Overdoing It

IMG_4649Does this sound at all familiar? You’re on vacation. In the beautiful mountains. You don’t want to sit in your hotel room. You don’t really want to drive around all day. Because you’re now fit! You can easily do fun things, active things. So you decide a hike is in order.

But this is a strange place, to you that is, and you don’t know exactly where to hike. So you look online to find trails. And you do find trails…lots of trails (thank you AllTrails.com). These trails come with reviews and you read and read and read, to discover that the most common complaint on all the easy trails is “they’re crowded.”

You don’t want crowds so you decide on a moderate trail because moderate is just that, moderate. Meaning not hard! Of course, any trail called “Clayton Peak” can’t be too hard, right? It’s only 5.4 miles so easy peasy, right? Going for a hike is just active recovery the day after a half marathon that included a 4,000 ft elevation drop, right?

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 2.32.43 PMSo off we went. To hike to Clayton Peak, which is located in the Brighton Ski Area of Big Copper Canyon, between Park City and Salt Lake City. Just like my run the day before, this was a hike with beautiful scenery. Unlike my run from the day before, it was not all downhill. Rather it was a nice little climb of 1,700 ft.

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 2.34.04 PMAs we took off and began the climb, my tired legs were thankful to be going up and not down. Of course we’d have to descend eventually, but I convinced myself that my quads, shins, and calves would be nice and loose by then.

The warning is for skiers to not go down the other side.

When we got close to the top we encountered a dirt road (fire road or maybe ski lift service road) and lost the trail. We assumed that the road was now the trail…and this was a correct assumption, except that we went right instead of left. Soon we found another single track trail and started climbing. But after a bit the trail seemed to disappear. So, I pulled out my phone to see where we were (the AllTrails app is cool in that it works with my phone’s GPS), and we had diverged from the trail when we took that right turn. I wish I had looked at it as we made the turn.


Anyway, we had to go back down. As we did so I discovered that my quads did not loosen up… they were TIRED and each step was a bit painful. But we made it down to the road and then went the other way, climbing again. A little way up the road in this direction I found the trail, this time confirming it on my phone. To get to the summit we’d only need to go another quarter mile.

We took this selfie close to but not at the summit.

But it was steep. I figured I could probably go up, but wasn’t too sure about coming back down. So I told Scott (husband) that I wasn’t going that last quarter mile. I’d wait for him if he wanted to finish. He chose to head down with me.


Our going back and forth at the top of the mountain increased our mileage a bit so that we then had a 3 mile descent. Oh, my poor tire legs! Even with the fatigue, the walk was enjoyable. I’ve discovered that when hiking, or running, the scenery is sometimes different on the return part of an out and back. This by the way, is a good reminder to look at things from more than one angle.

While descending I also started thinking about how much I was looking down at the trail. I’ve fallen three times in the last few months (well 2 falls were in the same run) and I’m trying to be careful so as not to do it again. I looked down so much, and I began to think about how I hoped this wouldn’t affect my running. I’m pretty sure the first instruction from the coach when I started going to track workouts was, “look up”. I’ve learned to look up when I run. So although I was hiking I was also thinking about my need to look down so much.

Unbelievably, while I was entertaining these thoughts, I tripped! I fell! Bam! Hitting my chin so hard that I gave myself a 2 day headache (thankfully it was not worse).

The offending tree root. I should have looked from the other side to see how hidden it may have looked from that angle. Anyway you can see the disturbance in the dirt made by my legs.



Scott heard me and returned to find me picking myself up. Thankfully I didn’t break anything. I rinsed the blood off my arm as I’d scraped that pretty well, and continued down the mountain.

So what happened? Am I suddenly becoming extremely clumsy? Maybe. I will have my eyes checked and I’ll ask my eye doctor if my particular contact lens prescription is causing an issue with depth perception.

But maybe I was just tired. Maybe I should have chosen the “easy” and short hike to do on tired legs. I’m actually pretty sure this is the case. I will confess that I over did it that day.

Maybe I’ll have to start counting days: “I’ve gone ___ this many days without falling while running (or hiking). I had a good run last night so I’m up to 1 day!

When have you overdone it?

Here were some cool bridges…tree branches (or trunks)


Revel Big Cottonwood Canyon Half Marathon Recap

89324b07c294a6d8e529c8e82fec0fbb0b9c617f037045ad4ce4f225d53bfc89_webI signed up to this race last January, intending to use the marathon as my third try to qualify for Boston. I had just completed my first attempt at Carlsbad (January 2106) and while I had a 7 minute PR, I was still short of what I needed. This was my first race where I’d improved but was disappointed at the same time.

While driving home from Carlsbad, my daughter and I looked up races for the 2nd weekend in September and found this Utah race. When my husband found a timeshare in Park City I signed up for the race. Thankfully I ran a BQ in May and didn’t need a third try (M2B Race Recap). So, listening to the advice of my coach, I ran the half marathon instead. Here’s how it went.

This was my first race that included a bus ride to the start line. I had my trusty little drop bag, but didn’t put enough in it! The forecast was for mid-50s, which for me is perfect running weather. So, why would I need the excess baggage of the blanket (very small!) and pants and jacket. My shorts and a 3/4 zip over my singlet would be fine, right? Wrong! The lesson I learned is that next time I’ll fill that drop bag full of everything that I might need. With my traveling light, I froze for the hour that I waited to warm up. And I forgot my phone! So I meditated and concentrated on breathing to take my mind off the cold.

Once I warmed up I didn’t give myself enough time, but my valid excuse is that it was so dark in the pre-sunrise canyon. I did finally run 2.5 miles in the dark but it was a bit scary as there was still traffic and it was still dark. Interestingly there were more than 2,000 runners and only about 20 seemed to be warming up. Maybe it was just too dark to see anyone else. By the way, my long warmup because I’m training for another marathon… it was supposed to be three miles but a quarter way into mile 2 I realized that I didn’t give myself enough time.

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I like data…so I like that they provided this after the race.

This was a very well organized race and there is only one thing that would have made it better…starting corrals, or at least lining up by pace. My slowest mile was the first because of big crowd at the beginning. I was the 775th person to start and the 546th person to finish. I probably passed most of those in the first mile!

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 1.53.55 PMFirst Five Miles 

This was a major downhill course. I’ve run downhill in training and M2B was a downhill marathon, but I was not prepared for this level of downhill. It sure made me run fast! But it also fried my legs…as I write this on Tuesday they are still not 100% recovered. My coach had said, “Don’t go too crazy on the downhill.” I probably did, but I also don’t know how I could have run slower without leaning back and braking with every step. As I ran I thought of those cartoon characters whose legs are spinning like windmills. I don’t usually stop at aid stations when I run a half, but I stopped at these because of the hill.

9390f9c83b594466e5b73e4492a56bfd87e06723a50f75f13692f46684bdf03c_webSecond Five Miles

Beautiful! Running down this canyon was amazingly beautiful. I loved just looking around. I also, though, had to be cautious because I didn’t want to fall (and I seem to be having issues with that lately). A boy who was about 10-12 was ahead of me and he fell and rolled. This give an idea to the slope at that point. He got up and was fine and finished the race just ahead of me. All while I was running I was thinking of Megan (my daughter) who was doing the full marathon. They started higher up the canyon at the same time. I wondered how she was doing. I was both glad and sad that I wasn’t doing the full. My calves and shins (especially my left shin) were feeling the effects of this course.

Last 5K

Here the race became truly hard. We left the canyon with about 4 miles to run and so no longer had the assist of the big downhill. I was tired and had to push and was so tempted to switch to walking and had to push some more. I felt like these last few miles were uphill – they weren’t! I felt like I was crawling…as in no speed but in retrospect I was still maintaining a decent pace in that it was faster than my previous half marathon PR average pace.

df3c3f7fb2d9e4c50c0db0f1822268d158984048e7c6978ca9186623e5659fac_webI finished the race in 1:49:10 which was 7:17 faster than my PR from last December!

In my age group I didn’t do too badly: 8th out of 121!

All in all it was a fun weekend (except for a little fall on Sunday 😦 which I’ll write about tomorrow). Next up is the Ventura Marathon, October 22nd.

Tears and Gratitude

A few years ago our church had a series during Lent with the theme of “who are our neighbors?” We invited various people from the community to come and speak. The goal was to help our members begin to understand neighbors that they may not know.

One of these weeks we invited two young women who were recent recipients of work permits (and ease of mind against deportation) through DACA. They were excited to come and share their stories. I was happy to hear their stories.

When it came time to talk, both girls looked out at the faces of our church members and began weeping. This emotional response was more powerful than any words. The rescinding of DACA today was a direct attack on these two young women plus the other 800,000 young people living, working, going to school, and contributing to our country.

I am proud to be an American but I am not proud of my country today.

Today I am personally thankful for: my grandparents and great-grandparents who were immigrants; the great cultural diversity that we have in our country; and the immigrants, with documentation and without, who contribute greatly to our community.

Ray Miller Training Run #2


The view before we started to the trail. There’s a major fire in the hills east of Los Angeles and I’m pretty sure there’s some smoke with those clouds.

My husband (Scott) and I decided to do our long run today, 12 miles, on part of the Ray Miller Race (Dec 2) course. It’s probably more accurate to say that he’s a good sport and agreed to go with me. We left the house early to beat the heat, and started running at 7:02. It was 72°, which doesn’t sound too bad except that the humidity was 78%. It would just get hotter! I don’t know how hot as I didn’t check during our run.

Screen Shot 2017-09-02 at 2.13.00 PMMy goal was to run an easy effort. I’ve learned that the best way for me to do this is to run by heart rate. Based on my max, my easy effort target is from 130-140. On flat, paved runs I try to stay at or just below 130. With this goal, today’s run was a true run/walk as I walked whenever I got to or above 140. I ended up walking a lot.

So how’d it go? When we were done I told Scott, “that was fun and that sucked.” It was both. Sometimes life is about finding the enjoyment in the difficulty. That was certainly the case today.

Before we actually started running, we were attacked by a swarm of mosquitos. I’ve never experienced this here and will need to make sure I have some bug spray for next time. When I tried to do some leg swings, I was suddenly so covered with these bugs that I contemplated going home! But we carried on!

A smokey cloudy sunrise… still beautiful.

The first 5 miles were pretty nice. For mile 6 we were on a very overgrown trail…and I was nervous. When something big scampered under some brush, I jumped when I heard it and caused Scott to jump. It was probably a big lizard (there were many small lizards). I was  hoping we wouldn’t encounter a snake and told Scott, “I’m again rethinking my life choices.”

I seriously didn’t like this part of the trail.

Once I had signed up for the Ray Miller 50k, I realized that I would be training on the trails during the hottest time of the year. I’m afraid of things that slither and thus in all my years have never chosen to hike in the heat. This is not exactly rational…so not only am I now training for my first 50k, I’m also working to conquer this particular fear. Anyway, we made it to the turnaround with no mishaps.

Turning around though was hard. We were now going mostly uphill into the sun. It was hot! Thankfully I had enough water (in a backpack), but what I really needed was some water to pour over my head. Mile 7 wasn’t too bad, but mile 8 became a walk more than run as I slogged uphill. I was hot hot hot and even contemplated removing my backpack and dumping its water over my head (I did do this when I was done). Sometimes my heart rate was above 140 just walking. I have some serious work to do on these trails!

I took this picture one of the times I started to catch up. By the end he was WAY ahead of me.

Scott got so far ahead that he doubled back to make sure I was ok. He’s really good at this trail running! I’m trying to convince him to sign up for the 30k. Next year he’s going to try his first marathon…so this would be a great next step! And he’d totally rock it.

The good parts of the run: the gorgeous scenery; the friendly people met along the way; and the fact that as hard as this was I was able to get in some good training…and my average heart rate was 135. And I didn’t fall…that’s progress!

Here’s some data:

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