Saturday, December 29, 2012

Book Review: Dean Karnazes' Ultra Marathon Man

Let me start off by saying that I know this book is a little old (2005) and I'm a little late to the bandwagon. 
But, I thought I would give it a read and see where it went.

I found this book at Bookman's (a semi-local used bookstore) a year or so ago. So, don't worry, I didn't pay top dollar for it. I'm not sure what took me so long to read it. I'm betting it got in the way of reading textbooks during college. 

Anyway, I now know what people think about Dean Karnazes. However, I went into this book not knowing a thing about him. It may or may not have given me a different perspective. Bear with me. 
After reading it, I talked to a few people about him. Some love him, some hate him. Some think he's a phony, and others think he's the greatest thing since sliced bread. 
I, on the other hand, hold a view somewhere in the middle. 

Ultra Marathon Man is all about Dean from the beginning of his running career to the end of a 199 mile relay race he ran solo. 
He takes us through his high school days on the cross country team (and sometimes the track team) where he found his love for running. And then, tragically, his sister Pary was killed in car crash. His running takes a time out until he gets into the corporate world and realizes it's not for him. 
His running adventures then span from his first Western States to Badwater over to Antarctica and then along the California Coast

I loved reading this book before I went for a run. My short runs always seemed so minuscule compared to his 100 mile conquests. Definitely a great way to motivate before a run or workout. 

I also really enjoyed the Western States race. I loved the detail that went into it. It really felt as if I was there and experiencing it. I was a little disappointed with the other accounts however. They got a little repetitive. As I read farther and farther into the book, I realized why people think this guy is a phony: he is full of himself! Yes, I understand this is a memoir and it should sound good on his part. I got that. But overall, I got the feeling that this wasn't a book about ultra-running; it was a book about Dean Karnazes and what he can do next. 

I love the idea of pushing the human body to unbelievable limits. But in Dean's case, it didn't completely feel that way. I understand that he wants to keep pushing himself to go farther and get stronger, but it came off differently. I feel as if he is advertising himself in this book, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. 

However, I can't completely critique him; I haven't met him yet! (Dean, let me know when you are coming to Tucson! lol). I can only critique him by what I read in Ultra Marathon Man. He could be a completely different person. 
Maybe being his first book, he got a little excited about his accomplishments and thus they came off a little pompous. He does have 2 other books out (50/50 and RUN!) so I may have to give those a try as well...okay...after I read about all the other ultrarunners out there. :)

So, there's my 2 cents on Ultra Marathon Man. Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree. I want to know what my blogosphere buddies think of this book and especially what you think about Dean Karnazes. Remember, I am not endorsing him in anyway. I just read and critiqued his book. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Hot Chocolate 5k Race Recap

This was a fun run #2 for me!

My sister and I heard of this race through the grapevine (aka Facebook). We decided to do it, and take it slow, because my sister has to keep her heartbeat below 150 RPM.

Two easy weekend 5k's in a row! Love it! I'm usually not a fan of 5k's because it's usually 30 minutes of pain lol. If you read my blog periodically, you should know by now that I'm not at all fast (although that would be AWESOME). I'm more about enjoying the experience that is running. :)

The race packet told us to be at the race at 6:00AM!! WTH?
The race started at 7:30am. Joann and I were like, "no. way.".
We showed up around 6:50am-7am and even THAT was too early.

We jumped out of the car only to realize that it was freezing.
Okay, not freezing but too darn freaking cold. |
Please.We are Arizona babies. Give us 110 degree heat any day.
Okay, maybe just me. Whatever. It was too cold.

What to do? We did what pretty much everyone else was doing: got back in the car and blasted the heater! Ahh, warmth.
7:20an came around and we got out of the comfortable car, ran to the portapotties and got in our corral!
This was Joann's first race in a looooong time so she was really excited! And I got to run another race with my sister, so I was excited too!

3, 2, 1...RUN!

A little crowded in some spots.
You can see the faster runners coming down along the side. 

Plenty of water and sports drinks. No complaints here. 
We kept to a slow pace and stopped whenever her Garmin told us her pulse reached 150 BPM.

It was a great day for a run! It was definitely cold in the beginning, and thankfully it didn't warm up too much once the sun came up. I would have hated to have shed all those layers.

I don't expect much scenery-wise whenever I run a race in Phoenix. Especially when you compare it to Tucson. But it wasn't bad this time around. We were out on Indian Reservation (as far as I know) so it was really open. We only ran past a few buildings. And there were some nice hills in the distance.

I never saw that cameraman. Thankfully, we made up for it. :)

The finish line!

And then finally...we finished!

Finally, hot chocolate! What this race is all about! 
It was a great race and I may get some more people to run it with us next year!
Maybe, a little faster. ;)

Joann had some trepidations about the race in the beginning.
Read the article. It sounds like it was awful. I would definitely be upset if that happened during a race. However, I understand that races are run by people and people aren't perfect. They make mistakes too! I think we all need to remember that.

The treats afterward were delicious! I loved that part the most. Although, I wish there was some more stuff to do afterward. I don't want to go home yet! I'm thinking other races should set up booths and get the word out! Ragnar Relay already does it at some events, but more races should do this! I would sign up for a ton of races!


This weekend I am planning on running my first 20 miler!

As you know, I'm training for my first marathon. Unfortunately, I had to take two weeks off. :(
Too much grading at the end of the school semester and the holidays got to me. Oh, and I'm pretty sure I'm sick.
I've been dizzy for the past few days. Trying to drink a lot of water and hope for the best this weekend.
*crossing my fingers*

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Color Vibe 5k Race Recap

This past Saturday, I ran my first ever color run!
Actually, it was the Color Vibe. There is a difference.
But they're all pretty much the same as far as I know. You run a 5k and get colored corn starch thrown at you.
My friend Patricia and I decided to sign up. She is just getting back into running so it would be a fun run to get her excited about running again. From what other bloggers have said about color runs, you should go slow anyways to get more color. Perfect!
 I parked at Fort Lowell park. I decided it would be a good idea to warm up since it was a mile away. Why would I walk??

I ran past other "color vibers" and heard a lot of comments. Some said "Why is she running?" while others stated the obivous: "She's definitely a runner.".

Seriously? Are we about to run a 5k or what? Why are you people here???

What I should have realized at that moment is that the Color Vibe (and any other color run for the record) is NOT for runners .

I mean, you can run. But what's the point? You paid to get covered with multicolored corn starch and if you try to run a PR, you'll miss all of the good stuff.

So, yeah, I did warm up and run that 1st mile at a good pace. And guess what? I inspired some others to do the same. As I started to pass people in the bike lane (too many people on the sidewalk), I saw groups of people jump behind me and say "let's do that too!".

Let me stop blabbing and get to the recap...

I found Patricia and her husband Adam in the crowd beforehand. We took some almost before photos (got too excited with the color):

Patricia and Adam
I consider us still clean at this point.
Right before the race started, everyone got excited and threw their color into the air. It was a beautiful dust cloud of color. :)

After a few waves started, we were finally at the start line! 
Off we went!

I was a little disappointed by the color stations. The color was everywhere and beautiful, don't get me wrong! But I thought they would have had a more creative way to get the color on the runners. The volunteers just grabbed a handful of color from a box and threw it. I thought there would be a color gun or something lol. 

COLOR RUN TIP #1: If you wanted to be COVERED in color (not just lightly dusted), run along the sides in front of the color volunteers. And then hold your arms out. They will throw handfuls in your face. Just make sure to hold your breath. 

Unfortunately, I wasn't ready for that massive amount of color and I got some in my eye. 

COLOR RUN TIP #2: Wear sunglasses! But be careful. They threw the color at me when my head was turned and it got through the side of the sunglasses. So, better yet, close your eyes AND wear sunglasses. AND hold your breath. 

I also came out coughing. 
So. Much. Color. Dust.

The run itself was not very scenic. It took place at the Tucson Medical Center. We ran around the property. Runners became cramped on the sidewalks. Too many people and not enough room at times. 

You can see how much my eye watered trying to get the color out.
Not the most attractive look...
There were only 2 color stations. We just ran a double lap so we hit the stations four times during the 5k.

Color Station #2

Patricia must have gotten the box dumped on her or something. 

At the last station, we started grabbing color out of the boxes that were on the ground. Why should the volunteers have all the fun?!?

Finally, we finished! Patricia did awesome! She had a blast. She's even looking at doing more color runs soon. I'm trying to talk her into a mud run. ;) My kind of run.

I want to dress up for my next fun race!
These gals were dancing to the music post race.
They were so energetic. 

Gotta do the jumping photos to show you how excited I am:

Failed jump. I still look excited. 

Overall, this was a great run! It would be great to do with a group! I definitely recommend doing this kind of race at least once. There are so many of these runs popping up now (The Color Vibe, The Color Run, Color Me Rad, etc). you have to do one! 

Next time, I will wear some fun clothes (like a tutu or cape in white of course...) and close my eyes while in the color stations. Lesson learned! :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Motivate Me! Monday

That's what so great about running. :)
Love it!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Charoleau Gap/Samaniego Ridge Trail

A few weeks ago, I joined TTR for another early Sunday trail run.

We met a little before 7am at the trailhead of the Charoleau Gap trail. Actually, it's more like a dirt road. 4x4 trucks use it a lot. Apparently, it's a really popular place for off-roading.

Anyway, right at 7am, we were off! I satyed with the group for about a mile as usual, but then I just couldn't keep their pace anymore. They are speed demons! 
And it was just too cold. My nose, ears and fingers were really feeling it. I was even wearing gloves. 
The sun was still behind the mountains, so I knew I had a few miles to go before it started to warm up.

It was freezing cold in the beginning!
Slowly ascending...
The sun barely peeking out. 

Finally, the sun came out and I picked up the pace! Well, as much as I could. :)

Sun warming up the trail. 
Happy that it finally became warm. :)
 I chatted with some other runners along the way. Before she passed me, Alli and I talked about future races for a little while. Then, Stephanie caught up with me and we talked about being new to TTR. This was her first run with TTR so for once I felt like the seasoned trail runner! It was nice to give advice about some of the runs. 

I continued on the trail as the sun continued to rise. It got warm, but never warm enough to take off my jacket. I was a little bummed because I bought new arm warmers and I wanted to try them out. Next time!

The hills on this trail are wicked! 
When you first start and look out at the trail, it seems like it will mostly flat. 
They are slow and steady inclines the entire way! Some hills were steeper than others:

Literally straight up! I was basically rock climbing!
Notice the tire tracks in the photo. I can't believe people think driving over this stuff is fun...but then they probably think the same thing about me running up it. :)

I was slowly going higher in elevation...
Maintained by the Tucson Rough Riders. 
As I headed farther up the trail, I was sure I was the very last person. I was going so slow! The uphills were no fun and I was getting over a cold from the week before. I wasn't in top running shape during that week so I expected a slow run...but this slow? Those uphills were definitely tough though...I'm not kidding. 

The elevation slowly started to change and I could tell mainly from the difference in vegetation. It got a little greener and more shaded. Which meant cold again lol. 

At a open spot in the trail, I could see what I later found out was the Gap (no not the store...)

It's right where the two mountains dip together. 
It was so peaceful out there! I loved how there were not any other runners. On other trails TTR runs on (especially in Sabino Canyon) there are usually a lot of other people crowding the trail. Not the case here. 

As I got closer to my destination, the views got a lot better. 

The uphills were still brutal...
 Finally, I made it to a sign! At the time, I wasn't sure what it meant (it's not like it said Charoleau Gap as you can see). So, I kept going. I passed a TTR runner. We said some motivation to each other as we passed by (Nice job! You're doing great!) and continued on our way. I went down the trail (it was really really downhill) for about a mile and then decided I should turn around. I sure didn't want to get lost on this trail. 

The trail sign at the Charoleau Gap.

I headed back down the trail back to the parking lot. 

The same trail I ran up. 

Soaking up the sun for a little while. 
Heading back down...
I was about a mile or so away from the parking lot when I saw this little guy in the trees next to the trail:
Little calf watching me run
He was cute until I realized he wasn't the only one watching me. His entire family was there too. Including some better believe I got out of there fast!

Almost there and the trail had one last surprise for me...another hill! This one was not a nice one, just like the rest of them. I completely forgot running down it at the beginning. 

The last of the ferocious hills. 
 I came running into the parking lot in 3 hours and 42 minutes. I saw the RD's car and ran straight for it, telling her my time. At that time, it was perfect weather for my arm warmers so  stripped off my jacket, got some food and hot cider, chatted with some other runners who finished, and tried to soak up a little sun. 
I stayed for about 30 minutes afterwards (it's always nice catching up and getting to meet new runners). 

My total mileage was 13.42 miles.Very slow, but it was also very hilly and I was recovering from a cold. Also, not the most ideal conditions for me (way too cold!) but it was nice at the end. I would like to do this run again next year. Definitely on my list. :)

"I always loved was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs."   - Jesse Owens


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