Racing, Squalling, Toe Whispering

I started trail running when someone told me I couldn’t. I was invited to try something new, and (still surprising to me) I said yes. It was the beginning of a lot things that surprise me, and the beginning of my “verb living”.

I like runners. I like races. Running fills my head, doesn’t allow me to think a thousand other things, and lets me be outside.

I run trails and organize road races. That’s how I separate it.

Snowshoe races are a different animal. I’d say I run in snowshoe races. I don’t race on snowshoes.

I want to race on snowshoes. I want to race on trails. 2013 could be the year of racing. At least 9 races on my calendar. 6 at Bradbury, 1 half marathon on trails, a fun 10 miler across the golden gate bridge, and a RRCA conference race. wow.

Which leads me to race 1, the bradbury squall.

I invited my mom up for the weekend,and she enthusiastically said yes, she’d love to see me race, she’d love to see this Bradbury place I talk about a lot.

Saturday I pulled out the snowshoes, put them on and tromped around for a bit. Reminding myself of the feel. My plans to go for a few snowshoes have been reprioritzed to sleep late, deal with a busted knee, and eat big brunches. The last time I was on snowshoes was the Blizzard last year.

Sunday morning, mom in tow, I headed to Bradbury. It was warmer than expected, and I had some morning clothing adjustments. Great to see everyone, catch up with a few monsters I hadn’t seen since before Christmas, and the trail dawgs, Wendy and Jodi. Wendy and I go back and forth in races, and she’s such a steady mover, I’m always glad to have her in the vicinity! I think I introduced everyone to my mother twice, even if she had met them before.

All of a sudden, Ryan was being funny in the pre race meeting, and I was the only one without snow shoes on! I hustled to get them on, joined my peeps in the mostly back (not the way back!) and hugged Ann (Alexion) for good luck. And we’re off –go go go. So much better than last year, I didn’t trip anyone (sorry Linda!) and I didn’t fall at the start. I knew I could finish, I knew I could snowshoe, and I knew where I needed to position myself before the single track. I was nervous, but more “pre race nervous” than “WTF was I thinking nervous”.

Snowshoes were a bit finicky, and I had to step off the trail to adjust, and watch Mrs. Anderson crossfit her way ahead of me. I pushed on, with someone right on my heels. I told them I’d move, and they were happy letting me lead. I wasn’t, but she didn’t seem to understand that, so I kept in my head, and tried to go my own race pace. My GPS was still asking me if I was inside.

Things were going swimmingly. And then I fell off a bridge. I don’t know which bridge. I was shocked. The woman behind me was shocked. I rolled a bit in the snow, got up, dusted myself off, shook it out, tried to get her to go ahead (again “no”) and got back to it.

A while later the follower leaves, and I see the Jedi. He says “Less than a mile, you’re looking good”. I perked up. My GPS finally figured out where we were, and I looked to see it at .25. I neglected to look at the course map, so with renewed vigor, and the promise of less than a mile left, I sped up a bit. “leave it on the trail”. I could handle the pain of my snowshoe buckle crammed into my toe for a mile. I could do anything for a mile. So I went! And on I went. and on the course went. I recognized the snowmobile trail. I remembered “less than a mile left”.

I remembered that in most of the TMR races, the snowmobile trail ended with a bit of knights woods, or the link trail and then it was over. I pushed more. I was going to do awesome! But then my garmin beeped that a mile had passed, since Jedi said “less than a mile” and then the trail turned – not onto knights woods or link, but onto something else. Something leading the direction that wasn’t the finish (or could have been, my sense of direction is award winning). My toe protested. My snowshoes didn’t care.

I huffed and puffed. I ate some snow, I gingerly went over the exposed roots. I thought a few bad things about the Lying Liar that was Jedi, and I kept pushing. I stopped for a second to see if the toe situation could be quickly remedied. It couldn’t. I convinced myself it was fine. I sped up. My toe protested. I told my toe that I was a snow shoeing trail monster, and they don’t listen to toes. Toes listened to them. I figured most of the people were probably done by this time, and laughed at myself, talking to my toe in the middle of the woods, when I was supposed to be racing.

And then I ran into another racer. I was on the right course! There was .25 left. I was going to pass him. I passed him! I rallied. I went fast towards the finish. I wiped my nose for finish line pictures, someone recognized me. People cheered!  I finished! Scout and Squirrel marked my time, a crutchless Mary tore my bib! I focused on not falling in front of everyone. 

YAY

11 minutes faster than last year is great, except the course was completely different, so I don’t think it counts as a PR.

running up that hill

last spring, when I was training for 10k that became a 5k, a wonderful person made for me, my very own training plan. the first such plan in existence, made just for me, with my schedule and goals in mind. it had thursdays as hill days. I live near a hill. for a month i stuck to the plan. I was an athlete IN TRAINING. on thursdays, because of that schedule, I i think of hills. when I laced up last night, i had no plan in mind. i ended up with hills.

last spring, the hill was ugly, and big and painful. last summer, the hill was hot – so so hot, and big and painful. last night, the hill was cold, and smaller, and fun. 

wait. a fun hill? so the cycle is this:

down the street, turn right, down hill 1. turn around, run up hill 1, take sharp left, run up hill 2. think in my head about how hard it is. want to stop. jump onto curb to avoid car driving too fast, wave fist at said car, reach top of hill, turn onto flat road, breathe heavily. realize i made it up hill, continue onto down hill area, pass the “go home turn”, decide I can do another loop, go down the street…..

i stopped after 3, dinner time, ears needed to defrost, breaking in new shoes. I should have done 5. maybe I’ll do a few tonight.

feel ok today, no soreness. nervous about the snow shoes, but at least i know my heart probably won’t explode.

probably.

Cooking, experimenting, dancing

A good night, a break from the day, no computer screens, and ingredients I haven’t worked with. Perfect for an experimental cooking fest, complete with dancing! The result was yummy. No pictures, since this isn’t a cooking blog, but trust me: when the kitchen is that much of a mess when you finish, the result has to be delectable!

No running either. Forgot the bag at home, lending my car, experimental cooking, excuses excuses. 

Next verb: drooping, as in my eyelids.

Escaping, Avoiding, Excusing

I escaped the tempting voice of my couch and book, for a quick run around town Sunday.

Not so cold, with a belly filled with lobster eggs benedict, and a headlamp just in case, I didn’t have a location goal, or a distance goal. Just get out, get some miles in, escape my head, breathe in the outside air.  

I spent a lot of time avoiding icy pavement, and oncoming headlights. Road shoes, no screws, mashed potato snow, and pedestrians out of habit of listening for, or moving aside for runners. One guy (after my very polite “Excuse me, on your right”) laughingly exclaimed “Isn’t that something” . 

The hill wasn’t as bad I remembered it from the last time I was on that route. The time didn’t fly by, but when I got back to the Christmas tree lights in the window, I had a bit left in the lungs and legs.

Something indeed. 

Returned to the warmth, the couch, my book, and I needed to escape again. This time into a thorough scrubbing of my stove.

Snowshoeing, Clarifying, Jostling

January 20 is the first of three snow shoe races I am currently registered for. The last time I snowshoed* was the last of the three races last year. The only time I’ve ever snowshoed* was the three races last year. I see a pattern. Clearly I should use the snowshoes, soon, frequently, and with abandon.

Plan hatched. 

Side note: as I put together the half marathon training plan, I contemplate using the services of one of the many RRCA certified coaches I know. Perfectly normal reaction. But then, I think: why don’t I just become a certified coach? Because that is clearly the reason I registered for my first half marathon. Not to run, but to think about how much I should run, and when. 

Clearly (a theme? mayhaps I retitle today’s verb? edit: done.)  my head is full of things today that are piling up, squishing themselves against each other in ways that are only freed up by a good jostling. A good jostling that comes from strapping things to my feet and huffing and puffing up a mountain. No wolves will be put out of work for this. I will huff and puff, and eat snow when I’m parched, and gu when I convince frozen fingers to squeeze the expresso goodness, and the pigs can remain sleeping (not in cages – For SHAME). 

*should be a word.

Catching, Planning, Molting

Catching up today. Spending the day seeing where I left off, and doing the work things I would have done in that magical week between Christmas and New Years.

I find myself wanting to delete it all, and make secret and public plans for 2019, 2013, January, next week or even tonight’s run.

I had a pet lizard once. He lived in a 5 gallon Poland Springs bottle, and ate live crickets that we kept refrigerated in a  large margarine tub with holes in the top. He molted, ate it (yes, he consumed his own shed skin) and died. It was very strange and I try not to read too much into it.

The snow and sunshine beckon me to run through it, over it, hiding behind the piles, using it to cushion my inevitable falls.

Instead, I plan my half marathon training schedule in my head while I sort through electronic heaps of infographics, press releases and German out of office autoresponses.