Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Toeing the line with my idols.

       As my friend Erik puts it, "trail running is like the NFL for us." It's true...only instead of constantly checking scores and stats, I read race reports, runner blogs, twitter race updates, and even joined instagram just so I could see where some of my trail running idols get to run each and every day. I'm a running nerd and I'm damn proud of it.
       When I hear names like Nikki Kimball, Dave Mackey, Sage Canaday and Krissy Moehl, I can pull up race wins, shoe and gear companies, and blog reports in the old metal filing cabinet in seconds. For the most part I know race schedules and what shoes they're running in.  I never figured I would ever see a single one of them, let alone be in the same race, but that is all coming true this June.
       Those are just a few of the elites entered in the Cayuga Trails 50 this upcoming June. I didn't know it when I registered, but it makes the race anticipation all the more exciting.  I decided to enter the race after catching the bug to up my race distance from my friend Matt.  His determination worked and I had my check in the mail shortly after registration opened.
       It seems like every week or so another elite runner adds their name to the race list, and my heart races just a little faster.  Not only will I see some of these people in person, but I will be toeing the same start line, (hopefully) crossing the same finish line, and most likely getting lapped by the same people whose blogs I read on a regular basis.
       Krissy Moehl has been an idol of mine since I first started trail running, the idea of ultras just a little seedling in my brain.  Some days when I need a kick in the ass to get out the door or feel like my life sucks, I even watch some of her youtube videos. Moehl's upbeat attitude--losing her job and throwing herself into something she loves to make it work as a living--reminds me that even when things are bad, there is good that we can make of it. I always remind myself to smile no matter how much I hurt and I can thank her for that...it works.  Now I may get the chance to meet her.  I don't know if there is anything much cooler than that.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My week in running, and my very own Butternut Squash and Kale Soup

      This was a great week.  One of the highest running weeks I've had.  Since I have run only 50k's previously, my weekly mileage goals were between 35-45 miles.  Since I'm bumping this season up to a 50 miler, seems to only make sense to bump up the weekly mileage too...I'm on my way.
      I haven't included any heart rate info for the runs this week.  Although I have been keeping an eye on hr while I'm running, I have been running by comfort instead, which on many days keeps the pace up and on others lets it drop.  I'm ok with that since my goal for the 50 is to cross the line. Speed comes later in the season before the string of 50k's start up.
The sun just started to come up in the creek.

Tuesday 2/19             -Trail with Matt

8.4 miles

Good chilly morning and the shortest trail run of the week, but a great start nonetheless.

Wednesday 2/20        -Trail

12 miles

Wiss run.  Great route, felt good.  I enjoyed getting out there and getting my head in the game.  It was a day to clear my head out and get some events in order.  I charged the hills, moved through the flats, and picked solid lines on the downhills. I left my weariness on the trail and emerged with a new outlook.  I don't think there is a more successful way to end a run. Change is good for the soul!

Thursday 2/21            -Trail with Matt

10 miles.

Early morning; good pace and a great shake out after my 12 miler.

Friday 2/22                  -Trail with Matt

10 miles

A little slower than Thursday, but getting the miles in.

Saturday 2/23            -Road with Heather

Rainy grey morning, but out for a change of scenery with the road.  Was able to muster a little speed under my tired legs for the last mile or so.

Weekly total:  47.4
   A good week overall.  Upping the mileage and getting my head in order.  I couldn't think of a better combination.  Cheers to the trail ahead, the trails behind, and the trails we haven't yet discovered.

Go get some miles.

Here's the first recipe I made up...I'm sure there are some out there, but I didn't look anything up to cook.  I thought it up while I was trying to fall asleep.

Butternut Squash and Kale Soup

Not the most beautiful soup, but it was pretty darn good.

1 Large Butternut Squash
1 lb. Kale
1/2 White Onion
4 Cloves Garlic
1 1/2 cup Bone Broth (or broth of choice)
3 Strips Bacon
Salt and Pepper

1.) Set oven to 375 degrees
2.) Peel and cube butternut squash
3.) Coat squash in coconut oil and put in oven for 45 min
4.) Cook bacon until crispy and set aside
5.) Tear kale from rib and cook down in bacon grease.  Add salt
6.) Chop onion and garlic and cook until tender
7.) Add onions, garlic, kale, and squash to stock pot and add stock
8.) Use immersion blender to puree
9.) Add salt and pepper to taste
10.) Top with crumbled bacon and eat!

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Week I Had to Reset my Garmin

   This was a pretty enjoyable week in the running world. I had some good runs, and even a few really great runs.  The downside, however, is that my little Garmin froze on Saturday evening while I was trying to upload my weekly runs and I had to factory reset it.  I lost all my heart rate, elevation info, splits, history, etc., but luckily for me I also like to use a pen and paper training log, so at the very least, I have distance.

Monday   2/11        -Road 

5 miles

Tuesday  2/12         -Road

5.84 miles

Thursday   2/14        -Road x2

3.73 morning run

This was one of the days you just don't want to get out the door and find everything to do around the house to avoid it.  I managed to at least get a short one in.

4.41 evening run

This was the redemption run making up for the morning.  I felt like I could have run all night...but had to get home to get dinner ready!

Friday  2/15              -Trail

8.29 morning run with Matt

This was one of the great runs. Cold, ice covered trail with a great training partner.  We jumped into a good pace and good conversation and before we knew it, had run longer than we were planning for the time we had.  Out and back with the headlamps before the work day.  Couldn't think of a better way to start the day.

Sunday  2/17             -Trail

14.78 (Garmin total) (15.5 total) with Matt

One of the creek crossings

My first time exploring a new trail at Green Lane Park. Since my Garmin reset the night before, I got it started late while I turned the hr function back on.  I had a great guide and even though it was cold, windy, and hilly, it was an awesome morning.  I can't wait to get back and check out even more of the trails.  I was more than glad to be wearing wool socks that morning from the wet ground, mud, and ice you couldn't avoid breaking through.
Most of the lake is still frozen over

Weekly Total:  42.77
     My highest week so far with my longest run as well.  I like being out on the trails so much more and am really enjoying training this year more than ever.  I couldn't be more excited for this year.

  Go get some miles.

(here's a super easy recipe too)

Ahhhh the glory of the slow cooker!!!!  Super easy throw together on Saturday before work.

2.5lb. Grass fed chuck roast
6 carrots
1 large onion
2 cups beef broth (best if you have homemade, but use your favorite)
Bouquet Garni seasoning
salt and pepper

Throw it all in the slow cooker, set the timer (I did 9 hours), and enjoy when you get back home!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Why bother? I do.

     On an early morning run recently I got to thinking about why I was out there in the dark at 5 am, and why I choose to run so far, and why I am so fascinated by ultra running.  As runners, why are we willing to give up sleep to get miles in so we don't lose time with friends, family and sanity? Why do we spend hours giving ourselves cramps, aches and pains? During that training period we give up things we want and re-arrange our schedules, and often lives, in order to get the distance under our feet and ready ourselves for a race.

     Why do we run til we puke, get cramps like death, and then go back to our workplace on Monday morning with no recognition of our previous weekend's feat and no understanding of why we bother? Maybe it's the smile that will cross our faces as we grimace and slide into our chairs thinking about our race.

     Perhaps for some people it's a way to get in shape, for others a way to see the world from a different perspective, to meet others just as crazy as we are, or even to chase a pipe dream of the sport lifestyle.
my usual training partner.

    So why am I out there at 5 to get a run in?  Maybe it's the smell of the fresh air, the sounds of my footsteps through mud, ice, dirt and leaves.  It's a challenge, an obstacle I put in front of myself.  When I cross the finish line I can look back proudly at what I've done, how far I've come.  I learned so much getting to the finish line--not only about running, but about myself, my guts and what I am made of.

    My feet may never touch a podium, but I know the thrill of crossing the finish line; the rush of months of training, hard work and tireless days culminating to a single effort.  I am not elite, but I am an athlete.  I am an athlete, and it's this that I remind myself of every day when I lace up my shoes and head out the door.  I may not win a race or feel the heft of a medal, but I know each day I can look back and smile proudly at what I've accomplished.

    The truth is, we all need goals to keep moving; we need challenges and obstacles to overcome.  We need these things to help us feel more alive, to make each day a little more satisfying.  Stepping out my door, onto the road, onto the trail and up to the start line; these are the things that leave me satisfied at the end of the day.

I am an athlete.  What other reason do we need?

Go get those miles.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest: Revisited, and my week in running!!

Alright, so I now have a few runs under my belt, or under my vest should I say, and I have to say, I'm still a big fan of the Ultimate Direction AK race vest.
Before I went out for my first run, I will admit I was a little concerned about a few things.
  First, the front of the vest, where the closure buckles attach, was a worry.  Since you need to be able to slide the buckles in order to adjust to the height and comfort of the runner, there are two rails that the webbing attaches to and slides along.  I was worried that they would be a bit long for me and dig or chafe the base of my rib cage, but it was not an issue at all.   

Second, I had read another review that mentioned a little bit of digging from the bottles; again, nothing I noticed on the run.
I really liked having my hands free, as it was a snowy and slippery run that included a bit of rock scrambling and it was perfect to have my hands free and not have to fumble with hand helds.  I also liked the reminder to drink through having bottles in the front.  I intentionally emptied one bottle before the other to see if there was a lopsided feel or if the vest sagged to one side; it didn't.  It handled like a champ in fact, and I plan to wear it for my long runs, and certainly for the West Rim Trail FKT attempt.

That being said, there are two things I would have liked. 
 Although it doesn't specifically cause a problem when running in the vest, I do wish there was a small strap on the shoulder straps to tighten them slightly, especially once winter layering is a thing of the past.  I don't think this will be an issue, but is just a creature comfort it would be nice to have as a shorter runner.

Next...the straps to tighten the sides of the vest.  I mentioned I bought the small medium and admittedly wear them tightened down all the way.  While I was running I reached up to adjust and tighten..not overly difficult--you have to pull the strap, much like the straps of a backpack.  However, I think if this strap pulled forward instead you could really crank the strap down even more.
I'm sure as I continue my long runs and training there will be other small bits and quirks that come up with the vest, but like I said, I'm still a big fan. I would indeed recommend it to anyone looking for an alternative to a reservoir or just hand helds.  The vest is even nice for shorter runs where you just need a phone and some gels and are lacking in pocket space.  
So there it is..well done, Ultimate Direction and Anton Krupicka.  You've certainly got a fan in me.  

Tuesday 2/5       -Road

4.5 miles with Drew.

Night run in the snow, but nice to get out and stretch the legs. 

avg. hr- 145       max. hr- 183

Wednesday 2/6  -Road

6 miles.

I'm a little too nervous to run the trails in the morning by myself..plus there is a curfew until 6am. Oh well, turns out you can run on the road too!

avg. hr- 144    max. hr- 178

Friday 2/8  -Road

6 miles

Road loop again.  Enjoyed running a little faster and sort of let it go when it came to maf training (as sort of happened with the other run day spikes).

avg. hr- 162   max.hr-  210

Saturday 2/9   -Trail

14.26 miles

Oh, the glorious inches of snow that Nemo brought.  Honestly, we had nothing compared to the Northeast, but three inches of snow slow you down no matter what.  It was a great run, and a great morning to be out enjoying it!!

avg. hr - 136      max. hr-  172

Total Weekly Mileage: 30. 76

What I learned this week--it takes about a mile of walking to get myself warmed up.  All of my max. hr spikes were immediate and then it lowered for the duration of my run.  I need to give myself a longer warm up or some stretching before I head out the door to have it level off sooner.

And last, but not least...the best post run breakfast ever..banana eggs!!!!!  Blend a banana and 2 or 3 eggs in the blender with a little salt and cinnamon, then throw it in a pan with a little butter and scramble.  Trust me...it'll be your go-to breakfast after a lovely morning workout!!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Another week down...

        A nice finish to the second week of training for the season...as with last week, my metabolic training is not as on point as I was hoping.  With the hr range of 145-155 ( I give myself 145-160 for having a solid base built previously) my peak hr shouldn't be any higher than 160, however, as indicated in the previous weeks' log, it did indeed creep.
        I was better this week, however I picked up a new watch, Garmin Forerunner 110 with hr and didn't realize until after the run that peak hr is not included...not terrible, I'm just going to have to keep a better eye on my wrist during the up hills!  Other than that I love the all in one easy to use watch and am looking forward to more runs with it.  And the 8 hour battery life is certainly nice for race days.

Tuesday 1/29      -   Trail

4.3 miles 

Conditions were super icy and slow.  I would really call it more of a hike/ ice skate adventure with a few bursts of running in between, but fun nonetheless. 

avg. hr-140     max hr-174    min. hr- 91

Wednesday 1/30   -Road and Trail 

6 miles

Nice to get a quick loop in with some trail...I felt good and let myself ignore the max hr and just go, finished at 6:15 pace, and want to make that a weekly progression pace.

avg. hr-148      max. hr-184    min. hr-80

Saturday 2/2   -Road and Trail

6.5 miles

Kept the pace mellow and comfortable, and kept my eye on hr.  Good maf/ aerobic training day.

avg. hr - 138   max hr.-159   min. hr - 52

Sunday 2/3  -Trail

10 miles

Introduced a friend to the wiss for a great morning run.  Snowy and a little slick, but a great morning to get out and enjoy the trails!

avg. hr-140

Total Weekly Mileage: 26.8

Another good week back at it.  Upped the mileage a bit, and certainly feel that always enjoyable quad burn, but at the same time I totally admit I missed it.  Two runs with friends this week, which always makes the miles seem to slip by just a hair faster.  I'm looking forward to keeping it up!