hungry, like the wolf

i’ve been waging a personal war against corn for some time [sorry laurie, no offense].  when the omnivore’s dilemma came out a while back, it validated a lot of what i believe about corn in the american diet, and fueled some thought about how distant we are from the origin of our meals.  those thoughts percolated and began to bubble forth in the form of a desire to cut back on the volume of baked goods and processed carbs in my normal diet.  now, don’t get me wrong.  i eat well.  massive dark green salads with every dinner, my breads are whole grain, my pasta is that high fiber stuff, etc etc, but i eat A.LOT.OF.IT.

fast forward to this past week and the nyt did a fashion and lifestyle article about a group of modern cavemen in nyc.  the article resonated with me on a couple of levels and the thought of being a modern caveman just seemed kooky enough that it grabbed my interest.  basically, the two things i took away from the article were first, that diet consists of mostly fresh fruits and veggies with the occasional large protein [read RAW MEAT.  RAAAWWRRR!!] meal every couple of days and second, that exercise is long endurance workouts coupled with intense lifting workouts marked by rapid, gross body movement with lots of weight.  so, essentially, the lifestyle simulates foraging food while tracking and chasing prey, attacking and killing prey and feasting on said prey.

i googled around a bit more, read some blogs, some other stupid stuff and then some reviews of a couple other books and it turns out there’s a whole paleo movement, loosely associated with the crossfit community.  there is also a community that encourages the paleo diet in conjunction with ironman training.  interesting.  i took a little from here, a little from there, a little creative license and a little amazing hip-esque goofiness and began modeling a change in my diet and exercise philosophy.

so, with little guidance and even barer reason, i now ask myself, wwcmd?  things like wrestling a pastrami sandwich after a lunch run, eating pig and chicken embryo following a long run and celebrating a tribe member’s annual remembrance by feasting on a roast beast become common statements in my day to day life.  i utter things like, “cavemen don’t eat bread” or “cavemen like potatos!”  honestly, if you know me, the change is as much about having fun as it is about exploring a new fitness philosophy.

here’s the thing, though.  i’m liberal with my interpretation of caveman food.  fruit and nuts loosely translate into peanut butter and jelly [not really, just an example].  but even being liberal with what a caveman would eat, i’m finding that filling the void in my stomach [trust me, i eat a lot] is challenging.  i can’t just throw together a sandwich anymore or toss a pizza in the oven.  no, i’ve decimated our store of tangerines, apples and bananas.  i’ve mowed through all the bags of carrots [carefully, mind you] and celery.  i’ve even been eyeing those whole, raw onions in the crisper.  and still, the void rumbles.

i think i’d be wise to hit up some of the books, websites and blogs to get a good repertoire of caveman recipes, lest the neighbors pets start to look appetizing.  coyotes on the trail in the pre-dawn hours?  that growling my belly is a harbinger you should heed.  seriously, no wonder primal man was so…primal.  he was driven by hunger.  i can only imagine his joy when he first figured out how to make a corn cake. 

*note, i WAS going to use “dawn lamb” by the seal cub clubbing club as the soundtrack for this post, but when i went to load it up, this song came up in the rotation on it’s own.  kismet, i tell ya!

soundtrack for this post
Beyond & Back: The X Anthology lick:
Hungry Wolf
Beyond & Back: The X Anthology

that girl needs a shave

when gumbyhead announced that her next race was going to be the santa barbara marathon, i immediately offered to head up for the weekend and join her for the race.  i started working some longer road runs into my training and planned a weekend with our good friends, kevin & lesley.  since i ran my first race in support of someone [warren], i have found that i REALLY enjoy running the marathon distance as a pacer or as company for someone who could use the support.  so, the plans were set and i’d be at gh’s side trying to pace her for the sub four hour bq that she sought.  nothing special, nothing crazy, just encouraging words and a consistent pace.

and then we got to santa barbara.

kevin & lesley [and their kids, loganzilla and madisonasaurus] are THE. BEST. CREW. FAMILY. EVER.  they’ve supported me at several half marathons, triathlons and other distance races.  they never fail to be all over the course in expected and unexpected places with the support and encouragement that makes for highly memorable races.  in addition, the second kevin and i reconnect, we begin a downward spiral of humor. 

the climax for this weekend was on saturday night.  

kevin had pulled out the christmas boxes from the attic and we had uncovered a tub full of santa hats.  somehow, they had ended up with almost a dozen of santa hats with white braids.  odd, yes, but functional.  my head was cold, so i jokingly donned one to keep my noggin warm.  through dinner, we started joking about running the race with it on.  i lamented only having a day glow green running shirt and tights to accompany the hat and that’s when lesley disappeared from the dining table.

only to return with a red skirt from her high school days in drill team.

kevin then disappeared and returned with a plain white technical shirt for me to use.  and, before i knew it, i had signed up to run as ms. claus the following morning.  i debated stuffing a sports bra, but thought better of it, seeing as how it might cause significant chaffing.  i called gumbyhead after dinner and let her know i had something up my sleeve for the following day.  she seemed apprehensive, but willing.

at the race the next morning, i carried the skirt with me until just before the start [i had fleece pants on to keep warm].  as i put the skirt on, the looks began.  the double takes.  the triple takes.  the laughs.  the eye-rolls.  both mark and gumbyhead were laughing at the reactions they were seeing.

we toed the line shortly thereafter and headed on our way.

DSC_0052 this wasn’t really my race, so i had the simple task of running a consistent pace, playing sherpa for gumbyhead by grabbing stuff from the aid stations and giving words of encouragement.  that gave me much freedom and energy to ham it up for the crowds.  as i ran along in my cute red skirt and white braids, the reaction from the crowd was one of two things;  either they would notice the skirt from a ways off an shout something comical or they would see the hat, yell for ‘santa’ and then amend their statement as they noticed the skirt once i passed.  the reactions were a constant source of humor for me and i made a point of waving to everyone that interacted with me.  this gave me an endless fount of energy and kept a smile on my face for the entire run.

gumbyhead and i were fortunate to have drew show up around mile 3 or 4 and hang out with us for a bit.  he took a pit stop at one point, but we again bumped into him for several miles around his house and then again at the finish.  it was a real pleasure to meet up with him and to have him participate in our goofiness.

DSC_0033the race went really well for the most part, with us nailing a pace right around 9min/mile.  i was confident that gumbyhead would have her sub 4 bq.  but i failed her in one respect.  i didn’t bring a watch.  i REALLY should have had one and not relied on her garmin.  i would have known better when we started dropping time and how much we needed to pick back up.  as we approached the later miles of the race, gumbyhead had to make a pit-stop and waiting at the honey buckets for one to free up ate into our already tenuous time.  once we got going again we were playing catch up, but i was still confident that we’d be able to make up the time.  what i didn’t know, though, was just how bad the two final hills would take their toll on gh.  don’t get me wrong, she pushed hard and dug deeper than i’ve seen many people attempt in the marathon.  she gutted it out even when she doubted she was going to get her bq.

in the end, though, the bq slipped out of our reach, but gh STILL turned in a blistering fast last two miles to cross the line in 4:06.  the great thing about this race, aside from the camaraderie, scenery and weather [duh] was that gh had the opportunity to really dig and see what she’s capable of when things get really hard and bleak.  i’m confident that with a good training cycle where all the long runs are completed and a decent amount of speedwork is accomplished, she’ll see her goal.  i’m crossing my fingers that with the new job under her belt, that training cycle will finally materialize.

oh, and one last groovy thing was smsmh and tc were at the finish cheering for us as we came down the finishing chute.  it is always great to see them come out and support my craziness.  this time, though, smsmh had plopped one of those silly white-braid santa hats on tc’s head so we matched.  as i spotted them in the crowd, i circled back around, picked up tc and trotted across the finish line with him in my arms.  i got a great reaction out of the crowd and from the announcer who said something along the lines of “oh!  what’s this!  it’s two santas!  or, wait!  it’s ms claus and her helper!”  i was laughing, tc was laughing and the crowd was having a blast with it.

i can’t think of anything that would have made this race more enjoyable.  well, maybe a shave and wax.

soundtrack for this post
Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus? lick:
Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus? (Non-Album Track)
Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus?

superheroes, ho!

i put the call out a couple of weeks before halloween this year, hoping that i could get a cadre of goofy super heroes to come out and join my on my annual amazing hip run.  in addition, i wanted to get multiple video cameras out there so we could do a good job of documenting the run.  each year it seems to get more and more grand.  the response was great.  i had two additional heroes, repete and e-rod, to join me and four other people to operate cameras [michelle mayhem, andrea apocalypse, molly mischief and shannon shenanigan].

we met up on saturday morning at the beach in corona del mar, geared up and made plans for the run.  the general idea was to run up the pacific coast highway through downtown corona del mar and up to the high end shopping mecca of fascist fashion island.  since it was early, i figured most of the shops would be closed and we could run through the open air mall without disturbing anyone and get some fun footage.  once our romp at fashion island was done, we’d run back through cdm and finish up at the beach.

we set out and…well, trying to get three goofy, amped super heroes to run together was like wrangling cats.  it was hilarious.  we were all over the place, running down the street, making loops in parking lots and down the middle of traffic islands.  the response from pedestrians and motorists was great.  this was the first year that i noticed a large number of motorists taking photos and video with their cell phones.  i can only imagine the comical tweets that were flying around that morning.

after a while, we found ourselves at fashion island.  all of the gals filming had made it to the mall ahead of us and were ready for us to run through, so rather than circle the mall like we’d planned, we headed on in.  no sooner did we hit the parking lot, though, and the fuzz got wind of us.  i’m pretty sure they radioed ahead to the mall security to let them know we were inbound. 

we ran up the escalator into the mall and started zipping around the fountains and down the various wings of the mall.  we didn’t get far before we ran into someone from security who shouted at us to take off our masks.  i didn’t hear anything about not running, though, so we kept moving.  we took a short break at a cafe to regroup and while we sat there, we were surrounded by security who informed us that there was “no halloween at the mall” and that we should stop “running on the walls”.  they were irate and showed no sense of humor.  so sad.  we contemplated outrunning them, but, i figured a nearly 40 year old superhero with a wife and kid back at home probably shouldn’t tangle with the authorities.  i think i’d loose my “go and be goofy” hall pass if i ended up incarcerated for my halloween hijinks.

so, we opted walk out calmly [#ctya!] and only resumed our run once off the fashion island property.  really, though, that busted the bubble for me.  everything after being kicked out of fashion island was sort of anti-climactic.  some people just suck the joy out of you, ya know?  BUT!  running with goofballs like repete and e-rod made the morning doubly fun and memorable. 

that, there, was a long lead in just to give the background for this year’s video of the amazing hip run.  enjoy!



soundtrack for this post
ChangesBowie lick:
David Bowie

these days

i’ve been out of the road racing scene for a couple of years now.  i think my last road marathon was boston in 2007.  that’s over two and a half years ago.  true, i’m putting in some more road miles these days so i can run santa barbara w/ gumbyhead in december, but, these days, i’m content to let go of road racing. 

i had a great fling with speed and got a taste of what my racing potential is.  i know that with proper training, i could run a sub 3hr, but, these days, i’d rather enjoy the scenery and the softer surface of trails.  i know that if i hit the hills hard and grunted it out on some of the hard runs i’ve been doing, i could knock out a pretty competitive 50k time, but these days i enjoy my trail runs by cracking jokes and soaking in the company of my dirt peeps.

this is marathon season.  with races being run in most of the big cities every weekend, nearly every running blog has a race recap.  i read through them taking notes on what the runner’s goals are.  time?  finishing?  experience?  these days, i see the successes in these races being an unexpected pr while having a good time, or smiling the whole way, or finishing with friends, or never hitting the wall and loving every minute of the race.

i find it funny how as i age, my perspective on what constitutes success begins to change.  these days, success is measured by the experience you take away from the event; the personal growth, the social interaction, the tangible lessons and the intangible.  there was a day where my singular focus was results based and looking back, that just seems like so little return on the investment.  i’m happy with the experience and happy with my results, but these days?

i’m happy with these days.

soundtrack for this post
Some Cities lick:
One Of These Days
Some Cities

running through hell

i could swear that my ipod shuffle is sentient.  that thing constantly offers up songs that are apropos to the situation.  maybe it’s that the mind grabs on to lyrics that fit the situation, but whatever the case it tends to be a source of distraction and motivation when the going gets tough.

and, it did.  get tough.  the going, that is.

saturday morning i saddled up for a 50k race in the mountains east of san diego.  yes, cool, costal san diego.  moderate temperatures and cool breezes are the halmark of said beach community.  but, head a couple of miles inland and that all changes.  as we pulled up to the pine valley bible camp, the temperature read 42 degrees.  huh?  it was a chilly start as we geared up and waited to get started.  this was no indication, however, of what was to come.  the day would top out with temperatures in the high 90’s.

i’ve been putting in some longer runs and have had some decent mileage weeks recently, so i was feeling pretty well prepared to cover the distance.  i felt very eager to run the race, though, and had a feeling that i might be able to break my 50k pr and maybe even go sub six hours.  as the time ticked down to the start, i was chomping at the bit to get started.

the course started out fairly easy as we ran on some road and then up a mild sandy graded single track.  i noted the composition of the trail as we headed up.  it was somewhat technical, but i was guessing that i’d be able to move quickly on the way back down and maybe make up some time if i’d been slowed down at some point during the course.  after climbing for a mile or more, we started dropping back down into a canyon.  and down.  and down.  and down until we reached the first aid station.  that meant that we’d have a final hill just before the finish.  well, i told myself that the course is what it is and i’d deal with that obstacle when i got to it.  i topped off my bottle in record time and continued with the climb out of the canyon.

the aid stations seemed to come pretty quick at this point in the race.  i hit the next one in decent time after having climbed up through the shaded canyon and into the big laguna burn area.  again, i moved quickly through the aid station and back onto the trail.  the singletrack continued to be a rough sandy type of trail.  not “sandy” but more like something you’d see in the utah desert.  as we moved up into the burn area, the air started to get warmer and we lost our protection from the sun of the ridges and trees.  the penny pines aid station came quickly, too, and before i knew it i was on the pct with another full water bottle and a topped off camelbak [with ICE! – thanks tracy moore!].

the stretch along the pct was gorgeous.  the trail follows the laguna plateau and looks down onto the anza borrego desert, ocotillo wells and the great salton sea in the distance.  the view was breathtaking and helped take my mind off the warming air.  i started paying attention to the time at this point in the run and trying to estimate my pace and what finishing time i could manage.  my garmin had gone tits-up at the start and i had quickly replaced it with a generic timex [thanks keira!].  i was making good time based on where i thought i was on the course, but it wasn’t until i rolled into the 16.5mi aid station that i had a better idea of how i was doing.  the watch read 3:00 at the exact half way point, which boded well for a sub six hour finish.

i topped everything off again, ate some watermelon and hit the arches of my feet with some vaseline to take care of some hot spots that were forming.  speaking of eating, i was sucking down a ton of fluids and salt.  i was drinking 20oz of gatorade endurance every 5mi or so and drinking about another 20oz of water in the same time frame.  in addition, i was taking gu every 45min and two salt tabs at each aid station.  i felt like i was really putting the fluids necessary into my body and preparing for the heat that was sure to hit. 

shannon gave me the beta that the penny pines aid station was 5.5mi from where i was at, so i figured i’d be able to hit it at four hours in and i’d eat some more and top off the camelbak there again.  i headed out and onto the big laguna trail.  the trail moved out of the pines and into the meadows and that is when the heat attacked.  the trail was exposed and there seemed to be heat from a blast furnace blowing from behind.  i started to get cooked on this section of the trail and ended up pacing off one of the san diego bad rats for a good portion of it.  the good news was that when i felt like i was slowing down a bit, i would try to pick up the pace a bit and my body would respond.  i reminded myself that it was just the heat and exposure that was making it seem tough and my legs still had plenty of juice.

i hit penny pines just before four hours and tracy took good care of me again, topping off the camelbak with more ice water.  i downed a bunch of salted potatos [YUM!], unpacked the ipod shuffle and headed out again.  from here, it was going to be a little over 11 miles of downhill and i was really looking forward to stretching out my legs.  i turned on the tunes and killing joke’s, “the house that pain built” welcomed me.  i laughed at the appropriateness of the song and turned on the gas.  my legs responded and i flew over the next three mile section to the 2/6 aid station.  those couple miles of hard running really let me stretch out my hamstrings and hips, which had begun to fatigue with all the climbing effort.

after that aid station, i dropped back down into the tree filled canyon.  the temperature backed off a bit, but the air was still warm under the canopy and every time the trail moved back into the open, it felt like opening the door to an oven.  it was at this point that the foo fighters, “long road to ruin” came on and the chorus continued to resound in my head:

“running through hell, heaven can wait”

in the current heat, it seemed oh so appropriate.  my ipod, i proposed, must have a neural link with me.  i laughed some more as it continued to offer up more unintentional “running” or “road” or “trail” related lyrics from unlikely artists. 

i bombed my way down this highly technical section of the trail with total disregard for my knees or my safety.  i was trying to fly, but the trail just wouldn’t let me move as fast as i wanted to.  i kept checking the watch and guessing that if i could roll into the last aid station around 5:10 into the race, i could easily pull out a sub six hour finish.  but, as i wound around the canyon walls in and out of the spurs, that 5:10 came and went.  i finally popped over a small rise and could see the blue roof of the aid station tent down below.  i let out a whoop and hurried to fill my now warm and nearly empty bottle.  alexa from the scthz was there and commented on how salty i was.  i looked at my shirt and it looked like a bizarre white and red tie-dye pattern.  i was caked with salt.  it was a beautifully disgusting affair.

i headed out of the last aid station with 4.2mi to go.  the trail headed up that climb that i’d noted early in the race and it was all i could do to keep moving on it.  it was exposed, i was tired and any really effort on the incline was sending my heart rate through the roof.  i moved at a shuffle, knowing that i could make up the time on the downhill and once i hit the road.  as moved along the trail, guestimating how far i’d gone, i could see that i still had a very slim chance of pulling off sub six.  i kept that goal in my head and continued to push despite the fatigue and heat.  i finally crested that blasted hill and started down into pine valley.  again, the trail was too technical in most sections to run too fast, but when it smoothed out, i flew like the wind.  i was quite pleased to see that my legs continued to respond when i asked them to turn over quickly.

with that thought in mind, i quite looked forward to hitting that last mile of road.  i knew that the surface would be smooth, i could open up my stride and i’d be able to fly to the finish and get my sub six.  the downhill finally bottomed out into the valley’s wash and i could see the road not far ahead.  i was almost there!

and then i hit the road. 

something odd happened as soon as i stepped onto that asphalt.  my legs turned to lead.  my nearly empty camelbak felt like someone had loaded it with sandbags.  i was sapped of all my energy and it was all i could do to lift my legs and run.  i shuffled and tried in vain to get my legs to turn over quickly.  i couldn’t figure it out.  so, i shuffled for a bit.  i spotted a guy walking ahead of me and i painted a target on his back.  i figured if i could pass him convincingly, that would motivate me to move faster.  it worked and as i passed him i felt like i had been sling-shotted forward.  my pace picked up and i was able to get the legs to turn over with more enthusiasm.

the turn into the bible camp appeared on the right and i knew i was under a quarter mile to go.  i pushed, giving every last bit that i had in me and rolled across the finish…in 6:04.  ugh!  i had JUST missed my sub six goal.  i was so close!  as i thought back over the race, i picked apart the different spots where i COULD have gone faster.  at the same time, though, i had pushed hard on areas that i felt like taking it easy and i know that i went as hard as i could on that course and in those conditions.  plus, it WAS a two minute pr for the 50k.

so, i was quite happy with the performance, even without the goal finish.  it was HOT out there and i had successfully run the course and survived the heat.  i drank, ate, showered and headed home with one singular thought on my mind…

…i couldn’t wait to crack a bottle of pumpkin spice ale and crash on the couch while tc drove his cars all over my legs.  i’m wondering what song the ipod would offer up for that scenario?

soundtrack for this post
Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace lick:
Long Road to Ruin
Foo Fighters
Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace