Winter is Here

PIC and me
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I woke up this morning to winter. Like TOTAL winter. And, while that means snowshoeing season, it also means lots of layers. Steve and I planned to run from his house up to Goodson Rec Center to meet the group at 8. It’s about 13 miles via the Highline Canal trail. We left a little late…6:15 and we were anxious the whole time, feeling like we were going to be late. We had to cut off a few sections of the canal trail and head onto the very slick roads and sidewalk to make it in time. I think we got in around 10 before meeting with the group. We learned that if we want to get in significant amounts of distance before meeting the group, we have to be better prepared to leave at 5:30 am.

Steve-O checking out the pink mountains, fresh with snow and sunrise.
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The snow was several inches deep and completely untracked. As we got closer to the rec center the snow thinned out to under an inch. Low and behold there were tons of peeps waiting for us and ready to run.

Troy had decided to run with the group today and was planning on pushing Annie in the Chariot. It was pretty snowy and I admit, I wondered whether he would bail (I have no faith…right). Nope, nope, nope. He was there waiting, Chariot loaded with kid, blankets, snowsuits, snacks, sippie cup, the whole shebang.

Good sized group today! What dedication.
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Everyone took off at a nice even clip. The run was gorgous. We ran in the ditch for a little ways to spice things up. We got to the 5 mile point on the trail from Goodson and the group turned around. We ran maybe 30 seconds and there was Troy. He was right on our tail. He ran with us for quite a ways after that until somebody had some tempo work on their schedule and most of us hopped into the tempo work. We cranked out two 1/2 mile sections of steady hard tempo in the last three miles. So fun! Adding tempo at the end of a 20 mile run makes me feel like a rock star.

Tyler and Anne in the middle. Their kids were with the sitter and they got to run together. Nothing like “date morning”. Anne hung with the lead group on a tempo effort today. You go girl!
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Right as the front group finished up the run Troy rolled in with Annie. He ran 10 miles today, longer than ever by 3.6 miles, and all of that with Annie in tow. I’m so proud of him. I ended up with a nice 20 mile run and it felt like an easy day!

Loveland Turkey Trot

If your a runner, ya’ gotta do a Turkey trot. When else do you have the chance to race on a Thursday?

This year, since we were in Loveland we decided to hop into the Turkey Trot up there. I heard it was a great course (which it was). This was Troy’s first 5K, and my good friend Chris raced as well.

Turkey Trots are always very competitive b/c all the high school cross country girls have just peaked and finished their seasons. The college girls are home for Thanksgiving. You can always expect a tough race.

This one was great. I ran for an hour before the race to warm up. It takes me longer and longer to get warm now days. After my warm up I met up with Chris and Troy to register and get in another short warm up. Even though it wasn’t even 40 degrees I applied hot balm and opted for shorts. Brrr, but fun.

The race went by fast as 5K’s always do. I ran a great race, a solid race. The bike path was fun with twists and turns. The girls were fierce and fast. I came across the line 6th woman (20:10). 1st in my age group. However, I will say I am supremely embarrassed because I was soundly beat by a teenager wearing black tights, a black skin tight long sleeve top and…(wait for it)….a bikini over the top. And this girl ran sub-20. Yea, she was adequately costumed, and spanked me something good.

Troy and Chris ran most of the race together and then broke apart near the last mile. Troy had a phenomenal first race breaking the 26 minute barrier for his first time out. Chris was just over 26, and knows he can break the barrier soon. Both guys had a great time and I talked them into running a Jingle Bell race in December. They weren’t even sore and accompanied me on a 4 mile trail run this morning. Good on them!!

Thanksgiving was a total blast. I ate a considerable amount and am now quite ready for a 25 mile run tomorrow. I’m gonna need it.

Hoot

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I’m addicted. Made this little cutie this afternoon. Hoot Hoot.

Check out my little fairy. I take a lot of pictures of Annie and few ever turn out very good, but I really liked this one. She is playing with her best friend Kat tonight and they both dressed up as fairies. Too Cute.

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Have a happy and thankful Thanksgiving.

Only a Mother Could Love That Face

So this year we are doing the homemade thing for Christmas. Several years ago Troy and I went this route and it has pretty much stuck with us since. I get crafty around the holidays and we aren’t really into breaking the bank so it makes sense for us. Last year we went away from the homemade thing because we thought Annie wouldn’t enjoy it. We bought her traditional toys and wrapped them and you know, it was a little overwhelming for her. Getting one new thing to play with keeps her pretty busy and it seemed rushed to urge her to open something else when all she wanted to do was play with what she just opened. This year during her birthday we got three toys and spread them out over the day. She had a hay day with each toy and was able to really enjoy them.

So, with all those lessons learned we decided that even Annie can handle a homemade Christmas. I started off by picking up a VERY affordable used doll cradle off Craigslist. I cleaned it up and painted her name on it along with some butterflies and stamped shapes, then added bows to the corners. Then I sewed up a pillow, mattress, and blanket for it, and let me tell you, it’s so cute! She is going to LOVE putting her dollies to sleep in it. What do you think? Perfect for a 3 year old little girl?
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So I have been working all last week on the cradle, and today I was surfing around on the web and got the idea to make some cute easy animal/dolls for her. I don’t quite know how to explain them, so I’ll just post some photos.

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I had so much fun making these little guys. They were easy, no pattern, and just silly.

I still have a few more ideas for things to make Annie, and luckly I still have a month left. It’s nice to sit around a sew things and think about just how big she has grown recently. Her speech has really taken off so I’m starting to see a small glimpse into her world. Just because she was slow to talk doesn’t mean she was slow to remember and it’s been neat to hear her talking about things that happened in the past.

The holidays are a natural time for reflection and family. I am lucky to have such a great family, and even more lucky that I have the clarity to sit back and enjoy them.

Strange Comparisons

Cost of Running Shoes: $80
Miles you get outa’ them: 400
Price per mile: 20 cents

Cost of a Gallon of Gas: $2
Miles you get outa’ it: 20
Price per mile: 10 cents

There are all sorts of things wrong with this comparison. But, in all it’s simplicity, it made me want to run even more.

Cost of swim suit: $0 if Trakkers loves you.
Miles you get outa’ it: 300 before it falls apart.
Price per mile: 0, but you can’t swim to the store.

Can you come up with any more???

Lair O’ The Bear Trail Run

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Another long trail run on tap today. I was extreemly anxious to see how my body was doing after last weekend and the subsequent hard week of training I have had. Steve got in the pool with me yesterday to work on my form, and then we went for a hard and fast 6 mile run. Boy did that hurt. I was reminded that speed leaves you quick. If you want to hold onto some of it through the off season, you have to incorporate some work to keep it. Yesterday’s run hurt very badly, but was really good for me too.

I woke up this morning at 5:40…on a Saturday :). I headed to our meeting spot at Conoco and met up with some of my teammates. We ran up the road to the Lair o’ the Bear parking lot, picked up more teammates and headed up for a nice 15 miler. The workout ended running the downhill on the road back to the car. My favorite part of today was when Steve let it loose on the single track and we ran hard and all out down the last section of hills. This is truly one of my favorite things in life, running fast downhill on crazy trails. My second favorite part was running with Michelle (my PIC) for a lot of the day. And, my third favorite part was strategizing on how Steve, Anthony and I plan to run the Catalina 50 miler on the way back down the road.

Great Workout
Awesome Company

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I celebrated the great workout with lunch and a margarita with Troy’s side of the family. His brother is in town and his parents came down and took us out to lunch. It was divine. The margarita was the best one I have ever had and 10 minutes after lunch I was sound asleep on the couch. Thank you again to M&R for lunch. Pid, we miss you!

And, I took more video. I am working a little more on my skills. I am especially excited to see what my dad thinks. If you think these are lame and are dragging my blog down with them, please let me know!

Also, I have heard that some of you may not be able to view my video within my blog. If you can’t you can go to my page on YouTube by clicking here, or by searching “swieck” on YouTube.

Post Moab

So, I’m sitting here 3 days after Moab and trying to reflect a little. What on earth has happened to me? Things are changing, I am changing, my ideas about life and what I am capable of are changing. It’s amazing how this happens; one day you are you, and the next day you have different ideas. It’s not necessarily a gradual thing.

Today I woke up with absolutely no aches or pains. Yesterday I had no aches or pains. Two days ago my calves and knees were a little sore. Three days ago I ran 34 miles. I’m noticing that’s it’s not doing the distance that broadens my horizons, well, I guess that’s part of it, but an even bigger part is the lack of lasting effect it’s having on my body. That’s what really pushes me to think that I can go farther, or faster.

If feels like I just woke up one day and could run for a long ways. My standards of what is long have taken a 180 degree turn. Now, this is obviously a shift that needed to happen. Ironman afterall is not a short event. It’s a good thing, I guess I’m just a little surprised that I am this comfortable with it.

Utradistance racing, from the little taste I just had, is totally totally addicting. The people, the atmosphere, the outdoors, the grueling nature of the miles, finding peace in the distance, yup, very addicting!

Chomp Chomp (me being bitten by the Ultra bug)
Whoosh Whoosh (me taking off on the airplane)
Toot Toot (riding the ferry)
Ahhh Ahhh (i haven’t been here since I was a kid)
Run Run (because 34 only makes you want 50)

Moab Ultimate XC 50K Trail Race

This was a first for me. I have raced a marathon, and I have done some trail running, but I have never signed up for an ultra. I used to think the people who did were nutzo nutzo. I used to think a marathon was not so sane. Boy have my feelings changed.

Since this was the inaugural year for this race, there wasn’t much information on it. The race director seemed very competent but there are only so many things a RD can get done prior to the first running of a race. The night before at packet pickup was the first time anyone saw a map of the course. I wasn’t very familiar with the terrain (I had been in the area some years back mostly as a tourist and light hiker). The map was HUGE (like 10 feet by 5 feet) and the race director took the time to completely explain the course to small groups of racers in front of the map. He answered all of my questions and I think all of us left excited for what the day would bring.

Beth and I in front of the very large map, cool huh?
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My food stash, getting ready for the race.
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The race morning began gloriously. The race started at 8:30, and for me, that was wonderful. I woke at 6:30 with just a tiny amount of nerves. It felt great to actually have time in the morning to get to the race site without a rush. It was about a 5 minute drive to the race parking lot, right next to the Colorado River. I love that river. Troy and I took a rafting trip from Moab to Lake Powell some years ago so this brought back some memories.

Before the start, ready to go, staying warm.
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The race started on a wide jeep road. Everyone was excited. I tried to go out very mellow and Beth and I started together. After 2 minutes I stopped when I saw the race director to verify that iPods were legal, he said yes. After about 5 minutes Beth and I stopped for a potty break. Lots of stops. We were pretty much in the back of the pack at that point but the first 5.5 miles were on a gnarly jeep road so plenty of space to pass. We soon found Anthony and Steve and I joined in with them. Beth hung back at that point and little did I know that would be the last we would run together for the day. Coming into the first checkpoint at 5.5 miles I was a little ahead of Steve and Anthony and I didn’t stop at the aid station. About 2 minutes after the CP I stopped to adjust my race number and right when I finished they were right there. So we joined up together. We had also been running with a guy from Quebec named Nicholas. He was super cool and stayed with us for 10 miles or so.

The jeep road, steep in spots.
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I could tell we were all ready to get going and we started to quicken the pace. We slowly passed runners one by one, with our little group of four sticking together. We were shedding layers as it was warming up, and there were 1,000 ft drop offs on our left. The course was IMPECCABLY marked. It was OBVIOUSLY marked, there was ZERO chance of getting lost, even though we weren’t on an actual trail. We were winding our way down this canyon, slipping between boulders, zig zagging all over the place. It was rad.

We landed down on the road at 8.8 miles and our next aid station. They had bags here where you could drop clothing and they would return it to you at the finish. It was a nice perk, I didn’t need to use it, but it was an awesome perk. The aid station was great with a campfire, chips, potatoes, HEED, water, goo, bars. All you would need. Very well done! We were now off for a little jaunt down the dirt road. I got to see Troy here and Annie threw a total fit when I ran by. I looked back and she was running after me with her arms outstretched, crying. Talk about “break a mamas heart”. I almost quit right there.

We then headed into an out an back section that was up a sandy ravine. It was pretty technical running, no real trail, but well marked. This was when I started to see how many ladies were ahead of me. I was in the top 10, but it really didn’t matter. I was surprised at that because I felt like we went out very slow, but I didn’t put much further thought towards it, this is all Ironman training. At the end of the out and back was an orienteering punch. We punched our bibs to verify that we were there and headed back. There was much more traffic on the way back and a few near collisions. But, everyone was still in great spirits so it was fun. We saw Sandy, she looked fabulous. We saw Beth, she looked like she was chillin’. Right when we got back to the road we saw Andrea and Doreen. Pretty cool that we got to see the whole clan!

Back on the road for a little section. Then some crazy ravine running. That was neato. We then headed up the side of the mesa. Insane. You would never think you could go where we went. It was like a secret passageway. It was also up up up. I lead this section and tried to stay tough. We passed a lot of people here. We stopped and took some silly pictures too.

I call this “Tony jumps off a cliff at the prospect of holding Sonja’s hand”.
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Then there is my all time favorite pic of the weekend.
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Check out the secret passageway.
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I like this one of the boys.
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On top of the mesa was amazing. The view was like nothing I have ever seen. We ran together, the three of us, and took turns leading off and on. We were running well together and we were all in a good place. The next aid station was supposed to be at 13.7 miles, but the miles rolled on by. We finally rolled into the aid station and Steve’s garmin said 18 miles. This was THE BEST aid station. It was run by the search and rescue, they had a big truck up there (and we are in the MIDDLE of NOWHERE, not easy to get into, right where Danelle Balengee took her notorious fall). They had everything we could have asked for. We made a quick stop and pushed on. 2.2 FAST miles later was another aid station. I was feeling EXCEPTIONAL at this point. Like really really good. I felt like I could pick it up.

The view of the river as we are about to descend.
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I did pick it up and this is a part of the race I really want to explain. After this aid station we had what was about 4 miles into the 20 mile station which was the end of the 20 mile race, and the same location as the starting line. This section was all extreme downhill. There was a huge drop on one side where a tumble would send you to your death in the Colorado River. It was technical descending, but also the kind that you could haul tail. Add to that the fact that I felt great, and that I was leading. Well, I pushed. Looking back on it I have love/hate feelings. It was my favorite part of the course. I felt very complete with my life and my place in this world. Lots of warm fuzzy feelings. The effects that this had on the rest of the race…I don’t feel so warm and fuzzy about.

We rolled into mile 20 fast. We had access to our personal bags here. I downed a mix1, grabbed some more goos, gave Troy a kiss, and waited for the boys to get going again. We booked out of the station with lots of cheers from all the spectators. The next obstacle was this awesome ladder to get up a mini cliff and then a roped up section to shimmy around. Then lots and lots of sand running. About a mile later we were back on the road for a mile and then up the very famous Moab Rim trail. This is when the effects of my over exuberant downhill escapade stared surfacing. Tony fell behind on this climb, Steve forged ahead. I tried to stay with Steve. I was starting to hurt. The course was obviously long and we were past the 24 mile mark on everyones Garmins. I turned up my iPod, found my “happy place” and stuck to Steve like glue. I ran for miles that way. There was a loop that we had to complete on top of the mesa, Tony caught back up to us. I just stuck to Steve. He was running so strong, and he was so with it. He was having an amazing day.

Around towards the end of the loop we lost Anthony. I felt like the speedy descent was part to blame. I stuck to Steve as well as I could. He asked if I was okay and I mumbled something about needing to “tune out” for awhile and just run. I couldn’t “think” about what I was doing, I just had to keep doing it. I stuck to him like glue. Two little Practical Coaching jerseys, out there in the middle of the dessert. It was pretty awesome, in a really painful way. Coming back down the moab rim trail was EVIL, it’s a technical, slickrock, very steep descent. Having already run 30+ miles, your legs aren’t very happy about this sort of terrain. Coming down this I started to feel waves of nausea. I kept “planning” where I was going to throw up. It actually kept me busy, thinking “how about there?”, “ohh, noo, over there would be good”. I never did puke, but I wanted to. Steve was checking in with me every couple minutes. I was grunting back at him with an occasional whimper. He was so on his game and he had nothing but awesome words to say to me. At the bottom I filled my bottles with water and off we went. Back through the road and the sandy section. Then we arrived at the rope section. Suddenly there were competitors EVERYWHERE. We had been alone for some time (passing the occasional person), but now there was a guy right on our tail, one on the ropes and one just off the ropes. There is only about 1/4 mile after the ropes to the finish and you could FEEL the tension. As we got off the ropes Steve hit the ladder first and you could tell the guys around us were going to race us. I hit the ground off the ladder and Steve and I started booking. We had not been passed the entire day by a single person and we weren’t about to change that. Sure enough, we engaged in a full out, knock down, drag out, race to the finish. It looked like we were finishing a 5K. And it hurt so very very very badly.

In the finish chute.
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Then just like that it was over. I sat down for a long time. I really had a tough time after this race. I’ll spare you the details because I did eventually recover and I’m good as new now, but boy, I was a hurtin’ unit for awhile! A nurse who was volunteering said I looked like I just gave birth. Pretty odd, being that three years ago to the day I had just birthed Annie.

I am really happy with the race and the experience. If you get a chance to race this race, you should, it is AWESOME and the race director did a phenomenal job. I would put this race on my “top 3” list of all time favorites! I really can’t thank Steve and Anthony enough for keeping me company the entire day. It was quite the feat and I feel blessed that I have such great training (and now racing) partners.

The crew!
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Stat’s
5th woman
Steve and I were 18th and 19th overall
6 hours 41 minutes
34 miles by the Garmin

OKAY! Are you ready for the video? It’s about 10 minutes long and I am really happy with how it turned out. It’s my first real attempt at putting something together with iMovie and although I am still learning, I’m pretty happy with the finished product.

Moab Short Update

I thought some of you would appreciate a short update on the race.

The race went great! I am alive, happy, and have a tummy full of lasagna. The Practical Coaching folks that ran all had great races. Beth was the 50K Masters Champion, Sandy was the 20 mile Masters Champion, Steve took a 3rd place 50K Masters placing! Andrea and Doreen had awesome races and experiences. Anthony had a great race as well.

I had quite the experience. Lots of ups, a few downs, some pain, but mostly great views and great company. I ran most of the race with Steve and Anthony which was the best part of the experience, comraderie! We paced the day really well, ramped up the intensity throughout and kept together. The last few miles were pretty painful, but Steve really helped me push on. It ended with a sprint finish (a guy was attempting a pass and we had not been passed once the entire day) and a 5th place womans placing (6 hrs, 41 min, ended up being 34 miles). WAY better than I ever hoped for.

Troy and Annie were amazing. Annie made a new best friend at the race, and Troy was the supportive rock star that he always is.

I took a ton of video and pictures during the race, so the race report (hopefully monday) will have lots of media. Until then!

Moab or Bust

The birthday presents are wrapped (Annie is Saturday, Troy is Tuesday), the lasagna is made (homemade: noodles, sauce, and sausage), trail shoes, Kealty kid carrier, and cow bells are packed in the VW. Barring any major disasters we are ready to head out to Moab tomorrow morning.

Kid puke, bakeries, and hot springs may sidetrack us slightly, but really, we are focused, we are ready, Moab or Bust!

Trying to wrap my head around this coming race has been tough. It’s so long and the course is completely unknown. I have been preparing mentally to handle whatever gets thrown at me. I’ve prepared to go out slowly and calmly. My gear has been tested.

Nutrition:
– HEED
– Hammer Gel
– Skittles
– AB&J

Shoes
– Brooks Cascadia 3

Choice of Attire
– Black spandex shorts
Core Concepts Venture Bottom
– Nike sports bra
– Breathable singlet
– Core Concepts Convertible Long Sleeve (product testing, but it’s my go to top for trail running right now)

I fully expect this course to be a major challenge, that much has been made clear by the race director.

All I can do is race smart, keep the bull dog in me alert, and press on when I’m tired. It’s time to go!