Thursday, May 14, 2009

big girl yoga

I don't usually get on my soap box about plus size issues on this blog, but this ridiculous shit made me so flippin mad I wanted to yell.

Buddha Body yoga? Separate classes for overweight yogis? As a yogi with an intermittent practice that spans 10 years across a range of practices: Bikram teacher training to dog yoga in the park, and a variety of weights: from 140 to 200+. I can say if you are so self concious that you can't do yoga with a skinny mini on the mat next to you, you've missed the point of yoga before you've even gotten started. And maybe I practice in some utopia but none of the other students or teachers have ever done anything but offer support and community. We all line up 45 min early for awesome pamela and her awesome flow class. We all drink our tea stunned that we survived it, while feeling eerily relaxed and exhuasted. We've all got limitations... a shoulder that pops out, tight hamstrings, short arms and legs, obesity is no different.

I'm still tipping the scales far from my "goal weight" but I haven't dropped the 40 lbs I've already lost through speed walking, fat yoga and water aerobics (all recommended for the heavier set). I've lost my weight by working my ass off at the activities I love. Trail running, triathlon, hatha flow classes.

I'm not saying its not scary to meet up with a bunch of jocks with zero body fat that run 3x faster than you, or stand at a triathlon swim start in your swim suit and bike shorts (because they dont make cute tri suits for anyone bigger than a size 10) but by excluding yourself you let yourself be labeled, and if you want to do fat stuff, guess what, you are gonna stay fat.

rocks and ledges and snakes oh my

You know you are in the wrong place when your training group meets at a place called the "hill of life" Watching the mountain goat dudes sprint up and down the hill like its a suicide on a tennis court should really be a sign that you oughta run fast the other way. Sigh.
I didn't run fast the other way. I ran slowly, very slowly down the hill. So slow in fact, I got dropped before we got the start of our run. Then, as I proceeded across the dam all the high schoolers lit up cigarettes so I wouldn't smell their doobage. This leaves me puzzled, "When did I go from being the hot piece in the aviators and bikini with a joint in my hand to the overweight 30-something huffing (not puffing) through the woods like a cop?"
When I got to the starting point of the run (which I happened upon only because some late arriving members of our group showed me the way) my coach was shushing me. Puzzled I looked. Holy Shit! There was 6 ft+ long snake in the tall grass by the tree at the trail intersection. That was enough to get me outta there and started at a fast pace up the 3 mile loop.
The terrain on these runs is ridiculously harder. I probably had to walk 30% of my run because the ledges are just to hard to traverse. This hill of life stuff makes the dreaded loops at Walnut Creek (Marks Art!) look like the town lake hike and bike trail. I never saw a single person. I saw 3 more snakes. After my run at Buescher on Sunday and seeing the huge snake at the start of this run, I stopped listening to my ipod so I could listen for snakes because I'm pretty sure a snake will eat your kylie-minogue-singin ass!
The run was like last wednesday's run. Hot as hell, thru nasty terrain, and a loop on a hill. Uphill one way and down the other. My technical running skills have definately fallen behind since I missed the long run on Saturday. I will be making up for this by practicing on the Hill of Life tonight. Picking my way down the hill and walking back up it. Not really for speed, but just to get some mountain goat technical practice in before my long run on Saturday.
The whole second half of the loop I was angry and doubting. By the time I came upon my coach I was really feeling down, and asked him if maybe I should skip the race on 5/31 because I just wasn't ready for it. He said no way, you're not that slow and you just need more practice. I'll be used to it next week and ready to race on the 31st and he's probably right. The practices are harder, the race is harder, but if I put in the time it will be ok.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Buescher State Park

I decided to take my mom camping for mother's day. She wasn't really feelin it, but I had a great training run along the way. Buescher and Bastrop state parks are separated by a 10 mile park road through beautiful piney forest about 30 min east of Austin. If you've ever ridden pedal thru the pines, this road is the first 10 miles of the ride. It's a challenging bike ride, but as far as trail terrain is concerned, an easy run. In fact, if I were teaching someone trail running, I would certainly bring them out here.
With a trail head from the Lakeside loop at Buescher there are 7.7 miles of trails forming a loop with a few cutoffs. All the trails were built by the Sierra Club.
I left for my run at about 8 am. I would have left sooner, but I was busy cooking pancakes in the camper in the luxurious AC. I should have left at 6 am. Man was it hot. As I planned my run and reviewed the maps, I thought the Buescher loop linked to Bastrop park and I would have showers and restrooms at the north end of Bastrop State Park about 3 miles in to my run. WRONG! It occurred to me like 3 miles in, that this loop actually extended east from Buescher, the more eastern of the two parks and that I was not going to come up on the other park's facilities. It was a pretty, shaded easy run, well marked so I just plugged away enjoying myself. I was going back and forth between one 7 mile loop or 2, again torn between the 10k training and 30k training. Figuring the terrain was easy, and I had all the time in the world I would run 2 loops. I never saw another soul out there and I never really saw any trail intersections other than those that were obvious when I crossed the park road. I ran and ran, soaking wet with sweat. I was concerned about my water supply and figured one of these loops (which sure was taking a long time) would be enough.
When I attempted to close the loop and run by the pond (really the only reliable landmark on the whole run) heading for home I missed the turn and took another loop. OOPS! I'm always getting lost, so I didn't really freak out, but I had been pushing the pace thinking I was doing a shorter run that was almost over. 2 hours in, I had run another 3-5 mile loop, unable to find the pond again, crossing over the road and generally getting worried and disoriented (it was 90 degrees out with 100% humidity and 10:30 am by this point). After crossing the road (again!) and not being able to determine which crossing corresponded with the crossings on the map. I dialed back my pace and regrouped. I figured if I didn't find the pond again I would just start running down the road at the next crossing. I would determine my direction on the road using the direction of the sun as my guide. When I got to the road I was pissed and nervous. I was low on water and the prospect of 3 miles home on the pavement in the blazing midday sun in my trail shoes was not appealing but was the lesser of two evils (I was not running that damn loop by mistake AGAIN!!!!)
When I got to the road, I happened upon a road runner. He was all geared out and wearing a run tex jersey and told me to follow him back on the road it's about 2.5 miles. I ran for about 3/4 of a mile on the road and found the last cutoff to the Buescher loop of trails. I was right with the world and no longer lost. I tried to pick up the tempo (difficult because it was hot) to make up for all the stopping and starting from scratching my head and studying my trail map. The final 2 miles is through a big rolling field of wildflowers, beautiful and despite the heat I was loving the rolling hills, loving knowing where I was and loving knowing that I was almost home. It was a pretty morning, with a solid long run under my belt and a cold miller lite waiting for me in the cooler. Yay for me and yay for the buescher loop. I think I did an outstanding job of following the trail markings, and would have been ok with the distances in the loop if I had kept a steady pace OR brought my garmin, so I could match the distances on the map to the distances I was running. All in all, I am guessing I ran about 11 or 12 miles in 2 hrs and 45 min. I didn't stop my watch for map reading and reconnoitering, so I believe my pace was pretty swift, making my goal for the newly minted Hells Hills race in Bastrop on June 6 a realistic one. I'm hoping to do the 15 in under 3:30.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

plenty to talk about

I've resolved to chronicle more training runs here. If for no other reason than to have a journal to reflect upon. Yesterday's run has plenty of fodder. It was very hot. I downed an ecap before I left the office... just one, what could come of it?
OMG. I got so sick. First off, feeling good about my race time, I tried to stick with the group from the start. Bad idea. Of course, I ended up losing them like 8 minutes in. I'm a lot closer to catching them than I used to be, so I guess that is progress. I sort of noticed that my feet weren't taking instructions from my brain very well so I slowed my roll. The terrain was very challenging (rocky ledges behind the hill of life) and some that had to be climbed rather than run. I thought I had collected myself and had turned back toward "base camp" when I got really dizzy and my hands started to tingle. I slowed to walk, hating myself, because I HATE to walk in training. Hating walking, hating the heat and getting all riled up was doing me no good. I had to stop and sit on a rock, I felt like I was gonna keel over. When I stood back up I puked water (and probably ecap) everywhere. I heaved and heaved until I was out of liquid and with shaky legs managed to loaf on back to base camp.
I chatted a bit, asking my coach about ecaps and barfing and such and went out for round two. I was not giving up and I was trying to go slow enough to jog the entire loop. Yeah right

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Practice Hill of Life 5/6

I'm incorporating a heart rate monitor for today's practice. One of my post-Maze resolutions. The other being core strength (the dreaded post-run sit up session.) We'll see about that. It's supposed to be very very very hot today. Also I am going to start with the alchemy of hydration and electrolytes. I've got some ecaps, I will take a few and see if they produce any sort of noticible result. I'm interested in HEED, as it seems to be the drink of choice among the hard core (and I really don't like accelerade) but I'm not sure if I can get some samples somehow, there are several different flavors and I'm sure I will have to experiment to find one that works.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Maze Race Report

You know you loved your race when you sit down at your computer on Monday morning to look for more races. My first trail race was The Maze at Walnut Creek park on Sunday morning. I ran the 10k. There had been a thunderstorm the night before so the course was definitely sloppy. Rainwater rushed the normally gurgling low water crossings and the normally dusty single track was muddy from the rain. I was so relieved it wasn’t actually raining on us, I didn’t care. In fact, I thought the wet course made the park new and exciting which was good. I had done soooooo many training runs out there that it was hard to get excited for race day when it felt like just another long run.

It turns out all the course training paid off, and my coach’s race plan was right on the money. We had practiced all the technical sections of the race so many times, that when it was race day, my only imperative was to run it faster than I had before.
I was able to lock in a quick pace for the beginning of the race, having measured the weekend before that there was absolutely no excuse to shoot for any thing less than road pace for the first 2.3 miles. The first half of the race was a breeze. The gps function on my older garmin cuts in and out on the trail, counting forward progress as rest time, or not at all, so I arrived at the aid station ahead of schedule. Of course, I am a total dork and run with my hydration pack so the aid station was exciting because my mom, Tiger and Dixie were waiting for me there (with signs) yay! Of course when I came by Dixie tried to break loose and run with me, but Tiger kept the terror saurus tethered.

The second half of the course was much more technical (I knew this) but the sun was starting to come out making it a lot easier to see slippery mud vs. regular mud (yes, there is a difference). I was also getting lapped by 30k dudes several of whom were from my training group and it was fun to see their speedy familiar faces and cheer them on. I felt like I pulled away from the walk-run crowd and narrowed the gap between me and the pace of the runners from my training group as I jogged (instead of walked) up and down rolling hills along the power lines.

I still had a good bit in the tank so I ran hard through the woods, Mark’s Art (which had been my nemesis on several hot afternoon runs) flew by and before I knew it I was trying to take the short cut home after the main creek crossing. Had there not been a man with a cute dog at the intersection who actually stopped me from going the wrong way, I would have missed the Severe Consequences loop AGAIN as I had on every long run up to race day. Always trying to avoid those I guess.

I had blast back in the woods and still had plenty left in the tank. I was looking at my elapsed time and looking at my distance and wondering if we were running windy loop. I saw the fence by the swimming pool and was still puzzled, then I saw the finish flags and knew I was done. My only goal was to do it in under 90 minutes. I probably could have done it in less than 80 minutes if I wasn’t holding back for an additional .5 mile that didn’t materialize.

I certainly feel like I could have easily raced another loop. There were a few climbs where I was tired, but nothing that could not have been handled with another pass at the aid station on the next loop. More caffeine! I’m not sure I could have done 3 loops (my original plan when I registered) but 2 was totally feasible. My time was 1:21:44. Only 13 minutes slower than my road 10k PR. I believe it is an easy task to shave a few more minutes off my time in the next few weeks leading up to the Loop at Emma Long on May 31 (I easily stood in line at various creek crossings and muddy embankments for 2 minutes).
I’m going to run some longer runs to get my mileage up, but there’s always the issue of longer distances at reasonable speed… I am not going to run a 4.5 hour 18 miler.