The Blonde Runs

Colorado lovin'


…part 2 (Rim Rock Marathon)

If you know me at all, or have read that other blog I used to have, or have read this blog much, you know I like to draw out my race reports. I like to add the details. They are typically in “parts” and the end results are always saved for the final post. I make it a little painful for you. Oops…

I took off and waved to a few of my people. I had no idea what to really expect for myself. And, really, I didn’t have much time to think about it, as the initial 1/2 mile quickly transitioned into an immediate ascent of switchbacks. From here on, I felt like I was in a zone.

Typically, I break marathons into chunks: 5, 10, 13.1, 15, 20, and then it ranges from mile to mile or two 5k’s. It depends on how I feel. But for this one, I hadn’t even considered it. I think I was so focused on the first half, and getting up those 2000 feet of hills, that I knew I would readjust my thinking at the top. So, to 13.1, I go.

I charged up the hills and went as fast as I would allow myself. I knew I was holding back a bit, but I also knew that I wanted to conserve. I may be feeling good now, but I might need some energy around mile 9, when I still have more hills! I was so focused on my music, my breathing, and my body, that before I knew it, I was nearing the 5 mile marker. It was here that our route intersected with a backroad. And it was here that part of my support crew began cheering. Loudly! I love a good fan base at a marathon! It’s such a boring sport to watch for non-runners; even some runners! So, when I can get some friends out to watch me run past, and then gauge where and when I’ll be in view next, is really exciting!

I was feeling good; dropped my gloves, and kept ascending.

Views to my right:

I wish I could remember more from the race in those next crucial miles, but I don’t. It’s actually kind of strange for me, since I am usually one to recall the details. Especially from a race! What I do remember is a lot of climbing uphill! There would be an occasional, and brief, reprieve, with a flat road, but the remainder was up. I remember keeping my head up and my eyes on anyone in front of me that I could find. We were so spread out by this point, that to actually catch someone and pass them was rare. But I made it a game, to reel someone in, perhaps play the back and forth game, and then finally pass them. When I wasn’t running near someone, I tried to observe the scenery as much as possible. It was brown and dry, but beautiful, with the deep caverns. Like a mini-Grand Canyon.

I bypassed all the aid stations up to this point. I had my belt on, and finally around mile 10 or so, I convinced myself to actually take something. It had been such a cool morning, that even the fluids in my bottles were pretty high. I guess I don’t drink much when the weather is so race-worthy. After a few Blocks and Beans, I was still feeling pretty good, but my legs were definitely tiring after 12 miles of uphill.

I turned a switchback and suddenly hear my name being called! My friends are back! They’ve found the other intersection and they are waiting for me. I need it. I’m tired and devastated to see another hill as I round the corner. This has to be it, I tell myself. I’m so close to the halfway that I just need to make it to the top. I carelessly tell my crew that I’m good. But after a few strides I feel badly that I haven’t said more, so I swing around and yell, Thank you!

I push on ahead to the top of the hill. I pass the exchange point for the relay team. I just want to get to the top of the hill! What goes up must come down! I know this is the top.

There isn’t much time to enjoy the top as I just as quickly begin to make my way down. This is an entirely different kind of hurt. After 13.1 of uphill, my legs are confused.

Within that first mile of downhill, my lateral right knee begins to ache. Something new in this training cycle. I had been favoring and giving a lot of attention to my left side, but hadn’t had any issues with the right. I wondered if the sudden change in going downhill was causing my right IT to act up. I ignored it. It persisted. I kept ignoring.

I hadn’t really been checking my watch (the boy’s Nike+) during that first half. I thought it would be unfair to my mental state to check the pace for an uphill climb. But at the halfway point, I had checked my overall time: 2:01. Great! There would be a chance for me to break 4 hours! A menial goal I had in the back of my mind.

But after several miles of downhill, I was noticing that I was either sub-8:00 or right around an 8:00 pace, every time I looked. I didn’t want to wear myself out, but I also couldn’t help the momentum of the course.

Around 17.5 miles, I checked my watch, but noticed something strange. It still read 17.2. 17.2?! I’m way past 17.2! What?! Did the Nike+ freeze on me? I haven’t gone through the tunnels yet! In fact, I’m out in the open! How did this happen? What will I do?

I can’t believe I’m a slave to the numbers. But maybe it helped me. I was a slave no longer.

I passed 18, 19, and 20.

I was now focused on how I felt; not how the watch was projecting the way I felt.

21, 22. At 23, I had caught a girl and another was right with us. We chatted through that mile as we ran through two tunnels.

24. A final intersection where I could hear my friends shouting. They were calling my name and everyone else’s too! Apparently, they had met the race director at this intersection who gave them a race roster. They were looking up bib numbers and cheering for runners who they didn’t even know! I love my friends!

I was surprised to see the boy jump in with me and tell me he was going to run me in for the final two. Who’s pacing who now? He took my fuel belt (which had been bothering me the last few miles) and my headphones (because I couldn’t re-clip the Shuffle onto my waistband after taking the fuel belt off). The boy chatted and filled me in on the past few hours, because he knew I didn’t want to talk. I told I was ready to be done. My calves were cramping. He stayed with me until we hit the last stretch. He stayed with me when a girl passed me with 50 yards to go. And he stayed with me until just 20 yards shy of the finish. What a doll. I crossed and smiled. I was pleased.

Net time: 3:40:35
Overall place: 21/303
Womens Place: 4/151
Age Group Place: 3/25


Leave a comment

…her 6th marathon (Rim Rock Marathon, Part 1)

This past weekend I ran #6.

A short 4.5 hour drive, brought me and my support crew to the western slope of Colorado. Grand Junction, to be exact. Our very own little wine country.

The boy and I, along with the bff and her main squeeze, drove out sometime late morning on Friday. We weren’t in any hurry to get out there, which afforded us the luxury of stopping along the way in some small mountain towns for coffee, or lunch. My legs appreciated the stretches.

We finally rolled into town around 4:30pm, and after checking in to our hotel, I insisted we drive the course. And I don’t mean just see parts of the course. I mean, I want to see the start, and drive the exact route until the finish. I’m particular like that. It doesn’t always work out, but when it does, I take advantage. While the early sunset foiled my plans of seeing the sights, I was at least able to see the uphill. Again, and again, and again, and again…. I tried not to get overwhelmed and intimidated. It was a relief when we hit the top and began the descent. I wondered how my legs would take it all the next morning.

At packet pick-up (one single table in a small conference room at the local La Quinta Inn; thank you small and unassuming race) I was astounded to see this:

Apparently, they give that number out to just about anyone!


I was up and at ’em at 5:30. “Sleeping in” by most marathon standards. I’m used to a 4am alarm, followed by hectic transportation getting to the start line for ample time to warm-up, stretch, and catch the loo before a 7am start. So, this 8am start time for Rim Rock, coupled with the fact that I was a mere 7 miles away, threw me off a little. Granted, it did allow me that much more sleep time. As if that’s possible the night before a marathon.

After my traditional race-morning breakfast of oatmeal, banana with pb, and a half of a bagel, I was off to conquer 26.2. I was lucky enough to have avoided any race-start-crazy, which would have ensued if I had followed the rules that strongly encouraged runners to park at the finish, and then take the 7am bus to the start. The boy, and bff, took chances and drove me straight to the start, avoiding the warnings that there was no parking there. We parked.

I mentally geared up for this fun run as I took off down the road for a warm-up. It was chilly, in the mid-30’s, and I had multiple layers on. All would be shed soon. Take this one easy. This race is in a category all its’ own. I knew I couldn’t expect to compete in this race as I had in previous marathons. I just wanted the experience. I wanted to feel the ascent in the first 1/2 and the descent in the second. I wanted to see how my body would respond. What condition my mind would be in. Yeah, I’m that sick and twisted. Just a little blonde masochist…

Rim Rock was a total throw back to my first marathon, Yakima River Canyon, in Yakima, Washington. A tiny little race that draws out an entirely different breed of runner. These weren’t the celebrity runners who run a marathon simply because Oprah did. These were the brute runners, who run marathons for the love of the sport. With their trail shoes, gaiters, and wide-brimmed-sun-blocking Outback hats, runners of all ages began collecting at the start, near the Colorado Gem and Minerals Club, on the east side of Monument Road. It was desolate. It was quiet. It was reverent. The perfect setting for a race with so many unknowns.

The boy and bff would try to meet me at the 3-4 spots on the course where there were actually cross-steets. But, like Yakima, I would be predominately tackling this one on my own. Me, my music, my legs, my mind, and the random, sparse, people I would encounter along the way. In such a small race, the majority is run in solitude. A race trait I have come to realize is enticing.

And with the simple call of “GO!”, we were off…



…the third and final quarter of marathon training

Well, this is old news, now that I’ve wrapped up training, and run the marathon. However, it’s to be published anyway. I’d hate for there to be a hole in my training program. In the written word sort of way. But, I’ll be snappy about it, because I know you all just want the results of this “fun” run. And honestly, there isn’t really much to say about those last few weeks of training anyway.

Here are the highlights:

I ran very little and worked quite a lot.
When I did run, I ran a 22 miler at an 8:40 pace. And a half marathon at a 7:53 pace.
There were some other random runs here and there, that don’t particularly stand out.
I ate a lot of peanut butter.

Now on to the Rim Rock Marathon race report and results!



…a marathon this weekend!

Yikes. Looks like I’ll be tackling 26.2 in a few days. I’m not gonna lie; I don’t want to.

Ever since I registered for the Rim Rock Marathon, my motivation has taken a nose-dive. Granted, I registered right in the midst of a 2 week stint of parent/teacher conferences that make my work day a measly 14 hours (not to mention all the hours that go into prepping for them). Or, the fact that it seems I have had something going on nearly every night, which leaves little time to run. I’ve been so busy at work and pining for later sunsets, that my running in this taper season has sacrificed. Tapering? Yes. But this is an odd taper. I’ve logged very few miles in the past several weeks. I’m managed to nail my weekend long runs, and throw in a few easy runs during the week here and there, but consistency…none!

While I never had lofty goals for this race when I contemplated running it, I still wanted to train well and do well. But now that I’m actually down to race week, I’m feeling underprepared and very intimidated by this course.

With an elevation gain of 2100 feet, a predominantly all uphill first 1/2, followed by a quad-mushing downhill second 1/2, I have been a little concerned about my well-being. I.e., I am nuts to run this!

So, I have griped, and complained, and threatened to not race it at all. So, I’ve decided not to. Instead, I will run it. Run it for FUN, even! I am taking all pressure off of myself to go gang-busters on this marathon. I don’t need the PR. I don’t need the Boston qualification. What I need is a challenge. I need an experience. And that is what I will get. Probably what I knew I needed all along.

Trust me, this is a hard one to admit. I take every race entirely too seriously. But, for valid reasons. I don’t race very often. A handful of times a year. Maybe. So, I view every race as an opportunity. An opportunity to do well. Very well. Better than I had previously.

But this time, it isn’t realistic. I need to back off for this one and enjoy the experience of the Rim Rock Marathon. I know the sites will be beautiful. Spectacular, even.

So, I change my mental state this week to accept defeat the fact that this one is for a completely different reason.

And, I’m lucky enough to have a slew of supporters coming with me! Should be a fun and interesting weekend!

Oh yeah, about that third and final quarter of training…I’ll get right on that.


Leave a comment

…the second quarter of marathon training

So I’m a little behind. Maybe a full week behind, in posting the second quarter training runs for the Rim Rock Marathon. I’ve been a little preoccupied. Which is why, perhaps, I’ve not been able to run more than 55 miles per week. It’s this thing called work, and this other thing called love.

The boy came home from his two week stint in Australia, and I was immediately in the throes of catching up with him. He was missed. He is always missed when he travels. It’s because I like him so much.

This was followed by parent/teacher conference prep, of which I’m currently in the middle. Last week’s 65+ hour work week really had me exhausted, and I had neither the time, nor inclination, to do anything but sleep. This week will nearly mirror last week’s. So, yes, I’m making up for all the hours I won’t be working during the summer. Happy?

I’ll be honest; I lost a lot of my data when Garmin died not too long ago. I couldn’t even pull past training runs from it. Then, I started using the Nike+ that the boy has. I plan to hang onto it until he asks for it back. While it isn’t my watch of choice, it is working sweetly during the interim until I can get the Garmin 410.

Week 4
Saturday-18 miles/9:00 pace
Sunday-5 miles

Total: 51 miles

Week 5’s long run deserves a post of its’ own. It’s actually the first time I’ve ever had to quit a long run early; out on a route. And, I even had to hitchhike home. First hitchhiking experience! Such a crazy long run!

Week 5
Tuesday-8 miles
Wednesday-7 miles with 4x.25 hill pushes
Thursday-10 miles
Friday-3 miles
Saturday-15.5 miles/8:38 pace

Total: 43 miles

Week 6
Monday-5 miles
Tuesday-5 miles
Wednesday-3 am/7pm with 3×1200
Thursday-10 miles/8:23 pace
Friday-3 miles
Saturday-18 miles/8:34 pace (10@MP 8:00 pace)
Sunday-4 miles/9:13 pace

Total: 55 miles

Overall, I’m just trying to cope with the fact that I can’t find the time or energy to get over the 55 mile per week hump. I know I shouldn’t compare, but last year’s training had me close to 70! It’s a little disappointing for me, but I also know I am in a different place now than I was when training for Portland. I know, too, that I’m not out to break any PR with the Rim Rock. This will be a tough course, and at higher elevation. I’m doing this for the experience; and the excuse to go wine taste. Of course.

The good news is that I’ve finally registered! After continuing to put it off, running marathon #6 in less than 5 weeks is now a reality.

More on this, that, and the other (including that long run with the hitchhiking) coming soon!



…the first quarter of marathon training

Today ends the first three weeks of marathon training for the Rim Rock Marathon. I’ve been trying very hard to not compare this training cycle to that of the PDX Marathon last year. I was in a completely different situation at that point in my life, and was able to dedicate the time needed to successfully meet the expectations I placed on myself. But it’s hard to NOT compare when that season produced an 8 minute PR! Still, I am telling myself to just do what feels right.

That said, I had low mileage for the first two weeks of training. I was hoping for low to mid-40’s, but time was not on my side for that to have happened. I decided that they probably would have been “junk” miles anyway, so, not to worry. At least I was able to get in my speed workouts and long runs.

Week 1
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5 miles/9:00 pace
Wednesday: 7 miles (400, 600, 800, 800, 600, 400)
Thursday: rest
Friday: 3 miles/8:35 pace (am); 5 miles/8:29 pace (pm)
Saturday: 16 miles/8:44 pace
Sunday: rest

Total: 36 miles

Week 2
Monday: 5 miles/8:00 pace
Tuesday: 6 miles (3×800-3:08, 3:08, 3:10)
Wednesday: 4 miles/9:11 pace
Thursday: 4 miles/8:59 pace
Friday: rest
Saturday: 17 miles/9:16 pace (trail run)
Sunday: rest

Total: 36 miles

For the third week of training, I was finally satisfied with my weekly total. My speed work was more than what I had hoped! The 18-mile long run was supposed to have included 10 miles at marathon pace (~8:15), though I approached it with the goal of 5 miles, given how tired my legs felt. Miles 8-12 looked like this: 8:11, 8:08, 8:04, 7:51, 7:43. More of a progressive pace system. But then, in mile 14-18, I had some decent pacing to finish the run: 8:05, 8:28, 8:26, 8:37, 8:05. Not a bad way to end an 18-miler after the faster mid-miles!

Week 3
Monday: 4 mile run/8:01 pace/15 mile bike
Tuesday: 8 miles/8:32 pace
Wednesday: 7 miles (4×800-3:10, 3:09, 3:07, 3:01)
Thursday: rest
Friday: 6 miles/8:19 pace
Saturday: 18 miles/8:29 pace
Sunday: 5 miles/8:40 pace

Total: 48 miles

In the second quarter, my goal is to increase my mileage to be closer to 60 by the end of week 6. My mid-week runs will get longer, and I’ll hit a 20+ miler.

But, I still need to register! And, Rim Rock limits its field to keep it a small and quaint race.

Speaking of registering, this is BOSTON REGISTRATION WEEK!!! I am having to wait until Friday to register, but I don’t think the field will be full by the end of the week. I would be thrilled to run Boston again!



…a 12 week training program

This weekend marks the end of my second week (of my 12 week training program) to my 6th marathon. And the race of choice….? The Rim Rock Marathon. Yeah, yeah, I hadn’t heard of it either. That is, until I started scouring the interwebs and marathon calendars for a fall marathon. I didn’t exactly want to travel too far from home. Especially given the fact I would already be traveling to California at the end of October for a half. Need some financial control here! So, when I came across this little jewel on November 12th, a mere 4.5 hours west of home, I gave it some real thought…

a) It’s a mere 4.5 hour drive from home!
2) It’s on the Saturday after Veterans Day! I can travel on Friday, then Sunday, and not take any time off work.
e) It’s in Colorado wine country! The exact spot some friends and I were going to head to earlier this month, but it turned out to be bad timing for all of us.

My other option was the Grand Canyon Marathon. It was a big frontrunner, given the fact I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon. I don’t get out of my cardboard box as much as I’d like, I suppose. But, it’s farther (12 hour drive), at higher altitude, and I wouldn’t have time to explore the area, since I’m an explorer and all. But, it will be on my radar in the future. The first half runs directly on the rim!

So, it’s the Rim Rock Marathon. Reminiscent of my very first marathon that I ran in the Spring of 2008, Yakima River Canyon, in Washington, this too will be a small and unassuming race. Unassuming in name only, though, as the course runs through the Colorado National Monument:

Not bad. And with or without a dusting of snow, I may be able to capture a nice pic or two myself.

Now, all I need to do is register.


*Photos courtesy Sylvia Murphy and Steward Green, respectively.