Sunday, March 2, 2014


Headed into the hotel w her toys

Neat buildings, I think this was the post office

at the High Desert market

Some of the famous stairs

back of Cafe Roka, the town's destination restaurant

Important ice cream stop

Old Pueblo

I took photos, but they don't even come close to doing justice in showing how rotten the weather was.  We left Phoenix mid-morning, dry and warm, and made it to Sonoita in 3 hours.  From Tucson south, the rain was coming down steadily and the car showed temps low 50's.  They dropped me off at the mile 40 aid station, and I started volunteering after about a dozen racers had come through.

The AS, like the runners, was marginally prepared for the weather.  I think the lack of ideal weatherization was a combination of not a ton of heads-up on the weather, desert dwellers not used to winter rainstorms in March, and reality not fulling setting in for anyone, even with the weather forecasts for the weekend.  I don't think I saw a single runner that was adequately dressed.  The majority of the runners coming in to the AS were fully soaked, and half were wearing shorts and/or short sleeve shirts.  Some were shaking hard and not quite lucid.

It was interesting to see the various mental states of racers coming through.  Most of the ones coming in solo had clearly been in the "pain cave" for the hour+ since the last aid station, and were either very withdrawn or in distress. But there were racers grouped together that were in better spirits, although that level of spirit didn't seem to correlate to whether they continued on or not.  And then there were  3 to 4 single racers that came through, clearly suffering the cold/wet as much as others, that had a strong internal fire burning.  They were wet, cold, tired, distressed, worried a bit about safety, but optimistically determined, as if they already knew they were going to finish.  That type of spirit did seem to correlate with their success in continuing, like Pam Reed, who I'm guessing did finish just based on seeing her attitude.  Mental attitude and running are always an interesting art.

I barely managed to hitch a ride out of the AS because the road was almost impassable from a swollen creek and those guys couldn't get up to me.  My husband mentioned afterwards that he would've called the race before dark, had he been on the race staff.  For sure, we sent racers out of the AS in a situation that seems ridiculous in retrospect: into hard rain in 40 degree temps, wearing soaked nylon shorts, a t-shirt, a Nathan vest, and a garbage bag...after they had run 40 miles and were an hour+ until the next AS.

This brings up the larger question of responsibility for safety, and where on the spectrum the individual racer's responsibility for their own safety shifts towards race management.  It's worrisome to me that there is a grey area, a lack of common understanding, on the delineation of this spectrum.  Even on a closed, marked course, ultrarunners are regularly heading out into wilderness under-equipped for emergencies.  luckily, after a night of helicopter searches and even crappier weather, everyone made it out safely at OP50 this year.

Postscript: Out of 149 starters, 61 finished

Friday, February 21, 2014

Update and another Toshiko

I had never heard of this JA runner until reading her obit:

She had a lot in common with my grandmother besides first name. They were roughly the same age and both experienced hard life in postwar Tokyo. They both escaped Japan in ways related to education (well, my grandmother's was due mostly thru marriage, but I think her law degree helped?), both ended their first marriage (in my grandmother's case, actually left him and two kids), both went on to get master's degree in the US, and ended up with what sounds like well-to-do second husbands.  And they both certainly marched to the beat of their own drummer.  I liked the end quote of the obit, "That was her day, until the day she couldn't".

After not running for a good 1-2 weeks because of the crud going around, and still feeling the left heel/ankle pain, I took up the Old Pueblo RD's offer to volunteer at this year's race and roll my registration fee to 2015.  I still want some type of running adventure in March or April, so maybe Monument Valley or Cedro Peak.

Monday, February 10, 2014


"Ann's back":

This is a good article. She's a great runner and person. There's something, however, that I can't put my finger on, maybe a series of somethings, equalling not quite...ok.  I just looked this up and it fits: there's a disquietude about her I've seen in person, and as touched on in this article, albeit maybe unknowingly. And it doesn't help that the article ends with "long may you run".  That phrase was written as an elegy.

Since the beginning of the month, I've had some sort of preschool crud that Emi passed on, so barely any mileage. NOT GOOD.  MAF training had given me a nice confidence going into the month, even though my mileage hasn't been what it should have been. Now, I have three weeks until Old Pueblo, to either a) make up the mileage lost over the last week and a half, or b) start right up what I should be running, or c) make up some sort of emergency training schedule.

Postscript: relevant IRunFar article

Monday, January 6, 2014

"The negative issues did not stop hear."

I wish ultrarunning wasn't such a fringe sport, because this is pure comedy gold. It's sad to make fun of the guy (because who can take this seriously?) because he's an international running legend and 70+ years old or something and (now) obviously a nutcase, but I'm going to have a hard time not thinking of phrases like "mistake in the dosology" and "he realized it was bumpy" at the next race.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Prove It

Strava email from this week

This email is so interesting, and brings up so many questions.  There's a poem/lyrics at the beginning of the email that isn't captured in the screenshot, including the lines "It's who we are" and "It's how we measure ourselves" and "It proves a great story. Prove it".

Align the product with deeply held customer values: "It's who we are".  Who's "we"? This is a targeted email marketing campaign, so I'm guessing the target demo is existing users of Strava: white males, mostly cyclists, ages 25-35 or so.  Why target an already existing customer base? Maybe to reinforce the brand at the New Year, or more importantly, maybe to announce what looks like a new social media identifier for Strava, #StravaProveIt.  There's even a Prove It video. (why do social media products create separate hashtags from their own company/product name?  is the intent to mark separate campaigns or is it just smart to disassociate user tagged information from the company/product for some reason?)

So "Prove It" is a thing for Strava.

"Prove" means in part to "demonstrate the truth".  The guys and I have to prove it, "it" being our accomplishments? Is my word somehow unbelievable (and if so, why?) or are my accomplishments to unreal to be believed? "...proves a great story", so interesting that the word "story" was sounds like we're pretty special people, given the great stories and unbelievable accomplishments.

Or maybe more to the point, we're to prove our identity: athletic, tough, fit, active, fast. We think we're these things, so now we should use Strava to exhibit the actual behavior behind the labels telegraphed by fancy gear and clothes and the communities to which we're associated.

Who are we supposed to prove it to? The office cleaning lady or the old guy that just perpendicular parked in a diagonal parking spot? No, people whose opinion of us we care about.  "Prove to Yourself" (because we doubt our identity?) and "...prove your endeavors via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram...".  So social media outlets made up of, for the most part, our self-selected audiences.  So, not unusual for a social media product to be marketed using an action verb with some...psychological baggage associated with it, since the product is naturally ingrained in our identity.  Instead of a simple "Do It", just buy those shoes and lace them up, Strava users get told to "Prove it", and they're to hashtag the phrase and tell their cohorts to "Prove It".

The call to action of "Prove It" isn't very aspirational. I don't want to some day, some how, just like Kami Semick, "Prove It".  But maybe Strava wasn't looking for aspirational with this campaign?  Maybe they didn't intend to inspire users or give them an unattainable image to aspire to, maybe they wanted to connect to users in a way that's a reaction against those usual marketing motivators?  Maybe the suggestion is "everyone else is living a lie, and you're the one person that's going to "Prove It" and deliver the goods and quit living a life of propped up, possibly untrue identity labels."

If "Prove It" is the answer, what's the question?  Who knows.  I do believe though, that if I'm reading it, "it's for me" ( )

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Javelina 30

My favorite high school cross country workouts were "Indian files".  These are group runs in single or double file, jogging slowly with runners spaced out so the group is about 50 feet long.  The last runner sprints to the front, replaces the leader, and then the next last runner repeats the cycle, over and over again.  I used to feel like I excelled at this particular workout, loved how strong I felt, etc. What dawned on me the other day, as I ran and thought about my JJ100 training, was that I likely enjoyed that particular workout so much because Coach scheduled them prior to important races, when we were at the peak of training cycles.  What I probably liked was not the workout itself, but the feeling of being at these peaks.

And who would've known that just showing up and having a Coach/Gunnery Sergeant/Etc tell me what the workout was for that morning would've been the easiest training of all? I had no idea at the time, but they led me through some great training cycles, which I now appreciate more fully.  Now it's just me telling me what to do, and it's not working out too well.  It was relatively easy to research and create the training plan leading up to JJ100, but enacting the plan and keeping myself accountable continues to be challenging.  Going into the race, I didn't have the weekly mileage totals needed to result in a successful race.  Two loops in, and my left ankle/foot was just ugly angry. It was way too early to be reduced to hobbling around Pemberton, and I was nowhere near the "whatever it takes" mindset, so I quit.

I also continue to sort out nutrition issues past the three hour mark of running.  This is a very medical jargon-y description, but as far as I can tell, what happens is that I skarf down carbs at the aid stations, my body readily breaks down these carbs into lots of sugar, my system senses too much sugar in the blood and releases too much insulin, the insulin then sends my blood sugar crashing, and I end up getitng lightheaded, very low energy, and irritable (aka bonking).  Just surveying the (well-stocked) aid stations at Javelina, Pavlovian response kicked in and I felt woozy looking at all the carb-y bean and Daiya burritos and potatoes and mini-sandwiches.  I ended up grazing as much as anyone else, but by the time the race was over for me, late afternoon, I was also hungry for a real meal.

The solution for future races, I've decided, is to eat meals when I'd normally eat meals, and to make them as hearty as a vegetarian meal stashed in a dropbag can be.  Instant miso soup? Raw cashews? Silken tofu packets?

My running goals in 2014, I had decided late last summer, were going to be shorter and faster....something like PR the half marathon, or break six minutes in the mile.  JJ100 training entailed way too much crazy getting up at 0300 and still running in 100F degree heat and lost family time.  I continue to question how seriously to take myself as a runner, and by stepping back from ultras, I could at least take away time spent on training as a battleground.  But the only thing that made me feel better about quitting JJ100 was telling myself I would come back and finish so...JJ100 2014 it is.  Working backwards, this'll mean a 50 miler in late September, and a 50k in August.

(insert photo of Emi photobombing Hal Koerner's finish)