Saturday, October 26, 2013

Oil Creek-my mistakes to fuel the fire, my season is over.

     Well, I didn't strike oil this year, but it was truly one of the best experiences I have ever had.  First, I cannot even begin to say enough good things about this race. It was so well organized, and there was never a doubt about being lost on the course, or missing any turns. The pink reflective flags illuminated the entire way and kept us moving through the wee hours of the night.
    I could not imagine a better experience.  I met great people along the way, had my parents and partner crewing me, and my brother pacing-it was truly a fantastic experience.  The course was an amazing 50k loop.  No matter how many times I read and re-read the course description it was certainly more technical than I was expecting.  It had a bit of everything to offer-single track, mud, gravel, good climbs, and rocks and roots.  Tom Jennings is an amazing race director with an amazing race, the volunteers are just as amazing.
      I could go into a full write up on the time I spent on the trails, but that's for me to keep and use to fuel me for next year.  I'm already counting down the days until registration.  I know I need to get more dense calories in, take care of blisters when they first pop up, and keep re-applying body glide.  Rookie mistakes, all of which I am ready to keep in mind for next year.  I honestly cannot wait.  I keep planning and re-planning my race schedule for next year.  I love the planning, the building of a plan to culminate in Oil Creek again...adding longer races and planning on keeping them in the schedule just continues to open more and more race opportunities to explore.  I love running, I love trial running, and I love that deep down burning pain that makes you figure out how your brain keeps your body moving.  I can't wait to get back into it!
       This year was a good running year; I took on two new race distances, had  a new personal best in the 50k distance and still came out ready for another year of running.  In the past year I have dropped almost an hour from my 50k time.  I want to keep dropping those minutes this season; same goes for my 50 mile time; and that 100...that will be mine.
       I am taking time off from a running schedule to give myself a break and focus on strength training.  My only miles until January will be through my part time job as a dog runner.  It'll be about 15 miles a week, and that sounds pretty good to me.
    I admit I'm looking forward to the changing season, I love cold weather running gear, and plan on posting plenty of reviews.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Oil Creek. Less than a week until my first 100 attempt.

     To say that I'm nervous would be an understatement.  I have been having dreams about running a 100 miler almost every night.  In one dream I was at an aid station trying to change my socks, but every pair just kept ripping in half and I couldn't find any more to put on.
     I feel quite guilty with the time and thinking that the lead up to this race has consumed.  I know that there are pieces of my life and day that have suffered.  My goal is to return to those aspects and rebuild them better than before, refocus my attention on the things I've been putting off changing.
     But...until then, the race.   I ran my first ultra, a 50k in 2008.  During my training and lead up to it, I decided my five year goal would be to run 100.  I was fascinated with the people that ran them, the community that surrounded them, and everything in between.  In my mind I made a deal to do it...three or five years I'd think.  The next year, I stopped running.  I'm not quite sure why I stopped, but I did very shortly after that first 50k.
      I decided to let other parts of my life take precedent and would occasionally still run, but without a goal in  mind...the kind of running that is really just wandering around the neighborhood at a slightly faster pace.  I wandered to see the area, get some exercise and just get out of the house for a bit.  Somewhere in all that wandering I decided to run another 50k.  I ran and trained and amazingly crossed the finish line in the exact same time I had finished my first.  Then I ran another...and another.
      In the last race of the season, I managed to drop 43 minutes from my fastest 50k.  It was a good way to end the season.  Shortly after I met my running partner.  I made the decision to up my run distance and try out a 50..I had registered for one in the past, but do to work obligations was unable to be at the start.  We had talked about the 100 and Oil Creek and distances in between.  He was training for a 100 and I jumped into the training with him.
      I volunteered that day for his race, the same day registration for Oil Creek took place.  I watched a lot of people drop out, the cold took down many...but something about making grilled cheese sandwiches and soup for the runnners' in the middle of the night caught up with me again.
     I went home and registered for the 100.  I trained hard all summer, running two 50 milers (my first 50) and another 50k (dropping another 11 minutes off my time).  The 50k happened to be the very same race where I ran my first 50k.  It was on the drive home that I realized, low and behold, my five year goal to run a 100 was indeed coming true.
   Now, four days out....all I have to do is get there.  My bib number has been assigned, my gear has been packed, and plans have been laid out.  In two days we hop in the car and head across the state.  I four days, I will toe the line and find out what I'm made of.
   For me, it's not just about covering the distance within the cut off.  It's about accomplishing something I set out to do a long time ago.  It's proving that I can succeed when I put my mind and effort into something.  Whether I cross that finish line on Sunday morning or not...I got myself to the start, and am fulfilling a goal I set out.  That is what I will take through the race, and into those things that I have let fall to the side.
  No matter what happens, I feel like I will leave the trails a different person.  Fingers crossed for good weather, a good stomach, strong legs, and a good mindset. I can't wait to find out what's on the other side.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2 Review

Oh it has been a little longer than I was hoping between posts...but I suppose every now and again life seems to get in the way of perfect planning.
   Anyhoo..it has been quite a busy few weeks!!  I have been trying out some new shoes and wanted to share.  As I have not hidden in the past, I love my Rogue Flys, but I find wearing them too often on the road just wears down the lug too much, so I went in search of something new.  Enter the Pearl Izumi EM Road N2...yes I know it says trail review...I'll get to that.
   I had a pair of PI's a few years ago, and to be honest, I didn't like them, but watching some of the big names in ultrarunning lacing up to new emotion series caught my attention.
From Derrick Lytle Media. TO rocking the N1
Pearl Izumi Facebook photo credit. Mike Wolfe on JMT FKT
 Timmy Olsen runs in PI, Mike Wolfe finished his FKT in PI, and Nick Clark is always out and about in the PI's.  What the hell...so I read a few reviews and decided on the N2-a 4 mm drop, well cushioned shoe.  I just wasn't ready to go for the zero drop; and with an intro from the Pearl website like this, how could I resist:
                              "Your one-shoe quiver, the Project E:Motion Road N2
                                       is the perfect balance of light and fast with  just enough                          
                                     cushioning and durability to provide the maximum confidence 
                                     you need to go the distance."

Any shoe that claims to be the one shoe quiver deserves a few miles so I placed my order. I went with a size 8 in the Cherry Tomato/Blue...I just love the flashy color combos PI offers, it makes heading out the door that much more fun.  Anyway...flash forward to lacing up these beauties and heading out the door.  They felt so good out of the box I ran 15 miles and promptly went home and order the trail N2.  Ok so hear goes the review I promised.

Pearl Izumi started the EMotion series this spring.  They make a road, trail and tri shoe.  Each shoe category offer a 0mm neutral (N1) a 4mm neutral  (N2) a light stability (M2/M3) and moderate stability (H3).  The idea behind the series is the dynamic offset of the shoe to provide a smooth ride. For the best explanation i highly recommend going here because in all honesty, I couldn't really do that justice.

fresh fresh fresh.
   The shoe is certainly lighter than it looks.  At 9.2oz in a women's 8 it rivals many shoes in that light to mid-weight category.  The seamless upper material is stretchy but comfortable. The overlays are not restricting, but still keep your foot comfortably over the base of the shoe. In the past I have had blister problems on the tips of my toes...I ran a 50k in these this past weekend and didn't get a single toe blister...boom!  The heel and mid foot and slightly more narrow, really locking your foot in place so even on the steepest of downhills, there was no sliding.  The toe box is roomy, but not overly wide so you don't slip and slide all over..this shoe just has the right balance for the long run.
 

The traction on this shoe is solid.  It climbs well in rooty, rocky and gravely trails.  I have yet to hit a muddy uphill, by my guess is that it would still fair quite well.  The transition into single track, leaf covered trail, and wet mucky grass was solid, no slipping issues. During the race this weekend there was a hill with a 15.5% incline, and as the saying goes, "what goes up must come down."  I slid just a bit on the really steep rocky down hill, but to be honest I don't think any shoe would have taken the hill without slipping, but it was something I noted to myself during the race.



Bubble laces, that lock.
The other glorious piece in this shoe is the lace.  There are plenty of companies that add a bubble lace in order to prevent them from coming untied..but these nail it.  The lace is a bit thicker and softer so they really lace together tightly and stay that way.  The tongue, which is also the same soft material as the rest of the upper, keeps the knot from the lace off your foot so there were no pressure points or hot spots.  It also has two lace locks sewn into it so it keeps the laces from shifting, also preventing hot spots.


Cushy mid foot

While the shoe offers a 4mm offset, the mid sole clearly isn't the thin layer that many other companies use.  The shoe has a soft cushion feel under foot, but doesn't loose the ground feel so you can still get a solid foot plant and be sure you're not going to lose it.  There is a fused rock plate under the mid foot, so even the rocky sections don't make your feet turn to hamburger like other shoes I've tried.  The PI site says that the mid foot is a combination foam for shock  absorbing and energy return.  While it does indeed reduce shock and therefore fatigue over time, the energy return isn't quite as noticeable throughout.  It was more obvious on hard pack or concrete, which makes sense since you do need an opposite force to create return ( maybe??)

In my opinion Pearl Izumi nailed this shoe.  As of right now I'm planning on running the hundred in them.  The only other combo I"m considering is to start in the Montrail Rogue Fly and switch out to these for a smoother ride over night.  I can see why the big guns are sticking with this shoe.  Well done.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Montrail Rogue Fly Review

I feel that I have given these shoes more than a run for the money and after a year of running and racing in them, have a pretty fair opinion on how they perform.


A Fresh Pair.


Out of the box, the Rogue Fly weighs in at 6.4 oz.  Although many websites categorize this shoe as "minimalist"  by the true definition it is not.  The stack height, or heel to to differential is 10mm, although it is built on a slightly lower platform than some of their other models.  The reason it is often called minimal is due to the material in the upper of the shoe.  There are no fancy overlays, it is essentially two mesh sides and the tongue.  Even the lace is a lighter stripped down material from their other shoes.

The shoe excels at drying fast after stream or creek crossings , and certainly keeps your feet a bit cooler on hot days.  At first I was a bit worried about the mesh stretching and causing my foot to shift around over the midfoot platform on uneven surfaces, but after going through more than four pairs, I have yet to see that as being an issue.  The midfoot and heel hug your foot very comfortably and a roomy toe box leaves plenty of breathing room.  I have had some blister issues with the tips of my toes rubbing on the front of the shoe, however, even during a 50 mile race, it never felt painful since the meshy upper is so soft.  

In all honesty though, the only shoe I have run and raced in where I didn't experience much in the way of blisters was the old Montrail Hardrock...and since that doesn't seem to ever be making a comeback, I honestly wouldn't call this a huge complaint.  More than anything, when I slip this shoe on, I feel like it was made for my foot.

The "multi directional" lug pattern is the same that Montrail uses in the Rogue Racer, a heavier revision of the Rogue Fly.   It handles loose rock, packed trail, and even mud quite well.  In really muddy conditions, as with most other shoes, it does get a slippery, so something like the Bajada, with a deeper lug would do a bit better.  I went so far as to wear this as my road shoe, as I have had some difficulty finding other shoes I like as much.  I ran a road marathon, and did all of my training miles in this shoe.  It held up wonderfully, and since then I have seen a few others racing in this shoe.


The midfoot is soft enough for the road, but handles trail surfaces well.  It has enough cushion to stand up to 50 miles of running with no issue.  I have a few pairs with more than 400 miles on them, and they do lose their spring like any other.  I am interested in trying out some of the fluid foam line that Montrail has out, as they tout a longer lasting midsole with the new material.  

One complaint that I see frequently with this shoe, is that it has the 10mm heel to toe differential.  Although it does very well with that, I think more people would take a serious look at this shoe if it went with an 8mm drop.  Enough to keep a solid base under foot for long runs and races, but a lower setting to appeal to a more minimalist crowd; an 18mm heel platform to 10mm midfoot could be a great combo.  Still leaes cushion for a longer ride, while adding just a bit under the midfoot to prevent any bruising from sharp rocks (there is no rock plate in this shoe.)


The Rogue Flyis a fast moving shoe, and has become my go to shoe for anything from 5k, 50k to 50 miler.  I have my first 100 mile race coming up this fall, and plan to ear this shoe for the first 40-60 miles and switch into a heavier shoe for the remainder.  I am a tried and true fan of this shoe, and will continue to train and race in it. 

When I first ordered the shoe, I went with my typical 7.5, and went through more than a few pairs in that size.  For the 50, I did order an 8, and was very glad I did.  On a course with a good bit of descending I would recommend doing so.

I am definitely a big fan of what Montrail is putting out, and would love to try out a few other shoes from their line.  If you are looking for a light weight, fast shoe look no further.  They've done a great job with the Rogue Fly, and it's worth taking them for a spin.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Taming the Wildcat- the best and worst race rolled into one.

  I don't even know if it's fair to say I tamed the Wildcat--yes, I was the first and only female finisher this race has had thus far--but his was the most mentally challenging race I have ever been to; to be honest, it tamed me-humbled is a better word actually.  The course is brutal and unrelenting. By lap three, your feet just feel like ground meat from all the rocks and they never seem to end. I went out to get one last long run in before Oil Creek, that's what I did; it wasn't speed that got me the win, it was perseverance.
     The course was a 10 mile loop, each with around 1,100 feet of elevation gain.  The loop was a mix of atv trails, single track, and rocks...tons of rocks.  This is the type of course where you can't afford to take your eyes off the ground because you'll trip, there are that many rocks.
     The first three miles are quite runnable, especially once the knee-high grass was trampled. There was a beautiful Hawk Watch around mile 3.5 and due to the clear weather, you could see for miles. The first aid station was at mile 4 and, unfortunately, we were directed the wrong way on that first loop and ran an extra 2 miles.  Once we realized what happened, we got back in the right direction and into the second half of the course--the technical single track. The climbs began from here along with the rocks.  There were sections where you couldn't run, you had to hike due to the amount of rocks.  The head-sized rocks were peppered through most of the single track, so bounding would be a more suitable way to describe the method of getting around them. The river crossings were rock jumping sections and as the laps accumulated, the jumping became more nerve-wracking.  There were sections that stretched 15 yards of rock jumping and the climb to the aid station at mile 7 was a 20 foot uphill rock face.  From 7 on you knew you were in for more level terrain, but it was covered in smaller rocks...the type that you just can't get away from and those that just make your feet feel like ground meat.
     There were about 17 people attempting distances between 50 miles and 100k; three for the 100k, the rest for the 50.  Rick went through the course description and made sure we knew we were following blue ribbons this year.
Photo by Otto Lam. RD Rick describing the course.

   We set off promptly at 6am, the sun just rising over the tree line.  I felt pretty good, and just settled in to a comfortable pace that would get me to the end of the day.  Since there were so few of us, we started to spread out and I realized I was lead women in the very small field. So this is what it feels like? Wouldn't it be cool to win a race? Oh crap I must be going too fast!  All the fun things going through my head, but we kept right on moving.  After the first aid station about seven of us were directed the wrong way, resulting in an extra two miles. I think the extra miles weighed heavily on some people and they just couldn't bounce back mentally from there. We got back on track and continued moving through the trails; constant rocky ups and downs.  There were boulders to scramble over and downed trees to climb over--jumping from branch to branch to branch and then having to swing from and drop back to the dirt.  The river crossing was just a series of boulder hopping, regaining your balance after each leap along the way.  There was a slight reprieve from the up and down from mile 6.5 to the aid station at 7;  rocky double track led up to the dam by splitrock reservoir and then from there it was a 20 foot uphill rock climb to the aid station.
The climb to as #7. Photo from Otto Lam
    After the aid station, the course ran across the dam, up a jeep road, and dipped back into the woods.  It was rocky, windy double track with a few board bridge crossings.  We popped back out of the woods at the first aid station and headed down the same road which we had incorrectly been down before.  I knew the rocky path and took off again, this time moving faster once I hit the road.  I followed the bright orange arrows until I saw more blue flags leading back in the woods.  From here, you could just see the school bus parking lot through the trees that meant the end of the loop was near.  Power through the last bit and a bottle refill and a snack was in store!
     With each lap my feet felt more and more battered.  My legs felt fantastic, which became frustrating since they wanted to move and my feet wouldn't let them, and my mind was going south.   I had blisters forming on the balls of my feet, and I just pictured the course and hated the idea of another lap. The water bottle in my race vest was digging into my ribs and I couldn't stop shifting the vest to relieve it--this is the first time I have had an issue with the vest.  My solution is going to be to use a Hydrapak 8oz. flask. I ran for a bit with a guy running the 100k.  Our minds were in the same low place.  The doubt crept in and neither of us thought we would ever be able to run our upcoming 100 if this is how we were feeling.  We had secretly been writing our letters to the 100 mile race directors pulling ourselves out of the events.  We parted ways with both of us anticipating a drop for the day. This course is just tough.
    While slowly running, I made a call to Heather and told her how I was feeling.  I was still leading, although probably not by much anymore, felt amazing physically, and was ready to quit.  When I hit the road section I started walking.  I thought maybe if I walked slow enough I could get my bib pulled by not making the 5pm cut off (you must start your last lap before 5pm).  Would I regret my first DNF? Would I ever get a chance to possibly win a race again?  I was nervous at the thought of being alone for another lap.
     I started running again and came in the start/finish area with about 20 minutes to decide.  I was greeted by a few folks still hanging out.  I grabbed some food and told a friend I was struggling mentally.  She asked if a beer would help and at that moment I couldn't think of anything better.  I said I may need to take her up on it, but needed a second to think.  My feet wanted to fall off and run away.  It was the most frustrated I have ever felt; my body felt good, and I knew I had it in me, but I felt frustrated with the pace I was keeping because of my feet and my mind was letting this drag me down more.
  Friend:  "Why don't you ask Rick what place you're in and decide from there?" Me:  "I'm leading...somehow I'm leading."  She picked up my water bottle, refilled it, and pushed it back into my hand. "You are under the cut off, you're winning, and Matt (my running partner) might never let you live it down, get going."  There was one more runner heading out for his last lap and we took off together.  While it was the mental game I was struggling with, he was having a hard time physically.  His legs didn't want to move and he was moving at a slow hike.  I decided since it would be getting dark soon, and we very well may be the last ones out on the course, that I wouldn't leave him.  We spent the next couple of hours chatting about family, races, work, and another else to keep our minds off whatever it was that was bothering us.
   There is nothing like the camaraderie and conversation found in an ultra.  It is the reason most of us run and race, no question.  As we made our way toward the last aid station, now two jugs of water awaiting our arrival, I said I was planning to run the last two miles.  Since we were getting close on time, I wanted to pass along my watch and make sure he too made it.  He said he was fine without it--"go get the win."  I took off moving as fast as my blistery, rock-filled, hamburger feet would go and finished with 5 minutes to spare.  It was certainly not speed that helped me cross that damn line, it was sheer determination.  I finished as first female, as well as only female to have completed the 50 mile distance in this two-year-old race. I got a half can of ginger ale at the finish, hopped in the car as we all packed up, and headed home.  I couldn't wait to eat something and see Heather!  I got home and made fried eggs, bacon, and toast with jelly--amazing!!
   I maintained my goal going into this race: just get the distance in.  The important part was getting the mileage in for Oil Creek.  I suppose the win was an added bonus.  I don't really feel like I deserve it, but I certainly like the idea of a 100% on ultra signup.
  The next morning I woke up excited for Oil Creek and I felt more confident about the 100 than I had been. The mental struggle from the day before, although frustrating, made me feel like I had overcome the tough part.  I had spent more time on feet than ever before and as frustrating as it had been during that course, it was a positive boost thinking ahead to a much longer race.
   Recovery was great.  I wasn't sore the next day and given how slow I was moving all day, I'm not shocked. I ended up with some slight bruising from the race vest, but nothing terrible. The rock in my shoe ended up turning into a half-dollar-sized blister on the ball of my left foot. Once that was drained, along with a small one on the tip of my toe, my feet felt like new. I experienced the worst chafing I could imagine.  I can only say it felt like I had a cactus in my butt cheeks.  Even that heals, and you start to forget some of the bad parts; I'm excited and hopeful looking toward Oil Creek.  I learn something new with each run, and with every finish line crossed there is an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. Whether a good race, a bad race or just something in between no one can take away the hard work and the outcome.
     

Whether hiking, running, or racing-go get some miles.

Race day wears:

Montrail Bajada
Swiftwick Performance One
Inov8 Gaiters
Ultimate Dircetion Ak Vest
Pearl Izumi Ultra Shorts

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Running vs. Racing

Running vs. Racing -- This has been something I have been struggling with for quite some time and until you figure it out, the balance is difficult to find.  I think you can't find one without the other in the end, however.

Running an ultra is totally possible for most people.  What, you say?  It's about staying well within your comfort zone, never pushing the boundary or your pain threshold.  With good training, this is a very doable feat for a good many people that are willing to put in the effort. Walk a little, run a little and you will find the finish line.

Racing an ultra--this is a different matter entirely. Although I imagine there are bouts of comfortable miles, pushing the red line and learning where the pain threshold exists and how to play on that boundary to keep you moving without blowing up is where the race really comes from.  It's a delicate balance to figure out and not something done in just one to two races.

I need to learn how to race.  I want to be more competitive and there is no other way to do it than learn to push that red line.  While this season has been about increasing my distances and learning what race lengths I really enjoy, I want to push that line next year.  I want to understand what it means to push and to race instead of just running.  The sense of accomplishment for me is no less one way or another, but I find myself walking away knowing I could have given more and that I find very frustrating.

The idea of a DNF is frustrating for me, but I think it's something that potentially goes hand in hand with learning how to push. You can't find your limit if you don't blow up at some point.  It is also very important to understand that the physical is only one part of the race.  Just like accepting a DNF in trying out boundaries, there is a HUGE mental aspect to training, running, and racing.

The hardest part of breaking the running vs. racing line is the mental aspect.  To keep telling your body to move and push hard when you're in pain in nowhere near easy.  You have to be mentally tough to keep pushing.  Many people say that running an ultra is 90% mental and the rest is in your head.  It makes sense for those racing and pushing.  You will hit a point when your body just wants to stop and you have to figure out how to keep it moving. Mental training is just as important as physical, it's just more difficult to figure out. This is a great quote from Pam Smith, the ultimate underdog going into this year's Western States--

                "I don’t know what to say about this one, because I am still uncertain how to achieve
                 that state where you absolutely believe in yourself, but for some reason I believed that
                 I could win going into this one. Whether you call it confidence, self-delusion, or arrogance,
                 I think the mental state is important... This principle applies no matter what your goal is, whether 
                      that means a particular finishing time or just finishing at all. You have to believe your goals are achievable."
                                                                                -From"How the West(ern) Was Won, iRunfar.com

I am excited to gain a better understanding of the mental push.  I think that my run at Oil Creek 100 this year will be a great window into what my mind and body have and how they can work together.  Yes, I did call it a run and not a race.  I am testing the limits in a 100 mile event, but this is not a place to find my red line. This is the place to lay it out and find out what my body and mind have. I will come out with a deep understanding of what my body has and what my mind has. I don't think this is something necessarily learned  in the 50k or 50 mile distance.

I am going in with a strategic and well-planned-out binder.  I have goal times for aid stations and food/need lists for crew at each station.  My plan is to bank some time early on and plan for a rough night.  I don't have a pacer lined up yet--mine ended up having work booked and will be unable to make it now.   I am hoping for a sub 28 hour finish.  OC is a rough course.  I have been checking finishing times, race stats, and comparing my previous times to get an idea of where I fit in.

I would be kidding you if I said this wasn't consuming a great deal of my daily thinking.  I visualize the hurt, the pain, and the pushing myself to move.  I picture the finish line, the feeling of relief mixed in with the heaviness of my legs at night.  I just have to make sure to get it to all to come together.  In learning how to push through the voices telling me to stop and my legs just wanting to give up--understanding my body and mind better--I believe that I will be able to go into next season prepared to race. I will have an understanding and awareness of my physical and mental strengths and weaknesses.

It is through running the miles, running the races, and challenging what we think is possible that we will ultimately learn how to race.  Bring it on.

Go get some miles--and throw a few extra on.  It may surprise you to know you can do it.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Short, sweet and working on focused.

A race always helps ease the mind.  I've said it before, throwing in a short race to your schedule is great for racing mental health.  It lets you know how your muscles recover and how well your head is in it.

I ran the Quadzilla 15k again this year and enjoyed it as much as last year.  The weather was completely different and we had race morning temps already in the high 80's with 80% humidity.  Despite that, I was able to get my mind a little more into it and dropped three minutes from my time last year.  Although I enjoyed the drop in time and a finish in the top 20 women, I realized that I need to improve my mental running game.  I let myself walk more hills than I should and I can rationalize it by thinking ahead to my week in training, to how many miles are left in the race, to not wanting to suffer too much....it all does me no good. If I am going to continue to pursue racing more competitively, I am going to need to learn how to race and how to let myself hurt.

I am still struggling with the mileage.  I am averaging about 35 miles a week and although in general the running feels decent, I know I need to focus on getting my in.  I need to sleep better and longer or those things are going to add up and kill the rest of my season. I know I have a good solid base under my legs, but getting the mileage, the sleep, the eating all under control lends itself to a much stronger mental edge before toeing any start line.  I will start this next month recharged and focused on the mental side of things...getting my head back over my legs.  I will work on my race binder for Oil Creek to keep my head in the long term plan.

I read that it's your legs that get you through the first half of a 100 miler and your head in the second. My head needs to get in the game as much as my legs.  I am running into a new month with a stronger focus and plan of action.  My legs and my head are racing together, so they damn well better get training together.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Back to the Grind.

I loved the 50 mile distance.  I'm thrilled to have finished and felt so good, however that brings up all the other feelings of "I should have pushed harder, moved faster...what could I have done then?"  I tried to push those thoughts from my mind and just concentrate on healing up. I had some tendonititis flare up in my left ankle and right foot and gave myself a full week off to recover.

I kept up with the ice, compression, and elevation. I ended up having to work a 9 day stretch post race, which delayed the healing just slightly, but in the end I came out unscathed.

The following week I jumped in to weight training and designing some cross training workouts to complement my running.  I also dead lifted more than my body weight for the first time, which was kind of cool, and then got back to it!

June 27:     4.22 road to trail, slow and steady.
It was glorious to get back in my shoes and moving!  With no pain--even better!!

June 28:  3.01   hill repeats with a jump rope rest
I am fortunate enough to live by the Manayunk wall, so it is where I head for a good amount of my hill repeats.  It is a 17% grade and will kick you in the guts.  I run up, grab the jump rope for 50 jumps, and head right back down.

June 29:     2.5   Nice and easy
Got the hill repeats out of my legs.

June 30:      8.52  Trail
Got back in the Wiss and on the trails.

Weekly:       18.24  time to get this mileage up!!!

July 1:    2 miles and cross training
8 box jumps                       hi plank-30 sec
10 dips                          30 arm hollers
10 uneven pushups-each side      500m jog
500m jog                         20 walking lunges

July 2:       7.5;    4.25 road to trail,   3 mile hill repeats with jump roping

July 3:      8.02   3.01 road miles-am             5.01 road after work

July 4:      2.6
Way too hot to keep moving

July 6:     8 road fartlek
1 mile easy warm up
5 min. hard finish, the mile easy
1.5 mile easy cool down

July 8:    2 miles (1 warm up, 1 cool down)
30 squats                    10 full push ups            20 tire flips
jump rope                   10 eccentric                weighted walking lunge partner plank               20 v-ups                      superman

-36.5 lb. bulgarian sandbag was weight for squats and lunges


July 9:      15.01      Forbidden Drive and road with stairs.
I won't lie.  My hammies and glutes were in rough shape for this run.  I was breaking in my new kicks (pearl izumi emotion n2)  I felt solid for most of the run and kept my pace around 9-9:15 until I hit the stairs at 13.  Everything sort of went to shit there and I sloooowly made my way home.

July 11:      5.01 road before work.


So there it is....back to it and pretty pumped for the runs, the mileage, and some upcoming races.

Go get some miles.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ground Beef and Spinach Butternut Squash Lasagna and chocolate chip cookies. (grain free)

Let me first say I use the word lasagna quite loosely.  This is lasagna in that it is a layered dish, but that's about where it ends...but it was delicious no matter what you call it.





We have been following a grain-free, whole foods lifestyle for the past year, and more recently I have been experimenting with my own recipes instead of just following online resources and cookbooks. I have been thinking about trying to make a butternut squash lasagna for quite some time now. We recently ordered Heath Bent's Primal Cravings cookbook and I can't get enough of the recipes so far.  They included a butternut squash lasagna, but it seemed more of a "sub the noodles for butternut squash" type of recipe, so I went searching online.  Again, most seem to be a trade-out-the-noodles kind of deal, so I decided to create my own.

I had hoped to use ground turkey, but since I didn't have any, ground beef it is and it worked quite well.  Here goes nothing..p.s. I'm not the best at measuring, so you may have to play around and add a bit more here and there to taste, but the amounts are pretty close.

Ingredients:

For the lasagna layers:

1 medium-large butternut squash
1 lb. grass fed ground beef
1/4 white onion
~3 cups fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:

~1/2 can coconut milk
3-4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
~3 Tbs butter
1/2 cup shredded smoked cheddar (although gouda would probably be good too)
~1/2 Tbs tapioca flour (for thickening)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

Brown the beef in a pan, add the onions, and saute until tender. 

While the beef is cooking, peel your butternut squash, slice in half lengthwise, and clean out the seeds.

Use a mandolin to slice the butternut squash in thin slices (like lemon wedges)

Cover the bottom of a baking dish with squash slices, add a layer of ground meat, cover with fresh spinach.  Repeat until you are out of meat.  The top layer should be butternut squash (I ended up with three squash layers). Set aside.

Roughly chop your garlic and saute in a pan.

Add sauteed garlic and coconut milk to blender and mix (this would work better if you had a smaller food processor)

Melt butter in a pan and add in the garlic coconut milk mix

While stirring slowly, add in the tapioca flour to thicken, then add cheese and melt (you could do dairy-free and add in more thickener, but I would maybe also add in some sauteed onions to add some flavor; the smokiness of the cheese was a key part here)

Pour the sauce evenly over the dish.  Bake for 45-50 minutes until the top browns.  Slice and enjoy!!

Delicious!



For the cookies:

2/3 cup coconut flour
2 Tbs tapioca flour
2 Tbs honey (I'm sure maple syrup would work)
2 Tbs sunflower seed butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

I played lazy and mixed everything but the chocolate in the food processor. 

Pulse until it forms a dough ball.

Mix in chocolate chips and form cookie balls.

Put on parchment paper and smoosh flat.  

Bake for about 15 minutes.

These turned out pretty good for my first ever non-recipe attempt, and it certainly is a bit cheaper than using almond flour every so often.  It made about 12-14 cookies, perfect for dunking in almond milk!


We had a great Sunday at Wyebrook Farm in Honeybrook, Pa.  Amazing food, great views, and a fun day to wander around the farm and visit with the pigs and cows before bringing home a cooler full of fresh grass-fed pasture-raised meats!  Go check it out!


Beautiful view while enjoying a fantastic lunch.

Future Bacon!!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cayuga Trails 50. A first-time 50 miler at a first-time race.

Hot damn!  If you are looking for a challenging, but beautiful, east coast run, look no further than Cayuga Trails 50.
      I was nervous as all hell going into this race--not only was it my first 50 miler, but there were course and elevation changes being made in the days before the race.  The final course came with over 10,000 feet of elevation gain--more than I usually see in a month!  I was able to calm my nerves with the fact that the West Rim Trail is around 5,300 feet of gain over 30 miles and I scrambled through that a month before. Anyway, on to the real news...the race!
Loving that uniform!

I was originally going to head up to Ithaca on the Thursday before the race and relax and check out the area.  Due to some crappy rain coming through and a few other changes, I ended up driving up on Friday afternoon.  It rained for the entire four-and-a-half hour drive, muddy trails dancing in my head as we plugged along and got into town just as the pre-race briefing was letting out.  I ran into my training partner and we decided to go for some food at viva taqueria with a friend of his. If I run the race again next year, I'm eating here again, as it was pretty damn good race fuel.

We headed to the hotel and ran into another Philadelphia runner, one who I actually had run some local races with and had met at work a few months before.  He is a kick ass runner and this was also his first 50.  He was strong and up front all day, but took a spill in the creek and had to hike the last 8 miles.  He still finished with a great time!

I got all my race stuff laid out and the backpack set for Heather and her crewing duties.  I decided to hop on the foam roller and get a last minute session in, which I am very glad I did.  Around 11pm my phone rang and it was my friend Tanya, the Scott rep.  She was still out at the start of the course with Ian the RD.  It had started raining and some of the markings had come down, so Ian was re-running the course in his underwear to make sure it was well-marked while she was setting up tables with food and coffee and everything else for registration and breakfast.  It wasn't her job to do it, but she stayed until 4am to make sure that runners would be taken care of in the morning...fucking amazing.
Tanya with Sage Canaday ( I still can't believe I didn't get a picture with him)

She got back to the hotel just as we were waking up, so I promised to bring her coffee at the start.  I jumped in the car and headed into Ithaca to try and find a 24 hour deli that we had seen earlier in the evening.  Instead I got lost and wound up at a Mobil gas station...at least the coffee was hot.  I grabbed two cups and headed back to the hotel.  As I got out of the car, I found a heads up nickel on the ground.  I'm not superstitious, but I did secretly think of it as good luck.

Heather was up and ready, so I threw on my running uniform (no matter how many shirts and shorts I own, I always seem to go back to the same things).  My biggest debate was which shoes I would be wearing for the day.  I wear my Montrail Rogue Fly for nearly all of my running, but with the muddy conditions I was debating on the Bajada.  I chose to start in the Rogue Fly and change if needed. We hopped in the car and headed to the start.  I found my friends Tanya and Matt and his friend Jen for the start.
Matt, Jen, and I before the race

I felt very calm going into this race. Even when they announced the course and elevation changes, I somehow stayed very calm.  Maybe it was the exam I had taken on Thursday that had used up all of my nerves (I passed by the way!) or maybe for once I was able to wrap my head around the idea of just finishing since it was my first 50.
   
Ian made a few quick announcements and at 6am the horn sounded and we were off.  We headed out through a field and up a fire road into the woods, a 3.1 mile ascent into the first aid station.  I made sure to be diligent about eating and every 30-40 minutes ate a VFuel peach cobbler gel. I topped off my bottle with water, grabbed a few more gels from Heather, and was off.  I had left Matt and Jen and was plugging away getting into a comfortable pace.

The next 3.8 miles was very runnable and I made good time of it.  I found myself constantly debating about whether moving too fast would hurt me later, but I kept moving regardless.  I decided that if I hit that rough dark point later I would just work to get out of it.  I went through the next aid station the same as the first and encountered the first creek crossing.  A lovely waist-deep chilly crossing, but since we would be going through this again and there was a fine mist in the air, it never really crossed my mind to worry about changing shoes and socks.
   
There were so many ups and downs by this point they all sort of ran together.  There was one quite brutal uphill switchback, which in reading some of the leaders' blogs they said was totally runnable, but for most of us it was a hike.  I did, however, learn I am a pretty good uphill hiker and I ended up passing a great number of runners that didn't catch up.  The mud was the toughest part.  As more and more runners were trudging back and forth over the trails, the mud became worse and it was like ice skating.  Every foot step was met with a slide.  The once small ankle-deep mug bog turned into a few miles of heavy mud.  Luckily, there was a road crossing where we could stomp out the mud before heading back into the trails.

Around mile 20, Sage and the other leaders made their way back along the course.  I actually got to say hello and see them all running, which was so cool.  It was just the push I needed to get me into the aid station at mile 25.  A quick coke and back to it for another fine loop.  I wish I had counted the number of steps we climbed up and down over the course of 50 miles, but I probably would have lost track anyway.  The water fall, the steps, the views...absolutely amazing.  It didn't how bad my quads were burning, you couldn't help but smile when you looked around at how beautiful this course really was.

Buttermilk Falls

I reminded myself to just keep smiling, which really wasn't all that difficult since I was really enjoying myself.  There was so much beautiful scenery to look at that the miles just seemed to fly on. It wasn't until I hit mile 36 that I hit a rough patch.  I started to feel a little twinge in my left hip that slowly made its way into my knee and I was soon walking very painfully and panicking about something going wrong with my ACL.  I tried to stretch it and found that galloping was the easiest way to move, so that's how I made my way into the next aid station at mile 38.1.  I talked to Heather, filled my bottle, and got some gel,s all while debating on what to do.  With 12 miles to go I decided (with a little pushing) to get going.  The next aid station was 5.7 miles away, so I would see how it felt there.  I made my way up the stairs and away from the aid station.  The uphill stretched out my knee and I figured it was IT band issues.  Suddenly, everything just seemed to click and I felt like I was running on someone else's legs.  I had a very fast section into the next aid station and came in with a huge smile on my face.
Always smiling!

After that it was just a few short miles to the second to last aid station and...I didn't see Heather.  I felt really bad, but decided to get going because I knew I was close to the 11 hour mark and really wanted to try to get in under it.  I got my legs moving and headed to the end, while crossing my fingers and hoping Heather would be there!  I headed through the woods, looking back once to see if anyone was behind me, and headed to the last descent.  I rounded the last corner and there were Tanya and Heather cheering away!  Someone had told them I went through the last aid station and they hurried to the finish.  I was so excited that I kicked with everything I had around the field and down the final stretch. 10:52 for the finish of my first 50.  I really enjoyed the distance and will definitely be doing a few more.
Under 11 for my first 50!


The stairs, the waterfalls, the mud, and the climbing all came together to make a tough race, but an awesome race.  I had the best time ever.  Thinking back, it never seemed like I was on my feet all day.  I am recovering well and would love to get out the door for a shake-out run soon.  It seems the only nagging pain is the flexor tendon on my left leg.  Hopefully nothing a little rest, ice, and ibuprofen can't fix! I can't wait to get back out on the trails.

Best Hug Ever.


So happy to have finished!!

   

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Racing for mental health.

You know...I walked away after writing yesterday feeling...blah.  I couldn't figure out why the words weren't coming to me and why I was just not feeling like my usual excited-to-run-and-write self.  About halfway through my day it dawned on me.  I was feeling uninspired.  I have been feeling uninspired and it makes sense when I look at it.

      Since running the West Rim trail (yes, I'll ramble a bit more about it), it has really set in just how disappointed I am with my time and effort.  I know that I can go faster--much faster--and I want to go back--I need to go back and make it right; if for no other reason than to settle my mind.  I also realized that my running has been rather stagnant.  I have been feeling a bit like a hamster on a wheel; the same commute, the same day repeating at work, the same run in the morning, the same textbook night in and out. Yes, I realize that's how studying works and that there are many places to run around near where I live, but between working, commuting, and filling all the other waking hours with studying, gyming, and running, it doesn't leave too much time for exploring--hence that oh-so-stagnant feeling of blah.

    I let my running fall into the same routine as work, so it began to feel like work.  Running never feels like work--it's what has always gotten me away from work! I also realized that I haven't raced since last October.  Well, hot damn, that's longer than I thought.  I put so much thinking into the 50 miler and the West Rim that I never once looked around at smaller check-in races.

    I think races qualify as mental health.  I don't mean the reward of winning, or even placing for that matter.  But the simple notion of being surrounded by the craziness that is trail running and the people that love it makes for a wonderful experience.  I started to forget what that felt like, and after seeing some race photos from this year's Uberendurance Sports Dirty German, I forgot how damn much I missed racing.  Not so much that race maybe, but being out exploring new trails, meeting new people, and learning new lessons on the trail.

   I feel a renewed sense of excitement about the upcoming 50 miler and the rest of the season.  I just need to remind myself to add in some of the shorter mental health races and enjoy!!




Run on my friends...and just keep smiling.

 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Life moves pretty fast....if you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.

It has been a little while...the last few weeks have just flown by with little sign of stopping!  I got a few more photos from the West Rim Trail adventure, courtesy of Vince Camiolo.  They are amazing and I feel so badass when I flip through them.  I absolutely cannot wait to get back up there!!  But, first thing is first--get through the 50 mile race.  June 8th is fast approaching and that means two things: my exam will be over and I will attempting my longest race to date.  I'm a bit nervous for both.

Fueling up at the start
      Recently, the race director made an announcement about a little bit of a change in elevation.  It was originally posted to be around 6,500 ft of gain.  A runner out checking out the course found that one loop had about 5,500, so we will be looking at more like 11,000 ft gain for the 50 miles (this was the original elevation profile).  Hot damn....get ready for some hiking!!  I'm still excited, but am really trying to concentrate on the idea of just finishing and getting all number goals out of my head.  I'll secretly let them roll around until I hopefully hit the finish line. * update, as of this morning the course has been changed yet again...the elevation is now 10,500 with a 15 hour cutoff.  We'll see if this changes again in the next week!!

    Between working full time, studying, and getting in training/shadow hours at the gym, I haven't been putting in as many miles as I had hoped since the WRT; averaging about 40-45 a week.  I wish I had done more hill repeats, but it's a bit late now! My goal it to get a ton of sleep leading up to the race and get as much studying in as possible.  I need to kick this exam's ass...I am so ready for change!!  I am also shopping around for a new GPS watch.  I dig the Timex, but can't upload anything and would like to get elevation.  My Garmin seems to only like road running anymore and loses the signal on trail like it's going out of style.  Ultrarunner problems....

   Anyway, back to the daily grind and off to work.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Completing the West Rim Trail- women's unsupported speed record.

It's done.  As with anything else, I'd love to have done a million different things a million different ways, but in the end I finished.  I completed the West Rim Trail from south to north in 6 hours 30 minutes.  My Garmin clocked the total distance at 29.7 miles, while my Timex Marathon clocked at 31.5.  As I have found no other record for running this trail, it seems that it is indeed the current female unsupported record.
 
Southern Termius-Blackwell PA (photo credit to Vince Camiolo)
First thing is first...I should have looked at the map a bit more carefully before heading out.  I had never been on the trail before and lost a good bit of time to double checking my route and pulling out the map to verify.  When reviewing the Garmin upload, I found I lost more than 20 minutes to this.

Second-I was quite conservative with the hills.  I kept thinking of my upcoming 50 mile race and opting to hike instead.  I lost quite a bit of time in hiking rather than running.

Third-I stupidly made the choice to keep running and not refill my bottles at the pump halfway through.  I had two bottles at the 15 mile point and figured that was enough.  Dumb.  Again, going back to the first point, I hadn't looked at a map and didn't know exactly what the trail ahead would look like.  I ran out around mile 28.

Fourth- I need to slap myself in the face every time I decide to wait 45 minutes to eat instead of every 30..and then turn the 45 into an hour.  I deserve the leg cramping.  It certainly counts as a learning experience.

Fifth- Holy shit, this trail is awesome!  Running alongside the steep cliff all day was amazing.  The view never failed to amaze.

The Pine Creek Gorge
I will, without a single doubt in my mind, be back to better my time.  I will do the trail unsupported again for sure.  But here is the rundown.

5/1/2013 8:25am  I began running from the southern terminus of the West Rim Trail in Blackwell, PA.  The elevation had me at a hike by mile 2; again, I went conservatively knowing I had an upcoming race, as well as not knowing the whole trail.  I was running very comfortably under 10 minute miles and hiking the hills.  The views were utterly beautiful and we could not have had a better day.  I was feeling strong past the 8 mile mark and looking ahead with excitement.

To start, temps were in the mid 50's and slowly climbed throughout the morning. By around 11, they were approaching 70.  Since there wasn't a ton of tree cover yet, there was a lot of direct sun so it was very hot.  I remember hearing my heart beating in my ears very loudly.  I was beginning to struggle a bit around mile 12, and was excited to hit the halfway mark to refill bottles and see some more views.  

I came in to mile 15 at about 3 hours 6 minutes and was feeling strong.  Strong enough that I just kept right on through and didn't look around for the pump to refill.  I was running well and thought if I kept it up I could get into the finish under 6 hours, so I went for it.  I was focused on a time at this point and it got the better of me.  So conscious of the other race and not blowing up earlier, I let my excitement take over and it turned into a mistake.  Not terrible, but one I ended up losing time for.

I continued through with my pace all over the place.  I ran well where I could, cruising the flats, still under 10 minute mile pace, and just seemed to lose it on the hikes.  The uphills were long and arduous and seemed to go on forever.  In retrospect, I should have run them over hiking, but hindsight is always 20/20, now isn't it. I had my first cramp at around mile 20, but was able to run through it and keep moving. 

I came out of the trail at mile 22 and saw Erik sitting on a downed tree.  He had gone out really hard and blew up and cramped at 20, hobbled to 22, and was getting picked up.  I shot down into the woods and back to the single track feeling good to be out of the sun for a bit.  It didn't last long.  I started cramping again after stepping over a large downed tree and hiked for a while. Mentally, this was a tough thing to do; there is no aid station to enjoy or use as a mile goal, no finish line food...just you and your legs plugging along.  It made me realize more than ever just how much I love trail running, and the challenges of long distance.

The struggling face...cramps and hiking.

From mile 22 to 25 I was just trudging along hoping to be done.  I had cramps in my inner thighs switching from one leg to the other, and I was trying to use my hand helds for momentum while hiking.  Looking at my watch and seeing the miles tick closer to the end, I was able to pick my pace up for the last few miles and pop out of the woods with Erik and Vince just hopping out of the car for a photo finish.  I completed the West Rim Trail in an unsupported effort.  The official measured trail says 30.5, Strava says 29.6, and Timex says 31.5.  Whichever way it is, it's done.  I will be back soon to do it all again.
Finished. 6:30:00

I opted to wear my Ultimate Direction race vest and carry two hand held bottles.  I used VFuel peach cobbler gels. I wore both my Garmin 110 and my Timex Marathon GPS watches.  Through my training, I noticed that my Garmin is consistently under on mileage compared to the Timex, as well as the Nike watches.  I wish the Timex data was up-loadable; I may look in to the new run trainer that they just put out.  I will update a gear list and some reviews soon.

I'm glad to have it official, but as much as I made the decision to hold back, I can't help but be disappointed with my time.  I can't wait to go back and beat it!!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

West Rim Trail

It has been a busy few weeks to say the least, and I let stress get the better of me.  My weekly mileage has been between 35-45 miles.  Not bad for bouncing back into 50ks....but not quite where I want to be for the 50 miler.  With the June 8 Cayuga race officially about a month out, I want to be careful about pushing too many long runs, and make sure I give myself a solid taper after the West Rim Trail attempt.

Pine Creek Gorge- I can't wait to see this!

          I went from a 42 mile week into about 35 last week...a decent taper into our West Rim Trail unsupported speed record attempt.  As I had mentioned in a previous post, my friend Erik and I are planning on setting a new record there.  I officially posted on the FKT site and we are heading out tomorrow (4/30) to camp over night and are starting out on Wednesday morning for the attempt.  I don't know why I even say attempt...to be honest whatever time we pull out will be a record, as nothing has been posted previously.
     It will be pretty cool to have a record like that.  I have to remember to take it semi easy however...if I go out too hard and don't recover well, I could potentially screw up the next few weeks of training into the 50 miler.  It will be my last long run before the 50, as well as the longest run yet this year.  I won't lie and say I'm not nervous though.  We're already planning to go out and run it again in the fall to see if we can best our times.
    I'm excited though.  I've been getting my gear together and picking out clothes, gels and all that over the past few days.  I loaded the audio tracks from the certification onto my ipod so I can get some "study" time in while I'm running, and I'm feeling good.  I went out for a nice and easy 10 with Matt this morning-might as well get in one back to back before the 50!
   So there it is...I will post a follow up with some pictures and info about the trip.  This will be my first time on the trails up there!  Here's to the West Rim Trail!!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Today We Are All Runners...

   Some days it's hard to get out the door.  Today was one of those days.  I pictured the news I had been glued to yesterday and I slowly got my things together.  I made my way down the stairs and out the door..."One more step toward being done," I thought. "Just need a little shake out to get my head in the game."
    I walked the first half mile to the trail. "I'll run when I get there," I thought.  Slowly, achingly, I took my first step and kept going.  I headed up into the trail with the sun shining bright and the breeze cool on my skin.
    I was moving slow.  After a weekend full of over-indulging in delicious food and way too much dessert, I made the decision to fuel with only water today; no pre-run or during-run food. I wanted to kick-start my body back into utilizing fat for fuel and get back on track with my nutrition.
    My legs were tight and heavy and begged for me to turn around and call it a day, try again tomorrow.  As I kept moving, my thoughts drifted to the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.  I had been glued to the TV and internet all evening, like most other households.  Unimaginable, saddening photos kept surfacing throughout the day, the numbers of the injured kept rising, and the images of the bloodied streets were everywhere.
     I read a report of a man caught in the explosion whose legs were lost, yet in shock, he continued to try and stand.  I ran another mile for him, and another. I ran for the 8 year old boy who will never get the chance to run a marathon for himself, and for the family that will never see him try.  
     My legs slowly began to warm up. I ran for the volunteers, police, and first responders who jumped in without hesitation to help the wounded. I ran until I didn't feel my legs moving underneath me, only thoughts carrying me through the woods...
    I thought about this sport.  This sport that is so often thought of as an individual undertaking.  Yes, it may be one person that makes the decision to train and attempt a race, but it is their family and friends that cheer them on and encourage them along the way.
    Toeing the line of a race, anyone can hear the cheers of encouragement throughout the crowd and the sidelines.  Moving down the road or trail, the curbs are peppered with signs and excited families of runners, each one motivating you with their shouts and cheers along the way.  Running is a community sport--from the person timing the race, organizing the race, running the race, to the person shouting from the top of their lungs as heaps of tired runners shuffle by.  We are all brought together by the run and excited to be a part of it.  Although there are many who choose not to enter a race, they are no less a part of the running community than those who proudly wear the medals.  We are all a part of this great community, and today we are all runners.  We can all provide that little bit of encouragement and motivation along the way; we are all part of the everyday race, even when there is no finish line in sight.
   I came home tired and dirty.  It was a tough run, one I didn't want to do.  I kept running for those that can't, those that may never be able to; I ran because I am proud to be a runner.  I am proud to be part of such a wonderful community.  

Today we are all runners.


     

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Another Week Closer to 50. (Plus Greek Meatballs and Spinach Pie)

This was a pretty good week all in all.  Mid-range mileage, but I was able to focus on some harder effort runs, which was nice. It's always good to get the heart pumping!  I started out the week on a good, long note...and finished on a low one.  Just didn't feel like moving, so I bagged it and cooked all day instead.  Our West Rim Trail effort is officially less than a month away (May 1) and the Cayuga 50 is closing in...

Monday 4/1    17.01    Trail                3:16

I started out my day bright and early at the gym and led a portion of the workout.  I was feeling so good after, and had Monday off due to some scheduling changes, that I decided to go for an easy 12-15.  It turned into 17 and that is a-ok.  The trail I took turned into a total rock scrambling session and there were places I couldn't run at all.  I had to take my hand-helds off and do a bit of climbing around, but eventually got back on decent running trails and went with it.  It was nice to get a late 9:40 mile in (mile 14) and a good mix of hills and flats for the total.

Tuesday 4/2     8.01    Trail with Matt        1:27

This was Matt's first day back after his 100k.  It was good to run with him again and nice to get out in the dark!  I had to head to Maryland from here, so we decided to cut it short so I wouldn't be late.  Too bad traffic wasn't quite as considerate and I was late anyway.

Wednesday  4/3      5.02    Paved Trail in Maryland       43:05

The one thing I enjoy about some of my work trainings is that there is always someone game to run.  This morning was no exception; 6:45ish out-and-back before the day began.  I had some great company and moving just felt great.  I hit a 7:45 mile at 4 and kept it 8 through the last.  It felt good to get some speed in and I want to pepper more in throughout my weeks.

Friday  4/5           6.00       Road with Hill Repeats         54:42

I had yet another day off this week and although I had a good bit on my to-do list, I got out for a good 6.  I did a big loop around my neighborhood and ended with a mile + off repeats and headed home with a 9:07 avg. pace.

Saturday 4/6           5.02   Road After Work             42.20

I had a great day at work.  It went by quickly and the weather was beautiful.  I wasn't planning on a run at all, as Saturdays are usually an off day for me so I run long on Sunday, but I couldn't help it.  I changed and headed out the door as soon as I got home.  Running faster felt good and I went for it.  I had another 7:45 mile and then ended with an 8:26 avg. pace.

Sunday 4/7          5.57   Trail                         1:08

Today was one of those days it wasn't worth heading out for a run.  I woke up not feeling like running and avoided heading out early by drinking coffee instead.  I walked the first half mile to the trail and just didn't feel like moving.  My legs were heavy and my head just wasn't in it today.  Instead of slogging on, I decided to bag it and turned around.

Weekly Total: 46.63
  I learned that it's good to listen to your body and take a day off if you feel like you need it.  October is a long time away and I don't want to overdo it and burn out.  Consistency is key and staying healthy is of the utmost importance.
  Go get some miles.

Cooking was on the menu instead!

Greek Meatballs

1 lb. ground lamb
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
2 tps. oregano
1 tps. garlic powder
1 Tbs. onion flakes (I used onion powder and added a little more)
2 Tbs. fresh mint
zest of 1 lemon (I didn't have one so I squeezed in a little lemon juice)
1/4 cup feta cheese

1.) Pre heat oven to 350
2.) Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl
3.) Form meat into balls and fill baking dish
4.) Bake between 30-40 minutes

Spinach and Feta Pie


For the filling:

1/2 cup spinach (thawed from frozen), or 2 cups fresh spinach
 1 cup fresh sorrel, chopped ( I used dandelion greens)
 1 cup fresh Swiss chard, chopped (I used more spinach)
 1 cup of other green leaves you got (e.g. chopped amaranth, kale, collards, beets, dandelion etc). Use more spinach & swiss chard if you can’t find such kinds of greens.
 2 leeks, cut in 1/4-inch rounds
 4 scallions (or 1/2 of a big onion), chopped
 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
 1/2 cup cauliflower, “riced” with a shredder*  ( I left this out)

 100 gr feta cheese, crumbled (optional, only if you do dairy)
 salt to taste


For the batter:

 1 Tbs. sour cream or yogurt, or 2 Tbs. coconut milk if you don’t do dairy
 Juice of a 1/2 lemon
2 Tbs. fine coconut flour or tapioca
 1/3 cup olive oil
 1 or 2 eggs
 1/2 cup warm water


1.) Mix the filling ingredients except cauliflower and feta, careful to get most of the water out
2.) Mix together until it looks wilty and add in feta and cauliflower
3.) In a second bowl, mix batter ingredients
4.) Blend in batter to filling and mix, careful not to mash to feta.
5.) Put in pan about 2 inches thick
6.) Bake on 400 for 40-45 minutes