This past weekend, I had a big ultramarathon training leap — back-to-back trail 15 milers. Saturday was on South Mountain, at 48th Street — Javelina trailhead. We went up and over South Mountain, from the Phoenix side, descending down to the Ahwatukee side of the mountain. Then we hit Desert Classic trail back around the mountain (instead of up and over) — then finally back where we started.
Saturday was a rough, hot day, and I felt blasted by the sun and irritated by the newbishly rude mountain bikers on Desert Classic trail. But I made it. That night, I was 90% sure that I wasn’t going to be able to run the next day, my left hamstring being super tight and achy from all the mileage. But around 2am, I got up to hit the restroom and noticed that I wasn’t in as much pain as I had initially thought.
The good thing about all of this heavy ultramarathon training is that if you treat your body well and eat right, you begin to recover at a much faster rate than you ever thought possible. So, Sunday morning at sunrise, I headed out solo to Phoenix Sonoran Preserve (my favorite trail area) and knocked out another 15 miles on the trail.
It was a good feeling to run at a relaxed pace, but strong, and even negative split the final few miles. I was proud of myself. I went home, got cleaned up, and then Chuck and I went to Pacific Seafood Buffet to celebrate the completion of a tough training weekend.
Crown King Scramble is just around the bend, and I’m excited and nervous. I know I’m going to finish. I know it’ll hurt. It’ll be a long day. But I can’t wait to pick up my Crown King Scramble hoodie jacket with the words “Finisher” on the back. Heck yeah!
What’d I do for Valentine’s Day? My husband signed me up for a 50K relay race! He was sweet enough to name our team “I <3 MY WIFE” — extra brownie points for that. We got up at 4:30am this past Valentine’s Day morning to race.
The race was the Pembertion Trail 50K at the McDowell Mountain Preserve. The race was set up as both a 50K (solo runners) or a relay team of two runners doing the 50K distance. Chuck, being the long distance guy now, decided that he would run the relay, but do the two loops, (each about 15.4 miles) — running the first solo and the second one with me.
After his first loop, I ambled back to the Jeep to take a 90 minute power nap before getting ready for his second loop (my only loop). I barely got to the starting line with my hydration pack, a chair, and a sweatshirt, and he was already trotting in, ready to start loop two! I hustled to get my pack situated and off we went.
He went pretty fast on his first loop, and by the third mile of loop two (18.5-ish miles for him, 3 for me), his tummy began protesting the “experimentation” from going a bit fast and eating a variety of snacks at the aid stations. But, true to ultrarunner form, he buckled down and toughed it out.
Since he’s never done “only” a marathon distance, Chuck takes “Marathon Selfies” on every ultra event he’s run. So this time, his 26.2 (my 11 or so miles), we got to take a selfie together.
It was a super fun race, and at the end there was a huge potluck with chili, sandwiches, and cold drinks! True to trail runner form, I crossed the finish line and immediately headed straight for the food. I wolfed down two turkey croissant sandwiches and a savored a bowl of chili with chips. Great day at the races! We might have to do this one again next year.
This book has been on my “To Read” list since it was first published, and I was eager to start reading it the moment it arrived. I’m interested in the “urban sketching” scene, and follow quite a few bloggers that post their work online — France Belleville-Van Stone being one of them.
Sketch! is filled with her illustrations — of people, places, animals, cars, and even the mundane parts of life such as the contents of her bag or her running shoe. She explains in this book that it’s not talent that creates a good artist, but dedication and time. I found this motivating, because she knocks down the excuses of “I don’t have time to draw” or “I’m not talented enough.” By keeping things simple and quick, you begin to develop your skill by just drawing the world around you — whether it’s a pencil on your desk or the car parked in the driveway.
This is not an instructional book, but more of a look into how one artist goes about creating urban sketches and how she views the world. It catalogs her journey from the amazing Bic pen artwork she spent hours on in high school, to not having any time to draw after having a child — and how that got her into sketching faster and simpler subjects.
She explains her favorite pens, sketchbook paper, and watercolors, and rather than photos of her art supplies, they’re all her own illustrations, which I thought was neat. There is even a chapter on “Going Digital”, which goes into how she does some of her sketches digitally using an iPad — which styluses she likes to use, the best apps, and helpful tips or quirks for each one.
Sketch! is a 134-page softcover book which I spent a weekend reading and enjoying. If you are interested in learning more about “urban sketching” with an insider’s view of one artist’s method and process, this is a fantastic read. It won’t teach you to draw, but it might inspire you to get started, and maybe spend that fifteen minutes drawing in a waiting room rather than idly staring at your smartphone. I really enjoyed this book!
I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.
Life has been amazing lately. And busy. Last year, Chuck completed five ultramarathons ranging in distances from 50K to 50 miles. He’s my hero and I look up to his accomplishments. I had ankle surgery in May 2014 (right foot this time) to remove a bone fragment and hopefully get rid of the shooting pain I get running rocky downhill trails. Surgery didn’t quite fix it, but I’m pressing forward anyway.
Work’s been super busy the past two years, with the merger of US Airways buying American Airlines, and then our own website getting swallowed by the bigger whale (American’s). It’ll be hard to say goodbye to USAirways.com toward the end of this year — as I have so many pieces of the site that I can point to and say, “I made this!”
But onward and upward. I’m looking forward to an accessibility project for the new AmericanAirlines.com where we’ll be bringing our site into 508 compliance along with the ACAA (Air Carrier Accessibility Act). TONS of work, but it’ll be great experience.
In just six weeks *shudder* I will toe the line at my very first ultramarathon. Crown King Scramble — which was also Chuck’s first ultra last year. I’m scared. I’m nervous. But I’m going to believe in myself and put one foot in front of the other until I see the finish chute at the top of the mountain. I can do this.
So I’m reviving the blog a bit, but it’ll be spotty the next six weeks, as my prime focus is nailing every single workout and getting all my mileage and climbs in. Look forward to some book reviews, maybe some art postings, and other such /random.
Life: Recovering from ankle surgery on my right ankle this time. I had a bone fragment that was bugging me. I think it came from back in the figure skating days in high school — it’s my landing leg, and possibly a small piece over time got wedged into the ankle joint.
It was a small arthroscopic surgery on May 8th, and next week is my final two physical therapy sessions at Endurance Rehab. This clinic really caters to the endurance athlete, takes most insurance plans, and they even have an awesome Alter-G treadmill! The treadmill has been the highlight of recovery, as it allows me to run at 60% (or even less) of my body weight to reduce impact forces. Less fun is the ASTYM procedures to minimize scar tissue. Pain and a half. See all those smiley faces on the ASTYM website? Not so much. Imagine a glass tool scraping into your scar/muscle tissue and making you cower in pain with extensive bruising afterward. Not fun, but it does make a big difference.
Blog: Still not sure what to do with the blog, I’ve had it so long, I’d hate to just abandon it like I have. I might revive it to toss on some videos and sketches and other random things here. For science.
Weekend: I’m planning a short six mile trail run (which right now means hike and trot) up at Deem Hills. Sunday morning I’ll either take a bike ride or do another hike and see how the ankle likes a back-to-back trail workout. Offtime? PS3/Vita/3DS gaming, sketching, and maybe organizing an ever-growing corner of art books in the living room and coffee table that’s threatening to take over the place.
Chuck: Has become an ultra-marathoner, so maybe I’ll post something about his accomplishments soon (see new YouTube channel for videos for now).
Back to the adventure!
As you can see, I haven’t blogged in pretty much forever. Life takes over and you find yourself living and doing more than sitting and writing about it. Plus, with Facebook, FourSquare, and other social media outlets, I find that my family knows what I’m up to from the odd status or photo album there than anywhere else.
So I’m trying to figure out if I want to just archive my blog and make my site somewhat static, or revive it and use it as a multi-tool. What do I mean by multi-tool? Well, I’ve been getting back into the graphics side of things again, with a Wacom-digitizer on my Surface Pro, I’m back to sketching and painting. Maybe I’ll start posting sketches on the blog.
I’m also the same gadget-hound I’ve always been, so maybe it’s time to post more reviews between gadgets, apps, and accessories. Fitness has become a huge part of our lives now too, so maybe I’ll occasionally post a race report here or there (or which injury is nagging me the most at the time, because, if you’re a runner, you know we LOVE talking about our injuries!)
So anyway, I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with my blog, aside from making it into just an online portfolio for my UI/UX designs or sketches.
The past year has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows, from losing our beautiful German Shepherd to doing the Disney Coast-to-Coast races, from US Airways / American Airlines mergers to getting deeper into longer-distance trail running.
Stay tuned. Changes afoot. On the site, I mean. Otherwise I’m still pretty much the same ‘ol me. :)
Can’t believe I haven’t blogged in nearly six months, whoa! The long and short of it, I’ve been into training heavily (mostly running) and have run several races and gotten more PR’s (personal records) in the last six months than I have since I started running in 2011. I now run about five days a week, up to 25-30 miles a week (a large week for me).
I ran the Lady SpeedStick Women’s Half-Marathon in November (2:24:42 PR), did my first sub-30 minute 5K (Turkey Trot, 29:18), ran the Hot Chocolate 15K (1:39:59), and ran the Athleta IronGirl 10 mile (1:40:08). With a LOT of hard work and training, I’m finally not last in my age group or one of the slowest runners on the course. It feels SO good to see improvement.
Chuck’s knee is getting better week by week. He finished his last PT session last Thursday, so he’s on his own now, following the Hal Higdon Half-Marathon training plan and working through the lingering soreness in the knee that happens after running distances over 8 or 9 miles.
We haven’t flown our balloon yet this season — between his recovering knee injury and our work/race schedule, we haven’t had much time. Hopefully we will fly more in 2013 than we did in 2012!
Next year is The Year of the Mouse. Mickey Mouse, that is. We’re doing the Coast to Coast half-marathons starting with the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon in January and finishing with the Disneyland Half-Marathon in September. When we finish the Disneyland half, we’ll also receive a huge coast-to-coast medal — we’ve been looking forward to it for almost a year now!
Planning on LOTS of trail running races next year, and I’d like to do an Olympic distance triathlon along with maybe a half-Iron distance tri, if I have the time. Been doing a lot of running, though, and not enough cycling.
Hope your plans for next year are lofty and fantastic — have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Haven’t posted much, the usual “life” gets in the way of blogging sometimes. Chuck had ACL reconstruction knee surgery in the beginning of June, but he’s doing well now and in physical therapy once a week. I know he’s dying to get back to running and cycling, but so far he’s limited to swimming and stationary bike.
As for me, I’ve been training hard for the past few months. I work out nearly every day, alternating spin days with run days. On the weekends it’s swim time, as well as squeezing in a long run and long bike ride most weekends.
So far the longest I’ve run since surgery last December has been 9 miles, and I felt fantastic that day. My longest ride has been nearly 27 miles, and I was pleased to have found some great trails along Skunk Creek to keep me moving along happily.
I’ve booked myself to the gills with races — I have the Lady Speed Stick Women’s Half-Marathon in November, the Tour de Tucson ride in late November, then in December it’s the Hot Chocolate 15K and the Athleta IronGirl 15K.
As far as triathlon goes, I’m still being a little wishy-washy on racing in Nathan’s Tempe Triathlon at the end of September. I wanted to do an Olympic distance which is 1 mile swim, 26 mile bike, and 6 mile run. But the end of September is still somewhat oven-like, so it’ll be a challenge for me. I’ll still probably race. :)
Otherwise we’re both happy and healthy, and ready to get out and do some traveling as soon as Chuck’s knee is good to go!
I love productivity hacks and ways to keep on target with goals and achievements. Lately the one I’ve been using comes from a website called Chains.cc.
The idea first came from Jerry Seinfeld, which is pretty cool. He wanted to write better jokes, and to achieve that goal, he felt that he needed to write daily. So he bought a big wall calendar and marked a big red “X” over every day that he wrote. After several days, he had a chain of red X’s on his calendar. Every day he said to himself, “Don’t break the chain.” It encouraged him to continue writing and improving, and is a fantastic productivity and goal-setting idea.
Chains.cc allows you to create your own “chains”, and all you do is visit the site daily and “X” off the tasks that you completed. My daily goals are to exercise, improve my software development skills, study for my FAA Private Pilot exam (for hot air balloons), and do some form of writing daily such as a journal entry or blog post.
Having this site keeps me on track, because I love the feeling of accomplishment when I finish a task for the day and get to visit the site and “check it off”. It also works on my guilt factor, some days it forces me to study or work out just because I want to see the string of completed tasks. The website makes it easy to configure your goals and works on iOS, Android and all modern browsers, no app necessary (although I think there’s an iOS app coming soon).
Do you have a set of daily goals you’d like to continue to make progress on and get a visual representation of your accomplishment? What methods or productivity tricks do you use?
The other big event recently was racing in the Rio Salado Triathlon this past Saturday, May 5th. I elected to do the sprint distance this time since it’s my first triathlon after ankle surgery. The distances were 750 meter swim, 12.6 mile bike, 5K (3.1 mile) run.
I have spent the past three months increasing my training volume to where I would train 12-13 days in a row before taking a rest day. I did as much as I could without injuring myself, and the training seemed to help as I was faster this triathlon than the “baby” tri that I competed in July 2011.
Swimming in Tempe Town Lake with no wetsuit had me a little nervous at first. It was my first open-water mass start, but we got to start in waves, so it wasn’t bad at all. Nobody gave me a black eye, knocked off my goggles, or elbowed me in the mouth. The buoys looked SO far away, despite only being half of my typical swim workout distance. But I hung in there and once I got in the groove, enjoyed every second of the swim. Before I knew it, I was getting pulled out of the lake onto the stairs to go transition.
The bike leg was so much fun that I half wanted to stay to the left and loop it again (which is what the Olympic distance riders did). I only averaged 14.5 miles on the bike, but hey, I’m a new rider. Maybe some aero bars and bigger quads would provide a little extra awesome next time. ;) The only mishap I had during the bike leg was that my Uncrustable strawberry peanut butter and jelly sandwich went bouncing out of my bento box when I crossed a bumpy brick road. There went my nutrition plan for mile 7! I just took two “Salt Stick” salt/electrolyte capsules instead and called it good.
I made it into T2 (bike to run transition) and racked my bike and prepared for the run. Here’s where I found out that my bite-valve bottles come in handy because they allowed me to suck down water with no hands while I tied my shoes. I downed most of a pack of Stingers (like gummi bears, only healthier) since I lost my PB&J sandwich, and headed out for the run.
The run is what it is… my weakest sport. It’s what I need to work on the most. I know I’ll get better / faster / stronger, I just have to keep working harder at it. I had the best day though — I thoroughly enjoyed the course, and especially the swim and the bike. I can’t wait until my next triathlon. I came in under my time goal of 2 hours at 1:51 and change. I know I’m still a back of the pack triathlete, but if I can just finish and I’m not DFL (dead flippin’ last), I’m a happy camper.
My next race goal is to compete at Nathan’s Olympic Triathlon at the end of September this year. I’m cool with the swim and bike distance already, but I will have to up my game to be able to hang for running six miles instead of just three miles. I can do it, but I want to be able to do it FASTER!
I’ll post pics and the video when I get them all edited into one loop. Let’s hope I manage to get to that before the weekend. ;)
UI/UX Developer by day, a million other hobbies by night. Attracted to shiny objects that need recharging. Passion for life, love, and sushi. Trail running, hiking, books, gaming, sketching and travel are just a few of my interests. Multi-platform (Windows, OS X, Android, iOS) enthusiast.