Monday, May 30, 2016

30 Miles and All You Can Eat

I set out for 18 miles on Saturday, but only ended up with 17.  Don't worry... Mitch made sure I made up for it on Sunday when we were scheduled for his 11 mile long run and he made me do 13.1.

Saturday's run:  Joliet to Columbus

Just a few rolling hills.

But at least it was a beautiful day.

So many things worth stopping to look at.

Rewards that follow uphills (that says 7%). There were three of these!

It was a bumpy day at the office.  Honestly, this route killed me.  I was so ready to be done by the time I got to Columbus that I don't know if you could have bribed me to get that extra mile.

The river makes the best ice bath!

So I could do my planned route, Mitch had to drop me off in Joliet and drive the truck to Columbus.  He then rode his bicycle back to Joliet and then back to Columbus for a 37 mile ride.  We got done pretty close to the same time.

In typical Memorial Day weekend fashion, we had hamburgers and fries (mmmmm... garlic fries) for lunch and then Beddar Cheddars with chili and potato salad for dinner.  We may have gone out for ice cream at the Big Dipper too.

Sunday's run ~ Mitch's last "long" run before Yellowstone Half Marathon

Break time at the midway point.

I planned for us to go 11 miles, and Mitch was having a day much like I had the day before.  He's definitely not a quitter and he wouldn't hear of turning around early.  In fact, he insisted on making it a half-marathon day.  And so we did.

His run, but he still insists on getting pics of me for the blog.  I kind of like this one 
(I'm eating Jelly Beans).

Running with a buddy has turned out to be pretty awesome for these long runs.  I almost always run solo, but since Mitch has been training to do some races with me we have been running together often.  When I go for long runs I run like its all business.  It's all about pushing myself to my limits, playing mental games to teach my body that I can run in spite of what my brain wants to tell me.  Running with Mitch takes the pressure off.  We walk a bit (sometimes a lot), we have good conversations and best of all we take a "mini-picnic" break when it's time to refuel.  He probably doesn't know (at least not until he reads this), but it's my favorite run of the week.

Since my own long runs need to be longer than Mitch's, I do mine on Saturday and then run with him on Sunday.  The back to back long runs are an important part of my training for the 50K so it works out perfect.

Staying in holiday weekend mode, we had Pickle Barrel subs for lunch (if you aren't from Montana, you should make a trip here just to have one).  Dinner was barbecue rib eye steaks and corn on the cob.  We might have had brownie sundaes for dessert.  I lost count, but I had a few beers too.

Sunday ~ My big ambition to ride 28 miles on my bike!

Ha!  28 miles definitely didn't happen!  Never mind that I have only ridden my bicycle maybe 5 times all year.  I'm not comfortable on two wheels yet.  I prefer my own two feet.  But, I need the cross training and I agreed to do a 60 mile cycling event in Yellowstone with Mitch in October.... Part of the deal when he agreed to run the Yellowstone Half.

Mitch managed to get this shot while riding past me on his bike.  Now that's blog photographer talent.

While the picture makes it look like it was a perfectly beautiful day, it was actually very windy and a head-wind while climbing steep hills at that.  I couldn't believe it when my watch clocked my 5th mile at 53 minutes.  I could have run faster than that!

The weather got progressively worse.  The wind was relentless and it started to rain, so rather than doing the 28 mile loop, we turned around at mile 6.  I really didn't want to because the truth is I am afraid of the downhills.  I will ride my brakes all the way down, all the while scared that the brakes will give out and I will fly down the hill out of control.  I expect I will get over that if I get out on the bike enough.  The great thing was that I no longer had a head wind.  Just the rain, sore hands and a sore butt.

I will conquer that 28 mile loop this spring.

We had leftover Beddar Cheddars and tater tots for lunch and followed it up with Mexican food at the Guadalajara for dinner.  I feel like all I did this weekend was exercise and then eat/drink all the calories I burned and then some.  I'm sure I did, too!

How was your Memorial Day weekend??

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My week (so far) in pictures ~ and meet Lone Peak

I got to tag along with Mitch for a work meeting in Chico Hot Springs yesterday and today.  Since his meeting didn't start until 6:00, we had as much of the day as we wanted to get there.  So of course we stopped for a hike/run along the way.

Chico is located in Paradise Valley ~ Appropriately named.  Our hike/run was just a few miles from the resort from the Passage Creek trailhead.

Not far from the trail head is this beautiful view

As you can see from our bridge pictures, this area was burned a couple of years ago.  Most of the trail looks like this.  I'm sure it was gorgeous before the fire.  Now, as Mitch aptly put it "it's just different."

A cool view of what I think is Emigrant Peak along the way.

But at the end of the trail the trees didn't burn and the hike was worth it!

Bear spray is a must-have in this area.
Total mileage for this run/hike was just over 5 miles.  My Garmin betrayed me and even though I can see the info on my watch, it refuses to transfer it to the App.  Mitch's worked fine.  His counts. 

Today, Mitch had meetings to attend so I was on my own.  After breakfast, I was off for a run in bear country.

Trail head to Chico's trout pond

Um.  Guess what that is.
Yep.  Bear track.  And from what I could tell, relatively recent.

The view of Chico Hot Springs from the top of the trail head.

The trout pond.

Most of my run was on trail that looked like this.
Gorgeous and just a little unnerving after seeing the bear track.  I had a bear bell (annoying) and spray, so at least I was prepared.

So after my run, this happened.

And this.  Lounging with my Bloody Mary in the sunshine by the hot springs pool.
This was followed by a delicious lunch at the Poolside Grille with Mitch before heading home.

This picture doesn't begin to do it justice, but I might have sunburned a little.


Meet Lone Peak
I don't know who to credit for this photo.  I found it on a website with a bunch of random images.  But this is the peak I will run (haha) up to.  The long ridge on the right is the path runners of The Rut take to get to that peak.  Elevation 11,166 feet.  It's going to be an awesome adventure!

Tell me what you've been up to this week!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

I'm either a bad*ss or stupid ~ 2 weeks of crazy and a gear review

My Friday the 13th started out like this:

At the gym that morning, a 40 pound barbell fell off the bench on to my foot.  This picture is what it looked like within a couple of minutes.  I didn't cry, though I'm not sure how.  I'm pretty sure my runner's denial kicked in immediately:  "That didn't happen!  I have a long run tomorrow.  Rub some dirt in it and walk it off!"  Ha!   I did rack my own weights and hobbled to the front desk for a bag of ice.  By the time I got to work, the bruise had disappeared but I knew it would be back.  It was pretty ugly by Sunday.

I didn't go for my long run the next day, but I went with Mitch on his.

We ran 8 miles that Saturday.  I'm so proud of him for putting in the training for our Yellowstone Half Marathon.  Three weeks away now!  BTW... look at the calves on that guy!  Dang!

My own long run was supposed to be 18 miles.  Since we had afternoon plans on Sunday, I didn't have time to put in that many miles so I went for a half marathon.  In spite of my accident, I still managed a total of 21 miles that weekend.  I admit... I thought I was pretty tough stuff, but really I think I just got lucky.  I will never set my weights on the bench again.  Bad idea.

This week I had to put in the 18 miles.  Mitch's plan was to ride up the Beartooth Pass since it will open to traffic next week and I figured on a mix of road and trails but didn't have route in mind.  The truth is, I'm a little chicken about running mountain trails all by myself so instead I came up with another brilliant plan ~ why not take advantage of the closed road and run up the Beartooth Pass??

How could this be a bad idea?

To the look out point, it is a nine mile climb from the campgrounds outside of Red Lodge.  I often start my long runs from this place but run down in to town for 12 miles.  It's pretty much my favorite.

I was all by myself.  Mitch was already headed up the mountain on his ride.  I had my music on without headphones, the logic being that it would be my anti-bear noise.  Just as I got out of the campgrounds and heading up I could hear cracking in the woods next to me.  I turned the music off and decided that I would rather hear if something were coming.  I had packed the bear spray in the front pouch of my vest, by the way.  There is some construction on the pass as crews work to secure the landslide/rock fall areas before opening weekend.  At about 3/4 mile up, a big truck pulled up next to me and warned me that a bear had just crossed the road behind me (guess what that cracking noise in the forest was).  For the rest of the way up, that bear spray was in my hand with the safety off.  The first miles were scary.  My senses were on hyper drive and I was paranoid.  Eventually, I started running by the work crews here and there and that helped me feel better.

The pass climbs with switchbacks.  A couple of times I could see Mitch above me and we played waving games.  I walked a LOT.  I had definitely underestimated the difficulty of the elevation gain.  But the view was pretty spectacular (I wish I had taken more photos).

At about eight miles up there was a crazy loud boom.  I could even feel it in the ground beneath my feet.  I wheeled around looking for the thunder clouds, fearing what a dreadful descent I would have if a storm barreled down on me.  At that perfect moment, Mitch came riding back down.  I was still about a mile from the lookout but neither of us knew what had made the sound.  I decided it was best to head back.  Mitch later asked a construction guy about the boom.  Turns out they were doing controlled avalanches on the mountain above us.

This was just before I turned back.  I had trekked 2,000 feet up in 8 miles (yep, that's bear spray in my hand... and thankfully Mitch put it in his pocket after this.  I hate carrying things in my hands while I'm running).

My legs were so tired after the ascent that even when I headed down it was hard.  But I do love a good down hill run!

We passed some workers on the way down and a lady (who was basically hanging from the rocks off the side of the road) made a comment that she couldn't believe I'd run all the way up there.  So, yeah.  That made my day.

The weather was fantastic with exception of a couple of places the wind picked up and sand blasted us on the way down.  BTW, did I mention that Mitch stayed with me the whole way down?  After working his way up that pass, the best part is getting to ride fast coming down.  He gave that up to keep me company.  I felt safer and I appreciated it.

At the bottom, where the gate is closed across the highway there is this gorgeous view.  It's still about 3/4 mile from the campground.  I love this place.

It was a crazy plan to run up the highway by myself during spring in bear country.  I had just as much chance of running in to wildlife there as I would have had on the trails below.  Even though some of it was scary, I'm glad I did it.  Later when the road closes, I hope to get back up there and make it to the look out point.

I love Strava.  It's fun to look at my stats when I'm done.  It's like my run is immortalized in cyberspace.

After a hard day's work:  scotch ale for the win!  The brisket sandwich was pretty good too.  As we enjoyed our lunch at Foster & Logan's, a storm rolled in bringing wind, rain and hail.  Boy did we get down off that mountain just in the nick of time!


You may (or may not) have noticed my rockin' awesome gaiters in the pictures above.  But just in case you missed them:

These are my Dirty Girl gaiters and I love them!  They are super easy to "install" - slip them on before I put my shoes on, attach the back with Velcro and the front has a little hook that catches the lace. These keep the little pebbles out of my shoes when I am on the trails.  In addition to my cool rainbow peace signs, they have a wide variety of designs and only $20.  Don't be fooled by the name, guys can wear them too.  (Not a sponsored post)

Have you ever encountered a wild animal on your run?  

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day ~ That didn't go as planned!

Happy Mother's Day!

My weekend started with my favorite Mother's Day tradition:  The Montana Women's Run.  This marks my 6th year running and the event's 35th Anniversary.  This is the race that essentially got me in to running.  There are two events: 2 mile and 5 mile and between 8,000 and 9,000 women (and a handful of men) participate each year.  I always look forward to going!

It wouldn't be a race if I didn't set out "Flat Angie" the night before (and post about it on Facebook because you can't run a race without telling everyone, right?):

I really do this so I know I have everything together that is important but I admit that because I still had a couple of hours left in the evening I put my watch back on.  Steps don't count if you aren't tracking them!

I'm getting better about giving a big, cheesy smile in my pictures instead of a forced, closed lip, "I hate taking pictures" smile.

This is at around mile 2.  I walked less this year than ever... In fact, I hardly walked at all.

Mitch has a ritual he follows each year when I run.  He takes pictures as I am starting the race (these usually aren't the best ones because it is SO crowded).  Then he walks over to the 2'ish mile area to catch me on the course.   Then he heads over to the finish line and waits for me.  I have a good support system at all of my races and I appreciate that immensely!

My finishing sprint.  When I saw this picture I was shocked at the quads I am sporting these days!

Can you believe it??!!  The Disney Princesses came to the finish line!!  And of course they were graceful about taking a sweaty picture with me.

Best part of all:  I beat my course personal best!  Next year I'm hoping to take a full 5 minutes off this time as I train to qualify for Boston.

Did we get enough pictures of me?  Sheesh!  The necklace I am wearing in this picture is the bling we got this year.  The Women's Run doesn't usually have medals or other bling.  The first year I ran we received a medal because they were celebrating 30 years.  The necklace is for their 35th.  I will post a better picture of it some other time.  The schwag for this race isn't that great.  You get a long-sleeved shirt (not tech) and a virtual race bag with discounts I never use.  What makes the Women's Run great is the atmosphere:  thousands of women, lots of aid stations and people cheering you on everywhere.

My Mother's Day request this year was to do my long run on a cool hiking trail.  I picked out a trail in the Lewis and Clark Forest just outside of Lewistown.  It is a 12 mile loop with a hefty climb early on and features an ice cave.

I've been looking forward to it ever since we picked the route.  But when we got there, the road was closed about 7 miles from the trail head!


That closure meant the whole plan was a bust.  To walk in and get to the trail head added 14 extra miles.  The time crunch alone meant that wasn't going to work.  It also meant that those seven miles were on a paved road.  I was there for a trail run.

Ultimately, we took the road in.  We had already driven close to three hours to get there so of course we had to make the best of it.  I wasn't excited about running/hiking on a road but sometimes you just do what you gotta do.

If I had to run on a road, this wasn't a bad place to do it.

We did find a trail head about 3.5 miles in, but at that point following it didn't make much sense.  We tried and quickly came to a deep creek crossing.  In most cases I would have crossed, but not this time.  We turned back and followed the road further up.  

The views were pretty amazing and I'm always bummed that my iPhone doesn't capture what I see.

Like here, where there is a beautiful little waterfall but you can barely see it in the picture.  I wasn't even that far away from it!

Regardless of the messed up plan, I still got to spend a beautiful Montana afternoon with my sweetheart and that made it awesome anyway.

We turned around and headed back after about 4.5 miles.  We figured there was nearly 3 miles left to the lake which was the destination we had in mind.  But the higher we hiked, the more bear scat and snow patches we encountered on the road.

We discovered later when we looked at our GPS watch downloads that we were very close to the lake.  Next time we'll know. Actually, next time we won't go so early in the year and we'll get up to the hiking trail and see the ice cave.

What did you do with your Sunday (Mother's Day)?

Have you ever been close to a bear in the wild?