Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dear William (69 months)

Dear William, 

Today you are 69 months old!

We continued getting settled into our new house.  You helped by making some artwork.

Darth painter

You discovered that you like playing baseball.

Swinging for the stands

 

On a nice and sunny day, you went on a 5 mile bike ride with your dad:

William

Not too long after, it rained.  And rained and rained.

Hell or high water See that? It’s the bike path.

You learned about dinosaurs one day in school, and that is the only day you’ve seemed even remotely excited about the education system (I don’t blame you).  

At home, you watched a Magic School Bus episode about the planets, and since then, you’ve been really keen on outer space.  You like drawing the planets, and you even made some planetary wall hangings for your room.

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Planets

Aside from dinosaurs and outer space, you remain interested/obsessed with calendars and numbers.  You have various calendars throughout the house, and you consult them regularly.  You make your own calendars.  You say things like, “December 2015 begins on a Tuesday,” and you are right.  When you are telling me about something that happened at school or otherwise, you give me an exact date, with details about the weather.  You know every single one of your classmates’  and family members’  birthdays.

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Keyboarding Grandpa is 64.

 

Speaking of birthdays, you went to your first ever birthday party for a friend at Chuck E. Cheese.  You were horrified by the mere idea of their inferior pizza (“I only like the [vegan] pizza you make, mama") but you did enjoy the games.

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Your interest in Star Wars has waned, and you got really into Ninja Turtles this month.  I blame peer pressure.

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You now wear a ninja mask at practically all times.

Starman With your “Silent E Magic Wand"

IMG 5064The neighbor’s cat, who has been known to wait at our door, and when we open it, run into our house.  We don’t know why.

You had your kindergarten spring performance in May.  You practiced most of the songs to me in the weeks leading up to it, but on the big day, you were really shy.  You had a bandaid on your elbow (from some ancient or imagined abrasion), and it came loose during the performance.  For at least 2 of the songs, you abandoned the idea of singing and instead fussed with your bandaid.

Kindergarten


Kindergarten performance from Melissa Raguet-Schofield on Vimeo.

The expression on your face pretty much sums up how underwhelmed you are with the whole concept of school.

We finished this month out with Mother’s Day.  I had been hoping we could go on a family hike, but after days of rain, all the trails were closed to the public due to flooding.  And then we got snow.

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You gave me a card that said, “Mom you are the best at cooking,” and I loved it. Thanks, William, so much.

Daddy took us to lunch at Native Foods Cafe in Denver.  We got cupcakes for dessert.

Cupcake monster

 

Then we went to IKEA.  It was our first time.  Some of us were more excited about that than others. It was overwhelming, but we finally managed to find you a new bed, as well as some new chairs for the whole family.

FullSizeRender 1In the self-serve warehouse, after a long day.

Daddy had to get creative with loading the boxes on the way home.

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We did it.

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Daddy even managed to get your bed built so you could sleep in it that night.  You were so happy.  You’d been sleeping in the same bed your whole life: a crib that converted to a toddler bed, that converted to a daybed.  It was way too small for you at this point.  You had never complained about it, but once you finally got all snuggled into your new, big bed, you smiled and hugged us, and told us how much you loved your new bed.  You are so sweet.

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The next day you did some “work” at your desk, sitting in your new desk chair.  And wearing a ninja mask. (And possibly with some chocolate on your face).

Working

 

On Monday, there was a Mother’s Day picnic at school, but the ground was still so soaked from all the recent rain that we ate inside.  You were thrilled to the moon that I was able to join you for lunch, and then play with you and all your friends at recess afterwards.  You didn’t want me to go when it was over.  You sobbed and clung to me and begged me to stay or to take me with you.  Finally, your teacher made you go inside, still sobbing, and I raged at a world that seems so determined to take you away from me and dismiss the way you feel.  Something’s got to give.

During your rest time that day, you drew me this picture, and my heart shattered into a hundred thousand pieces when you gave it to me after school.

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William, you are almost finished with your first year of school, and I am so proud of you.  You have your own way of thinking about things, of doing things, and that might make the education system difficult at times, but I assure you this: in the long run, that’s what’s going to help you out the most.  You’ll be the one who can look at a problem and come up with a solution that nobody else has ever thought of before; you just have to keep believing in yourself and keep being kind, even when you don’t feel like it.  And no matter what, I love you all the way to the farthest, farthest star.  And back.
Helper

 

Love always,

Mama

Monday, May 4, 2015

April 2015 Mileage: Stronger

April 2015.  I need to take a moment and truly appreciate how much things have changed from last year at this time.

My training this month was dominated by my focus the Horsetooth Half, which is a bit odd, considering that I usually prefer longer distances.  I really don’t know why I got so caught up in it.  I guess I just love, love, love the course.  There are the hills, which for me are the main attraction, but there is something about the section that comes afterward— through the farmland and pastures where horses graze and there are the sounds of roosters crowing— it makes me feel like I’m either back on Ometepe or at my grandparents’ farm, and everything in life makes sense for a brief shining moment.  I get all Transcendentalist and fully become Emerson’s transparent eyeball: I am nothing, I see all, the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me.  


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Horsetooth

 

The beer at the finish line was pretty good too.  New Belgium 1554.
 
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Rob got some kind of tens unit this month, which he’s been using to try to recover from a unrelenting knee injury.  I tried it out on my perpetually dodgy tibialis posterior, and it felt kind of like I was being electrocuted.  Note to self: don’t start out by cranking the device up to 7 and letting it go for 3 cycles of 20 minutes.  #Moderation.
 
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We had some near 80-degree days in April, and also snow.  It was beautiful, you know.  I recovered from the Horsetooth Half with some easy shake-out runs at Red Fox Meadows.  I was amazed at how quickly I returned to normal after a really hard effort at the Horsetooth Half.
 
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On the last two weekends of the month, I went to Lory/Horsetooth Mountain Open Space and ran some of those dazzlingly beautiful, rocky, rooty, and often steep trails that are so not my forte.  
 
As I was running, I realized I had not been there since November—Thanksgiving weekend.  I’d prioritized mileage over raw beauty and difficulty in December, and then been too wrecked and busy with my new job in January to even think about it.  As I clawed my way back in February and March, I’d focused exclusively on the roads I’d be running for the Horsetooth Half.  Five months is far too long to be away from these trails.
 
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 Rob warned me that there might still be snow up on some of the ridges, but this was the only patch I saw.
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I’d been hoping I would run significantly faster than when I had done a similar route last November and vast expanses of the trail had been a solid slick of ice.  But even without the slippery footing this time, these trails were too technical for me to keep any kind of respectable pace.  It took me 2 and a half hours to cover just under 12 miles on my first trip back there this month.
 
When I emerged from the undulating, rocky switchbacks of Westridge Trail onto Towers, I felt like hugging this sign.
 
IMG 5046Love you forever, Towers Trail.
 
IMG 5044Thank you, Colorado.
 
 
I left it all out there, I did.  The last few miles were a struggle, and I didn’t even realize how much I had been pushing myself until I got back to the car and wondered how on earth I’d find the wherewithal to drive myself home.  In the days that followed, my legs hurt worse than after I’d redlined through the Horsetooth Half.
 
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This is the face of a person who left it all out there on the trail.
 
I went back out to Horsetooth Mountain Open Space for an even bigger run the following weekend.  20.5 miles.  The farthest I’ve run since October.  It was so sublimely hard and beautiful.  I swallowed those hills.  I needed to see if I could get it done, and I did.  For several months, I’ve had my heart set on an ultra near Laramie over Memorial Day weekend, and this was really my last chance to put in some decent miles for that.  I still haven’t registered for the race.  It is only a 50K, so I am somewhat reasonably trained, but I just can’t pull the trigger because I know it will hurt so bad.
 
I did sign up for Howl in August, though.  Luckily, I happened to see the Kennekuk Runners post a link the very instant registration went live—the race filled up within 11 hours of opening.  I am curious to see what it will feel like to run an ultra at sea level again.  
 
I also signed up for the Idaho leg of the Bear Lake Endurance Races in June.  I strongly considered trying to do back to back marathons at this event, but got scared off by the thought of what so many miles on pavement might do to my tibialis.  Instead, I decided to just do one of the races and see if I can run a part dirt/part road marathon fast.  Whatever that might mean these days.  The main draw of this race is that it is only about 3 hours away from the Tetons and Yellowstone.  We haven’t worked out the details yet, but a family camping trip will likely ensue “on the way” back home.
 
All of these races seem like a pretty nice lead-up to the Bear Chase 50 in September, where I may try to redeem myself from that puddle of vomit who dragged herself across the finish line last year.  So pitiful it was triumphant.  But I need to get some longer runs under my belt before I can wrap my mind around the sheer idea of running 50 miles again.  We’ll see.
 
Some of the best news this month is that I think I have found the shoe that completes me.  Montrail FluidFlex II.  It’s got beautiful, sticky lugs on the bottom that are the exact thing I want when I’m running on trail, but it also has enough cushioning that my calves feel fine on the pavement miles I have to cover just to get from my house to the trail (and back again).  And the 4mm drop is the drop of my dreams.  Whoever designed this shoe must have done it specifically for me.  
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Montrail FluidFlex II, you complete me.
 
Overall, April 2015 has me feeling stronger.  Maybe not stronger than ever, but at least stronger than I’ve felt in a long time.  And that is a very good feeling.
 
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A 20 mile training run and a 50 mile week.  Those are numbers I haven’t seen in a while.  
 
148.03 miles this month.  490.27 year to date.  I’m up 150 from where I was last year at this time.  So glad to finally feel stronger.
 
Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Horsetooth Half

A year ago, I was in a state of abject misery (literally: Missouri) what with my stress fracture/tendon injury and the rest of my life falling apart.  I was in this frame of mind where I didn’t know if we’d ever make it to Colorado, and increasingly, if I’d ever be able to run again.  I think I was dimly aware of this thing called the Horsetooth Half Marathon that happened in Fort Collins every April, and that it could possibly be part of my future one day if I ever managed to get out of St. Louis, but it mainly just seemed another one of life’s opportunities passing me by.   

A year later, here I am.  A Coloradan.  With a somewhat dodgy tibialis posterior.  But a Coloradan, and that’s what keeps me going.

After a successful mileage push at the end of 2014, I was giddy with excitement and decided to commemorate the achievement by registering for the 2015 Horsetooth Half.  It would be a nice tune up for whatever ultra/s I decided to run in the spring.  Right?   At that point I had run the “hilly” part of the course exactly twice, and it was both terrifying and beautiful.  I couldn’t wait.

Elevation profile

 

I did the best I could to maintain mileage during the winter, and then I started training on the course a bit more seriously once the snow and ice melted and I felt like it was safe enough to run down an ~8% grade hill.

I ran the course 5 times (all except the flat bit at the end) over as many weeks and loved it more each time.  The hills are hard, yes, but there is just something so exquisitely raw and powerful about running them.  I didn’t worry about pace on the training runs, I was just out there to get a feel for the hills and enjoy the view.

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The day before the race, we loaded up a moving van (twice actually) to make the final move from the house we’ve been renting to our “forever home,” which we’ve been renovating for the past 6 weeks.

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Moving the day before a race is probably not the best thing to do, but it was only a half marathon, and we didn’t have much of a choice.  Besides, I did exactly zero of the heavy lifting myself—Rob and the movers he hired took care of that.  (My arms get sore after zesting a lemon.  I’m not good for much lifting).  But I did stay on my feet all day, covering approximately 10 miles of just wandering around the house, putting things away.  My legs were tired at the end of the day.

I took a small break late in the afternoon to go pick up my packet at New Belgium.  Then I came back home and made everybody pasta for dinner in my fully functional, completely organized kitchen (“Your grandmother would be proud,” my mom told me).

FullSizeRenderRace t-shirt.  The women’s sizes came in neon pink.  How original.  This is unwearable.

Even with a fairly decent night’s sleep, I was thankful that the race didn’t start until 8:30 the next morning.  I gathered my things and headed out the door around 7:30 to run to the start line (about 2 miles away).  The mountains were so pretty as I ran west—blue and green and still white with the snow we’d gotten earlier in the week.

I’d decided to run with as little as possible during the race—no phone, no hydration pack. I generally always run with my own water even in shorter races because I dislike contributing to the waste generated from taking paper cups at aid stations along the course.  But I also knew that I would not be able to run this course at a decent “half marathon pace” if I had anything with me.  

We set out up the hill to the start line, and we were off.  I loved that the race started up a 6.4% grade hill.  I zoomed around slower people who’d lined up ahead of me, feeling like this was my turf.  These hills are my happy place.

After a brief descent, there was another 9.2% climb.  Piece of cake.  I saw the dad of one of Will’s school friends, who had come out to cheer people on.  That gave me a boost to the top of the hill and then there was the weightless flight down.  Down, down and down.  I’d expected I might pass people on the uphills, but downhill is not at all my strength.  I’d thought it likely that everyone I passed on the way up would zoom past me again on the way down.  Not exactly the case.  Some of them definitely did, but I was still running past plenty of people even on the downs.  I was going so fast and using so much concentration to avoid face planting on the ground that I was barely breathing.  There was sharp pain in my shoulders and my stomach began to cramp.  This happens to me often when I’m running a hilly, short distance race, but never on long slow runs.  I know from much experience that I just need to take in as much oxygen as possible to fix this—deep breaths instead of shallow—and it will eventually go away.

By mile 3, I decided that I did not like hills anymore.  That was just in time for the Dam Hill (5.1%) and then the long, lightening descent at a 7.9% grade.

This whole time, we’d been running north, into an approximately 20mph headwind.  It was getting hard, even as the hills leveled off a bit.  I eagerly anticipated our turn to the east around 6 or 7 miles in, and I knew we’d have the wind to our backs or at least sides for the rest of the race.  

There were another couple of hills after we turned onto Bingham Hill Road, but those never seem as all-consuming as Monster Mountain or Dam Hill.

By about mile 9, I was in uncharted territory—the flat part of the course that I’d never run before.  Much of it was along the Poudre Trail (a bike path), and I’d been dreading that because mentally, it is sometimes hard for me to run on flats after hills, and also: concrete.  

Horsetooth (Photo by Rob’s friend Terry)

 

I did fall off the pace a little by that point, but the Poudre Trail was beautiful, and the concrete did not hurt nearly as badly as I’d thought it might.  I was in a rough patch around Mile 10 and resorted to music from the tiny iPod Rob had loaned me for the race.  That helped, but what helped even more was seeing Rob and Will along the course—I hadn’t been expecting them.  I couldn’t react when I saw them—I didn’t say anything or even wave.  I can’t believe the picture Rob took shows me smiling, I was working so hard I have no recollection of being able to do that.

Mile 10 of the Horsetooth Half.

I was completely out of energy and just trying to maintain close to 8-minute pace on bombed out legs.  I’d brought a couple of gels with me, but there was no way I could eat them at that pace.  Nausea took hold.  It didn’t seem like I was going to want any finish line beer when this thing was finally over.

A woman in a green shirt, who I’d been leap frogging with the entire race, overtook me a final time about a mile from the end.  I knew I couldn’t stay with her anymore.  I looked at my watch for the first time and saw I’d be able to finish in about 1:47ish if I dug in.  That was a surprise, and I was happy about it—I hadn’t thought there was any way I could finish in under 1:50, and that 2 hours was probably a more realistic goal what with those hills.

Finishing strong at the Horsetooth Half.

One last cheer from Rob and Will, then around a corner and across the finish line.  Horsetooth Half in the books.  I went straight to the water jug and drank and drank and drank.  I’d managed to intake only about 8 ounces of water the entire race, and I was suddenly feeling that.  It would have been a different story if the day had been hot instead of cool.

Rob and Will met me in the finish area a few minutes later, and we stood around talking to some of Rob’s friends who are basically elites and had finished the race hours ahead of me.  I felt like such a mere mortal.

After about 30 ounces of water, I noticed I wasn’t nauseated anymore, and I could at least talk again.  I headed over to the beer tent, where the good people of New Belgium greeted me with warmth and enthusiasm.  Although I love beer, I haven’t drank any for about 6 weeks.  I’d really been looking forward to this.  I bypassed all the lighter selections and took a 1554.  Perfection.

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A couple of sips into my 1554, I suddenly realized how cold I was and what a long ride it would be back home (Rob and Will brought the cargo bike to pick me up).  I managed to finish about half the beer, then Will and I climbed onto the back of the bike and Rob set off to give us a ride home.

The thing I love about Fort Collins is that the sight of a grown man transporting his entire family on the back of a cargo bike isn’t even noteworthy enough to turn a head.

We made it home, where I welcomed a warm shower and some food.

A day or two later, I saw that the results had been posted, and I thought *bam*… nailed it.  I’d totally been gunning for 184th place.

  1. 9:34 (Monster Mountain!)
  2. 7:56
  3. 7:40
  4. 8:12 (Dam Hill!)
  5. 7:27
  6. 7:48
  7. 8:22 (Bingham Hill)
  8. 7:54
  9. 8:06
  10. 8:26 (Uh oh, feeling bad)
  11. 8:09 (Tuck in and gut it out)
  12. 8:06
  13. 8:13
Total: 1:47:44 (1:47:22 chip time)
Average: 8:12