Monday, January 6, 2014

Pics or It Didn't Happen

Here are some of the photos Coach Mary took of our river crossing in the Topo Trail Race at Big Bone Lick State Park.




Monday, December 30, 2013

Trail Run Essentials

Okay, so after my fifth trail run and my second trail race I feel like I finally have my packing list down. Here are the things that I have found to be essential:

Trail Shoes duh. I'm so glad that I run in these. I can't imagine running in non-trail shoes. I think I would have wiped out a million times.

Wool Socks (I have yet to experience a trail run where the course does not go through running water. This week it was an honest to goodness river...like 10-15 feet across and NO ROCKS to jump on!)
Wool may not keep your feet dry, but it does keep your feet from freezing off.

Dry Socks and Shoes for afterwards. The worst feeling was being done with my first snowy trail race and then having to drive 45 minutes in wet socks.

Plastic Bags also for afterwards...after all, you need something to put those wet shoes and socks in so that you don't muck up your new car, right? You would have thought that I would have thought of this.

Written Directions provided by coach/race coordinator etc Google maps and GPS do not cut it when you are running in some of these parks that are impossible to find and way out there. Plus, when the parks are THAT big you want to make sure you go to the right entrance.

Phone and charger I have heard horror stories from Coach Mary...but she reminded us that sometimes you don't get reception anyway. And it is not uncommon to want to take pictures (to prove that yes, it was that rainy, or yes, I did just see a herd of bison while running :).

Ziploc Bags for your phone. Did I mention all of the rain/snow/water involved in trail running?

More clothes than for road running you can always unlayer. I don't know why but trail running seems a LOT colder than road running. Going slower? Running in the woods? Who knows.

Water you can carry I just got a Camelbak Aurora for Christmas that I am dying to try out...but running in 5 mile winter races where there are water stops has yet to allow me to do this without feeling silly.

Toilet paper lest you have to use your precious wool socks? Just saying...

Antibacterial gel see above

Sunscreen because you should just wear it all the time anyway

Kitty litter/Sand/Some Traction because when you show up less than 60 minutes early for a race (which I am still not used to) you have to park in the mud and then when your little Ford Focus gets stuck you have to get the guy with the truck and the Marine and Ironman bumper stickers to pull you out of the muck while you feel embarrassed.

And these are some nice to haves:

Bug Spray I imagine...I mean all the bugs are pretty dead right now.

Bandaids/first aid You will probably fall down. I finally ran my first trail run where I didn't this weekend!

Gels If you are going out for awhile

Trail Map So that when you don't pay attention to the blades and trail markers you don't freak out

Park Ranger's phone number So that when you are lost and still have cell reception someone can find you.

Headlamp if you are running at night (I mean, I guess this is a must have if you are running at night, but it's a nice to have for me because I haven't started running at night. Yet.)

Extra clothes in your car or wherever if you don't want to drive home muddy or wet. I guess also wipes would fall in this same category.


What you do NOT need:

Garmin you will probably not be able to get a signal, and even if you do, all of the elevation changes will screw up your mileage. Or so I've heard. I haven't tried to run with it in the woods.

Mace/Pepper Spray Coach Mary says unless you have a lot of practice it's not a good idea...especially since you really have to aim it at the attacking animal's nose, not their eyes.

I think you also need a sense of adventure, a willingness to get dirty and the ability to change plans/course/go with the flow.

Also...I have found that I have started talking to people about WHEN I will run an ultra, not IF.

And...I did much better pace wise (11:56) on my race in Big Bone Lick State Park this weekend, despite the fact that the course was MUCH tougher. Although, I think because I am still talking about pace I am still making the transition from road runner to trail runner.

And...I am starting marathon training this weekend with the Roncker group again! YAY! It will be interesting to see how I balance this with trail running.











Monday, December 9, 2013

Trail Running at East Fork

LOOOOOOOOOOOOONG post ahead! (It's only because I'm excited though).

 Soooo...Let me just say: trail racing is an ENTIRELY different sport from road racing.

As it is in most of the rest of the country, the Cincinnati area got covered with a ton of snow and ice and freezing rain on Friday. I was bummed because my first trail race was on Saturday. I had also just got my new Brooks True Grit trail shoes and was dying to try them out. But from my, well, about 2 hours total, experience talking to other trail runners I somehow knew the race would not be cancelled. Sure enough, the message on the race site said not to fear, trail races are never cancelled due to weather. My only worry was if I was actually going to be able to make it there.

And that's the FIRST difference. Because if this was a road race, there would have been an email from the coach, an email from the race organizers, Facebook posts etc saying that the whole thing was a "wait and see". Then, after all the schools and activities were closed and cancelled that night, the race would have been too.

But no, as I made my way into the "parking lot" (read: large, snow covered hill) at East Fork 15 minutes before the race I saw that 1.The race was definitely on. 2. I may have been considered late. 3. The hundred or so people that had signed up for the race were there. (And not acting like it was any sort of big deal either).

Also, the race coordinator's brief of the course was something like this: "Go out and have fun! Oh yeah, there's a bridge crossing where the bridge is kind of out. I was kind of scared to go across it so I made a little go-around, but I don't know...that might be more dangerous than the bridge, so just use your judgement! Oh and we don't have water everywhere because it was just too cold to have a bunch of cups sitting out there. So, you're on your own for that. I do have mile markers out. Ok, I think that's it. Ready....GO!" (I can just imagine Peter Ciaccia going over a winter road racing course, after Mary Wittenburg gave everyone props for coming out in the cold: "Okay people, it is REALLY cold out there. Take it easy. And remember to drink some water even if you don't feel like you need it. Look out for ice and slippery patches that you may not see right away. All of the course markers will be on your right, and please try to stay on the course. There will be water and aid stations around every mile. Please try to stay warm. Do I have clearance on the course? All right, runners take your mark...")

So, running in the snow, in the woods...

Well, first of all the trail is maybe a foot wide because, it's been covered with snow (duh). This is NARROW. I mean, there were places right away where I was thinking 'If I lost my footing I would slide right down this gigantic ledge to whatever is at the end of that 30' drop.'


The super narrow "trail"

It IS a lot less slippery than you think, unless you actually have worn away all of the snow because underneath is a lot of slippery mud. I assumed this meant there would be a lot of falling on my part. I was wrong though. If there are people in front of you (the rule is apparently to keep them about 8' in front of you, in case you do fall) you can kind of judge the terrain by what they do, which makes it easier. It's a good think too, because the scenery is BREATHTAKING.

Around the lake (about mile 3)

I mean honestly, the pictures don't even do it justice. And it's so quiet. And I think that trail runners are a lot less chatty than road runners. This is probably because it takes an immense amount of concentration to run in the woods. I mean, you are scanning for roots, mud, etc, trying to see the overall picture of the course, looking for trail markers, trying not to run into the person in front of you or any large animals, balance and rebalance, all while doing all of the normal runner things.

Luckily, trail runners are also super friendly. They are always checking on you to make sure you're okay or you don't want to pass them. They don't leave anyone behind. And I don't mean like how marathon runners see someone down and all slow down, possibly turning back mid run and say "Are you okay?" before figuring out the downed runner is okay and then moving on. I mean like seriously "No man left behind."

Example: I was getting all into this trail running, feeling like I was doing great. I could see about 3 people in front of me. Then all of the sudden there were like 8 people stopped ahead. We had come to this muddy clifflike area. At the bottom of about an 8 foot drop there was a little river/creek (it was about 12 feet across and a foot deep?). To the right was a bridge. I guess this was the infamous scary bridge because it seriously just dropped out. And someone had put a plank from the other side to the remaining part of the bridge. (I need to mention that no one was saying much about any of this at all. They were just kind of looking between the two ways to go and then choosing one.) I think the people who were crossing the "bridge" were trying to keep from crossing the river, which was a sure way to get your feet wet before the first mile marker. I chose the other way.

As I slid myself down the embankment slowly and carefully, some girl slipped off of the plank and was hanging on with one hand. The guys in front of her, luckily helped her. So, I make it across the river (the ICY river I must say, as now my new wool socks were soaked...did I mention it was around 30 degrees 17 degrees out?) and I get to the other side and then...yeah, how am I supposed to get back up on the other side? Well, one of the guys running ahead of us saw that there were three of us behind him. He made his way up the muddy side/hill/cliff, braced himself against a tree and pulled each of us up one at a time. He also didn't make any sort of deal about it. That's what I mean by super friendly.

I think now is actually a good time to point out that my NEW shoes (worn for the first time that day) were now filled with muddy river water, snow, mud and ice. They looked gross. I just kept remembering all of those runs in Central Park where either me or one of my friends would wear their shoes for the first time and get some dirt on them. The general reaction was always "D*MNIT! I JUST wore these shoes for the FIRST TIME today!!!" I don't think trail runners even think that way.

Anyway, the whole getting the shoes wet wasn't a huge deal, because you know what? We had about 4 more river crossings during that 5 mile race. And at every single one there was no avoiding getting your feet wet (once again, it was COLD out). I was so glad that Coach Marie had told us at her Trails Clinic about wearing wool socks.

My frozen and muddy new shoes (and my muddy tights)
The rest of the run was pretty uneventful. I fell down 3 times, but I think that was because I ended up being first in the little pack I was in for awhile (so I couldn't watch what other people did). It's funny because Coach Marie is going to hold a clinic where we can practice falling. This sort of kind of scared me, but no more! I mean, falling on a trail while running is really no big deal - especially in the super soft snow. Plus, then I had mud streaks up my running tights which I (probably stupidly) thought made me look more hard core. I guess I've always kind of enjoyed playing in the mud and had this aspiration to be hard core and outdoorsy.

Also, one more point about trail runners...
Times matter only so much. This is weird coming from my GPS-obsessed road running background. Trail runners don't even use GPS because all of the changes in the elevations screw up the readings. Coach Marie said the average pace for a trail runner is about 16 minutes a mile, because you can just never tell what the terrain is going to throw at you. There is no shame in walking parts because really, if you didn't you would just be stupid and pass out. 

It DOES kind of suck going that slow. I had an option of 5 or 10 miles for the race and I decided I would see how I felt (seeing as that I feel trail racing is more taxing). Well, I totally could have done another 5 mile loop after my first 5 (fitness-wise), but no thank you. I was out there for what felt like forever.

(It turns out I averaged a 14 minute mile).

So I guess I can understand (a little) why people would do ultras (which are mostly trail runs I think?). These trail runners have a different mindset. Its about being strong enough to do it, not about being fast.

Bill says he gives me three months before I talk about doing an ultra.






Sunday, November 17, 2013

Intro To Trails




This Saturday was my first trail run, and my first run with my Fleet Feet Trail Warriors group. I almost missed it because I was as sick as a dog on Thursday night and felt even worse on Friday. I called out sick from work, which I never, ever do. I slept 6 hours during the day and drank an entire (large) bottle of orange juice, plus some tea. After Bill and I put Liam to bed I was rooting around in my chest of drawers and Bill was like "What are you doing?" And I said "I'm getting my clothes out for my trail run tomorrow." He looked at me like I was crazy and said "You are NOT seriously thinking about going to that." I think I was a little overzealous in saying "I AM. I rested ALL day and I drank so many fluids so that I could go to it tomorrow. I'm going." Usually I get a little push back, but he just resigned. I was like "I like how you don't even try anymore." He said it didn't matter because I was going to go anyway. I am not saying this is smart behavior, but I do think it is pretty typical endurance athlete behavior.

After a good night's sleep though, I actually felt pretty good. I'm glad too, because trail running is HARD. Like REALLY HARD.

It was actually kind of cool how it was set up. Fleet Feet had representatives from Pearl Izumi and Brooks there so that you could try out some trail shoes. I chose the Pure Grit from Brooks, which was described as a lightweight trail shoe. The other trail shoes had more stability and padding, and I figured I was used to a lighter ride, so it was probably a good choice for me.

The coaches gave us a few rules about trail running before we set off:
1. The trail is marked with pink tape and flags, keep the pink tape on your right. Always look for the pink tape or you could end up totally lost in the woods. (I kept thinking about Jenn and Billy in Born to Run and how they got lost and had to drink some sort of animal diarrhea to stay alive. I didn't think French Park was all that crazy, but I also didn't really want to get lost on my first trail run.)

2. Don't be a show off and zoom past people like you would in road races. Always signal to them audibly as you  are coming up behind them so they don't freak out. (I assumed this was because trail running takes a lot of concentration...I was right). Plus, she said, chances are, if you zoom past someone and act like a huge jerk, you're going to wipe out and need someone to help you, and guess who will be coming up behind you?

3. Let the trail dictate your pace. This is not road racing and your pace will vary according to the terrain.

4. It had been raining, so remember, it will be slippery.

So, we take off in this huge group towards a field (just like high school cross country) where the pack easily separates into three groups. I was at the front of the second group. We climb a gigantic hill to get into the woods and seriously, 2 minutes into the run, I have to walk. The hill is enormous, the path is narrow, the terrain is bumpy and the mud is slippery. I felt kind of like a loser, especially since I was out of breath.

But then I noticed...

Even the fast people in front of me were walking. And then I was okay and could run again. And then we came upon some crazy roots and I was jogging super easy...and so was everyone else. It just seemed so crazy. I mean, that seems to NEVER happen in road racing.

I fell in behind two older guys and we all started talking and running together. The one guy was kind of a showboat, which was super driving me nuts...like he was treating the trail like it was one of those urban obstacle races where people run up walls and do flying spinning jumps onto railings and stuff. I kind of wanted to see him fall. I know, that's so bad. I mean, I would come up to a log and STEP over it, or cautiously jump over it if I could see it was clear and unmuddy on the other side. But this guy...

The other guy was a lot nicer though. Sometimes when I had to walk some of the hills and they were pretty far ahead of me, he would circle back to get me. I was like "No! No, please! Go ahead! This is my first trail run!" But he said he was happy to circle back. And he did it like 3 times. I think they were afraid I was going to get lost.

And that's the thing too, it would have been SO easy to get lost. First of all, after we got into the woods, the people in front of us disappeared rather quickly and we had a huge lead on the people behind us (like 5 minutes or so). Plus, you are concentrating so hard on the path in front of you that its hard to pay attention to the markers as well.

Oh yeah, and that's another thing. I was CONSTANTLY adjusting my center of gravity. Also, my feet were slipping big time a couple of times (but I think I figured out the trick...just keep moving...every time I did, I landed on my feet.)

Also, I think my natural gait is totally suited to trail running. As my fellow trail runners pointed out, my heel barely touches the ground and I'm quick on my turnover which is apparently very helpful when the terrain changes so much.

Anyway, that little four mile run totally winded me...even with the walking/jogging/running combo. My muscles were a little tired, I was breathing heavy and I was done after 4...no more! I LOVED IT!

This is exactly what I needed to spice up my boring running routine!

I will definitely need to get some of those Pure Grit shoes though. They definitely helped me grip the terrain where I could tell that my Adizero Aegis would have had me sliding on my butt down a muddy, rooty hill into a fallen tree more than once.

Oh yeah, and I also got a free shirt for attending the trail mixer. You can always win me over with swag. :)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Marathon Signs




Just thought this was a fun post from Buzzfeed. Sure, some of these signs are a little overplayed at marathons, but some of them are really great :)

I still think Bill and my sign from NYC Marathon 2010 was the best. We calculated how many calories you burn in a marathon (on average) and how many calories are in a beer (on average) and our sign said:

26.2 miles = 2224 calories = 14.4 beers!

I wish I had a picture of it because it got a lot of laughs and high fives. Its out there somewhere on the blogosphere though, because a fellow running friend told me he saw it posted :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Catching Up to the 2011 Bandwagon

OK, so I have a confession. I really hated all of the people who read Born to Run and kept talking about how their lives were transformed by it and everything and then couldn't shut up about "barefoot" running. (Which I think is a ridiculous term because unless you are not wearing shoes, you are not running barefoot.)

This did not stop me from buying my own Vibram FiveFingers and running in them just to see what it was all about. I also, of course, bought Born to Run because it seemed like required reading for distance runners.

But every time I wore my Bikilas to a race I would inevitably get some guy (it was always guys, never girls) coming up to me, commenting on them. They would say inane things like "Ha! I've guess we've seen the light and will be running better than all of these idiots!" And "Looks like we're the smart ones in this corral." There's just some sort of arrogance about all of these Born to Run Born Again Runners. They just reminded me of all of the bikers who think they are Lance Armstrong (you know, pre-doping confession).

And I tried really really hard to read Born to Run. But I could only get a few pages into it before I kept thinking 'BORING!' or 'I DON'T CAAAAAARE!' And I really did want to like it.

So when my friend Maren suggested it for book club, I was like "Yes!" It would MAKE me read this thing.

And I'm so glad I made it past those 19 pages that I had read so long ago. It was SUCH a good book! (Yes, here is where I become one of those Born Again Born to Runners.) I mean, I love how its part training manual, part anthropological study, part inspirational biography, part cookbook, part tall tale that is actually real.

It made me want to try chia iskiate and pinole (I have chia seeds and limes at home but have not done this yet). And it made me drag out my FiveFingers and start running in them again (I did a five miler in them yesterday. Half with a stroller...ergh. Running with a stroller in a minimalist shoe is not easy.) And through that whole run, I couldn't shut up about the Leadville 100, and Barefoot Ted and Jen, and how we were actually born to run, and how it is easier than you think to chase down your meal in the woods. Bill was probably like 'Ok, crazy.' (Or he was probably more like 'Oh, here we go again.') :)

The other cool thing about Born to Run is that it validated a lot of things I was already doing that some people said were wrong. Like, I have an incredibly short stride, have my body almost straight up and down, and run on my forefoot. Yay! I guess I am built for endurance and not speed.

And one more thing before I end. Spoiler alert if you haven't read to the end: I loved the end of the book where they were all cheering on the slowest runners with great aplomb. I think it truly summarizes the whole shared experience distance runners have with each other. I've seen it in every race I've run and I think it is so cool.

So yes, I've turned into a fangirl. Ptttt.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hibernation

I feel like I'm getting ready for hibernation. I can't stop eating crap food. It doesn't help that it is ever so available at work and every time my stomach growls, or I'm bored, or I'm stuck creatively I go grab some candy, or potato chips or whatever. It doesn't even deter me that I'm upstairs and the food is downstairs. In fact, I think it makes me do it even more because I'm like 'a little walk will be good to take a creative break.' And I can't stop drinking soda! What the heck? I NEVER drank soda before I moved back. Argh! And that's just the food part.

I'm also not working out. After the half marathon 2 weeks ago (2 weeks ago?!) I told myself it was time to get serious about working out again. And then I got sick. And for two weeks now I've been so tired by the end of the day that working out is not an option.

I also feel like I could sleep for about two more hours than I have in the morning.

All of this has made me gain 7 pounds since I've been here. That's sick. It's all in my gut too. This is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because no one can ever tell that I've gained weight. A curse because really, the last place I want to gain is my gut. How unsightly.

I also keep hearing about how it's the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy and THAT makes me mad because it just opens up that whole 'You didn't get to run the New York City marathon and found out at the LAST MINUTE, thank you very much, Mary Wittenberg' wound. Which probably wouldn't be half as bad if I was actually running a marathon this year.

I just want to get over this stupid cold thingy so I can start running and lifting weights again.

On another note, I am obsessed with Born to Run. It makes me want to run barefoot (or at least in my FiveFingers). I also kind of want to be a crazy running vegan. (This may also have to do with me binge watching The Walking Dead.) But then I look at my diet and am like 'Yeah, okay, maybe a crazy barefoot runner, but not a crazy vegan barefoot runner).

I also really want to do a trail marathon, but I'm not having much luck finding a lot that are not out west. I am finding a lot of 50ks. Which makes me wonder...could I run those extra 4.8 miles? I mean, by that point at mile 26.2 your body is already trashed...

Is this how it starts? Is this how ultrarunners get into it?

What am I talking about? I couldn't even get a 2 mile run in in the past 2 weeks.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cincy Half Marathon

So, this weekend I ran the Cincinnati Half Marathon, which was sponsored by Fleet Feet.

The whole thing was billed as a "no-frills" half marathon. According to the website this meant that you only pay for the shirt if you want it and there would be no entertainment on the course so that they could keep the costs down for registration. Now I also expected this to mean no medals, no Gatorade, no GU and minimal mileage markings on the course, but they had all of those! Pretty good for a "no-frills" half marathon.

I've been pretty lax on training for this. In fact, the goal when I found out our moving timing was to train for the Columbus Marathon (which was this Sunday). I was totally on track with my training and everything all summer, despite the fact that I had a million other things going on in my life. But of course, I underestimated the toll that moving would take on my free time. And then I lost a weekend of training to traveling, to be on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. After that, I figured that it was NOT a good idea to do the marathon and signed up for this half instead.

Good thing, because in between then (which was in August) and this weekend I've gotten a total of three runs in... a five miler with the stroller in Mt. Adams (ugh), a really boring 6 miler in Miami Meadows park around a 1.3 mile loop and a 10-miler at Lunken Park last weekend.

So, I was not going into this half with any high-expectations for a PR. But I was happy that the temperatures were going to be in the 40s and the course was going to be flat. I was also happy that I would have my cheering squad with me (Bill and Liam, of course).

I also have been reading Born to Run, so I was concentrating on just having fun and enjoying the run while staying light on my feet. I wasn't going to worry too much about time.

I started the race conservatively, but it seemed like it was taking FOREVER to get to the mile markers. I think this is because I have been slacking on my training, because I noticed this on my 10 miler last week too. I guess this also happens to me on flat courses. I think it's just something about the course having no elevation variation. Uh, it could also be that my pace was around an 11:00 mile. I also seemed to have a couple of songs in my head on a neverending loop, which was actually good because it started making the time go by more quickly. (Simon and Garfunkel's "The Only Living Boy in New York" and Billy Joel's "Root Beer Rag"...don't ask).

I saw Bill and Liam at around mile 4 one last time before heading into No Man's Land on Riverside, which was pretty much an out and back for the last 9 miles.

This is when it started to rain. Lightly. No big deal. I actually started to feel pretty good and picked up the pace.

Then it started to POUR. Like, I was SOAKED to the bone. I still felt pretty good, so I continued to pick it up...especially since I was starting to get COLD. I kind of wanted to just finish it quickly. When we got into International Friendship Park I knew there was less than a mile to go and I really picked it up. I was tired, of course and because my training was not exactly up to snuff I was sore, but I decided I was going to be pretty mad at myself if I didn't push it in.

I ended up with a 2:11, which is by far, not a good time for me, BUT I was still happy with it, considering that over the course of 13 miles I shaved my pace down significantly.

I also promised myself to kick up my training. No excuses now :)


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Crickets

I hear them when I run...literally and figuratively.

I don't remember running being this different between Cincinnati and New York when I moved last time, but I think maybe I just got completely caught up in the New York running scene (which is CRAZY huge...and there are multiple races every weekend...which are NOT just 5ks).

One thing that is nice is the huge connection to nature here. I mean, we had lots of nature in Central Park, of course, but in a way, Central Park is kind of like running in a biodome or a terrarium or something. I mean, I definitely did not have bunnies within inches of me on my running path. And I am so not used to it that when I started my run and I heard scurrying in the bushes my first reaction was "Ugh! Rats!"

But here's another thing I don't understand...why is running along the Lunken running path in Cincinnati so much more BORING than it is running along the running path in Central Park? They are both approximately the same size (Central Park is a 6 mile loop, Lunken is a 5 mile loop).

I mean, at first I was thinking it was because I am running by myself and had no one to talk to. But then I remembered that most of my close running friends don't run anymore and I have been pretty much running by myself for an entire year anyways.

Then I was like "Wait! Where ARE all the people? – It's Sunday afternoon! Doesn't anyone need to get a long run in?" But then I also remembered that the first time I went to Central Park to run, I thought 'Hey! Is there a race going on? Why is it so crowded?' And then it was like that the following weekend. And during the week! And then I got so used to it that when some tourist asked me this summer why the park was so crowded with runners I told her "It's actually not all that crowded. Summer Streets is this week so most people are actually out on Park Avenue." And she said "You mean it's ALWAYS this crowded?" I mean, I've told Bill before that every time I run in Central Park it's like some sort of running reunion. I was always running into people I knew from Team in Training, or work, or sometimes I'd even see celebrities (this was obviously not part of my "reunion" since I don't actually know them.) Anyway, I am definitely an extrovert. I get my energy from people, so maybe running two 5 mile loops and seeing only 10 people along the way is a big reason why it is SO BORING.

So, I think I need to turn my runs into quiet reflection time.

No, that sounds like torture.

I think I just need to start running groups again. Trail Warriors cannot start soon enough (November 16th).

That being said, I am super excited for the Cincy Half Marathon this weekend.

But I am also sad that I am not running Staten Island's Half this weekend :( My last half marathon series was three out of five. Wah-wah.

Ok. I know Cincinnati running will be fun again, but right now I am just throwing myself a running pity party.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Something New

I'm always looking for something new to keep running from getting boring. I mean, the next logical step for me would be ultramarathons, right? Well, I'm still not that crazy (or that motivated I guess). I do have friends who have gone that route, but it just really doesn't seem that interesting to me. Plus I cannot even imagine the time commitment needed for that kind of training.

I am also looking forward to running with my old training group at Bob Roncker's. They are such a great group of people and I have a soft spot in my heart for them, since that is how I started the whole marathoning thing.

Unfortunately, since I didn't do a fall marathon this year, I have to wait until January to start spring training. And I am itching to start running with a group NOW.

So, I decided to see if Fleet Feet had anything for this in-between season, and what do you know? They have something called Trail Warriors

I have always wanted to try trail running, especially since (according to some quiz I took...I think from Runner's World?) I am apparently built like a trail runner...whatever that means. I don't really know much about trail running, except that a lot of people say it is harder, and that I may need different shoes.

As part of Trail Warriors, you run 6 trail races throughout the tri-state area. Each race has either a 5 or 6 mile option and a 10 or 12 mile option. I'm already mentally signing up for the two loop options, but I guess I should really figure out how much more difficult trail running is before I mentally commit.

Also, my book club is reading Born to Run. I know that every runner known to man has read this book, but for some reason I couldn't get past the first few chapters. So I'm excited that it's a book club pick because it will force me to finish it and see if it makes me crazy obsessed about barefoot running like everyone else (even though that craze seems to be over)...my Vibrams look a little gross on the inside anyway...they are all brown stained on the inside. Gross. Who knows what that is?

At any rate, I am excited for the group to start, I am excited to be reading Born to Run, and I'm probably not going back to "barefoot" running anytime soon. :)



Monday, October 7, 2013

Re-entry Syndrome

Yes, that is possibly an overly melodramatic title, but as I was talking to my co-worker Andy last week I realized that it might somewhat be true (he was the one who suggested that this is what I was experiencing).

It's been awhile since I've blogged, but let's face it, my New York self had little time to run and much less time to write. I did get one last, wonderful 16 miler in, over the Brooklyn Bridge for Summer Streets before saying au revoir to NYC. But even that beautiful run was symptomatic of my need to leave the city. Perhaps it was the various trash smells baking in the sun along Park Avenue, or maybe the tiny mouse in my path in front of the bagel shop (that on my way back was smashed into the sidewalk) or the cops that yelled at me for following the people directing traffic (who apparently weren't paying attention...not my fault, so stop yelling at ME).

I digress.

At any rate I am back in Cincinnati (or at least the Cincinnati area) and I guess after living in NYC for so long I am having a hard time with the simplest of simple things.

For instance, I have become a bad driver. I can no longer parallel park (this was once a point of pride...I could park any vehicle in any spot, easily). I forgot that if you nose your car over into another lane that people don't stop for you, they might just run you over (in NYC this is not true). I feel like my car is going to tip over unless I am driving something that has a low center of gravity (therefore, I am overly cautious when driving my mom's CRV).

I also can't shop. Stores like Kroger and Meijer overwhelm me and I find myself staring at a shelf for minutes at a time trying to decide exactly which peanut butter to buy, or where to find the quinoa (withOUT seasoning, sauce or anything else...JUST quinoa!).

I also don't understand parenting here, because apparently parenting is very different in New York...or at least some things are different. For example, I was at the Mt. Adams playground with Liam, letting him climb all over things, chasing him up the jungle gym, etc and I guess some parent thought I was being irresponsible, letting him climb on the rocks on his own. So, he grabbed his hand to help him up. I had to stop myself from being like "HE CAN DO IT HIMSELF! HE DOESN'T NEED YOUR HELP! I WANT HIM TO LEARN TO BE AUTONOMOUS!" I know he was just trying to help.

I also feel way too edgy to be here (see above). I don't mean fashiony edgy, I mean, I want to jump all over things. I need to calm down.

Which is where running enters the picture I guess.

Running has been my constant between these two cities, and while it is very very different in Cincinnati than in New York (and vice versa) I think it's going to help me keep centered. And I'm going to try and get the blog going again. Although, I think it's going to be more about the rest of my life AND running, and how running fits in to the rest of my life. Because let's face it; my life is no longer all about running as it was when I was sans Liam (which is a good thing).


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yikes!

Ok, I am lame. The last time I posted was before my vacation. I don't even have an excuse because I have had plenty of time to blog (and run) but I just have been spending that time doing other fun things (like playing around with the floorplan of my apartment, making fun cupcakes, knitting, etc etc etc).

I guess running was just one of the main things in my life prior to now, and now, while it is still a big part of my life, I tend to have a million other things going on too.

I spent a lot of time this marathon season being frustrated...not angry...not sad, just frustrated. It seemed like no matter what I did, I couldn't get my times to go back to what they were before I had Liam. I was still working really hard, but I wasn't getting the results. I wanted to basically start where I was at the beginning of 2009. I didn't actually think this was too unreasonable (I'm not even sure if it is now). But I also just kind of accepted that running was going to be harder, I was going to be slower. I didn't know if this was a copout, but I was okay with it if it was. I thought.

Then I ran with my friends Gina and Pam one Saturday and as we were chatting Pam said that her friend (who was also pregnant around the time I was) said that running is hard, things just don't work the same way they did before. This made me feel lots better. And I realized; here I was comparing myself to Kara Goucher again, who is an Olympian, has trainers and nutritionists, runs professionally, and isn't still breastfeeding.

So, a couple of weeks ago I had my 20-miler. My 20-miler always sort of psychs me out because however it goes is the same way the marathon goes for me. I printed out this marathon armband which would have me pacing my miles so that I would end up with 9:00 splits (even though I had been running with the 10:00 min/mile group all season). I had a glass of wine the night before to relax (this has been proven to work for me). I worried worried worried so much that I didn't sleep. When I got to Grand Central (we were doing this run out of the city) I got there so early that the train doors weren't even open. So I stopped at a shop and grabbed two donuts which I inhaled in about 2 seconds. I fell asleep on the train and almost missed my stop. And then, when we got there, Coach Christine informed us that the bridge was out due to Hurricane Irene and we couldn't run our normal route. We actually had to go the other way, which involved running through several house-lined streets and the downtown area of Scarsdale before we even got to the Hudson River Parkway Trail. Ugh. And I am AWFUL at directions.
We had to stick together as a group for the first 2 miles so no one would get lost.

Well, my pace was just going to go way out the window. Whatever. I didn't really feel like I could do it anyway. I was just going to run what I ran and get the mileage in. (I usually call this "Zen Running"). So I kind of stuck with a group of three people going about 10 min/miles. Unfortunately, at the turnaround (5 miles) they decided not to stop. I needed a GU so I decided to run with the group that was slightly ahead of us and still stopped for a GU break. They were obviously going faster, so I would have to see how long that would last.

Their pace actually felt pretty good. And when I looked down at my watch, I saw we did a 9:22 mile. Cool! I stuck with them until the next turnaround, but then I was on my own. They had decided to go the other way (even though the bridge was out, someone had put a plank over the stream so you could go over it if you wanted to...I was NOT in for that. I did not train all this season to fall off a plank and injure myself.)

I got a little lost, but did find my way. I felt great. At the end I felt like I could run another 10 miles!!! And I ended up with a 9:00 pace for the WHOLE RUN! AMAZING! I was so so pumped.

THEN, I ran the Staten Island Half this past weekend. Once again, I ran by feel. I was going to try and hit 8:50s, but I took the first mile out too fast (8:37). I made a concentrated effort to slow down and went 8:22 on the next mile. I really told myself to slow down for the next mile and did an 8:08. Ok. At this point I took stock of how I felt (great) and decided to just go for it. In the end, my slowest mile ended up being an 8:56 and my fastest a 7:55.

I PRed!!!!!!!!

BY FOUR MINUTES!!!! (I got a 1:50!)

Did I just underestimate myself before? Did I just kick it in for some reason? What happened? I have no idea but I am NOT going to change ANYTHING and hope for the best on NYC marathon day.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Getting Stronger?

So I feel like my body is not what it used to be. This is both good and bad.

On the good side, I am now 13 lbs lighter than I was before I was pregnant. This worried me a little bit at first because my BMI was right on the healthy/unhealthy line, and I felt like I looked a bit skeletony in some of my wonderful brightroom pics. However, now that I have added some more muscle I'm actually okay with my weight. Also, I am really packing away the calories and paying attention to how much I eat (which is a LOT) so I know that I am okay. (This also meant that I got to get new running clothes and also that I am not so annoyed when my shirt rides up a bit while I'm running).

Also on the good side, I am way more flexible than I was before. I can actually touch my toes, and I really don't remember the last time I could do that. I contribute this to taking some time off of running this winter, but my bootcamp teacher said it is also because your body limbers up during pregnancy. (You just can't tell because who is really trying to touch their toes over a huge belly?)

Also, since I've lost some extra poundage now I can see some of my muscles! Hurrah!

On the not good or bad side I can eat us out of house and home. This is good because I love food, and the food I love is not particularly healthy. But it is also bad because I feel like I am eating ALL THE TIME which can get boring and expensive.

But on the bad side, I feel like I am starting over running again. I guess this is okay if you manage expectations (which I have been doing). For instance, my goals have changed tremendously. I am now happy with a sub 10 minute pace on longer races and a sub 9 on shorter races. I am going a lot slower even though I feel like I am working just as hard and sometimes even harder.

In fact, I was so super sore after last week's 16 mile run. Like after-the-marathon-sore. I don't know if this is because I am pushing myself harder or if it is because I am more out of shape than I was running in 2009. (I actually feel more in shape, but that the numbers are lying to me).

I am also really ramping up on the cross-training (which is a lot easier to get in than running because of baby). I am doing lots of old-school exercises...push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, lunges, etc.

I also signed up for a mommy and baby bootcamp class. It's lots of fun. We do all of those boot camp exercises too, but using baby as a weight. Oy. This is HARD. The first class was good and I had that nice achiness in my abs that makes me feel like a six-pack is on it's way (ha!). The second class was KILLER. None of the other moms showed up so I got a private lesson and she pushed me because she knows I am athletic. She didn't give me a break on ANYTHING. I did three burpee sets (of 12) alternating with 12 skaters with no rest in between. By the last set I looked ridiculous. I was like "I can't..." (and I've never felt like that during a workout) and she said "That's okay, just do the modified version." (Yes, that only helped a little.) Liam of course, thought all of this was hilarious. Needless to say I was sore after the workout (no waiting until the next day for me).

Anyway, I kind of got off topic. So I'll reel us back in...

So at baby bootcamp I had to do sit-ups (which I HATE). I especially hate these post-partem because I feel like my tail bone is GRINDing into the floor. It is very painful. I thought that maybe this is because I have less meat back there. But I asked the instructor about it and she said she had the same thing shortly after pregnancy. She said your back kind of gets looser and discs move around and stuff. She told me it would get better though as long as I kept working out. No problem. And it got me out of sit-ups (I got to do crunches instead.)

So yeah. Very sore. Body isn't what it used to be. We'll see how that works out tomorrow. I'm supposed to do 18 miles.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hill Month

So last night's practice officially kicked off "hill month" at Team in Training. I was kind of looking forward to the workout (I guess because I am a masochist?) because even though those workouts kill me I always end up feeling like I actually accomplished something awesome.

Last night was a doozie. We ran up the entrance hill at 72nd street at 85% effort and then DOWN the back of the hill at 85% effort and finished with a recovery along the road to do it again. Effectively we were making a triangle. What kind of sucked is that the recovery was all too short. We did this 12 times. Yuck.

I decided this would not be a good workout to do in the Vibrams, even though my Tuesday night runs are usually "barefoot". I am sure glad because I am super sore today.

I really took those hills hard. And I think the downhill part was just as hard as the uphill...at least I took it that way. I have the sneaky suspicion that the rest of my teammates took it as sort of a recovery. I say this because the same people who would pass me on the uphill were easily passed by me on the downhill.

I also figured out something else about my running form. I seriously think that I was built for distance. My stride is so efficient that it almost looks like I am walking when I run (I used to get so mad at Bill for saying this). But I also say this because I noticed in my hill and speed workouts I end up somewhere in the middle of the advanced group, even though I am one of the slowest runners of the group. People will always pass me on the speed part and I end up passing them on the recovery part. I always thought that this was because I was going too fast on the recovery. But when I check my heartrate, I can almost get it down to my walking heartrate. I'm breathing easily, and I feel fully recovered in time for the next repeat. So then I was like, maybe I'm not pushing myself hard enough on the speed part. But I know this is not true because I am really truly busting my butt (sweat pouring from everywhere, breathless, grunting, tired by the end, etc.) And when I ran this idea by Bill he was like "No, I've seen you do speedwork. That's not it." Anyway, these people who I pass on recovery will usually pass me again on the speed part...the first time or so. After awhile I just get too much of a lead on them and they can't pass me. So I start off the workout at the back (sometimes even the last) and end them in the middle or middle top. This just tells me that I am truly an endurance runner.

I guess this is why half marathons are my favorite event. (Bill also mentioned to me this weekend that since having Liam I have already completed  5 half marathons! That made me feel awesome!)

At any rate, at the end of the workout I was super spent and today I am super sore. But I am happy about that because it means I am building my muscles. Sometimes I think I am crazy.

P.S. Speaking of being built for distance, Bill pointed out this cool article to me about how scientists explain how Usain Bolt is truly built for speed. Kind of cool.