Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Running Faster

I am a very consistent runner.  I pretty much run the same pace no matter what distance I’m running.  This is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact in many ways it’s a good thing.  But somehow deep down inside I’m feeling like I should be able to run a shorter distance faster.  Running faster is a goal of most serious runners.  We runners measure improvement in increased distances and faster paces. 

Last fall, after I returned from three months in the mountains, running at 10,000 feet, I should have been a running superhero down at a mere 4200 feet.  But I wasn’t.  I found myself running about the same paces as I had at altitude.  Why wasn’t I faster?

My answer came in an old email from Brian Corbett, an RRCA-certified running coach and my former coach at the Wasatch Training Group.  In his email dated 5/31/2013, Brian advised the group, “… many of us would like to run faster than we have before or do currently.  In almost every case, this is a goal that can be reached with an appropriate WILLINGNESS to train and the understanding of HOW to train. 

The first component involves a willingness to run at a pace that is somewhat uncomfortable, at least some of the time.  In other words, in order to run faster, you have to run faster.  It seems a bit obvious in plain English, but it always amazes me how many runners epitomize the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  While a beginning runner will improve dramatically without intentionally altering their training pace, the point of diminishing returns for this type of training comes quickly for the more experienced runner.  The key is a willingness to ‘step outside the comfort zone’ (I hate that cliché) and push ourselves harder.”

To run faster, you have to run faster.  Who knew?  Oh, wait.  Brian knew.  So I tried it.  I set out from the trailer park with the intention of pushing myself as fast as I could go for about a minute, then scaling back for a couple of minutes, then doing it again.  I felt my heart rate go much faster than in my normal training pace, and came back from that run totally spent.  What was I doing wrong?

This time the answer came from Danny Dreyer, the author of Chi Running.  In the Chi Running technique, you control your speed though your lean and your cadence.  Leaning into your run will lengthen your stride, and as long as you take just as many steps per minute as when you’re running upright, you will go faster.  And with a lot less effort.

I’ve been practicing this a little, and it does seem to work, but nothing beats the adrenalin that comes at the starting line of a half-marathon.  Salt Lake City Half Marathon – April 16 – here I come! 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Snowbirding - A Review

We pulled the trailer home yesterday after our four-month stay in beautiful Hurricane.  It’s cleaned up and back in storage.  So what was snowbirding really like? 

Well, we were truly rookies.  If we had been experienced snowbirds, we would have brought a coordinated bistro set, a small gas grill, and a plant or two.  We would have also known that our trailer didn’t fit in the smaller driveways with the cutout, and would have missed the fun of vacuuming dust and mud every other day.  Now we know.

It was great not to have to shovel snow.  Yes, it did get cold in Hurricane but it never snowed.  It was also great to be so close to so many activities: Zion National Park, three state parks, and so many backroads that it would take years to explore them all.  It was also great to be able to run any time without worrying about falling on the ice or breathing the bad air.

Being in Hurricane felt like a four month vacation, and that’s just too long to be on vacation.  Every day we made a plan to go do something, because it just didn’t work sitting home in the trailer all day.  This was a good thing – we’ve seen a lot of beautiful country and done a lot of fun things.  But there were no projects to work on, and in such close quarters I didn’t feel comfortable taking time (and hogging the shared laptop) to write or scrapbook.  I even neglected my blog.  And this trip reminded us that three months in the trailer is pretty much our max.  We thought we could handle longer if we didn’t have a job, but having a job actually gave us some structure to our days.

We volunteered for VITA in St. George, and found ourselves doing far more instruction than production.  They needed Paul to be a site coordinator for an established site at the Red Rock Center for Independence, so that was our regular spot.  It was appointment only, and we only had six appointments each session for three preparers, so it was a much slower pace.  We were also asked to help a new preparer at the Deaf Center.   He was deaf, as were his clients, so we worked with him through an interpreter and helped him learn the program.  He’ll be able to do this on his own next year.  That was an amazing experience.  American Sign Language is so beautiful.  Learning it just may land on my bucket list.

What I really learned about myself is that my life is in Salt Lake City.  For better and for worse.  The air may be bad, the traffic may be bad, but our kids, our friends, our extended family, and our volunteer work are all in SLC.  I guess Dorothy had it right – there’s no place like home.

That said, we won’t rule out snowbirding again.  After all, now we’re experienced.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tri-State ATV Jamboree

One of the biggest annual events in Hurricane is the Tri-State ATV club’s Jamboree.  Jamboree attracts riders from throughout the US, Canada, and even a few foreign countries.  The three day event features guided rides each day, breakfast every morning and a fun event each evening.  Headquarters, at the Washington County Regional Fairgrounds, also hosts a number of ATV vendors displaying the latest and greatest in ATVs and gear.

This year we were among the 500+ participants.  We weren’t sure how the logistics of this many people and machines would work, but the organizers have it down to an art.  The large parking lot had plenty of room for the riders to line up each morning for their rides, and the lines moved one by one as the riders trailered to their respective staging areas.

There were 22 guided rides to choose from, with difficulty ratings quite similar to what you’d see on a ski slope.  Or so we thought.  We’d been riding for a couple of months, so signed up for Intermediate rides, thinking they would be challenging enough without getting us in over our heads.  Or so we thought.  We learned the code on the rides.  What we would call “Oh, s__t!” they refer to as “Intermediate plus.”  We managed one such section with me riding on the back, but I had to hop off and walk for the other two so Paul could maneuver the ATV.  Of course, in hindsight, our machine is somewhat underpowered and not built for a rider.  Yes, it’s true – the Queen’s Chair is an add-on. 

Other than the “Intermediate Plus” sections, which were just a small part of the rides, the rides were fabulous.  We rode some incredible trails and saw some fantastic scenery.  We got to know people from all over the country.  We met sisters from Beaver, one a cancer survivor, who drove the “Oh, s__t” sections like champs, and even had breakfast with a Huntsman Senior Games gold medalist in pickleball.  

There are similar jamborees all over southern and central Utah during the spring and summer months, and many participants know one another from past jamborees.  While we were the new kids on the block, we were welcomed with open arms.  How open?  On one of the rides we ran out of gas.  Seriously.  We started out with a full tank but between the sandy conditions and the climbs we used more gas than we had.  One of our guides came to the rescue.  He put his spare gas into our tank and refused to take any money for it.  I promised him that someday I would help another rider.  I hope to someday be able to keep that promise.