Thursday, February 21, 2008

4 Miles of Fun

I am a CPA, so that means long hours this time of the year. I work every day from February 1st on, that means Sundays too about 70+ hours a week. I work with my eye on the prize, April 15th and the melting of the snow. They usually come around the same time.

I often have pangs of jealousy reading about other's long runs or race reports because I am relegated to the 4 milers. And the scary things is I am going to run 100 miler in June, based on a series of 4 milers, that's right, that's the training plan. Jealous?

4 milers are done in frantic fashion starting with changing clothes here at the office and pretty much putting on whatever I can find. Might be smelly, might not be mine but I am wearing it. Then I drive like a madman to the trailhead (god forbid I run on the roads). We hit the parking lot and darnit! people I know are there. They have a whole hour maybe more for lunch. And really, is there any polite way to say "I would love to talk to you but my 4 miler is more important than you talking to me", no I guess not.

I definitely find that my pace is quicker and I end up sputtering up the first hill realizing that I am not in shape. But who cares? It's sunny and blue skies and the snow is hard packed with a skiff of powder for traction. Sophie is playing with every dog we pass and there was about 22 dogs today. It's a good day and for 40 minutes, I am not thinking about like kind exchanges, partnership returns or how I am going to get it all done.

I was reading Trailrunner last nite and came across the article about meditation during exercise. They talked to Darcy Africa (possibly the best ultrarunning name) and she meditates before races and uses meditation during races. It was a good read and I tried some of the techniques of focusing on breathing and your foot strikes as opposed to what you would really like to say to your boss. It worked, off and on, when I remembered to focus. Meditation has been an ongoing challenge of mine for years. I read Eat, Pray, Live recently and while I thought the book overall was sanctimonious crap, I did think she took some interesting ideas from others. So it's was all a continuation of a theme.

I also was lucky enough to encounter a chatterbox on the trail, someone that any other time of the year, I would chat with. I had run into this fellow before, on Valentines day of all days and he went on about the virtues of his unneutered lab. Sophie thought this dog was better than reese's peanut butter cups so I wasn't getting away anytime soon. And who knew how much there was to know about unneutered male dogs? So I run into him again today but I am on my 4 miler so it was head down, quick hi and pointing to my ears where I realized there were no headphones in (busted). But on the way back, I was treated to something extra special because he had taken his shirt off. We live in Wyoming, no one takes their shirt off until August at the earliest, he must not have gotten the memo.

I even got in a fartlek at the end, felt like I was flying. My feet were digging in and then floating, my arms were pure propulsion and it felt good. That is until the coughing fit hit me like some bad smoker or someone getting over that bronchial crap that's going around.

Got back to the office with an attitude adjustment and things seemed a little better, thanks to the 4 miler.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Boulder Mountain Tour

Dancing helps work out the lactic acid buildup. I learn that tasty little fact as we danced the night away at Whiskey Jacques post race in Sun Valley. Granted we are all white women and my clapping and moving is more of an "at my convenience" as opposed to something regulated by the drumbeat. But with that said, no one had a better time than us that nite.

But the race, first the drive. Wake up Friday morning and every road in and out of Jackson, all the way to Sun Valley is closed. That's just life in the mountainous west, can't do anything about it but have another cup of coffee and in my case, vacuum my house (rare event). Finally Teton Pass opened, so we loaded, got the requisite bagel, more coffee and hit it. We got about an hour and a half into our drive and got held up again, this time in Swan Valley, Idaho. People were trying to go every direction - North to Bozeman, West to Sun Valley. We waited about 30-40 minutes before that road opened. It was greasy but drivable with some white out section that are almost vertigo inducing. We found this to be the scenario for the entire drive. Someone said a road was closed, you called Idaho DOT and they say it's opened, the flashing sign says closed but if you ignore the sign, you could make it. I guess in Idaho barriers mean road closed.

After a 7 1/2 hour drive that usually takes 4, we got there with 30 minutes to spare for packet pick up. Nordic skiing has no drop bags, unless you are elite then you have a team. We got our duffle and found no hat, what?! $90 registration and i get a crappy duffle, I have 4 already. Trying not to be bitter, we exchanged scary road stories with others and headed to Amy's family's house just a bit outside of town. On the way out from check in, I see "no poles" but this time, he's gonna using poles and I'm real scared. Mark said the only other time he did this race, he did it in 3 hours, sweet, I think, I have never gone over 2:05. But that was 2002 and he seemed way faster than that, so I told him to pass me kindly. I also started to think he was kinda hot.

In my vacuuming excitement at home, I had failed to empty the fridge of everything I needed for the trip and left the 65 meatballs I had made for Friday's dinner at home, so we did chicken instead and if anyone wants meatballs, let me know. I had my prerequisite beer before race day just to keep it real. Everyone stretched but I kinda "faked stretched" because my hip was killing me from not stretching enough. Wake up wasn't too early although it felt early because I only had 4 hours sleep from the nite before (reference 1:30am tirade on post before this one). We grabbed one of the earlier buses because one of our girls was in the elite wave, which is almost like having a friend that's famous.

The bus takes you up to Galena Lodge where the race starts about a 40 minute bus ride. They say it's a downhill race but anyone who has heard that expression and then done the course knows that there is really no course that's all downhill, same with this one. It's got some hills especially in the first 10k and it's also got some scary, screaming downhills with sweet turns at the end of those scary, screaming downhills. And if you know me, you know my alpine turns don't exist. Everyone talks about the uphills and how they don't like them, not me. I love uphills compared to the downhills. The worst downhill is supersteep followed by a dog leg right and then if that's not enough, you come flying out of that turn (usually windmilling on one ski) and there's a road crossing where about 50 people can watch you go down in a blaze of glory.

It was cold during the warm up, the sun hadn't come out and we were wondering if we would see it. We were hoping we would seeing our skis were waxed warmer than the current weather, evidenced by the fact that they were having a hard time gliding. We watched the elite go off. I took a picture of the skis that the racers put in the track as the elite have set places to start.So funny to think that their outcomes can be influenced by a couple of feet in their starting position. There were 9 waves all together and I was in wave 6. I had been clawing my way up to this wave for years and felt it was perfect for my speed. These were my people, wave 6 people. No poles was wave 9, so I started with 6 minutes on him.

Kathleen and I were in the same wave and it was really nice to see her right before we started because that would be the last time I saw Kathleen.She went out fast and stayed fast and was third in our wave, first lady. Way to represent. I started out in the middle of the pack, big mistake heading into the hills. People are either good climbers or they just lose it on the hill and you never know who you are behind. There are usually two lines for the climbs and you kinda put your blinker on and try to go around the people flaying. I am happy to report that I did not go down once during the 2008 BMT and that, my friends, is a first. With that said, when I looked down at my watch with 12k to go and it said 1:29, I knew it was going to be a slow race.

The humiliation came at the aid station with about 10k to go when I had stopped for some gross warm heed because my camelbak froze up in the first 5 minutes of the race and now all I was doing was carrying luggage. So I am drinking my heed, trying not to poke out my eyes with ski poles and what do I hear behind me but "Hi, Lori". It sounded fast like when a train goes past you and the sound makes you whip your head around. No poles had not only caught me with at least 10k to go but he was possessed with speed. "Go get him" the girls shouted from the aid station and I took off! The energy was short lived and I lost him even though was wearing his "seen from space" tights.

The last 10k was in the flats which can be incredibly pleasant on a sunny windless day or like this year's plagued with a wind that blows in your face from both directions and needle snow. Wouldn't have it any other way. I had been skiing with a very efficient woman for about 30k, we never spoke during the race but worked well together back and forth. I love forging partnerships like that during a race. I thought I had lost her about halfway but she had tucked in behind me, which made me feel better as I felt as though I was drafting off her in the first part of the race. I spoke to her after the race and she felt the same way. We looked forward to seeing each other next year.

We both tried to pass a remarkably strong but inefficient skater but this woman wasn't having it. You know these people, hate to be passed and you can see it in their eyes when you say "great job" as you go past them. They are sticking pins in your voodoo doll and they would rather die than not pass you back, and that's fine. What's not fine is to pass and then take up the whole course, which is what pink shirt did. She was so in the middle and so I did something I never do. I just tucked in behind her and in the last 100 meters where the course opens up, I just went out and around her. I had to. I also remembered to check for frosty chin whiskers before the finish.

Anyways, finished up and my friends were ready to catch the bus back. I needed some hot soup first. I looked around for no poles to give him a line up of tonite's plans in case he wanted to join us. I already had the skinny he likes to dance, a rarity. Couldn't find him so we boarded. The drive back doesn't take nearly as long as the ride there because we had skied 20 miles of the distance down. We got back and showered and did the obligatory Sun Valley shopping, ie just looking. We got back to the house around 6 and hung out until our sushi reservations at 8.

We ate sushi and hit the bars. First to the Cellar, a little downstair club that wasn't really happening but we did our best. I talked to capeman
, who is a zz top type guy who wears a silkweight 1970s race suit with a handmade cape. I asked him about the ice dam that was his beard during the race but his biggest problem was that the zipper to his suit froze to his skin, whaaaa. We then went to Whiskey Jacques where there was a good band playing and we danced the rest of the nite.

The drive back was just as white knuckling at the ride there. But we all got home safe and sound. I then was lucky enough to come down with one of the nastiest viruses to hit me in a number of years. So I am out of commission and therefore, don't have to do the local skate race this weekend. That's a relief, there's only so much nordic dorking I can do. It's almost time for running season again.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Sorry: Online registration is not yet open for this event. Online registration will be available on Friday, February 1, 2008 12:59 AM Pacific Time.

All I have to say is sucks. I never depend on them to get it right. Either they open up registration early or late, not really on time much. I can just picture a woman sitting behind an old wooden desk watching a fuzzy old tv with rabbit ears and tinfoil. She might also be talking on the phone and all the sudden she interrupts her converstaion, "hold on, Madge, I gotta do something" and hits a button, looks at the time, shrugs and goes back to her conversation. Meanwhile, a bunch of running geeks all across the country are sitting at their computers playing endless games of solitaire while hitting refresh on their website waiting to be let in. We look at the time and mentally push the alarm back as late as we can.

Surely there is some computer person that loves running that wants to work their magic on the internet for a better system. One that doesn't crash and finds the race you are looking for (no luck searching for bighorn). One that welcomes Mozilla. There is money to be made here, how much have you given? I am not feeling the love back, that's for sure.

NOTE: I wrote the above at 1:30 in the morning (obviously a little frustrated) waiting for registration to open. What I didn't do was calculate the time zones correctly. I stupidly assumed that registration would open at 12 midnite MST (where the race is) but it said it would open at 12:59am PST which, for all you math wizards out there, is 1:59am MST.