Friday, April 25, 2008

Kicking off the running season? Nope.

This past weekend I had a lot of big plans. Saturday was supposed to be the kickoff to Anchorage's running season with the Heart Run 5K. My Team was going to do the race as part of a 1 hour run, the race being a tempo run in the middle. I was going to start weeding my garden and getting it ready for planting. Sunday I was thinking since the snow had finally melted off of the trails that I would do a long bike ride around town.

The entire weekend was squashed by 24 inches (yes I said 24) of snow that fell in Anchorage on Friday. Before this, I have never heard the people of Anchorage complain about snow. Most of the people of Anchorage participate in some sort of snow related activity and if not they at least like how the snow makes the town look pretty in the winter. In the winter... but it's almost May.

The Heart Run was canceled. This is only the second time it has ever been canceled. The first time was in the 50s after a volcanic eruption. My garden is now covered in snow yet again, and the same for the bike trails.

I guess I could have started planting some seeds inside and gone for a snow run, but for some reason the new snow just crushed my spirit and I just felt like being snowed in for the weekend. I know, I know, I have been waiting for winter all winter, but it has come too much too late. So I spent the weekend doing my favorite indoor activities. Cooking, baking, reading and watching movies. All weekend.

And I realized I have not spent an entire weekend indoors for a long, long time...

Brian, Niko and I did get out in the backyard to play in the snow for an hour on Friday night. Here are some pictures of the snowman we made.


Ahhhh Spring....

Laura close your eyes...

Downtown Anchorage on April 25th. I mean I love winter, but really? It's almost May. We are having what they would call on the East Coast "The Snow Storm of the Century" right now in the middle of April in Anchorage. Eek.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saying goodbye to winter in style

Saturday was the 24th Annual Champagne Brunch and Farwell to Winter party in Hatcher's Pass. Brian and I have heard about this for a few years now and finally made it up there. It's basically a day of dressing up in formal attire, skiing, drinking and eating in the sunshine of spring.

The first people to arrive carve a table in the snow and skiers come and go all day long. Eat, drink, get in some turns and then eat and drink some more. Good times!

I'm not sure if I mentioned this but Brian and I are both without cameras right now. So here are some pictures from other people that were at the event. I honestly don't even know who some of these people are, I just downloaded them from some website. Ick, I want my camera back. It really sucks to watch your boyfriend and dog ski down the side of a mountain on the most beautiful day of the year, in one of the most beautiful places in Alaska, and not be able to take a picture of it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

$4100 raised!

I have raised $4100 over the past 5 months for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Most of this was done by begging. Wow, for a moment there I never thought I was going to get this far. But Brian sent out a message to basically everyone he knows and raised another $1000 for me. Thanks Monkee!

I have $400 left to raise by Monday. Anybody out there have $400?

My race is two weeks away and training is starting to slow down and I'm getting kind of excited. I am starting to realize that running in the snow all winter may not have been the best idea for trying to get fast. Sure, I am stronger than ever, but I've been trudging around in the snow at such a slow pace that my legs are used to going slow. I got on the treadmill and did a tempo run the other day at about an 8:45 pace. Let's just say it was a struggle for me to hold that for only a few miles. That being said, it's a huge improvement over last year.

I'm waiting till after the race to decide whether or not I will try to go on to qualify for Crow Pass this year. I will basically have to transition right into marathon training after a week or two of rest in May. Here is the deciding factor. If I run the half in under 2 hours, I will train for two months and try to qualify for Crow Pass during the Mayor's Marathon in June. If I finish in over 2 hours, I will say that it is not physically possible for me to get fast enough to qualify for Crow Pass and will shift my focus to other races.

That's about it for now.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lost Chord

Jayme, Dean and I hiked into Hunter Creek yesterday and climbed Lost Chord. 200 feet of Grade IV goodness. This is the climb that I have my eye on as my first Grade IV lead. At the beginning of this season, I thought that might happen this year, but I am realizing now that I have some more work to do.

Jayme led up and Dean and I followed one at a time. It was good to get on the climb to see what I'm in for next season. After yesterday I think I will be able to lead it next winter, but I need to get more comfortable on vertical ice before I try.

It always amazes me how massive the climb looks once you get to the top, and especially while rappelling down. When you are climbing up, you are concentrating hard on your next move, so you really only see a few feet of the climb at a time. Here is the view from the top with Hunter Creek and Dean down below...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My running year

It's Saturday morning and I'm about to go out for an hour and 45 minute run. As I sit here digesting my breakfast I think about how far I have come in a year. After my broken leg incident in 2005, I could not run for a year and I found it very hard to get back into a consistent training program when I could.

I spent the months of last summer running sporadically and never really improving. I remember getting winded after only a half a mile. My legs felt like I was running through waist deep sand, my ears hurt and my lungs burned. I used to dread my nightly run, and would always think of an excuse to get out of it. No wonder people who don't run hate it so much. Running sucks when you first start out.

I signed up for the series of Tuesday night runs in the fall. For about 12 weeks there is a run every Tuesday at a different spot around Anchorage. You show up, they give you a rough idea of where the course goes and you just run with about 600 people. This is when I started training consistently and improving. It was only 2 days a week, but even that makes a difference.

I knew that if I was going to be a runner again, I would have to run through the winter to hold on to this momentum from the Tuesday Night Races. But I needed more motivation, so in November I signed up for Team in Training. I briefly considered doing a full marathon in May, but quickly convinced myself that a marathon would entail a bit too much winter training. A half marathon, now that was doable.

I also needed to set a long term goal, so I picked one of the hardest mountain races in the area and decided to try to qualify for it. The Crow Pass Crossing follows the old Iditarod trail from Girdwood, over Crow Pass, across Eagle River and down into the town of Eagle River. It's 24 miles. That sounded about right, way over my head. People told me I should probably run a road marathon before I try a mountain marathon, but to be honest running 26.2 around the roads of Anchorage sounds more like torture than fun.

I was Gung Ho winter running in December. I remember thinking I wanted the winter to bring on the harshest, coldest, snowiest conditions for me to train in. I remember running in the mountains in the snow and loving it. I remember running at 8000 feet in Colorado and having to stop to walk every 5 minutes. I remember running in 5 degrees and thinking I can run in colder temperatures than this! Bring it on. Then I remember running in minus 20, my spandex sticking to my legs with frozen sweat, my eyelashes (the only exposed part of my body) almost frozen shut from frost, my leg muscles feeling like hard taffy that you work and work and it never loosens up. And then coming inside thinking never again.

Today it is April and the half marathon is three weeks away. I will probably run 11 miles today and I am looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to the moments when my mind wanders for awhile and I come back to reality and see that two more miles have just passed. Or the moments when I can feel my body working hard, my heart pumping, my lungs expanding and contracting, my leg muscles warming and I know that I could go on like this for a long time. And especially the times in early morning when it is quiet before everyone wakes up, and the sun is coming up over the Chugach, and it is all for me.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Talented pets

It has been said that Niko is the fastest dog at the dog park. So since I didn't do anything particularly exciting this week, I will let my pets entertain you.

Here are a few of Niko's Iditarod audition tapes...

Also, my kitten Migsy's dream is to be on America's Next Top Model. I think she could be huge. Let me know what you think. Be honest.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Longest Run Finished!

I was kind of sick and feeling lazy this past weekend so I missed my long run, but I got up at 5 am Tuesday to make up for that. This week we ran the longest run in our training program. The taper begins now. I ran for 2 1/2 hours Tuesday morning. The next two weeks our long run will be 2 hours, and after that 1 hour, and then the race the following weekend.

I think my new goal of under 2 hours is doable, just based on how I feel. I'm not basing that on anything remotely close to reality. I have been running in the snow, which uses up a ton of energy, so I don't know what a comfortable pace will be for me on the pavement. I got to run on about 30 yards of pavement on Tuesday and felt like I was really flying. The snow is melting fast, so I am hoping to get in a bunch of pavement runs this month. Wow, I really never thought I would be looking forward to a road run, but the snow is starting to frustrate me. I just want to go fast!

Next week I will buy new race sneakers and break them in over the last three weeks of training. No running in my Icebugs for the race.

Not much else to report, except that I am still about $1500 away from my goal fundraising amount. So if you feel like helping out with that click on the link to the right. Thanks to everyone who donated thus far! I have received some really generous donations.

April is another in between season (like October) where I struggle to find ice climbs that have not yet fallen down, and maybe go for a bike ride or two in the slush. So it's good for me to have running to focus on.

This weekend I plan on running Saturday and searching for ice on Sunday.