A Wonderful Vacation

I can’t say enough about the last 10 days.  It was SO wonderful to get away from the craziness of everyday life & to just enjoy being with Nate, running, hiking, the stunning views, crisp/clean air, and the peacefulness of being without a computer, work deadlines, and my iPhone.

We ran and hiked a TON, many days covering 15-17 miles.  The views were spectacular, and my legs felt awesome.  I haven’t felt this strong or efficient before – running feels effortless & just downright fun :).

One major perk of running/hiking so much is the amount you can see in a day. We literally explored the entire Yosemite valley one day (17 miles of running, with stops for pictures), and got in another 17 mile awesome run/hike along a mountain ridge in Sequoia where we were able to enjoy views along a mountain ridge, run through the giant forest (seeing all of the “named” sequoias) and end by climbing 400 or stairs to the top of Moro rock.

From Yosemite – note Half Dome:

We ended the trip with a stay in Las Vegas (Nate had a 2.5 day continuing education course there).  On the way to Vegas we decided to stop for a run through the Mojave National Preserve.  Good thing we ran early, the last 3 miles of my 12 miler were very dry & warm, even though I finished around 9:30ish, .  Repeat:  very dry, very warm.  Scenery doesn’t change there much — just a straight road with desert on both sides.  Exciting.  I now have a new appreciation for Badwater ultramarathoners (or… think them more crazy than I did before).
We stopped in Fresno CA to find a track for the one hard workout Jerry had written for the week: 10×800 with equal rest.  The goal is 2:40 for these.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to the track until after noon, and it was 92 degrees out.  Plus it feels like the track is radiating the heat back up to you (ironically named “Warmerdam Track”, ha).  I struggled through the workout, actually holding on pretty well despite how terribly I run in the heat.  I think I averaged a low 2:42.  Nate made me stop after the 9th one because my legs weren’t moving normally & times were slipping… I told him I’d rather just finish the workout no matter how ugly the last one was, but he said that I was doing myself no favors by pushing myself beyond “that point”, especially in heat like this.  I reluctantly agreed, but later that evening told him that I was pretty disappointed in myself for having listened to him.  I absolutely HATE cutting workouts short (even though every single workout I do I find myself wondering if I can…), and even though 2:42s in heat like that is a very solid effort, I feel like now I just remember that I did just 9 of them.  Argh.
Vegas was great.  I slept in, had fun in the gym, had time to stretch, nap if I felt like it… ahhhh :).  Don’t worry, it wasn’t all running related.  We also made time for the pools, a few drinks, and a Vegas show.  Perhaps the highlight of my Vegas ventures was running from our hotel to Henderson NV to a running store where a group was meeting for their 10 mile group run.  (Note dedication: I was up at 4:30am to start this adventure)  When I emailed the head of the group before the start of the trip, I wondered if it could workout… I didn’t have a car, and plus, they were only doing 10 miles (I was hoping for 20-23).  But then I mapped directions, and found out it was 11 miles to the store — perfect!  The manager of the store graciously agreed to give me a lift back.  Gotta love random adventures & meeting/friending other runners! (Aside: I did worry about safety, but researched the group and manager a lot… but I should definitely be careful when devising these crazy plans…)  There was one woman there who was particularly interested in my training and improvements – even more so after she learned our first two marathons were within a minute of each other, and our 5k PRs were within a second of each other :). 
Only bad part of that run, though, was the pace.  My legs were already starting to feel the volume of the previous days in the park, but when I met up with the group they started in 7:15 pace and quickly dropped to 6:45 and then 6:30 mile pace.  I’m sure they thought, “Olympic Trials Qualifier, eh?  Let’s see what she’s made of!”  Except that I had already run 11 miles for the day & was finishing a low 90’s mile week (plus hours of hiking and walking).  I had nothing.  I kept up for about 4 miles, but then could feel that my legs were now completely drained.  Great.  6 more miles… I can do this.  I asked the woman with me if we could slow a little and she was nice enough to agree.  She laughed that she had been so worried about being able to keep up – never expecting me to be the one asking to slow!  We “slowed” to 7:30 mile pace, which was still taking far more effort than it should have.  I knew at that point that this run would end my “my legs feel SOO good” phase I’ve enjoyed these last few weeks.  It’s funny how I can feel that line being crossed now — the line from running normally tired to running fatigued.
So… we’re back now.  Back to work, back to reality.  Remind me to do a better job of leaving a clean house next time I venture off on vacation, okay?  
[P.S. just a little over 2 weeks to go for Grandma’s!  Crazy!!]

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