Ground Zero and The Plan to Rebuild

Under normal circumstances, I can confidently refer to myself as “A Runner”. 5 miles? Piece of cake. 10 miles? Sounds like fun. 15 miles? Let me check my schedule, but I can probably fit it in.

These days, I’m not facing ‘normal circumstances’. On Monday, I ran 0.1 miles. And that was my highest mileage day in months. And what caused my little jaunt on the treadmill to end abruptly at one-tenth of a mile? Oh, just the feeling that my pelvic floor was going to fall out.  Yuck.

Recovery from baby #2 is definitely following a different timeline than baby #1. The first time, I started running with the jogger at three weeks postpartum. This time, at a month in, I’m barely able to plod along for 60 seconds, pushing nothing. Luckily, I was in super-good shape when I got pregnant last winter, or who knows the state I’d be in now.

The last race I ran was as a leg in the Redding Marathon relay in January. I thought I could squeeze in a couple more races even after I was pregnant, but that became not so much of a priority after the fact, and my 2013 race calendar was cleared. 2012 had been a pretty good running year for me.  I ran my first road marathon at the Carlsbad Marathon, had two solid 15k trail races (even won third in my age group!), and got a 50k PR at the Siskiyou Outback.

ImageI will never be this tan again. Thanks, Alaska. Siskiyou Outback 50k, July 2012.

Feeling ambitious, I filled out a 2014 race calendar online. I added in every Alaskan race I was even remotely interested in. Then I actually looked at it. And smacked myself.  My motivation was rooted in both in antsiness from taking the year off, and the novelty of the new and amazing selection of races available, but it was just stupid. I was looking at a half marathon on a Sunday, and a 24 mile trail race the following Saturday. Without seriously abbreviating my plans, I was sure to be a sad, quivering pile of injured mess by next fall.

Here’s what my edited, annotated (and still ambitious) calendar looks like:

  1. Willow Winter Solstice 5k, Willow, December 21, 2013. This is extremely tentative depending on if I feel ready.  If anything, it will probably be more of a 3 mile hike in snowshoes.
  2. No Canoe Loop 11-miler, Willow, March 8, 2014.  In the summer, this loop covers a long stretch of lakes. Paddle across one lake, hike your boat to the next, repeat.  In winter, no floating is required.
  3. Kal’s Knoya Ridge Run, 8.5k, Anchorage, May 22, 2014. Part of the Alaska Mountain Runners burly series.
  4. Red Shirt Lake Trail Run, 6 mi, Willow, May 31, 2014.  A nice looking trail race for after the snow season.  It looked like a fun reintroduction to running on actual dirt (read: muddy as hell!).
  5. Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb, 3 mi, Bird Ridge, June 15, 2014.  Another in the Alaska Mountain Runners series.
  6. Mount Marathon, 3 mi, Seward, July 4, 2014.  This one’s kind of a big deal.  It even has a Wikipedia page. It was created on a bar bet that no one could run up and down Mount Marathon in under an hour. The lottery opens January 1.  The drawing system is weighted by the number of times you’ve tried to get in.  Being my first time, I’m not counting on this one, but I’ve been known to be lucky.
  7. Crow Pass Crossing, 24 mi, Girdwood, July 26, 2014.  This is my ‘A’ race of the year.  Traveling from Girdwood to Eagle River by car is a 50 mile drive, because the highway circles all the way around the Chugach mountains.  This is only a 24 mile run from Girdwood to Eagle River because is shoots straight over the mountains.  The first 4 climb, and the last 20 descend.  Downhill running is not my strength, so I have my work cut out for me.
  8. Alyeska Classic Mountain Run, 2.5 mi, Girdwood, August 16, 2014. The final race in the Alaska Mountain Runners series.  May be passed up if my almost-kindergartener is ready to run a 2k in Anchorage the same day.  He’s already expressed interest, and his running interests will certainly trump mine.
  9. Lost Lake Run, 16 miles, Seward, August 23, 2014.  I’ve been advised that this run is amazingly beautiful.
  10. Kesugi Ridge Traverse Trail Run, 28 mi, Denali State Park, September 6, 2014.  6-9 hours of running with Denali as a backdrop?  Count me in.  Photos I’ve seen from this point-to-point trail are breathtaking.  Hopefully the weather will be such that views are available, but September can be quite squirrely and unpredictable.  This will be my toughest race ever.  

             Kesugi Ridge comes with a warning:

Please be aware: This is not a course for beginning trail runners. There are significant climbs and difficult terrain. If you have never traveled the course before, we strongly encourage you to do so. The trail will not be marked, so familiarity with it will be very important. Please do not over-estimate your abilities! The most common, recurring theme regarding weather descriptions reads “lousy weather, cold winds and poor visibility are common”. If you have never run a marathon or race of this distance, please reconsider signing up. If you have only run road marathons, but never tackled trail running, please reconsider signing up. Running the Crow Pass Crossing or Resurrection Pass 50 would be good personal pre-requisites.

             It’s also self-supported:

There will be no aid stations. There will be a race official at Ermine Hill and a trail sweep, but no refreshments out on the course. You will be responsible for your own food and water. Drink water along the course at your own risk. There are plenty of available streams. There is no mandatory gear BUT a few things are recommended: long sleeve tech shirt, wind jacket with hood, wind pants, stocking hat and enough water and food for 28ish miles, plus a trail map. If you choose to drink water along the course, a filter bottle is recommended. Reflective gear and a headlamp may help depending on weather and in case you get lost.

             Sign me up!

So my goals are in place. I’m not going for any speed records this year, just finishes. Crushing old times will be business for 2015. The only problem now is that there is a significant gap between running 28(ish) unsupported, rugged trail miles in possible inclement weather and plodding 0.1 miles on a treadmill. Fortunately, I have over 7 months until Crow Pass and almost 9 to get ready for Kesugi Ridge, and I’m already making progress.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been hitting up the gym Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. To start out, I walk on the treadmill for a mile, with intermittent attempts to slowly pick up the pace to something that resembles running. Not an exciting way to start my workout, but it’s already getting easier to accomplish the task.

After warming up, I throw in some weights. The first day back, I did some barbell dead lifts, dumbbell overhead presses, and lat pulldowns, with my little audience of Skye napping in his carseat nearby. The second day I started with barbell squats, but was interrupted by gym management. I was fully expecting the confrontation sooner or later, but hoped I would skate by without a liability lecture. Despite Skye being tucked in a corner far away from any [reckless and blind?!] weightlifters, other than myself, the possibility was too great that someone would walk by and drop a weight on him, so we were banished to the machine weight area.


The past few days, I’ve been limited to machine leg curls, extensions, and presses, and the variety of push/pull upper body choices. I like, and benefit from, free weights much more, but machines will have do for now. I’m making the most of it.

To finish up my workout, I do some 100m and 500m rowing intervals. The whole workout is interspersed with breaks to tend to baby needs, so the process usually takes about 1 hr. 45 min. That works fine for Silas, who is never ready to leave the play area when I come to pick him up. The whole gym situation is a win-win for all three of us: workout time, nap time, and play time.

In the months to come, I’ll be adding in skate skiing (a trail quite literally goes through our backyard), trail running (as conditions permit: we’re mere miles from trailheads in the Chugach State Park), and track workouts (an all-weather track is about a mile from the house).  My current gym workouts are a far cry from where I hope to be in the near future, but they’re wildly effective. I’m back in most of my old clothes, my waist has shrunk an inch in the last week, and on Wednesday, I finally ran 0.25 miles.  Only 27.75(ish) to go.

16 thoughts on “Ground Zero and The Plan to Rebuild

  1. Hi there from the Big Island, Hawaii. I love this post and thought I’d introduce myself. I came across your blog while searching for info on Crow Pass Crossing, which I also aim to do this summer. I was inspired just over a year ago when, while visiting my sister-in-law near Palmer, I read an article posted on the wall of a famous family of Alaskan runners. Something just turned me on about doing that race! At the time, I was 7 months pregnant with my second daughter, who is now 10 months old. And though always athletic, I’ve also never considered myself a runner! Just wanted a bad ass goal to help me celebrate my 43rd birthday. I started training in June and am building my distances nicely; but speed… I am far from the 8 minute mile for 13.1 miles needed to qualify for CPC. I’ve done a 5k and a 10k. I’ll run the Hilo half marathon in March and that will help me evaluate whether I need to put Crow Pass in the 2015 calendar or go for it this year.

    Either way, my family and I plan to come this summer to volunteer for the race and scout the trail if I don’t yet qualify.

    I can relate to the baby #2 recovery, I’m right there with you. How is your training going now? If your exercise tolerance seems negatively out of proportion, might I suggest seeing an ND? (that’s my other job in addition to being a mom; there are some good docs to whom I could refer you).

    I’m so impressed by the number of trail races in your beautiful state. Lucky you.

    I’d love to keep contact, cheer each other on. And, if you have any tips as a seasoned runner, especially in Alaska, epsecially as a mother, especially doing Crow Pass, I’m all ears. I am truly humbled thus far by the whe training process.

    I also fantasize about making soap every year! : ). Hope to hear from you! Good luck with your training.


    1. Michelle,
      It’s so nice to hear from you! And thanks for your info; I didn’t even realize Crow Pass had entry requirements. It might have to be moved to my 2015 calendar too, because I’m not sure I have enough time to prove I’m capable. I expect I will be ready in 6 months, but trying to squeeze in a marathon or even a half before then feels like too short of a timeline.

      I’m definitely interested in the kind of input an ND might have with postpartum recovery. I feel it’s going slow, but I’ve also been training on a treadmill, which is just dreadful. I’m about ready to start bundling up for some outdoor runs. I feel like the scenery itself will make a huge difference in my endurance.

      I certainly feel blessed with the amazing trail running opportunities all around me, but I’m sure you have your fair share in Hawaii as well! Maybe we can take turns hosting each other for destination races in the future?!


      1. Crow Pass is a pretty serious trail. If you have never hiked it I would encourage it. The river crossing can be pretty sketchy even if you know what to expect. I did it last year for the first time and that trail beat the crap out of me. Best time ever though. Seriously 🙂 Trent Waldron Glacier Half Marathon is a great fast flat course if you try to qualify for CPC this year. You can also just write a letter and attach it to your entry for CPC if you don’t technically qualify.


      2. Thank you for the tips! I have to say I’ve been reconsidering my plans and am thinking of postponing Crow Pass until next year. My training hasn’t really gone as expected, and the reality of that trail hit me a couple of months ago while I was looking at Crow Pass from Alyeska. TWG Half is definitely on my radar as a qualifier, and I might just try for a legitimate qualifying time to see if I’m ready. I also have plans to get on the trail ahead of time. I was thinking an out-n-back from Girdwood and one from the Nature Center. Overall, I don’t want to be the newbie who needed search and rescue!


      3. I have an idea~~ hike Crow Pass with me on June 29! Yep, I got in! Amazingly. More on that another time. This will be my scouting trip.

        I’m really sorry for not replying to your long-ago post. Computer time is a bit hard to come by these days, but I’ve certainly thought of you and wondered how your training is going.

        I’m flying into ANC from Hawaii on June 28, late late late. Plan to hike June 29. I have one friend who might join me but he hasn’t confirmed. I’m also strongly considering posting a support person at the top of the pass with water/a snack~ and my husband will be watching our two little people~ so perhaps you would consider that as another training opportunity??! Anyway~~ what do you think about doing the hike with me? I’m glad to “friend” you on facebook so that you can see that I’m a reasonably normal person (as normal as anyone running Crow Pass would be) and not too scary to spend the day with. : )

        OK~~ next patient here… Can’t wait to hear from you!


      4. Congratulations! That’s really exciting. I made, I think, the grown up decision to pass this year. I got into Lost Lake, which is on the Crow Pass qualifying list, and want to try for a legitimate qualifying time for next year. I’m definitely interested in hiking though! It sounds like that’s an essential piece to a successful race. Please keep in touch!


      5. Yes, I can believe your decision to wait on Crow Pass was very grown-up. Smart if you’re not truly and fully ready. Good for you. And I’m sure Lost Lake will be amazing. I’m on the edge myself but determined and excited to do it; and committed to being ready. If you’re serious about hiking with me, please let me know. I have some feelers out there for hiking partners and can call them off the search as long as I have 1-2 people definitely in for the trip. Three would be ideal for the river crossing. Thank you for the quick reply! I hope to meet you soon.


        Dr. Michelle Suber Naturopathic physician



  2. Hi hi~ any updates on your interest in hiking with me on Sunday June 29? So far no takers~ (what? you don’t want to fly to Alaska from Hawaii for two nights and a kick ass hike??!) and I’d feel best having someone with me, ideally two other hikers, especially crossing Eagle River. Please let me know your thoughts~~M


    1. I am very interested! I have a few logistical issues to work out: a) My husband will be on a fishing trip so I need to secure a babysitter and b) I’m still nursing, and for a 24 mile hike I’d probably need a pumping break, maybe 2. I’ll work on those and let you know!


      1. Good to hear from you. Sounds fine~ I’ll likely like to pump, too, though think I could go 8 hours sans. Gosh, I suppose we could just take one pump ~ an Eagle River bonding experience! I just got word that a friend of my sister-in-law is going to join in on the trip, so I’m more relaxed now knowing that I’m certain to have at least one experienced hiker with me for the river crossing. So no sweat if the logistics aren’t favorable for you to do the trip. However, I’d love to have you join us, of course. OK~~ will wait to hear from you.

        Dr. Michelle Suber

        Ha’ina Cottage 65-1235 A Opelo Road #6 Kamuela, HI 96743 808.887.1210


      2. Hi there~~

        No word yet on Facebook… Still want to join us Sunday?

        Dr. Michelle Suber Naturopathic physician



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