Friday, August 30, 2013

Some Random Thoughts on Nutrition:

We cannot become great runners through healthy eating alone, but much of our hard work can be undone by misguided eating. When we really think about it, our training may take up 30 minutes to a few hours of our day, while eating happens much more frequently. We can easily overcompensate for a workout by over-eating after.

In addition to making us stronger and fitter, our running burns calories which also makes us leaner. The impact of being leaner is faster training and racing paces (With the "rule" being about 2 seconds per mile for every pound lost).  However, if we eat more than we burned, we can actually gain weight during training! No way! Yes, way!!!

I never advise my runners to diet during training.  First, we need to be fueled to train hard and a starving runner is an injury waiting to happen. But I dont want to anyone to undue all their hardwork by not understanding how to eat smart as an athlete.

Another rule of thumb that has been shared is that "running burns 100 calories per mile". This is a good general rule, but if taken literally smaller runners may find that they are over eating, while larger runners are not eating enough for proper recovery. Here is a "proven" formula to help you determine how many calories per mile you are burning per mile. .63 x your weight in pounds = calories burned in one mile. Multiple this number by the mileage run and you have a more accurate estimation of how many calories you burned during the run.

If you find that you are eating a pre-run snack, post-run recovery meal and then your normal meals, just for a 3 miler you may be overdoing things. One tip I can give is to time runs around meals so that your regular eating is doing double. Then if after a meal you still crave a snack, THEN chose something small and healthy. Also do not mistake dehydration for hunger.

One formula for properly refueling is offered by Dietitian Jackie Diko, cited in Running Times here: Divide your weight by two, and eat that many grams of carbohydrates, plus 10 to 20 grams of protein after a hard workout.

Carbs and Protein have 4 calories per gram. When you do your math to see how many gram of carbs you should eat and how many grams of protein you should eat, multiple the total grams by 4 and you will find your total calories of carbs and protein. Most food contains fat as well, as it should because we need it. Choose low fat options. Add the fat calories in and you will have some idea of how many calories you will need to consume after a hard workout (for me it is about 300). As a rule, I dont take in recovery fuel for runs that dont burn enough to surpass the calories of my recovery fuel. In my case, now, I usually dont eat specifically for recovery (i.e. bring a snack with me) unless I run double digits (10 or more). Instead I wait until my next regular meal (which is usually soon after). I used to refuel after 6 miles or more when I was newer to this.

Timing: You should be eating a regular meal or recovery snack within 60 minutes after running, but I find eating by 30 minutes is best.  (Exception:  Sometimes I purposely do depletion training where I restrict calories, but I dont recommend this without doing your homework first. There can be alot of negatives, but historically there have been many benefits as well if done properly and well-timed.  The most recent science shows depletion training has more of a benefit for those racing a long time at sub-maximal paces, so unless you are an ultrarunner you may not need to train depleted, ever.).

Although chocolate milk is a great option for recovery, I do choose a protein shake b/c I feel the protein in chocolate milk can be on the lower end of the above recommendation protein amount for me. Currently I drink a protein shake as my prefered refueling choice, but any real food that meets the above formula is great.

What is even more important may be rehydration. Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger. The body absorbs fluids at a rate of about 400-800 ml per hour (as per Dr. Noakes), so it can take time to rehydrate, especially if you lost a few pounds in sweat on that long run in the summer. Drink lots of water to feel better sooner after a hard workout.

Finally, to make sure I am on track every few months I log onto "My Fitness Pal" and spend a week logging everything I eat, drink, and do. If my Calories In are equaling my Calories Out I know I am not eating away my workouts. I am rarely significantly under the goal, but I am always close and sometimes over. I love food.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sri Chinmoy Self Transcendence Marathon, Rockland Lake State Park, NY. 8/23/13

Last year, I managed to run Turkey Swamp 50k in 5:15 and the Sri Chinmoy Marathon in 3:34 in the same week, plus 40+ more miles between them to make it 100+ in 7 days.  I was on track again for this same high mileage week.  I am in the beginning of focused training, so racing well is not a priority. I wanted 100+ miles this week. However, this time things did not go as well.

Last year I ran the 50k about 30 minutes slower (a minute per mile slower) and I ran my mid-week mileage slower as well.  But Sri Chinmoy was a much hotter day so I thought I would be ok to finish, even if I was a little more beat up by the time I reached the starting line.  The night before the race I decided, like I often do when I don't want to cook, to have Thai food for dinner.  I got it mild rather than medium like I normally do.  I eat spicy foods without issues and didn't believe this would be a problem. Regardless, spicy food clearly doesnt make a great pre-marathon meal choice.  I woke up with a bit of an upset stomach and on the ride up could not eat anything I usually consume pre-race.

I really wasn't running this race as a RACE, so I didn't need every pre-race detail to be just perfect. I would just slow down and get it done.  I had a long work day Thursday, got to bed very late, got up early getting very little sleep.  I grabbed some race gear in the morning, like I would for a long run and met Alanna at 5:00 am when she picked me up.

Sometimes it is nice to not think too hard about race day details, just show up, run and see how it goes. Sometimes it goes ok.  Anything under 4 hours would be a good day for me. Other times, not so great.  I learn a lot more by doing things wrong than I do when things seem to go right, so it is ok when I do things wrong sometimes.

I wasn't really worried about not being able to consume calories on the ride up. I figured I would just go with Aid Station sports drink and maybe some food along the way.  I have needed less food than others at races, so I figured I would be ok since this was just a Long Run anyway.

I planned to go out just under 8:00 min pace and see how long I could sit there. At the start I felt very good.  By mile 4, I was feeling great but I was getting concerned because the Aid Stations had a sports drink that I did not recognize the taste of.  In fact, to me it tasted like it was very weakly mixed.  I felt like I was basically just drinking water. That may have been how it was supposed to be mixed, but I was clearly not used to that drink and it was not giving me what I needed.

By the end of the second lap my stomach was back to being irritated, but I assumed that would pass.  I made a quick pit stop and continued on my way.  When I passed the next aid station I asked someone handing out drinks what brand of sports drink was.  He just said "Energy?" like he did when he held out the "Energy drink."  I could already tell there wasnt enough energy for me in that drink.   I still wasn't sure if I was getting any calories at all and started looking for something else.  By mile 6, I was already feeling hungry and remembered I threw a bottle of gatorade and a small 10 oz handheld in my bag.  I stopped to get my bottle together, hoping that after a 15 minutes or so I would start to pep up.  I tried to drink the gatorade, but it was warm and my stomach was still irritated, requiring yet another pit stop. I was just not feeling well.  In comparison to what I was drinking early, my gatorade tasted way too sweet and this was now adding to my nausea.

By mile 8, I just didn't feel like I could consume anything without getting nauseated.   This is how I feel when I am depleted and dehydrated.  By 13 miles my legs were turning to lead and I knew this run was not going to end well.  I slowed down and tried to refocus my energy on drinking the gatorade or getting calories in me.  I tried a piece of watermelon, but one bite just made me feel worse. I slowed down, felt like crap, but tried to keep going.  It was not going well and I still had almost half to go!

As I came around to 17 miles, I took a break to walk and could feel my quads aching badly.  I felt like my legs were bruised from the inside out. I suspected my muscles were simply not ready for this effort. I recognized this sensation from late into ultra where I am just running on fumes and bonking hard.  I really dislike that feeling.

Returning to a run, I was at a crossroads.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to push on through. I could have managed a sub-4 hour if I just ran 10-11 minute miles for the balance of the race.  That really doesnt seem too hard, but every step make me feel like I was tearing up my quads and calves.  I wanted to train with my TNT team the next day.  I could just stop at 20 and accept it as a training run.  I moved on, seeing if I felt better, but slowing down as I progressed, no longer having fun, feeling worse as I went on.

I thought about how much value to me, during training, it would have for me to run the last 7 miles at a snails pace, run/walking just to get mileage done and likely not being able to train well the next day.  During this phase in my training, I am not focused on race times and dont mind a slow race.  However, it made little sense for me to continue on mostly walking. I knew at 20 miles I would have 96 miles for the week.  I was happy with that weekly volume.  96 or 100 is not that significant.

I recalled that last year I was running higher volume more consistently before this double.  This past July and early August, I had some issues that slowed my training.  After a few weeks of feeling my immune system crashing, I backed down a lot.  Then I felt great, starting to log more mileage only to be sidelined for about 10 days after straining my calf.  Last year this double likely felt easier because I was able to handle it better.  This year, I was just not as well-trained.

At 20.5 and about 3:05 into the run, I reached my stuff and just decided to stop. As much as it stings to not finish, I knew it was the right decision.

The next day, I was able to log an easy 20 mile run a team of runners I assist with training runs.  And then today, I was able to run a hilly 15 mile route with some friends and back that up with another 5.   60.5 miles in 3 days is good training and right now I am in training mode.

I try to remind myself of my focus when I start to get caught up in other people's rules.  For me it is "Good Training during Training and Good racing during Racing"  I cant race well during training phases and I cant log huge training weeks without any bit of a taper and race my best.

Showing up on tired legs and body, depleted of calories and possibly dehydrated, unable to consume food, running only on water, while trying to run strong is a recipe for bonking around 18-20 and that is exactly what I did.

Today's 20 mile day felt 100 times better than Fridays run.  My only regret is DNFing at a race that is arranged by a group of people who base their spirituality on enduring through adversity and using endurance events to exercise their drive.

Regardless of how tough this race felt, I know I needed it.  After running well at Turkey Swamp last race, I did not walk away with a lot of lessons.  After DNFing this marathon, I had a list of lessons the length of my arm and I think I needed learn them.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Turkey Swamp 50k, Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold, NJ. 8/18/13

Alanna, Tracy, and me pre-race
I like small local races.  They take the pressure off.  I get to sleep in my own bed, drive my own car, bring the snacks I prefer from my own kitchen. It is easy and I am glad this race was small because I was not very confident going into it.

I need some low key races because I am using the next two months to build up mileage volume and everything I do is going to be on tired legs.  I enjoy training through races.  I love the sport. I love the people. I love the challenges. Even though my times may be slower than my best, I thrive off working a race tired and then racing one fresh.

My Calves
Last Tuesday, two days after running up La Luz in New Mexico, I felt a severe charley horse in my left calf when I was out for an easy 4 mile loop.  I was not running fast, it was flat, I had no significant burst of speed - although I did pick up the pace from "pedestrian" to "leisurely" while crossing the street when it happened.  I walked the .5 miles short cut back to my house. RICEing and hobbling for two days followed, since it felt bruised inside but did not look it outside.  I was not happy that my "Build" week was going to be a rest week.  This was not how things were supposed to go.

After shutting down a bit, without actually missing a day of running,  I was able to resume regular training by Wednesday.  This helped give me the confidence to at least start Turkey Swamp 50k.  However, I lacked that confidence to believe I would complete it.

Sunday: Race Day
My Garmin was dead.  This happened last year as well.  I am starting to think this race likes to mess with me!  I had my Timex and decided that I am really quite happy to just run at a pace that feels comfortable, whatever that it. This is just training.

We started a few minutes later than 8:00 am due to some technical difficulties. Our wonderful RD did all he could to keep us occupied while he waited for the timers to give us the OK.  The only inconvenience for me was that as I stood on the line, I felt like I really should go back to the bathroom but not knowing when we would start, I just waited.... and then I couldn't stop thinking about it! LOL.  I took a quick break when we passed the port-a-potties at lap 2 and then I was able to focus better.

The weather was just perfect today for an August race.  Just as we started we had a little drizzle that was so light it was almost unnoticeable to me.  The clouds kept the hot sun hidden all day.  Only later in the race did the humidity creep up to the point of stifling, but by then I was almost done.

Because I was worried about my calves, I did not plan to go blazing fast at the start.  I did want to set myself up for a good race or strong training run if possible.  I was prepared to bail if I needed to, but I didn't want to make that happen by running stupid, so I sought out to find my rhythm.

Without a Garmin, I just used my Timex to take splits,  but not really knowing how long the trail loop really was, I was never quite sure how fast I was running. I assumed 2.6, but who really knows. All I knew is that I felt like I was making an effort, but I was comfortable.

At about 4 laps into the race I was caught by a female runner.  She was in the marathon. It was nice to not be passed this early by a 50k runner. It was too soon to be racing hard and I would have likely just let her go.  Instead of passing me, she joined me to run with Mike, for many miles, while talking about 50 mile training ideas and race courses, etc...

At about 7 laps, I felt our pace slow a little. My marathon partner and I discussed what lap we were on and whether we were actually sure.  I also noticed a female runner seeming to make up ground on us in the fields. I knew most of the 10 milers and half marathoners were done so if this chick was moving up on us she was likely in the full or the 50k.  I felt compelled to pick up the pace to make it challenging to be passed.  After all, I was technically over half way done at this point.  I thought my marathon running buddy would come with me.  She did not.

As I put a little distance on my perceived competition I noticed a female, who had passed me quiet briskly earlier coming out of a port-a-potty.  Again, gauging by her pace she was likely a marathon or a 50k runner. I wanted to keep her in range and see what happens.  With over 4 laps left, I did not want to pass yet.

At the end of that lap, I wanted some intelligence to help me determine how hard I needed to work.  I don't need to and cant pummel myself if I want to keep training well this week. I asked what place I was in and was told 1st female with 2nd place 7 minutes behind.  Good to know.

The girl ahead of me slowed at the aid station and I caught her.  Knowing she did not lap me, and to confirm my lap number I asked her what lap she had us on.  She then said, "Oh, I ran the half, I just needed 20 for the day so I am out getting extra."  I responded with "So I can stop trying to race with you now! Thank goodness!  You were making me work!"  She laughed and then helped me confirm that I was starting 8 laps.

When I finished lap 8, I wanted to know how far ahead was I from 2nd as per the last lap splits.  I was curious as to whether I was putting time on her or losing it.  The timers weren't sure and said they would figure it out.  By the time I finished lap 9, I had stopped asking because I could see back about 6 minutes behind me due to the open fields sections. I knew that no one was closing in fast on me.

I started passing some guys at this point despite feeling like I was fading a little... maybe a minute per lap or I was just getting hot and tired.  I noticed the humidity getting heavy and my chafing (under my sports bra band because I forgot to pre-treat that) was starting to irritate me.  I just wanted to hurry up an be done.

The last laps clicked off uneventfully and by lap 12 I knew I had a good chance of taking home the win.  I finished as strong as could in 4:43:33.  Second place was about 14 minutes behind me.

Photo byVivian Corlew
I was really thrilled to find out I was actually 3rd place Over All -  The beauty of running very small races. :)

After the race, I had a great time sitting and talking to a runner-friend, Joe, who I am coaching.  It was so nice to see a runner I am training have a great time at a race that was outside of his usually running routine.

As I write this report, I finally got to sit down to look over my splits, because I did not actually look at many as I took them.  I have been very good in the past about running steady and mostly even 50ks.  Those races involved using a Garmin and knowing how far I was running per lap.  Today was hard because I had no Garmin and did not even know the loop distance.   I had check points en route that I attempted to get to by certain times and based on that data I felt like I ran a pretty even race.  Now that I look at my splits, I am very proud of just how even I did run.  Fastest lap - 23:19.  Slowest lap 24:24.  Just 55 seconds difference between fastest and slowest of eleven 2.6 miles loops.

Lap 1 - 16: 55 short lap
Lap 2 - 23:19 (abt 2.6 miles)
Lap 3 - 23:20
Lap 4 - 23:34
Lap 5 - 24:24
Lap 6 - 23:33 early split as I high-fived Maria
Lap 7 - 23:33 average for last two laps
Lap 8 - 23:48
Lap 9 - 23:20
Lap 10 23:46
Lap 11 24:24
Lap 12 24:16
Final partial lap: 5:17

Race Fuel:
Although this was a 50k, I opted to carry nothing.  The day before I went to my parents house for a party and ate a lot of carb-based foods, including chocolate mouse cake, (abandoning my "no gluten the day before a race" rule and not suffering any negative consequences.  I did stick with my "no-more-food-12-hours before the race start" rule and stopped stuffing my face around 7:00-7:30 pm).  In the morning, I had coffee and then on the ride down and prior to the start I drank about 20 oz of sports drink and Mt Dew.  I left half a small bottle of Mt. Dew in my small cooler bag next to the race course.  I ate a rice crispy treat for my pre-race snack.

With the exception of the first lap, I grabbed fluids at each station (2 AS per 2.6 mile loop, one water only.) At the main aid station, I would grab a cup of gatorade, drank about half of it, and ate small boiled potato until they were gone. Then I tried a pickle... and concluded that don't need to do that again.  Once the potatoes were gone, and the pickle taste was out of my mouth, I just ran on gatorade.  With 2 laps to go, I recalled the Mt. Dew in my cooler and drank that.

That was it.  No salt, except any, if any, that was on the potatoes. No gels. No other food.  Just gatorade, water, some Mt. Dew and about 4 potatoes pieces each about the size of half a ping pong ball or smaller. No bonking. My pace was even the entire way.

Time: 4:43:33
Over All: 3rd place
Gender: 1st place

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

La Luz, 9 Mile Trail Race, Albuquerque, NM. 8/4/13

La Luz Trail... We race to the top. 
On 8/4/05, I was diagnosed with cancer.  Two weeks later I had surgery, then 4 months of chemo, then another surgery, then a year of another IV infused cancer treatment (technically not chemo), then another minor surgery.  January 2007, I was officially done with cancer treatment.  Then two years later, I had another scare when I found another tumor. Six month later, after another surgery, the tumor was diagnosed benign.

In 2009, somehow I discovered the La Luz trail run.  I have no idea how.  I likely wanted to visit my friend Jim in ABQ and must have stumbled across it on some website.

In 2009 and 2010, Sidney and I "ran" it.  Ran is in quotes because the race is 9 miles, one-way, uphill at an average 12 percent grade. It starts at 6400 feet and ends at 10600 ft.  It is an amazing race!

Elevation chart from 2009...  I doubt it changed much.

This year, Jim Plant joined us for the race and his wife Jess joined us for the weekend.  I also got to spend time with my friend Jim G, who I have known since college.  It is always good to see Jim! (Both of them).  Beside running up the mountain, we shared a bunch of meals and spent the day prior to the race driving up to a natural hot springs resort about an hour above Sante Fe called Ojo Caliente.

Ojo Caliente was the most relaxing place I have ever been to and I am not quite sure there is anything like it anywhere.  The resort is over 145 years old and the core attractions are several naturally fed hot mineral springs, Iron, Soda, Lithia, and Arsenic.  Yes, I jumped in a boiling tub of arsenic-laced water and lived to tell about it.  Relaxing music is pumped through the resort.  You are only allowed to Whisper.  Not only were their signs posted telling us so, there were also people walking around with handheld signs reminding us of this rule.  Hammocks and lounge chairs are placed strategically to help you appreciate the views of the cliffs the spa resides in.  Jim and his wife slathered themselves in mud and baked in the sun, which was fun to watch. Sid and I splurged on deep tissue massages.

In addition, right from the front door of the spa are 12 miles of marked mountain bike and hiking trails (which we did not get to explore, this time).  Beside soaking in the pools, you can also make appointments for spa treatments.  (One sign, used to demarcate a closed mineral pool, but faded by the sun made me laugh because it looked like it said "SORRY  LOSER" and I thought "Well, that is not very peaceful of them!"... But what it really said "SORRY CLOSED."  A few minutes later I heard Jim point out to his wife the same sign. LOL.)  We spent several hours there and at the end of the day I realized I had just gone the longest time, with the exception of when I am asleep, without checking my cell or using my Ipad that I had gone in years and I did not even miss it.  

The Race:
Just before the Start
We decided to take two cars so we could leave one at the base of the Tram and drive one to the start.  After a few photos, we gathered our gear and got ready to walk over when I heard Sid and Jim discussing what to do with the car keys.  Sid and Jim both had small handheld bottles and not a lot of storage. I used my Nathan's Minimist hydration pack b/c I wanted to be able to carry money, and later throw our shirts in the back after the race.  In one of the funniest discussions ever, Sid noticed Jim thinking about where to put his keys and suggested he leave them in our car. Jim them pointed out that would be a bad idea because Jim needed them once we got to his car at the Tram to drive us back to our car.  But Jim then stated, that Sid should have left his keys in Jim's car at the Tram so he wouldn't need to carry them up the mountain... until Sid pointed out that he needed them to drive us from the Tram to the start. Sid then declared them both a bunch of dummies.  At that time, I took the keys and put them in my pack. We were clearly already suffering the effects of 6400 ft of low oxygen! That or lack of coffee. LOL.

As we walked uphill to the start, I took a puff of my inhaler, which stopped working.  I told Jim that we were so high that my inhaler had asthma.  This was not going to be pretty. :)

The race starts with an uphill, slightly rolling road section (1.8 mile) that makes someone not used to the altitude (me) require walk breaks.  I had told Jim that I usually need my first walk at about .2 miles. At point .11 into it he finally believed me and told Sid and me to go on without him!  I was very proud that Sid and I made it all the way to .3 miles up before our first walk. :)  The road is the worst!

Once at the trailhead, the elevation gain is more forgiving as the switchbacks make it more runnable, in theory.  But on race day, by the time we reach the trailhead, due to our slow flatlander pace, we find a lot of those who were able to race their way to the trail then decide to slow down and set a slower pace ahead of us. On the single track, there is no easy place to pass.

All weekend long I had a the song Gone, Gone, Gone, by Phillip Phillips stuck in my head. There are parts of this song the make me think about how I feel about Sidney.  It was a very sweet thing and as we started running, I could hear this playing in my head.  It was beautiful soundtrack that went well with the experience of me running with him up this gorgeous mountainside on this day which was very special to me.

You're my back bone,
You're my cornerstone 
You're my crutch when my legs stop moving 
You're my head start, 
You're my rugged heart 
You're the pulse that I've always needed 
Like a drum, baby, don't stop beating 
Like a drum, baby, don't stop beating 
Like a drum, baby, don't stop beating 
Like a drum my heart never stops beating

Then at 2 miles in, Sidney started making his move and we began to pass people. At one point, as I shimmied past someone and extended my hand out to catch my balance... sticking it right into a huge cactus with unforgivingly huge needles.  They pierced my thumb, index finger and middle finger.  When I pulled out the needles, the blood wouldn't stop... and the lyrics to that beautiful song in my mind morphed into "Stuck my thumb. Now it won't stop bleeding. Stuck my thumb. Now it wont stop bleeding"... FOR MILES I heard that over and over. :) LOL!!!   Eventually it stopped... both the song and the bleeding.

Photo  of dirt trail Sidney took when he ran La Luz solo. 
After about 4.5 miles of dirt switchbacks, there is the one significant downhill section but it is a bit too rocky for me to comfortably take advantage of it without fear of propelling myself over the side of the mountain. So I walked.

Almost immediately after the decline there is a mile of loose rocks to navigate.  This happens to occur as we reach over 8500 ft of elevation. This also happens to be about the altitude where I start to get dizzy.  This also happens to be the point in the race when the sun started to peak over the mountain creating a nice glare impairing my vision. There is nothing more terrifying than experiencing vertigo on the side of a mountain while trying to navigate loose rocks with bright sun in your eyes for about a mile.  The entire mountain starts spinning around me.  It happens every year.  In reality, there were only spurts of loose rock broken up by runnable patches at the corners of the switchbacks.  It was nowhere near as precarious as I remembered it to be.

After the rocks we get back to runnable trail, for those who CAN run without oxygen since we are at about 9500 ft. Sidney and I were doing well up until then. At this point the altitude really started to impact us.  I also think we started off a bit dehydrated since we sat for hours in hot springs the day before.  We decided to step aside, enjoy the view and let some people go past so we weren't holding anyone up.

In the last mile, the trail gets relentlessly steeper.  Just when you think it cant get any worse, you turn a corner and discover you have to run up about 34 concrete steps near the top.  There was a chick dressed like a hotdog standing at the top when we arrived... or at least that is how I remember it!

Jim, Sidney, Me at the top.
A few more switchbacks and suddenly we are at the finish where we are allowed to stop moving... unless you are a streak runner.   At that point, I had not yet run a continuous mile so after finding a spot for Sid to sit down and hold my pack, I took off and did 4 laps around the parking area so that I could make sure I logged 1 full mile before Jim finished.  I did not want to have run a mile later when my body crashed.

After the race, we received our Finishers T-shirts, which you only get if you make it up and then we hiked 2 miles to the Tram so we could ride that down.  It is the best way to get down the mountain. The views from the Tram are awe-inspiring.  It is longest continuous aerial tram in the world.  It takes about 15 minutes to get all the way down.

Sandia Peak Tram
In the past, usually Sid and I start together and cover about 3 miles before I pull away. But in consideration of this day feeling important to me... marking 8 years of survivorship, I decided I just really needed to run up that mountain with Sidney by my side.  He did not ask me to run with him. He doesn't need my help.  He encouraged me to go on with out him but I reassured him that I just wanted to spend the morning enjoying the views with him near me. He was by my side during all my treatment and through all the trials we faced since.

Each year we do this, Sidney always says he is not looking forward to the Mountain... but once when military sent him to ABQ for work, he made an impromptu solo trip up the mountain on his own (mid-day, facing snakes and other scary wildlife... possibly a bear, which he thought was a pig, but I don't think pigs live on La Luz :) ).  I am very proud of him and I was glad he was there to spend the day with me.  So one more time: Gone, Gone, Gone