Dad Hikes, Part 2

This is the follow-up to the story of my first “real” hike with my dad. Neither my mom nor I could find the pictures from this hike, though, so you’ll have to use your imagination. Dad (because I know you’re reading this), Mom said they might still be on the camera in your truck. It might be time for a new memory card. 

I was 17, and I knew everything. In just a few weeks, I’d turn 18, leave for college, and be a real, independent adult. (That’s what I thought, anyway). But this morning, I was just as excited as I’d been nearly a decade before on the morning of the first of many daddy-daughter hikes. Today, we were finally going to do the hike that Dad had talked about for years: the Crag Crest Trail.

Ever since Dad first told me about this hike– the rocky trail up, the tiny strip of land across the top of the Grand Mesa, and the rolling, forested trail back down — I’d wanted to do it. “It’s a little dangerous,” he’d always said. “We’ll do it when you’re older.” Then, the busyness of a family with two teenagers had kept us from hiking it, but today, we’d made the time. I could hardly wait.

The drive up to Grand Mesa seemed to take for-ev-er, but finally, we were hiking. I’d tried to keep my nervousness about college hidden under a veneer of confidence, but since it’s easier for me to open up when my body’s moving, I shared with Dad my anticipation and fears about the following years. As always, Dad listened, nodded, and offered just enough advice.

Soon, the trees thinned, then vanished altogether. We scrambled over a boulder field, and then, at the top, there it was: the foot-wide trail that dropped into space on each side. “Well, go ahead,” Dad said, and I walked out on the ledge. Butterflies filled my belly, and my head spun. I felt unsteady, but that view, miles and miles of blue mountains and green valleys on either side, stunned me. Exhilarated, I called for Dad to come out, too. After snapping my picture, he joined me on the narrow trail, and together, we gazed out, breathless, at the stunning view below.

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Since I can’t find our pictures, I borrowed this one from here

We stood on the narrow ledge for several minutes, barely touching, rarely speaking, admiring the view. Wondering if, on some level, this hike symbolized this point in time: my childhood on one side, adulthood on the other, today a tiny strip of stability in the middle.

Eventually, reluctantly, we had to head down. All too soon, we were back in the Jeep, heading down the Mesa, back toward home, toward adulthood, toward the quickly changing lives that for a few hours, we were able to set aside.

College came,  then adulthood, and though our relationship had to adapt, Dad remains that stabilizing force in my life, always ready to support me or talk me off a ledge– a real one like the Crag, or a metaphorical one like frustrations with work or finding a dead mouse in my bathtub. He’s my rock, my biggest fan, my first adventure buddy, and my hero, and I couldn’t have dreamed up a better dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you.

 

Dad Hikes, Part 1

My dad is one of the most important influences in my life. Dad and I are a lot alike, from our crooked teeth (thanks, braces) and bad eyesight to our hot tempers (which we’ve both worked hard to learn to control), strong work ethics, and goofy senses of humor. Dad has taught me a lot about life and how to be a good person (see this post), and he is responsible for my love of the outdoors. In honor of Father’s Day, today and next Sunday I’m writing about two of my favorite hikes with Dad. 

Cass, Terry, Ty Lands End June '88
This is my dad, my brother, and me on Grand Mesa, circa 1988. My love of the outdoors started early, thanks to Dad (and Mom, of course — she’s behind the camera in all the pictures in this post).

I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep. I woke up in darkness and silence, so I knew it must be early, but having no clock in my room, I was unaware of just how early it was. No matter, I thought. Mom had made it clear that I had to clean my room before Dad and I left for our hike, and since I was awake with no chance of going back to sleep, I decided I might as well get started. As long as I was quiet, I’d be done and ready to go as soon as Dad got up!

I got right to work. Barbies went neatly back into their little Tupperware container. Headbands and hair clips found their way back into the jars on my dresser. I made my bed, shoved dirty clothes into the hamper, and even dusted. Frustrated that I couldn’t run the noisy vacuum — the only chore keeping me from having an up-to-Mom’s-standards room—I decided to check the time and see just how long I’d have to wait to finish my chores, have breakfast, and get going on my daddy-daughter date.

I tiptoed across the hall into my brother’s room, squinting to make out the blurry red letters on his alarm clock. 12:15. I blinked. That had to be wrong. No way it was the middle of the night! So I crept out to the living room, where the glowing clock on the VCR said the same thing… as did the kitchen wall clock and the clock on the stove. Well, then. Defeated, I shuffled back into my room, crawled into my just-made bed, and scrunched my eyes shut, willing the morning to come.

I must have made it back to sleep eventually, because I woke to the sound of Mom making pancakes in the kitchen. Little strands of sunlight now infiltrated my room, and I sprang out of bed, thrilled that it was actually morning and my adventure was actually going to begin. After making my bed again, I skipped into the kitchen and asked Mom for the vacuum, explaining that I’d been up for … a while … and had already cleaned the rest. Impressed, Mom said she’d vacuum for me later so Dad and I could get started.

I shoveled my pancakes as quickly as I could without getting in trouble for bad manners, silently urging Dad to do the same. Finally, with breakfast eaten, sunscreen applied, and sandwiches packed, we were off on our adventure! I clambered up into the old blue Scout, beaming at Dad. We’d been planning this hike forever, and I almost couldn’t believe that it was actually happening.

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Same people, same trailhead, 20 years later.

An hour later, we arrived at the trailhead into Roubideau Canyon. I’d been to this spot hundreds of times in my young life, but had always been told I was “too little” to hike down in there. Well, as an eight-year-old, I wasn’t too little anymore! I started scampering down the trail, slowing just a little at Dad’s admonition against slipping on a rock.

The hike down flew by. We admired wildflowers. Dad examined some scat and told me how to tell how old it was and from which animal it had come (Gross, Dad). After what seemed like just a few minutes, we reached the bottom of the canyon. A little stream flowed there, and Dad beckoned me closer.

“Look at all those little brookies,” he said, pointing at the three-inch fish in the stream. “Watch, I’ll catch one.” His long legs straddled the stream, and his big hands plunged under the water. Sure enough, after a few missed tries, he held up a squirming, slimy fish for me to see. I was amazed. My daddy was the best outdoorsman in the world!

Cass & Terry fishing Roubidou Canyon
This was a different hike and a different spot in the canyon (and we have fishing poles), but I was about the same age here. 

Dad released the fish and rinsed his hands, and we perched on a boulder and ate PBJ sandwiches and granola bars. At the time, I didn’t give it much thought, just enjoyed the sunshine and the time together. Looking back now, though, I believe that that moment, more than any other, sparked my love of spending a day outdoors: just me, Dad, and the mountains. How could it get any better?

As we packed up our sandwich bags and granola bar wrappers, Dad regretfully pointed to distant storm clouds. “We’d better head out,” he said, patting the hat covering my red pigtails. “We want to be gone before those get here.” It seemed impossible to me that those far-away clouds would arrive today, let alone soon, but I didn’t argue.

The hike back up was considerably more challenging than down – I didn’t remember that slope being this steep! – and took us almost twice as long. Dad was patient with my eight-year-old legs, often pretending that he was the one needing a breather, and at each stop, he would point something out – the spot across the canyon where he’d deer hunted as a boy, the elk track in the nearly-dry mud, the healing gouges a bear had made in tree. I basked in the learning and in Dad’s undivided attention, and soon, we were back at the Scout — just in time, as those clouds I’d thought were so far away arrived and opened up as we drove back down the mountain. As always, Daddy had been right.

Cass & Terry Fishing '94
Same spot, different day. 

Come back Sunday for Part 2!

Tell me about your favorite outdoors-day memory. 

Passion, Empowerment, and Delusional Optimism: 2017 Skirt Sports Ambassador Retreat

I struggle with crowds. Getting to know new people is hard. I’m shy and awkward, and it takes me a while to warm up to people before I can act like my true self. So even though I’d gone to last year’s Skirt Sports Ambassador Retreat and had a blast, I was still a little nervous (but a lot excited) about this year’s retreat. Would anyone I’d gotten to know be there? Would I stand around awkwardly while everyone else chatted and caught up, or would I be able to edge out of my comfort zone to make some new connections and strengthen old ones?

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Here I am, doing what I do best: standing around awkwardly and hoping to find a friend… (photo cred Jenn Allen, “the creative Skirt.”

Of course, I didn’t need to worry. Skirt Sports has compiled a group of kind, uplifting, and delightful women, and last weekend’s retreat, like last year’s, left me rejuvenated and inspired.

Friday night: Mixing (drinks) and Mingling

The retreat started Friday night with a cocktail party at the Skirt Sports store in Boulder. We shopped and hobnobbed, reconnecting and meeting new and new-to-us ambassadors. Noodles and Company provided our dinner (nom nom nom), and we ate, drank, and socialized for a bit before Skirt Sports founder and all-around badass Nicole DeBoom and Skirt Community Outreach Manager (and also badass) Noelle Wilson spoke to us about the company, the program, and the Skirt community in general. As Noelle put it, “This program is not about product. It’s about community.” That’s how I’ve felt at every Skirt event since I learned about the company more than two years ago.

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Noelle and Nicole. I want to be like them when I grow up. Photo cred Jenn Allen again. 

We also had a little fashion show previewing the fall products. I even volunteered to model. In front of people. Aren’t you proud of me?! I can’t show you photo proof, though, because the fall styles are still on the DL for a while, but trust me, I did it. Also trust me: there’s some fan-tas-tic stuff coming out this fall. I need to start saving money now. (She says as her husband sets up an appointment to get new windows…)

The night wrapped up with drinks, cake, and chatting. I shouldn’t have worried about my awkward self; I had a wonderful time catching up with my Skirt family. And LOOK AT THIS PICTURE:
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Do you see who’s sitting across from me? That’s Mirna Valerio of Fat Girl Running. She’s pretty much a celebrity (seriously, she’s been on CNN and Buzzfeed and a bunch of other places, and she has a book coming out in October), and she’s a Skirt ambassador, and WE HUNG OUT. The next day, we took a selfie. LOOK AT IT.
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But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m just so excited. Since we’re here now, though, why not talk about Saturday, which was my favorite day of the retreat?

Saturday: Hiking, Learning, Inspiration

Saturday started with a hike at Eben G. Fine Park in Boulder. I haven’t spent much time in Boulder (because I’m a CSU Ram and Boulder was home of the enemy, the CU Buffs), but now that I live less than an hour from it, I need to go more — and specifically, back to Eben G. Fine. We had four options for hikes, and I took the longest one. Our group was the Snot Rockets.

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Wearing Skirts doesn’t mean we have to be boring and ladylike all the time. Photo cred Jenn, again. 

Our hike was about 1.25 miles up a hill, and while it was hot and steep at times, the views at the top were more than worth it.
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If you looked the other way, you could see all of Boulder, including the CU campus, but I didn’t take pictures of that, because who cares.

Nicole gave us a snot rocket clinic at the top.
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Maybe now I can blow them without getting snot on myself. Maybe.

Although I could have stayed at the top all day, we took a group shot and then headed back down for more fun.

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Fellow ambassador Melissa has mad selfie skills. 

After our hike, we had breakfast and listened to four wonderful speakers:

  • Maria Uspenski of The Tea Spot (who also gave us tea samples and those neat bottles a bunch of people are holding in the picture above). She spoke about how tea basically saved her life. Seriously.
  •  Mary Sutter, a Skirt ambassador who taught us how to social media…we’ll see if I improve. I promise I’m trying.
  • Mirna, the bomb.com, who talked about and read a chapter from her book, A Beautiful Work in Progress. It was just one chapter, but man, it’s good. I preordered it on Amazon. You should, too.
  • Dr. James Rouse of Skoop. I’ve used Skoop for quite a while, ever since they sent me some to review (read that here), but until recently, I thought they were just a company that made good protein powder. After I listened to Nicole DeBoom’s podcast with Dr. James, and especially after hearing him in person this weekend, I learned that it’s so much more. Dr. James is one inspirational fella, and for me, his talk was the most impactful part of the weekend. He talked about “delusional optimism,” and about how it is essential for life. He talked about love, and how love should drive all we do. He suggested that before we do anything — eat, speak, exercise, whatever — we should ask ourselves, “What would love do?” Although it’s a bit reminiscent of those once-trendy “WWJD” bracelets, I love this advice. I even changed my phone’s lock screen to an image (that I stole from Google) that says “What would love do?” so that every time I open my phone, I ask myself that question. I hope it will help make me a kinder, more loving, and more conscious person .
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Enraptured Skirts listening to Dr. James. Photo cred Jenn, again. 

Dr. James’s talk was a emotional but perfect end to the day, and we all headed our separate ways to prep for The Big Day on Sunday.

Sunday: The Race

Last Monday, my new physical therapist told me to take 7-10 days off running. Since Sunday and Monday are not 7-10 days apart, my options were 1) stay at home and pout, 2) be an idiot and run anyway, or 3) spectate this year’s 13er. I am trying to be less of an idiot, so I made a sign and parked myself about 3/4 of the way through the giant hill on the 13er course.

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My Western slope pal Kate stopped to take a selfie with me and my sign. She still got second in her age group. 

Once everyone made it past me, I spectated at the finish line. Hanging out at the finish of a race that I had once hoped to win, but couldn’t even run, was harder emotionally than I expected, but the vast amounts of positive energy there didn’t let me spend too much time feeling sorry for myself. Just like last year, I was amazed by the positivity and support that all these women exude. At most races, the last finisher comes in to a mostly-taken-down expo and maybe a handful of straggling spectators. At this race, the last spectator was greeted with screams, cheers, cowbells, and high-fives, plus a hug from Nicole DeBoom.

And that, my friends, is why I’m proud and honored to represent this company. It doesn’t matter if you’re fast or slow, injured or healthy, fat or skinny or somewhere in between, these people support you and encourage you and push you to go far beyond what you think is possible. In a world full of division, anger, negativity, and polarization, we could all use a little more of that “delusional optimism.”

Maybe we could all use a little more Skirt.

Oh, Hey. Again.

Hello there, much-neglected blog world. This about the 10th post like this I’ve written over the past few months, but if you missed those, here’s the basic formula: I apologize for being MIA, make a few excuses about how the first year at a new teaching job is just too busy for blogging, complain about the injury that has kept me from running long or fast since last July, post some pictures of mountains, and promise to be better about posting in the future. Then, a month or two later with no updates along the way, I do it all again.

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Requisite photo of me running

This time, though, I’m serious: I’m going to get back to this  blogging thing. My school year ended yesterday, and I’m determined to spend a decent chunk of my time writing. Of course, I also plan to spend a decent chunk of my time hiking, camping, playing, working on our house, and getting ready for next year, but I intend to post here at least once a week all summer, and stockpile some posts so that when next year gets busy, I can keep posting even if I don’t have time to write something new every week.

Following the formula, here’s an injury update, or rather lack thereof: nothing has changed. I can still run short and slow, but adding any speed, distance, or hills hurts too much. My PT said my pelvis is straight now so I should be feeling better, but I’m not. She suggested I go to Altitude Running in Fort Collins (wonderful running store. You should go there) and have them do a gait analysis to see if I was running in the wrong shoes. They said that I no longer need stability shoes, so I bought a neutral pair, but I haven’t felt better yet.

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New kicks
I’m going to a new physical therapist on Monday, one who specializes in runners, so I’m really, really hoping she can give me some insights. I have adventures that need to happen this summer, so this thing has to get out of my body!

In the meantime, I’ll be running short and slow, reading lots of books, and trying to catch up on my internet friends’ blogs. If you are one of those bloggers, point me to whatever I’ve missed that you think I must read!

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Mountain picture. You didn’t think I forgot, did you?

Are you/your kids out of school yet? If not, when? 

Tell me your fun summer plans!

Spring Break Successes: Manitou Incline and an Injury Diagnosis

Guess who’s on Spring Break right now?

Did you guess me? You’re right! Of course, break is flying, but so has the school year thus far. I’m sure it’ll all be over before I know it.

Jordan and I are in different school districts now, which means we have different breaks. His was two weeks ago. That’s lame, but I’ve managed to have some fun without him. On Monday, some colleagues and I headed down to Manitou Springs to climb the infamous Manitou Incline.

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At the bottom… hopefully my co-workers don’t mind my posting their picture on the Internet…

If you’re not familiar with the Incline: It’s a popular trail/staircase that literally goes straight up a mountain. It was once a cable car track, and when the cable car was damaged and removed, but the railroad ties stayed and looked like a staircase, someone thought, “Hey, we should walk up that.” And ever since, it’s been a quintessential Colorado workout. Because what’s more Colorado than going up 2000 feet in just under a mile?

This video from Out There Colorado gives you an awesome overview, if you can spare two minutes to watch:

The hike burns, that’s for sure. But  the view from the top is well worth it. It took me 38 minutes to get to the top. Yes, that’s 38 minutes for a 0.8-mile hike. And I was the fastest in our group (was I proud of myself for beating the 20-something Crossfit coaches in our group? Yes, yes I was).
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Once everyone made it to the top and we snapped a picture (“pics or it didn’t happen,” right?), we headed back down Barr Trail, which is a longer but much less scary way to get down (I would NOT want to go down the Incline). I ran down with my boss, which was fun. She and I haven’t spent much time together this year, and I was pleased at how well we got along. Also, this was my first trail run of 2017. I hope there are many more to come!

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We all made it!

That hope of trail runs to come brings me to my next topic: this hamstring injury that just won’t go away. I was pretty nervous about climbing the Incline, especially since the injury had flared back up again last week, causing me to skip my long run. But it held out well, and while I was certainly aware of it, it didn’t hurt badly enough to concern me.

And then, today, I finally ventured to a physical therapist (yes, nine months after this injury originally occurred. I am an idiot). She told me that it’s not actually a hamstring injury, but rather bursitis. The bursa sac where my leg joins my body is inflamed, which then irritates the hamstring. BUT here’s the best news I’ve heard in a long, long time: she thinks I can be better in just a few weeks. We have to get my pelvis realigned and improve some flexibility in my hamstrings, and then the bursa sac should stop being irritated and I’ll be okay again. AND, she said that running won’t cause any major damage — it’ll make me sore, but it’s not dangerous. Soreness I can handle. Bring on the training and the health!

I’m so relieved to finally have an answer… and regretful that I didn’t go see a PT sooner. But, live and learn, and soon I hope I’ll be healthy and enjoying more Incline-esque adventures!

 

Have you hiked the Incline? What did you think?

What’s a quintessential “your state” thing to do?

Ever had bursitis? Please tell me it’s easy to fix once you know what it is…

 

 

 

Skirt Sports 13er Training, Weeks 3-4

You guys, it feels amazing to be training again.

I’m following a plan that repeats weeks to avoid increasing mileage too quickly, so I’m just going to list the last two weeks together, okay? (Of course it’s okay. Three people read these posts). Here we go:

Monday (2/27 and 3/6)
4 miles easy/3 miles easy, plus 15-minute strength workout

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This is my view when I run now. I don’t mind. 

Tuesday (2/28 and 3/7)
Fartleks: 8 x 2 minutes at 10k pace, 2-minute recovery. With warm-up and cool-down, I ran 7 miles on the 28th and 8 on the 7th. Both were on the treadmill because I am a wuss and didn’t want to run fartleks in the wind AGAIN. Followed by core work

Wednesday (3/1 and 3/8)
3 miles easy/ 5 miles easy, plus core work/light ST
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Thursday (3/2 and 3/9)
6 miles easy, followed by 20 minutes strength work

Friday (3/3 and 3/10)
3 recovery miles, followed by foam rolling. These were my first 6-day running weeks since getting injured, so I wanted to take it super easy.

Saturday (3/4 and 3/11)
11 miles. The 4th, I ran from my house. Since it was my longest run since we moved here, I got to explore a little farther than I’d been. I made new friends.
IMG_3565This week, I ran in Boulder as part of a Skirt Sports ambassador meet-up. Because I’m the WORST blogger ever, I took no pictures. Yep.

Sunday (3/5 and 3/12)
Rest day!

Totals: 34/ 35.8 miles

Overall, I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve been slacking a bit on the yoga and foam rolling, and I’m afraid that’s playing with injury fire, so I need to be more faithful again. It feels good to have a “3” in front of my weekly mileage, and I can’t wait until it’s a “5.” But I’m taking it slow and steady!

How’s your training going? What’s your next big goal?

Stunning

She is beautiful. Short blonde curls, cargo pants tucked into work boots, small chest hidden under a bulky hoodie. She’s stunning.

She is beautiful. Teal hair highlighting those big blue eyes, sweet smile as she hands me a latte. She’s stunning.

She is beautiful. Untamed ponytail; long, thin legs; dark circles under her eyes (probably thanks to those two little kids clutching her hands). She’s stunning.

She is beautiful. Long dreadlocks swaying; jeans hugging her curvy behind; wide, toothy grin. She’s stunning.

She is beautiful. Hair pulled back in a messy black bun; huge, dark brown eyes watching as her son plays; short, thin body sizzling with energy. She’s stunning.

She is beautiful. Skinny jeans hugging her thick hips and thighs, glossy brown hair flowing down her back. She’s stunning.

She is beautiful. Long flowing skirt covering her legs, head scarf covering her hair, sparkling eyes dancing underneath. She’s stunning.

She is beautiful. Baseball cap pulled down over ponytail, no make-up, comforting her crying baby. She’s stunning.

 

I saw these women today. I don’t know their stories. I don’t know what they see when they look in the mirror. But all I saw, in each of them, was beauty.

Maybe you were among them. You could have been. You are beautiful. You’re stunning.

 

Skirt Sports 13er Training: Weeks 1-2

Remember when I used to do training recaps? You know, when I was training? That seems like about a million years ago. But I’m finally training again, albeit slower and with less mileage than before, so it’s time to bring back the training recaps. Plus, it gives me something to blog about, and I really need to get back on a more regular blogging schedule.

The Skirt Sports 13er (don’t forget, you can get a discount to join me by using code SKIRTAMB15) is June 4. Normally, I’d do a 12-week plan for a half, but since I’m coming back from injury, I decided that 16 weeks would be better for building my fitness and preventing another injury. I’m also making a serious effort to thoroughly warm up before each run and finish with some sort of strength or core work and foam rolling, and I’m keeping with my nightly 15-25 minutes of yoga. Here’s how weeks 1-2 went down:

Tuesday, Feb. 14 –First day of training!
Fartlek run — 8 x 1-minute at 10k pace with 2-minute recoveries. Total mileage, including warm-up and cooldown: 7 miles.

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Skirt and short sleeves in February! What?!

Wednesday, Feb. 15
3-mile recovery run

Thursday, February 16
Rest day

Friday, February 17
Had the day off, hooray! 5 miles, finished with a few strides

Saturday, February 18
9 miles! Longest run in a loooong time

Sunday, February 19
Rest day. Taking three rest days in one week felt weird, but Monday and Thursday were scheduled rest days, and I felt like the ol’ hamstring needed one the day after the long run. I’ll start taking Sunday rest days again, I think. That works best for my body.

Week 1 Total: 24 miles

Monday, February 20
4 recovery miles

Tuesday, February 21
Same 7-mile fartlek workout as last week. It was SO windy out. My paces were absolutely ridiculous: super fast when the wind was at my back, super slow when running back into the wind.

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Clearly had a tailwind here — see how my skirt is plastered to my legs?

Wednesday, February 22
3 miles easy. Super slow. I was exhausted and felt like crap, so I was not sad to only run three.

Thursday, February 23
5-mile easy run on the treadmill. The gorgeous, non-Februaryish weather was gone, and it was windy and snowing out. I knew that if I ran in the cold, all I’d want to do when I got back would be take a hot shower, and I’d likely skip my strength workout, so I ran did an alternating run/strength workout in my basement.

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No, this picture isn’t staged at all! Why would you ask? …

Friday, February 24
Rest day

Saturday, February 25
10 miles!!! I went to a “writing marathon” at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on Saturday morning, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to do my long run in Denver City Park after. It feels pretty darn good to be back to double digits!
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Sunday, February 26
Rest.

Week 2 Total Mileage: 29

I’m hoping to get back to six days of running this week or next. Just gotta play it by ear and see how my hamstring feels. Either way, it feels great to be running consistently again and to have a goal on the horizon.

What are you training for these days?

Ever had to come back from an injury or other setback? Tell me about it!

Race Recap: Loveland Sweetheart Classic 2017

Before last weekend, the last time I had raced was in June, at the Skirt Sports 13er — and even then, I didn’t really race until the last couple of miles, when I realized I could place. Then I got injured in July, and moved and started a new job in August, and continued fighting that injury, so I hadn’t raced or trained hard for months.

Nevertheless, I decided to race the Loveland Sweetheart Classic 4-Miler last Saturday. My hamstring was feeling about 85% of healthy. I love this little race (this was my fourth time running it), and I figured that even though I’d have a slow-for-me time, it would give me a good baseline for getting back in shape for this year’s 13er. So I registered, and last Saturday morning found me lining up in the Loveland High School parking lot, enjoying the unseasonable warmth and getting re-familiarized with pre-race butterflies.
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One of my injury-healing (and -preventing) strategies is doing a thorough warm-up, so I did some dynamic stretching and ran an easy mile, returning to the start just in time to hear the National Anthem. Soon, the gun went off, and so did the runners. I wasn’t really sure how to pace myself, since the only fast running I’ve done recently is a few strides and a couple of fartlek workouts. I figured I’d just go by feel, playing it by ear and not paying too much attention to keeping even or negative splits, since the first mile-ish is downhill and the last mile-ish uphill.
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I ticked off the first mile in 6:50, feeling pretty decent. I picked it up a little for the flat second mile (6:42), passing a few people and high-fiving a few spectators (high-fiving little kids mid-race is the best. If you don’t usually make time for it, you need to start). Mile 3 is when I started to feel my lack  of fitness, and it was also my slowest mile (6:53), I guess thanks to a slight headwind? That’s when I started mentally repeating the mantra that got me through the end: “Just gut it out.” I knew that a race this short, even with minimal fitness, was mostly a mental game, and I just had to, well, gut it out.

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Don’t be jealous of my beautiful race face. (Photo courtesy of the Loveland Road Runners). 

Mile 4 ends with a mild uphill push, then a rewarding downhill sprint to the finish line. I managed to pass one more woman just after my watched beeped for mile 3, and then I was alone until the finish. I pushed it hard, hitting mile 4 in 6:47 and finishing in 27:36, good enough for fourth place.

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Gasping for air after the finish

After catching my breath for a few minutes, I jogged back along the course to meet my friend Christine and run her in, so I finished the day with just over 6 miles. We wandered around the post-race expo, I got a free post-race massage in the hopes that it would keep my hammy healthy, and then we stuck around for the awards ceremony. Since the overall top three women were excluded from age group awards, I took first in the 30-39 category (and my time was faster than all the 30-39 men. I like to brag). My prize was a handmade medal and a $15 gift certificate to Runners Roost. I was stoked, since I need new running shoes!
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After the awards, I took a baby-wipe bath in the bathroom (races with access to indoor bathrooms are the best), put on clean clothes, and headed to the Loveland Fire and Ice art festival with J.

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Snowman ice sculpture, part of the “ice” bit of the festival. 

Overall, I’m satisfied with how this race went. I ran hard but didn’t get reinjured, and I feel like I have a good baseline now as I build fitness for this year’s 13er, which I do plan to race (if you want to race with me, use code SKIRTAMB15 for 15% off!). Time to start training harder (but smarter)!

Have you raced lately? How did it go?

What’s your favorite local festival/event? We’re pretty darn excited to live closer to artsy things..

Updates

I made it just under a month between blog posts this time.  I’m getting better! My new goal is to post once a week, which was what I averaged back before this whole move-and-start-a-new-job thing.

Thanks to those of you who answered my poll in my last post. Sounds like you mostly want to hear about the things I started this blog to talk about — running and adventures. So that’s where I’ll keep my focus, with occasional side topics. I’ll try to keep it apolitical, as most of you were not interested in reading about politics. I need a politics-free zone in my life, anyway. My colleagues and I get so fired up that we decided to institute a “Trump jar” in our shared office this week to make ourselves talk about something else.
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So yeah. I will find other places to share my political opinions and keep this blog focused on… not that.

And on that note, let me give you a few quick updates so we’re all caught up as  I get back into this regular blogging thing:

  • I’m a Skirt Sports ambassador again! I am so honored to represent this company for another year. And good news for you: since I’m an ambassador, you get to save! Use code 1SSCAPT20 to save 20%, even on sale items!
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  • I’m slowly but surely (I hope) recovering from the hamstring injury that has kept me sidelined since July. It’s still not 100%, but it’s getting there. I ran 8 miles yesterday, which was the longest I’ve gone since getting injured. For long-time readers who remember my training posts with 70-mile weeks and 23-mile long runs, it probably sounds crazy that I’m thrilled to have run 8, but man, it felt good! Hopefully I’ll be back to my high-mileage self before TOO much longer.

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    Yes, this was February. I love Colorado. 
  • Related (I think): I’ve been doing yoga religiously. I started a 21-day challenge on January 9 and stuck with it, then spent a week doing other videos, and now J and I are starting the same challenge again. I never thought I’d be a daily yoga-er (“yogi” sounds much more advanced than I am), but it’s helping me sleep and I really think it’s helping my hamstring, too. I’m SUPER excited that J is doing it with me now, too.
  • That healing hamstring is a good thing, because I have a race this Saturday! I’ll be running the Loveland Sweetheart Classic. Last time I ran it, in 2014, I took second (read about that here), but this time, out of shape and working back from injury, I just want to enjoy myself (it’s a great little race) and use it as a benchmark and a starting point as I get back into shape for….
  • The Skirt Sports 13er in June! I’m already signed up. And I also have a 15% discount code for that, so you should sign up, too — code SKIRTAMB15 — and we will party. If all goes according to plan, my hamstring will heal completely, my weekly mileage will be back up to 50ish by the 13er, and then I can REALLY train for something — I don’t know what yet –in the fall.

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    Flashback to last year’s 13er. Isn’t it pretty? You should come run it with me.
  • I’m on Strava! Late to the party, I know. But let’s be friends! (Do you get “friends” on Strava? “Followers”? Whatever, let’s hang out on yet another online platform.)

Do you feel caught up? Cool. I’ll try not to drop off the face of the Internet planet this time.

I’m also waaay behind on blog reading. Again. What are you up to? What have you written lately that I must read?

Are you passionate about politics, or do you avoid them?

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