Friday, December 28, 2012

Running Year in Review 2012

2012 -Wow! What a year it has been! I had alot of goals for this past year. I met some and not others but I sure did learn alot along the way.

I am doing my second yearly review by following Miss Zippys' lead and answering her questions as well as some of Road Runner Girls'. I thought this would be easier then a long drawn out year review. Wrong! I really had to think alot about these. Enjoy!

-Best race experience...would no doubt be Labor Pains 12hr Endurance Trail Run! It started out kind of sucky because of breathing and belly issues but after the rain things turned around and I ended up having my longest run (45 miles) ever and even got an age group award to boot. It will probably be my only award ever so I am very proud of it!
Lori & I with our award medals!
-Worst race experience...would probably have to be PHUNT 50k (errr...25k). That blog post title should tell you something right there. The run started out pretty good on the first part because everything was frozen but then the mud was just to much for me on the second half and I missed the cutoff. It was pretty tough to swallow but I was also exhausted and just glad to be done what I did do.
-Best doubt this would be the Conestoga Trail Night Run! So. So. So much fun. It was of course run at night on a trail that has more ups then downs. The company was hands down the best. AND we ran it the weekend of July 4th and were treated with music and fireworks from down at the river that you could see and hear for miles.
Cool thing is, we will be doing this run again but in the daylight as our last group run of the year on 12/29.

-Worst run...this one is tough because even if a run isnt great I dont really think of them as bad. I guess I would have to say the worst was maybe a small group run that I did in early March where my asthma was the worst. It was the beginning of what would be breathing troubles all year long. Boo! Asthma sucks and I am learning to deal with it.

-Most memorable running experience...there are certainly everyday running experiences just as memorable as this but I would have to say the two times I ran with  Chris McDougall. He is a neighbor of a super cool friend of mine and Gary invited us to run with them one day in the spring and then he actually ran another Conestoga run with us a few months later. And when I say ran together, I mean that they all took off ahead of me ;-)

-Another most memorable running could I forget?! I had to mention the time that I got lost by myself on the trails and ended up way out of the park in SV park.

-Best new piece of gear...I am going to go with my Hokas!! Since my legs are used to the trails. I got the Hokas for road running. They are the perfect shoe for recovery runs and more importantly run commuting home from work!!
-Best running advice received...oh this one is so! Actually the advice I got when rehabbing my ITB was to start weight training and cross training. I started with the weight training at the gym and was doing well with it. Everyone was saying that yoga was good for runners as well so I tried a class and was instantly hooked! I now take twice weekly classes at the gym and once a week at the yoga studio. I 100% credit yoga for getting me back to running pain free and keeping me there. I love it!!

-Running setbacks...1) Short time off in February for an achilles strain from jumping on some rocks to fast and awkward. It healed up quick. No lingering issues.

2) I've had exercise induced asthma for years. In March it decided to turn to full blown asthma and I have been dealing with it since. The summer running was very difficult and slow for me this year.

3) And then we have the good 'ol ITB issues that started after Labor Pains in September but I pretty much ignored it until I ran 26.2 miles on the AT. That caused me to miss my fall goal race Stone Mill 50 miler. But I found yoga so everything happens for a reason, right?!

-Most inspirational runner...would have to be Janet at Because I Can. I first "met" her on facebook via a local running club and then read her book. How can you not find someone who almost lost their life and leg in a horrific accident and then come back and prove everyone wrong by not only walking but running again inspirational. She ran her first marathon post accident this year too!

-If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?
 Run long. Balance. Yoga.

-Year in numbers...
 -8 marathon distance or greater races (5 ultras)
 -longest race 45 miles
 -16 trail races total
 -305 miles raced
 -about 1550 miles ran total in 2012

-Its amazing how relative things are. I thought that my running year was meh. But when you stop and think about it...oh what a year it has truly been. I have met so many great running FRIENDS this year and had the most amazing EXPERIENCES. More then I ever thought possible! I wouldnt trade these memories for anything.

Your turn...pick one of the questions above to answer in the comments!

Happy Trails! Peace.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Lights Night Runs and the TOUGHEST run I have ever done...yet.

RUNS: Wow it has been a busy running week! After the debacle with Rachel breaking her foot, I ran the next night with the local road running club for their Christmas Lights Night run. I cant remember if I ran 5 or 6 miles that night but either way, it was a bunch of fun!

Then Friday night we had our other Christmas Lights Night run which had some of the same people but was more of a friends of friends type of get together. The idea is to run 12 miles for the twelve days of xmas but I only ran half because my legs are still quite heavy from the 50k last week and I needed to save them for the weekend too.

Here is a before run picture of us all...
Good looking group...huh?!
Saturday morning we got up semi-early to head to some new-to-us trails! We were going to run a course that I have been wanting to run for some time but havent had the chance. They run a FatAss Marathon on these trails in the spring and everyone raves about it. But I havent been to one yet. Our running guide, Brian, runs the trails often because he lives nearby. The good thing about Brian being lead is that in the marathon there is a sometimes very deep water crossing (depending on the water levels) but he knows the way around it!

Thank you Brian because if you run a measly one mile further on the trail you can cross a bridge and avoid getting wet altogether. Extra great because it was barely over 32degrees that morning AND we stopped by where the water crossing was and it was atleast waist deep and flowing VERY fast. I would have never crossed it with my fear of water. No way.

The first miles were going good. My legs felt still heavy but good. I was only going to run 16 miles so no problem, I could handle this! The first 500ft climb was tough but I made it up and was rewarded with a nice downhill quad crusher. Mental note that I would indeed have to go back up that on the return.

I did well up until we got to the climb you can see below at about the 7 mile mark. It was 1000ft up in 1 mile.
The 1000ft climb sure does make the two 500ft climbs look small, lol!!
Ouch is about all I can say. It took me about 36 minutes from the time we stood there and talked about whether we wanted to do it or not until I got to the top. This also included me stopping to take several pictures and stopping TWICE to whine that I was turning around because I didnt think I could make it. Twice the boys talked me into continuing. And I just couldnt help to want to see what was at the top of the mountain.

Here are some of the pictures on the climb...
See the top of the mtn in the background? That is where we are headed.

Rik stopping to "refill" his bottle from a waterfall.

Rocky trails.
So once we finally got to the top we were rewarded with some of the most wicked 30-40mph winds of the day, lol. But we also then coasted back down another trail for about 4.5 miles to the bottom. That part was pretty sweet!

Of course that also meant that since we didnt just go back down the mountain we tacked on about 5 miles to our route. And after we climbed that hill my legs were toast. That meant I had miles to return with spent legs. I think I whined more then I ever had before. It was truly one of the toughest runs I have ever done. Just about everything in my body hurt. Everything.

In one breath I was saying that I would never run these trails again. And then in the next breath I was wondering how well I could do on fresh legs. Maybe someday I will find out but it will not be anytime soon!!!

EATS: In honor of the holidays I bring to you a picture of the cookies Rik & Dakota made! Who doesnt love some peanut butter cookies dipped in chocolate?!
Reindeer cookies!
TOTALLY NOT RUNNING OR EATING RELATED: I just wanted to mention how proud I am of my son for becoming a PA certified EMT while carrying a full time college course load. So proud!


May peace be with you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Broken run on the trail. Broken foot that is.

RUNS: After the 50k on Sunday I was and am feeling pretty darn good. My plan was to run or walk one mile on Monday just to get my legs moving. I seem to have this problem of getting real lazy in the days after a race and I think that is part of my injury issues. No evidence, just my suspicions. But anyhow, it was ugly and rainy and the guy from the car dealership called to say that my new car was ready to pick up that night. Road trip instead!

So I have this new friend that I went running with for the very first time on Tuesday. She thought she was so cool and fast and tried to pass me on the trail. I pushed her down and she broke her foot. Wait. Wait. Thats not how the story goes! Let me try again....

On Tuesday I had plans to run with two girlfriends but one was sick so it was just Rachel and I. Now mind you, this is the first time I am running with her and she has only run trails less then a handful of times. No problem. We will run the easier trails. And I want to take us up and around so that we come out at the Christmas Light Magic towards the end of the run so we can see the lights on.This works for me and her.

We take off running and chatting away keeping the pace slower so that we can talk and take it easy. We got just over 2 miles in and I hear something from behind me and Rachel yell. It sounded like she hit the front of her shoe on a root. But she said she did not and that noise was the side of her foot. You know that kind of noise bones, tendons and muscles make when they are pushed further then they can go?! She somehow rolled it and was in ALOT of pain. She tried to walk it off but that didnt help. So she sat down for a few minutes to see if that helped.

She got back up and we hobbled only feet down the trail and she was having so much pain it was making her lightheaded. We were trying to figure out what we wanted to do. I was a little worried because it was getting later and we were the farthest possible from our cars. What are the chances of that!

We discussed several different options on what to do and I finally decided to run ahead for help while she kept moving on the trail as best as she could. Luckily for us, since we were so far from the parking lot meant that we were on the edge of the park. I ran about a quarter mile before I saw a house down the hill. I was looking for a good area to bushwack down to it when all of a sudden I saw a very small trail that led down to the house. I ran down and there was a guy outside. I talked to him and he said if we could get her down to the house that he could take us to our cars.

I ran back up the trail to fetch my new trail running friend and bring her back down when all of a sudden we heard a 4-wheeler. He had driven his 4-wheeler up onto the trail to pick her up. So cool! I think he was pretty excited to be doing this "rescue". She climbed on the back and we headed down to the house and he took us back to the park and to our cars. Thanks to Wayne Smith for being such a Good Samaritan!

We got back to our cars and Rachel assured me she would be okay driving since it was her left foot. And she was. I got a message a few hours later that she had indeed broke a bone in her foot and now she would be in a boot and crutches with no running for six weeks.

It was quite the adventure and not one I want to repeat anytime soon!!

I feel so so bad for her. Not only because I was with her but because I love trail running so much and I want other people to like it to. The trails probably did not leave a very good impression today! And also just the fact that she wont be able to run for six weeks. Since I am still fresh off of my injury and not running for weeks I know exactly how she feels and will feel in the weeks to come. Us runners need our fix.

YOGA: After the run I had already planned to go to yoga. I really felt I needed it after my long run on Sunday and now I needed it even more after the adventures of the day! It was wonderful as usual. I felt a bit more tight in the calves and hammies but not amazingly so. And my balance was about what it usually is. That I wasnt sure how it was going to be.

EATS: Seriously, the only picture I have of food over the past couple of days is this awesome burrito from a new to me burrito place near where we went to pick up my car. Its really the only picture you need. Check it out, it has BBQ rice, tortilla chips and some kind of 3 bean mix.....
Cowboy Crunch Veggie Burrito
Your welcome!

What has your worst running related injury been?
I think mine was actually my groin back in 2010. It was about 6 months before I could run pain free.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Horse-Shoe Trail FatAss 50k Race Report

The Horse-Shoe Trail is a 140 mile trail that runs from Valley Forge, PA (not far from Philly) west to meet up with the Appalachian Trail. The trail is marked with yellow hashes on trees with an occasional yellow horseshoe hanging from a tree or elsewhere. As with most PA trails, they are very rocky a decent amount of hills but nothing bad at all.

A group of about 50 met this past Sunday morning for the Second Annual Horse-Shoe Trail FatAss 50k. Rik and I ran it last year but only ran 20 miles of it because it wasnt long after my first ever 50k and was just to much for my legs at the time. This year had just a slightly different start but was still an out and back with a 5ish mile loop at the far end in French Creek Park.

My plan was to run the race and dedicate a mile to each person that was killed on Friday in CT in an elementary school shooting. It was a total of 20 children and 6 adults. Those kids may never run again here on earth but may they run forever free. And I planned to run just one more mile here for each of them.

We hit the road bright and early for an 8:30 start. About half way there I realized that I had forgotten my shoes. Yes. I was headed to a race and I forgot my shoes! I frantically try to text my friend Carli to see if she has an extra pair but cant find her number in  my phone so I instead text Gary who I was pretty sure was riding with them. Indeed he was and indeed they said that they had an extra pair of shoes for me. In my size! What are the chances of that! (I came to find out later that they actually turned around and went back to get the shoes for me-AWESOME people) Crisis adverted and I try to chill for the rest of the ride.

We all arrive and get ready for the race. Carli hands me a brand new pair of New Balance 101 minimal shoes. I am the opposite of minimus but figure they are better then the Birkenstocks that I wore there! But I am slightly worried about that knee that I have been so cautiously rehabbing.
Everyone getting ready at the start.
Listening to Josh tell us whats what.
We are instructed to follow the yellow marks of the HST until we get to French Creek where we will follow the orange marks (6 cent trail) for a loop and then back onto the yellow. Got it? Good. And at 8:30 we are off! The first 6 miles were uneventful as Carli, Vanessa, Amanda and I settle into a groove until we come upon this beautiful site...Hopewell Furnace National Historic site which we ran through.
How cool is that.
Some kind of tee-pee on site.
We hit our first aid station at 7 miles. Refuel and continue on. We are all running strong and having fun on the single track through here until we get to the next AS at mile 12. This AS is right at French Creek Park where we do the loop moving from following the yellow marks to following the orange marks. Just as we were coming into the AS we see Rik coming down the hill back out of French Creek already. He stopped to take a picture of us being ridiculous...
For some reason we thought that as soon as we left mile 12 AS that we would hit the orange marks marking the loop but that was not the case. We kept going and going until we were so happy to finally see those dang orange hashes! Here they are doing the happy orange hash dance...
Once we hit the loop it was the hilliest part of the race. We knew it would be but dang those hills were really though! But of course you have to put a smile on your face when someone is pointing a camera at you...
Carli smiling even though her back was hurting.
Vanessa and some dude already headed the other direction.
We finished up that loop and back down to the AS which now put us over 17 miles in. I still could not believe how good my legs and especially my knee were feeling. We then started to head back to the finish. After this point things got  a bit more tiresome. We were alternating with walking the hills and running the rest. The bottoms of my feet were definitely starting to mind those rocks jabbing through the thin soles of my shoes.

We finally hit a really nice slightly downhill section that would take us into the last AS. As I came into the AS the volunteer told me that she had bad news for us. What?! What kind of bad news?!
She said that one of us was the 10th place female (the awards went to the top 10 male and female finishers)! And I said oh no way...we will cross together for a four way tie. Ha!

I quickly refueled with some Mtn Dew and cookies and as I was standing there I could feel my knee was tight so I told the girls I was going to keep moving and they could catch up. They quickly caught up and I led us down the trail. The wrong trail! We were only off trail less then 5 minutes before I realized it so we turned around and head back to get on the right trail. They gave me a hard time for leading them astray until I reminded them that they didnt notice it either!

With less then 7 miles to go now we were ready to get this thing done. We knew there was some nice down hill towards the finish but dang you really do forget all the uphills that didnt seem so big on the way out that now we were hiking up on the return.

The closer we got to the finish the more the bottom of my feet hurt. And of course the last couple of miles were the rockiest! My feet were on fire and numb at the same time but I just kept running. Finally we could hear someone and it was Gary! He had hiked back out after he finished to see if he could find us. He said that we had less then a mile to go so he started running with us and we really picked up the pace.

Now we could hear more people and turn to see the finish line. We knew that we all had to finish together for 10th place so we grabbed hands and ran across!!! DONE!!!
Very blurry pic of us crossing the finish!
Josh just so happen to have enough awards for us all.
What a great day on the trails with a bunch of good friends (old and new). This was the first race that I ran with Vanessa and it was her second 50k with her first being only this past October. This was also only the second time that I ran with Amanda and only her second ever trail run...ever. She just ran the Harrisburg marathon in November then ran a 20 mile trail run with us at the lakes. Now ran her first 50k on the trails!

I cant believe how well my knee held up the entire time. It was stiff for about a minute but that was it. It wasnt the smartest thing to run this whole race after very little running for the past 2+ months. But I am glad that I did it and glad that I ran for those kids. It was atleast something that I felt I could do. Even better was that I inspired others to join in and run for the kids. To run because they could!

We changed clothes in our cars and walked over to the Inn for some post race food and drinks and to talk about our adventures of the day. It couldnt have been any better of a day either.

Happy Trails.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Speed work. 12-12-12. Fast food.

RUNS: Still plugging away pain free (knock on wood). I did a little bit of speed work. Well, actually I just tried to run a flat course a bit faster then my usual slog. It didnt go so well. My legs were heavy from my weekend long runs still and there was quite a bit of wind at times. But whatever I got it done and I was not to disappointed in my results.
This is on a course that I used to be able to run 10mm so I have a little bit of work to do.

Then Wednesday was 12-12-12! So I decided to run 12k. I wasnt feeling 12 miles and thought the 12k was doable. I actually ended up running an 8 mile course that I ran just the week before and my overall pace was a whole 40 seconds per mile faster! Yay! Does running 12k on 12-12-12 bring me good luck now or what?!

Here is a pic of the first hill that I have to go up within the first half mile. Yeah, this will warm you up quick!
Pictures never do a hill justice.
Sometimes I can run the whole way up and other times I cant. Today I made it the whole way up!

YOGA: Yoga on Tuesday was pretty cool. There were actually 3 girls and 3 guys! Rik wasnt the only one! We have a sort of joke going about the Tuesday night teacher. At the end of class when we are laying in Shavasana she comes around and sprinkles the tiniest bit of baby powder (or something that smells like it) on you and the pushes your shoulders down, rubs your neck, moves your head around, etc. It is wonderful. Probably the best part of the class.

Rik and I call it "getting yoga". Well, the past two times I didnt get any yoga. The first time Rik wasnt there and I thought she just didnt do it that day. But this week he was there and I noticed that she passed over me! What?! I didnt get any yoga again! After class was over Rik said that he got yoga and it was awesome. I was sad and said I didnt get any. She passed right over me.

He asked if I had my hands facing up. What?

Evidently if you want "yoga" you need to have your hands facing up. How did I not hear this...twice?!?!

You can bet that I will have my hands facing up next week and I will get my yoga!

EATS: Fast food baby. Fast food. When we have running and yoga on the same night there has got to be something fast and easy for dinner. And this is one of our favorites...Sweet Baked Beans & Pasta Salad.
I used shredded cabbage instead of celery because I was out.

Sweet Baked Beans & Pasta Salad

Add some cheese if you like. But definitely add the paprika!
Wednesday evening with just a run on the schedule I ended up making Carrot & Quinoa patties for dinner since the are a little more involved. Actually they are alot more involved and if they werent so good I wouldnt even bother. I am really bad at making patties/burgers. They never want to stick together for me. Wrap them in some lettuce and call it a meal!

I think next time I am going to save myself the headache and just throw everything in a pan to cook and then scoop it out onto the lettuce. Kinda like a sloppy joe of sorts. That way they can be a "fast food" too!

Did you do anything exciting/special for 12-12-12?


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Week 2 Review

RUNS: Week 2 had me 43 miles ran. And every single one of them pain free. I can hardly believe it. I just keep waiting for that ITB to attack. I also managed 3hours of yoga.

Saturday was my long run of 16.5 miles (2500ft of elevation) around the lakes. We started super early so that we could go to yoga afterwards. I just wanted to mention how lame I am in that I gave up running with friends so that I could run earlier and still get to yoga. But I really am glad that I did because I believe the yoga is making me be able to run pain free.
Pre-dawn start.
Last week I went to yoga after my 12-miler and it felt fantastic. So I wanted to do that again. It was great again except that I had absolutely no balance! I guess all of those little muscles were spent. But you know what, I had very little issues with recovery and ran 6.5 miles on Sunday morning with my legs feeling good! I absolutely believe it is the yoga.
Running in the rain!
The Sunday morning run was actually with friends and thanks to Evans for taking this super shot of me!

YOGA:  Like I said...three classes this week. But more importantly I wanted to tell you that I got up in wheel pose all by myself. No blocks. No nothing. Just me. I did it twice and the second time I didnt stay up very long but dang I was so proud of myself! That pose really isnt very difficult but I had so much trouble with it that I was on a mission to get it done. Now mind you, I do still have a lot of work to do on it but I am improving all the time.

Another new to me pose is the Tripod. Which is also known as pre-headstand. Seriously, how hard can it be?! When I was a kid I did about a million headstands! Surely my body remembers...right? Wrong.
Tripod (pre headstand)
I could not get my legs up onto my elbows/arms and balance there. Heck, I really couldnt get them on at all. I think my biggest problem was how to set my head on the mat (ie. on the top of my head verses on my forehead). I wasnt the only one struggling and she suggested we go up against the wall to try. But I ran out of time and will try that next time.
Watch out headstand Im coming for you next!!
Oh, and by the way, Rik got up into tripod without much difficulty at all and even got a good job from the teach. Haha. He was pretty pleased with himself.

EATS: I have really struggled with my eating this week. PMS is no excuse but its all I got. I've lost 3lbs so far so Im not doing to bad but I have not kept up with the logging of my foods. Must. Do. Better. With. That. This. Week.
Veggie Marsala Burger. Hummus. Broccoli Slaw. Lavash bread. 

I think I had hummus everyday this week. See the brownie for dessert?!

Favorite food from Trader Joes...I think.

Anyone doing anything cool on Wednesday for 12-12-12??

I dont want to run 12 miles that day so I am going to settle for a 12k run!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Yoga Challenge is...challenging.

RUNS: I continue to run pain free so far this week after my weekend long runs. Even the 8 miler felt fine today. I continue to be extremely slow and Im not sure why that is. I know that I am coming back off of an injury but I have been injured before and have not had this problem. I am slow on the norm so this is even more disheartening. People walk faster then I run for crying out loud! I guess I will just keep running and hopefully it improves.

Trust me, I am very thankful to be running at all. I seriously need to quit whining!

YOGA: No whining here. I think that this is the reason that I am running pain free. If I am wrong...please dont tell me otherwise :-)

I've started an online challenge that a blogger friend introduced me to and I am loving it (even though I missed a day already!). The idea is to do a different pose each day and take a pic with Instagram for everyone to see. I LOVE looking at how creative people are with this! Not to mention how much I am learning from this.

Here are my submissions so far...
Day 1 Standing Forward Bend

Day 2 Bound Angle Pose

Day 3 Marichi's Pose

Day 4 Chaturanga (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)
The first two poses were pretty easy. The second two, not so much for this beginner! I thought I could do Chaturanga because we do it like a hundred times in each class but I have never held it and I can see why...I cant. Yet.

EATS: I started tracking my eats on an app on my phone called MyFitnessPal last week. I did great for the first 5 days but havent tracked anything for the past 2. I think I am eating with in my numbers based on the number crunching in my head but I really need to get back on that tomorrow. Weigh-in is tomorrow to and I am slightly anxious to see what the numbers are.

Breakfasts this week have been the usual oats & fruit and Clif bar & fruit. I did switch it up one day with this...
Bagel & Fruit (pear)
Check out these cookies that my kid and his girlfriend made. I managed to eat a couple and even tracked them on MFP!
Iced Sugar Cookies
 Of course they were made with a ton of sugar, butter and eggs. So I had to show them how you make better for you cookies and made my Happy Trails Cookies. So much better for you and still very tasty!

Happy Trails Cookies
For lunches early in the week I made a salad with Shredded Brussel Sprouts, Carrots, Celery, Red Bell Pepper, Apple, Raisins & Dressing. Yes, it is as good as it sounds!
Salad. Pretzel Thins. Plum. Cookies.

And check out this master piece of a dinner. Veggie Kraut Salad w/Black Beans and Cashew Hemp Sauce. I was so excited to put sauerkraut on a salad! It was so good but I will definitely put more on next time. Evidently I couldn't take the 2 seconds to put more on this time. Oh yeah, that is quinoa on it too.
Fantastic Dinner
Lets just say that it was so good that there were no leftovers!

Anyone else incorporate yoga into their crosstraining activities?