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!

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