I love it! I agree with Pearl on this one.
"Blog" has the same negative connotation to me as the word "jog."
Both are so common and almost demeaning in my twisted perception.
I even felt that way 30 years ago when I first began running. No matter how slowly I now run, by gosh I'm still a "runner," not a
jogger. And since we have our own website, not a blog on someone else's
website, I don't consider this journal a "blog" nor myself a "blogger."
You can stop laughing now!
I love writing this journal, even though I often fall behind.
As several folks have told me, including Jim, it's better to be out
there living life than writing about it. Not satisfied with just
one of those alternatives, I want both.
Gee, do you think Jim can relate to
(another Pickles cartoon by Brian Crane, 4-29-09)
The journal has brought us new friends all over the world since we launched our
website in 2005.
It's a way to keep our friends and family apprised of our whereabouts and
some of our activities. It also gives me an outlet for my itch to write
and take photos, two hobbies I can continue enjoying even as my running
"career" diminishes in intensity and importance. To my immense frustration I can't keep
up with Jim on most of our runs but I can still savor the scenery and capture
the experience with my camera as I walk and slowly run (not jog!!!) along.
We've been busy enough since we returned to our home base in Virginia that
I've gotten 'way behind on this journal. My intent here is to catch up a bit
with what's been going on (related to running, hiking, and traveling) since we got back in March.
I'll begin in this entry with our tentative summer race and
travel plans and an update on our training since the beginning of the year.
entries I'll talk about an important hiking milestone a friend reached
recently, a new physical challenge I'm facing, preparing for our
summer trip, and
comments about turning 60 a
OUR TENTATIVE RACE ITINERARY
Until now I've deliberately avoided posting our race schedule
for the rest of the year because it keeps morphing. Not only
does Jim keep adding more races to his agenda, but my own plans have
been thrown off because two of my intended winter races have
been cancelled this year, both essentially victims of the lousy
economy. One cancellation was announced publicly in mid-March (Sunmart).
The other hasn't been publicly announced, only to the race
committee, so I cannot mention it here yet. I'm still hoping
that one gets reprised, even if it is in a different location.
The demise/hiatus of these events has thrown me into more of a tizzy
than Jim because one of them was to be my goal race for 2009.
Jim has so many interesting and challenging races planned this
summer and fall that he's not all that concerned about winter
View from Horse Creek Ridge during the 2007
This is what our current race schedule looks like through
August. As always, sometimes *stuff happens* and we may need to adapt
to circumstances in and out of our control that may change this
5/16 Jemez Mountain Trail Run, Los Alamos, NM, 50 miles (Jim run,
6/19 Bighorn Mountain Wild & Scenic Trail Run, northern WY, 50
or 100 miles (Jim)
& 50K (Sue)
7/10 Hardrock Hundred, Silverton, CO (volunteer)
7/17 Tahoe Rim Trail, Lake Tahoe area, NV, 100 miles (Jim), 50K (Sue) -
Jim's oldest son is also running TRT, his first
8/1 Perhaps a 100K in UT on Jim's 61st birthday, which falls on a Saturday
8/15 Leadville 100-mile bike race, CO (work)
8/22 Leadville 100-mile run (work; Jim says now that he isn't going to run it this
View of Lake Tahoe from the race course (July, 2003)
In September and October we're considering working and/or
running a few more races in the Rockies and Midwest before
returning to Virginia briefly to deal with the leaves falling on our lawn and
roof (gotta find a solution
to that dilemma when we get back). I won't mention the specific races since
we haven't officially entered any of them yet.
TRAINING IN VIRGINIA
All of the races listed above involve mountainous courses that
reach altitudes much
higher than we can find in Virginia. We can't easily train
for altitude at home this spring but we can find plenty of
short and long grades in the Blue Ridge Mountains to simulate
the terrain we'll encounter in the Rockies. Roanoke's March and
April weather has been
typically variable, from cold and damp to hot and muggy. There
has been a lot of much-needed rain. That's
spring in Virginia, nothing unusual, so we've been able to train
any day we've had the time and motivation.
Fifty miles on the smooth, undulating trails at Umstead helped Jim log time on his feet and
forced him to run a little faster than he would run in a
gnarly mountainous race. Promise Land, while not as long, gave him additional
mountain training to supplement his hilly runs at nearby Explore
Park and Stewart's Knob.
Redbuds in bloom at Explore Park
I keep encouraging Jim to train on the Andy Lang Trail
near Roanoke or The Priest, a mountain farther north on the
Appalachian Trail that David Horton uses to train for Hardrock
and other difficult Rocky Mountain races. Both trails have
significant climbs/descents over about three miles. Neither of
us took that opportunity this trip home, however.
Jim feels the hilly terrain at Stewart's Knob, Explore Park, and
on the Promise Land course (which he's run in training three
times and during the race last week) are sufficient until he can
get back to the Rockies. He'll get plenty of tough mountain
terrain and elevations up to and over 10,000 feet in the Jemez
Mountains in northern New Mexico and the Bighorns in Wyoming in
a couple of weeks.
Pretty spring flowers along the Stewart's Knob Trail
Jim is mostly pleased with his training distance and intensity
since ATY. He believes he is better trained than he was this
time last year and is optimistic about the races he plans to
run. He has run from six (rest week after a race) to 70 miles a
week since the beginning of the year and from 100 to 212½
miles a month. He estimates a total of 190-200 miles in May. He
has been able to avoid any illnesses and injuries for a year or
more, which helps him to train consistently.
Cody likes the rocks, hills, and creeks at
Explore Park, too. (4-18-09)
Although Jim is registered for the
100-miler at Bighorn he is considering changing to the 52-miler
there so he will be more rested for the Tahoe Rim Trail
(TRT)100-miler a month later. Both are tough races with plenty
of elevation gain and loss. His oldest son, Jimmie, is also
running TRT. It's his first 100-miler. It's very special when a
father-son duo runs the same ultra, especially one this long.
It'll be fun to visit with Jim and his family, who live fairly
close to the race course.
Most of my training miles the last seven weeks in Virginia have been on the
relatively flat section of the greenway system in Roanoke that
is dirt/crushed rock and not paved. I run there three or four
days a week. At least once a week I train at Explore Park or
Stewart's Knob to get
in some hill training without straining my knees too much. I
definitely need to ramp up training on hills and mountains
before the Bighorn 50K next month, however.
Along the Roanoke River: not all the trails
at Explore are hilly. (4-11-09)
My goal the past few weeks has been to gradually increase my
mileage and work on steady stretches of running for 20 minutes
at a time. That's more easily accomplished on the smooth,
rolling Wolf Creek Greenway than the rougher, hillier trails at
Explore and Stewart's Knob. I do more running than walking on the greenway, more
walking than running at Explore Park.
My weekly running and walking mileage since the beginning of the
year has ranged from a low of 20 miles to a high of 51 miles.
I've done only one race during that time, and don't have another
one planned until mid-June. I've increased my monthly miles
gradually from 132 in January to 157 in April.
I estimate a total of 160-170 miles in May, although that will
be more difficult because of travel time and the need to find
suitable trails in New Mexico and South Dakota before our
arrival in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming later this month. I
figure I can find plenty of hills and mountains in those locales
to prepare myself adequately (although not optimally) for the
Bighorn and Tahoe 50Ks. Both races have very generous cut-off
times so I can walk as much as necessary.
New fencing and horse barn along the
Wolf Creek Greenway (4-28-09)
My plan is to train enough to avoid muscular-skeletal injuries
like Achilles tendonitis from over-extending myself during those
strenuous races -- but not training so much on steep
hills/mountains that my knees hurt. After recemtly talking with a woman
in physical therapy for two simultaneous knee replacements, I'm
in cartilage-saving mode!
OK, I admit if I was really in cartilage-saving mode I probably
wouldn't be running at all . . .
Cody tries to grab a stick away from Jim on
the Wolf Creek Greenway. (4-23-09)
At this point I have no race plans after Tahoe Rim Trail in
July. I'm having trouble getting excited about any races this
year, mostly because I'm still in denial about my favorite race being cancelled
this year. I'm researching alternatives but haven't come up with
a suitable one yet.
Jim doesn't do much cross-training other than walking. He hasn't
ridden his bike since we were at McDowell Mountain Park in the
Phoenix area in January. He didn't renew his YMCA membership
when we got back to Roanoke but he's done some weight work at
While we've been in Roanoke I've worked out on the LifeFitness
machines at the Y three or four times a week and used some of
their equipment for physical therapy that I don't have at home.
I haven't done any swimming, pool running, or aerobic machines
at the Y this spring.
I enjoyed riding Jim's mountain bike at McDowell Mountain Park
and at Huntsville SP in Texas during the winter. Since we've
been back in Roanoke, however, I've ridden my own road bike and
Jim's bike only sporadically, mostly because we've been so busy
with other things. I plan to do more cycling when we're on our
trip this summer.
When we've taken Jim's mountain bike on previous trips we've
been able to transport it in the long bed of the F-250. The new Ram
truck's short bed doesn't allow space for it, so we hunted
locally and online for a suitable bike carrier that would attach
to the ladder on the back of the camper. We couldn't find
anything but very flimsy racks to mount on ladders, and rejected
the other types that mount on the truck roof or bumper
receiver of the camper for various reasons.
You remember that quote about necessity being the mother of
invention? Well, Jim cleverly fabricated a sturdy ladder-mounted rack
for a mere $9 that should work perfectly! That saved us $40-50
for a flimsy commercial ladder mount and up to $200 for a sturdy
Jim's got the bike tightly secured with several bungee cords so it
doesn't slam against the back of the camper even when --
not if -- we hit bumps or go over curbs. (As much as we try to
avoid going over curbs, it occasionally happens with a long camper.) There's
even room for my road bike if we decide to take it on another
trip. This summer we're taking just the less expensive Trek mountain bike again
because it's more versatile and less likely to be stolen than my
spiffy Terry road bike.
In fact, I kinda wish someone would steal it so I'd have
an excuse to buy a new mountain bike that fits me as well as my
road bike! (Just
kidding. Well, mostly.)
[Note three weeks later: the bike road very well on Jim's
carrier to New Mexico, South Dakota, and Wyoming. I think he
should patent his invention.]
Next entry: the story of a good friend who recently
finished hiking the entire Appalachian Trail
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2009 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil