Sunday, April 29, 2012

Red Cliffs Desert Preserve Run

Yesterday, I ran across the trailhead which led me into the heart of the Red Cliffs Desert Resereve. The first section took me high on top of hard packed red rock with amazing views of St. George. The urban sprawl in this city has truly ruined the charm of this historic and lovely little town, but once you turn your back and start down the trails, you disappear into never, never land. I had no map and no agenda, so I just took a trail and ran. Within minutes I was surrounded by mountains. Most of the trail was hard packed red earth, but some of it was red sand, which made footing a bit more challenging. I stopped occasionally to take pictures and was struck each time with the peaceful silence of the mountains. I was out for several hours and saw only one figure, far off on an adjacent trail. I'm not comfortable running in these remote locations alone, and so eventually turned back, wishing for a dog. I think part of the lure of ultra running is seeing an immense mountain range and looking into a distance that appears remote, and knowing I have the power to get there, by foot alone. My legs were feeling better than they had all week. I have been training on very tired legs. I took Friday mostly off so yesterday I felt better. The run got me pumped up for the 50. When I got home, I picked up the kids and brought them to the trail. We jogged a couple miles before they were exhausted by the heat. The kids are slowly getting used to the heat, but it has been tough for them. Little bodies don't acclimate as quickly as adults. We went out to a drive up ice cream joint and then headed off to a splash park. Great day for everyone.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mommy School in Utah

Although we came to Utah and Colorado this spring to train and race for Team Baby Alex Foundation, this month is proving to be a tremendous educational opportunity for the kids. Before we left, we studied the important points concerning Utah and Colorado-things like poisonous snakes and spiders and what states sit on the border-and now we are living what we studied, synthesizing our studies. The downside is that I have become so crazed about snakes and spiders that I can hardly sleep, and when I ran into two dead rattlers last weekend on my run, I jumped. One of the coolest things we have done so far is to visit the local dinasour museum. We had been studying dinosaurs and watching the Nick Jr. Tv show Dino Dan, and we read about fossils and archeologists and how they go about unearthing fossils, etc. I learned a lot and fortunately Alex remembers everything because I just can't seem to retain it all. So when we visited the museum this week, Alex informed the curators all about which Dino's run as fast as horses and which had 3 toes, and basically spit out everything we had been studying. Izzy was intent on finding a T-Rex fossil at the museum, and when we did find a T-Rex footprint (so big both kids could fit inside it), she new exactly what it was and was blown away by the fact that a real, live T-Rex, her favorite, had walked on the same ground she was walking on. She talked about it all day. I have been concerned that the kids might not get as much out of the trip as I am, but the trip is proving to be good for them, thankfully. Today, Alex bit into the edge of a piece of bread and said, "Look, Mommy, I turned it into the shape of Utah". Small victories. Mommy School is exhausting and I never dreamed I would be staying home to educate my kids, but it is so incredibly rewarding. I plan to send them part time to school this fall but I'll continue with Mommy School, and maybe we will take off for another trip depending on our studies, although I think two weeks would be long enough. So, today we went to the local river bed and after viewing flash floods on the computer, we examined why flash floods happen...we are expecting terrible weather tonight so I figured we might as well understand it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Values of the Month: Adventuresomeness and Appreciation

Our value for 2012 is Adventuresomeness, and it seemed appropriate to make that the value of the month since we are in Utah training and racing. But once our trip got underway, I realized that we need to add Appreciation, because an adventure without appreciation for all we are doing and seeing just does not tap into the essence of the experience. Appreciation is one of those values my kids love to talk about, but have trouble living. In fact, I think appreciation gives us all a lot of trouble. We tell people we love them and appreciate them, but living a truly appreciative life is difficult. When we are busy or irritated or tired, we tend to loose sight of all we have to appreciate. This weekend, we got a dose of appreciation, which unfortunately often comes about because of a tragedy. One of the runners traveling to the 50k was killed in a car accident. We all ran with blue ribbons to celebrate his life, and to remember him on the run. I had never met him, but his loss really affected me. Toward the end of the race, when the pain set in, I found myself telling my mind to simply appreciate the fact that I was able to run that day. I recently took the kids to see The Lorax movie, which I highly recommend. It is a great story and leads to all kinds of discussions about appreciation: of the environment, of family and friends, of animals and nature. So, if you are following the values on the blog, good luck with appreciation. I think the best way to ingrain it into your children's psyches is simply to take moment over a meal or in the car enroute to school, to talk about something you appreciate that day. Many of the great mentors and success giants, like Darren Hardy, recommend book ending your day with a few thoughts about what you appreciate from that day. If you lead, your children will follow and absorb more than you realize.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Red Mountain 50k

The Red Mountain 50k is by far the most scenic race I've done. We started in the pitch dark, our path illuminated by headlamps. Just 50 runners, and a dog. The first half waved through the mountains of southern Utah on access roads, with views of the surrounding peaks as they turned purple in the sunrise. Hard packed red clay proved difficult footing. You didn't want to turn an ankle because there was no give to the earth. Nice hills and some descent and the a long stretch on a deserted gravel road. I had to take off the side flaps from my cap because the wind flapped them too hard against my ears. A couple hours later, as we circled the Gunlocks Reservoir, the sun beat so hard against my neck I reattached the flaps and secured it shut. Definitely recommend a full coverage run hat for desertous terrain. The race was well supported but still i could not have finished without a fully stocked camelpak, with electrolyte water and plenty Of snacks on board. The last half of the race was on country roads, traveled primarily by serious bikers, mostly on aero bars, training for the upcoming Ironman. The last 2 miles of the race was a brutal, unforgiving hilly section that seemed to extend forever, and suddenly at the top of the last hill, we turned left and were soon running through the finish shoot. My first thought, after fueling up on chocolate milk, was whether Erik was surviving the heat in the desert sun. I went out in the car and found him, finishing well, considering his body's inability to manage the heat and his recent recovery from three weeks of illness. He wasn't the happiest person last night, but he seems to be recovering. My legs are more tired than I had hoped, not a good sign for the 50 miler in three weeks. I have a lot of work to put in over the next two weeks, but it proves to be hot and I plan to train in the heart of the afternoon sun.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring Race the Nipmuck 16 Miler

Last week, Erik and I ran our first race of the season, a very hilly and single track 16 mile trail race in northern CT, The Nipmuck 16M. This was a big training weekend, so my morning began at 6am with a 10 mile warmup run. I showered, ate breakfast, nursed an injury, and then headed off for the race with Erik. Unfortunately, Erik was coming down with the stomach bug, so he did not have a very pleasant race. He spent the next three days in bed. I took 7th overall for women. The top 4 women were very impressive, and I hope to be up there with them once we get into the heart of racing this summer. We're off to some major training and racing in Utah and Colorado, with various team members joining at different times. We're all looking forward to the wide, hard packed surfaces of the western trails, the incredible views of rock and mountain, and the dry, hot air.

Alex and Izzy had a major training day last week, which brought another issue to our attention concerning Alex's stride. I took them on a training run/hike (in preparation for our trail running in Utah) up and down a mountain in northern CT. I estimate we covered nearly 4 miles, most of which Alex ran. He loves to run, then stop for us all to catch up, then run some more. We are working on a steadier pace, where we all run together. Although the best therapy for Alex's leg is running, and indeed it has improved his balance and helped keep both legs strong and nearly an equal size (whereas his left hand, with less therapy, is weak and smaller than his right), it also gives him some stiffness. Our concern is that his hip is not developing correctly, despite our best efforts at stretching and yoga. So, we fear there is bone rubbing on bone. We have consulted with his orthopedic surgeon, who says that a brace won't help and we need to do more stretching, more yoga, more pool time, etc. We do our best, but despite our efforts, he still complains of pain at times. The good news is that he has stopped tripping. He still occasionally wipes out, but so do Erik, Izzy and I on the trails.

So, the next race is the 50K out in Utah. We are fundraising this season through First Giving. Our page is: Our goal is to raise $20,000 for research through our racing this season.

Last week we awarded $60,000 for our 2012 grants to three projects at Children's Hospital Boston, all of which are truly groundbreaking and have the potential to change pediatric brain injury medicine. To read about those, visit our website and click on our Accomplishments at the bottom of the home page.