Posted by: jawsome | April 8, 2011

Mindfulness

I’ve pretty much taken this week off of running. Sometimes I find that running helps me deal with stress, but there are times also when I need to take a little break from running. I find that when I focus too much on races, or paces, that I lose sight of why I’m running in the first place. I know that probably sets me apart from you more competitive folks who use that drive to keep you going – but I’ve always been like this. I think it was probably the kiss of death to my shortlived high school track career – I would get so involved and so worked up that it stopped being fun. And that’s what I want running to be in my life: fun. And fun for me may be quite different from fun for someone else.

This is all leading up to something I promise

In my work lately I’ve been doing a lot of workshops on mindfulness. What is mindfulness? Well technically it is a detached awareness that allows us to really be in the present moment without life distractions getting in the way. The idea is to take a few deep, calming breaths and just focus on what you’re doing right now. I’ve washed dishes mindfully. Focus on the texture of the plates, the slippery feel of the soap, the warmth of the water. Feel the ground beneath your feet and the feeling of your toes in your shoes.

But my favorite place to practice mindfulness is on the run. Put your Garmin down for a moment, stop the iPod, forget about your pace, your nutrition strategy and whether or not you feel good or strong. Just be. Don’t think about work, or your family, or your stupid car battery that died this week. Think about how the ground feels beneath your feet. Feel the wind brush your skin, hear your breath. Look at your surroundings – don’t just rush by them.

My favorite runs are like this – I think it’s time I reminded myself of that

PS it’s a good thing I’m moving to Portland. I can re-join America’s hippie nation.

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Posted by: jawsome | March 29, 2011

Sleep? Who needs sleep?

Well, Matt and I got back on Sunday from the 24 hours of Moab running relay. I was on an “extreme team” with fellow FCTR members Alex, Mindy, Brian, and Rob. Our competition was another even more extreme FCTR team made up of Celeste, Cat, and Lindsay. Not only did they beat us, but they each ran much farther than members of our team. Go wolfpack, you gals were awesome.

On to the details. I am fresh out of vacation days at work, so Matt and I opted to drive the 7ish hours to Moab after work on Friday. Ugh. We have crossed the pass several times over the last couple of years, and have NEVER had normal weather. This time we got re-routed through leadville on the way out (and almost called it quits during a blizzard in Glenwood Canyon), then on the way back were pummeled with snow, rain and traffic. We made it into Moab around 11:30 and set up the tent (in the dark, in typical Sulzner family tradition – thanks dad. I actually think my tent setting-up skills are better in the dark now). It was freezing. I mean low 20’s, shiver your parts off freezing. I did not sleep. Not good prep for a 24 hour race…

Got up bright and early for the race start. It was so dang cold that I made the decision to get dressed in my sleeping bag. I was insistent – none of my bare skin would feel the cruel bite of the cold desert air, so I contorted myself in all manner of positions trying to dress. I did it! It may have taken me three or four times as long, and I may have been just as cold once dressed, but hey. Crawled out of the tent and headed for the start line and sort of listened to the pre-race instructions (this would become key later). Alex had first leg and I had second, so I headed back to camp to get ready.

                                               

Alex was back in about 3.5 seconds (this is what it felt like) and it was my turn to head out. “Follow the yellow flags” was what I understood from the pre-race meeting. Ok, I see flags, here I go. Absolutely beautiful course through gorgeous red rock formations and canyons. I was enjoying the scenery so much I didn’t really notice for a few miles that there was no one else around. Hmm, I know this isn’t a huge race, but I should be seeing SOMEONE…and nope. Finally, about 2.7 miles in I saw Celeste coming from the other direction. “Oh crap, I think I ran the wrong way!”  Apparently it was a loop course and you’re supposed to switch directions each lap. Oops! Doesn’t really matter as it’s the same course, just run in different directions. Still, I felt like a bonehead.

Lean from the ankles!

I came in at 56:46 for the first lap, which I was happy with. I felt a little like the weakest link on this team (due only to my own poor self-esteem, not at all because of the other teammates who were awesome), so as long as I could keep it near an hour I was happy.

Mindy and I huddle for warmth

This trip as a whole was amazing – so much fun to hang out with the FCTR group and get in some awesome trail running on a great course. The only drawback was the temperature. It was freezing almost the entire time. I was walking around with 3 shirts, a down jacket and a rain shell (and a blanket) and I was still a little cold. This became a problem around noon with the return of the chronic over-dresser (that’s me, in case you didn’t know). I went out on my noon lap with 3 shirts and fleece pants on. Then, the sun came out. Okaaaay, now it’s 20 degrees warmer and I NEED TO TAKE OFF ALL MY CLOTHES OMG. So I stopped for a minute or two to disrobe and ran it in for 58:24.

All these layers were necessary, I swear

The best part of this race was our camp setup. Matt and I bought this EZ up tent for his 12 hour race last April, and it came in handy on this trip! We closed the sides and had our own little FCTR homebase pavillion. There may have been dirt everywhere, half eaten bags of food, and the pleasant odor of eau de locker room, but for us it was home.

Tent sweet tent

It was amazing how fast the time between laps went. I had about 3.5 hours between laps, which seems like a really long time unless it’s 28 degrees and you’re dreading taking off all your clothes to go run again…in the snow…yes we had some flurries.  My last daylight lap was lovely but a little slower – 61 minutes.  I tried not to feel bad as the 75 year old solo runners passed me…

Matt came back from his epic bike ride, and must have had a few too many beers because he agreed to pace me for my fourth lap. We were also fortunate enough to be allowed our pace dog, Japhy, as dogs were allowed on the course. So much fun – this was my most fun lap – running through the rocks with Matt and Japhy in the dark. Most people lose a lot of time when it gets dark, but we were only 5 minutes behind for 66 minutes.

Japhy the pace dog

It was now 10:30 and I didn’t run again until 2:30. What to do? Welp, I sat in the car with Japhy to stay warm, had a beer and took a nap! Unfortunately, my nap went a little over and I missed the handoff (sorry, Alex!) Luckily I was dressed and ready to go when he tapped on my car window. What the? Huh? Oh crap – yeah, I’m awake, here, let me just get my shoes on…and off I went about 20 seconds after waking up. I may have been asleep for the first mile of the run, but the adrenaline helped a lot.  I was actually feeling really good and cruising along right on pace. As I reached the summit, I did have the interesting auditory experience of a coyote kill. I heard a bunch of rustling off to the side, a loud “WHUMP!” the high pitched (but shortlived) shriek of the dying prey animal, and triumphant howls of the coyote (soon followed by several other nearby howls to form their very own coyote howling chorus). I know coyotes aren’t really dangerous, but it was still sort of eerie. Then I hit the slickrock on the downhill and…got lost. They had glowsticks spaced pretty well through most of the course until that one section, and I stood there and had no idea where I was. I could see lights in the distance from other people’s head lamps, but I knew they could be from the other side of the loop, and to follow them would be to risk death like Frodo and Sam with the swamp monster lights in Lord of the Rings. That might be a little dramatic, but at 3am in the dark in the middle of the desert, anything is possible. I wandered around cursing for about 5 minutes, then headed back up to the last glowstick I saw – and found another runner to follow. This lap was 73 minutes. 

I came back to camp at 3:50 ish and wandered around in a daze not really knowing what to do with myself. Everyone else was sleeping or running, and I knew I probably needed some food. I wandered over to the aid station tent, and the angels there were making grilled cheese sandwiches. Manna from heaven! I grabbed a couple and headed back to the car. I opened up a beer and ate my sammies to the warmth of the Jeep heater. Bliss!! I will tell you what, a grilled cheese sandwich and a beer at 4am on two hours of sleep in 48 is nothing to scoff at. Then I fell asleep, finally (for about 2 hours).

Woke up about 6:30 and headed to the start line for results and prizes. I did 27.5 miles myself, and our team had a total of 128.88 miles. Our team came in 4th, (wolfpack came in 3rd). To be fair, we were racing against the most extreme team possible headed by Anita Ortiz…

Overall an amazing trip spent with amazing people. I may have to come back next year from Portland!

Posted by: jawsome | March 20, 2011

Addicted to running?

As I’ve been working in behavioral health lately at CSU, I’ve run across studies looking at endocannabinoid receptors and their relationship to addiction. This won’t be a surprise to the runners out there, but turns out that there’s no need to light up a doobie to bring back that loving feeling. Research has almost definitively proven (as much as can be proven as far as the brain goes – as an aside, do we really think we are smart enough to understand our own brains? Trippy) that the human body produces its own opiate-like chemicals in response to intense physical exercise. The well-known “runner’s high” is a real thing. Science – how does it work?

Lecture aside, I think I have reached this point in my own training. On Thursday I figured I hadn’t had enough pain for the week, so I did a double header of Pineridge meeting the group on the second lap (sloooooowing down 6 miles into my run) to wind up with ~10 total for the night. Follow that up with corned beef, cabbage and oatmeal cookies and I was a happy runner.

Saturday was the inaugural March Madness Mayhem run (or something like that) and I headed out with a bunch of other like minded (read:crazy) folks for a 21-23 (depending on who you talk to) circumnavigation of the reservoir. I was debating whether to run with the group or continue my recent derpage on long runs. Luckily Mindy, Chris and Lindsay refused to let me hang back:

Me: Oh, just go on without me, I’m studying for the psychology licensure exam and I’m just slow”

Mindy: (in an eerily cheerful voice) oh, I’ll just walk with you then for a sec!  (starts running, forcing me to “vanity fartlek” along…)

Me: You guys don’t need to wait for me!

Cat: No worries! It’s a social run!

Me: I think I’m going to take it easy on this hill

Chris: This is my longest run ever by 12 miles, you can do it!

So, with a combination of public shaming and camaraderie, I went on to totally annihilate my Moab 19 mile time by 32 minutes. Okaaay, I guess pushing myself *might* have something to do with performance…

22ish miles for the day with a great after party including steak, dog related wine accidents and great friends.  Matt and I are happy to be moving to Portland in August for some new opportunities, but we will be sad to say goodbye to our trail running friends 😦 At least we don’t have to leave for a while – next up this weekend is the 24 hours of Moab!

Posted by: jawsome | March 12, 2011

The problem with PR’s…

…is that every time you don’t, it means you’ve gotten slower. I know this is a pessimistic way of looking at things, but it’s hard to go from being a new runner (where every run ever is a PR, wheeee!!!!!) to getting to the point where you can’t just go out to your friendly neighborhood 5k and PR anymore.

Case in point: my run of Sharin O’ the Green this morning. I could vent about my usual gripes (and some unusual ones) about this race – namely that I stood in line to get my race bib for half an hour. So much for my warm up. That and the usual at family friendly events: moms on crutches pushing strollers lined up in front, etc.  But I won’t vent. The fact that I didn’t PR today is my fault alone. Lack of any speed work for the past, oh, two years may have something to do with it.  That or the 1/2 bottle of wine I drank last night. Either one.

Whatever, I got 25:30, which is 1.5 minutes off my PR. At least I got to break out the Vibrams again, I’ve been missing them. And it’s a place to start for one of my racing goals for 2011: break 23 minutes in a 5k. There, I’ve put it out there. Yikes.

So the two of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that cross training is something I struggle with. Why can’t I just run? However, recently the sad fact that I can’t even do one pull-up led me to look up a trainer to get some strength help. I know I could go to the gym on my own and thrash around on the machines (and probably do myself a serious injury trying to deadlift 5 lbs), but I opted to consult the experts.

My expert’s name is Josh (sorry Josh, if you ever read this, about the whining that is about to ensue). On our first visit, Josh takes on this, “oh, you run distance, you’ll be fine” attitude. I start to worry. No Josh, you do not understand. I have the arms of a T-Rex, soggy oatmeal for a core, and the only reason my legs have any strength at all is because I force them into a repetitive plodding motion for excessive distance. You want me to do 300 crunches? Oh, it’s gonna be a long night buddy.

We worked out for an hour. By we, I mean he suavely and gracefully demonstrated the convoluted body weight exercises he wanted me to imitate, and I gamely flailed along, grunting and sweating. He would start out with this hopeful expression, “Ok Joselyne, we’re going to do three sets of 12”  soon followed by, “ok, three sets of ten” and “okay just make it through this set” finally to a pleading, “one more?”

I have been so incredibly sore all day, I cannot tell you. I did not know there were that many muscles even in my body. I went for the group run, but was so pathetic that I never even caught up to them (I started early and did two laps, hoping to catch them on lap two).

Hopefully I will improve. That or Josh will crush me with the weight of his expectations. There are worse ways to go, I guess.

Posted by: jawsome | February 21, 2011

Moab Red Hot…or freezing rain and wind, whichever

Moab this past weekend was awesome. I have a complete inability to be concise and organized, so I envision this blog post as turning into a rambling mess. You have been warned.

Matt and I headed out to Moab on Friday morning with oppressive and looming clouds. I thought the desert was supposed to be, you know, dry? Apparently there are two types of weather to be had in the desert: hot and dry, and flash flood.

We checked into the Bighorn Hotel, and Japhy set about becoming everyone’s favorite barking guard dog. Delightful. Matt and I don’t have cable, so I spent the evening reminding myself why by watching a bunch of crap on TV.

Saturday morning dawned cold, rainy, and windy. I realized that I forgot my handheld water bottle, so spent some time trying to devise a holder out of floss and plastic garbage bags. McGyver I am not. I ended up just carrying a bike water bottle of Matt’s. Not too bad actually, during the race. More on this later.

We arrived at the race start to see a lot of familiar faces, and I watched the 55k group take off through the rain. We had a large Fort Collins contingent, and several top ten finishers. Great race, guys! The start line confirmed what I have been suspecting for a long time now: I am a huge wimp. I think my “happy” temperature range is somewhere between 76 and 76.5 degrees. It wasn’t even that cold at the start – maybe 40? But the rain and wind was a little scary to me and I decided to keep my fleece on over my three polypro layers. Seriously, Joselyne? There were people there in shorts! Although I ended up shedding the fleece in approximately 4 seconds, it turned out to be a good choice because, as I had no pocket on my nonexistent water bottle holder, the pockets in the fleece got to hold all my used gel packets. And actually, having a great flopping fleece tied around my waist wasn’t as annoying as you might expect.  

We started out up a slight hill, into a driving rainy headwind. The hill was fairly icy and wet, and I began to have doomsday visions about the rest of the race. But, (and curse the wind all you want), wind does have the bonus effect of drying out the course. After the first hill, the rain slowed down and it was fairly dry. In fact, the rain was a boon in the sandy sections, as I felt more like jogging across some extra springy dirt than slogging through sand dunes.

Miles 1-4 were fine, didn’t drink much water but had a cup of Heed at the aid station. Slowed down around mile 5 due to some technical difficulties (try to take off fleece while running, drop in mud, try to tie around waist while running, almost fall on face, choke on gu, rocks in shoes…) overall mile five was sort of annoying. I got most of that out of the way though, so the rest of the race was pretty awesome.

I still cannot eat during races. I am really going to have to work on this if I ever want to run 50 miles. I saw the pretzels, cookies (oreos? Really? I mean I love oreos as much as the next person but urk!) and couldn’t imagine it. I did have some flat coke which was exciting, but other than that I stuck to gu and heed and it seemed to work fine. Miles 5-8 were up some fairly steep slick rock sections, and I was glad for all the times I’ve hiked Towers.

One thing I will say for myself, I seem to have a fairly good ability to speed down hills (for my fitness level and mean pace). I would pass 10 people at a time zooming down the slickrock (only to encounter them again next steep hill, curse you, hills!!) If I can find a completely downhill trail race, I might start having more breakthrough performances 🙂

After mile nine the course trended downhill, and I was finally able to cruise. I started passing people right and left (further evidence that I REALLY need to work on my hills). I had some minor issues with side stitches (my nemesis) but nothing too bad as long as I remembered to keep grunting like a gorilla.  I almost ran out of water before the last aid station at mile 15, but it came just in time and I filled ‘er up. Kept passing people while feeling pretty good myself, so I know I trained well for this race. In retrospect, I probably could have run it a little harder but I didn’t really know what to expect. Watch out for next year, Moab (and if you could cooperate on the weather, that would be super).

Finished up in 4:24, which beat my B goal time by 6 minutes. Still 25 minutes off A goal, but I was expecting that. Overall, very happy with the run. I felt great almost the whole time, the scenery was amazing, and the course was very interesting. Also, the potato leak soup at the finish line was bomb.

Went back to the hotel room to clean up, then headed out for the after party – only to eat 3 pieces of pizza and feel like conking out. Instead of rocking the dance floor, Matt and I watched more bad TV until we fell asleep. Sunday morning we went out again, and I took Japhy for a 3 mile walk while Matt biked. I felt pretty good, but am having lingering tendon pain in one of the posterior tibial tendons in my right leg (just above the ankle bone on the outside) and the left tendon behind my left knee, but nothing sharp and I think they should calm down in a day or two. No running for me, though.

Matt and I finished up our trip a la tourist by checking out Arches National Park. Japhy touched some dirt (dogs only allowed on pavement) don’t tell anyone.

Posted by: jawsome | February 15, 2011

Countdown to Moab and other races…

Haven’t been posting much due to taper madness (read: not running much). I know my body has the training, and I’ll be fine, but a week of low mileage always makes me nervous.

This past week I had a really good (for conditions) effort up Towers Road. My PR is 54 minutes hiking fast. I’ve now been trying to run it to get a better workout (and ultimately get faster), but ironically at the pace I can run it, I can hike faster! So I did it in 57 minutes, but I ran the first 2.5 miles of that beast which I was thrilled with. Soon I plan on running the whole thing – even if it takes me over an hour. I’m assuming at some point I will then get faster? Maybe?

I also did a nice long race pace run on Saturday – 10 miles, 8 at below 10 minute mile pace. I can really tell I haven’t been doing any speedwork lately – for the last mile I tried to bring it in under 9 minutes, and it was pretty hard. Weak, Joselyne, weak. I’m still trying to find that balance between speed and distance, which is especially hard for me on trail runs.

I’ve got some races coming up – most notably the Moab 33k this Saturday, followed by a few random 5k’s and a road half mary. Also signed up for a 24 hour race (ha! dont’ worry – I’m not doing it solo) also in Moab in March. Then I’ve got Bighorn in June, and Steamboat in September. There’s another 50k in July I might do – we’ll see how it goes. After Moab I’m going back to focusing on speed to see if I can get my 1/2 time down (although with the course profile I’m not sure about that…) then more trail time building up to Bighorn.

Goal for Moab: 19 miles, ~2600 feet elevation gain

C goal: under 5 hours (this should be no problem unless I’ve seriously miscalculated)

B goal: Under 4:30

A goal: Under 4 hours. Depends on how the course is and how I’m feeling, but it’s a good stretch goal.

Weather looks ok – some chance of rain but no snow or mud on the ground as of yet…wish me luck!

Posted by: jawsome | February 2, 2011

On death marches and how to survive running below zero

On Saturday I headed out for a 21ish mile run from Blue Sky to Devil’s Backbone and back. Unfortunately, I think a better term than run would be “trudge”, “death march”, or “slog”. It was so bad that I saw Nick both before my run AND after (I think he did two completely separate runs in the time it took me to do one).

I tried out eating a PB sandwich beforehand, as that seems to be a common aid station snack and I wanted to see how my body responded. In short: not well. I started to feel sloshy around mile 9 and it just went downhill from there. It was unseasonably warm (~60) during the run, and I was sweating pretty well at first…then all of a sudden stopped. I haven’t been taking any electrolytes recently because it’s been so dang cold, but for this run I think that was a lapse in judgement. I stopped sweating and peeing, despite drinking the entire contents of my camelbak on the 11 miles to Devil’s backbone. Probably not a good sign. To add insult to injury, I developed the world’s worst side stitch (courtesy, no doubt, to the sloshy belly). In a word, it sucked. But, I did the whole thing and finished out my 21 miles in record slow time (5 hours). Ugh. Well, it may not have been great running training, but at least I was out there on my feet and maybe I got some mental toughness training in.

I was so worked from that run that I cancelled the Sunday run and lazed around the house in a stupor. Lame.

Monday Matt and I went to the gym and I got to do some weighted squats and deadlifts. These went really well, and I think I’m ready to start adding more weight, but some of the arm work killed me and I am still sore two days later. It’s the good kind of sore though, the kind that will enable me one day to complete more than one actual pushup and possibly even a pull-up! (I really am weak in the arms – apparently carrying a handheld water bottle doesn’t really count as lifting).

Last night was hovering around 12 below, and while some of the more die-hard FCTR runners may have been out there, I retained my sanity and ran indoors. I developed a new “fartlek-like” workout to keep me from losing my marbles on the treadmill. Instead of doing set tempo runs (Bo-o-o-oring) I listened to my iPod and changed my pace according to the music that was playing (making sure to stay between 6.5 and 7.5 mph regardless). This worked really well, as I could hammer it during the hard rock, and then calm down to some Radiohead or Sigur Ros. At least it worked well until the Christmas music came on. Oh well, proof of concept anyway. 6 miles done.

I also signed up for the 50k at Bighorn in June. Looks like an awesome course, and several FCTR members are signed up as well. I also plan on signing up for the sageburner 50k in May, but registration isn’t open yet… 

In other news, I have finally lost the lingering 4lbs of baggage (read:fat) I’ve been carrying around and am now just working on continued toning. Phew!

Posted by: jawsome | January 24, 2011

That’s a lot of running…

I couldn’t resist. After meeting up with Alex and co. yesterday out at Blue Sky, I decided to ditch my training plan and do 18 miles instead of 10. Where the heck did that come from? Have I finally crossed the ultimate running barrier of actually wanting to run more than my training plan calls for?? Holy cow. It was probably more running that I should have done given the hard 15 miles the day before, but I felt great. Also, it left me with 51.5 miles for the week, which is a personal record. Most weekly mileage EVAR!

(don’t hold your breath for that to happen again soon)

Moab coming up in a month, bring it on!

Posted by: jawsome | January 22, 2011

Road-trail-road-trail

5 miles with the group on Thursday evening followed by a splediferous mexican feast (homemade salsa, burritos, cake AND home brewed beer – does it get any better?)

Photo credit MBerry

 

The this morning I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed…well…I woke up, anyway…for the first training run for the horsetooth half marathon. Here is the delightful course profile:

horsetooth profile

I had a master plan to run 14 miles today, but had no idea how far the group was going to run. Since I’m a tortoise, I just planned on doing my own thing but using the group as a motivator up the first series of hills. It worked! I ran the entirety of the first three climbs on the course, which were fairly epic. I may or may not have yelled, “I own you, bitches!” when I got to the top of the third one (sorry mom(s)). 🙂

The group was running BACK the same way, but I’d had enough hill pain and decided to quit that while I was ahead. Instead, I ran down the trail to the reservoir ridge trailhead, and then back along the road to the Maxwell parking lot (where we started). At that point I was at 11 miles (ish) and decided to do an additional loop around Pineridge. It was pretty cool and very windy for the last part, but I trundled along and ended up with a solid 15 miles for the day (2:50). I’ll have to re-examine the Moab course for hill info, but I’m hoping I might be able to do the 33k in the fourth hour (that is, anywhere from 4:00-4:59). “A” goal would be sub 4, but that will only happen if I suddenly sprout wings between now and then AND the course is all gently downhill (ha!). Oh well, a girl can dream.

The group is heading out to Blue Sky tomorrow for 21 miles. I don’t think I have that in me, but I should be good for a solid 10 or so. 43 miles for the week – my highest mileage EVER. Woot.

Happy running!

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