Sunday, January 27, 2013

Love begets love

After a great day ski touring for 6 hours last Sunday, I developed a bit of a sore throat and some achy-aches (I actually started getting sick on the tour, but toughed it out and ended up in bed most of the day on Monday) and had quite a mellow week.  (Mellow week for me is thirty miles total for the week and no more ski touring.)

I worked a couple of days, ran a bunch on the treadmill in the basement (Downton Abbey episodes get me through that) all the while with the dogs watching me, longingly, wanting to go out for a walk.  We had freezing rain on Thursday and Friday so it was really too treacherous on the sidewalks to get them out.

On Friday, I went down to the Outdoor Retailers show to just look around and hang out for a while and I ended up spending six hours there visiting with friends, looking at gear, and picking up some new shoes.  I met all of the guys at the Altra booth, and introduced myself as one of their new ambassadors, and they were so great to me!  They brought out some new shoes for me to try right then and there ~ the 2013 Torin ~ and I got on the treadmill for a bit.  We talked about what races we are all going to do this year and how their products have really taken off in the last couple of years.

I started my new job at an urgent care in Davis County and will be working there a few days a month for some extra money (I can pay for Frank's surgery that he had last week to remove the lump on his face, and I'll be able to get the new couch I've been wanting for so long).  Thankfully, I got a bit of free time to take my new shoes out for a four mile spin and I loved them.  Running in the neighborhoods around Layton left a little bit to be desired, but I was just happy to be outside and not running on the treadmill.

We had a few minutes of sunshine today just before the next winter storm blew into town.  But, alas I didn't run in sunshine rather light, drizzling rain with overcast skies.  I did get ten miles done on the Salt Lake streets with my friend Mark, and he shot some video of me in my new kicks, so hopefully I'll have some images to pass on soon.

Poor dogs still have not gotten out ~ haven't really gotten out all week except for their 3 mile walk in Summit Park on Monday.  I'll be more motivated to get them out this week what with the fresh snow and the lack of pollution in the air.  So glad it finally cleared out and we are getting dumped on with snow right now.  I'll be working the next couple of days, but later in the week should be able to get some good skiing in!

Afternote:  Frank's mass on his cheek was a benign fibrolipoma and he is healing well.  He was a bit groggy for a couple of days but was soon back to his kibble-eating self.  He only spent a few hours in the "cone of shame" and hasn't scratched at his staples at all.  Artie was quite concerned about him when he first returned home, and kept nudging him with little love nudges.  He has been sleeping on my bed every night since the surgery (on Tuesday) and I'm afraid I might not be able to talk him into ever returning to the floor and his own bed.  It's ok ~ there's nothing better than giving an old dog a little bit of extra love.  Because you know what you get in return?  Love.
The Monitors ~ where we skied last Sunday. 
Me on the Wasatch Crest ~
Franklin, post-surgery snoozing on the couch ~
Artie looking on lovingly towards Franklin
Frank checking out my new shoes (the Altra Torin)
after I returned from the OR show ~
Kickin' it at the new job ~

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ambassador Missy? Yup, I like it!

I'm really excited to announce that I've been named an Altra shoe ambassador.  A few months ago, I decided to head down to the Wasatch Running Center to just try on some Altra shoes and see what they were like.  Several of my trail-running-ultra friends are wearing them and like them a lot, so I thought that I would see what the shoes were like.

I have to tell you, the Altra Superior trail shoe is one of the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn, straight out of the box.  This is a pretty "minimal" shoe, meaning that it doesn't have a whole lot of cushiony midsole, and the "drop" or the height of the shoe from heel to toe is "zero", meaning that it is flat across the shoe from tip to tail.  I originally purchased the shoes to train in once or twice a week, for some foot strengthening and to work on my stride efficiency.  They are so comfortable and I am running so well in them now, I'm pretty excited to be in the process of transitioning to them as my standard shoe.

What does zero drop mean?  For some, who have been used to running in a standard running shoe (which can be about 12mm of drop) it can be a tough transition.  I have been running in the Hoka One One Mafate and Stinsons for about three years, so for me the transition took about a month, running only 30 miles per week.  For those not familiar with the Hoka, it has about a 4mm drop and a very thick midsole.  (See comparison photo below.)
Hoka Mafate 2 (left), Altra Superior (right)
I alternated running with the Hokas and the Altras the first 3 weeks, and only did up to 4 miles in the Altras at any one time for the first couple of weeks.  I also did a lot of 2-mile walks either on my lunch break or with the dogs after work.  I talked to a Sports Med doc at work, and he advised running at least a little bit in the shoes daily, as opposed to only once or twice a week, for an easier transition into the shoes.  This way, the foot has a daily exposure to the new shoe, and is not "shocked" into wearing them for a longer distance once or twice a week.  I'm glad I talked to him about it.  I think the plan definitely worked.  The first couple of weeks I had a little bit of anterior lower leg soreness which I attributed to the change in shoes, but I was just very patient with the process of transitioning ~ running slowly, relaxed, and not pushing (things that I am very good at doing anyway!)  I'm happy to report that I did my first 9 mile run in the Altras just yesterday and have no lower leg soreness (or over-all leg soreness at all) today.

As for being an ambassador, I will be wearing an Altra shirt and visor or hat as well as the shoes, and basically saying nice things about them at the races I participate in and volunteer at.  I'm honored to be named an ambassador for such a great product ~ I feel like I have been recognized for my participation and dedication to trail running (over the past 14 years!) which is so much more than winning races and being on a podium ~ to me there is such a strong sense of community and camaraderie with trail running.  Being able to support a great product and talk about it at races with other participants will be very rewarding for me.  One thing you can count on, I never endorse a product that I don't believe in.  I rarely get "free gear", so the gear that I do invest my money in, I hope that it will work for me.  If it doesn't work for me, I spend my money elsewhere.

Altra Superior shoes with Kahtoola microspikes,
out on the Rail Trail in Park City

Rail Trail, Promontory, Park City, Utah

I am a member of the Wasatch Speed Goats Mountain Racing Team again this year, and am looking forward to swapping stories with my team mates about the races we have planned for 2013.  I'm really looking forward to my running season in 2013.  I plan on volunteering at Wasatch 100 and the Antelope Island fall races again this year.

Events I am planning on running in 2013:

Buffalo 100, Antelope Island, Utah ~ March 22
pacer at Bryce 100, Bryce, Utah ~ May 31
Bighorn 100, Sheridan, Wyoming ~ June 14
volunteer Speedgoat 50k, Snowbird, Utah ~ July 27
El Vaquero Loco 50k, Afton, Wyoming ~ August 10

Couldn't resist adding this one ~
the dogs and I walked to Starbucks for a
coffee and a snack.  Don't let them fool you ~
they enjoyed every minute of it!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Look ~ a shooting star!

Day 3 of Roberta Street Dawn Patrol today.  My neighbors, Brett & Kate, and I tried skiing a new area today, after I got some information from a coworker of mine.  You see, we haven't gotten any snow in about a week, and the temperatures have been inverted with cold air in the valleys and sunny, warm weather up high, so the south-facing slopes have gotten a nasty little sun crust on them.  We needed to find somewhere in the north-ish facing trees.

As we got out of the car to put our boots on at the base of the mountain, bbbbrrrr....  it was cold.  Not sure how cold, but single-digit cold for sure.  We got going quickly, watching our breath play out in shapes in front of our faces, lit up by the light from our headlamps.

Up the skin road we went, and since none of us had ever been ski touring in this particular area before (although I had skied past it and looked at it dozens of times) we kept looking off to the right and finally found the track we needed to be on.

As we climbed through the aspen groves in the dark, we couldn't help but notice the elephant among us.  Although we were at about 9,000 feet, there seemed to be an odd lacking of adequate snow coverage in this particular area and each pole strike into the ground went through the snow surface with a crunch.  We regrouped several times going up the hill and all said at one time or another, "I sure hope we don't have to ski down through this," because it was hateful, knee-twisting, survival-skiing conditions.

At one point as I waited for Brett & Kate to catch up to me, I turned off my headlamp to take in a view of the stars.  Looking off to the northeast ~ BOOM ~ meteor.  We had hit the Quadrantids meteor shower perfectly.  We all stopped several times on the slope to marvel.  I couldn't help but feel how small we are in comparison to such a sight.  Reading from the web address above makes me realize just how lucky we were to witness this event: "While the plus side of this annual shower is its ability to produce fireballs, and its high hourly rates, the downside is its short peak.  Quatrantids has an extremely narrow peak, occurring over just a few short hours.  The Quadrantids are also well known for producing fireballs, meteors that are exceptionally bright.  These meteors can also, at times, generate persistent trails." 

The light slowly crept its way up and over the eastern ridge of mountains and we found ourselves in a nice, mellow, low-angle aspen grove, northeast facing, with dense sugary snow and thankfully, no sun crust.  Transitioning over to ski mode from climbing mode we laid down our tracks through the trees.  It was surprisingly very enjoyable and really only the last couple hundred yards were a bit brushy, but not crusty.  I even managed to navigate us safely around the creek bed at the bottom of the slope without having a 20+ foot climb back to the skin track that we had started on.

We skied past our $1.75 million future home and back to the car.  I discovered that I had put a handful of chocolate-covered almonds in my pants' pocket and affectionately calling them "moose poop", shared them with the others.

Back to the car by 8:30 am and we de-rigged and drove down the canyon while others were just driving up to start their days.  

When I got home, I took a long, steamy shower to warm back up, stopped by Starbucks for a coffee, and made a fried-egg sandwich at home.  A mid-morning nap on the couch with the dogs felt pretty good as well.

This had to be one of those "top ten" things that I have done in my lifetime.  Although, it seems that the more I go on incredible adventures, my list has long surpassed ten things.  It was a magical morning in the mountains!