Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Club XC Wrap Up and What's Down the Road

Welp, Club Cross is done and dusted and happily our women came away with second place, and our dudes got third. But those things are old news by now, and we got the job done. Next year I think we are due to move up a place though.

As always, there was not a dull moment the entire time. Cody must do some sort of behind-the-scenes psychoanalysis/interview/Rorschach Inkblot Test before allowing people on to the team to make sure that their personalities are sufficiently quirky enough to sync together in a really freaky way. No other team stops traffic the way that we do (and in Brie's case I mean this literally). And Levassiur, you're an excellent dancer, don't let them call you Ape Arms.

I would go over highlights from the trip, but Bobby took my idea so never mind.

So now it's back to the grind and looking ahead...what next? First order of business, get my foot straightened out, it didn't fail me in the race but had me pretty nervous leading up to it. Let's just say that the Minimalist Experiment was not the success that I was initially envisioning. After that, USA Cross Country is on the docket as usual, maybe an indoor 5k (for the sake of trying to PR, NOT because I like track. I don't. It's flat, and hard, and unnatural, and oval, and everyone looks like a bunch of freaking graceful impalas running on it EXCEPT for me who looks like a laterally-lurching-bow-legged-pigeon-toed ox for whom foward locomotion is an absolutely authentic praise Jesus miracle that defies all laws of nature. I mean, my arms....why are they doing that? No. Just no. Track is a necessary evil and that's it.), then hopefully Gate River....and I think that three months seems like a more than adequate time-frame and I'm not looking past that.

In any case, I would like to try some new stuff in 2013, perhaps dabble in the trail and mountain running scene just a little, and while I don't like to put goals out there in print because I believe in Do-First-Talk-Later, there's a little rinky-dink half-marathon in late summer that goes up this awfully big 14,000 foot hill that overlooks all of Colorado Springs, and it's been calling my name for a couple of years now, this might be the year to actually acknowledge it, we'll see.

I've also been debating the possibility of having a coach help a little bit, I've briefly had a couple since being out of college, but in looking back I've truthfully never really wanted one, it always felt necessary because everyone else seemed to have one. But sometimes I debate their effectiveness, and mostly I just don't like the feeling of having lost ownership of my own running because it's my project, I dislike feeling the need to "people please" and like I owe someone else success, especially when I know that they will only be there during said success and won't want to know your name otherwise. So I get nervous and I get cold feet and then I run away...sounds coachable! And admittedly so far I've wanted to do what I want to do and that's not necessarily what Coach So and So wants to do: They say 25x400, I say hills, they say tempo run, I say miles (and I'll be damned if I'm doing them on a track). But after a while it's like, I have forever to do what I want to do, I have now to really do something, and that might eventually require conceding to someone else's knowledge. I already know what I'm going to get doing it myself, I don't know when I might stumble on a good match and turn a corner if I never even give it a fair shake. I mean, I do the same thing like every week: Pyramid Fartlek The Original, then Pyramid Fartlek Version 2.0 (which is the same as The Original, but now with hills for added exertion!). But that's all still really up in the air, it always seems like such a big risk because running's a lot more important to me than I know that it should be, so relinquishing control of it sometimes rubbs me the wrong way. Either way, I have a lot more soul-searching to do on that one, it really comes down to keeping my head on straight, which is no small feat.

That's all I got, usually I strive for deeper meaning in my posts and try to employ similes, metaphors, and complex symbolism, but I think that I sound sufficiently undecided about pretty much everything in life by now so this is a good stopping point. Great work to everyone at Clubs, it was as always a joy seeing everyone kick some ass and represent.

BUS 900 out.
Mattie and Brie's kickass-fest that I thoroughly enjoyed being part of.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Down, But Not Out

It's been over a week since Club XC's, and I think it's taken that long to (almost) fully digest my (disastrous) race. When a race doesn't go your way, it's always disappointing, but it's only a failure if you let it end you, otherwise, its' just another lesson learned along the journey to a better race. So after nearly a week, I've decided to not let this "end" me, but use it as yet another lesson-learned.
When you build yourself up to something for so long it's hard to let it go and move forward. Bad races are like gravity, they keep pulling you back even long after the race has been run. The phrasing "Let us kill the spirit of Gravity!" rings in my mind, and I try to convince myself to take it to heart as Zarathustra did (the fictional Zarathustra, not the prophet). Indeed, gravity must be killed in this sense. No one ever moves forward by looking back, you can learn where to go by looking back, but the act of moving forward must come with actually looking in the direction you wish to go, which is this case is (you've guessed it), forward.
When replaying the miles and steps in between the start and finish of the race, I'm still having difficulty putting my finger on exactly where I let go of my desire, but somewhere in the puddles of mud and hundreds of wild men in long spikes it fell out and got lost. The answers to bad races always seem to elude us until time has passed, and other races have been run, so in the mean time, I'll just chalk it up as a question mark and move on to the next challenge. The lesson will sink in when my mind is ready to absorb it.
Besides the race, the weekend itself was incredible. I feel proud to be a part of the best club team in the US, and surrounded by so many great runners and people. This was my first Club XC experience with BRC/Adidas, and it was a memorable one. With a variety of fun personalities, everyone fit like puzzle-pieces together to form an awesome team, one I'm truly honored to be a part of.
In an attempt to focus more on the positive or more fun memories of the weekend, I decided to come up with a highlight reel, which some things are explained, while others I'll leave un-explained, as they have now turned into some version of an inside joke or story to be told for years to come.

Highlights of the Weekend:

- Cutting your pizza tip-first is considered "weird"
- Driving down an "exit only" after circling Lexington for 20 minutes
                - Brianne persuading a cop to let the van in… Against traffic
                - Cassie's brush with the Lexington PD
- Sweatpants in public + collared shirt = The Old Man's Mullet
- Jay watching Japanese television
- The $7 sausage
- "Flossing your Nerves"
- Mattie & Brianne Dominate
- Men's & Women's teams Top 3
- "Wack! Wack! Wack!"
- Post-Race Levassiur : "My goal is to puke tonight"
- Tally of those who owe me gummie bears:  Cassie, Brianne
- Hotel room party
                - The Empty Fridge
                - DJ BJ
- Stella's got her groove back
- Dogs can count as children
- Whiplash on the dance floor
- Don't ever pack with a hangover
                -Fortunately, the Hyatt-Regency in Lexington has excellent customer service.
                (I received   the items I left neatly folded in the dresser drawer.)
- Hanging out at the Lexington airport. Enough said.

So now, onward into the cold, dark winter months. Back to running in the shadows, dreaming of better races and bigger results. I would've loved to sprint in through the mud with a great performance, but that'll have to be saved for another day, another race. The disappointment will wear off as the miles click by. "Come, let us kill the spirit of Gravity!"

It's only a failure if you let it end you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Baby Steps & Beet Juice

There's a chill in the air and the roads are quiet. I'm jogging across Baseline Road towards Kitt Field, the venue for the days workout. These mornings have been colder lately, as we transition into Winter, but still, it's nearly 50 degrees and almost December. Blame it on Global Warming, solar flares, and the Mayan Armageddon, either way it's a nice morning for a workout.
As usual, there's barely a cloud in the sky and the Flatirons are leaping out of the plains in the distance, their ragged edges allude to their escape, perhaps they clawed their way out of the even grounds before they reached fresh air. The natural beauty of Colorado never gets old, and this picturesque backdrop to a painful oxygen-debt style of a workout seems odd, but appropriate. I soak in the views as I circle the turf field awaiting Jonesy's arrival and begin to recap the journey here. The last half year has been littered with baby steps of improvements and today, I'm finally feeling the pop back in my stride.
Let's backup.
Nearly six months ago, I hit a huge low. I was running on empty (literally). Ferritin levels were rock-bottom, and after some intense observation of my diet, I realized I was barely getting a 1/3 of the protein that my body required. Something had to change. So, I began drinking liquid iron - not the tastiest treat - twice a day. Post-run smoothies also became common (now this was a tasty treat). I packed in a variety of frozen fruits, yogurt, and the key element: protein powder into my blender. Also, I began consistently devouring beet juice, another not-so-tasty-treat. Besides the color-change in my urine, I was recovering quicker within weeks. Though, as with most things worth doing, no miraculous performances began sprouting out of the sidewalks, but my workouts became consistently better.  Day to day, week to week, it all began to connect into some massive spider-web of workouts, long runs, and easy days. Very gradually, things began to click.
Back to the turf of Kitt Field, we're within the final weeks of tapering for Club XC Nationals and things are just heating up. The pop is back in the stride, nothing is wearing me down, and now I've got a new shadow to chase: Tyler McCandless (2:17 marathoner) has joined the group for the grind. The next few months are already looking exciting with this addition to the group. Mr. Matt Duncan (sea-level-flatlander-turned-Mountain-Goat) has kept me honest in long runs, and now we've got another body to push the pace, daily.
We loop around the field for nearly 40 minutes, inching back and forth, finding rhythm then pushing the pace up to cap off the workout. The Flatirons watch in the distance like they did on the warm up, like they always do. We finish with a burst and before 9am, the bulk of the days run is over. It's been a long journey, and there's still a ways to go, but I'm baby-stepping forward. I'll go home, whip up a tasty smoothie, down some beet juice, and maybe invest in Schrute Farms. It might be getting a little chilly outside, but things are heating up…

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Coping Mechanisms

Running is a fickle little beast. Sometimes things don't pan out quite as expected even when it was all going so gosh darn well. Perhaps a wrench got thrown into the otherwise flawless preparations. For some reason (that I don't know yet) it appears to have been decided that there needs to be just one decent obstacle going into this much-anticipated race coming up in Lexington next weekend. You know, because where would the excitement be otherwise? Training by itself would just be too easy I guess. So in times like these, you've got to be innovative. Such is the case at the moment going into Club Cross, which I look forward to more than any other race the entire year, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let my little mishap be an excuse to not kick some ass next weekend. If Joanie Samuelson had gone into the 1984 Olympics with preconceived ideas that she wasn't on top of her game, she might be sans one gold medal and we'd be minus one pretty epic story in the running history books. A good reminder to NEVER count yourself out no matter what.
In any case, I'd be lying if I didn't admit to barely reining in the panic right now, but since that only makes matters worse and makes a mountain out of a molehill, which I'm really adept at doing anyway, it's time to bust out the old Coping Mechanisms. Normally, running is my all-time favorite one, but if that's not going so swell and the comforting routine of training gets a little bit broken up, sometimes you need alternatives to restore confidence. That said, my favorite coping mechanisms, in no particular order, are as follows:
#1) This Blog: There's a reason why like 85% of the posts on this stupid thing are mine. When you are an emotionally constipated introvert, you need some kind of catharsis--especially in times of stress--to avoid becoming a homicidal maniac.
#2) Pool-running (really frikkin' hard): Or any other form of cross-training for that matter. Some people might argue that it doesn't do anything, I disagree. Even if some physiology guru makes the same claim, I say they're full of it. This one serves a dual purpose in that not only does it augment what normal training is already being done, but killing yourself in a swimming pool for a couple of hours is like a nice little shot of mental Novocain.
#3) The recently developed Lauren Fleshman "There Is No Future" Coping Mechanism (and my new favorite): "Pretending there is no future is a f*%@ing awesome coping mechanism. You should try it! It essentially melts fear. 'What if I get last?' loses its meaning. The only reason getting last is scary is because of what it means after the race. If last place truly is your best effort, and your best effort is what you are aiming for, then you win even when you lose."
#4) Drowning Myself in (possibly delusional) Optimism: This will be amazing. This will be spectacular. This will be whatever I decide to make it be, and I've decided to make it kickass.
Okay, I feel marginally better now. I've been chanting a cutesy little mantra in my head on every run lately: "Just-get-to-the-line-and-you'll-be-fine." A little over a week from now (when hopefully the manly-looking women's Club XC trophy is safely restored in its rightful home at the BRC) I'll probably be wondering what the heck I was so worried about. Till next time, keep calm and ROCK ON.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Magical Numbers

It seems like one of the first questions people ask you when they find out that you run, you know, the one preceded by the obligatory, "How fast can you run the mile?" that's usually followed by, "Are you training for the Olympics?" always seems to be, "How many miles a week do you run?"

I freaking hate that question. It almost seems as though to be considered "competitive", you're obligated to at least blurt out a certain magical number. I never used to keep track of miles very closely, just minutes really, but I could throw out a pretty decent ballpark answer. However, at some fairly recent point, saying to myself "I'm running 80 minutes this morning," stopped being good enough. Now it's, "I need to run 11 miles this morning (or 7 or 8 or 10 or whatever)" and "I need to hit XX miles this week." There's not even a reason for needing to hit XX miles, just that it seems like the bigger XX is, the better.

So mileage....what is mileage? If you want to get really technical, the Romans decided a mile was 1,000 paces. But everyone has different sized feet, so then what's a pace? They must've wondered this too, because then "feet" came in, and it was decided that a "foot" was the length of one of the emperor's feet. Must've totally sucked when when he died though, then they'd have to re-do the whole damn thing. So if the Romans kept track of mileage, it would vary depending on who was emperor, but fortunately for them, they were too busy with gladatorial contests and vivisecting people to bother with running nonsense. And then there's the nautical mile, which is totally different than a land mile. This is getting complicated. All this is to say, a mile is pretty much some distance that we. Made. Up.

So back to the topic at hand. You could talk to any coach about what the best mileage is to train for a given distance, and some will say run as much as you can as hard as you can (the old, "throw a bunch of eggs against a brick wall and see which ones don't break and those will be pretty badass" method), others will say to run as a much as you can but only hard on the quality days, others put focus entirely on quality over quantity. At the Olympic 10k Trials there were women on the line who ran 65 miles a week, and others logging twice that. So that being said, I guess it's all just trial and error, because no one actually seems to know, but at least we're not Romans.

And I guess that I see a lot of the validity in quantifying by mileage: You have at least some way to know how much work you're doing. But then, the harder you run XX miles, the less time you spend running. The easier you go, the longer you run. But I think that you really have to be someone who doesn't compulsively feel the need to hit a certain number for this to be a good system, which "Runner" and "Not Compulsive" seems a little bit like the biggest oxymoron ever invented. Granted, the minutes-method has its drawbacks too: a progressively hard 90 minute run is completely different than an easy 90 minutes on the trails. But for me at least, thinking in straight minutes eliminates the need to run with a GPS (which I hate using) or run a certain measured loop in order to hit a certain number just to say that I did, and I guess the body has no idea what a "mile" is anyway, it just knows how long it's been going and how hard it's been working. So I think I'll revert to mix of those two ways of measuring work and combine them: say, 12 miles or 90 minutes, whichever comes first.

Since I think I'm going to drive myself to alcoholism if I think about this anymore, I'm going to change the subject to finish on a less confusing and more upbeat note. I know that this deviates a little bit from the topic at hand, but I figure that since blog readers are likely comprised entirely of people who are bored absolutely senseless, it's probably fine. So I'm going to teach you a little bit about my favorite food: Nutella. I will tell you about the history of Nutella and the pro's and con's of Nutella consumption, and why, if you haven't already, you should make the switch from generic Chocolate Hazelnut Spread to the real deal.
In the early 1940's, Italian pastry chef Pietro Ferrero was concerned about the limited supply of chocolate during World War II. With rationing, he had a serious chocolate frosting crisis on his hands. What's a pastry chef to do? Leave those eclairs naked? Heavens no! Instead, he cleverly mixed finely crushed hazelnuts with cocoa powder and viola'! The crisis was averted, the situation was nuetralized, and Nutella was born. Hooray for Pietro!

25 years later, the U.S. received its first imports of Nutella, and even though some dumbass decided to file a class-action lawsuit earlier this year because it's not "healthy enough" and Nutella had to cough up $3 million dollars, they're still doing just fine, and they continue to be THE top-selling chocolate hazelnut spread available. Unlike its generic counterparts, Nutella contains over 80% hazelnuts and is free of preservatives and artificial colors even if a single serving is about 3 tablespoons worth of sugar. Who's counting? Not to mention, it's vegetarian! So all you Boulderites can breathe easy.

So thank you Mr. Ferrero! And let's make everyday World Nutella Day!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Livin' the Dream

In April of 2010, I got a voice mail.

"Hi Shannon, this is Keith Hanson, we'd be interested in having you come out for a visit here in Michigan to see if you might be a good fit for the Hanson's Distance Project."

Or something to that degree. I don't really remember now, just that I was really, REALLY excited and I think I squealed and dropped my phone a couple of times and I might've wet my pants. All I could think of was, "Holy crap! The Hansons?! THE Hanson's??!! They have Desi and Brian and Dot and Melissa White! That's where you like, go to get really good! And they're calling me! On the phone! Holy crap!" I even went so far as to save that voice mail and listen to it repeatedly to make sure that it wasn't imagined.

It was ridiculous. I couldn't believe that an actual training group--THE Hanson's--could possibly want me to run for them. It was pretty much my dream to go somewhere and do nothing but live the sport for as long as I could manage. I sent out a bunch of running resume's to all of these groups crossing my fingers that someone would look past the division 2 school and the low-end-of-mediocre PR's that weren't even current and were set the handful of times we weren't racing at altitude, and think, "Uh, welp....maybe this one's got potential." Unsurprisingly, I didn't actually get too many responses and the ones I did get seemed just to be humoring me. But the HANSONS! Boom! And I didn't even contact them, they contacted ME! Teammates, coaches, a job, sponsorship, healthcare, and above all else, a place to live where no one's going to ask when you're going to get a "real life". Everything you could possibly need to get everything out of yourself. Yessir, the sky's gonna be the limit! Here was a chance to really live the dream!

In thinking about it, my vision of that lifestyle likely didn't match up to its reality. What you've got to know is that in the event that you make the cut and you're accepted, this is your job. You are an investment in a coach's time and a brand's product and money, you're perfectly expendable and as good as your last race. In other words, have success or get fired. You will live, work and train with your teammates, and if you don't fit that mold perfectly, if there is even the most remote possibility that you might not flawlessly compliment the synergy of the group that is already established, if you might not adequately produce--and produce well--on the track and roads on a consistent basis for years to come, you may not be such a great investment. Every athlete taken on is a chance taken by the coach and brand associated with any group, and that's reality.

If you don't make the cut, which I didn't and most don't, there are likely perfectly sound reasons, and I completely understood this and would never hold it against them. But somehow it didn't make the pill any less bitter. I think I was somewhere in the middle of packing up to move to Michigan and run fast for the rest of my life when I got my phone call of um, polite rejection. At the time, I thought that was the absolute worst thing ever. Forget genocide and starving children in Africa, THIS was the worst thing ever, I thought. Think of a helium-filled-balloon bobbing along happily in the sunshine that just got shot with a BB gun. That was me. I thought the Running Show was over. Forever. No WAY can you be successful without being in a real training group, with real coaches, doing nothing but running all the time, with easy access to everything. There's no way, you need all of those components. It's DONE, so why bother anymore?

That's the first time--and thus far the last time--that I can ever remember thinking about quitting. I think I moped around for about six months feeling bad for myself and during that time got an awful lot of What-The-Hell-Is-The-Matter-With-You-Did-Someone-Shoot-Your-Dog-Or-Are-You-Dying-Or-Do-You-Just-Have-Really-Horrible-Indigestion looks from my friends.

It's taken me ages to figure out that, wait a sec, I've had all of those things all along. All of those things and then some.

It freaks me out sometimes how things can work out so seamlessly, and you end up precisely where you're meant to be. In retrospect and pain of rejection notwithstanding, this was probably one of the best things that could have happened. Call it a psychological defense mechanism or naivety or even sour grapes, but I believe that you are where you are supposed to be at the right time, and you might not know the reasons right now but you will eventually. Your perception is your reality, and you can be so set on attaining what you think is the best situation that the grass will always look greener on the other side, and you fail even to notice that you already have the best situation. I live in the absolute greatest place to be if you are a runner, there are so many trails here that I have yet to run on half of them. I live a half mile jog from an Alter-G treadmill that I can use whenever necessary. I've had the ideal combination of coaches from high school through college with so many varying, and often conflicting, philosophies to teach me enough to know about what works and what doesn't. I have the best physiotherapist on this side of the Mississippi who never fails to patch things up. And most importantly, I live with, work with, and train with a bunch of people who defy the notion that it's imperative to solely live the sport to be at your best, who show that you can work incredibly hard at the sport and work incredibly hard at life, who've been through their own wringers and know a thing or two about taking lemons and making lemonade, and who'll talk me off of the ledge of panic when emotion is trumping reason. They work full-time jobs and raise kids and even have freaking diabetes, and those are my examples to follow. So seriously, how much better can it get?

Alright kids, till next time, happy Halloween and don't forget to count your blessings.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

England and the London Olympics

Two months later, I finally found time to write a blog about our trip to London. Since last summer we were planning on attending the London Olympics and were fortunate to follow through . The time in England and being a spectator at the Olympics can be summed up in one word...amazing. The best way to describe the trip is with pictures, otherwise this blog would be too wordy.

Favorite places to run:
Pilgrims Way...my favorite run in Maidstone (where Russ' family lives). Its an old country road that is wide enough for one car, so you must pay attention as pedestrians do not have right-of-way. It is a beautiful road that winds through the country side and leads to many other small towns.


Poppy Field's along Public Paths. The Public Paths are old pilgrim paths that are still open to the public even if it travels through the middle of someones property. Great way to see places off the beaten path and to test your ankle strength. We had a few fun moments running from cows and through herds of sheep. Always entertaining.
Cool places to we visited:

1. Stonehenge. Truly is a pile of rocks with an interesting story and lack of understanding.
2. Roman Baths (In bath) - From many, many, many years ago. I love the history.
3.Winston Churchill's Home. Another great historical place with many stories and interesting facts.
4. Dover Castle. I just love castles, what can I say. This one was last used in World War 2.
5. Abby's and Cathedrals are so beautiful with the intricate detail and amazing architecture.
The Olympics!!!
THE STADIUM! Do I need to say more?

Some steeple chase (go Colorado ladies), Some Blade Runner, Some Tyson Gay, Some Usain Bolt, Some Jessica Ennis, Lots of cool venues and "art", Lots of pride and happiness in the air.  
All time favorites:
 Double Decker Buses. One happy family.


 Big Ben and House of Parliament. Buckingham Palace, my future home.
 Cream Tea. Pubs and pub food, mmm.

A Michael Jackson Sighting.                                Tower Bridge looks fabulous.


Great friends.                                  Tanks apparently cross here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The End of Wishy-Washy

Way back when I was just a young whippersnapper fresh out of college um...3 years ago...at 24 years old, I decided after a year or so of half-hearted clueless training and feeble attempts at new PR's and floating around in the vast lostness that seems to accompany a great many runners looking to continue pursuing their dreams beyond the college running realm but unsure of exactly how go about it, that I would give myself until I was 27 to make something Really Awesome happen. I'm still not entirely sure what exactly I expected that Really Awesome something to be, but I think I was visualizing a bunch of sub-15:00 5k's, or a few U.S. teams, and maybe like a few American Records mixed in here and there for good measure. Well maybe not exactly, but I was definitely going to run some GIANT PR's and win like every race. That was the plan anyway. Actually though, now that I think about it, I don't know why I even picked 27, I guess I just figured 3 years of post-college running seemed like a legitimate amount of time to make Something Awesome happen, and if not, then I would chalk it up to me just grasping at straws and laboring under delusion. But then I realized just the other day that 27 will happen in, oh yeah, like 2 weeks from now, and that my resume' is painfully devoid of everything I was envisioning, but that in spite of that I still love doing it an awful lot. So after a bit of reflection and not much deliberation I have decided to extend my Deadline For Making Something Really Awesome Happen until I am 40 years old instead. However, I think it is time to stop waiting for Something Awesome to come to me.

A fellow running buddy mentioned to me recently that it seems like everyone we know is having some kind of breakthrough; some gigantic PR's and brilliant top-whatever finishes at every National Championship ever invented and that it just looks so darn easy. I agreed for like 2 seconds, but then I realized that they have these breakthroughs because they don't just do the work, which is an obvious necessity, but they put themselves in a position to have breakthroughs as a result of the work. They create the opportunities for themselves to get to a new level by taking a risk and putting themselves out there to compete with the best, even if things have not gone perfectly according to their plans. They don't wait to be invited to a national championship race (even though by now most of them are invited), they make a plan, go out there, make the best with what they've got that day, stick their nose in it, and let the results take care of themselves. And really, isn't creating opportunities to see where we stack up against the best--everyone else and our former "best" selves--the whole reason that we do all of this stuff?

I, on the other hand, feel like I am always waiting. Waiting for opportunity to come knocking, which it's nice when it does, but waiting for it instead of looking for it. I am always waiting to have the "perfect" block of training and waiting to hit better times in workouts than I ever have, then waiting to get enough miles under my belt to feel "in shape," and even after all of those things, waiting for the "perfect" race opportunity to come to me, but then waiting till the last minute to sign up because I think I'll jinx the whole thing and get hit by a bus, trampled by a deer, or catch bubonic plague if I register then book a flight and a room for a race too far ahead of time. Always waiting and hesitating and seeing how training goes for some arbitrary, predetermined amount of weeks that I totally made up, before setting a real goal and committing. But even then it's a tentative goal and a tentative commitment because there IS that possibility that there MIGHT be a hiccup in training, or that run-in with a deer could happen (I mean, there are tons of them around here), and things MIGHT be less than "perfect" leading up to race-day. Heaven forbid. I mean, I know a lot of runners can be slightly controlling and perfectionistic, but this is a little over the top.
Seriously, just look at this guy. He's practically salivating at the idea of sabotaging your next race.

Sometimes it's prudent to wait and to put a particular goal on hold if today it means more steps backwards than forwards, but if you're always waiting for perfection to happen, and for the perfect sequence of events and the perfect alignment of the universe, you WILL be waiting forever. I can attest to this. The "perfect" time is right now. Who's to say that your best race won't happen after more bumps in the road of running than you've ever had, or at the end of a really long comeback trail, or on the heels of a string of less than stellar workouts or when you don't "feel ready"? It wouldn't be the first time.

I feel so smart when I figure these things out all by myself.

I'm pretty sure that this is the part where I'm supposed to throw in some nauseatingly overused quotes about "missing 100% of the shots you don't take" or "in 10 years from now you'll regret the things that you didn't do more than the things that you did," but I won't. You're welcome. But all of this stuff occurred to me as I was looking at what races I want to do in 2013, wondering why there are so many races that I've never tried, and it struck me that I haven't spent much time mixing it up in any of the bigger stuff, and that I haven't created the opportunities for myself to make that Something Awesome happen because I've been so wishy-washy that those opportunities don't even have a chance. So even though I have extended my Deadline For Making Something Awesome Happen, I'm pretty sure that 40 will be here before I know it, so I better get after it and take the MAKING part of all of that just a tad more literally.

Yep. That's all I got. So till next time, take care and comb your hair.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Back racing

I was very excited to race and to begin running fast again since this spring's track season. This spring told me alot about my self... starting with getting closer to my old form since being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in Dec 2011. Even though I did not reach my ultimate goal which was to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the 10,000 meter track race. I did however ran 29:55 which is still something that I can be proud of and keep moving forward.

At the cherry festival 5k, i prepared that morning by drinking plenty of water to be well hydrated for the race. I knew it was going to be a hot race and hot is hard on me because it raises my Blood glucose quite bit without much effort. I have found a way to help by using something my coach has developed for his athletes called a Core Cooler. Basically, it's a frozen water bottle with a coolant in it. When I run in hot weather it keeps my core temperature much cooler and my body does not fight the hot weather quite as much. Great invention, but even better now that I have diabetes.

I started my warm-up and my blood sugar was 119, which was a little high, but perfect as it allowed me to burn off the rest of the extra blood glucose before the start of the race. I felt very good on the warmup and felt great with my core coolers. The start of the race is always fun because you begin to look at everyone and see who is going to be your competition. Around a 1/2 mile in there was a guy wearing red adidas Adios's which are like 110 dollar race shoes. That usually means they are at least pretty good and we got to our first hill. He charged up it like a man that knew what he was doing, which he didnt. The down hill to follow, I opened up just to stretch my legs and to see what he had in him. I was immediately alone and hit the first mile in 4:55. I knew I still needed a good workout in so I pressed on and second mile was 4:55. By then the there was pretty much no one in sight behind me and I raced in with the win and a time of 15:20. I was extremely excited but still had to finish my workout, so I turned around and ran 3 more miles back to my car. When I checked my blood glucose I knew it would be very high and it was at 231. I then grabbed my core coolers and cooled down. The 4 mile run brought me down to 169 and then I took 3 units of humalog.

Great run and I was very happy with how I controlled my blood sugar. I don't have my racing routine completely figured out yet. I will need to figure it out fully if I want to race New York marathon his fall. I have a couple of ideas but once I get my cgm I will know a lot more about how it will work.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Long Overdue Summer Race Results!

The summer races have thus far seen some awesome action from BRC/adidas!

Back tracking to Memorial Day's Bolder Boulder, the Boulder Track Club notched joint victories on both their men's and women's sides, in spite of some awesome racing by the guys' team composed of Greg Reindl, Ryan Hafer, Robby Young and Bobby Reyes, in addition to the women's squad of Brianne Nelson, newcomer Brooke Kish, and Lara Johnson. Competing in the Elite/International Race but unfortunately not counting toward the scoring was Wendy Thomas who represented Team Colorado.

At June 10th's Portland Track Festival, Wendy Thomas continued her quest for an Olympic Trials A Standard in the 10k and finished in 32:48 while Loren Ahonen clocked an 8:53 in the steeplechase.

June 11th's Garden of the God's 10 Miler saw a victory by team newcomer and Western State grad Lauren Kleppin, who rocked the hilly course in 63 minutes.On the men's side, Ryan Hafer continued his success to take 3rd in 54:25. Hafer was followed by Mario Macias in 4th, Matt Levassiur in 6th, and Sean Brown in 7th.

At June 16th's USA Half Marathon Championships in Duluth MN, Wendy Thomas continued her long race streak as she took 7th in 1:12.56 with Brianne Nelson following in 12th 1:14.49.

Locally but also on the 16th, Colorado Springs' Sailin' Shoes 5k saw Greg Reindl come away with the win in 15:33, followed by Adam Rich in 15:42. Jay Luna took 4th, Art Seimers placed 7th, Jesse Chettle placed 11th, and Cody Hill took 12th. Ashley Birger took 3rd in the women's field in 18:20.

June 24th's Hellacious Trail Challenge was crushed by Ryan Hafer in a course record 58:01. Jason Delaney followed in 3rd, Robby Young took 5th, Jay Luna placed 10th, and Ashley Birger took 2nd in the women's field.

Olympic Trials weekend was next up, and Hayward Field saw more than its share of Ali Williams as she logged 20,000 meters on the fabled track in contesting the 10,000, 5k Prelims, followed by the 5k finals over the course of the week. She was accompanied by Wendy Thomas in the 10k as Williams took 5th while Thomas took 20th. Williams followed this up with a 9th place finish in the 5k. Way to ROCK you two.

At the Stadium Stampede 5k, Adam Rich took 5th in 15:55 while Greg Reindl placed 6th in 16:09.

The 4th of July means fireworks....annd great races. Ashley Birger showed some serious speed at the Superior Downhill Mile as she took 2nd place in 4:36. On the men's side, Matt Levassiur took 10th while Bobby Reyes took 12th.

In Georgia, Lauren Kleppin took 17th at the Peachtree 10k in 35:04 the same weekend.

The Ryan Hafer Show continued at July 7th's Vail Hill Climb, where the banana-loving-mountain-goat was the victor in 49:20, followed by Jason Delaney in second. As though this was not a sufficient amount of trail running, Hafer returned the following day to destroy the course record at the Colorado Springs Summer Roundup 12k in 41:46. Rock on Bananahands Hafer.

Next weekend's Colorado Springs' Classic 10k will see a lot of red, orange and purple in the field as BRC Adidas takes on the Boulder Track Club in the 3rd of 5 races in the series. GO BRC/ADIDAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Welcome to Eugene...

"Heeeellloooo brightly colored human." Can't thing of a better way to be greeted when walking into Starbucks to get my usual pre race tea. "Hello." I responded, slightly amused. "Can I have a grande green tea please?" "Are you going to go practice?" The Barista asked, noting my bright orange Adidas waterproof jacket and bright purple pants. "Actually, I am going to go race." "Oh, are you nervous?" "A little bit." "You will do very well." I actually found this very comforting, something about having people believe in you, even if you just met them is reassuring. "Actually, I don't know that. I've never seen you run." He clarified. "Oh well, hopefully you just have a feeling." I responded. "Yeah, that's right, a feeling." He said as he handed me a coffee.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The last couple weeks

The last few weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster. After dropping out of Peyton Jordan my head was just not working in my favor.

First up was Bolder Boulder. I've already explained how it was a dream come true just to be in the race, but sadly the race was anything but a dream. It did little to help my confidence as I ran TERRIBLE! The whole race I just kept telling myself how much I wanted this and getting to run the whole race with Magda kept me plugging along. It was pretty cool just to hang out with Magda, Deena, Janet, Adriana and Sara. They are all ladies I really admire. Deena even has an awesome Mastiff just like we do! After the race I had my awesome support system of family and friends to help remind me this one race wasn't the end of the world. They even gave me a hard time for not being able to push harder and finish in front of Magda which would have made me a LOT of money.

 First thing my kids said after the race was "Mom your hair is CRAZY! and can we take a picture with your friends now who were in the Olympics"
 Not going to lie I have never been so happy to finish a race. Getting into the stadium is something I will forever cherish
Oh yeah that space there cost me a hell of a lot of money!

After Boulder I was pretty mentally down on myself. I think there are some time for all runners when they just feel like the work just doesn't seem to be paying off the way you hope. Luckily for me I have the worlds greatest coach and support system that keep me plugging away. So just 5 days after Boulder I talked Scott into letting me do my 3 mile uptempo at one of my favorite local races, Sierra's race in Loveland. For me it is so important to remember everyone who has supported me from the start and the family and friends of Sierra are very encouraging. This was my third time racing there and I will continue to do it as long as possible. Typically I run my 3 mile uptempo at 5:30's as it's a workout that is put in between races to keep the legs moving but not pushing to hard. Having run Sierra's before I knew mile 1 would be fast as it is downhill and than the last mile and a quarter or so are uphill. Since it was only a workout I wore my garmin so I could focus on paces. Doing this showed me why I NEVER race with a garmin. I was looking at it way too much slowing down speeding up, it would make me crazy. I ended up winning the race, setting a new course record and having a great time. Even the boys raced. It was just an all around great morning.  This was the best choice I could make. It taught me that I need to stop getting so worked up before races. It taught me I need to stop worying about anything outside of myself and what my legs need to do. The result will usually be a great race.

 Beautiful morning for a race!
 That's Chase in the black doing a great job of kicking to the finish
And Tripp on the left with a giant smile coming in strong!

I wanted to take the lessons I learned from Sierra's race and carry it over to Portland which happened to be just 6 days later. In the last month I have learned a lot of lessons mentally. Going in to Portland I was scared. I'm not going to lie, after Peyton Jordan I wasn't ready to get back on the track so I did my workouts at a local park that has a dirt trail. We have everything marked out there from 400 up to a 2 mile. It is for sure slower than the track as it has some hills in it, but mentally I could take hills more than the track. Not to mention ever since the 25k champs I have had a nagging groin thing going on. So as I was heading out to race my final shot at the Olympic trials I had little confidence in my ability. My mental state was not helped when I arrived at the airport to find out the hail storm the previous night meant that our plane got downgraded. After a long wait I ended up giving my seat up to a nice grand mother who needed to get to Portland for her Granddaughters gradutaion that night. I only neededto make sure I got there sometime before my race the following day so it seemed like the right thing to do. The result was a connecting flight and arriving 6 hours later. Normally this would send me in to a freaking panic but I was reminded by Scott "what would Pooh do?" So I just rolled with it.

Once I finally made it I found out I had great roommates, Adrianna Nelson and Kelly Callway. These two ladies were a ton of fun. We just hung out the day of the race not really stressing. Portland did it's best to try and freak me out by pouring rain on and off all day.
Are you kidding me? I didn't even know it could rain like that! Luckily though Craig ordered perfect conditions for the race and by some small miracle the skies cleared as the meet started. My pre race ritual was a lot different this time. I didn't stress over eating exactly what I had at Stanford I just went with whatever was available. I even (and hold on to your chairs when you read this) did my hair and nails different! I threw the damn superstitous thoughts out of my head. I wasn't nervous or excited or dreading I was just ready to get on the track. During the warm up I felt pretty crappy even running to the bathroom to throw up. Pretty sure I just had too much coffee during the day. Like most races before I knew it the gun was going off.

The start of the race was a bit nerve racking. All of us were ready to run 32:45 so it was crowded. I found myself in lane 2 so I decided to sprint up to the front so I could at least be in the outside of lane 1. I sat just behind Kim (our amazing pacer!) and Dani from Iowa state. The next two miles flew by but again with the field being so close in ability I was getting clipped like crazy. I decided to slow up a bit to sit on the back of the pack so I could not be clipped and I could be on the inside of lane one. This seemed to be fine as miles 3 and 4 really flew by. I felt amazing! For the first time I was able to do what Scott wanted. I literally turned my engine off and was along for the ride. Sadly I was a little too zoned out. I looked up to notice that Kim was in lane 4 which could only mean one thing, we were coming on mile 4. Since I have done this before I knew this was when the pack was going to make a move. Sure enough as I glanced to the front I could see that the first 4 of about 8-9 of us were breaking away. This time I was determined to not settle. I slowly ran around the girls in front of me, but by the time I got to the front the pack of four had gotten away from us. This is when it was going to get tough. I spent the next 9 laps on my own just focusing on them. I needed to catch them and I just couldn't do it. Looking back maybe I should have made a bit of a surge to force myself, but after races there are always things you know you should have done. The next mile was ok I slowed up a bit but was still on pace, than I lost it mentally. For some reason I though I had 4 laps to go when I heard the announcer say 5. I know it is ony 400 more but it really took me out of my zone. When I finally came around with one lap to go the announcer said 31:32 she needs a 73 for the final lap. At this point I knew I couldn't do it, but I pushed as much as I could and finished with a 32:48.45.

                                                           After the race with Adrianna

Luckily this time when I crossed I pushed Eeyore out of my head! Sure I was bummed I JUST missed it and it was my last mile that cost me, but I had just run a PR! Given the month I have had and the thoughts I had pre race I was honestly excited. I mean I gave my dream one last shot. Now I really have mixed emotions. When the season started I was really against running on the track. Mostly I think it was just going to prove to myself I wasn't good enough and I didn't want to deal with the disappointment. Now I am very glad I did. I gave it a go, I put myself out there and this time it wasn't enough. Does it mean all of the work I have put in the last 6 months was for nothing? Heck no! This new speed is going to transfer over to a kick ass fall marathon. I'm excited for what the future races holds. I am coming up on my first year of training with Scott and the ADP and look how far I have come. I can't keep comparing myself to any other runners. I'm on my own path and it is unique from others. Sadly my whole motivation to push myself toward the trials was getting the awesome Elite Adidas kit. The super cute purple pants have been on my mind since January! I won't get them this year but just the motivation to get them got me to a new PR. Now what? Well I entered myself into the trials and I will just have to wait until everyone declares on June 18th to see. The chance of me making the trials aren't very good but I am going to keep my fingers crossed that maybe just maybe some other girls decided to not run.

 I do want to give it up to the crew at Portland Track Festival! This was my kind of enviroment. There was music playing as we ran which was awesome! The laid back atmosphere is much more my style! Most of all I want to give a big, huge, gigantic thank you to my awesome teammate Loren! BRC is the absolute best team to be on! Loren was out in Portland to run the steeple and helped me more than he can know. He was encouraging as he was cheering my name. I had absolutly no idea who was cheering me on as I ran around but he kept me from falling apart!

It feels a little weird to not have the Olympic Trials on my schedule. I'm actually not too sure what I will do next. It feels a tad empty. In the short term I am going to head out to MN this weekend and run the USA half champs. It will be a really great time. I truly enjoy the distance and I will get to see a lot of friends!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

First blog of the year - Woooooooo!

With the spring semester ending last Wednesday I finally have some time to contribute to the team blog.  This past semester has been especially busy.  My class obligations included more reading than any of my previous semesters, and I made the mistake of enrolling in some fairly dry subjects.  In fact, I might forego my last year of law school because I think I’ve found the cure to insomnia.  If a 40 page reading assignment about federal court procedure doesn’t put you to sleep within 30 minutes, you may be beyond help.  Additionally, our daughter just turned 9 months last week, and it looks like she inherited an infinite amount of energy from somebody.  Combine that with her recent mastery of crawling and you can imagine what my wife and I do every night.  It’s been a lot of fun watching her grow, but I’m still anxiously awaiting for the day she realizes you’re not supposed to poop in your pants - I can’t help but feel a little insulted when she looks at me and smiles as I’m changing an extra stinky diaper.

Despite being busy with school and the baby, the running has actually been going well.  I’ve set pr’s in the 10k (28:23) and 10 Mile (47:34) in my last two races, and I’m confident that the best racing is yet to come.  I’ve been having respiratory problems due to allergies for the majority of the spring, so I’m hoping those will subside as the summer begins.  My current focus is on the Half Marathon Championships on June 16.  I could potentially run the Trials for the 10k, but I’m not sure if my time is fast enough to get me into the meet.  Basically, it will come down to who decides to declare for the 10k and how many athletes the race directors select.  If I’m fortunate enough to qualify, my focus would probably shift to the Trials rather than the half marathon.

Other than that, there’s not much going on in my life.  Hopefully, I’ll have more exciting results to report in the coming months.  Fingers crossed. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mt. Sac and Penn

A little eye opening racing for real since I got sick. I was more workout ready and my body still had not recovered from being sick for so long. I could tell before Penn my blood glucose was all over the place. I couldn't hardly control by the time Penn rolled around.

Mt. Sac should have been a faster but I could tell it wasn't my day. I was working out great but just didn't have it in me. 1st 5k was 14.35, I'll take it but it was right about then the wheels came off. The main thing was I wasn't comfortable at any pace. Good days... everything's just a little easier. Total 10k time 29:55

Penn it was just bad, felt bad after 1 mile a stayed bad. Dropped out just after 5k. Blood Glucose was so so high at times and not balancing like normal. Very hard on me and my body.

I'm thinking next race might be one final 10k on the track at Portland distance festival.

Monday, April 30, 2012

It's a PR-palooza!

Lots of great racing action over the last couple of weeks. Rewinding to last week, At the Fort Collins Horsetooth Half Marathon Jason Delaney and Brianne Nelson made it a BRC/Adidas sweep as they both walked away with a big "W"!

At Pueblo's Spank Blasing 10k, Sarah Young claimed the overall women's win.

Also part of last weekend's action and on the west coast, Matt Levassiur had a mis-hap in the Carmel Distance Festival Half Marathon, despite being on course record pace en route to victory, he was led off course, but still managed second place in 1:07.
At the Walnut, CA Mt.Sac Relays, Tommy Neal got on the track for his first outdoor 10k of the season to clock 29:55. Loren Ahonen took to the steeplechase, finishing in 8:59. Team newby Brandon Johnson ran 14:07 in the 5k.

Catching up to this week, lots of track action! The Penn Relays saw 10k PR's and season openers for Robby Young, Sean Brown and Ryan Hafer as they finished 30:04, 30:05, and 30:20 respectively. Adrian Chouinard took nearly 2 minutes off of her previous 10k best with 35:23 and Shannon Payne PR'ed in the 5k with 16:51.

Payton Jordan saw a fantastic run by Ali Williams as she continued on her PR-breaking streak, running 32:03 to earn another "A" standard. Ian Burrell also hit the Trials standard in the 10k as he hit 28:23. Kristen Hemphill clocked an impressive 10:11 in the steeple. Locally, Mario Macias took victory at the Boulder Distance Carnival 15k while Adam Rich took 2nd in the 5k. At Sunday's Cherry Creek Sneak, Brandon Johnson had his debut win in a BRC singlet as he claimed victory in the 5 miler. Great work everyone!
Tommy Neal takes a break from the racing action this week to sport a kilt.