Where Will We Run Next?

run

Now that we have decided to buy a second home in Tucson, we can turn our attention to the next running challenge. I spent some time scouring the half marathon websites and it seems only fitting that we run in the “A Mountain half marathon”.

If you are not familiar with the University of Arizona, which is located in Tucson, then you might not know about “A” mountain.

A-Mountain-Tucson

The large letter at the top stands for the University of Arizona and to get up there we will have to run a little over 700 feet from miles 5 to 7 1/2 during the 13.1 mile half marathon. Oh ya, did I mention that Tucson is 2,000 feet above sea level before the climb?

map

This will be a tough run for us as the other half marathons have all been at sea level (Seattle and Vancouver BC) and in pretty much the same climate. This time we have to figure out how to run in warmer weather and at altitude. This will not be a PR for us, more of a “just survive it” mentality. I had to put together a training program that would get us ready for the end of October, so we started yesterday. Here is the plan:

August 2017

 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 2 3 4 5 6
Run 4 Run 4 Run 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Run 5 Run 5 Run 7
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Run 5 Run 5 Run 7
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Run 6 Run 4 Run 8
28 29 30 31
Run 6 Run 4

I will not be doing weekly updates this time since we are traveling a lot and have followed a similar plan before, but I plan to have monthly posts about the progress we (hopefully) will be making on this schedule.

Wish me luck!

desert running

And the Winner is…..

Tucson, Arizona!

night view

This is the view from our new backyard!

If you have been following me from the beginning, then you know that I have been searching for the answer to the question “what’s next?” The reason I began this blog was to work through this extremely tough question of transition, as we move from full time parenting into our empty nest phase.  This has been a tumultuous year, to say the least. We have been roaming around, renting houses in a variety of states and environments looking for what feels right. We have spent time in Idaho, Eastern Washington, Oregon, Kansas, Nevada and Arizona. In each place we checked out the running paths, yoga studios, golf courses and climbing gyms. We wanted a place that was not too far from our extended family, all of which are in the Seattle area, and provided the activities that we have been enjoying the past few years. There was one more big requirement: SUN!

We love Seattle, especially in the late spring, summer and early fall when the weather is fabulous and the running and climbing are to be enjoyed outside.

But then, somewhere around mid October, it gets dark and the clouds open up and begin to pour and it does not stop until May! No, I am not exaggerating!

In late February we went to Scottsdale to explore the area. Now, we have been to Sedona and Phoenix before, but this time was different. I wrote a post about some of our time there, a few others as well. But when it came time to leave, it hit me. I knew, somehow, that I could be happy in Arizona. I told my husband and we talked about nothing else the entire drive back to Seattle. By the time we got home, we were making plans to look, really look, at the potential of buying  a second home in AZ.

tucson

We got pre approved, found a realtor and went to Tucson for the first time ever. We liked the views, the mountains, and the potential for all our outdoor activities that we have become  accustomed. We arrived in June, when it was 115°F, not exactly the best time for driving around and house hunting! Our first stop was the local indoor climbing gym. Rocks and Ropes which turned out to be perfect for us. The routes are tougher and longer than our home gym, which will keep us challenged while we are in Tucson.

tucson climb

We also made our way up Mt. Lemmon, which is great for hiking, climbing and has a ski resort in the winter.

AZ_MtLemmon04

climbing

Can’t wait to be these guys!

Near the end of our trip we managed to get in a short run (it was 80°F at 8am) at a bike/run path that runs the entirety of the downtown area.

tucson run

This path runs along a dry river bed which is full during the monsoon season

We fell in love with the place. Did I mention the views?

tucson mountains

This is one of the five mountain ranges around us

stars from lemmon

Tucson is one of the premier star gazing areas in the country. There are city ordinances governing the lighting in downtown to preserve the star quality. This is another view from Mt. Lemmon

Our home was the third property we viewed on the first day of house hunting. We both knew, as soon as we set foot inside the door, that this was the place for us. It will take several months or so to know for sure if this snowbird lifestyle is right for us. In the meantime I am excited about moving in (we close in August) setting up the house and making it a home! I waited to post about the new place to make sure it would go through (you know, inspections and paperwork). I am sure there will be more posts and pictures to come once we take possession of the house.

Since today is our 27th Wedding Anniversary I decided that this would be the perfect time to talk about our new phase and life direction. Thank you for reading this far and sharing this special moment with me!

 

Half Marathon Training Wrap Up!

 

push it

Spoiler Alert: We survived!

This last week of training was fairly straight forward. We had two runs scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday with the option of either 4 or 5 miles each of those days.  I decided to make them both 5 milers, while my hubby went with 5 on Tuesday and 4 on Thursday. My average pace Tuesday was 9:51 and Thursday was 9:41. I don’t know why one was a little faster than the other, it was the same course and same time of day. The only difference was that it was raining pretty hard on Tuesday with a decent wind to contend with, so perhaps that affected me more than I realized.

 

 

 

I have been so nervous about my back injury and this half marathon, that I have been really scaling back other activities. I did go climbing a couple times this week, but didn’t try anything too hard. When Saturday rolled around we made our way into Seattle to pick up our race packets at the runners expo.

run pick up

It was really starting to sink in that this was going to happen! We decided to sign up for the morning VIP package. This is a pre-race option that would allow us to park at the finish line, take a shuttle to the start and a continental breakfast would be available to us. We also would benefit from a private gear check and, most importantly, flush toilets just for the the VIP group. We have done this at other races and have never regretted spending the money for this perk. However, the start time for this year was 6:30am which meant that we had to catch the shuttle at 4:30am! Factoring the drive to the parking garage and getting ready for the run meant getting up at 3:30am! We were not sure that this was a brilliant idea this time.

Saturday evening, we decided to take a Yin Yoga and Gong Bath class. If you are not familiar, Yin yoga focuses on holding static poses for longer periods of time to allow for greater stretching of the muscles. A Gong Bath is effectively meditation with background music played on a variety of gongs and chimes. Our thought was that this would give our muscles a good stretch, before we made them work really hard the next day, and help relax us and wind down before the race on Sunday. Did it work? I think so. My back was less tight and we were happy to have the diversion from thinking about running 13 miles the next morning!

The big day finally came on Sunday. We got up at 3:30am (ugh) and made our way to the start at Husky Stadium at the University of Washington. We immediately saw the wisdom of the VIP package as the line for the honey buckets was the worst I have ever seen at any race in which we have participated. 20,000 people registered for the Seattle Rock n’ Roll and about 250 were in the VIP area. We had coffee (several cups), bagels and yogurt parfaits. Not to mention space heaters! Both my hubby and I made several trips to the bathrooms and the runners outside were lucky to get one. Yes, I will be sticking with the VIP option for future races!

The course this year was a little easier than last year, which I appreciated! My husband was in the fast wave and I started about 30 minutes later. I was nervous about my curtailed training the last few weeks, but it went just fine. Actually better than fine!

nike run map

I managed an average pace of 10:15 and had my fastest half marathon to date! This was my third half and the fastest as I finished in 2:16.  I was shocked as my only goal was to keep running the entire route and be able to walk, with my back intact, the next day.  I did a lot better than that-so grateful my body held together.

My husband absolutely crushed this course finishing in 1:38! That’s a 7:20ish pace and a PR for him! Not too shabby for only his second half marathon. Unfortunately, he really pushed it and was hobbling around for the rest of Father’s Day! He laid on the couch and watched the US Open and rehabilitated.

We are both happy and grateful to be healthy and active at this point in our lives. We are planning another half in the fall, but have a lot more to do before that! I want to really hit the climbing routes now that I don’t have to hold back anymore. I also want to start up golf lessons again, provided I keep healing!

Thanks to all of you who were supportive and for your words of encouragement, both on the blog and Instagram, I really appreciate your positivity!

half medals

SaveSave

Half Marathon Training, Week 15 Update!

This is it! My last update before we run the Seattle Rock n’ Roll half marathon on June 18th, Father’s Day. It is hard to believe that we are only a week away from the day. It seemed so far away when we began training 16 weeks ago.

This last week was really tough for me. My back is slowly, so slowly getting better, and I have been stressing over it. We got back from our Vegas trip on Monday and had a 12 mile run scheduled for Tuesday. It did not go well!

 

map of 10 mile run

I really struggled to get this 10 miles done and had hit the wall and could not go 2 more without possibly doing more damage to my back. At this point I was beginning to question if the half was a good idea. Sure, I could walk the rest but what is the point of that! Even with the struggle my time was not that hideous at 10:38 average pace. But I was in pain and dejected!

When Thursday rolled around, I hit my usual trail for the 4 mile assignment. Even though my pace was faster I still felt exhausted and it seemed like this was such a hard 4 miles-How was I going to do 13!

 

thursdays run

I was dreading the 6 mile run today. I have been so down and stressed about my injury and my pace. And then I decided to change my narrative. Today is a beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest. The type of day we all dream about here when it is dark and raining for 3 months straight. I took a look around and saw the kayakers gliding down the slough, the bikers dusting off their cycles and all the families out enjoying the sunshine. I decided I was going to relax and just run. The pace and mileage would take care of itself! I did not push myself or set a specific goal, just ran because I love to.  It turned out to be the break my mind and body needed. I had the most enjoyable run of the last two weeks since I hurt my back!

run today

My pace was 10:04/mile and that is not bad for me! We are heading into the taper week and have 4-5 mile runs on both Tuesday and Thursday and then the half on Sunday! We will be carb loading both Friday and Saturday night, and have booked a Gong yoga class Saturday night to relax and stretch our mind and body.

I am hoping to have a recap of the event to post as the wrap up to this project next week.

Wish us luck!

 

 

May 2017 June     2017 July 2017
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
 week 14

 

 

May 30

5 miles

1

4miles

2

 

3

Some run

4 miles

4

week 15

5

 

6

12miles

7

 

8

4miles

9

 

10

6miles

11

week of the race

12

 

13

4-5 miles

14

 

15

4-5 miles

16

carb load

17

carb load

18

13.1 miles!

19

 

20

 

21

 

22

 

23

 

24

 

25

 

26

 

27

 

28

 

29

 

30

Half Marathon Training, Week 14 Update!

This training week has been all about fitting in run time with a bad back and a mini vacation. In my last update I declared that I was not going to let me back stop me from running 5 miles on Tuesday, May 30th. That was true and I did run that day, however I went 6.27 miles, a little further than I was targeting originally. What happened? Well, when I started running that morning EVERYTHING hurt for the first 3 miles, then the numbness set in and I was feeling better, so I wanted to enjoy the run while I had the benefit of endorphins to dull my senses. I was pretty sure that when I stopped my back would be feeling it! And, it did! I did go slower, the run was at a 10:18 pace, but it felt great to exercise! I get so cranky when I am unable to hit the pavement.

Thursday morning we had the flight to Las Vegas and needed to leave for the airport by 9:30am so I was on the path by 6:00. Both my husband and I wanted to get these 4 miles in because we would be stuck in airports for awhile had no idea if we would be able to run in the hot desert! I was motivated to get this done quickly so I could shower, change and finish packing and ran at a slightly faster pace of 9:53/mile. And that is when it really hit me that my back is not 100% yet. Due to the running, and the sitting on the plane for a couple hours, it really was sore and was quite uncomfortable.

My husband plays in the WSOP poker events held in Vegas every June and I knew he would be at the Rio for most of Friday so I took that opportunity to have a message at the spa in the Aria Resort and Casino where we stayed. I am so glad I did this! The masseuse was able to loosen up the muscles and get me walking much more smoothly! I also used the jets in the hot tubs on the property to work on my back and that helped too!

Saturday was relax and recover time for my injury (also spent time at the pool, and then dinner and a show). By the time I went to bed Saturday night I was itching for some activity. I decided I would get up early to beat the heat and get some sort of run accomplished before spending the day at the pool again. My husband refused to run as he was on vacation, so I was on my own. I hit the strip a bit after 6am and it was already 81 degrees! At 6am!! If you have ever been to the strip then you know that often crossing the street means using pedestrian overpasses, so I had to run stairs (see the left bump in the picture below). That might look like a little flight of stairs, but it it not! I had not mentally accounted for that when I set off from the Aria!

 

dessert

You can see how my pace suffered from overpasses, waiting to cross the street at the crosswalks, and the heat!

 

desert running

 

I had wanted to run 5 or 6 miles, but felt like Clarke Grisswold toward the end of the first two miles, so I turned around and settled for 4 miles total.

 

 

My back is still sore but slowly improving. At home I can apply ice and heat regularly and am using Aleve, and Ibuprofen. The Seattle Rock and Roll half is only 12 days away! We have 22 miles for week 15 planned, I will have to see how it goes!

 

May 2017 June     2017 July 2017
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
 week 14

 

 

May 30

5 miles

1

4miles

2

 

3

Some run

4 miles

4

week 15

5

 

6

12miles

7

 

8

4miles

9

 

10

6miles

11

week of the race

12

 

13

4-5 miles

14

 

15

4-5 miles

16

carb load

17

 

18

13.1 miles!

19

 

20

 

21

 

22

 

23

 

24

 

25

 

26

 

27

 

28

 

29

 

30

 

Half Marathon Training, Week 13 Update!

so true

This was not my best week. It started out great with a decent 5 mile run on Tuesday. I ran a 9:51 average pace, not my best but not too bad.  I followed that up with a faster 4 mile/9:37 average on Thursday.  I was feeling good about the week in general and really looking forward to our first warm Memorial Day Weekend since 1995 (no, I am not exaggerating that date!). When Friday rolled around I was really up for our 11 mile scheduled run the next day (Saturday) and it was glorious outside so my husband and I decided to hit the driving range early in the afternoon. I have just started swinging the driver and wanted to practice. I began to notice that my back was unhappy, and as I worked my way through the bucket of balls, it became more painful. I did end my practice early but didn’t really think too much about my back.

We usually go climbing on Friday nights so, of course, I wasn’t going to let a little pain stop me! I thought I was being careful by only climbing easier routes, but as the night went on it was clear that I had actually done something significant to my back. There was no way I would be able to run 11 miles the next morning, or even half that distance. My hubby went on without me, and I had to watch! I have spent the last three days icing, heating and alternating between Aleve, Ibuprofen and Tylenol. I have not climbed, run, golfed or done yoga for three days!!! ENOUGH. I am going crazy!! Just like the quote above says: once you are used to regular exercise it is impossible to quit!

conan crying

We leave for Vegas on Thursday and we need to change up our schedule to avoid running a 12 mile gauntlet in the desert in June! So, here is the new plan to survive week 14.

 

May 2017 Half Marathon Training Schedule
This is a blank and printable May Calendar. Courtesy of WinCalendar.com

April 2017 May     2017 June 2017
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
week 10

1

 

2

5miles

3

 

4

4miles

5

 

6

9miles

7

week 11

8

 

9

6miles

10

 

11

5miles

12

 

13

10miles

14

week 12

15

6miles

16

 

17

10miles

18

 

19

 

20

5miles

21

week 13

22

 

23

5miles

24

 

25

4 miles

26

 

27

11miles

28

week 14

29

 

30

5miles

31

 

June 2017 Half Marathon Training Schedule
This is a blank and printable June Calendar. Downloaded from WinCalendar.com

May 2017 June     2017 July 2017
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1

4miles

2

 

3

Some run

4

week 15

5

 

6

12miles

7

 

8

4miles

9

 

10

6miles

11

week of the race

12

 

13

4-5 miles

14

 

15

4-5 miles

16

carb load

17

 

18

13.1 miles!

19

 

20

 

21

 

22

 

23

 

24

 

25

 

26

 

27

 

28

 

29

 

30

 

Notes:

I don’t care what my back thinks, tomorrow I am running and I hope to make it 5 miles. Then we will run  4 miles Thursday morning before our flight. I did miss the 11 mile run and want to do some mileage in Vegas, it may only be 4 miles but 5 or 6 would be wonderful. Then we will hit the 12 miles the day after we get back. At that point, we should be back to the regular week 15 schedule.

I hope everyone had a restful and enjoyed the long weekend! Summer is right around the corner!

A family vacation that really rocked!

IMG_1461

This is my daughter and I sitting on top of Red Wall in Smith Rocks State Park. We just finished the 3 pitch climb of Super Slab. What a view!

My husband and I are truly blessed to have these amazing kids who also happen to be very athletic and, apparently, fearless. Our son, Ryan, is only 21 but has been a rock instructor since he was 14. He recently began to acquire AMGA certifications and is now a professional guide. He is also a classically trained clarinetist, not sure how these two worlds will knit together yet, but as his parents have zero musical talent, we have chosen to join his climbing world.

This was the first trip to Smith for the parentals (as our daughter Alex calls us) but the kids have been numerous times. We stayed in a motel in Redmond Oregon, about 10 minutes from the park. We had never been to Central Oregon before and were impressed with its beauty. We live in Redmond Washington so the drive is about 6 hours, give or take. Warning: Lots of pictures in this post!

We were greeted by these yellow bellied marmots, which are like rabbits there.

Our first day in was all about Red Wall, and climbing a route called Super Slab. We had a small hike for the approach, but when you are carrying gear, ropes, a camera and its 70+°F, the hike is harder! It was mostly uphill of course!

IMG_1622

Our daughter at the very top of the last pitch

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A view of the wall as we approached

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Our trusty guide!

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Ryan did most of the leading and set the rope for me. Alex lead up for Dennis.

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Once we finished all three pitches it was time to enjoy the view and some snacks

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The views were spectacular!

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I do like being as high as the birds

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This is the crooked river which runs through the entire park

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You can see why this is called the Red Wall

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Ryan was probably a mountain goat in a former life!

We rappelled down, reorganized the gear and headed off to another climb that the kids felt the parentals could handle. Ryan also had a project that he had been working on, that was impressive!

We made our way over to a route called “5 gallon Buckets” because the holds are huge-perfect for my husband and me! This was only rated a 5.8 but it was longer than most of our lead climbs, so the decision was made that I would lead up, set the anchor then hubby would top rope it. This was my first outdoor lead climb!

IMG_1669

me leading 1

Yep, that’s me up there!

me leading 4

me leading 3

The good news is that I got it done in one take! Then my husband climbed it and we all headed over to Ryan’s project- A very intimidating 11.c climb named “heresy”. It is only 4 bolts and the anchor and it is intense!

We did have a short wait in line while other climbers were on the wall so I took some shots of the surroundings.

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There are climbers all over this rock like ants!

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A number of climbers here as well

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There were humans hanging all over the place!

Then it was Ryan’s turn to climb!

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He got it in one try! At this point we were all tired and it had been a full day! We hiked out (no small thing) and drug ourselves to dinner in town. I was asleep by 9pm.

The next day was also to be a big one-the Marsupial Traverse which was a whopping 10 pitches total. We got up and out the door and were at the park by 9:30am. We had a nice long hike out to the site. Since this climb was longer and required more gear, I did not take my canon with me, just an iPhone, so less pictures this time!

view

This was one of the views on the way into the canyon

traverse

This is what we would look like in a few hours! I caught this group doing the traverse before we did!

Along the way, Alex decided to try a quick climb before we all started the traverse. She got up ok, but stuck on the way down (the rope drag was too much for her size). Fortunately, little brother knew what to do and brought her down safely!

The traverse took all day, as I said before we started at 9:30am and we finished the final, 200 foot rappel at 5:45pm. Another long day, but so worth it!

dennis

My hubby fighting his way up!

a and d

Amazing views from up here-notice my husband hunkered down and tied in at all times! He is not super excited about the height!

IMG_1430

He is feeling a little safer here!

guy

This climber is on an adjacent spire waiting to rappel

opposum

Look how joyful Ryan is! This is his “happy place” several hundred feet above the ground! 

We had an amazing time at Smith and will definitely do it again! The parentals did mange to get one half marathon training run done while the kids went for one last climb before we all piled in the car for the long ride home. We were dirty, tired, sun burned and very happy!