Miles, miles, miles

Weekly miles run: 44
Total mileage this season: 475

Before I get going with this blog post, I need to appeal to your wallets. I am trying to raise $800 by Monday, April 30th to reach my minimum fundraising goal of $2000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (I’m ultimately aiming for $3000, but $2k is a good start). Please consider making a donation–just use the “Click here to donate securely” link to the right, or contact me to find out how to send a check.

Okay, on to the more interesting stuff.

It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m sitting at Ike’s Coffee and Tea, down the road from my house, drinking iced tea, eating a turkey and avocado sandwich, and catching up on my training blog. It is a bit hard to believe, but the marathon is just six weeks away. We have two more weeks of long runs and then begin tapering to give our bodies enough time to rest and recover before the big day.

This morning Scott and I ran a half marathon at a 9:15 pace–that’s 13.1 miles. The last few miles were hard, and I think that if either of us had been running solo we’d have been slower. But we have a great running synergy and kept each other going. Last week I ran 16 miles with Coach Brian at a 9:20 pace and had a similar experience–it was hard, especially the last few miles, but with Brian pacing and pushing me, I finished strong.

I’ve been running pretty regularly since 2005 and have generally held a pretty darn steady 10 minute mile pace, but this season something just seems to have clicked and my speed has definitely increased. I find that my “comfortable” pace is now more like 9:40 or 9:30 minute miles, and when I push myself I can sustain 9:20 or even 9:15 minute miles (as I found out these past two weekends). And it feels great! The training schedule the coaches have given us has me running more miles than I’ve ever run before while training for a marathon, so that may have something to do with it (I’m regularly running 40+ miles per week, versus 25-30 on average for past seasons). And I suppose it is like anything else in life–if you want to get better, you have to practice.

The schedule for tomorrow calls for a 2 hour run, so I’ll get in somewhere between 12 and 13 miles again. Anyone up for a run?

One really nice thing that happened this week is that I found out a handful of my family members are going to be able to join me in San Diego for the race. My mom and Uncle Ricky (sister and brother of my Uncle Kenny, who I run in memory of), and at least some of my cousins are going to be there. Some of them are considering doing the half marathon relay (teams of two, each person doing about half of the 13.1 miles), so that would make it even more fun. If you are in San Diego the weekend of June 3, come on down and cheer us on!

Non-running stuff
Last Saturday after my run I headed up to Catalina State Park, where I taught a class about conservation education as part of the Institute for Desert Ecology, run by Tucson Audubon Society. I had a small, but quality group and although they had unseasonably hot weather, everyone was enjoying themselves and learning a lot. One of the highlights for me came after my class, when one of the instructors showed me a pocket gopher that they’d trapped. He was hanging out in a canister of sand and they’d given him some fruit, which he was industriously burying. My trusty iPod helped capture a bit of video. Prepare yourself for 60 seconds of unbearable cuteness, friends, and don’t say I didn’t warn you:

This past Thursday I got up early and headed over to Sweetwater Wetlands, in northwest Tucson. This is a series of wastewater settling ponds that offer some of the best birding in Tucson city limits, in my opinion, and Thursday didn’t disappoint. The highlight of the morning for me, though, wasn’t a bird, but a reptile. I was walking along a narrow part of the trail and came across this gorgeous fellow–a large western diamondback rattlesnake–eleven rattles on that tail! We both startled each other. He rattled his tail in warning and I backed away slowly, as did he, curling up underneath the vegetation, but staring at me intently with his head raised. He (she?) slowly relaxed and eventually slid off into the underbrush, but not before I got these pictures with my iPod (I held it up to my binoculars; don’t worry, I didn’t get close to him). It gave me goosebumps, but in a good way.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Sweetwater Wetlands, Tucson, 4/26/2012

Two weeks ago I also got to participate in the Next Generation Sonoran Desert Researchers Conference, which was held here in Tucson. It was an amazing gathering of folks who work on conservation in the Sonoran Desert–most of us early in our careers, but with a handful of the “previous” generation. The goal was to bring us all together to talk about how to communicate, collaborate, and guide what comes next. I’ve been working in this region since 2000 and it was kind of humbling to realize how many other people are working here–I’d say that I didn’t know 90% of the people there. It was fascinating to hear about the interesting and important work everyone is doing and great to think about possible future collaborations.

Next Generation Sonoran Desert Researchers, April 2012

Fundraising Update
Friends, I am down to the final push. My goal is to raise a minimum of $2,000 by April 30, which is in just a few days. Right now I am holding steady at $1210, so I have at least $800 more to go. If you have been meaning to donate but just haven’t gotten around to it yet, there’s no time like the present. Every single dollar counts, from $1 to $1000.

Just click on the link in the upper right-hand side of this page to make a secure online donation. And I know a few folks have had troubles donating via the website. If this is the case for you, I am very happy to accept your check, payable to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Just send me an email (canicas88 at gmail dot com) and I’ll send you my mailing address.

Since I ran my first marathon with TNT in 2005 together we have raised nearly $20,000 to help find a cure for blood cancers. $20,000!!! Yes, that deserves a few exclamation points. Won’t you please help keep that number moving up?  And to all who have donated so generously already, thank you, thank you , thank you. I say it every week, but I say it because it is true: this is truly a team effort and I couldn’t do it without you.

Until next week!

Update, update!

Weekly miles run: 44
Total mileage this season: 348

Dear Adoring Fans,

I’ve been meaning to write a post for weeks now but work, training, and everyday life seems to have gotten in the way. Last Sunday I sat down and wrote almost all of this post but then got distracted before publishing. This Sunday–well, if you are reading this, it means that I had the stick-to-it needed to finish writing!

Marathon training is going really well. It feels like we’ve gotten up into the high mileage quickly, and I know I am running more weekly miles than I have in the past, but I’m feeling good . Last  Saturday I ran 15.3 miles and had one of the best runs I’ve ever had. My fastest mile was the last one–9 minutes 21 seconds (for me, this is fairly fast). I felt strong and solid the whole run. It is always nice to see some results from the training during the week. Or maybe I just had a good day. Yesterday they ramped the mileage up on us (or rather, the time–instead of running for mileage, our training schedule generally calls for a length of time to run.) My running partner Scott and I ran for three hours, covering ~17.5 miles. It was a good run, even if I wasn’t feeling quite as zippy as I had last week.

Last night my friend organized a short hike at Sabino Canyon to see the full moon, and happily my legs and feet were feeling good enough to join them on a 2-3 mile stroll up the main trail. It actually felt pretty good to keep things loose and moving. This morning I ran about 9 miles, and while of course my legs were tired and my blisters hurt at first (oh, the blisters. I could write a whole post about my blisters…), the run felt good. Mind you, I am very glad that tomorrow is a rest day.

The moral of the story: my training is going really well!

I’ve had some other adventures since I last wrote. In early March I flew up to Colorado to see Samuel and Alani in their high school musical. I have known these guys since they were two and I really can’t believe they are going to graduate from high school this year.

Samuel, Jennie, and Alani at Beauty and the Beast

In mid-March I flew back east to Washington, D.C., where I was coordinating a big reception to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Joint Ventures. It is something we’ve been planning for the past seven or eight months, so it was a great relief to finally arrive at the big day. The reception was a success, as were various meetings and visits with some of our Congressional representatives. I’ve got some better pictures somewhere that I’ll post next time, but for now, here’s a view of the poster as you walked into the reception. And check out this amazing video that the folks at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology helped us put together (for those of you who follow me on Facebook, this is the end result of the morning I got to spend with the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.)

The cherry blossoms were in their full, blooming glory. Everywhere you looked were these giant powder puff white and pink trees, lining the banks of the river, surrounding the monuments, in front of the Capitol…it was truly spectacular. One morning I went out for a 9.5 mile run that started at the Capitol, went down through the Mall, out past the Washington Monument, the WW2 Memorial, and the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, down across the Memorial Bridge towards Arlington National Cemetery and then back across, and then down and around the tidal basin, through the Roosevelt Memorial, by the Jefferson Memorial, and finally back to see the MLK Jr. Memorial before running back the way I came. There were cherry trees in bloom every way I looked and I couldn’t help but stop to snap a few pictures on my iPod.

Looking back towards the National Bridge.

MLK Jr. Memorial.

As I ran along the tidal basin I realized I was looking at an empty field that had been the transition zone for the Nation’s Triathlon. It was crazy to see it so still, quiet, and empty.

Nation's Triathlon transition zone, in the off season.

I had a few hours free one afternoon and headed over to the Library of Congress, which was literally across the street from my hotel. It was a library, of course, but it also felt like a museum. The building was spectacular and they had a number of really interesting exhibits that were open to the public.

Library of Congress lobby.

Of course, the one room that I really wanted to see, the main reading room, was not open to the general public. They did have a viewing gallery, which I went to and peered in, but that just made me want to go in even more. In order to gain entry you have to have a reader’s card, so I decided, what the heck, I’ll get a card to the Library of Congress. Why not! I had to take an underground tunnel back to one of the other buildings, but the process was actually pretty straightforward. After about 10 minutes of filling out forms and getting my picture taken, I walked out of the office with this:

Jennie's LOC Reader Card.

You were not allowed to take pictures inside of the main reading room, so if you want to see what it looked like, check here: Who could resist the opportunity to go sit at one of those little desks and read? Not this girl.

I also got to spend an evening with my Aunt Mary and cousins Max and Nellie (the wife and two of the children of my Uncle Kenny, who I run in memory of) and had a nice visit with my friend Helen.

Helen (with baby in belly!) and Jennie.

Washington Monument with cherry blossoms.

One last gratuitous cherry blossom shot, this one from Bethesda, MD.

Since returning from Washington I’ve been busy with work, but have found time for plenty of other fun stuff besides marathon training.

A visit to the San Xavier Mission, Tucson.

Eating the spoils from my square-foot garden! (Lettuce, kale, and spinach are ready for harvest so far).

Riding my new bike! I got a new commuter bike and have been loving riding to work every day.

Hiking on the David Yetman Trail.

Attending the season opener of the Tucson Padres (they lost).

Hanging out with javelina. I’ve seen these guys two weeks in a row at the same spot on my Wednesday morning run. 

The Official Fundraising Update!
After starting with a bang, fundraising has been holding steady for the past few weeks. So far we have raised $930 this season, 32% of my ultimate goal of $3,000 by April 30, 2012. If you have been thinking of donating but haven’t gotten around to it, don’t be shy! Make a donation to help support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in its mission to find a cure for blood cancers. Any amount helps, from $5 to $500–just click on the link on the right to make a secure, online donation (or contact me if you’d prefer to send a check). And if you are unable to make a financial donation, your moral support is just as welcome.

This is truly team effort, and I couldn’t do it without you.

Until next time!