Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Running Ramblings - 7 Weeks

Matt and I are in week seven of 26 of marathon training and rapidly approaching the date of the Denver half marathon (Oct 17). It hardly seems like we have been training for nearly two months. I thought this would be a good time for some initial reflections.
Running has always been my favorite stress outlet. When I am upset, I lace up my shoes and hit the pavement. I had a good 5K loop mapped out around the old neighborhood before we moved, but never ventured much further than that in terms of distance. I never really had a good reason to break that 5K habit until now. Click here for a recap of why we decided to run a marathon if you don't know already.
When I looked at the marathon training schedule to see what all it would involve, I was actually pleasantly surprised. The biggest commitment is actually the "long runs" which are scheduled on weekends. We basically add a mile each week until we get to twenty-two miles, and then taper off a few weeks before the marathon. After one or two "recovery days," two or three short runs (3 or 4 miles) and one Farltek or cross training session are all that is required during the week. Since I was already running 5K's regularly during the week, it was no major adjustment to my schedule except to make sure we fit those long runs into the weekend. So far so good!
It is amazing how my perception of running has changed now that I have such a lofty goal in mind. A couple months ago, I never would have thought I could run 7 or 8 miles. This weekend, we will run 10 miles and I am honestly looking forward to it! Each long run is a new milestone for me in terms of distance. In high school, I never did like distance running much, so I skipped cross country against my track coaches' advice. Hind sight is 20/20, as they say.
I have definitely started to notice "battle scars" after such long distances including but not limited to chaffing, blisters, and dehydration. However, I have been able to find solutions to every single one! Oh, and no one ever mentioned how running so much would make me want to eat EVERYTHING in sight! I am constantly hungry.
Despite the battle scars, there are also plenty of benefits that I have observed. My lung capacity is amazing. My legs and thighs are toning up. (Now if only every other "trouble area" would just follow suit...) I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow and am dead to the world until my alarm goes off. Four mile runs feel like a walk in the park. I am getting faster, little by little.
I don't think I would be nearly as excited about my workouts if I couldn't track my progress like I can with my new phone. I downloaded an app called Runkeeper. It uses my phone's GPS to track distance, pace and elevation gain. It also estimates my calories burned and saves each "activity" online so I can track my progress. It also posts everything to Facebook, so EVERYONE can keep track of how we are doing. :) The main downside to Runkeeper is that the GPS on my phone sometimes screws up and throws everything way off. Still, this is the first time I have been able to get anything like that to work. Plus, it's good to have a phone on me in case of an emergency. I never used to bother bringing it along.
Another tool that I recently acquired for the long runs is a running belt, with bottles that clip to each side so that i can easily carry fluids with me and hydrate along the way without stopping. This definitely helped with my dehydration issues. But I also make sure I drink lots of water during the day before and after I run. I especially like having the belt because I can train myself how much to drink without getting cramps. During our 8 mile run, I drank way too much at once and ran doubled over for the last mile. Last weekend, I limited myself to a couple ounces every mile or so and discovered that it was refreshing and didn't give me cramps at all. Its good to know all of this stuff before the actual race, where they will offer cups of water every mile or so. Now I know why runners never drink the whole cup, and dump the extra water on the volunteers instead. :)
Unquestionably, my best running tool of all is Matt. There is no way I would be on track without him. He keeps me motivated and makes me push myself to go faster when I settle in to a comfortable (lazy) pace. He is ready to run with me even after long days at work when we just want to sit down to dinner and some TV. I was so glad that he willingly took on this challenge with me, and I am happy that he will be at my side during the races to keep me going when I am sure I will want to quit.
It will be interesting to see how this training progresses through the winter. The days are getting shorter already, limiting our available time in the evening to run. Soon enough, we will be getting snow and freezing temperatures. The temps don't bother me nearly as much as snow on the ground when I have to watch every step. But then again, I have never run more than 3 miles in extreme cold, so it might become a factor as well. I know winter will make this more challenging, but we will just have to plan around the weather and hope for the best!
I think that's enough running rambling for now.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One Last Hoorah

We went camping possibly one last time last weekend. I say possibly because it was 90 degrees here today, so it hardly seems like summer is over. The only clue to indicate the onset of fall were the beautiful aspen trees turning a beautiful fall yellow up in the mountains!

Our partners in crime, Ted and Susie met us to camp. We took an impromptu off trail hike, but couldn't get very far since the campground was surrounded by private (fenced) property.

The gorgous trees turning colors.

Our trio of beagles: Bagel, Pongo and Perdi.

The guys kept plenty busy climbing rocks.

And drinking oil cans. :) Cheers!

Pongo hung out in the tent as usual. He was perfectly content to do so.
Susie and I discovered we had matching flavors of vitamin water in the morning.
Ted cooked some wonderful scrambled eggs over the open campfire for breakfast.
It was nice to have one last quick camping trip before the seasons change. I hope fall comes soon now. I am getting a little tired of these 90 degree days!

Friday, September 24, 2010


This week was a short work week for me. I took a 5 day weekend starting last Friday through Tuesday. I came back to work on Wednesday feeling incredibly refreshed and productive. Since I hardly ever take that much time off work at once, it was great to get away from the office for a while and just enjoy the company of good friends. I certainly made the best of my "staycation."
So what did I do with my 5 days of freedom? Here is a short recap:
Thursday evening, Matt and I attended the Great American Beer Festival in downtown Denver. We went to this last year and had a great time. This year was no different...SO MUCH FUN!
Friday, Matt and I drove up to Ft. Collins to watch the KU football game with our friends Ted and Susie, who just moved to CO about two months ago. While the game didn't come out the way we would have liked, we did enjoy some fantastic homemade chicken enchiladas made by Susie. And Bagel (their beagle) even treated me to a few of her cute playful howls that I love! While the guys played video games, Susie and I discussed home decorating strategies and planned a short camping trip for this weekend. Can't wait!!
Saturday was filled with more time with college friends. Carlene and I went out and did some fun shopping. Later that evening, we met Jim, Becky, Carlene and Nick downtown for dinner at the Rio Grande and ended up prowling around the 16th St. Mall for a few hours after that.

Sunday was another busy day. It was time for Matt and I to do our "long run" for the marathon training: 8 miles. Unfortunately, it was a hot and sunny morning. But a slight breeze made the run bearable and we got through it in an 1 hour and 24 minutes. Each week, we add another mile to our long run, which means this weekend will be 9 miles! So far, my body has not had any objections to the physical challenges of running for hours on end. But more on that later. I am forming a blog post about our marathon training thus far.
After the run on Sunday, I had to take Matt to the airport. He went to Madison, WI for a conference from Sunday-Thursday. Luckily, my friends Tazz and Jenn, and their 14 month old son Landon came in for a visit shortly after I got back from dropping Matt off, so I didn't even have a chance to be sad or lonely!
We spent Monday and Tuesday doing fun Colorado-y type things such as having lunch in Boulder at the Walnut Brewery, doing the river walk in Estes Park, and hiking Table Mesa in Golden. We also went to the Denver Aquarium. Landon loved all the fish--it was so cute to watch him get excited about them all! I made Tazz run a 5K with my on Tuesday evening. He was such a trooper because running in the higher altitude takes some time to get used to and he set a pretty fast pace! It was great to have a temporary running buddy in Matt's absence.
The picture below is Tazz, Jenn and Landon at the bottom of Table Mesa. It was so great to have them out here.
Matt is home now and we have a lot to look forward to this weekend: a short camping trip with Ted and Susie, and a 9 mile run to be specific! I am glad to have him home. We are watching season 6 of Grey's Anatomy right now and it was hard not to watch it while he was gone. I guess I missed him a little too. :)
And of course, I couldn't end this post without posting one of my favorite recent pictures of the beagles. I snapped this one with my phone's camera on one of our daily walks in the neighborhood park.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Slacking: Big Time

Hi. How can it possibly have been a month since I have last blogged? I used to be pretty good at keeping you all semi up-to-date on what we have been up to. I have a few pictures to post from our labor day weekend visitors. Those of you on Facebook have probably seen these already, but I will post some here as well. Maybe by Christmas. :)

Here is one that you Facebookers haven't seen, taken from my phone.

Matt, Alissa and I decided to do some mini golfing in the beautiful weather on Labor Day. This course is about 2 minutes from our house and pretty entertaining. Anne and I did this course when she was here in July, so I had a one-up on everyone. I like to think that's why I beat Matt by one stroke anyway. :)

Matt and I are continuing to train for our marathon, which we still haven't officially picked out yet. I have my heart set on Little Rock in March, but we have until Nov. 1 to decide for sure before the registration costs go up. We haven't done any seriously long runs yet. I think the longest has been 6 miles. We got a little off track with the holiday, but just getting out and getting my "running legs" back in the fantastic summer/fall in-between weather feels great.
Did I mention that we have some fantastic trails in our new neighborhood? Here is our typical route map.

I feel OK publishing this because we alter the route daily, depending on how long we want/need to run. But I know some people (Dad) have been curious to see a map. We tend to loop Los Verdes country club on the High Line Canal Trail for a nice 4 mile loop. This is a gorgeous run, and it is also somewhat entertaining to watch the golfers as we run.
*Side Note* The trail systems through Denver are maintained by the Colorado State Parks, an organization that has lost a lot of my respect this year. They recently decided to fence their fabulous off-leash dog trails in order to make the parks more "equine friendly." I loved walking Pongo and Perdi through Cherry Creek State Park almost daily and was saddened by this news. But what I really and truly don't understand is why a dog owner can get a ticket for not picking up pet waste properly, and yet every day, we are constantly stepping in horse droppings left in the middle of the otherwise nicely paved and maintained Cherry Creek and High Line Canal trails. I know it's not convenient to stop and pick it up when you are on a horse, but come on. Lots of other people use the trails every day to bike, run and even walk dogs (on leash, of course). All I am saying is that we don't leave Pongo and Perdi's "business" in the middle of the pavement. We could get a ticket if we did and it's just not polite. Uh oh...I feel another letter coming on! :) *End side note*
As it turns out, Matt and I will be returning to Kansas in October, November AND December this year. We are attending a wedding in October, Thanksgiving in November and of course Christmas in December. This is the first year that Matt gets both Thanksgiving and Christmas off, so we are going to take full advantage. We might be a little tired of driving after this year!