Day 160: Christmas Eve Run

When T Junior went down for a nap on Christmas Eve, I was practically kicked out of my mom’s house. I know I shouldn’t be surprised about the support I receive from my family, but I was.

These people get it.

Since it was the middle of the day, I wasn’t too worried about running into coyotes and my mom said she’d never, ever seen a mountain lion. My plan was to run for 30 minutes on the newly paved road next to my mom’s property.

It was absolutely gorgeous outside. I wore my capris and my long-sleeve Seattle Marathon shirt, but I could’ve worn a t-shirt. Sunshine and about 55 degress. That is the kind of California weather I like. Summer? Not so much.

I started back by my mom’s barn and ran out toward the highway, then turned around and headed back toward the cul-de-sacs.

Back at the barn, the road splits — like a Y — into two cul-de-sacs. The person who owns the land around the road sectioned  it into lots for future homes, seven acres here and 13 acres there. Here’s the first cul-de-sac:

You can’t see it, but there is coyote poop everywhere. A constant reminder that they are out there somewhere. Obviously, I didn’t listen to my Zune. My ears were busy. The cul-de-sac was downhill, which means it was uphill on the way back. My legs were stiff from the two-day drive.

I returned to the three-way intersection near my mom’s. I went left down the other cul-de-sac. These are long cul-de-sacs, not like the short, crowded ones in my neighborhood in Washington.

This cul-de-sac also went downhill. From this one, I could look toward the back of my mom’s acreage, which rolls down into a canyon.

There’s a trail that goes down toward the canyon under these power lines. I didn’t take it. Yikes. I really didn’t want to run into any wild animals. As I approached the end of the cul-de-sac, I saw something up ahead.

Is that a hedgehog? Do they have hedgehogs here? Maybe it’s a porcupine.

I couldn’t tell what some large, spiky looking creatures were doing just hanging out in the cul-de-sac. I slowed down, but kept running.

Are they moving?

When I saw what they were, I felt like an idiot.

I’ve never heard of anyone getting attacked by a pinecone. But you gotta watch out for these guys, especially if they are hungry.

There's No Place Like Home's Internet Connection

Did I mention my mom lives out in the middle of nowhere? She also has a middle-of-nowhere Internet. Seriously, Mr. T told her that dial-up would be faster than the satellite service she’s paying for and not getting.

We made it home to our luxurious high-speed connection just before midnight yesterday. I have a lot of catching up to do. Here’s a quick recap, and I will do some multi-day posts soon.

RUNNING
I actually went running twice at my mom’s despite the threat of coyotes and mountin lions! That’s two times more than I thought I would get to go, so I’m considering that a WIN!

GEAR
Obviously, I was a very good girl this year. I went running after Christmas and Mr. T used a quote about Buzz Lightyear (from Toy Story) to describe me when he saw me pre-run: “You’ve got more gadgets than a Swiss Army Knife.”

GOALS
I was hoping to have my goal post up tomorrow. That was waaaaay ambitious. Instead, I’ll surprise you with it sometime in the next couple of weeks. Who knows, it could be tomorrow or it could be Monday!

Hope everyone has a fantastic final day of 2009!

Day 159: Surveying the Scene

If I learned one thing from being a Junior Lifeguard, it was you need to survey the scene before you go in and make a rescue. Be sure that it is safe. Well, safe enough to rescue someone. And, God knows I need rescuing from all the sitting and eating incredibly bad-for-you food over the last two travel days. So, one of the first things that happened when we arrived at my mom’s house today, was surveying the scene for running.

My mom lives on many, many acres in the-middle-of-nowhere Sierra foothills in Northern California and has horses, a barn, and lots and lots of scrub oaks. There’s a fresh paved road that sweeps down one side of the property and splits off into cul-de-sacs (oh, joy) for future houses that aren’t even a twinkle in any homeowners’ eyes yet.

After we pulled up in the trusty minivan (she made it!), Mr. T, T Junior and my mom walked around and looked at the horses. T Junior and Mr. T sat on the big tractor.

This is not the house I grew up in, but my mom has lived here for several years. I’ve heard stories of coyotes and rattle snakes that make me nervous. You know how I am with wild creatures.

My mom said that she asked a friend where her daughter (that’s me!) should run while here and the woman got all excited about a nearby river trail. Then, she said, “Just tell her to watch out for the mountain lions.”

Mountain lions?! And to think I was worried about coyotes.

Day 158: Virtual Christmas Card

MERRY CHRISTMAS
& HAPPY  NEW YEAR!

Yeah, we’re still here. I’m procrastinating. Too much to do; don’t want to do it.

PS: Got my minivan back last night and she’s all shiny and fixed up! (But unfortunately not vacuumed. Wow, you can really see just how many crumbs are on the floor when all the other crap isn’t in there.)

Day 157: And to All a Good Night

I am about to embark on an adventure. It includes hotel rooms, mountain passes and highway travel through three states…with a toddler…and two dogs.

I may or may not have computer access for several days. I may or may not have an opportunity to run for several days. But I’ll try to do both when I can. (The running thing is already stressing me out a bit, the trip hasn’t even started and already my pants feel tighter.)

I CAN guarantee there’ll be some interesting posts when I’m able to log on to a computer and I’ll be working on my big post about goals, too, for the beginning of the year.

In case I’m not around until after the holidays, Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!

(Meantime, head on over to Tall Mom on the Run and enter her great big GU giveaway! It’s sweeeeeet!)

Day 156: Apparently, Elephants Can Fly (for 8 Miles)

Since I had 8 miles to do today, I got up early: 6. But I’d actually set the alarm clock for 6:30 and then woke up early for no apparent reason. Argh. I just got up. I took my time getting ready and had some peanut butter toast and coffee. Then I put on BOTH pairs of my Wigwam socks to avoid blisters.

I didn’t feel like running in and out of cul-de-sacs for 8 miles, so I decided to drive to Renton and run along the Cedar River Trail. Since I was going to be by myself, I had to wait for light. I figured if I got there at 7, it would be light enough to start.

I wrote Mr. T an e-mail with the details of the run (just in case) and got on my way. It was 50 degrees, sprinkling and dark at 6:45. I rocked out to some sweet ’80s music in the ‘Bu, but the good mood was ruined when I suddenly realized I’d forgotten my phone.

Ah, crap. Forgot my phone. Should I go back? Should I turn around right here? Naw. I’ll be okay. I’ll be running along the highway.

At 7, I pulled into the parking lot at Ron Regis Park. Still dark. Pitch black and the trail doesn’t have any lights. I can’t run in the dark without my phone. I really didn’t want to run in the dark at all. It’s too creepy. One side of the trail is highway, but the other side is blackberry bushes and trees and river bank. Who knows what’s lurking on that side.

So, I drove home. Yep. 15 minutes there, 15 minutes home, ran in and got my phone, and then 15 minutes back. Not the best use of gasoline, but I have to be safe. I got back to the park at about 7:35 and it was just getting light outside. And NOT raining. There were two other women heading out for a walk, but that was the only other people I would see until toward the end of my run.

I brought my Nike fuel belt so that I would have water and some energy (strawberry Nutrigrain bar), and I set off for my run. It was 7:41. As soon as I started running, I realized I now had to use the restroom thanks to all that driving. But I didn’t have to go enough to go in the Honey Bucket at the park — I’ve been in there once (in an emergency) and once was enough. I decided to hold it. For 8 miles.

My route had me run west away from the park to the end of the golf course area and then turn around and go east, passing back by the park and heading to the big curve in the trail just after the composting place: 4 miles. Then, I would turn around and head back west and go all the way back along the golf course and then turn around and go east back to the park. This is how people do it without Garmins, folks. MapMyRun.com.

I felt good and could tell I was running faster than I normally do. I just felt so good. And I was okay with being alone. I need to do some long runs by myself. I realized this during the Seattle Half. It’s such a different experience when you run alone. I had my Zune and listened to my Seattle Half playlist.

As I passed back by the park, I debated using the Honey Bucket and dropping off my fuel belt, which was bugging me and I wasn’t even at a mile yet. I had my iFitness belt in the car. I could put my food and keys in there, but I didn’t want to hold my water bottle the whole way. And, I really didn’t want to use the gross potty, so I kept running.

I read a post by Glenn over at The Running Fat Guy a few days ago in which he talked about consciously turning his stride over faster. I focused on moving my legs more quickly. I could tell I was going faster than normal. It helps that the trail is mostly flat and straight.

I approached Mile 4 after a while. I’ve never been so happy to see a giant pile of compost. I turned around at the big curve, where the guard rail started and walked while I washed my Nutrigrain bar down with water. Mmmmmm, soggy. I started running again and texted Mr. T about my change of plans and that I was still running.

I was glad my water bottle would be lighter because it was annoying me, hitting me in the small of my back as I ran. I normally have on more layers when I use it, so it didn’t stay in place as well as it normally does. I think I went another mile before I took it out and held it. What a relief! It felt like the belt was rubbing my back raw. I’m not a handheld fan, though, so this was a challenge for me. I kept switching the bottle from my right to my left hand, all the while turning my legs over faster and faster. Since I got a later start, I just wanted to get back to the car and get home.

At about 6.5 miles, some guy came out of nowhere and passed me. He was really fast and he seemed to float as he ran. I tried, but couldn’t keep up. I run like an elephant, I thought. He just kept pulling away and it looked like he was putting in no effort at all. Amazing!

Then I got a stitch in my right side, which I figured would happen. I hardly drank any water yesterday. Baaaaad. I had to slow down, then it went away. I sped up, then got a stitch in my left side. It was annoying because I had been flying, as fast as elephants can fly anyway. At least it went away pretty quickly.

I passed the park (willing myself not to stop and just call it a day) and strode alongside the golf course, then turned around and went back to the park. I checked my phone: 8:57.

Cool.

It wasn’t until I got home that I figured out the math. I’m still in disbelief and have checked the math with Mr. T, but I was right. I ran 8 miles in 76 minutes? For real?

I went back to MapMyRun.com. Says, 8.02 miles (and I even ran further along the golf course than I was supposed to on my first mile). How accurate can MapMyRun.com be? I mean, that just seems too fast. That’s an average pace in the nines! Right? Crazy.

Day 155: Tomorrow's Run Brought to Me by a Hot Fudge Sundae

Let’s see…today I ate pancakes with butter and syrup at Denny’s, had a fabulous pot roast dinner at a friend’s house followed by a brownie and scoop of ice cream, and then topped it off with a hot fudge sundae from McDonald’s WITH peanuts. Oh yeah, I also had hot chocolate with whipped cream with my pancakes.

What am I? Elf?

Anyway, all this means is that I’m adding to the mileage I am planning to run tomorrow.

The thing is, I sort of miss Long Run Sundays. So tomorrow I’m bringing them back! I’m thinking eight. (I was going to do seven until I ate that hot fudge Sundae. It was so worth a mile. Yum!)

I guess you could kind of say that tomorrow’s run was inspired by a hot fudge sundae. Or maybe it’s sponsored by a hot fudge sundae. Whatever.

Speaking of inspiring, I saw a fun little piece this morning on the news and knew I had to share. The ABC affiliate here in Seattle does a special thing each week called Eric’s Little Heroes about kids playing sports. This one’s a girls-only 5K and they are so excited to run!

Eric’s Little Super Heroes: This Run’s For the Girls