Our Day at Big Bear

Yesterday Tilley and I went to Big Bear to check out a dog sitter for the holidays. While we were there I figured we should take advantage of the blue skies and go for a little walk. We took the Woodland nature trail where we learned quite a bit about trees and…trees. It was a beautiful walk. I only wish M had been with us to narrate the self-guided tour pamphlet. He does such a good job with those things…

photo 3Tilley and a 1,500 year old juniper. My, what long legs you have!

photo 1This was one of the cooler things we saw: A Jeffrey Pine that’s being used as a granary by acorn woodpeckers! They make hundreds of holes in this one tree and store acorns for the winter. Amazing!!

photo 2Cool, right??

photo 4The slopes are open! Hardly!

We had a big day. It was only natural that Tilley pass out in bed with me. And, what’s this?? The cat is voluntarily getting cozy, too? And getting closer and closer to the dog? And purring?? What is going on??
Wait, it was a full moon last night, wasn’t it? Mmmm…sneaky moon! Making my animals get along like never before… I’ll take it!

asha&t

13, Baby

I did it. I ran my longest distance up here in these crazy mountains. I had plotted out yet another route at the bottom of the hill, but paying $4.79 for each gallon of gas just to get me there scared me more than the prospect of exploding lungs and legs of jello.  So, after looking at my bank account ‘just to make sure I couldn’t swing it,’ (who am I kidding? There’s nothing in there) – I suited up and just did it.

I figured my route out to be approx 11.5 miles. I was adding 2 miles onto my 9.6 run from last week. Or so I thought. Skip ahead to the end of my run when I took out my GPS and saw that I had instead gone 13 miles. whoops. It wasn’t my intention to run race-distance before the big day, but I guess I’ll take it. I still have 3 weeks to taper down and rest my legs. I was pleased to see that a. My average pace was better than my long run down at sea level last year and b. I didn’t want to die (as much as last time) during certain hellish points in my route. My left knee was causing me pain, as was my right hip. I think I oughtta stretch those areas more thoroughly before I go out and do something like this again. This body ain’t used to these hills. I’m getting there, though, (very) slowly but surely. Anyhow, this post is mostly so that when I tell myself I can’t do it, I can look back at this and know that I did and I can.

I Can Fly! (Not Really)

Since being unemployed, I do my best to run like it’s my job. The first few weeks up here were a veritable hell. Running 1 mile higher up in the sky than where I had been running for the last year and a half was just…sodamndifficult. Thanks to trusty ol’ RunKeeper, I am able to go back in time and look at past running activities and my subsequent paces. I longed for my days of 8:00 min/mi training runs down Chandler in the valley.

My very first run at 5500′ ft was 3 1/2 miles and my average pace was 8:54. Also I’m pretty sure I died for a minute somewhere between miles 2 and 3. And that’s after my lungs exploded from just putting on my sneakers. For the month of September, running was not fun. I would go to sleep anxious about the run I would inevitably go on the next day. Not a good sign for a ‘runner.’ Reading a study that said it would take me 6 months to adjust didn’t help, either. Oh! Silly me, I forgot to mention the hills! Down in the valley, my average elevation climb was around 50-70 feet. MAYBE. I just went back and looked and saw that on one 7-mile run, my elevation climb was 6 feet. You get the point. Just the other day I went on a run. I came back to an email from RunKeeper: “New Personal Record For Running! Biggest Elevation Climb!” Oh no bigs, just 1575 FEET. That’s why I’m dying.

However, I have some good news to report! My pace for my 10-miler the other day was exactly the same as my 10-mile training run this time last year. Holla! Also, my regular runs are now staying steady at around 8:15, a number I am elated with. Oh and my calves are huge and I’m pretty sure my thighs are actually made out of steel.

I have my second half-marathon in just a few weeks. No, I haven’t registered yet, but that’s only because I am quite literally out of money. If anyone has an extra $80 to toss my way, I will begrudgingly accept. I’ll even wear your name on my back. So…that’s what I can offer. Who knew this hobby of using my own legs to run on my own street would end up costing me an arm and a leg? (ha! let’s hope not!   ……….  )
I’ll be running up in Santa Barbara at the same race I did last year. I had a blast and am a creature of habit, so I will be returning. Except this time I’m dragging friends along with me. You know you’ve got good pals if they agree to run 13.1 miles just because you tell them they should and omg it will be so much fun!!!!
I hope we stay friends.

Running On Empty

I used to despise running. In high school I thought I might be a successful runner based on the fact that my dad was an avid marathoner back in his day and still held his high school’s record for the mile. So I joined track, hoping to make him proud. I hated every minute of that sport, except for jumping off of the loft in the storage barn onto the high-jump mats. That part was awesome. But after 3 years that wasn’t even doing it for me anymore, and I quit. I didn’t run for fun again until a year and a half ago. And as it turns out, I’m not terrible. Not that you can be “bad” at running…which is one of the things that is so great about it. Anyone can run! And anyone can enjoy it! What I am referring to is the competitive side of the sport. I’m no Joan Benoit, but for not seriously training, I’ve crossed that finish line way before anyone thought I would.

And so here lies my frustration: I’ve been spoiled and running on flat roads at sea level since I began a year and a half ago. 3 weeks ago I moved to hills at 5500′.
IT IS REALLY HARD TO RUN NOW.
I have yet to log more than 6 miles in one outing, and I am running quite a bit slower than I used to. I am out of breath in minutes and exhausted for much of my jog. I feel like a diabetic chain smoker. While I have yet to puke, there has been more than one occasion where I was pretty sure I was about to. People keep telling me that the altitude is going to help me in the long run (pun maybe intended), but the fear that I can’t fully train to the best of my ability up here has me shaking in my Brooks. I am far from completely adjusted, and I have 2 races in the coming 7 weeks. My hope is to get down the hill to do a bit of training if I can, but that requires a lot of driving and a lot of time and, well, I’m just a sack of lazy. So, we will see. In the meantime, I am going to focus on the gorgeous roads I get to slog on [my new word for sloppy jogging]. No more smoggy Los Angeles streets for this girl!!

For what it’s worth, here is my Brooks endorsement: I LOVE BROOKS SO MUCH THEY ARE LIKE RUNNING ON CLOUDS. [Seriously, though, I will never run in anything else. Also, if you buy the sneaks right before the new models come out, they’re way cheaper! Bargains!]

For the first time, the first thing I see when I leave the house is not a traffic light.

The hill of death = Future thighs of steel!

The Dog Days Are Not Over

Meet Tilley

Tilley, my hermaphroditic dog, is the best and worst companion. She is the best when you want to go on a long adventure. She never stops, she keeps up, she’s happy to be out with you.
He is the worst when he sees anything that moves. Anything. A squirrel, a lizard, a duck, a leaf.

Today we saw most of those things. And it was the worst.
But I secretly still had a lot of fun.

First we stopped at the post office, where Tilley and the dog in the car next door shared a conversation I only wish I was able to decipher.

After jogging on the trail around the lake for a mile, we came across an empty beach. This is where I discovered Tilley’s motivation for swimming: ducks.

Why do dogs always look so terrified when they swim? Or is it just mine?

It is very important for all dogs to shake dry as close to their owners as possible.

Note to self: If ever I need headshots for Tilley, post-swim in the back of the car seems to be the best setting.