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Forest Road 100, Youngsville by Robert Frislie.

Friday’s run on Forest Road 100, Youngsville photo by Robert Frislie.

In the past I have been fanatic about my run training. I haven’t gotten lazy, but based on all my marathon times, there is minimal time between a 45 mile training week max and 70 mile training week max. In fact my 70 mile weeks yielded some of my slower times. I have been a bit casual about my training this winter, especially when I get the chance to go skiing which I do every Saturday or hiking, which I did today. Last weekend, when I did not post, I was out snow shoeing. I will do my long run, this week 16 miles, (making it a medium run in the big scheme of things) on Monday.

I planned on running 16 miles on Friday so that I could ski for 4+ hours on Saturday and hike Sunday. I drove about 30 miles to a forest road that leads up a popular mountain called the Pedernal in Youngsville NM. (That dark peak on the left of the photo is the Pedernal the red is where the road goes.) The asphalt road has been tearing up my feet and I just can’t run on it. I spend all day on dirt, so even 10 miles on the road really affects me. I parked on the side of the dirt road, it was hard packed and dry. I began my run up, and up and up. This was killing me as the incline was only up the mountain. In less than 4 miles the elevation changed from 6100 ft to 7200 ft. The dry clay road turned into mud, then 100% snow. I  felt defeated and knew I was not going to run, or crawl 16 miles and I turned around and ran back down. That down was fun. The scenery on forest road is spectacular. I did not bring my camera but I found this photo by Kevin Wolfe.31892220

I am feeling ambivalent about going to Boston. I have now for two weeks. I had so much fun last year. I ran with my NM buddy Andy for 23 miles of the marathon. I made a new friend, Ayako, at the Hostel and we planned on staying together again. I rode Amtrak from NYC to Boston with a bunch of my Front Runner Buddies and hung out with my Dashing Whippets Racing Teammates at the expo. But now I am out in NM. I love it out here and I am not so sure I want to board the dogs, make the ridiculous series of flights to get to Boston and spend the money when I can be out here running in the mountains. No matter what I will keep up the training, but I am kind of looking for an out. I don’t know, we’ll see. Maybe I will feel different after I get a few 20 milers completed at altitude. It is rather daunting. Next Sunday I will do a mountain run with my Santa Fe Strider buddies, that should shake some thoughts loose. I love to run with people, it is a great social outlet, doing this alone is a little lack luster and nerve racking. I get attacked by dogs on the rural roads, and stupid guys in pickup trucks throw beer cans at me. It is hard to stay excited when I know I will face both of those things every time I go out. But the bottom line is, I love to run. Until the next post, stay outdoors!

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Third Place in Age Group

Third Place in Age Group

First the great news, I won 3rd place, 13th female over all at the Santa Fe Snowshoe Classic. (I desperately need a travel  mug and winning one is the best!) The route was  a 3.8 mile clockwise loop consisting of Big Tesuque Trail #152,Winsor Trail # 254, Pacheco Canyon Rd. and unofficial, short but obvious linking trail back to the Big T trail. Start/end elevation is 9640 ft. with 610 ft. total climbing.  I felt like I was always climbing. It topped out just under 10,000ft. There was a nice downhill along Pacheco Canyon Road, but it was a climb to Pacheco and a climb after it. It was so much fun! It was a small race, 81 runners  all in the woods. I had a few opportunities to be completely alone They had the women start 5:00 after the men to give  more room on the single track trail. Though the first 5 women, despite starting 5:00 behind  smoked more than 1/2 the men! One of which was in my age group. She is 59 and immediately reminded me of Katherine Martin – she is an incredible runner.  Snow was not great, it was hard packed but I hit about 5 places of  dirt and rock, no snow. The whole time I was running I  felt pure joy and my hip flexors.

The day before I took a cross-country ski lesson, part of the UNM community program in Los Alamos. The instructor, Hans-Peder Hanson and his wife Sue who taught the class are both Division 1 college skiers, NCAA award-winning racers. I have not checked them out on-line, well just enough to know they went to Dartmouth,  but it is obvious by watching them move that they excel in the world of ski competition. The class meets every Saturday for 2 hours for 2 months.  This week we met at Pajarito Ski Mountain.

I have not skied in 30 years. That makes me sound like I am 105, but frankly I did not ski after high school. I bought a new pair of skis over Thanksgiving in Lake Placid and this would be my first trial. Hans and Sue had us on a  snow covered gravel road with ski tracks running along each side. It was not more than 150 meters, It started up, then dipped down, then up again. We went back and forth practicing drills and form. I focused on my glide, which at times  felt good, my hips extending far behind me stretching my hip flexors in a big way (yep, this is the trigger). Hans had to keep reminding me to keep my hand pushing far behind me and pulled my elbow up behind me, kind of like this photo I found on the internet:
ski_floatI would stop it at my hip. I also learned to open my hand up as it goes back, like the guy above.  My biggest issue? I get tangled up and move the same size arm and leg forward. For example, I move my right leg forward and my right arm. It is crazy, so I start my motion by walking with my skis so that I alternate arm and leg. After two hours and up and back gliding, within a 150 meter track I could feel my hip flexors were tired. After driving home the 45 miles, they were a little more tired. At night they woke me up several times, or was that the dogs on my bed pushing me into a little ball so that could not stretch out? Anyhow when I started today, it was hard to lift my knees, it got better a mile in and pretty good near the end. But as I type this, oh boy, they are spent.
Next weekend there is another snowshoe race and x-c ski race. I would like to run the snowshoes and watch the ski race. It is part of a weekend long festival in Chama called Chama Chili Ski Classic. it begins on Friday and runs through Monday. There is beer tasting, music, pasta dinner, chili cook off, yoga, 2 days of racing, fat tire snow bike race, more music, more chili. It looks like a blast! It is 60 miles one way, but I think Sunday I may  head up there. I think this snowshoe race increased my lung capacity by at least 50%, maybe 100! I sure busted a lung out there and it was delightful! This is a huge plus in aerobic building for the Boston Marathon come April.

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warning: gross road rash wipe out photos at the end

The Dale Ball Trails are probably the most popular trails in Santa Fe. Less than 3 miles from downtown, the high altitude trail system covers over 40 miles. On Sunday I went with a group of friends on a 5 hour training run in preparation to run the Grand Canyon R2R2R in October.  I will not be joining them in AZ because it is the same weekend at the Abiquiu Studio Tour . I am excited to participate in open  studio again.

The plan was 20 miles at an average of 15:00 per mile which sounds very slow, but with 2,000 ft climbs and running between 7,000 and 9,000ft of altitude it is far harder than you think. Also this pace would more closely mimic what it would be like running  48 miles in the Grand Canyon. Since I am running the JFK50 in November it was a great training run for me.

I slept poorly the night before because I was worried about how it would go. Last Sunday I ended up in Urgent Care on a 12 mile run, but this week I overhauled my diet and planned my nutrition. I would be taking in about 200 calories per hour with papaya, honey gels, raisins and Gadorade.  I ate every three – four miles and it made all the difference. I learned from one of my SFStrider Buddies, how to alternate power walk  with running  on the steep uphills so as to not over fatigue running muscles and to keep walking muscles fast and strong.  I also learned when and why one should powerwalk vs.  run  even when the strides are tiny. This was a great bunch of very experienced trail runners to go with.

With 3.5 miles to go, we refueled at the cars and I already felt  satisfied. I could have quit or kept going, but I decided to finish it out. The last bit felt really good, we got to a nice downhill stretch and I bombed down the hill stretching my legs out to run as fast as I could, until, BAM, I hit a rock, went flying headfirst down the hill, tucking my head so I did not knock myself out, jackknifed my body and rolled into a ball. Two guys came running down behind me, and it occurred to me that I need to say, “I am OK, I just need to lay here a minute, it burns.” My whole left side took the hit.

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My arm from elbow to wrist was filled with gravel and scratched all the way down.

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My left hip, has a dinner plate sized mess of bruises and cuts, my should is all gashed up, and my hand has a small hole in the palm.

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There was just under 2 miles to go and though I could bail or finish. I got to the bail point and was doing just fine so I finished it out and felt great. We all whooped it up at the end and I think everyone was really happy.

I quickly showered and got ready  to go the Folk Art Market.  As I walked to the entrance of the market, I noticed a woman watching me, she made her way over, with an opening line about my trail rash. Turns out some good abrasions are great for picking up women.

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I learned some good lesson yesterday while running the Alpine Vista Trail at the Santa Fe Ski Basin. The trail starts at 9,988 feet and goes continuously  to 12,024 in just 5.83 miles. That is a 6.6% grade.

I started out what I thought was very conservative knowing our high elevation and that the mountain only went up, no switchbacks or leveling off.  One of the guys and I took the lead of our group and we were all alone. At about a mile and a half I said “man, racing up this must be brutal.” There is a race in October called the Big Tesuque Trail Run.  He replied, “we are at race pace.” I looked at my garmin and said, “we are running 13:00 miles.” He said, “yes that is race pace going up.” And this is from a guy who is lightning fast. I looked up results from last year, the male winner was Mike Ehrmantraut – 1:25:40 (7:19 pace) his marathon pace three months previously was 6:06, not a PB, but to give you an idea. Lead woman was Rachel Earley – 1:31:28. The two slowest people ran 3:30 and 4:47 and they were 80 and 82 years old respectively!
A person can haul ass going back down the mountain, that is if they did not stupidly wear minimalist  shoes. Lesson No. 1. I wore my much loved New Balance Minimus but the rocks tore through my soles bruising my feel and sending tears to my eyes on more than a few occasions, so my downhill was slow and cautious with the exception of the last 1/2 mile when one of the women who blew me away on the downhill came back to help me out.  It was smooth at this point and we ran 7:30’s to the finish. Note to self, buy good sturdy trail shoes.
But here is the lesson I did not expect. As I was trotting up the mountain, my first partner took off and left me, one of the guys that had previously not been in sight came up behind me and actually walked by me. Huh? While I take the “I think I can” cho-cho train attitude and kept chugging along, Jim does a walk/run combo. He alternates about every minute or so.  When it is super steep or hugely loose rock gravel he walks. So I joined him. Heck if he was going to walk by my trotting I was going to try his method. It was awesome. Because we walked, my legs and hips got stretched out and when we ran, we  ran, not just shuffled. My time for the last two and most difficult miles was a whole minute per mile faster.  I was faster walk/ running than  trotting. So how does this effect HR training paces? Interestingly my heart rate fluctuated between 153 and 158, there was no large dip because we alternated so quickly and walked on the toughest areas.  That kept me right around my 80% MHR, which is  a bit harder than I need to run for  aerobic endurance, to metabolize fat, build capillary density, and facilitate more blood and gas transport. The real beauty of these tough runs is that while my mileage is low, especially for marathon season training,  my time spent running is good.  Last week’s run was over 3 hours and this weeks over 2 hours, so I am getting the time in and I feel that I am  greatly reducing my chance of injury by running short distances on the mountain rather was long, 18+ miles on the road.
I followed up my run with coffee and a brownie from the Chocolate Maven in SF and met my friend Lisa for a hike in La Bajada, NM to check out some petroglyphs. Here is a link to a meet-up groups photos. We hiked on our own, but being in direct 99 degree sun in the middle of the afternoon took it’s toll and we were out of them in under 3 hours but it was extraordinary.

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A quick update. I was getting bummed out because my tempo runs were getting slower every week with my HR getting higher. Well tonight, after 7 hours of standing in direct 100 degree sun at the Tewa Pueblo Feast Day, sweating my tail off I joined the Striders for our regular Thursday night run. At first I thought I really sucked because I was trailing behind the main group, struggling but still not keeping up. At the finish I checked my watch to find tonight’s 6 mile loop was two minutes faster than usual and I had the lowest HR yet. Finally after 10 weeks, maybe my body is responding.

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Run up Santa Fe Baldy, 12,622

I planned to hike with the Sierra Club today but at the last minute decided to trail run with the Santa Fe Striders. Both groups were doing the same mountain, Santa Fe Baldy, 12,622 ft. It would be my first trail run with the group and I was excited.

The morning was cool and overcast, 12 of us met at Fort Marcy Rec Center in Santa Fe and car pooled to the Santa Fe Ski Basin. The elevation at the ski basin is 10,083. We ran Winsor Trail which starts out very steep  climbing 600 feet in the first 1/2 mile and 926 ft in a full mile before dropping down. There were two steam crossings and several switchbacks that leads to  a trail junction at 11,000, 4.5 miles from the Ski Basin. The total distance from beginning to the top of Baldy is 6.5 miles. My Garmin recorded 4,617 ft of total elevation gain.

We had three groups of people, the super speedy, the middle, and the back. It was interesting because some of the super speedy were further back because the hills were so killer; the front pack was wildly strong and fast. I pretty much ran alone in the middle not seeing another person until we approached mile 3 when I started reeling in a couple of the guys who were not having a very good day.  I should say I did not see another runner. I ran into my Sierra Clubs buddies  a couple of miles in at that was really awesome.

The hills and rocks were taking a toll on everyone. We regrouped at the 4.5 mile marker and everyone turned back except for Eric and I, two people never  made it to the 4.5 mile marker. Eric and I  ran and power hiked to the top. About 200 feet below the summit there was a big herd of cattle. I saw the biggest bull I have ever seen in my life. I could not believe they were  there. Maybe it was a mirage, it was hard work getting up there.  Eric is a superstar runner so it is no issue for him. I think it was kind of him to power walk the huge rocky incline with me because I know he could have gone on. After climbing over about 1/2 mile of boulders  we came to a grassy path  and ran to the summit. From mile 5.5  to 6.5 there was 1279′ of elevation gain. That is some serious climbing.

The views at the top were spectacular.  We took photos, walked around and checked stuff out before heading back down. There were big storm clouds brewing.

I felt on top the world today.  It was a very steep climb but so rewarding. It was slow and to give you reference, my 1/2 marathon road mile splits were  between 7:30 and 8:00. My mountain trail run splits were between 12:00 and 23:40.  I hit 7:00’s and 8:00’s during those miles but that was in  bursts of a short downhill running. Most miles were between 12:00 and 15:00, obviously the 23:00 mile pace was a  power walk, or maybe just a walk.  The total uphill took me 1:51, which is wildly slow but I am super proud of it. The downhill was  faster. Total moving time from beginning to end according to Garmin was  3:18 with an overall time of 3:26 for the full 13 miles. I left my watch on during breaks so I assume that is the discrepancy. I may not be getting in my marathon training mileage but I am certainly getting in the time.

Normally hiking I take a pack with my headlamp, 3 liters of water, snacks, rain jacket, warm jacket, etc. Today I had on a t-shirt, shorts and carried one pint of Gatorade and two gels. Near the end my body felt good but I was out of gas to move any faster.  I ran a 12:00 pace for the last three miles, which unfortunately went back up hill after a downhill. At the finish Jim, the Striders President was there with Gatorade, water, cookies and  salted peanuts, it was awesome. I was so happy. I also loved that I had the whole day ahead of me. We were done at noon and if I was hiking with my Sierra Club buddies, it would have been great fun but we would not have finished before 4:00. The Sierra Club book states it is an 8 hour hike and they are always right on. Sometimes a 3.5 hour run is best way to go and today it really was. I can’t wait until next Sunday.

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Hilary standing in snow just below Wheeler Peak

Here is a photo from last weekend’s hike to Wheeler Peak. The guys thought it would be  good to torment all my New York friends. It was 108 degrees in NYC and I was in Taos standing in a pile of snow, shirtless no less. That was just for added effect.

Right now running sucks. I am not 100% sure what is going on, but most evidence points to nutrition. Occasionally I completely lose my appetite. I want to eat nothing. This day on Wheeler I had no breakfast, climbed to 13,160 feet pulled out my almond butter sandwich and ate about half. Later that night I ate half a tamale. I tried to recall what I ate the next day, I think it was  a couple of folk fulls of beans, ran I 2 times totally 15 miles. Monday again almost nothing and Tuesday I was certain, I had a bowl of cereal with milk that included one scoop of Met-rx power. On my drive to SF for the track workout I drank 24oz of Gatorade. I know that is gross but I could not eat and I needed sugar so that I could do the workout.

The workout 4×200 with 100m jog recover (rolling 200s) 3×400 w/ 200m jog recover, 2 x 800 w/ 400m jog recover and 1 x 1600. My 400’s were 7 seconds slower than two weeks ago, my 800 I did not even both looking at and my 1600 was 25 seconds slower. I had no gas and it sucked. It also sucked being one of the 3 slowest runners of the whole group. I still did not feel like eating. The next day I attempted 8 x 200 hills, full walk recover. The first one was good, the second was 3 seconds slower, reps 3-5 were 4 seconds slower, reps 6-7 another second slower and by rep. 8 I was a full 10 seconds slower than #1. Never have I experienced this. The hill was 5% grade. I walked home with my tail between my legs.

New Trail to Wheeler

I feel good otherwise. I am well rested. I just have no fuel to workout at any intensity. So I am back at DailyPlate logging my food and beverage. I  looked into research on macronutrient  balance at altitude. Normally my carb requirement is 6g/kg  with some studies saying that higher altitude requires an upward of 10g/kg. The sad fact is I was not even getting 2g/kg so it was a mute point. I ate until my stomach was sick yesterday, I tried to spread it out over the day so that I could have a good run today. I ate  2200 calories, my carbs were still on the lower side. Today I have eaten 550 calories, steel cut oats, raisins and a banana, that is 110 carbs, I want to get to at least 350 without eating refined crap by the end of the day.  I have a 6 mile tempo run to do in 3 hours, lets see what happens.  I am going to buy some Enurox R4 which was recommended to me by Coach Roy Benson for recovery. I like the stuff and it is far easier for me to drink than eat. It is a 4/1 carb protein balance. Maybe I should get a blender and make smoothies. Jesus I sound like a lunatic, hum, maybe that is part of my problem too.

Ridgeline to Wheeler

I am sure the going from 6,000ft to 13,000ft 2 times a week doesn’t help, nor does my living at 6,000 and working out at 7200 help. The highest of those altitudes completely removes any desire I have to eat and it has caught up with me. No fuel – no run, very simple, but it does does not make eating any easier when I really do not want to.

Oh and all the Gaterade I drank before the workout nearly caused a major problem during the 400’s, thankfully I was able to keep everything in but it was ugly!

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