Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lake Tahoe Runner's Retreat - The Gory Details

I arrived in Reno without mishap, went and got our rental car, parked it in the airport garage, and went to wait for Lee, who was coming in on a later flight. Unfortunately his flight was a bit delayed, so I had to wait about an extra half hour before he arrived. I ate at an old-fashioned diner at the Reno airport that was very good - bison burger and tomato basil soup. I walked around, enjoying the blue skies and crisp sunny air, and watching all the VFW soldiers and their families arriving at the airport for a big convention being held in Reno that weekend. Finally Lee arrived, we grabbed his bags, got in the car, and off we went to Squaw Valley.

We checked into the Squaw Valley Lodge, walked around the Village (cute), tried out the pool (COLD!), and got settled in our room. Before too long it was almost 5 pm, time for me to throw on some running clothes and go meet the other runners and participate in our first group run. I was excited, and nervous.

I walked out to the lobby, and there was Jeff Galloway! Once I told him my name he actually knew who I was from coaching me via email for my first two marathons! It was fun to meet him, his wife, and a few of the people that work at his shoe store in Atlanta.

There were not a whole lot of participants for the weekend camp, maybe 15 total. The week long camp has 45 people; the weekend is a more intimate group. It's nice to get so much individual attention, but it's a pretty crowded schedule too, with runs, hikes, meals and clinics filling almost every available minute of the day.

We set our watches and timers and started on an easy out-and-back run from the lodge. There were runners of different speeds and abilities. I fit into the slower group, and for this run I was probably the slowest. I tried to tell myself this was okay. After I'd just crossed 3 time zones, flown for 7 hours, and climbed 6,000 feet in elevation! But my ego disagreed, and I strived mightily to stay up with the slower group.

It was a beautiful run, with the mountains soaring in the distance, and a bright blue sky overhead. It was a little warm however, in the mid70s. By a mile and a half I was ready to turn around but my little group encouraged me to stay with them until we reached the two mile turn-around. I faded at the end, just like I often do in a race, and felt a little discouraged. This was what I had feared would happen, pokey Lynn trailing way behind everyone else. I tried not to mind, but I did.

Dinner was very good, and my spirits picked up after having a little something to eat. We had our first clinic after the race, where the shoe people talked about proper shoe fit and the characteristics of the many, many shoes available today. Interesting, and confusing. We also went around the room and introduced ourselves. We were runners of all shapes, sizes and abilities, some of whom had been coming to Jeff's camp for more than 17 years!

By 9 pm I was drop dead tired and ready for bed. My body thought it was midnight, and I had to be ready for a 6 am run in the morning.

I slept great and was up by 5, ready to try this running thing again. I checked the weather; it was 43 degrees! I decided on tights, long sleeves, a beanie for my head and that turned out to be perfect. I ended up leaving my gloves behind and I was okay, but I wouldn't have minded having them either.

We carpooled a short distance up the highway to a parking lot by a bike trail. The faster runners took a trail that led them over a mountain and back to the lodge. The rest of us ran the bike trail along the river. This time I had no trouble keeping up with the slower group. The temps were better and I guess I'm getting used to the altitude. It certainly made my little ego feel better!

After the run there was time for a quick shower and breakfast, and then we had the morning clinics. Jeff gave a great presentation about mental preparation for running and reviewed the components of his program. You think by now I'd know everything there is to know about run-walk-run, but I really picked up some pointers from hearing him speak and being able to ask questions. There are a few changes I'm going to make to my training when I get home, just from this morning's talk.

THEN we had the opportunity to have ourselves videotaped running and having our stride and foot fall evaluated by a sports podiatrist, Dave Hannaford. Besides being a little embarrassing this was a great chance to find out that I don't look like a complete idiot when running, that my form isn't that bad, and that I'm wearing a good pair of shoes for my feet. I was also able to talk to him a little about my bunions and he even made a temporary pair of orthotics for my shoes out of felt! If I decide I like them he will even work with me long distance to make me a permanent pair.

After lunch and more clinics we went on a hike on the Shirley Trail, that climbs the mountain outside our hotel. The trail goes all the way up to High Camp at the top of the mountain, but we only went up about halfway. It was a beautiful hike but they said it very dry this year.

Last year there was still snow on parts of the trail and in fact a couple of the participants got lost because they couldn't see the trail markers because they were buried in the snow. They had their cellphones though and were rescued safe and sound. It's not that wild really.

After the hike I went and sat at the pool for awhile. I started talking to one of the guys from Jeff's shoe store and found out he was born in Hong Kong and has been back there to visit several times. We had fun talking about the city and I told him about Bowen Road and the Peak, as good running spots in the city.

After dinner Jeff told a few very inspiring stories about the Olympic runners he had known (Jeff ran the 10k in the 1972 Olympic Games). The main point of these stories were how these people really rehearsed their success mentally and had an extraordinary amount of determination and grit. I often think about this when I am running in a race and I get tired. Part of my brain wants to keep running hard and part of it is going "I can't! I can't! I can't!" My negative brain often wins, and then 15 minutes after a race I'm disappointed in myself and think I could have done better. I keep talking about my brain because although the effort hurts physically, it seems like its the mental part that causes me to slow down. Jeff gave us some pointers on overcoming this tendency to let our negative thoughts take over. If I'm going to use them effectively I'm going to have to start practicing them when I train. Well, okay!

This morning, Sunday, was our final run. We ran along Lake Tahoe, and I'm glad. It wouldn't be right to go all the way to Squaw Valley and not see the lake! I ambled along happily, sometimes by myself, sometimes with other runners. Some of the others actually saw a bear! I'm a little jealous, and a little glad it wasn't me.

At the end of the run a few of the braver runners jumped into the icy waters of the lake, but most of us gingerly took off our shoes and socks and waded in a little ways. Once the initial shock wore off it actually felt pretty good!

One more breakfast and that was the end of the camp. I met some really nice people, had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and gained more confidence in my running. I'd like to go back again someday, maybe do the week long camp. We'll see!

Now Lee is on his way to Asia and I'm on my way back to New Hampshire. My flight gets in very late, so my plan is to sleep late, go get Harper, and NOT RUN! I haven't run three days in a row in years and my body really feels it. This runner is ready for a day off from running.

Lake Tahoe Runner's Retreat - The Prequel

This entry was written last week, before my weekend at the Jeff Galloway Runner's Retreat.


I feel like I'm making my way backwards in time. I had to get up at 3 am this morning in order to catch my 6 am flight out of Manchester. I've never flown out of Manchester before. I don't think it's much closer than Boston really, but it's a smaller, less crazy airport (1 terminal vs 4) and in this case my Southwest flight was cheaper and more direct. There aren't any non-stops from Boston to Reno anyway, so it didn't really matter which airport I traveled out of.

My flight made it to Chicago 20 minutes early and now I'm on the second flight to Reno. From there I'll pick up a rental car, meet Lee who is coming on a different flight, and head to the Squaw Valley Lodge in Olympic City, California.

I'm both excited and nervous about this weekend. I've fantasized about doing this for years, ever since I became a more serious Galloway Runner. What is a Galloway Runner you ask? Well I'll be happy to tell's someone who follows Jeff Galloway's training methods, that involve adding walking breaks to almost all training runs. It's also known as run-walk-run. Since adding walk breaks to my training my race times have improved and I have avoided injury completely. I have run 2 marathons and I am training for my third.

But I am a slow runner. I run a marathon in around 5.5 hours, a half marathon in 2.5, a 10k in a little over an hour, a 5k in a little over 30 minutes. I work hard on my training, but I have little natural talent for running, any more than I have for any physical activity. My legs are short and my lungs are small. I belong to a family of women with large thighs and big butts.

But I love running! I like the solitary nature of the sport, interspersed with the camadarie of racing. I like the fact that the only person I am competing against at my level is really myself. I like that turning 60 puts me in the next age group and automatically improves my times! I hope to still be jogging along when I'm 70, and beyond.

But I don't know what this weekend will be like. I could very well be the slowest runner there and will have to struggle with my embarrassed little ego as the other runners disappear into the sunset. The altitude could very well affect me, but I'm taking medication for it just in case. Will the other runners scoff that I'd like to record this weekend on my gps watch? Will I dress too warmly or not warmly enough? What if I have to pee on a long run (it happens)? The list of my potential worries goes on....

But Lee will be there (as a non-participating spouse) and he is always my fervent cheer-leader in the running department. And Sherry posted something great on Facebook this morning. "Do not be envious of people that are better than you. Be challenged." It's true, besides learning from running with other runners and attending the clinics this weekend, I can also learn a lot from watching and listening to the other participants, so that's what I will try to do instead of worrying about myself. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Boat Tour on Squam Lake

My mother has just left after a very nice visit with us in New England. We didn't do a lot of touristy things; she was very happy hanging out at our house most of the time, playing with Harper and eating all the wonderful food that Lee cooked.

But we did do a couple of fun things, and one of the most enjoyable was a boat tour of Squam Lake, in central new Hampshire. Squam Lake is where the movie On Golden Pond was filmed, and part of the tour would be to show us sites where the movie was made 30 years ago. It had been years since either of us had seen it, so I downloaded it on itunes and we watched it the night before.

Its a very good movie, and although it looks a little 80's in the clothing and hair styles, Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn are absolutely charming. Henry Fonda really is pretty magnificent as the gruff and funny father figure. Jane Fonda is beautiful and earnest in her role as the estranged daughter, and its very odd to see a young Dabney Coleman, playing her nervous fiance.

As it turned out, it was a very good idea to watch the movie before going on the tour, because it made everything we saw on the boat tour much more meaningful. I had called the tour operators a few days before to make sure my mother would be able to get into the boat and they assured me that everything was accessible and that they would be glad to help her. They were so nice and accommodating, I really would recommend them highly!

We drove up to Holderness, New Hampshire, about an hour and a half north of Salem. We parked as instructed in front of Walter's Restaurant in Holderness and carefully made our way down the ramp to the boat. The ramp was pretty steep, but with her walker and me adding a little extra braking power, my mother made it down to the boat without too much trouble.

The boat tour showed us where different scenes from the movie were filmed, and it also explained something about the nature and ecology of Squam Lake. Created by glaciers millions of years ago, Squam lake is fairly shallow and rocky. Navigation channels are clearly marked, and boats are well advised to stay in those channels. Its not a good lake for sailing, or for doing crazy boat-wheelies like Billy does in one scene in the movie. Our tour guide told us that scene was actually filmed on Lake Winnipesaukee, not on Squam.

As we motored through a narrow channel from Little Squam over to Big Squam Lake, the tour guide told us some tidbits about the filming of the movie. There is a scene at the beginning of the movie where Norman and Ethyl (the characters played by Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn) are getting gas in their boat. We passed by the dock where the scene was filmed and the guide told us that at the end of the scene, when Norman guns the motor and zooms off in the boat, well that wasn't really planned, and Henry Fonda, in the process of getting into his character, missed hitting the dock by inches when he took off so suddenly. But it fit into the movie perfectly, so I guess he knew what he was doing.

And the scene where Billy and Norman are fishing in Purgatory Cove and hit a rock and sink the boat? Well those beautiful mahogany boats are really hard to sink, and they couldn't get the one they were using to sink just by hitting a rock. They actually had to put a hydraulic punch inside the boat and have it punch out a hole in the bottom of the boat right when the boat hit the rock, and that's what caused the boat to sink, not the rock! We drove past the cove and saw its rock-strewn interior but didn't go very close. It actually is a very dangerous place to drive a boat.

The best part of the tour was actually all the wildlife we saw. It didn't take us very long into the tour before we saw some loons, and even though my camera has trouble zooming in on wildlife like that I managed to get some pretty good pictures. They were fishing, and kept diving down into the water and then coming back up in a completely different place. They are able to stay under the water for up to a minute at a time. It was hard to be patient until they reappeared!

We also motored over to a small island to see an eagle nest, and actually managed to see some bald eagles too. The baby eagles had left the nest, but they were still flying around under the watchful eye of their parents and we were able to see them very clearly, even better than last year at Bar Harbor.

After the boat tour, we stopped at Kirkland Gardens on our way back home. Kirkland Gardens are a beautiful nature preserve and formal garden. We walked around the garden and snapped some pictures of the flowers and the old house. I wish my Monarda looked this good!

We both enjoyed the boat tour on Squam Lake very much. I'm so glad my friend Lisa suggested this activity because I would never have thought of it myself! And my mom had a great time, which made me very happy.


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