So be sure when you step. You step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hood to Coast

Hood to Coast was everything I was expecting - gorgeous scenery, great people, and an overall epic experience.  The race start was staggered in 15-minute intervals.  The slower teams began at 7am and the faster teams began at 7pm.  We started at 3:30pm.

Because of our later start, we were able to enjoy our morning in Portland.  The Embassy Suites provided a really good complimentary breakfast.   I had an omelette (made to order), a pancake, a yogurt, potatoes, orange juice and coffee.  I don't get to eat a breakfast like that very often, if ever, because I usually do not stay in an Embassy Suites.

Anyway, the race started on Mount Hood.  It was lovely up there.  The air was so thin that it made our bag of Doritos inflate and my ears crack.  We started with six other teams.  Our first runner was real fast, and passed them all.  This is what people call a "kill."

I was the second runner.  People warned me that my leg was a steep downhill, but they also assured me that it was nowhere as bad as Leg 1.  I knew that it was important for me to lean forward during this downhill to avoid burning out my quads.

Mind you, I have only ran a few times in the past month.  None of them fast.  Few of them over 6 miles.  So, while my legs were able to turn over at a 6 min mile pace, my cardiovascular system was not able to keep up.

At one point, I glanced down at my Garmin to note that it had only been nine minutes.  It's not a good sign if you are exhausted after only nine minutes.

I slowed down but at the expense of my legs.  I wore my Hokas in attempt to lessen the effect but my legs were toasted regardless.  I thought the scenery would serve as a distraction, but instead I barely noticed it.

We finished running down the Mountain and met our Van 2 in a large Safeway parking lot.  There were a lot of other vans there and I met people from all countries imaginable: Amsterdam, Italy, France - and everyone was so open and friendly and interesting.

Eventually we continued back to Portland and had dinner at Whole Foods.  It was the first fresh food since my breakfast feast.  It was also already 9pm, which is my bedtime, so needless to say, I felt tired.  After my soup, I slouched at the table and looked at my teammate standing up, rubbing his belly that was full of smoked salmon.  "Yeah," he said thoughtfully, "I really feel like I need to go for a run."

My second run was around 12:30am through the industrial district.  This stretch of the race is completely dark.  Despite getting crowned with a headlamp, I could not see anything but endless blackness.

I didn't even see other runners!  I "killed" four runners within the first mile, but after that, it was just a sea of black.  The first three miles were pretty good, probably around a 7:15 pace.  But then my legs became heavy with lactic acid.  The best thing you can do when this happens is to run as fast as you can so you that you can be done. So, that is what I did.

I was hoping for sleep before my last run but of course it did not happen.  That is what I dislike most about these relay races - sleep never happens!  Even if you get the chance, your body does not cooperate.

By the time of my last run, my legs were so sore.  I did tons of stretching (at one point, I even had an audience of those in awe of my flexibility.  But the last thing I wanted was to put on a show,  I just wanted my legs to stop aching!)  However, without rest is there is no recovery, body contortion and compression socks aside.

My third run was on rolling hills through the woods.  I would say that these 5.8 miles mimicked the pain of the last 5.8 miles of a marathon.  I hate that pain - that is why I don't run marathons!!

I focused on killing people and hit my expected pace.  And then....I was done!!!!

Despite the fatigue and the pain, I had a great time in Oregon.  I met many fabulous people, saw many fabulous sights and at the end of it all, I felt like I really accomplished something.  It was more of an adventure than a race.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Preparing for Hood2Coast

I am using the word "preparing" very loosely because so far, I have nothing packed.

I wrote a list.

I wanted to pack today but I just could not get off the couch.  I don't want to say I am sick, because it would be the absolutely worst timing and therefore, absolutely impossible, however I do think I have a head cold, complete with coughing, cloudy head, and of course, lots of snot.  

I am resting. I took some cold medicine. I am feeling optimistic.

This race has required relentless optimism.  First, my burn out and back injury made me question if I would even want to go.  Next, I hurt foot, which made me question if I even could go.

My foot started to feel better and I began to think about my three legs.  I am the second runner, which means I my first run is at the bottom of Mount Hood and entirely downhill.  I picked this specifically because I wanted the experience of running down Mount Hood.  It is going to be breathtaking.

To prepare for the downhill, I did some repeats up A Mountain.  This is not a random mountain, it is literally named "A Mountain" because it is adorned with an A:

Just like people warned me, the impact of the downhill left my quad muscles screaming.  They were tender to the touch before the day was over!  And, so was my downhill training, since it took days to recover.

Remaining optimistic, I bought a pair of Hokas.  Supposedly, these are supposed to lesson the impact of running, which seemed ideal for my situation.   In some ways, the Hokas live up to their promise - it is like placing your foot on a pillow with every step.  But they are also big and clunky - a dangerous component for an uncoordinated runner on a mountain.  Plus, when worn with other modern day running trends (i.e., compression socks and running skirt), it makes one look less like a runner and more like a go-go dancer.

To be clear, I have nothing against go-go dancers.  I am just not sure that is the look I want to represent in Oregon.  

I have been to Oregon multiple times to visit one of my best friends.  I have ran up and down many mountains in Oregon.  Those runs are some of my fondest memories.
So, while I am not in my best shape, I am very excited to return to the homeland of running and my favorite state!   I am also very excited to take a lot pictures and write a  race report.  It has been awhile since I've written a race report.  I am hoping to feel out of my slump soon.

"You'll come down from the Lurch, with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then, that you'll be in a Slump.
And when you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun,
Un-slumping yourself is not easily done." 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chin Stand

Life has been humdrum lately.
I'll say it:  I am bored.
Every day, be it a Monday or Sunday, is exactly the same.

I suppose this is normal when parenting young kids who crave consistency.  Every day they want to eat the same food, go to the same places and watch the same TV show.  Not only the same TV show, but the same episode.  Sometimes I go into the office to work.  Sometimes I go to my chiropractor.

I usually draw excitement from my racing but as you all can tell, it's non-existent these days.  There are a few reasons:
First, I mentally burnt out.
Next, I hurt my while practicing my coveted chin stand.
Finally, the top of foot started to hurt (most likely a pinched nerve).

After 2.5 weeks of bike rides, Master swim sessions, relentless icing, and drinking some nasty inflammatory supplement my mother gave me, I am back to pain-free, yet prudent, running.  Hood2Coast is in less than two weeks so I am teetering that fine line between staying in shape and staying un-injured.

Hood2Coast is going to be amazing - but it's not a typical race. I didn't train, nor do I have any expectations.

There is a part of me that wants to train for an upcoming triathlon, just to get that element of excitement back into my life.  But, you can't fake motivation.  You can only wait for it.

I was feeling down about my lack of progress this year, in ANYTHING - fitness related or not - but slightly uplifted after attending a mid-day yoga class over the weekend.  This is an usual thing for me to do and quite the treat.  I learned a new pose that is similar to the chin stand, but much less demanding on your back.  After failing at my chin stand goal, this gave me a small and much needed lift. Sometimes the small things make me smile the most.

I have no idea what this pose is called, but you start in an arm stand, like you are about to breakdance:

And then you tripod using your chin and your arms:

And finally you extend your legs, while still balancing on your arms, into the air!!

This kids are not impressed in the slightest.  But they wouldn't blink if I was doing backflips while juggling bananas so it doesn't put a damper on my only recent success story.  

I also get the satisfaction of crossing "chin stand" off my to-do list.


I hope Hood2Coast rekindles my relationship with running.  Although I will be sleep deprived, I think it may also be refreshing.  Even though I have whined and complained about wanting a vacation for years, I cannot remember the left time I left the state.  Maybe we just all need a break, even from the things we love the most.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Look What Happens when I skip a few Posts......

My kids, the former babies, went ahead and turned FOUR.

Although I am a little beside myself that I am the mother of two kids rather than two toddlers (I mean, lets be real, I am still bewildered that I am a mother at all), I am more phased by the fact that older kids = older mom.  Sometimes I look at my face in the mirror, see my smile lines and forehead creases, and I just cannot help but think, HOW CAN I BE THIS OLD?????

But, for the past week, I have calmed myself by reminding myself at least it is not *my* birthday.  My birthday is still 5 months away.  It's bitter-sweet because even though I hate turning a year older, I absolutely love my birthday.  So, after I feel relieved it's not my birthday, I feel disappointed.

It's complicated.

This is the first year the kids were aware it was their birthday.  They have been to a few birthday parties and noted that birthdays meant cake and presents.  For the past four months, Hayden has started his morning by asking, "Is it my Birthday?  Is it my Birthday?"

After the 115th time, it became annoying.  So, I was thrilled when I could finally answer, "Yes.  YES.  YES!!!!!!

We threw them a party at a little gym.  They ate pizza.  They got presents.  They had cake.  We picked out the cake together; the pink sand was Brenna's idea.

It was pretty good cake, as long as you like things that taste like sugar.

I learned two things from this whole birthday-party throwing experience:
1) Birthday parties are expensive.
2) Birthday parties are exhausting.

When we got home, my husband plopped on the couch and I went into the kitchen with the bakery box of leftover cake.  I placed most of the cake in a Tupperware container and placed it in the freezer.  Leftover freezer cake is the best kind of cake.  Then I noticed there was a lot of cake residue stuck to the bottom of the box.  And tons of icing abandoned on the side.

I scraped my finger/hand along the bottom of the box and sides of the box to acquire an impressive, although unattractive, mountain of cake mush.  Cake mush is the second best of cake, especially since no one else will eat it - so forks be damned and hands be shovels!  Usually, when shovel cake mush into my mouth, it's in the privacy of my kitchen at 5am.  But in my fatigued state, I forgot it was the middle of the day.  I looked up to see my husband staring at me, eyes wide and jaw agape.

I guess I am lucky it took him this long to see me in such an act.  And, I will  not lie, I have visited the freezer cake every day since the birthday party.

My ignominious interaction with cake mush was not my intention for writing today - but between this and the tangent about my age, my writing time has encountered lunch time.

And NO, I am not going to eat cake for lunch.

I already did that before my morning swim.