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Posts Tagged ‘trail running’

It’s pretty much all runnable except…

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Words I had never heard describe a race course before I asked what the Paris Mountain 16K Trail Race was like: “It’s pretty much all runnable except the ten minutes it takes to ‘hike’ up the mountain.” I have to thank Brian G. who not only answered my question on facebook the night before the race but who also saved a few of us with excellent directions out on the course.

Typically my vacations involve a race so when a friend who attends Furman University in Greenville, SC invited me to visit her for the weekend, she not only found a great, inexpensive flight for me but a trail race. I booked the ticket and signed up for the race without even researching it. During my trip from Florida to South Carolina, I decided to find out more about this Paris Mountain trail race I was about to run. The distance was perfect since I was scheduled to run ten miles on Saturday anyway. I found the Greenville Track Club – Trail Runners group on facebook, posted my question, and received some very interesting answers.

Nervous about running up a mountain, I awoke race morning to SNOW! Yes, snow on November 1st.

What is that white stuff over Greenville!?! ;)

I was definitely having second thoughts about doing this race. I mean, I moved to Florida almost 20 years ago to escape this weather. We arrived at Paris Mountain at 7:00 a.m. in complete darkness after a short snow removal session so we could see out the car windows.

“What’s an ice scraper?” was her response when I asked if she had one. Riley is a Florida native. ;)

Dreading the cold, I picked up my bib number and started to warm up in the parking lot. I was wearing all the layers of running clothes that I brought with me. After jogging and doing my dynamic warm up, I felt warm enough to remove some layers so I raced in shorts, a long sleeve shirt, a light jacket, and gloves. I am so thankful that I packed my Brooks Adrenaline trail shoes! That extra tread definitely saved me on the slippery course.

Right before the start, the race director told us to take a map or follow the guy in front of us since all the course markings were washed away by the snow and rain. We were also offered a bottle of water to carry since they did not want to put volunteers out on the course in this cold weather to hand out water. I really did not know what to expect. The biggest hill I train on is the Ringling Bridge in Sarasota.

The course was beautiful. As we ascended Paris Mountain all I could think about was the beauty all around me. I wished I had a camera to try to capture it. Almost the entire trail was single track with lots of rocks, roots, twists, turns, and wet leaves. I just kept repeating to myself: “breathe, focus, and lift your feet.” Once we reached the part that was not runnable I tried to enjoy the scenery and take it all in but I had to focus even more on the terrain so I would not trip or fall behind. The higher we went up the mountain, the more snow we encountered. The wind was whipping the snow off the trees so it felt like it was snowing on us.

Once we began the descent, the race was really on. I moved from third female to first and ran down those hills and switchbacks with reckless abandon like I used to in my high school and college cross country days. I don’t remember thinking about speeding up; it was like instinct just took over. I earned my patch as the overall female winner of the race. I’d like to say that the mountain and those hills were no match for this Florida girl but even four days after the race I had to walk backwards down the stairs.

Huge thank you to Riley for being my #1 supporter (well, she did talk me into this race) & taking photos! :)

 

She thought it was just hilarious that I had to walk downstairs backwards.

Links:

Award Winners

Overall Results

Running Journal

X-Country 30K

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

I had to run this race again this year despite it being only one week after the Random Acts of Giving Marathon since I came so close to the course record last year!  When I justify to others why I have to run certain races, it’s really more to convince myself than anyone else.

The Overall Female record is 2:28:15 and the Masters Female record is 2:34:37.  Last year I was only 39 so not eligible for the Masters record just yet.  The X-Country 30K is a gorgeous trail run at Alafia River State Park in Lithia, Florida.  There is a section of the course that you run twice so when you exit the sandy section and trail near the restrooms, pavilions, and finish area the first time you take a right so you can go do the second loop, and then the second time you run straight to the finish.  Last year was a cool day, perfect for a long race like this.  It was my first time running the 30K and I was on course record pace when I exited the trail the second time only to have the volunteer send me to the right AGAIN.  I ran about a half mile in the wrong direction before I decided that this was ridiculous and wrong so I headed to the finish line as the overall female winner.  I ran over 19.5 miles and my average pace was faster than the Overall Female course record pace but because I had run longer than 18.6 miles (30K), my finish time was 2:33:20, slower than the record.  I was so frustrated by this experience at first but after filling out the finish card, getting a drink, and walking around a bit, I realized that the volunteer who sent me the wrong way made a mistake.  We are human and we make mistakes sometimes.  I should have known the course.  I still won the race and a very cool trophy but vowed to return in 2013 to go after that course record!

2013 rolls around and now I am 40 so I had a shot at both the overall and masters records.  I was very excited about this!  I knew the course so there would be no mistakes heading to the finish line.  A very hot day and being sick thwarted my course record attempts.  But I still enjoyed the beautiful cross country course and won the race.  The woman who was in the lead dropped out around 12 miles.  Not sure if the heat got to her or something else.  I felt bad for her but it reminded me of a quote from a newspaper article from my high school cross country days:  “Sometimes even good runners need a little luck.”  Source:  Original 1987 article by Gregory Kerstetter

As I exited the trail to head to the finish, a volunteer asked me as I whizzed by if I was 30K and heading to the finish.  All I could manage to blurt out was “FINISH!”  They weren’t going to make me run more than 30K this year!  Ha ha!

This is a tough race for volunteers since there’s a marathon, 30K, and half marathon all using the same trails.  I definitely do not expect volunteers to keep track of everyone, which race they are in, and which loop they are on.  I am just very glad I knew the course this year.  TampaRaces.com puts on some great races and definitely THE best trail races I have run.  Next year I am hoping for cooler temperatures for the X-Country 30K as I once again attempt an overall or masters record.

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Birthday run

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

This year I tried something new – a birthday run.  Since I was not able to go to Massachusetts this year to run the Tornado Alley 57 Miler again, the new plan was to run 40 miles on my 40th birthday.  I had trained for it and all went well up until a couple of weeks ago when I developed pretty severe blisters.  I really cannot recall having blister issues in all my years of running since college anyway.  I did get a doozie of a blister in college, but hey, we also wore cotton socks back then!

Normally I do not run super long during the summer in Florida.  I save my marathon training runs for the fall.  I think between the longer runs and the Southwest Florida heat and humidity, it created the perfect storm.  I wear really good socks, have custom orthotics, wear good fitting shoes, and use BodyGlide.  Florida weather must be no match for even the best laid plans.

I did no running at all for five days leading up to my birthday run in hopes that the blisters would heal and dry up enough to make it through 40 miles.  I felt great when I started out this morning but around 13-15 miles, my feet were soaked and it was time to change socks and shoes.  By the time I actually made it back to my car, I had finished 17 miles and knew the blisters were back.  So the blisters were very painful for the rest of the day; each step hurt and made me question whether I could finish the full 40 miles.  I changed socks several times, used Blistershield powder twice, and on the final sock change I used Aquaphor healing ointment.

Blisters aside, I could not have predicted the outcome of the day.  I was so blessed to have so many of my Suncoast Striders friends and Manatee High cross country runners out there with me.  Sarah, Meagan, and Katie were there bright and early for the 7:00 a.m. start and with birthday cards and gifts too!  Then Amber, Kristen, Canaan, and Ellen took over running duty on the 8:30 a.m. shift while Tiffany captured some great photos.  By 10:00 I had logged about 17 miles when Janet joined me for a few miles and even created a custom cadence for me!  Ellen ran out to buy me some watermelon and delivered it so I had a cold, refreshing treat at 25 miles.  At just before noon Jessica and JP joined me for my toughest miles of the day.  I had already taken one minute walk breaks after every mile completed from about mile 22 to 25 so once we reached 27, I broke the news about the walk breaks which they were happy to do.

We were heading to my favorite part of the trail just after the 27 mile mark.  It’s a nice shaded, single track trail along the water.  Shortly after running (slowly) onto this trail, I started to feel a little light headed and running became so difficult.  We walked almost the whole trail out and back and I had to make a tough decision.  I had to listen to the signs my body was giving me and tell JP and Jessica that I had to call it a day.  We were still a couple miles out from the parking lot so they graciously walked back the entire way with me.  I am so glad they did!  I think I was in worse shape than I thought.  I felt light headed and really felt I had to focus my vision on the path ahead.  And I was told later that I was slurring my words a little on the walk back.  Yikes!

When we reached the parking lot, we hit 30 miles total and saw Chris who was there to run the last leg with me.  I had to apologize to him that I was finished and could not run anymore.  He’s such an awesome guy; he ran my last 10 miles for me in the hottest part of the day at a preserve with little to no shade.  I guess I looked fairly bad because Janet and JP then proceeded to stay with me until I refueled a bit and cooled off.  I don’t remember how long it took for me to seem like my normal self again, but they hung out with me just chatting away and Janet had me sit in the back of her SUV which was cranking out the AC.  Then Theresa and Dawn and her cute crew of minions stopped by to deliver birthday cards, flowers, and balloons.

When I was finally feeling recovered enough to drive I left Robinson Preserve and took a detour on the way home for a dip in the pool and some quality time with my sister.  So refreshing.  All I could think about during the last 2-3 miles walking in the hot sun was how wonderful it would feel to be immersed in water!  I didn’t weigh myself before or after the run today, but probably should have so I’d have a better idea of the state I was in.

Deciding to stop my adventure today at 30 miles was extremely difficult.  I did not want to let anyone down by not reaching my goal.  But the most important thing I learned today is that I must listen to my body.  We all must listen to our bodies!

At first I was disappointed with 30 miles but after Chris texted me telling me that he did the last 10 for me and I had time to reflect on the day, all the people I was able to spend time with, and read all my birthday cards, texts, and messages on facebook, I knew that today’s birthday run was a huge success.  I am truly blessed to have so many amazing friends in my life and we have found each other through running.  This is certainly a birthday I will never forget.  And several people have told me that 40 is the new 30…

Recalibrate

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

This morning I was in a different mindset as I got ready for our group run at the Celery Fields.  Both of my Achilles tendons have been extremely sore for the past couple of weeks so I decided that I would either not run at all and just oversee the run or maybe walk/jog a little while everyone else did the workout.  It’s difficult for me to go to one of my favorite training spots and not run!

                          

Instead of my usual pre-run breakfast of PowerBar Energy Bites, a little caffeine, and 8-12 ounces of water, I decided to eat a “regular” breakfast which included taking all of my vitamins plus a bowl of organic granola with almond milk.

So the pressure is off.  No hard running today.  No running at all since I had my regular breakfast.  We meet at the school, carpool to the Celery Fields, and a few others meet us there.  We start the dynamic warm up and my Achilles tendons hurt.  We finish that and I explain the fun hill workout they are about to tackle.  I decide to go with them on the easy mile warm up loop just to make sure everyone knows the route.  We had a few new people out today; which is always cool.

Warm up mile loop is done and the group splits up into several smaller groups as everyone begins the actual workout of 2-3 x mile loops working hard on the up hills and coasting the down hills.  I took it easy on the first loop and did not run hard on the up hills.  When I finished that my Achilles tendons actually felt a little better.  I really wasn’t feeling them at all, which was a nice change!  So my warm up loop and the first of the workout loops were both somewhere around 10:00-11:00 mile pace.  Considering the loose rock trails and hilly terrain, not bad.

Remember, I ate my regular breakfast, not a pre-run breakfast so I wasn’t supposed to be running and certainly not running a hard workout.

I just finished two miles on the hilly loop and I was not feeling my breakfast at all plus my Achilles tendons felt pretty good.  I decided to run the second of the workout loops harder and dropped to about 8:46 mile pace running hard on the up hills and coasting somewhat on the down hills.  That felt great!!!  Maybe I just needed a longer warm up – definitely a trend with me lately.  Sometimes I need a 2-3 mile warm up before a workout or race.

I then started my third of the workout loops really pushing the pace on the up hills AND the down hills and finished around 8:18 mile pace.  I could not believe how good I felt.  I then joined the group for the 4 x short sprints up the steep grass hill.  Those things make you feel alive!  Somehow I swear my legs muscles morphed into a Jell-O like substance while my lungs were burning and I became a little light headed.  I had trouble keeping track of how many I had actually run.  Who knew counting to four could be such a challenge.  Okay, a slight exaggeration here, but these are intense!

 

After the fourth short, steep hill sprint we did one more mile on the hilly loop to cool down then a quick stretch after some shin strengtheners.  A total of 5.5 miles for the day.  I am still struggling to adjust my way of thinking about mileage in workouts and total weekly mileage.  Training for that 57 miler has really skewed things for me.  I am keeping much more detailed notes in my training log now so I can see the intensity and types of workouts and not worry so much about my lower weekly mileage totals.

The big mistake I made after the 57 miler was jumping back into 50+ mile weeks with only one week of rest right after the race.  When my Achilles tendon pain started I looked at my training log and I could see it right there plain as day the reason why.  Last week I backed off to about 33 miles and this week will be even lower.  I decided to do shorter runs, increase the intensity of just a couple of them, and also take more rest days to heal up.  I definitely needed to recalibrate my way of thinking about my training.  Yes I am going to be running a 50K in just a few months and yes I am going to run another marathon when I run Goofy at Disney Marathon weekend, but that does not mean that I need to be training the way I was just a couple of months ago.  I don’t always have to run high mileage just because that worked well for me this spring when I was preparing for a 57 mile race in June.

I don’t know if other running coaches have similar issues, but I find that I am often my own toughest athlete to coach.  I always feel like the regular rules of training do not apply to me.  Sadly I am not invincible.  But luckily I do learn from my mistakes and that helps me to be a better coach to others.

Back to breakfast…

I have never been able to run well or run hard after eating cereal with milk or just drinking milk.  As I said this morning was organic granola with dark chocolate bits and almond milk.  I decided to switch to almond milk for my cereal because it is higher in calcium and has fewer calories than regular milk.  I am still amazed at how hard I was able to run after eating all that.  I felt great on the run.  The granola is pretty dense and kept me fueled.  I did not get my extreme post run hunger for quite a while after the run too.  Perhaps a new pre-run meal in the arsenal!

I will definitely keep trying new things to see what works.

Disconnect

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

With smart phones, email, text messaging, facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Words with Friends, Tiny Village, blogging, and all those other ways to be connected to everyone in our lives, how do we disconnect? I have really been struggling with this lately. But if I do take a day off from technology, it is a double edged sword, I feel both refreshed from the break but also overwhelmed by all the emails and messages that have piled up. I guess people just expect everyone to check messages and work every day at all times of day.

I think we fall into the trap of feeling like we are going to miss something if we disconnect for a day or even just a few hours. I know I do sometimes and I am sure I am not alone. Social media is an addiction.

Some of my favorite, stress free hours were during my four and five hour ultra training runs back in April and May. I was out at a park running trails by myself totally disconnected with only my thoughts and my Garmin to record where I have been.

The reality is that we are too busy to have the luxury of four or five hours to ourselves to do whatever makes us happy. But what about devoting an hour a day to ourselves, our health, our physical and mental well being? Whether we use this time to work out, run, get back to nature, or just enjoy some quiet time, I think we need it. Desperately!

I am so used to multi tasking that when I sit down to watch television, I feel the urge to be doing something else like checking email or facebook, playing Words with Friends, eating, folding laundry, stretching, or foam rolling. I know watching TV is not the best use of my time but there are some great shows that I do really enjoy.

I have made yoga a priority in my training lately. My goal is two yoga or bodyflow classes per week. I am hoping the inward focus, breathing, and added flexibility will help my running and help me relax more.

Happy Disconnecting!   :)


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