Monday, May 30, 2011

Race Report: Bolder Boulder 10K

It's never happened to me before: I was the first to use one of the hundreds of port-o-johns set up for the nearly 60,000 participants in the Bolder Boulder 10K this morning.

Yes, that's right. I entered said port-o-john for my first pre-race pit stop at about 6:15 a.m. and found the lid closed, the floor dry, the TP unopened, the murky liquid in the pot empty of human waste (no, I do not look on purpose, but c'mon, you can't help noticing something like that). My friend Kathy had the same experience. Neither of us expects this to ever happen again. And when we emerged from these pristine port-o-johns, a great blue heron wafted above us.

Both the toilet and the bird were good omens for what turned out to be a respectable race. I'm going to tell you the truth upfront: I am nowhere near ready to try for a BQ time in my next marathon. But I am getting closer. The thing I'm proud of with this race is that I made a plan, and I stuck to it. I didn't bonk. I didn't blast out too fast at the beginning, and I didn't slow down at the end. In fact, I sped up.

As usual lately, I was nervous last night and this morning, especially after Kathy and I wished each other luck and moved to our separate start waves. The A wave (the fast ones) went off at 7 a.m. The waves are distinguished from one another by volunteer-held signs and ropes, and as each one begins its race, launched by a trumpet and a gun, the other waves then move forward. So you can see and hear each start. You know others are already running, and you are still waiting, anticipating. Standing in the CC wave, I kept to the left (because I knew the first turn would be left), my jumpiness growing with each wave's start: A, AA, AB; then B, BA, BB; and finally C, CA...then CB...and then my own wave stepped to the front.

I had discussed race day strategy with Dan, my husband. Last year, this race was the first in a series of disappointments for me, and going out too fast was the biggest issue. Dan said the vital thing would be for me to stick to a reasonable pace for the first mile (as well as the second and third, which feature lots of uphill). "Pass no one" in the first mile, he admonished.

And damn if I didn't!

Oh, it was tempting. Ahead of me I saw the heels of the CB runners like the churning hooves of racehorses, headed toward that first turn at Valmont. Inside me jangled all the nerves of a year of disappointment followed by a tough goal established, and steady but slow progress. I'm not a patient person. When the gun went off for my wave, it would have been so easy to bust it out. But I heard Dan's voice inside my head (as Kathy said later, like that of Obi Wan Kenobi): "Pass no one." So I let them go by me. And when the D wave folks behind me began to catch up, I let them pass too. I put a little Zen smile on my face. I concentrated on staying at 8:35/mile (which is my bare minimum BQ pace), and on running the tangents.

Miles 2 and 3, with their hills and false flats, found me still feeling good. But I didn't loosen the reins yet. Only in mile 4, beyond which I knew lay lots of real downhill, did I begin to bear down. Mile 5 begins near the crest of a hill. I heard Dan's voice again: "Once you get into the fifth mile, you can let it rip. And on the last mile, run as fast as you can."

And, again, damn if I didn't!

The thing I'm proudest of about this race (besides sticking to my plan) is that I ran the last mile at about the same pace as that downhill mile 5, despite a steep-ish hill going into the stadium where that beautiful finish line is. I wish I could have run mile 4 a bit faster. But the general direction of each mile was exactly right, a miraculous thing for someone who has never been good at pacing (even with a Garmin to help).

Two things I remember about those last two miles: one is that I barely noticed my surroundings, different from past efforts on this course where the belly dancers, the bacon-offering residents of the neighborhoods, and the weather all diverted my attention from the business at hand. The second thing is that I passed lots of people in those last two miles, just as proponents of negative splits say you will, but it was with no feeling of triumph, none of that video game sensation that you're picking people off. I remember thinking, "I'm passing people, but it's not as much fun as they say it is."

What was fun (besides the post-race massage, hanging out with Kathy--picture below!--and watching the elites finish to the roar of the crowd in the stadium): setting my post-pregnancy PR of 52:24. I didn't beat my overall PR, but that was set at sea level and on an easier course.

It was progress. It's nice to have no regrets, to do what I set out to do.

We both got super cold after the race, so we bought some snazzy new shirts with a classic Bolder Boulder theme.

Race Notes: They changed the course slightly this year. The first mile, instead of being slightly downhill as in years past, is now slightly uphill. This didn't make a lot of difference to me, as it was all I could do to hold myself back on that part of the race. I think this change was an improvement. The start area felt much roomier. We did a one-mile warm-up with no dodging necessary and found our way easily to the wave starts. In prior years, this has felt rushed. Things like coffee and water were much easier to find as well. Good job, Bolder Boulder organizers!

For another great race recap and some truly awesome pictures that give you a good flavor for the craziness of this race, visit Julie's blog, You Just Have to TRI, and read her race recap.

Training and Fueling News: Now it's time to start my ramp-up for the Top of Utah Marathon on September 17. I'll have some news on that front in my next post. It's also time to begin the Sugar-Free Challenge. Last week, my old enemy, the scale at North Boulder Recreation Center, registered 130.2. Needless to say, I was over the moon about this, and it, and my successful race today, make me look forward to truly eating like a marathoner.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bolder Boulder Build-Up!

It's that time of year in Boulder!

Signs like this are now up on many of the roads and highways around town:

To give you an idea of how running crazy this town is, especially around Memorial Day and the Bolder Boulder 10K, I took a ride around town on my break at work and took a couple of pictures (yeah, I know, me taking pictures...hell IS freezing over). I just joined Boulder's new B-Cycle program, which lets members borrow bikes from stations set up around town to run errands without hauling the car out every time. Here's me this morning with my giant B-cycle cruiser--that thing was like the tank of bikedom, but it got the job done:

Yeah, I do wear clogs pretty much constantly.

The first great thing about the Bolder Boulder 10K is that the course is marked with little signs all year round. These signs mark the miles....

...and also tell you when you need to turn (sometimes it's a weird turn, like this one).

That pointy peak on the left is Bear Peak. The sign is blocking Green Mountain, which I'm still hoping to run at some point.

The finish line is inside the University of Colorado stadium, where all runners are cheered by the crowd in the stands. You know you're almost finished when you pass the statue of the legendary Frank Shorter, who helped get this race started.

The race has its own store, set up for several weeks at the 29th Street Mall:

Fancy, huh? I didn't take this--borrowed it from the Bolder Boulder's Facebook page. Thanks!
I'm excited about the race this year. I am in the CC wave, which starts at 7:10 a.m. (my kind of time). My goals are pretty nebulous. I'd like to beat my time from last year for sure (it was 55-something), my post-pregnancy 10K PR from 2009 of 53:24 and (moonshot goal here) my pre-pregnancy PR of 51:42. Beating my post-preg PR isn't certain. My appetite is finally mostly back post-stomach-bug. But I still get a wave of queasiness every once in a while, and my sleep has been seriously compromised this week in Dan's absence (he's been in Finland for a work trip; he gets back Friday--yay! I MISS him).

So I'm going to try to sit back and take whatever race day gives me.

Even if I don't do well, I'll be able to get a massage, watch Ryan Hall later in the elite race (I wonder if I'll see him at any restaurants ahead of the race this time!) and hang out with my friend Kathy, who just ran her first-ever sub-25-minute 5K and will be starting about two minutes after I do.

We'll both be running well behind this guy, who took the RunColo Challenge I mentioned a few weeks back and qualified for the Bolder Boulder's fastest wave, the A wave, by running on a treadmill wearing paper leis and with an inflatable duck around him for the required two miles. He ran it in 11 minutes and 10 seconds. Wow.

I actually watched the whole video. There's not much action, except that toward the middle the duck falls off. But I was strangely riveted. As usual in Boulder, I am not worthy.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Another Food Post

With my unintentional detox continuing, it's time for another post about food.

Deep dramatic sigh.

My "commitment" to the Racing Weight plan lasted until I got onto the plane to Missouri with my kids last month. Since then, I haven't been eating my worst ever, but it's not my best either, and my once-more plateaued weight has reflected that.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm down two pounds from that plateau thanks to last week's stomach virus. But stomach viruses aren't a long-term solution to food issues.

So I'm trying a different tactic: the 10-Day Sugar Free Challenge co-sponsored by Amanda at RunToTheFinish.

What's different about this? For one thing I won't be doing it alone. For another, it's simple: watch out for sugar; other than that, everything else is good. And for a third: it's time-limited. 10 days, June 1-June 10. I can do almost anything for 10 days. And if going sugar-free feels as good in the end as advocates say, perhaps I'll even find it easier at that point to continue, and to make other healthy changes.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like getting my weight down is absolutely essential to achieving my Boston goal. I've even resorted to checking out diet books, which I hate. I had one under my arm to return to the library in disgust this morning, and I found myself trying to hide it from my co-workers. I get sick of both reactions I get when people see books like that in my possession. They want to know either a) why someone like me is reading it in the first place ("Are you anorexic?") or b) why I'm not reading this other great weight-loss book I should be reading (in other words, or so I take it in my insecurity, "You need some help, chunky girl").

Both camps mean well. But I'm an adult, and this is a matter I consider private. Food, like politics, isn't something I like to discuss or obsess about out loud. I only do it on this blog because it's so intertwined with running and because I know most of the people reading this know I'm not anorexic or truly overweight.

I just want to be faster!

Here's hoping the Sugar Challenge will be a step in the right direction. God, would I love to stop talking about diet! It's just....boring, and embarrassing. Talking about running is much more fun.

NPR Recommends....A couple of running books here. I'll definitely be picking these up.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My First ZOOMA Run, and My Unintentional Detox

The first official run in the lead-up to July's ZOOMA Colorado Half-Marathon and 10K was two weeks ago. But we had no runners sign up for that one. So for me at least the action truly got underway today, my first Saturday in my new town, when I tagged along on a run led by Danielle, one of the other Boulder area ZOOMA ambassadors.

Happily for me, Danielle knows Longmont well, having grown up here, and she picked an awesome place to run: McIntosh Lake, about three miles from my new house. I ran over there to meet up with the group (three other ladies came out!). I planned to run there and then home afterwards and thus get six miles on top of whatever the group decided to do.

Before I describe the run, though, here's a picture of McIntosh Lake that I found through Creative Commons (photog was Mark DeVries--thank you, Mark!):

Longmont's further out on the plains than Boulder, which actually gives you a better view of the mountains.

Gorgeous, isn't it?

Now, we were there mid-morning, not at dusk, but the lingering cool from a week's worth of rain and a light breeze made for great running conditions as well as great views. Danielle, her eager dog, another runner named Joy (who is coming off an ultra!) and I decided to start by going around the lake. That's a 3.5 mile loop. Then we would think about whether to add miles or not.

I was already thinking a big N-O-T to that. My normally insatiable appetite still, as I type, has not recovered from the horrific stomach bug I had on Wednesday and Thursday (see the Unintentional Detox section below). I think I was low on glycogen, electrolytes and water, because I had to walk a lot on my way over to McIntosh (remember, that's only three miles) and then I was really breathing hard when Danielle and Joy and I started around the lake. I ended up walking the three miles home, which made for a 10-mile outing total and a mere seven miles of running. It was a BONK from the beginning.

But this run wasn't a failure at all. I had forgotten how much fun running with a group can be. Just chatting with Joy and Danielle (and later with Margie and Terry, two other ZOOMA runners whom we had missed at the meeting place but ran into on our way around the lake) made the time go faster. I didn't walk the miles I ran with them at all.

I'm looking forward to the other ZOOMA runs! If you want to join us, head to our Meetup group and sign up. And if you decide to do one of the ZOOMA races in July, I can get you a discount--so let me know!!

Unintentional Detox: So as I mentioned, I have no appetite. Still.

This is so weird for me! I love to eat!

Due to the stomach bug, I have lost two pounds (weight had been hovering at 133.8 for several weeks; this morning it was 131.8). I realize most of that loss is probably water, but it was still heartening to see that number on the scale. It's a number I haven't seen since 2006.

I've decided to take advantage and "detox" myself by eating only healthy foods and smaller amounts at that for as long as possible. And because I'm still vaguely nauseous I have had no problems sticking to this so far (two days--no world record, I know, but not bad for me, The Serial Breaker of Food Resolutions). Here's what I ate today:

Breakfast (pre-run): 1/2 cup of Cheerios; small bowl of fresh pineapple; 1 banana

Second Breakfast (post-run): 1 cup plain unsweetened Greek yogurt; 1 banana (one of the other runners this morning is a nurse who told me I'm probably low on potassium; cue the bananas)

Lunch: tons of fruit (blueberries, strawberries, grapes, pineapple); two slices Swiss cheese; one mini-bagel

Snack: one squeeze packet Justin's Honey Almond Butter (I love Justin's)

Dinner: two whole-wheat tortillas spread with one plain avocado; four or so baby carrots; 10 Greek olives

All I drank was water and some diluted G2 Gatorade on the run.

I'm psyched to be having no cravings (the lunch was even at yet another 4-year-old birthday party, where I had no interest in the potato chips or the rainbow cake pops). But I'm a little worried since the run felt so hard. Can I really eat like this and run well?

The Bolder Boulder is a week away. It's not my target race, but I'd like to do better than last year. After last week's Magnolia Rd. run, I was sure I would. Now I have to say...we'll see....

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sick As A Dog

What a week this has been!

1) We moved! This went really well--we love our new house. But we're all still getting used to the new routine.

2) Yesterday afternoon I came down with a stomach virus or food poisoning (not sure which, though I hope it's the latter so there's less chance of the kids or Dan getting it). I've spent most of today in bed clutching my crampy tummy and throbbing head. But I think I'm now on the mend. I even feel a little hungry, which is a good sign.

3) Before the bug got me, I rose early and went for an awesome five-mile tempo run yesterday morning. Running is the best way to explore a new place. I discovered that our new house is on top of a hill, so almost any direction I run means running uphill on the way back. I also found that we're in walking distance of *four* parks (two of which have swimming pools), the city rec center, a high school track and an alluring golf course.

Does anyone else out there like to run on golf courses? Is this something I should feel guilty about? There were no golfers out yet when I ran it, just one guy mowing. But I didn't see any other runners or walkers out there, which made me wonder. I guess it's better to ask forgiveness than permission, right? I mean, surely my New Balance running shoes won't do any more damage to the course than a pair of golf spikes.

That's it for now! I'm hoping I'm totally over this thing (and the resulting dehydration) in time for Saturday's long run.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Boulder Classic Run #2: Magnolia Road

I am in love!

No, I didn't run Old Mags in jeans and clogs. I returned later with the husband for pictures!

Just to refresh your memory, I am attempting to do four Classic Boulder Runs before I bear down for marathon training next month. Magnolia Road (Classic Run #2) is a famous dirt avenue up in the mountains above Boulder at about 8,000 feet. It gained its notoriety in the book Running With the Buffaloes as the site of many long and difficult runs accomplished by the University of Colorado cross-country team. Pro runners use it, too, as its combo of hills, altitude and length allows you to seriously test yourself on all of those variables in training for distances up to the marathon. There are hillier places to run, and higher, and longer...but Old Mags combines the best of all three.

This photo is borrowed from RunColo; the weather was NOT like this yesterday.

I woke up at 6 a.m., a half-hour before my alarm was set to go off, ate my banana and donned the capris and long-sleeved shirt I'd laid out. After peeking out the window to see grey skies and fog over the foothills, I grabbed a jacket at the last minute, tiptoed down the creaky hall for the second-to-last time (Moving Day is tomorrow!) and set off in our old Acura up Boulder Canyon. I brought lots of water and some caffeinated Sport Beans. Water is key when you're going to run at real altitude.

Old Mags wasn't as far up the canyon as I thought. I saw the sign, turned left and headed up up up. Even though I'd read about the steepness of the paved portion you drive before parking and starting your run, the 14% grade I had to negotiate in that old car had an ominous feel to it. The fog hung over everything like a shroud, obscuring what I know must be spectacular views down ravines and up cliff spires. The higher I got, the less I could see. At one point I had to hit the brakes hard when a lone deer stepped out of the mist onto the road before me. I started thinking about mountain lions again.

Finally, after about three or four miles of driving, I saw this sign:

I pulled the car off onto the shoulder and got out. There was a helpful information board:

Presumably the folks who monitor the Roosevelt National Forest, whose entry sign I'd passed far below, don't feel the need to keep the information here fresh.....

The first thing I noticed upon exiting the car was how QUIET it was in that forest in the fog. I live with two four-year-olds, work in a public building and usually run on roads or at the gym. I haven't heard that middle-of-nowhere stillness in a long time. I had brought my iPod, but hid that under some clothing in the front seat. I wanted to hear more of that silence (and also any cars that might come by; the road is wide, but there's no shoulder or sidewalk).

The second thing I noticed was the cold. I had no thermometer, but based on the temperatures later down below, it must have been in the high thirties. Not only was I glad I had grabbed the jacket, I was wishing for a winter hat and some gloves. Oh well. That's what jacket sleeves are for. I fired up the Garmin (which found its satellite friends remarkably speedily) and began running.

The first mile was downhill. Here's a view:

This surprised me, as I'd studied the altitude profile and was expecting a climb for the entire first half of the run. It also worried me, because I knew that whatever I ran down I'd have to run up again later when I was tired. Oh well! As Sam Gamgee said in The Lord of the Rings, "There's nothing for it!" On I ran.

The fog remained thick when that long hill finally leveled off into a valley, and it took my hands a long time to warm up. Shapes loomed out of the roadside at me. I didn't recognize these for what they were until I was right next to them:

And I was passed by a lot of cars. I thought, Who are all these people living and driving up here? After that first downhill mile, the road was mostly up, with a few little downhill breaks here and there. I had allowed myself walking breaks, which was a lucky thing, since I really didn't have a choice but to take them on some of the steeper stretches. It's funny to breathe hard so early in a run, when your legs aren't tired in the least. That's mountain running for you!

Heading up in my car, I had been anxious that I'd be the lone workhorse on the thoroughbred course. Even though it's May and the university is all wrapped up for the summer, I half expected the entire CU cross-country team to be out there, or perhaps some gazelle-like Kenyans. But once I was actually running, and alone, I lost all my self-consciousness. Eventually I was passed by a lone bicyclist (I'd seen him heading up when I was still in the car), and toward the end of the out portion of my out-and-back effort another runner finally caught up with me.

He was an older guy, fit of course but not scarily so, and he was wearing shorts, which made me feel better about my lack of gloves. I heard the gentle patter of his feet behind me on the packed damp gravel and whipped around (the mountain lions were probably all wisely tucked into dens, but in my head they were all around me). "Don't worry," he said cheerfully. "I"m not a bear." He overtook me and so I followed him for a while, but he turned around and headed back soon after that, saying, "Have a good run" as he went by in the homeward direction.

I hit four miles out soon after and marvelled at how good I was feeling despite the hills and the height. Looking back on it, I think the dampness helped. I wasn't losing as much moisture as I normally would have at that altitude, and the temperature was exactly what I like to run in. I decided to continue another half-mile, to make it a nine-mile run. And when I turned around at that 4.5-mile! I was repaid with some truly fun roller-coastery mostly downhill miles. I knew that final climb back to the car was ahead, but at this point I was loving Old Mags and ready to handle it. And when I actually crested that last hill, reached the car and heard the Garmin chime nine miles, I ran another quick .2 in honor of my friend, Kathy, who is training for her first marathon and always adds .2 to the end of her long runs.

I wish now that I had made it 10.2! It felt *much* easier than my 10 miler on the Mesa Trail a few weeks back and has me very much looking forward to doing Green Mountain and Mt. Sanitas. I even think I might do some of my marathon long training runs up on Mags, though I do think my romance with it might sour when it's hot, bright and dry up there.

For now, though, I'm enjoying that blush of first love.

As the pictures show, I made Dan drive back up later on to take pictures and savor it with me. The fog had lifted, but snow had moved in, so the veil of mystery and moistness was still there. I love the mountains! How lucky I am to live here!

Here's the Garmin info--I'm loving the elevation profile, but the pace not so much.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Good Week, Altitude Increase Ahead!

In the end, sleety weather (not my sudden fear of mountain lions on trails) put an end to my plans to run Sanitas Wednesday morning. This would have been the second of my four planned Boulder Classic runs. I still have three to do, with Magnolia Road at 8,000 feet on tap for tomorrow. Thanks to Running With the Buffaloes, I'm now both eager and fearful of Old Mags, as the guys in the book refer to it. I'm hoping to eke out eight slow miles up there. We'll see how it goes.

Magnolia Road in the fall; hope there's shade up there tomorrow

Despite all the packing, with Moving Day on Monday, it's been a good week for running and exercise. I used my last pass at Flatiron Athletic Club Wednesday morning when it was clear that Sanitas wouldn't be happening. The crowd early on a normal weekday was much smaller, and much less intimidating than the New Year's Day crowd was. Or maybe I just wasn't noticing as much, because I didn't feel like running at all.

I needed to do 8 miles, 6 of them at a mid-range tempo pace. The first two miles (yes, the warm-up mile was included in this) I really really wanted to quit, or at least slow down significantly or cut the distance. And in the past, even the recent past, I probably would have. But I'm tired of feeling like I'm on a plateau. So while I allowed myself to notch the treadmill down one-tenth-of-a-mile-per-hour, I forced myself to stick to that. And you know what? It worked. It took a while, but by the fourth tempo mile, I realized I was feeling stronger. I inched the speed back up, and then up again. And in the end, I knocked that sucker out!

That set the stage for awesome cross-training workouts yesterday and today. Yesterday I warmed up on a stationary bike, did a lap around the rec center building, did twenty minutes of weights and then swam for 30 minutes, alternating kicking with breast stroke. A triathlete dude who works the front desk told me that if I want to make kicking harder, I should hold the kickboard at a right angle ahead of me, so it's sticking up out of the water like a tombstone. And boy did that ever work! I huffed and puffed those laps, so it was a relief to put the board down and just swim.

Then today I went to a spin class at 24 Hour Fitness. Tammy had told me I could drop in as her guest. Her classes are always awesome. Today's featured a CD that was a mix of Prince and John Mellencamp. Nothing like cooling down to "Purple Rain"....

Bolder Boulder mania is heating up here. To show you (again) what kind of freaky talented place this is, I'm attaching a recent "challenge" issued by the guys who write the RunColo blog. Remember that to get into one of the first few waves of this race you have to qualify. And one of the ways to do that is to run 2 miles on a treadmill. Any 5-something-minute milers out there who want to land some good schwag? Read here (and read it even if you're not a 5-something miler; the comments are particularly funny...and scary...if only this could be such a lark for me).

Wish me luck on Magnolia Rd....and the move. I wonder which will suck more oxygen out of me.....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Book Review: Running With the Buffaloes

I'm in the throes of moving (to get all Victorian on you; yes, moving IS like an illness), and so I haven't had any time to post anything decent. The running has been going well this week (really nice 10-miler last Saturday and an even better 5x1000 speed session Monday).

I'm vacillating about tomorrow's run: do I do 8 miles with 6 at tempo (as my program for the 10K suggests) or do I do my Boulder Classic run up Mt. Sanitas? I'd do Sanitas in a heartbeat, but I've been spooked by the book I'm now reading (The Beast in the Garden), which is about mountain lions, in Boulder, attacking people. The lions are described as "crepuscular" hunters...meaning they hunt at dawn and dusk. And I am a "crepuscular runner." In other words, prey. And lions *have* been seen on Sanitas.

So do I do it, or do I go the safe route? Keep in mind...a week ago I wouldn't have even asked.

Since we're talking about books, I thought I'd post my review of the last running book I read. It was a doozy!

This book is a Boulder classic. I tweeted that I was reading it, and unlike most of my tweets, which go out into a great black hole of no response, this one got an enthusiastic reply. While shopping at our new Alfalfa's grocery store last week, the cashier noticed it tucked under my arm. "Great book," he said. "I read it years ago."

The book details (and I mean details!) every day in the life of the 1998 University of Colorado men's cross-country team. It starts in the hot summer months, when it wasn't clear what the season's outcome would be, and culminates with the team's third-place finish at the NCAA championships, a race that CU's star runner, Adam Goucher, won in spectacular fashion after long years of striving. The testosterone is so thick at times you can almost smell it--these aren't the gentlemen athletes of Chariots of Fire. The reader goes along on tough runs ranging from lung-burning long ones at 8,000 feet to puke-inducing track intervals, and also on all the team's meets. You meet Mark Wetmore, the program's idolized coach, getting his impressions and worries as the season unfolds. And you're there when a beloved senior team member dies in a biking accident, plunging the team into grief.

The book reads like the author's journal. This is good at times, because it all feels immediate and intense, but also bad, because anyone's personal journal could use an editor. A steady editor here would have excised or explained jargon, cleaned up sentences and smoothed out transitions. I love good narrative non-fiction and would have liked more narrative flow here. Also, to me as a woman and a decidedly average runner, Wetmore's fretting about his runners "getting fat" and his disparaging remarks about average folks who come out each year to run the big local race, the Bolder Boulder, were disheartening (I hope he doesn't talk about his female runners' weight like that).

But overall, I enjoyed this unique book and learned a lot from it about competitive running, about the town I live in and about young and talented athletes. They are, as one team member put it toward the end of the book, "incredible people with the incredible and audacious agenda to discover their own talents," who "run our asses off and do what we do so well that we defeat all kinds of people that are supposed to be better than us."

Hopefully Wetmore won't begrudge some of us average folks (who may also be a little fat!) adopting just a smidge of that attitude, toward running and life

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mothers' Day

Will and Ruth in the Turkey Trot last November (numbers 2000 and 1999). But today was the first time they ran with me!

My kids have been asking to run with me for a while. Running has long been on their radar screens, starting at age two or so when they wanted to wear my running clothes and cried whenever I left to run, and gradually morphing into no crying and asking me how my run was and how far did I go and finally into running the 100-meter Turkey Trot and giving me fantastical comments such as: "Mommy, did you know? I ran forty miles today!" They actually once got into an ice bath with me! Didn't bug them a whit (maybe because I'd already warmed that water up nicely for them).

So today I thought, to celebrate Mothers' Day, I should take them "running" before church. They came into our room, which was already blazing with light, at 6:45 a.m. (summer's coming!), and soon after we all got up, ate a banana each and put on our "running clothes." I wore actual running clothes. My daughter, Ruth, wanted to mimic what I was wearing as closely as possible. My son, Will, ever his own guy, chose to wear rubber rain boots instead of his sneakers. I figure, whatever floats his boat--as long as he's out there. And Dan, my husband, who had already packed his running shoes because he's still injured and we're moving next week (!), put on his Birkenstocks.

We were quite a motley crew heading down the bike path. Ruth and Will did that kid thing, where when you say "OK, let's run" they start sprinting, only to slow to a walk after 50 meters or so. This was repeated several times...sprint, walk, sprint, walk...down the bike path and around our condo complex. We also had to stop at one point so as not to scare a group of robins pulling worms out of a field. When we came to a crossroads, Will wanted to go one way and Ruth another, so Dan and Will took the high road and Ruth and I the low.

Our two groups ended up meeting again, at which point Ruth decided she didn't want the boys to beat us and took off. I took off after her, both of us laughing. I don't think the boys, in their peculiar footwear, were going to beat us anyway, but it was funny to me that she cared. When we got home, I stopped the Garmin (oh yeah, I had to take all the equipment--Garmin, water bottles, everything but the iPod).

We had gone 1/2 mile--not bad for two four-year-olds on their first shot at it. Happy Mothers' Day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Shuffler Returns

After an unexpectedly nice 5-mile run on Tuesday, my first back at altitude, I knew I had to find some equally satisfying cross-training on Wednesday. And I couldn't quite face dealing with the rowing machine or the swimming pool yet. What I wanted was a sweat-soaked spin class with lots of good music.

With Tammy's class over until the fall, I had to look beyond my beloved (and affordable) rec center. Lo and behold! I still had the pass to Flatiron Athletic Club that Christine gave me for my birthday back in January. This club has a spin class at 6 a.m. on Wednesdays, and since the pass was set to expire at the end of this month, I decided there was no time like the present.

Knowing what I do about Flatiron's running clientele, I was prepared to find that all of my classmates there would look like Lance Armstrong and his female equivalent. I arrived early, wearing long black yoga pants and a black shirt so as to fade nicely into the background, and entered the former racquetball court that they've converted to a spin studio. The lights were dim, and only two other people were there: the instructor (a cut guy in biking shorts named Dave) and another more mortal-looking guy (wearing cotton clothes) already on a bike warming up. So far, I didn't feel too intimidated. I climbed on my bike (in the back row of course, and away from mirrors) and got going.

Other people trickled in, until in the end there were about 14 people. I was one of only three women (both, of course, more fit-looking than I; I told myself I could take them in a running race), and one of only two people NOT wearing those special clip-in biking shoes. The music, despite a track at the beginning that disturbingly resembled something Smoove B might choose, ended up being really good. Two songs were ones I'd heard Tammy play. Especially relevant after my bad run last Saturday was "I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again" by Chumbawamba. My favorite among the new songs was a fast Cajun number with an accordion.

After the class, I weaved my way through the lounge area and juice bar, where well-heeled retirees with rackets and yoga mats were reclining, to the front desk to ask how much it is for non-members to drop in to classes. The answer, unfortunately, was that you have to pay the $20 daily drop-in fee. Not gonna happen. So I am hoarding one more pass...for the next time I really need a spin class.

Seen in Boulder
: The same day, I also hauled my children, who together weigh about 75 pounds, up the mesa to their preschool in our bike trailer. On the way, I saw a 50-something man with a salt-and-pepper beard walking his dog on the bike trail. And he was wearing a Boston Marathon jacket. I recognized the green trim and the unicorn logo instantly.

My dad used to say that seeing cardinals on our lawn was a good omen for our favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals (this wasn't always true). Could spotting that gent been a good omen for me?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Me? Stylish? Not Really...But I'll Pretend!

Erin at See Mom Run Far has "tagged" me with the Stylish Blogger Award! I am nowhere near as stylish as Erin, whose races and runs are becoming increasingly fast and effortless and who has an awesome story...but I am grateful for the compliment. Thank you, Erin!

The rules governing this award state that I must tell you seven random things about myself. So here goes:

1. Before I became the mild-mannered librarian super-hero that you see before you, I was a financial journalist for 8 years. Being mild-mannered is *not* an asset in financial journalism. I was terrible at it. But it was interesting and educational. I covered commodities and Nasdaq stocks for The Wall Street Journal before becoming a Money & Investing section news editor for another year. The stories I wrote bore scintillating headlines such as these: "Freeze May Cut Orange Juice Prices/ But Make Fresh Fruit More Expensive" and "Some Specialty Hedge Funds Weathered Ills." I interviewed Bernard Madoff, Martha Stewart and Edward James Olmos, traveled to Las Vegas with a bunch of oil traders and appeared on CNBC a couple of times in more make-up than I'll ever wear again (I hope). I'm glad not to be living that life any more.

2. After leaving the Journal, I joined the Peace Corps and spent a year in Far East Russia teaching English. My time there was cut short when the Russians refused to renew my group's visas for the second year. I still speak some broken Russian (I loved learning the language), which comes in handy occasionally at my library.

3. I love dogs, and greyhounds in particular. They aren't endurance dogs at all. They like to sprint. When we can afford to buy our own house, I hope to get a dog at last.

4. I met my husband, Dan, at the wedding of two good friends of mine. I had imbibed a lot of red wine at the reception and, encouraged by the groom, who is also an old friend of Dan's, approached Dan on the dance floor with the line: "Are you a runner?" Turns out, the answer is yes, and we've been together ever since. Dan ran cross-country in high school. His PR for the 5K back then was in the 18-minutes-something range...or did he go sub-18? I'll have to ask him....

5. Do you like to read? I do too! I have set myself a challenge of reading 30 books this year (that's tough for me with my job, two little kids at home and a large running goal). If you want to follow my progress and share your favorite books with me, friend me on GoodReads. My favorite novels of all time are probably Jazz by Toni Morrison and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I also like a lot of narrative non-fiction.

6. If I had more time, I'd become a tech nerd. My favorite course in library school was learning XHTML. I got to build a Web site as part of my practicum, and it's still in use. It looks clunky, but I'm proud of it as it was all hand-coded (no DreamWeaver or other software was allowed). Check it out here. I wrote all the content--I'd also be a space science nerd if I had more time. In fact, one of the great things about early morning runs is contrasting the constellations you see then with the ones you see in the early evening. My favorite constellation is Orion. Orion will be going away for the summer soon....

7. I don't really trust famous people to be my heroes. Sometimes you're asked which celebrities you admire. All of the ones I can think of are dead. The jury is still out for all of us who are still alive, including those counted among the famous. I prefer to name heroes who are people I know personally, like my friend Gina at work...and some of you running bloggers out there. The true saints, I believe, are anonymous to most of us.

If you've read this far, my hat's off to you! I'm now supposed to name seven new recipients of the Stylish Blogger Award. I'm going to troll my favorites and see who hasn't gotten it yet, so stay tuned for another post on this. And, Erin, thanks again--this was fun.

Monday, May 2, 2011

April Recap

We are back in Boulder, and very glad about it! Traveling with my kids is getting easier and easier, but I still won't call it easy. Tomorrow I face my first altitude run in about 10 days. Cross your fingers for me....

Here's my recap of April:

--I was named a ZOOMA Colorado ambassador. The first training run of the program is this weekend in Boulder. Wanna come? Go here and sign up! We'll be going five miles along the shady and cool Boulder Creek Path.

--I ran 91.5 miles. That total is getting back up there.

--I attended eight 1-hour spin classes, my last at the rec center until the fall (sniff). I did find out that Tammy teaches an early spin class at another club in town. I may break down and pay for that each week. It's on Fridays, which isn't ideal since my long run is always the next day...but then again it may freshen up my legs.

--I made it to five 45-minute bootcamp classes.

--I did two tough runs: the Mesa Trail 10-miler and the 15-miler in Missouri. Except because both runs had fun aspects to them, they didn't feel tough. It was good to get away from the Reservoir.

Among the things I didn't get done: my next giveaway (just didn't work out due to the timing of the Missouri trip) and the two running workshops I thought were happening (turns out they were scheduled for May, not April as I had thought). All of that should occur this month, along with our move (!). There will also be lots more ZOOMA runs, the Bolder Boulder on Memorial Day...and the onset of training for the Top of Utah Marathon.