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A beautiful day for a 5 hour ride...

Yes, that's right, I look on my schedule and see: 3-5 hour ride, lsd.

At first I am not sure if that means 3 hours on the trainer OR 5 hours outside. OR if it meant I get to choose how long I ride between 3-5 hours. Either way, I am riding 5 hours.

So, I do the math. 5 hour ride @ ~ 15 mph = around 75 mile ride. Making this my longest ride since... well... Ever. Hmm?

Another dirty secret about me: I don't know where to ride around Denver. When we first started biking, Ross and I bought a map and tried to do some experimenting with routes. Every time we tried, it ended horribly. For the sake of our marriage, we decided to stick only to routes we knew or were shown. That left us with A LOT of riding this summer on the Cherry Creek Trail. I now know that trail like the back of my hand. Think you can't do 70 miles utilizing the CCT? Think again.

When I talked with my coach last, here is what he said: "No speed. Work on increasing your cadence. It's lsd (long slow distance), so it is not about the miles, just the time on the bike. Look around, enjoy it."

So, with that in mind, I talked to a friend and got a new route to try heading east out of Denver, looking for new sites to see. And here's what I saw:
Lots and lots of land. At first it was very mind-numbing and I was thinking "I came out here for this?".

But as I rode along, it turned more methodical, beautiful, simple. It was nice to be away from the city. Out on the plains. I just let my mind go.

It was also fun to come upon some small towns. And I mean small. Here is how you know when you are in Bennett.That is about all there is there. Across the way from here are a few local businesses, but that is about it.

Leaving Bennett, you come upon a really neat tree grove. It was a definite shift from the farms I had been seeing and I just thought the trees here were way old and WAY cool. You don't really get a sense of it in this picture, but see those two cool trees in the foreground? Now imagine a valley of them behind them. I imagine it looks even better in the spring/summer. I guess I'll find out next year. :)

And then more cool things you can see only out in the open
So, I kept plugging along. At one point, I made a turn north (I believe) and the headwind picked up. I didn't mind this, as it meant a tailwind on the way back-- or so I thought.

I kept going and came upon Strasburg. Very cute, quaint town with decorations everywhere. I didn't get many pictures, but each of the little businesses was decorated from the general store to the gas station to the propane center(?).

It made me wonder what it was like to live in a small town. I mean, we bank here:
And, if we lived in Strasburg, we would bank here:Quite a difference.

Anyways, I kept plugging along. By this time, it was getting a little long, but I just told myself "only 'x' number of minutes till I can turn around."

And then I cam upon probably some of the coolest thing I saw on the ride, What, oh what, could this be? It looked like a ride from Disneyland, but realized it was part of an old mine shaft-- or so I think. Here's more track:And the entrance to the shaft:

And, I continue on... until my watch hits 2 hours 22 minutes and I decide it is time to turn around.

And WHAM! Headwind. Serious headwind. My speed immediately slows. And it stays slow for probably 10 miles. I look down at my Garmin and see how slow I am going. I do the math. If I continue at this pace, I will be out here for 7 hours. Ugh. I start to think of how to explain to Ross how to come and get me. Umm.... "Honey, go to this one place and take a highway east and follow it until you find me"??? That won't work. Especially cuz we can't fit my bike in the car he has. So, I continue.

Luckily, I turned a corner and TAILWIND! Relief. And so my pace gets better, and faster, and I think I can make it. By the time I hit Strasburg, I am confident I don't have to call Ross and I am happy.

Then I see it, in the distance:
The mountains. The one thing I love about riding out east is coming back and seeing the mountains. Biking towards them, I feel like I am going home. And I never get tired of seeing them, either. Maybe it will wear off after living out here for more time, but so far it hasn't. :)

So, I make my way back home. Tired, but happy, looking at the mountains.

There you have it. My longest ride ever. (So far.) Here's proof.
5 hours 15 minutes (ish). 78.25 miles.

What drinking and training have in common


Seriously. As I write this, it is 3:38 in the morning and I can't sleep.

As I have gotten older, I started waking up in the wee hours of the morning unable to sleep. It took a bit of investigating, but I realized it happened EVERY Saturday early morning one fall when we were playing on a Friday night kickball league. It's not that I would go out and drink loads, but I would have a beer or two after (and during) the games. From that, I quickly realized that it had to do less with how much alcohol I drank and more with how much water I consumed in the process. IE, if I made sure to drink enough water-- even while having some beers-- the chances of sleeplessness greatly went down. Since, I have tried to limit the alcohol intake and up the water consumption. (Not always successfully, but I try...)

So, here I am, clean as a whistle. Haven't had a drop of alcohol all day and it is nearly 4:00 am and I can't sleep. So.... why?

It comes back to hydration. I went for quite a long ride today and didn't drink probably as much as I SHOULD have. Leaving me awake and dehydrated, not from alcohol, but from working out. I guess I learned my lesson. I need to focus on hydrating properly not only during, but AFTER hard workouts.

Here's another lesson about hydrating:
These things are great! They are tablets you drop in water and they dissolve to provide you with a flavored, carbonated water filled with electrolytes. They are mighty yummy on a run when you are depleted and need a boost. Plus, they are not sugary (like Gatorade) so it is a great alternative when you need your electrolytes, but feel over-sugared. I found them this summer via my friend Sonja.

Anyways, what I have also learned is that they are great for recovery. Both after a hard workout or after a glass (or bottle) of wine. They "flavor" your water with both taste and electrolytes, speeding your hydration and improving how you feel. It's awesome. So now I try to have some Nuun not only after a run, but after a night of drinking and it has proved to be most helpful. Think I should be a Nuun spokesperson?

So there is what I have learned about hydrating, dehydrating and recovery. Take it for what you will. I am going to go have some Nuun and get some sleep. :)

Running Roadrunner Style

Believe it or not, cartoons can teach you something about running.

Ross and I met with our coach to work on our running form (again). This is something I am all about ~ working on form. Since correct form = efficiency and efficiency = yielding a better end product with less work, I am all about improving my form. Not to mention the desire to be more efficient (read: do less work) was a primary motivator in having a coach. I can run and run and run, but that doesn't mean I am going to necessarily get any faster unless I change something.

So, we met today and went for a little jog. And along the way, he was reiterating a number of things that we had talked about before and some new things. For 2 hours straight it was running form 101 and practice... with the help of some inventive aids, but we will save those for a different post.

From what I have learned, with running, you use your power to get going, but after that, it is a matter of keeping the momentum going by pushing along the ground with your feet. Make sense? Maybe not (at least the way I am explaining it). But look at these pictures of runners:Notice what they all have in common? Their feet are not touching the ground. They are all just gliding through the air, using their feet to tap the ground and push them forward. Now there is the theory, here is the form part I learned.

Wile E. Coyote vs. Roadrunner

Ever wonder how that dang bird out runs the coyote EVERY time? Think about it. A roadrunner can run up to the speed of 17 mph while a coyote can run up to 30 mph. So why does the coyote never get the bird (other than for the storyline)? It lies in the form of how they run (or, at least, that is what I like to believe).

Here is roadrunner:
See that ellipse behind him? How the roadrunner has a lean forward and basically his feet are just pushing him along. That is what makes him go faster. (That, and the animation, of course.)

Now take a look at our friend the coyote:

Coyote is pretty straight up with some lean forward, but not barely the amount of the roadrunner. With Coyote's posture, his legs are more underneath him instead of behind him, like the roadrunner. He is not allowing his body to take him forward and, by being more straight up, he is stopping himself in a way.

Try it. Run. Now, while running, lean forward, you will automatically speed up.

So, that's what I have got to shoot for. That and a number of other things that I need to do to improve my form, but that was the one that I thought could illustrate best and the best "a-ha" moment I have for you right now.

Riding in Circles! Ok, ovals.

A couple months ago, Ross and I were invited to go up to a velodrome in Boulder. We kindly declined the invite citing that fact that Lincoln had his first soccer practice. First, we had no idea what a velodrome was, and the more research we did on it, the more scary and intimidating it sounded.

According to Wikipedia, A velodrome is an arena for track cycling. Modern velodromes feature steeply banked oval tracks, consisting of two 180-degree circular bends connected by two straights. The straights transition to the circular turn through a moderate easement curve. It looks something like this:
Although the velodrome in Bolder is smaller and STEEPER. It looks more like this:See that rider? He is approaching a curve and will be riding on a very slick wall that is banked at 45 degrees.

So, when we got to the track, I was more than a little intimidated and wondered exactly how I got here.

See, the one thing about me is that, given the opportunity, I will try to face my challenges head on. So when we were invited to come this time, we accepted. For me, I look upon my biking skills as a BIG weakness and I thought that this would be a safe environment and opportunity to work on that skill set.

Seeing the track and some of the experienced riders on the track, I began to doubt the safetiness of it all and if I would be able to do it. The riders were zipping around steep embankments and taking the curves with ease. I immediately felt out of my comfort zone, but decided to stay there and face the track head on.

At first I wanted to just jump in and give it a go, but I am so glad I didn't. Tim, the instructor, showed the newbies around the track and explained how it worked, what the various lines on the track meant, the angles of the track, how to stop (did I mention our bikes had no brakes?), how to enter/exit the track, etc. After, I was glad I got the information before just jumping on.

It was a lot to intake, so here is what I took away:

- If I went too slow, I would fall off.
- Beware of others around me.
- If I went too slow, I would fall off.
- If someone was passing me, don't veer laterally.
- If I went too slow, I would fall off.
- When in doubt, ACCELERATE!

And after being explained the basics, we were off.

For the first 2 minutes straight, I said over and over to myself "Accelerate in the curves. Accelerate in the curves. Accelerate...". I was convinced that if I did, I wouldn't fall off. And I didn't.

Secondly, I realized that the previous riders were so speedy on the track because if they WEREN'T speedy, they would've fallen off. So, I kept up my speed.

I just continued to ride the track, keep up my speed and worked on my bike handling on the track and especially in the corners. The corners were the steepest and the tightest. The further down the track you got, the harder they were. So I tried to go down to see how far I could get.

The next challenge, getting OFF the track. Exiting the track actually required slowing down to a speed where you were fast enough to stay on the track and then making an exit right before you were about to fall over (from riding on an angle slowly) and then continue riding on level ground until your bike slowed to a stop. Mind you, we had to do this without brakes and while we were being aware of those around us. Scary, but we got her done.

Here are some picts from the ride.Some riders warming up on the "straights" (14 degrees)

Riders taking the curves (45 degrees)

Along with simply riding on the track, (crazy-fun as it was once you got going), Tim also led the groups in various exercises to practice cornering, speed, and other bike handling essentials. I was really surprised how fast I caught on and how much I enjoyed it. To think, I was improving one of my weakest skill sets and enjoying myself at the same time! Just the thought of being able to ride on an 45-degree angle was enough to make my money worth it!

So, there you have it. One scared Randi. One crazy riding experience. One happy rider (and many others - pictured below!).

24 Miles in MOAB!!!

First off, let me just say Moab, UT is so, so, so, so beautiful! And after trail running through it, I can't think of a better way to see the area. The area is filled with awesome canyons, mesas, cliffs, gorgeous views and LOTS of rock. I know already that this blog is not going to do its beauty justice.

So, I started off on my little journey to Moab with some crazy car mates. I was kind of a tagalong on a trip organized by Beth. My guess is when she invited me along, she never thought I would take her up on it, but little did she know... :)

Here we are being total tourists and stopping about every 5 minutes for pictures, the closer we got.

This is where I got the first couple of glances at the kind of terrain I would be running on the following day.
Around 3:30, we finally got into Moab after many stops for gas (twice in same town- where is that darn Shell station?), coffee, potty, lunch, to see a friend, to see another friend, and our site-seeing tour at the end. Note: Avg time to Moab = 6 hrs. Our time = 8.5 hours.

After settling in, we met up with more of the group.
Beth had organized about 20 runners + friends, spouses, etc. We appropriately deemed ourselves the FOBs (friend of Beth's) since we were all from different places in her life. Since Beth is adamant about running with a "very cool" bandana at all times, Ken and his family had purchased, washed and brought along bandanas for us all. Most of the runners were signed up for the 10 miler (which really was a 12.5 miler) and a few for the 20 miler (which really is a 24-miler), but it turned out I was the only one planning on running the 50k... This fact played with my mind a little bit and I started to doubt that I could do the distance, especially in this rough terrain.

That night we headed off to town, picked up our race numbers, had some grub and went back to the hotel to get all settled and get some sleep.

The next morning, we were all up and ready to go. I filled my Nathan (water backpack) and stuffed it full of things to eat on the run and was good to go.
We had a lot of fun at the start line posing for pictures with the race map...

...and on the podium......all sporting the FOB bandanas.
(Can you find the cool, black and white camo bandanas on us all?)

At a route debriefing, we were informed that the run would have a variety of everything-- sand, rock, hills, canyons, slick rock, exposed area-- basically any and everything you could think of. And it did.

I really don't know what to write about the run. It was gorgeous and challenging. There was lots of uphill, downhill and everything in between.

So, here is how it started,us running through a nice, rocky canyon that was a mixture of up and down

(but mostly up).

Until we got to about mile 4.5,
where it was all up.

There were parts where you were literally rock climbing up, down and around boulders. Like this climb.

But it was always worth it at the top.

Here we are on the top of another cliff.

Here we are trying to get down from that cliff.

When they mentioned "exposed" area in the debriefing, I had no idea what to expect, but I quickly found out that meant running alongside the mountain, one misstep and you are falling off. They were probably referring to some times like this:

As you can see, the group took many pictures along the way (the majority of these pictures are not from me, but friends in the group-- thank you!).
Us about to run into (I think) Hunter Canyon

Us in (what I think is) Hunter Canyon.

And, here is where the group divides. Mile 10 aid station where the 10-milers turn off to run the last 2.5 miles of their run.

At this point, I was getting used to trail running and the rough terrain. I had formed some blisters on my feet and put some bandaids on them, but that didn't help much. In a way, I think it helped when I turned away from the group and continued on, as I could just focus on myself, but subconsciencely I think I was doubting my ability to do the distance over the rough terrain. Because of that, I continued running super slow even when I knew I could run faster. Somehow my feet weren't listening to my head and, at the time, I didn't really care. I was running through some GORGEOUS terrain that I wouldn't have been able to view in this fashion otherwise.

I continued and miles 11-14 were in a canyon which, although beautiful, I HATED. I was at a nutritional low point and needed some water, but only had a protein drink with me. On top of that, running side to side through the canyon was grating on my blisters.

The one good thing that did come out of that canyon was Andrea. I found her part way through and she gave me some water. As we exited the canyon, she caught up with me and we started running together.

We continued to mile 15 where we saw it. The mesa. 2 miles of climbing. Straight up. When we ended this climb, we would be on top of it. I had been warned about this and Andrea had known about it from last year. We walked the whole thing. We separated about halfway through, but I found Andrea later.

The views from the top were worth it.
And here is proof that I made it:
From there, it was a mixture of maneuvering over rock faces and running/walking, but mostly descending. I was at mile 17 and had 7 miles to go.

There were some crazy parts on this part of the journey as well. Like a little crevasse to squeeze through. (I barely fit, with the walls squeezing my backpack.)And other fun stuff. I think at this point, too, we were done with the picture taking. Time to just get home. And we did. One foot after another.

I don't know what to say at this point. I had set out to do the 50k, but it looked like I wouldn't make the time cutoff to continue past the 24 mile mark.

I came to Moab believing I could do the distance and the terrain and, somewhere along my journey, I doubted myself and my abilities. During the run, I felt like I could run faster, but for some reason, my body wasn't allowing it. It was very reminiscent of my first marathon experience. I was afraid I would run out of energy at the end of the race and not finish, so I compensated by running a much slower pace and finished with a 5:15. My second marathon, I went out confident I could do the distance, ran my regular pace and finished in a 4:10.

Andrea and I finished 2 minutes past the cutoff time for me to be able to continue to the next leg. I felt like I had another 7 miles in me, but in a way I was relieved and happy to finish when and where I did.

While I wasn't able to go on and complete the 50k, I did have a rocking time on some pretty gorgeous terrain. I got to see views I wouldn't have otherwise, learn a lot about the mental state of racing (not to mention nutrition), do a challenging trail run, meet some wicked-fun people, drink some "Polygamy Porter", and have an AWESOME time.