Wednesday, January 25, 2012

40 on 40

This week, Erik turned 40. After much discussion about how to celebrate this achievement, Erik decided he wanted to run 40 miles. So on Saturday, we ran. Our course took us through the back roads and hills of Litchfield County, CT, which is notoriously hilly, and in January, it's cold. In fact, it was blizzarding.

For the first 20 miles, which covered about 1200 of elevation gain, we met less than a dozen cars, not a single snowplow and it was the morning was magical. We shuffled our way through inches of fresh snow, which made everyone stay inside, except us, spending a romantic day together doing what we love, running. By the second 20 miles, a flatter double loop around the Farmington River, every snowplow in the county was out, and what had been fluffy snow, with a decent grip and soft landing on the feet, because a slushy, slipper mess. Our shoes were soaked, blisters formed, and our quads aches as we slipped backward with every step. Amazingly, we kept it together emotionally, and enjoyed each other's company right up to the last minutes of the 10 hour day. I guess we were both in need of a long, quiet run. I was sore on Sunday, but ready to get back out there for another long workout, which was a good sign in terms of my ultra training. I think Erik took Sunday off, but he seemed in much better shape than I have seen him after any long run before.

Normally, I dislike the cold. I have recently been reading about Badwater, where temps reach over 120 degrees, and it is tempting me to train harder to be invited to this race someday. I remember running in Iraq in August, when evening temps went above 120 degrees. Back then I worried about kidney damage, but had no way of monitoring that, really. I just ran, and tried to monitor whether I was feeling faint. I never did. When training and racing in Louisville, KY last year, in a record hot summer, I never felt like I was overheating. I love running in hot, hot temps. But, I have learned to dress for the weather, so last weekend, running for 10 hours in 15 degree weather, I dressed well, covered all skin, and carried all of my food and water, and actually, it wasn't that bad. Freezing camelpak tubes required frequent drinking, and that probably aided in my hydration. I have also recently discovered that wearing your hair in braids at your ears helps keep them warm. Still next year, our 41 on 41 will probably take place someplace warm.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2012: The Year of Adventure

Every January our family chooses a moto for the year. 2012 is our year of adventure! Whether planning more trips to the Y to swim, or heading out west for spring ultra training, we are making more of an effort than ever to enjoy travel and adventure together as a family.

Travel is an education. We started traveling at a young age with our children and they still talk about what they have learned from trips we have taken as a family. I am amazed at how the kids grow when they have hands-on, real world, new life experiences. Not only do they learn about regional animals, cultures and cuisines, geography and languages, they have become more curious about the world around them. Since much of our travel so far has been based around my ultra training and racing, they also have fallen in love with trail running (where most of the training and racing takes place). This year, we head to Utah and Colorado, which will include two major ultras, a 50K and a 50 miler. Alex is already talking about how he can't wait to do some awesome trail running as a family.

Running is one of the best therapies we have done with Alex. He has strengthened his left leg, improved his balance, worked out his frustrations, and has fallen in love with the feeling of movement through space. And always, Izzy is by his side. Trail running is tougher for both kids, because the terrain is more uneven. I may try to have Alex wear light gloves this year, so that when he falls, he will have some protection on his hands, which often take the brunt of the fall. Many athletes in the X-Terra races wear half gloves to protect their hands--that's where I got the idea. We'll give it a try.