At Least the Lake Was Pretty

I don’t like camping.

It’s not so much the eating hot dogs in the wilderness or the smell of campfire, or even the prospect of getting swept up in a giant rain storm while sleeping in a tent.  I can handle all that, and mostly even enjoy it. But I truly detest not having an actual toilet for longer than a race morning (and a sink to wash my hands), and sleeping in a little cramped space on mere mat padding for an entire weekend.

Call me high maintenance if you will (mostly every one does), but I want a bathroom and bed. If camping included those things and combined the greatness of the outdoors with human comforts, I’d be willing to go every summer weekend.

I want to camp HERE!

I really try to be a good sport about it though. It may not be the way I want to spend my time, but I try not complain…at least while we’re there. Just, you know, on the blog after the fact.

Aaron on the other hand, is a mountain man.  He even considers “car camping” to be a lesser form of the activity.  He’d rather back-pack into somewhere and live off of the land with whatever supplies he can fit into his sack.

Look at all that camp gear!

During our first few months of dating 5 years ago, I consented to go camping (gotta impress), but other than that, I’ve kind of managed to avoid this whole hobby of his.  But that means that he hasn’t gone either. And while I may hate camping, I also don’t want to deprive poor Aaron of something he truly loves (but kind of, because BATHROOMS).

Long story short: we went camping last weekend. We’re getting to the peak (hehe) of our Imogene training, and we’ve been trying to get some higher elevation mountainous trail runs in, and all of those trails are closer to camp grounds than actual cities, so there you have it.  Leave it to running to break my non-camping streak. Our trail run was 15 miles, and afterwards I wanted nothing more than to prop my feet up, and sleep in a very comfortable bed. But, it is what it is.

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That car (which isn’t ours) shows how close our neighbors were

We went up to the North Central part of the state to a place called Lake Heron which is almost more of more of a resort campground where you have people on either side of you, lots of happy Forest Ranger friends, a latrine style toilet (which was ok on Saturday morning but downright disgusting by Sunday morning with all of the use and ten million flies swarming).  The next cluster of sites next to ours even had a camp host and showers (which were actually pretty decent). IMG_7335 - Copy They even had daily activities like ukulele lessons and snake education.  Aside from the fact that we could hear everything our camp neighbors were saying (and every scream of the sick toddler they brought with them), having a shower, and something resembling a toilet was nice. But I was mostly obsessed with the lakefront property. I spent the weekend taking pictures of our amazing view.  And enjoying the water since it is mostly non-existent in Albuquerque.  IMG_7321 - Copy IMG_7301 - Copy

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View of the lake from inside the tent

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The water levels statewide are ridiculously low right now, so the lakes (I think all of them here are man made) are having to let out a bit to provide water for the rivers.  It looks like they just did a major water lowering a couple of weeks ago, so the shore right by the lake was not only very muddy in a “hasn’t been dry in decades” type of way, but also filled with treasures.  And by treasures I mean really old beer and soda cans.

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I was also amazed at how many fossils I found right next to our campsite.  Nothing too amazing like dinosaur skeletons or fish bones, but plenty of sea shells!  Considering the number of people who hang out there, it looks like I’m the only person who has ever rock hunted.

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Aside from our 15 mile trail run (more about that on Monday), other activities included drinking wine, playing with the camera, bike riding, kayaking (oops…forgot to take pictures), middle of the lake picnicking, and exploring. We even saw a herd of deer! (hopefully they were not caught by the gang of howling coyotes that woke us up later that night…).

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If you look closely, you can see the train of ants

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The drive to and from Lake Heron was also quite beautiful.  We were surrounded by dramatic cliffs and Northern New Mexico landscape.  We also stopped by a small town called Abiquiu to take a picture of this neat mission church built in 1920.  IMG_7377 - Copy IMG_7232 - Copy

Overall, if this is something I can get away with doing once every five years (heck, I’ll even make it four!), than I think I will survive. As always, it was nice to get out of town and do a long run on a new (yet ridiculous) trail.  The weather here is already starting to cool down (sadness), and our warm summer weekends are numbered, so just getting to spend time outside might have even been worth some of the yucky parts of bonding with nature. Maybe.

Love camping or want to join me in the whimsical canvas tent and king bed resort place?

Favorite camp food? 

HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND!  It’s turned into an unofficial holiday around these parts because of the Breaking Bad premier on Sunday.

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(Half) Marathon Reflection…Tuesday

I know there are days of silence going on right now.  I’m not really sure when the official one is (I’ve seen several), but I know I couldn’t bring myself to post for the last several days.  I am heartbroken over the events of last week.  I came home for lunch on Friday and I sat in front of CNN and cried, and I still can’t make it through a news story without getting a terrible feeling deep in my gut.  I don’t think anyone, myself included, will recover from this emotionally for a very long time.  My thoughts and prayers are, and have been, with the people of Newtown.

The family of one of the little girls just moved to Connecticut from an Albuquerque suburb recently and they were members at the gym that Aaron manages.  Emilie Parker used to go to the gym day care pretty often and a few of Aaron’s employees knew her pretty well.  According to the news, her favorite book was Charlotte’s Web, and she used to greet her kindergarten teacher here in New Mexico last year with a “salutations, teacher” every morning.

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This weekend I was looking at my calender, and I realized that, even though I’m doing two separate training cycles, I am 4 months out from Boston meaning I am officially in the marathon training time frame.  So soon?  Truthfully, right now the thought of 17 mile runs is slightly overwhelming. I was so excited to start training for my first marathon back in June, and even though I’ve forgotten the pain of the actual race (MARATHONS ARE FUN!), I remember vividly the lost weekends, miserable 800’s, and chaffing/bleeding/blistering.  Even now that I’m getting back into the 10-12 mile runs, I’m starting to get a slight feeling of dread as I lace up my shoes.

And this weekend’s 10 miler wasn’t my most inspired long run.  Turns out, if you spend the winter running on a nice flat treadmill in a climate controlled guest bedroom and then attempt to run up a mountain, your body rebels in grand fashion. On Saturday, we kept hoping that if we waiting a bit longer to head out, the temperature would rise.  It kind of did (36 degrees is warmer than 27 degrees)…  As much as I run, I haven’t invested in any long running pants, so I wore shorts and compression socks. Meanwhile I saw people walking dogs who looked prepared for a walk in Antarctica. I was ok, but I think that my legs took an extra long time to warm up, and they had that weird tingling and redness that comes from sweating and simultaneously freezing.

The uphill miles were SLOW and I didn’t quite get the exhilarating feeling of flying during the downhill miles either.  Our past few (flat coursed) long runs have been fast, and I’ve been able to get 7 miles in during the first hour.  On Saturday I barely got 6 in during the first hour.  Luckily, it wasn’t completely miserable, but it did serve as a good wake up call that I haven’t been keeping to my weekly goals and and apparently I’ve forgotten about those lessons learned the hard way during marathon training.

So, as a reminder to myself of what I said I would do at the beginning of the cycle, here’s what needs work for the next 5 weeks leading up to Operation Fast Half.

1) Train in harder conditions than you want to:  Neither RnRAZ or Boston are flat.  So why am I training on a flat surface? Hitting pace goals is nice, but that won’t help power me through Heartbreak Hill.

2) Weight lifting/muscle burning exercises: my muscles are tiring faster than they should.  And my shoulders keep tensing.  During marathon training I discovered that rows helped prevent shoulder tightness.  Yet I haven’t been doing them.

3) Yoga, stretching, and general injury prevention: My calves are tight every day.  Running on tight muscles without taking care of them is a sure way to get injured.  I also have been neglecting the foam roller.  I will say though, I don’t see myself icing any time soon.  Ice is cold.

4) Cross-training: This isn’t nearly as essential during half training because the mileage really isn’t enough to completely burn me out or really injure me from over-training, but I still want to be doing more spinning and swimming for overall fitness. I haven’t in a couple of weeks.

5) Core exercises: I haven’t been doing my daily core exercises.  Instead of feeling like a cohesive unit barreling through space while running, I feel like I’m flopping around like an octopus.  My body parts aren’t working together.  And my lower back has been aching more recently.

I’m less than 5 weeks out from what is supposed to be a strong fast half that will help me transition into “Don’t Be the Slowest Person at Boston” marathon training, and I need to start taking this seriously.

I think I started falling into the mindset that, hey, it’s the holidays, I can be lazy.  But I can’t.  (Sidenote: this new enthusiasm may be slightly prompted by the creation of my 10 year high school reunion facebook group.  I’ve never been very keen on actually going to my high school reunion, but I suddenly feel pressure to have some noteworthy accomplishments.  Like, maybe I haven’t climbed the corporate ladder or moved out of state after talking loudly about how much I hated New Mexico for the first 18 years of my life and the last 5 years after college, but I can run a fast marathon, gosh darn it!).

And really, I should be taking advantage of the fact that my long runs are only 10 miles and weekly mileage is between 20-35 miles because too soon I’ll be back to thinking 10 miles is any easy day (just kidding…I’ve NEVER thought that!).

On the Christmas front, I am now way behind on my gingerbread house.  I need it to be done by Saturday, but I have so much left to do.  I  may have to pull some all nighters here this week….

Hope everything on your Christmas to-do list is getting done! Only one more week to fit in as much Christmas as you can!

So…I’m Doing a Triathlon…

One of my bucket list items for this year was to race a triathlon.

I’m not quite sure why I put this on there.  Maybe to challenge myself? Maybe because I was high off my first two half marathons and decided I could do ANYTHING? I don’t really know.  But I don’t have a bike.  I was probably 12 the last time I rode my bike.  And I can’t swim.

A few weeks ago I decided to start learning how to swim since that was another bucket list item. But I haven’t really kept it up.

Aaron spends all day in a gym.  I think it takes extra encouragement to get him to go to his “workplace” after hours.  And I like to make a splashing idiot of myself in front of as few people as possible. I suppose on the upside, our wet area is co-ed, so I don’t have to deal with situations like Jen does in the jacuzzi.

Well, I have found a triathlon in December!

This is an indoor tri that utilizes gym equipment.  No bike? No problem.   I’m glad I wasn’t more specific in my bucket list requirements!

Basically, you run for 20 minutes on a treadmill as fast as you can, hang out on the spin bike for 30 minutes, and swim in the pool for 10 minutes. Your score is based on distance covered rather than time.

So, I am now forced to learn how to swim (or at least establish a good doggy paddle) for 10 full minutes. That isn’t so bad, right?

I’m nervous.

I mean, the marathon was scary because I did’t know what would happen at mile 20.  But, at least I knew it involved running.

Well, how nice for you, tri person!

This is such a new world for me.

I’ve definitely been inspired by all of you who jumped into tri land and had to do things like swim in open water!!! (OMGSOSCARY).

And indoor tris seem to be a whole different game than like, real ones. I don’t know anything about transitions, especially because I don’t think there is a “transition area.” AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO WEAR!

My swimsuits aren’t necessarily designed for competitive swimming.

Are you kidding me…

Meanwhile, Aaron has done countless tris including 3 Ironmans.  These are really where he excels, even more so than running.  I think I killed it because he hasn’t done any triathlons since I met him.

I don’t think I’ll be keeping up with him anytime soon, but I have decided that I need to let myself out of my comfort zone every once in awhile.  I am truly having to chip away at this triathlon thing from the bottom.  If anything, this will ensure that I get some quality cross training in. And maybe next year I’ll be crazy enough to sign up for one outside!

Small steps.

I’m Cool with Savasana

First…I have updated my “Contact Me” page to include (I think) all of my social media accounts so you can follow me EVERYWHERE.  Do you want to see my filtered pictures of my puppy?  Join me on Instagram! Do you want to see what I wish my house looked like? Join me on Pinterest.  If you don’t, that’s cool.  I don’t know if I even want to follow me that much!  But the option is out there!

In other news, I’m really awkward at yoga.

I know I’m in the minority here, but I don’t find it relaxing and I don’t get an enlightened feeling.

Um…this doesn’t look very comfortable…

And hot yoga? That is one hour and a half of pure torture.

But every once in a while (usually prompted by a Groupon), I’ll go on a month long hot yoga kick.

But I don’t like yoga enough to pay full price.  Luckily Aaron has some really cheesy “yoga for athletes” DVD’s that don’t involve having to get all dressed up (our yoga studios are definitely Lulu’d out).

We did not use them once during marathon training.

Over the last 4 weeks, it has become blatantly obvious that my muscles are tight.  They are looser now then they were on my day after limp fest through Chicago, but even after all the rest, they are not as loose as I want them to be as I head into “Operation Fast Half” next week.

On Saturday, we did one of the DVD yoga workouts.

I spent 12 years of my life as a ballerina.  I worked on my flexibility constantly (it isn’t cool to be the only girl who can’t do the splits), and I’ve always been pretty limber.  Even in our previous yoga attempts, I’ve been pretty good at holding poses and getting deep into the stretch.

I couldn’t touch my toes on Saturday.  I also fell over on every attempt to hold tree pose (I think this is supposed to be symbolic of my inner balance).  Basic moves like rotating my hips were extraordinarily difficult.

Basically, I was the biggest yoga disaster before even considering my runny nose, and my tendency to giggle every time the monotone lady narrator said “buttock.”

But, regardless, we popped the DVD in again last night, and already my flexibility was far better then it was on Saturday.  My maturity level was about the same.

I don’t love yoga.  I don’t think I’ll change my mind on that any time soon, but I can’t deny that I need to do some good quality stretching to compliment the running mileage.  My goal is to incorporate yoga once per week when I’m actively training.

It took me a really long time to even walk right after the marathon and I think if I had practiced some yoga I would have been much better off.  I will have no time between my half and jumping into Boston training, so I can’t afford to take a few weeks off to recover.  I’m hoping yoga, no matter how unenlightened, will make for an easy transition.

Namaste! And go vote!

Giuseppe’s First 5-K

Boy, what a weekend in the world of running.  First, New York was cancelled (I admit I was brought to tears when pictures of runners volunteering on Staten Island started getting posted) and then Toyko was added to the World Marathon Majors (joining Chicago, New York, Boston, London, and Berlin).

Meanwhile, in our neck of the woods, Giuseppe ran his first 5-K!

Our local Animal Humane Center organizes an annual race called the Doggie Dash and Dawdle 5-K that allows puppies to partake in the racing fun.

I mean, did we have any other option?

We put off signing up because I wasn’t sure I would be able to run much less keep up with a hyper puppy, but we registered on Thursday, picked up our packets, and I made Giuseppe his own little race bib.

We showed up on Sunday morning and got ourselves orientated.  Giuseppe was overwhelmed and excited with all of the dogs everywhere, but he was very well behaved.

The other dogs are about ready to fight.  Giuseppe is focused on getting to the start line on time. 

My parents and sister came to give Giuseppe moral support, and we ran into a few friends (including one of Aaron’s lifelong friends who does every race dressed as Batman) who were also dashing.  The race got off to a delayed start, but we eventually got lined up.  The runners without dogs got to start first, and it was a bit of a free for all for everyone else.

As anticipated, the first half mile was a major disaster.  I’m really good at weaving through people, but add in a puppy on a leash (and a bunch of other leashes just waiting to trip you), and it wasn’t quite as easy.

We were a little worried about Giuseppe because we haven’t been training him as much as we should since we’ve both been trying to recover from Chicago.  We got a pretty solid 2 mile run in with him on Friday just to make sure he wouldn’t collapse, but we didn’t know how it was going to turn out.

Turns out I’m the one we needed to worry about.

After a 2 week taper, the marathon, 3 weeks off of running, and a week of cautious attempts, I was in no condition to run a fast 5-K.

Meanwhile, Giuseppe was speeding along, completely focused.  I know he’s a smart puppy, but I’m positive he knew his goal was to run until he crossed the finish line.  Even as we passed my cheering family, he looked over, gave them a smile, and kept going (typically, he runs over and showers them with love and excitement).  We got to a steep hill and Aaron yelled out, “POWER UP IT SEPPE!” and he did.  I did not.

Meanwhile, we were averaging somewhere between 7:00 and 8:10 minute mile paces, passing the big dogs and doing just fine.  Giuseppe took a quick water stop (they had water stations for dogs and for humans), and then kept going.

I was DYING.  It took me one mile for my legs to warm up, but I just didn’t feel very good at all.  I  never do feel very good for 5-K’s, but I’m typically running faster than marathon pace.  OUT OF SHAPE.

But we kept running.  Giuseppe powered out a little bit, but he was determined to keep up.

We crossed the finish line together, giving us a finish time of 23:01!  Both my and Aaron’s Garmin showed the course was significantly short though.

We came in #31 and #32 out of people running with dogs, and I got a 3rd place age group medal!

I would like to point out for the record, that I finished faster than Aaron! 

After the race, Giuseppe was tired, but he seemed really happy, and overall not too bad off!

I LOVE 5-K’s! 

He got lots of treats and lots of hugs to celebrate his amazing accomplishment!

In other news, I joined athlinks this weekend on the encouragement of another friend we ran into at the race (he doesn’t have facebook, twitter, or instagram, so that was the only way he could keep track of our races).  I don’t really get it, but if you are on athlinks, you can be my friend and see my race times!

I hope you have a wonderful week! Happy 1 Day Until Political Ads are Over Day!

Chicago Has Food (and Lots of It!)

So, a couple of weeks ago we went to Chicago.  The marathon was obviously the whole point, but seeing as how neither Aaron or I had ever been there, we decided make a vacation out of it and do some exploring.

Vacations include testing out the regional flavor.

For Chicago, this means deep dish pizza and loaded hot dogs.

Don’t mind if I do!

In the days before the race Aaron was really keeping to a gluten free diet, but after the race, when stomach issues wouldn’t ruin mile splits, his inner garbage disposal came out and the Chicago style gorging began.

I will say this though.  Chicago is lacking in the local microbrew department.  We did find PBR at every restaurant (like, even the really snazzy ones) but since we can get that here for 75 cents on college night, we refrained.  Even though 75 cent PBR was the first drink Aaron bought for me before asking me out.  Big spender even bought a round for the whole table. Ah, memories.

Also to be noted that in addition to the 38,000 + people in town for the marathon (and their loved ones), a big football game between Miami and Notre Dame was held on Saturday, so the city was PACKED with runners and football fans.

Amy and Aaron’s Adventures in Chicago Eating

I forget the name of the restaurant where we got these martinis, but it was some sort of chop house a few blocks from our hotel.  It was an “Amy” type of place as evidenced by the the photos of my best friends on the bathroom wall.  They had a cool martini menu.  I’m usually a dirty martini type of girl, but who can resist a martini with chocolate swirls?

An added bonus was witnessing a lady trying to get a very drunk man she met at the bar to ask her out. I mean, he couldn’t figure even out how to spell Julie in his phone. How romantic.

On Saturday we stopped by The Berghoff which was down the street from our hotel.  Turns out it was a German themed microbrewery and the building has been there since the late 1800’s.  The beers were actually pretty good, and the Reuben sandwich was perfect.   

So happy to be at Berghoff’s!

Our carb loading on Saturday took us to Elephant Castle, another pub across from our hotel.  I wish Albuquerque had more pubby type places because I enjoy a good black and tan surrounded by British memorabilia.  It proved to be a great “pre-race” choice because of their special marathon menu.

We ran into a very drunk man who said as long as he stopped drinking by 10, he’d be ok for the marathon the next morning.  I wonder how that worked out for him.

The official beer sponsor of the marathon was Goose Island which is a Chicago microbrewery and it seems like the pride and joy of Chicago beer.  Aside from PBR.  Apparently they have a tasting room in Chicago that we didn’t get to.  The 312 Wheat Ale was pretty good as was the Matilda.  Aaron tried out the Bourbon County Stout at a restaurant which was AMAZING.

Our post marathon dinner on Sunday was at the infamous Lou Malnati’s (sounds suspiciously like Illuminati…I kept thinking we were in a Dan Brown novel).  Thanks Allison for this suggestion! This place did not disappoint (and with an hour long wait, we weren’t the only ones vying for some pizza goodness).   Fantastic deep dish pizza, and some great people watching.

A bunch of former frat boys in town for the Notre Dame game (who still were acting like idiotic 21 year olds despite being about 30) kept trying to pick up a pair of British marathon runners. Very unsuccessfully.  Made me a bit embarrassed to be American. Luckily the pizza made me happy again.  And seriously, even though it was good…I still prefer thin crust. Sorry. 

Monday evening we stopped by Paddy Long’s (I think it was in the area by Wrigley Field).  This was the bacon and beer bar.  They had an ok beer selection, but the bacon board was heavenly.  It was also the first place we went to that wasn’t crawling with people.

This place was also really cool because if felt “local.” So many of the other places we went to were overridden with tourists.  I felt like a Chicagoan! On Monday for lunch we headed to Portillo’s (thanks Hyedi for that suggestion) for their famous hot dogs and chocolate cake.  The place was a bit overwhelming and set up kind of like a food court (it took us a few minutes to figure out where to stand in line), but there were a lot of fun pieces of Chicago memorabilia.  And it was CHEAP. And tasty.

Aaron, staring dreamily at the hot dogs.

Monday night, on the recommendation of our Paddy Long’s bartender who understood our plight to find good beer that wasn’t IPA (way harder than it sounds), we headed to Clark Street Ale House.  I think Dominick, may have also recommended it, but I can’t find evidence of that conversation.

The beer selection was big, but most of the stuff we found was stuff we could buy in Albuquerque. The place was really empty too.  Apparently people in Chicago are too responsible to go out partying on a Monday night? We still made friends though. 

These dudes were like, “take a picture of us!”  I would kind of be surprised if homeboy actually knew what Livestrong was.  The other guy actually had a job similar to Aaron’s  and had lived in a similar part of Phoenix (and he was relatively sober), so they were able to talk for a bit.

“Seriously?” Or, “Bitch, please.”

NOT PICTURED: We had a post marathon breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s which was a cute mid-century diner.  I was seriously too sick to enjoy the meal (or take pictures), but it was a really cute place that has apparently been in a lot of movies that I’ve never seen.

IPO was the hotel restaurant.  REALLY trendy interior but the food was TOO trendy.  Oh, and pork belly is just pure fat. I didn’t realize that.  I was hoping for a bacon sandwich.  BLECH. The hotel (The W City Center) also had a really swanky bar/lobby, but it was pricey.

Chicago isn’t a cheap place to eat/drink.  We were really surprised every time we got the bill.  But people watching was better here than it has been anywhere else we’ve gone.  And I did love the feel of being in places that had been there since the turn of the century.

Thank you, Chicago, for feeding these very hungry and thirsty runners!

The W Lobby/Bar.  They had giant lamps.

A Pre Inspired Marathon Mental Workout

5 DAYS!!!

Today’s Marathon Mental Workout Inspiration brought to you in part by:

Steve Prefontaine

Steve Prefontaine was a track runner for the University of Oregon back in the 70’s, the original Nike spokesperson, and an Olympic contender at the Munich Olympics (the one that got ruined by terrorists).  He died tragically at the age of 24, and from what I understand, the Eugene Marathon plays a great deal of homage to him.

I think he’s also quite famous because Jared Leto played him in a movie back in the 90’s.  If you haven’t seen Without Limits, I recommend renting it if you’re looking for a bit of running inspiration!

Admittedly, I don’t quite know if he’s the best role model for inspiration.  Incredibly fast runner who is one of the biggest reasons why running is so popular today? Absolutely.  But he never did get his Olympic medal (went out fast ended up placing 4th…although the day before he did witness the terrorist attacks which was probably pretty traumatizing), he did die because he was driving drunk, and the movie doesn’t  portray him as the most humble person so I’m not saying that he’s the type of person I necessarily want to be like.

But boy did he know how to make some quote-worthy statements.  And he absolutely had a passion for what he was doing.  He started off as someone at the very back of his high school cross country team.  He wasn’t a naturally fast runner.  His speed was 100% the result of dedication and hard work.  He wanted to be the best, and he hated when he wasn’t which is something I can relate to.   He pushed himself to the limit, and, despite leaving Munich without his medal was the best American distance runner in his time.

At 5’9, he was also a smaller runner! It can be done!

So, for his passion, dedication, and hard work, I will be inspired by Pre as I run my marathon.  It won’t be easy, and I may not reach my goal, but I will put everything I have into finishing strong.

And my personal favorite:

Have a great Tuesday!

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Texas Edition

I am incapable of taking pictures of “normal” subjects.

Arranging a bunch of smiling people in front of landmarks? Not my thing.  Old torn down motels that create eye-sores in towns? Far more interesting to me.  (As is beer apparently? One of these days I hope to start a separate tab of Amy approved microbreweries across the country, so I drink for the cause!).  Even as a kid, I took pictures of road signs and funky trees.

Here’s a sample of what I saw in Texas.  Less Alamo and River Walk, more, well…I’ll let you be the judge.  I’ll have to do a whole separate post with pictures just from the Houston Museum of Fine Art.  Who knew all of those amazing paintings…were in Houston.

To Relay or Not to Relay?

Yesterday I did my 2nd 800’s series of marathon training.  In half marathon land, we did 400’s and maybe 1 800 thrown in per workout.  I liked 400’s.  They made me feel fast! 800’s make me feel sick.  And while I know I’ll build up my endurance, I was DONE after 3 (I still finished out my last required two, but they were noticeably slower than the first three).

My fastest split was about 15 seconds faster than my fastest split a few weeks ago, so at least that’s progress! But man oh man do those 800’s not feel so good.  I was dreading them all day. Plus, that promised rain storm never came so I was once again running in the 6:30 p.m. heat.

Also, some jerk had the audacity to GRILL FOOD in one of the houses next to the track, so I got a major gag reflex every time I ran by that house.

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Yesterday I also got a phone call from an old co-worker of mine.  She’s training for the RnR Denver Half, and she knew that we’ve been training for a marathon. I guess a few people had dropped out of their 12 person relay team for the Wild West Relay Race that runs between Fort Collins and Steamboat Springs, Co, and she wanted to know if we were interested in taking their places. I have been wanting to do a relay just because everyone (like Erika) seems to really enjoy themselves at these relays!  But it is easier to say that you WANT to do something than to actually do it.

A few of my fears:

1) I am terrified of the dark.  I can’t help it.  Running by myself in the dark sounds kind of nightmarish.

2) Wild creatures like bears, bobcats, mountain lions, SNAKES, bugs live in the forest.  I don’t want to meet my demise because my headlamp didn’t illuminate the giant bear until it was too late.

3) I watch a lot of crime shows.  Criminal Minds has let me know that running in the dark in the forest surly means I will be abducted by some serial killer who will lock me up in a cave.  This doesn’t sound like much fun. Caves are dark.  See #1.

4) Spending lots of time in a van with people who I might want to punch in the face.  I only know 1 girl going in.  What if I have the worst weekend ever because I have to spend it with truly terrible people? OR, what if they all want to punch me in the face?  That’s pretty awkward too.

5) Getting lost.  They only have signs at points where the course changes direction.  The website literally says that they can’t be held responsible for signs that get turned the wrong way by some funny person, or if signs blow away.  If you miss a sign, or if it isn’t there, or if it is pointing the wrong direction, then you are lost in the forest.  See #’s 1-3.

6) Getting run over.  The roads aren’t closed.

We aren’t sure yet whether we’re going to do this or not.  It will disrupt our training schedule a bit (MUST FOLLOW THE PLAN), and at $135 a person plus travel and accommodations, it starts adding up.  With friends getting married here soon (and all the shower/bachelor(ette) parties going on with that), plus Chicago and all of those fancy stores and restaurants that the city must certainly contain, the next few months are going to be expensive enough already.  Plus, Fort Collins isn’t exactly anywhere near Albuquerque, so we’d have to take days off work (I’m running out of those), and spend a weekend driving for hours, sitting in a van for hours, running for a few hours, and then driving for more hours back home.  I could be doing a lot with those hours back home.

So, we’re trying to make up our mind by this afternoon.

I think it would be fun, but I also think it would be more fun if it was something that fit into our plan a little bit more.  We’ll see what happens.

Happy Wednesday!

Sometimes We Conquer Mountains

First of all, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all of the words of encouragement yesterday! Have I mentioned recently how much I love you all? Because I really do. And thank you for not telling me that I’m crazy, even if you’re thinking it (trust me, I’m thinking it too).  You guys are amazing!

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So, as part of the whole, We’re Running a Marathon thing, we decided to do a kick-off by climbing a mountain (if you are singing Miley Cyrus right now, then my job here is done).  Also, while my knee wasn’t loving the idea of running this weekend, walking was fine, so naturally walking 8 miles with a 3,775 elevation gain seemed like a good idea!

Albuquerque has a  mountain chain called the Sandias that make up the eastern border of the city.  The La Luz trail will take you from the bottom to the top at a 12% grade incline.  I’ve climbed the trail before, and Aaron has done it many times, but we thought the whole idea of conquering a mountain seemed like a great way to jump into the 18 week marathon battle.  How awesomely symbolic are we?

We got our start at 7 a.m. at the same time as a friendly group of Canadians.  Every person on the trail at that point was running up.  I wanted to start running with them (I was totally worried about being judged as a non-runner…THE HORROR) but my knee and my fear of aggravating it further told me to keep walking.  I was impressed that so many people were starting their Sunday with a nice trail run.

La Luz starts out as a desert climate.  My incentive to walk faster was knowing that the higher we got, the less likely we were to encounter rattlesnakes!  I HATE rattlesnakes!

 {looking up to our destination}

At about mile 5, the dirt trail converts to a boulder field.  You are essentially hiking over a rock slide that happened possibly 1000 years ago! The whole thing feels a little unstable, like, yes, those rocks have been there for hundreds of years, but it isn’t like they are attached to anything.

The trail ends as a forest with wildflowers, large pine trees, and ferns replacing cacti and yucca and a magnificent view of the city and beyond.

While I wouldn’t classify this trail as a very hard climb, it is a wonderful reminder that 1) we are small compared to the vastness of the world and 2) we are not invincible.  One rock slide or one trip over the edge, and you’re done for.  Yet overcoming that fear and living life “on the edge” will be well worth the effort (symbolism AND metaphors? I’m on a roll!).

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t offer a prayer of thanks for my legs and their ability to walk, run, and to climb.  Our bodies are such powerful tools, and I am blessed to have complete freedom to use mine without limitations.  I am thankful for every step I took up that mountain.

Almost 4 hours and nearly 8 miles later, we reached the top, triumphant, and actually not all that worn out. We celebrated with our pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and beers that Aaron carried up the mountain for us! There is a restaurant at the top, but it was a Sunday, and you can’t purchase alcohol before noon in New Mexico on Sundays.  So we provided our own mountaintop party.

Instead of climbing back down 8 miles, we took the Tram (Formally the world’s longest) down the mountain in a trip that took less than 20 minutes to cover what took us almost 4 hours.  (It is of note to mention that if you opt to do this, you have to pre-park a car at the base of the tram, then drive a second one to the base of the trail.  They are about 2 miles apart).

We conquered the mountain like we hope to conquer marathon training!  And, as an added bonus, after the hike, my knee actually felt better!