Monday, August 24, 2009

New Shoes

In preperation for Dave McGovern's World Class Racewalking Clinic October 9-11 in Dallas... I read the new shoe reviews he linked on his website. I am a huge fan of Adidas Adizero shoes and found the Adidas Adizero RC on his list entitled best of the best. Since I already own 4 of the other shoes on the list, I decided to try these Adidas. They just came in the mail... I found them online for only $50.oo including shipping. They are as light as they can be and from now through October will get little wear from me. I plan to wear them ONLY for track workouts.
I feel like a kid with a new toy!

Monday, August 24

So, Friday is always my day off from working out. I did, however, work most of the day at the mattress store. That's fine with me, because the store is busy and the time goes by quickly. Saturday, more of the same. I had intended to get up early and walk before going to work, but as I have said, I am not so much a morning person. I told myself I would walk when I got home from work Saturday. That was not in the cards either because we are starting to get into an afternoon thunderstorm pattern. I am not talking about some rain with a little thunder and lightning. This was maybe the first time I have ever pulled over while driving in a storm. I could not see even one inch in front of my car and the wind was blowing from all directions at the same time. Then it started to hail. Well, I was on a stretch of road with no shoulder and had to drive for about a mile or so, not able to see anything. It was like a white out that you experience in a blizzard. When I was able to pull over, I sat there for about 10 minutes wondering if the tornado was coming. It finally slacked off enough for me to drive home. So, the Saturday evening workout was scrapped.

Sunday, I just did not feel like walking. I am reading Lawrence Block's book Step by Step, A Pedestrian Memoir, and really enjoying it. So, Sunday I read until Raymond was ready to go grocery shopping. When we got home, I made an enchilada casserole with chicken and green chili for dinner. It was really good.

I am determined to get my training walks done, no matter the weather. I am going to turn myself into a morning person, if it is the last thing I do. So, I dressed in my workout clothes and set the clock for 5 am. I was in bed by 10 and pretty much ready to go out for a walk, all I had to do was put on my socks, shoes and hr monitor, fill the water bottle and go. Good for me! Out the door at 5:25 am and finished a 10k walk this morning! After a quick shower and some cheerios with a banana for breakfast, I actually made it to work on time. This evening, I still have a strength training routine to complete, but that should be no problem as I don't have to go anywhere to do it. I have all the exercise equipment I need at home. I will ride my bike to warm up if it is not raining. If it is raining, maybe the jump rope will do for a warm up.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

August 20, 2009

So, I ended yet another walk at the cemetery, wishing I could just check in. It's kind of funny that these crummy feeling walks always seem to near their end as I am walking through the cemetery.

I just came in from what I thought was a waste of time 6 miles. It was 99 when I walked out the door. My HR seemed high from the start, so I thought I slowed down. But every time I looked at my HR, it was still high. I felt like my legs were dead. Turns out the pace was not so bad; and the walk ended up being more like tempo than LSD, so a 4 mile tempo walk with an extra mile for warm up and an extra mile for cool down for a total of 6 miles in 1:23:51. I was under the impression that the walk was a lot slower than it ended up being and I am sure the 99 degree temp had something to do with that! I had to stop once and soak my cap to cool off a little.

I also need to remind myself that the workouts I do during the couple of weeks post marathon will be kind of tough. I need to be taking it easy, and it is difficult for me to do that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

back to the grind

So, I was able to get in several miles of active recovery walking in Las Vegas before coming home to go immediately back to work. I had one rest day in my office, then had to work several days in a row at the mattress store. I don't know if I can count these days as miles walked, but they are certainly ACTIVE recovery with some strength training thrown in. Sunday, I stayed at home, did some laundry and nothing else.

Monday, back to work at the mattress store. Since I like to work out in the evening, I was hoping to get off of work at 5 so I could get home in time to ride my bike for a little while, then do a strength training workout. No such luck. I was finally on my way home at around 7pm.

5pm rolls around on Tuesday and the boss wants to take care of some business late in the day. When I called him back with the info he requested, he offers to call me right back and I tell him, NO, just hang up, then don't answer when I call you back, I will leave the info you requested in a voice message because I am leaving work at 5 today, no ifs ands or butts about it. So, he got his pen and wrote down the info right then.

When I got home, I was still a little irritated, so I went rushing to change into workout clothes in a big hurry. I really felt that if I didn't get a walk done, it was all over but the getting fat again. I had not done a timed walk since the marathon, and I was disappointed in that finish time. So, I set the Garmin and took off down the street, fast. The route I took is exactly a mile from the track and I made it there in 12:33! That was a great warm-up, so I stopped the timer and stretched everything and did some of the flexibility drills. Then I got on the track and accelerated for a mile and a half. My last lap was at an 11:30 pace. It was so hot and humid that it took an entire 30 minutes for me to stop sweating after I got home...

I thought I had lost something out there in the desert near area 51, but I found it at the track. Thank goodness. I know it will take some time to get the pace down where I would like it to be... somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 minute miles, and I may NEVER get there, but I will have fun trying.

My next BIG thing on the schedule is Dave's World Class Racewalking Clinic in Dallas October 9-11. I screwed up my first chance to really learn something from Dave in Mesa last January by walking a marathon the same weekend as the clinic. Well, I don't have anything on the schedule with the exception of a 10k fun walk in Houston on September 6. And, the Dallas weekend will be devoted exclusively to the clinic. It will be nice to see my two Dallas friends and one from Arkansas who will all be attending the clinic as well.

50k in November, marathon in January, 100 miles in February.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Las Vegas

So, I promised a little about the Las Vegas trip... I met Jean-Maria and Mellody out there for the ET midnight marathon. We had fun doing the marathon and would probably do it again if it wasn't for the 2.5 hour bus ride to and from the marathon start. Everything else about the marathon was great (read my previous blog post)! Donny from the walkingsite was also there, he did the half marathon.

When the three of us (the ladies) returned to the hotel after the bus trip, each of us had our turn in the shower. I was starving, but exhausted, so I just bought a turkey sandwich in the hotel lobby and took an hour or so nap. We were planning to go downtown to Fremont Street and feed at the trough (Golden Nugget Buffet) for our marathon celebration dinner. The food there is usually very good and did not disappoint! The waitress was some sort of a medium??? The four of us wore our medals and I was still sporting my alien tattoos, so the conversation quickly turned to aliens and auras and strange stuff like alien encounter healings. Whoah.

Mellody and I were by no means ready to go back to the hotel after dinner. We came to Las Vegas to have some fun! They are having a summer of '69 celebration at Fremont Street with the psychadelic hippy bus, a Beatles tribute band, classic cars and great light shows featuring lots of different types of music. The Beatles tribute band were 4 young men wearing wigs... they were really channeling the fab four until they bowed and one of them nearly lost his wig. Hilarious. We moved on and found an interesting casino that was full of antiques around the corner. We spent a little time looking at the display cases with antique slot machines, beautiful hand carved bars with marble counter tops and etc. When we walked back to the action on Fremont street, there was an awesome band playing medlies of all the great 60's rock tunes that everyone knows all the words to. Of course, I can't remember which ones they were right now, but we had a great time! People watching is the best! I don't have the pictures yet, but when I get them from Mellody, I will edit this post and add them.

We finally got tired and started looking for the taxi stand at the Golden Nugget so we could get a ride back to our hotel. The guy out front was being a real asshole and would only seat customers in a particular brand of taxi. I am sure after the ride went around a few extra blocks that he was getting something extra for his attitude. Oh well, lesson learned, although I'm not so sure there would have been anything we could have done to avoid getting taken for the proverbial ride. Except for what we did. NOT. Tip.

I won't tell you the reason, but I am going to be really careful about where I wear a particular yellow shirt in the future. It's a secret. Anyway, we got back to our hotel and decided to walk across the street to the Hard Rock and have a milkshake. There it is. The marathon celebration cocktail. Mellody had chocolate, and I had espresso. It was awesome. So, I was about to fall asleep in the booth at the Hard Rock, and barely made it back across the street to our hotel as I had only slept about 5 hours in the last 65 hours and also walked 26.2 miles in the desert at high altitude (for me).

I slept until 9am Monday and woke up starving only to find that the continental breakfast ended at 9am on weekdays at our hotel. Mellody jumped out of bed, threw on her cap and last night's clothes and brought us some breakfast. Thankfully she made it and was able to grab some food before they got it all put away.

We got ourselves dressed and started for the strip! It was hotter than hell, but we were primed for some fun after finally getting a little sleep! My only real request for the trip was to ride the roller coaster at New York, New York. That was our first stop and we did not want to ride it after lunch. Here is the proof:

So, we had great fun on the roller coaster, then started out to look for a place I could get the one thing I crave sometimes after a marathon. A Blackened Bleu Cheeseburger. We looked at the menus of several establishments before finding it on the menu at the ESPN Zone, and it was heavenly. I even chose to be really good and have a bowl of fresh fruit instead of french fries. Here is another funny thought that goes through my head once in a while... When I was 15, I used to wait tables at a small town family restaurant. I always laughed (under my breath of course) at the older women who ordered hamburgers with coffee to drink. Well, it is true that you become what you laugh about... coffee is my drink of choice, even with hamburgers.

Now back to the hotel to get ready for the show. Mellody had a dinner date with an old friend, so Jean-Maria and I wandered around the Venitian for a little while and stopped at Haagen Daaz for an ice cream. I chose to buy a ticket to see the Phantom of the Opera so Jean-Maria could get some rest as she was still recovering from a broken foot and walked the marathon anyway. Mellody had purchased her ticket a long time ago. We planned to meet up after the show and wander around the strip for a while longer afterwards as it was our last night in Vegas. Surprisingly, the strip was totally crowded, even on Monday evening. You certainly can't tell there is an economic downturn from the numbers of people vacationing in Vegas.

The biggest problem is finding the exit in the casino when you are ready to leave. Those places are so huge, it is easy to make the same wrong turn more than once. They don't allow taxis to stop on the street to pick up fares like they do in other big cities, you have to find the taxi stand which is usually located at the valet entrance to each hotel. It seems that you need to start looking for you exit strategy at least an hour before you plan to leave. Anyway, we got a great taxi this time, and he took us directly to our hotel without going around any blocks. This guy did get it. The Tip.

Back to the room, my stuff was scattered about, so I took the time to organize it somewhat so I would not have to pack it all in the morning just before leaving for the airport. We did get to eat a decent breakfast at the hotel... I would recommend the Hyatt Place in Las Vegas for anyone who likes comfort without all the noise and activity that goes with any of the casino hotels. It is a non-gaming establishment and all the rooms are non-smoking. Also great for a bunch of marathoners.

The flights home were uneventful, and it was great to be home, even though the trip was too short.

Here are two more pictures... the medal and the race shirt from ET. Thought you might want to see them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ET Extraterrestrial Full Moon Midnight Marathon

I had been anticipating this trip to Las Vegas and the race for a long time. Since I did not do so well at Mohican, but got a lot of hill practice done there, I felt I could do pretty well at this marathon. I had not really considered the effects of higher altitude and dry air to a coastal plains dweller like myself. So, it was a slow marathon, but still a lot of fun and finishing is the goal, after all.

Now I must return to the beginning of the tale. My bags were mostly packed by Thursday because I had to work out of town on Friday and my flight was scheduled to leave Houston at 6:20 am on Saturday. I live about one hour away from the big airport, so that meant getting up at 3:30 am for the drive. I did not get to sleep until after 1am. Remember that this is a midnight marathon. It starts at midnight. Did I say that the race started at midnight Saturday??? I arrived in Las Vegas (after a short layover in Denver) at around 10:30 am Saturday. I called the hotel to see when the free shuttle would be arriving to take me to the hotel. They said, oh, about 10 minutes. There was a couple waiting before I walked outside the airport, and in my usual manner, I was having a conversation with them in no time. I found out that they were staying in the same hotel and had already been waiting at least 10 minuets before I walked outside. The hotel is 5 minutes from the airport and I was finally in the hotel room by noon.

Mellody and Jean-Maria were already in the room the three of us were sharing. I was starving at this point, so the three of us walked across the street to eat at Lucky’s in the Hard Rock Casino. It was nearly 12 hours from race time, so I carb loaded on blueberry pancakes and also ate a little bacon for protein. We walked over to CVS, and I bought a gallon of water to mix my electrolyte drink for the marathon. I finally tried to get a little nap (maybe 90 minutes) and it was time to pick up the race packet. We met another friend at packet pickup, WalkingDonny, who was walking the half marathon. The shirts are awesome, with little aliens and a space shop on the front! We go back upstairs and start getting ready for the race. We boarded the charter buses for a 2.5 hour ride to the starting line at the black mailbox on the Extraterrestrial Highway. It is a good thing it was dark outside. I don’t think it would have made me feel better to actually see the mountain we had to climb before the race. It was bad enough seeing it while riding the bus back from the finish line to Las Vegas. I am really glad I brought the long sleeved race shirt with me in a drop bag because it was cold and windy and I ended up wearing it under my crazy shirt for the whole race. We picked up our glow necklaces and used the dreaded port-a-potties, posed for some pictures and visited with new found friends.

I think the race started on time at midnight, although I can’t be sure because I lost my reading glasses somewhere out there. Everyone was either wearing a headlamp or carrying a flashlight and we were all wearing reflective clothing. We were off, and as usual, I started out too fast. I got stuck with a couple of groups of beeping Galloweenies that I kept trading places with. The worst thing about a group of Galloweenies is the fact that they pass you jogging, then stop to a snails walking pace RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, every time they pass you. It was especially irritating to me during this race because at this point, I am going on 3.5 hours of sleep. So, that made me pick up the pace even more so that I did not see them again until much later in the race when I started to slow down. Anyway, the aid stations at this race were about 3.5 miles apart, so you had to carry a water bottle. Not a problem for me, I always carry at least my fuel belt on shorter walks and both the fuel belt and a hand held on longer walks. I was feeling great, but with the climbing (not so steep in the first few miles, but steadily climbing) and the higher altitude (over 4,500’at the starting line) I thought I was moving much faster than I really was. By the 9 mile mark, I noticed that my breathing was becoming labored and shallow, so I consciously reminded myself to belly breathe like when doing yoga. I was tired, so I had to keep reminding myself to breathe deeply so that my muscles could get the oxygen they needed to keep moving forward. It was so nice to turn off the lamp and walk with the moonlight in the desert. I turned it on only when I saw that a car was approaching in the distance. A few times I looked down at the road surface and saw what appeared to be scorpions scurrying across the road. During this first half of the race, I also saw numerous shooting stars. I kept glancing to the south, into Area 51, looking for signs of the unknown, but sadly I saw no aliens or unidentified objects.

The last part of the climb over Coyote Summit, between mile 9 and mile 13 was progressively steeper, but I kept concentrating on my breathing and pressing forward. It was, however, not the smartest thing I have ever done, because by the time I crested the summit and headed back down the other side; I had run out of steam. Maybe the fact that I finally got to see my time at the half marathon point (3:09:??) also took some of my steam.

I felt something over head and it turned out to be some kind of small bird. I have not seen too many kinds of desert creatures, but when I turned toward the bird as it landed on a rock by the far side of the road, its eyes had a strange orange glow when it looked back at me.

Well, now the hard part was supposed to be over and it was all downhill from here. I passed a young man who had just been passed by another woman. He said “So What, So What!” I thought he was mad because he had been passed by a girl, then he sings another line from the song. Oh, my goodness… how funny! I knew what he was singing along with, and man was it vulgar! I had to turn around and tell him I knew he was singing “So What” from Metallica’s two disc set called Garage, Inc. I thanked him for the laugh and continued on.

Now that I was fully aware that I was going to have a crummy finish time, I planned to just have fun and finish. I ended up walking most of the rest of the race with a lady I offered a sample size body glide to when she said her shorts were wet, and she was surely going to have problems later in the race. We walked and talked and looked at the stars and talked some more. She was very interesting.

I have been studying hydration issues more fully lately because I have begun to have problems with swelling hands, even on shorter walks. It seems like I am starting to get it under control, because my fingers did not swell until much later in this marathon. They also did not swell as much as they have been swelling lately. The next issue is the bathroom issue. We were warned well in advance that there would only be porta potties at the start, then maybe 3 more along the marathon course. I passed the first 2 course potties because I just did not have to go. As I passed the 18 mile marker, I started to feel the need for a potty break. I could have just walked off to the side of the road and pottied in the moonlight, but I just kept telling myself I could wait until mile 20. That is when I had the hallucination. There was more and more traffic on the road as the night went on, so I had to keep the headlamp on most of the time. Everyone who walks at night knows that there is a tunnel vision effect after wearing a headlamp for long periods of time. This is a two lane highway with a very narrow shoulder on each side, so there is really no place to go if cars are zooming past rather quickly. One of the zoomers was a bus. I nearly got blown off the road. We were walking toward traffic and as I looked to my right I could have sworn there was a concrete barrier on the yellow line in the middle of the road. I kept looking over to make sure I was not seeing things. I also needed to get to the potty at the 20 mile mark in a really bad way. The lady I was walking with also needed to get there in a hurry. This was the actual finish line of the race where we had a 10k out and back to do, and then the race is over. As we got closer to the potty, I was still convinced that there was a concrete barrier separating the lanes of the road. The lights of the little town of Rachel started to illuminate the road, and the concrete barrier just kind of disappeared. (My friend Mellody had the same hallucination in about the same location although she was about a mile behind me) Luckily my race companion had relieved herself earlier so she let me go first. What a relief! One of the aid station volunteers was wearing a Sunmart ultra jacket, so I had a short hello, look at my cap moment. I wore my Sunmart cap during the race.

Now the last and toughest part of the race because we had to walk past the finish line and still had 10k to go. I don’t remember when the sun started to come up, but we were finally able to turn off the headlamps and saw lots of jackrabbits! We also saw a dead rattlesnake on the road. Thankfully that was the ONLY rattlesnake we saw. I was able to walk a 14 minute mile one time during the last 10k, but it took all I had to make it across the finish line. I received my medal which is really awesome. It is an alien wearing running shoes, chasing his spaceship on a black background with the Calico Racing emblem on it.

There was a nice breakfast buffet at the Little A’lien Inn that consisted of pancakes, biscuits, eggs, hash browns, gravy, and fresh fruit. Everything was really good and the staff appeared to be genuinely happy to see us! Mellody and Jean-Maria finished in that order and after we had eaten our breakfast and bought a few souvenirs, it was time to board the bus back to Las Vegas. We went back over the mountain we had to climb from the start, and since it was now daylight, we were really able to see the beauty of the countryside we had passed through in the darkness, oh, and the steep climb that we had made during the night.

This was a fantastic race with a great RD and lots of wonderful volunteers who stood out in the desert all night to make sure we were alright. Thanks to everyone involved with putting the race on!

One thing, I had no idea that the altitude would bother me so much. It is for that reason and that reason ONLY that I would not consider repeating this event, though I will highly recommend it to anyone who asks me. From now on, altitude will be one of the factors that come into play when I choose future races.

Thanks for reading! (stories from Las Vegas to follow soon enough)

Oh, and yes… malvs2walk!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

ET Extreterrestrial Marathon stuff

So, I will be leaving Saturday morning for Las Vegas and the ET Extraterrestrial marathon... held on the Extraterrestrial Highway north of the Nevada Test Site also known as Area 51. The fun thing about this one is that it starts at midnight. The finish line is at the Little A'lien Inn in Rachel. They have a marathon, half marathon, 51k ultramarathon and a 10k. When someone asked me which race I was doing... I replied, just the marathon. That seems really funny for me to say just a marathon.

We pick up our race materials at the Hyatt in Las Vegas, get our stuff ready and ride a bus to the Black Mailbox, where the race starts. The moon will be just a couple of days past full, so the headlamp will have some help. Forecast temps are in the mid 50's F with possible gusty winds. Race starts at app. 4,500' elevation and climbs to 5,700' or so by mile 12.8 where we cross Coyote Summit. It is all downhill from there. It is going to be real interesting going from 100's in the daytime to 50's at night, but it should make for a pleasant experience. Oh, and it is open range, so there is a chance of getting up close and personal with cattle that most probably rarely have any human contact. Sounds like fun, right???

The other interesting fact is that the only walk I have done this week since Saturday was today after lunch. I walked a whole mile to the bank, then to City Hall and back. Total was about 1 mile. Tomorrow I will be working at the mattress store all day. I'll certainly get a good workout there!

I'll be back in touch after the marathon. That is the only thing about Las Vegas trip I plan to report on, oh, except the roller coaster ride and possibly one of the rides on top of the Stratosphere. I hope the coaster pics turn out good, if so, there will be photo evidence...

workouts July 25 - August 1

Saturday, July 25
20 miles in the bag for me today. The first 16 went well even though I was completely soaked through (sweat) by mile 6 due to the humidity... When the Garmin let me know I was at mile 19... I was walking through the cemetery... I was so crapped out, that I felt like staying a while, you know lying down on one of the graves that had a pleasant looking carpet of pine needles on top of it. I just love to complain about how HOT it is here... 5:30 am - real temp was 74; humidity 92%; heat index 84, 10:30 am at finish: real temp 87; humidity 75%, forecast said heat index was 106??? also, my average pace through the first 16 miles was 14:10mpm, I am almost ashamed to say how slow the last 4 miles were... averaged 16:38. that is just awful for me, but I was still moving forward, so it's all good.

Eating some watermelon and canteloupe, then off to stretch and shower and drive an hour each way to pick up a friend at the airport. Think I will treat myself to a Starbucks on the way. A doubleshot over ice with 5 shots espresso, a little half and half and a couple of pumps of simple syrup. Yum!

Monday, July 27
Monday evening workout done! One hour bicycle ride followed by upper body and core strength routine and stretching. Did not work the legs tonight because that pesky left calf, (shin splint?) is acting up again after the bicycle ride.

HMMM I have been thinking that maybe the last month of a marathon training schedule is not the best time to add new stuff to the routine. But, now that I am 5 weeks into the new routine, starting the 6th week, I don't plan to back off now. I will just adjust the intensity down a little.

Tuesday, July 28
I ended up having to drive to Rosenberg again. I thought I would make it home before 7:30, but it just was not happening. So, dinner, shower, to bed early, walk tomorrow, cycling and weight training Thursday, walk Friday and Saturday again.

Wednesday, July 29
Went to the track, warmed up a little over a mile, stretched, did my drills, and walked as close as I could to a couple of 1 mile repeats. They were actually a little longer than a mile because I started in lane 8 at the track and finished the repeats in lane 5, then walked a cool down lap in lane 4 in between the 2 repeats, followed by 2 cool down laps and lots more stretching. The focus of this whole workout was trying my best to keep the knees straight and legal and on lengthening my stride to the rear. I know I had a few moments when everything felt as it should.

The track is just so packed with people it is nearly impossible to do any speed work.

Thursday, July 30
I wanted to let you all know that I missed my second round of strength training this week. I had a really hectic day at work. Had to work out of town after putting out a bunch of fires at my office... arrived at the mattress store late, received a furniture delivery, then spent the whole afternoon moving mattresses around so that customers could try them out.

On the upside, I made several sales. Selling mattresses is like a low intensity cardio workout with a lot of strength moves thrown in. Upper body and core definitely got a workout!

Friday, July 31
Decided I need a rest day before the weekend.

Saturday, August 1
The last long distance walk pre-marathon. Walked 8 miles this morning. the first and last mile were 13:56 and 13:40, I tried to racewalk the 6 in the middle and the average pace for those 6 miles was 12:40... still not getting that HR high enough. My average HR for the 6 faster miles was only 77%. Now that I have stretched and showered and facebooked. Off to reclaim my title as the mattress chick.
AKA mattress sales person, not what you were thinking...

Sunday, August 2
So, I am kind of a scatterbrain... I finally found my spibelt... I have been looking for it since last weekend.
Didn't get a walk in today because I spent the day with my mom. We did a lot of shopping, then I figured out how to hook up here DVD player so she can watch some of her movie collection.