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A Long Time Coming

by | Jul 26, 2011 | | Comments Off

This weekend I completed my longest run in over a year. I continue to see progress in mileage and quality, and I’m even more excited to have another race coming up.  Beach to Beacon has been on my “must race” list for years now.  My long-time hero, Joan Benoit Samuelson, founded the race and I always wanted to compete there.  The heat wave that suppressed the East Coast for the past couple of weeks has broken, so it should be a great race.  Andrew and Piper are joining me for the trip since I am still feeding her.  Piper turned 5 months old last week and hearing friends predict her sporting future has been amusing.  As long as I am speaking of age…

Next weekend I am attending my 20-year high school reunion!  Agoura High School produced some great runners over the years.  Names like Bryan Dameworth, Ryan Wilson and Amy Skieresz.  They weren’t in my graduating class, but it will be fun to connect with teammates and classmates.  Until then, my week is action packed with a long run, miles repeats and a tempo run.  Always more work to do…

Good Exhaustion

by | Jul 12, 2011 | | Comments Off

I finished my long run this weekend with great nostalgia.  It was my first run back where I ran in the intense summer heat that had me chugging every last drop of water out of my bottles.  I had Cytomax, two Siggs of water and Muscle Milk….gone.  I couldn’t wait to get home, add some ice to a glass and hydrate more.  I craved cold fruit, an ice bath and a light breeze.  I love those days.

This week begins the “complex endurance phase” of my training.  Sound scary?  It is.  My workload is increasing yet again. Intensity up.  Mileage up.  It is time to reincorporate intervals into my training so I can be ready for racing this summer and fall.  I thrive off of this workload.  I simply adore the exhaustion that comes with training hard (as opposed to the exhaustion from our four-month-old not sleeping through the night).  This type of work gets me in shape quickly.

The past 3 months have given me a good base to launch into this type of work and it is so fun continuing to see improvement.  Everyone loves improvement.  I won’t fuss over what my watch says tomorrow because I can’t compare it to the fitness prior to giving birth to Piper.  But, my watch better show a faster time next week, and the week after that, and the week after that…

Jogger No More

by | Jul 06, 2011 | | Comments Off

The holiday weekend was a fun one here in Mammoth.  I always enjoy seeing the trails and roads busy with families running, biking and hiking. I like to offer encouragement or a “good morning” when I see people being active.  In fact, last week I noticed a transition in what passersby were saying to me.  I started running again three and a half months ago after having a long pregnancy hiatus.  Since then, I always seemed to get the “enjoy your jog”, “you are tough to be out jogging in this weather” or “great day for a jog”.

Last week on two occasions I received more uplifting words.  The comments were “nice pace” and “Wow! You’re fast”.  I was elated to finally make the leap from jogger to runner.  Most of us recoil to hear the word “jog” when we are out there pushing our limits.  We are fast, or at least faster than our previous selves or faster than last week.  We are making progress and we want to be noted for it.

But I’m not sure I need to feel the slightest offense.  In this context, isn’t it the same thing?  It would be insulting if someone commented on me “jogging” my 200’s at practice, but when I’m out for a 10-miler, I don’t really need to know the line between jogging and running.  I can’t even think if swimming or biking has a similar word for a leisurely (insulting) cadence.  Swim, bike, run.  Tread, pedal, jog?  Not sure.  I am still secretly hoping to maintain runner status as people pass by…I mean, when I pass by THEM.

Great Race

by | Jun 16, 2011 | | Comments Off

My first race back was great. Not great in the sense that I am satisfied with my performance, but great because I felt strong and eager to come home and ramp up my training. The NY Mini 10K celebrated its 40th anniversary this year and along with that, celebrated the life of Grete Waitz. Grete was a huge inspiration to me and a pioneer in women’s running. Much of her success happened in Central Park, as she won the Mini many times and the NYC Marathon 9 times! What a feat!

With all this accomplishment, the most noteworthy of her successes came from starting youth running programs with the New York Road Runners. Because of Grete, the youth programs of the NYRR have helped over 100,000 inner-city school children to choose running. And we all know that if you run, you are pretty much choosing a life of success because of it. Grete wanted to share the sport she was so passionate about because she knew that the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other had a positive impact on every nook and cranny of our lives. Running makes you better at everything you set out to do.  What an amazing sport we have all chosen. To help honor Grete, we should get out and recruit people to share in this wonderful journey.

With my first race behind me, I mostly look forward to training in Mammoth Lakes this summer. Once I am more fit, I look forward to running a Rock n Roll half event somewhere in the US. Maybe San Jose, Virginia Beach or Philadelphia. Hope to see you there!

Snow Escape

by | Jun 07, 2011 | | Comments Off

It’s a joke that every time I sit down to write a weekly blog it is snowing outside.  Check out the date and we are still getting snow!  It may seem trivial to talk about the weather, but this is really notable.  We are talking breaking records!  In December Mammoth had the most snow of any ski resort in the world.  It’s been snowing ever since.  And as we pack for our first family trip to New York for the Mini 10K we are reaching far back in the closet for summer clothing.  Far past the thick tights and storm-shelter jackets I just know there is a pair of running shorts and a matching tank top.  It’s difficult to pack for a trip when the weather is 50 degrees warmer than where you begin the journey.  Nevertheless, we are excited to get to New York and share this other world with Piper.  We just know she will love the lights, noise and pulse of the city.  We even hope the added stimulation has her sleeping more when the sun goes down!  Wishful thinking, maybe.

Well, my racing uniform fits (thankfully) and my racing shoes are packed already.  My fitness could use an extension, but I’m so excited to race.  The elite field will have almost 50 women toeing the starting line.  I may not win, but I’ll be the happiest one out there!  Back at it after all these months.  Here comes my first race of a long and anticipated season of racing.  I look forward to sharing it with you in person or in my next week’s blog.

My First Race As A Mom

by | May 31, 2011 | | Comments Off

Hope your Memorial Day was memorable!  This time of year I find myself going on runs and trying to access higher trails to see if the snow has cleared.  I set out from our house and tried the bike path at the nearby ski lift.  Despite 5 inches of snow this weekend, the path was clear.  I ran to the creek to find that there was a beautiful bridge that crossed over the water.  The bridge must have gone in last fall when I was pregnant and couldn’t run.  I was so excited to see the bridge in place of the bouncing board that previously stretched across the rushing water.  Years past I would stick my arms out for balance to get to the other side.  I never fell in.  Now I never will.

It was 31 degrees this morning and the bridge had a light covering of snow.   I made my way to the sunny side of town and ran where it seemed warmer.  I couldn’t wait to head back home over the bridge and up the hill.

With this never ending winter, we are excited for our first family trip to New York in a couple weeks.  The NY Mini 10K will be my first race back after giving birth to Piper.  At three months old it is also Piper’s first airplane trip.  I am more anxious for the flight than the race itself.  I couldn’t help but notice it was 90 degrees in NY this weekend.  At least we can leave our down-jackets behind and pack a little lighter.  Though packing “light” is relative when we now have to travel with a car seat and stroller!  I can’t wait to share NY and the running community with Piper.  Hope to see you in the Big Apple!

Chasing Amy (And Desiree)

by | May 23, 2011 | | Comments Off

Desiree Davila, Amy Hastings, and me.

Mammoth is the training grounds for a lot of elite distance runners.  For some of us it is “home” and others come here to incorporate an altitude training stint during their season. It was a particularly fun week to have Desiree Davila visiting.  After her stellar 2nd-place finish in the Boston Marathon this April, she took some downtime and is visiting my Mammoth Track Club teammate Amy Hastings, who finished an amazing 2nd place in her marathon debut at the LA Marathon this March.  Amy, Desiree and I enjoyed some runs together.  I felt as though I was chasing them down the dirt roads and hoping their recent marathon mojo would rub off on me.

One of our non-running highlights was taking a gondola ride to the top of Mammoth Mountain and watching my husband Andrew and Desiree’s boyfriend Ryan ski.  The five of us enjoyed lunch on the sunny deck at the base of the slopes.  It’s been a great year for skiing as we have had over 600 inches of snow.  Whereas so many people are enjoying the early sprouts from their gardens, we still have 15 feet of snow in our front yard.

I am typing this on Sunday evening and I’m tired.  It has been a great week of training, not only because I had good company on my runs, but because I included some higher quality workouts to my weekly mileage.  The inclusion of 200s, a short tempo run and a long run with pick-ups has me wrapping up the week with a combined sense of elation and exhaustion.  I am overjoyed with the fatigue from training and to have seen such great progress in my running.  Whereas a lot of progress is gradual, this week proved a good-sized leap forward.

My First Mother’s Day

by | May 10, 2011 | | Comments Off

This week marked one of great adventure. I needed to be in Pasadena, California to help announce a new Rock ‘n’ Roll Pasadena Half Marathon, but didn’t want to make a three-day trip to Southern California with Piper. My only other option was to charter a Cessna plane and pilot to take me to Pasadena for the day. I left Andrew and Piper at home in the early morning and flew only 2,000 feet above the ground as the Sierra Nevada peaks towered over me to the right. Mount Whitney was still snow capped as we flew under her.

It was a typical day in Pasadena as we were greeted with 95 degrees. The town was so charming; no wonder the Rock ‘n’ Roll series is adding this to their list of great cities to host a running event. Colorado Blvd was lined with new shops and restaurants, and I’m told the street is on the Rose Parade route. After a sushi lunch, I met runners at A Snail’s Pace running store and we went for a run around the Rose Bowl. It was a happening place. The three-mile loop was packed with dog walkers, moms with strollers, cyclists, runners and one man on horseback (odd).

After the run we sat around and chatted about training, racing and parenting.  I’m new at this parenting thing, but still was anxious to get home to Piper. This was the first day I spent without her. At dusk, my pilot Jeff and I headed back up Owens Valley to home. I walked in the door at 10 pm and had been gone for 15 hours. It had been a busy day for me, but Andrew looked exhausted having had Piper all day.  We all slept well that night.

Sunday was my first Mother’s Day. After a great long run on the hills around Owen’s River Road I headed back home to a delicious breakfast that Andrew made. He bought me a gliding bench for our back deck. It has large arms to host whatever I’m drinking at the time I’m enjoying this space under the pine trees. The plaque on it reads “Happy First Mother’s Day! Love, Andrew & Piper”. I can’t wait to lightly rock on this bench while enjoying my morning coffee. I look forward to swinging mid-day while drinking a post-run smoothie. And lastly, I anticipate sharing a glass of wine with Andrew here at the end of the day.

This wish list will have to wait, because as I type this it is snowing! Unbelievable! So, instead of gently rocking on my new bench, we are inside sitting on the couch watching the snow fall while the fireplace warms the house.  Today is a far cry from the warmth that embraced me in Pasadena. I look forward to returning there next February to run the half marathon and for another break in the cold weather.

The View From My Front Deck

by | May 03, 2011 | | Comments Off

I am typing this from my front deck where we get a lot of warmth from the sun.  From here I can see people skiing down Mammoth Mountain as they continue to enjoy more than 55 feet of snow we received this winter.  Summer is almost here and there is a buzz in the air as people crank music from their open windows.  I’m enjoying whatever it is they are playing down the street.

Today I ran 13 miles.  I haven’t run that far since I ran the Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon with Jennifer Love-Hewitt last fall.  It was fun to cover that much territory again.  The snow melt last week has opened up some trails, so I got to run in some of my favorite places this morning.  The views where fantastic with bright blue skies against snow-packed mountains.

It is uplifting when the increase in mileage comes at the same time the weather turns for the better. To make matters even more joyful, Piper slept for five and a half hours straight on Friday night.  After feeding her, she slept for another three hours.  I found myself so sharp and full of energy this weekend. It was the first time in two months that I slept as opposed to the “naps” I’ve been taking because of her insatiable appetite. I even had some dreams, which made up for daydreaming later in the day when I’ve lacked sleep. I may never get the 12 hours of sleep I once thrived on, but I am grateful for the extra rest I’m getting right now. More sleep will surely give me more energy when I begin hard workouts next month.

Better sleep, warmer weather and stronger running. Yes!

Many Miles Ahead

by | Apr 19, 2011 | | Comments Off

Its Boston Marathon Monday and anyone who watched the races unfold there were inspired by what they saw.  Desiree Davila came so close to breaking the tape, while offering every American a bit of hope. She showed us that American distance running is alive and kicking.  On television, you could hear the crowds on the sides of the streets chanting U-S-A as she passed by.  I was emotional watching such a worthy distance runner come so close to taking the Boston crown, but Desiree maintained composure the entire way.  Beautiful.

On the men’s side, Mutai smashed the Boston course record and bettered the World record (though Boston isn’t a certified course due to the net downhill).  It was the single most impressive marathon victory I have ever witnessed, which topped my previous favorite which was last year’s Boston win.  Okay, Paula Radcliff’s world record is a tough one to top!  Also within this amazing men’s race was Ryan Hall who defied critics and ran the race of his life.  Although we miss our teammate that left mammoth Lakes to train on his own, I could not be happier for him that he pursued his dream and conquered it on the streets of Boston.  He didn’t win the race (though his time would have in other years) his time of 2:04.57 will be talked about for years to come.

So,  I got out for my run a little late today and was carrying with me the inspiration I got from  the performances on the other side of the country.  It is no wonder that I had a great run.  It was one of those runs that went by so quickly because my mind was busy dreaming of a “comeback”. It was a run that had me “seeing” myself at the races  and fighting for the finishing tape. It isn’t really the win that makes the races sweet, but the chase that thrills me.  As I continue with this marathon buzz, Andrew is skiing fresh powder on the mountain.  The new snowfall doesn’t faze me because my mind is already a season ahead.  Many miles ahead.