the wins for me are that I was able to keep running during the race -- although I definitely slowed down on the final loop -- and that I was able to come into the finish strong.  I'm nervous about this weekend's 50k, because unlike Reveille and Colorado Bend, Alamo City will be in the daytime heat, and it's 5 loops, which will be tough mentally.  At least it's at a beautiful place where I have happy times running with Joe and the Rockhoppers.  And I know where I can get a cold beer after I finish!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Powerlines run and TMI

Today has turned out to be that day each month when the reality of our infertility crashes down on me in full force.  Although the doctors have told us that we have essentially a 0.8% chance of getting pregnant each month (compared to about a 15% chance for typical couples where the woman is my age), I still pray and hope for a miracle.  When it inevitably doesn't happen, I crash hard.

One of the things that really gets to me is, the last two times this has happened, it's been during a run where I had big goals.  Last month, I had set out to do a 50k on Leon Creek.  Today, I was planning to do 18 miles on the Powerlines.  The 50k was doomed because my cramps became so bad, I could barely walk.  Today, I honestly could have kept going past mile 12, despite the cramps, but I was too upset to continue.  When I sat down and cried at mile 11.5, I knew for sure I was calling it a day.  When this happens, I feel like the universe is telling me, "Not only are you a failure at getting pregnant; you're also a failure at running." 

That feeling is a big part of why I've been trying to up my training lately.  Partly, I'm doing it because I want to be prepared for our Grand Canyon run.  But really, I just want to have something that I'm successful at again.  I don't know if that's realistic, to get back to where I was before my burnout last year, but I want to try.

In the midst of our personal challenge, it's easy for me to lose sight of the bigger picture -- that Joe and I have a lot to be thankful for.  I'm so thankful for our marriage, for our family, for our home, for our health.  And if we are able to ever have children, I'm sure all our struggles will make us that much more grateful.  One of the things I do on almost every run is think of 7 things I'm thankful for, and for each one I say a "Glory Be" prayer.  It's never hard to come up with 7 things.  At the same time, I can't deny that there's one thing I want with all my heart and cannot have.  And that's what makes me sit down and cry in the middle of a run.

All I can do is promise myself I'll get back out there tomorrow and finish that Powerlines run, and just keep praying that I'll be better at trusting in God's will for us.  Thanks for any prayers you can send our way!

Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
World without end,

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

I finished an ultra!

I knew that running the Colorado Bend 60k would be a good litmus test of my fitness and my preparedness to run Rim to Rim to Rim at the Grand Canyon at the end of September.  I honestly wasn't sure I'd be able to finish the race, as I haven't done that distance (or anywhere remotely close to that distance) since February. 

The good news is, I finished!  I feel happy to have the reassurance that I can still cover an ultra distance.  I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to keep running for so long into the race, as I've really struggled with much shorter runs of late. 

It felt great to be running a race again, to be out on the trails under the bright stars all by myself for the first loop, and then to be running with Joe on the second loop.  I have so many great memories of Joe pacing me at races.  I couldn't even say how many times he's done that service for me, it's been so many.  It's so fun to chat and laugh about silly things together during races. 

Despite these happy feelings, I also felt and still feel disappointment over my race performance.  I've run that particular 60k enough times that I have some data to compare my times to.  Here are my five finishing times from Colorado Bend:

2013 8:03:24
2014 8:33:09
2015 8:02:11
2016 7:28:29
2018 9:06:43

Clearly, I'm not in the ultra fitness I once was.  I sure felt that during the race, too.  While I was still making a running motion on the second half of the final loop, it was much closer to Billy Crystal's power walking in When Harry Met Sally than to actual running.

I hope this is a good starting point, and that I will be able to race myself back into ultra fitness.  I'm registered for two more ultras in the next month, so time will tell . . .

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Dead legs and HICT

My legs have felt dead all week, which I'm blaming on last weekend's 5k.  I haven't made myself run that fast in a long, long time, and I think my legs were angry with me.  I've struggled -- I mean, really struggled, in my runs this week.  I did a 10-miler on Monday, which involved about 6 miles of straight-up walking, because my legs just didn't want to work.

Needless to say, I was hesitant to go into the gym this week.  I didn't want to trash my legs even further in advance of my 60k this weekend.  But I haven't been to the gym since mid-June, thanks to our travels, a busier work schedule, and my desire to spend my free evenings with family.  And my gym time is important to me -- it makes me feel strong, and I enjoy the social aspect of chatting and laughing with the folks there.  So I texted Phil, the gym owner, and made plans to come in on Thursday.

When I got to the gym and explained my "dead legs" problem to Phil, he recommended that I do the light program he had laid out for me, and then cap it off with HICT (high-intensity circuit training).  For that, he had me do two rounds of 6-8 minutes of biking -- with the bike's resistance set to 24, and one pedal push every 1-2 seconds (with 5 minutes' rest in between sets).  

The gym time was super fun -- especially because my friends Travis and Martha happened to come in at the same time, and we got to chat and catch up.  And my run the next morning, though admittedly only 3 miles, actually felt really good.  The one downside is that the backs of my legs -- hamstrings and calves -- are a little sore from the workout.  But I really believe the HICT took away that feeling of my legs being filled with lead.  Hopefully they'll feel quasi-okay for the 60k . . . but who am I kidding?  That race is going to be a sufferfest of epic proportions.  Stay tuned for the race report . . . and wish me luck!