Thursday, February 28, 2013

Updates and Dietbet #2 for the win!

RUNS: I've run twice this week since the 50k and I feel like they have been strong runs. And I feel like I am recovering nicely. I did have a day of very restless legs in between those two runs that I took an extra day off and wore Riks calf sleeves. They really seemed to help!

I am beyond pleased that I am consistently running about 10:00mm paces on the road. I havent run that pace since this time last year. So I feel like I am back at my baseline after a very difficult year. I am very excited and nervous to see what happens over the next couple of months when the weather starts to warm up and things start blooming. I am cautiously optimistic though.

Also, I completed my second round of Dietbet and won again. This time I ended up winning just over $30! You cant beat getting paid to lose weight! Here is a comparison picture from last November to now (about 3months)...
 I am participating in a third and final round put on by the same person. After that I will decide if I want to continue or not. I would just have to find another game put on by someone else to enter but there are MANY that you can enter.

Im really hoping that in another three months I will be down another 15lbs. I would be totally stoked!!

EATS: Last week and so far this week I/we have been mostly trying to use up foods that we already have with minimal grocery shopping. So here are some of the dinners we were able to throw together...
Trader Joes Veggie Stir-Fry
Asian Burger under Parm Noodles and Green Beans
Left over Chili and breaksticks
Another Veggie Stir-Fry over Quinoa and topped with an Orange Coconut sauce
And of course....Pizza!
We've done pretty good with using things up and we are about ready for a big shopping trip again very soon!

Do you ever go through periods where you try to use up things in the freezer and pantry instead of buying MORE food?!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hashawha Hills 50k (race report 2013)

This race takes place down in Westminster MD which is less then an hours drive south for us. Some friends ran it last year and said that it was a blast. Never mind that it costs less then $20 to enter! The biggest problem about the Hashawha race is that it is a lottery entry. Which, of course, meant that Rik got in and I didnt. In fact, I was pretty far down on the wait list. So resolved to the fact that I would volunteer while waiting for him to run.

The Sunday before the race we went up and ran 20 miles on the AT. Then on Monday I got an email saying that I was in. Now some people can run this much but I have been trying to be "smarter" with my running and running two 20+ milers the two weekends before this race were just not in the "smart plan". But I couldnt pass it up now and decided to go run but to only do one of the two 15.5 mile loops as a nice training run.

Leading up to the race the weather was forecasted as rain, sleet, freezing rain. The whole bit. We headed out early the morning of to try and get there early. We did and were instructed to park in the first lot. The lot was a sheet of ice! We knew it was going to be a good day!

Luckily, registration, bathrooms, etc is all located inside a nice warm building...
About 100 people at the start.
Alan giving us pre-race instructions.
After the pre-race instructions we were told to head out for a short 2 minute walk down to the pavilion and the start of the race. We all gathered under the pavilion since it was cold and misty out. The next thing we heard "GO"! And off we went.

Down through some grass, out onto the road (be careful here its slippery!), and then back onto a trail in less then a mile. The ground was very frozen. There were patches of ice here and there. It was misting and about at the freezing point. I was moving slowly and hanging towards the back and getting warmed up.

Much of the first 8 miles are a very nice mix of trails and a little bit of road. Within the first 5 miles we have an out and back section with the out being downhill and the back being uphill. Oh, and dont forget the small creek crossing here. I was able to keep my feet dry the first time but not the second! The first time with the out and back the trails were still frozen. The second time they were a complete slippery mud fest!

After the out and back were more trails before you hit the road section. Yep, sure enough, I fell on some black ice on the road. I felt myself going and tried to maneuver myself over to the side of the road but then just went down. Hard enough to rip my pants but still not to bad. Evidently quiet a few people went down on this section and the others just got lucky!
Blurry picture of the rip in my pants.
I didnt stop at the 8 mile aid station because they said it was a 2.3 mile loop before we would come back to the same FAMOUS AID STATION. So I headed up the hill instead. This is a section of hilly trail followed by some fields and then a little more field. Some chick was headed out of the loop as I was headed in and she said how beautiful it was up there. All I saw was fields. Okay it wasnt that bad. I am just not a field runnin' lover. And the field sections were way less then 2 miles but I felt it.

Back to the aid station and I did take some goodies and soda and kept on moving. As I left one of the guys told me to wash my shoes off in the up coming creek. Down just a ways was our big creek crossing of about 10 ft maybe. It was up over my ankles and there was no way to avoid getting wet. My feet were numb as I came out the other side but warmed back up quickly. And I continued on to what I thought was the hilliest part of the course.

This entire 5 miles I contemplated whether I would go for a second loop or not. This was a much hillier course then I had anticipated but I was moving along okay. Did I really want a technical DNF even though I went into this knowing I was only going to run one loop. I did want one of those homemade finishers mugs. And I would really like a finish so that I have a better chance of getting in next year. Oh but those hills were really starting to wear on me.

Just as I was deciding to call it quits when I got done the first loop...I heard something and looked to my right to see the start/finish area! Already! It took my by pleasant surprise and as you can imagine, gave me some mojo to keep pushing on. I quickly grabbed some grub and headed back out.

As I headed back out, Bob and company were headed in and he hollered that he was watching me and they were going to catch up, lol. I took off while stuffing food in my face and kept moving.

Almost as soon as I got back into the trail I was regretting my decision. The misty rain had stopped and it had warmed slightly and the trails were already getting muddy. I thought about turning around several times but instead kept moving forward. The out and back section was beyond muddy this time but everyone we past was so pleasant with "good jobs" and "way to goes". I was actually flip flopping with several runners at this point which was nice to have others around me.

Things were uneventful to the aid station. The aid station itself was a muddy mess as well and they were warning incoming runners to watch their steps. Very slippery mud. I left for the field loop following a guy and we ended up being about the same pace. We came back around and hit up the aid station one last time and headed out for out last 5ish miles.

The water crossing seemed deeper this time but not as cold. It was even muddier on the other side and then for quite a ways beyond that. Eventually I was able to get a good run going again. Until we hit those big hills near the end. I had to stop more then once...okay, a bunch of times to catch my breath. My legs were ready to be done! I ended up passing my friend on the one of the last hills. His legs were more fried then mine. So I headed off on my own to the finish.

As I was coming along the ridge Rik saw me from down below at the finish and I heard him yell my name. It made me smile and pick up the pace again down and around the trail until I came out to the small field crossing to the finish. As I rounded the corner I wanted to walk but Rik was there encouraging me to run it in and even started running with me. I saw the time on the clock and realized that if I hustled it in that it would be my second fastest 50k! So I gave it all I had up that little hill, lol.
The last of the trail is behind me.
Headed up to the finish!!
And I oh so happily collected my very own homemade pottery mug from Alan with a finish time of 7:06!!

Is this not the coolest mug you've ever seen!
After I chilled for a couple of minutes, cheered some more runners in and talked with my friend Traci, we walked back up to the Environmental Center where I was able to get some food, clean up and change in the nice warm building. There were still alot of people sitting around sharing stories of the day.

Evidently the 2013 Hashawha Hills 50k will be known as "The Ice and Mud Year"!!!

I cant believe I just ran another 50k! And I cant believe my time considering the conditions of the day. It was awesome. Cant wait to do it again next year! Hopefully with some rested legs I will be able to do even better. Unless the weather wants to throw something else at us of course.

**Btw, the reason for no on trail pictures this time was because of the ugly weather, I was afraid to take my phone out of the baggie I had it safely stored away in during the run. You will have to run the race yourself to see the beautiful trails :)


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

New-to-me section of the AT (long run).

RUNS: The long run this weekend got changed more then once between the weather and other peoples plans. The final plan ended up being a run on the Appalachian Trail on a new-to-me section. I was promised beautiful views if I put up with the cold and blustery winds. And the wind ended up not being much of a factor except on a couple of the field crossings.

I was totally not into it on Sunday morning but got up and headed out. Within the first mile I felt like I wanted to walk. And by the second mile I did walk for a bit. I was thinking there was no way that I would be able to run 20 miles today. But I knew that I wanted to get to a certain land mark/point before I did turn around.

So I kept trudging along mostly running and then walking when I couldnt. By about the 5 mile mark things got a bit better and I was moving along quite nicely. By mile 6 I was ready to keep going the distance! There was more elevation and rocky sections on this part of the AT but still very runnable. Right before we got to the look out was the steepest and rockiest section.

But I was infact rewarded with these amazing views!
Rik is looking for our car somewhere down there.
Rock bench.
Perfect place to relax and refuel.
While we were checking out the views some hikers from Pittsburg came by and we chatted for a bit. The older gentleman was 68yo and hoping to do the entire AT in sections by the time he is 80. So cool! They were nice enough to snap a quick pic of Rik & I too.
Its so funny when you talk to hikers and they are amazed that you are running the trails that they are hiking. I was kind of surprised with how many people we saw on the trail today considering how cold and windy it was. But everyone was so nice and friendly. Love it.

After we finished up at the lookout we continued uphill to the top to check out some more trails before turning around and headed back down. You can imagine how much fun it was going back down! Some of it was a bit to steep for me to run but much of it was just plain fun running!

We continued back towards the car and Rik taunted me in the last 1 1/2 mile to see if we could make it back to the car by a certain time. I told him to go ahead but I started cruising too. I thought I was cruising for awhile and looked down at my Garmin only to see that I had gone about 1/2 mile, lol. I slowed down just a bit but kept going. I didnt make it by his time but it gave me some incentive to try!

The run ended up being pretty good. My pace (4:28/13:24mm) was only slightly slower then the 20 miler last weekend. My knee has been letting me know that I need to pull back on my runs this week. Its not painful but I have felt this before and I know what I need to do. I didnt need any ibuprofen today so that was a positive. Just need to keep it in check.

EATS: During the run I ended up eating 2 GUs, 1/2 banana, 2 fig newtons, a few gummy worms, water and sips of Riks Gatorade. Probably 400+ calories. I felt like this was a good fueling day!

After the run we stopped at the grocery store for a few things and as soon as we walked in the door I saw this prepackaged pineapple! Several people told me that this was good for recovery and that fresh was best so I snatched it up. It was expensive so I hope it works. (it makes me think...when is pineapple in season?!)
I dont know yet if I think it works or not but I do know that it tasted delicious!

We have running plans for the next two weekends and then it will be a weekend of very little running for rest and recovery. But after that, I am super excited to head back and park even further north to explore even more trail. The Appalachian Trail does not disappoint this trail runner :)

Have you ever been on any part of the AT?


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Quick weekly recap.

RUNS: After my long run last Sunday I have been really trying to listen to my body and recover smart. So I ended up biking TWICE this week. Once at the gym and another time outside. I actually worked out at the gym TWICE this week with weights as well. Oh, and I ran!

I kept my runs pretty light. Both Tuesday and Wednesday were beautiful outside and I wanted to run longer then the 5 miles I had told myself I would. Tuesdays run ended up being the second fastest time of a particular trail loop that I do. And then Wednesday I ended up running over 8 miles just because I was having a great time and my legs felt good.

That was probably a mistake because I really felt those extra miles on Thursday and ended up doing more of a walk/jog sort of thing around the neighborhood.

Hopefully I learned and will do better with that next week ;)
Running at dawn is just worth the early start to the day.
Especially when there is just enough snow to make it so beautiful out.
EATS: I have been doing really good in this department as well. As of today I still have 8 days until the end of my second round of Dietbet and am on track to reach my goal again.

The only thing that threw me off was Valentines Day because of this....
The CAKE! Not the watch. That was my Valentine gift.
I think I had about 3 or 4 pieces of that sugar filled goodness!

But I am still on track probably because the rest of the week was also filled with lots o' veggie goodness....
Huge salad!
Vegan Chili
So overall this has been a very positive week. I even managed to run my second 20 miler today (Sunday) and will be back tomorrow to tell you about it. (I got me some pineapples) Oh joy!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The return of the Long Run.

RUNS: On Friday morning I ran 10.5 miles because there was a chance of snow from that huge Nemo blizzard that was to hit the East Coast. Lucky for us we were spared most of the snow and lucky for me I got an awesome run in. This is the fastest pace I have held on the road for this many miles. I was thinking of going for the full 13.1 to fulfill another of my virtual half marathons for the year but it wasnt meant to be.
So Saturday I ended up just doing some hot yoga with Rik, Shena, Renee and Rachel (the girl who broke her foot running with me for the first time). Her doctor said yoga would be a great way to regain the strength and flexibility on that side. And I agree. Yoga seems to be good for LOTS of things. It was a great session. The room was packed!

Then for my weekend long run that I have been anxiously awaiting! We headed down to Rockburn Branch Park in MD on Sunday. We ran here last year at around the same time and it was a great run. It is a 10k loop, very fast  and runnable. I thought it would be a great way to ease back in to the 20+mile run since there were no big climbs and we would pass the car with each loop incase I was done before the 20.

The run started out in the 20s and everything was frozen. Until we were done a few hours later it had warmed up and turned muddy.
This must be from loop 3 since I am carrying my water bottle. (see below)
A little section of sand and pine needles.
At least the mud held off until the last loop!
A pic of the mountain bike skills course they have at the park. I want to go back with my bike in the spring!
It was something new they added since we were here last year. It is closed in the winter.
Miles done!!
But not all of the miles were easy. I was on pace from my last years run for the first two loops but I let my hydration and nutrition slip away and couldnt catch back up. I knew it was happening....

I had a mini oatmeal cake (oatmeal, bananas, chocolate chips, walnuts, and topped with PB) before the run. I didnt take anything with me for loop one since it was only 10k. Got back to the car and had 1 Gu and however much water (not enough, mistake 1). Went out for loop two without anything either (mistake 2 and I knew it almost right away). I got thirsty and started to feel low at about mile 11. I knew I was getting behind. I didnt get anymore water or fuel until mile 12.5 back at the car. So I sucked down a bunch of water, banana, and one Gu (mistake 3, I KNOW I cant do all that at once). I should have done one or the other and then 1/2hr later do the other.

So I headed out for loop three with lead in my gut and no energy in my legs. But I had my water with me, lol. It took me most of the loop to get things back on track. Last stop a the car was 1 fig newton and more water.

I ended up fueling 21.5 miles (just over 4hrs) with 2 Gu, 1 banana, 1 fig newton (about 360 calories) and not enough water a the beginning. That actually might have been enough had I been able to fuel when I STARTED to feel it instead of having to wait a few more miles to get to it.

At mile 12.5 I was nearly on pace from last year and by the end of the run I was about 30 seconds per mile on average behind what I was last year. Lesson learned. Now time to recover and go from there.

Do you have any long run recovery tips that you swear by?!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Recovering well. Strong runs continue.

*Um yeah. This post is from last week and I am just now getting around to posting it. You are welcome ;)

RUNS: I took the day off after the half marathon but then ran the following two days. Surprisingly I continue to feel good and run strong. Of course I continue to slack in the hill department. I have been doing some but I really need to add more back in. Another thing I need to start adding back is the long run. I havent had a run longer then 16 miles in almost 7 weeks! It scares me more then anything. Not the long run itself but the recovery. My body just likes to take its time to recover after the long ones.
The water was higher then normal here on a VERY cold day. No choice but to get the feet wet!

Not my fastest time on this loop but felt great for the first run after the half marathon.

Didnt even know I did this until after the run when I was stretching.
EATS: Aka dinners. Because my breakfasts are nothing special I havent even taken a picture of them in quite some time. I mean, really....pancakes, mini oatmeal cakes, and whatever else I can scrounge up.

Actually, now that I think of it, my lunches really havent been photo worthy either! Pretty much the veggies, dip, fruit and snack as usual. Im not sure if it because I have been doing the Dietbet again and I pretty much know now what the general calories are of these meals or what. But they have been boring but delicious!
Mmm. Peanut Butter Tastykakes!
Dinners are another matter. They continue to vary everyday!
How about some Crispy Gnocchi with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms made very similar to that recipe.
Or how about the Zucchini Baked Ziti that we made on a Friday evening after coming home from a extremely cold run! It was the first time that we made this and I will say that it was so good that it will become a regular on our menu. We got home from the run and prepped it while still wearing our warm jackets because we were so cold. But then thru it in the oven to bake while we got our hot showers and came out to the amazing meal. It is even good as leftovers. None was wasted.
Another dinner fav seems to be this Apple and Tempeh Sandwich. Probably because it is another one that we can pop in the oven to bake while we shower after our runs. And then bam...ready to eat when we are done! I ate it with potato chips and grapes on the side.
I think I am about ready for some warm runs and cold food! I take that back. I love the cold runs but maybe just a bit warmer so that I can still feel all of my appendages when we are done!

Are you a cold or warm weather runner?


Monday, February 4, 2013

Squirrelly Tail Twail Run (1/2marathon-race report)

Before I started to write this years race report I had to go back and read last years report from the same race. Interesting what a difference a year makes. Last year was colder with a bone chilling wind. This year was only slightly warmer with temps still below freezing but we had an incredible amount of ice to deal with. Also, this year the course start was at a different location and the course itself was slightly different.

Rik & I got up at the oh so early time of 6am for a 10am race. I was less then thrilled about this but we needed to stop by the Starbucks store to pick up enough coffee to make 300 cold people warm/happy and all the supplies that go along with that.

We got to Pinchot at about 9am and set up the coffee. I checked in and got my bib. Then started chatting with a bunch of people. I couldnt believe how many of my friends were running the race that I didnt know about! For a local race, last year there werent as many. The word is out that this second year race is a good one.

Scott, the RD got us off to a quick start just after 10. He warned everyone of the ice and not even 200ft down the trail, a girl on my left slid onto her back with a thud. That kind of set the tone for the race. Lots of ice and some very cautious running! Oh, and many more of mother natures obstacles on the course this year. Alot of over, under and around things. Very cool.
Paul running in shorts in 22 degrees!
I started off running with Sue. She is usually faster then me but with the ice she needs to take it even more cautiously then normal. We stayed together for about the first 5 miles. We were running with a nice group of about 6 girls. Everyone was slipping and sliding on the trails but I saw no one fall immediately around me. At one point I was directly behind two girls and wanted to pass but every time I thought I could I would slip and slide and change my mind to just stay where I was. Eventually they moved to the side and I went around. We lost some of the girls at the water crossing (just taking longer to get across). I managed to make it across with dry feet. Woohoo! It was a different water crossing this year then last and it makes me wonder if the water was just to high at the other area. Its a very good possibility. Once we made it to the aid station at 6 miles I kept going while everyone else took their time there.
Josh- look at their great running form!
Im not sure how far I ran by myself but it felt good. I was just cruising along thinking about all of the kids that I was running for that day. The kids who cant run and I was running for them as much as myself. I cant explain how amazing it felt. As I was running I kept noticing swedish fish laying on the trail. It was as if someone was laying a trail of them. Hmm.

I eventually came up to the road crossing and back around onto the trail. This is where I met up with Carli & Vanessa. We were running together and chatting when Vanessa (who knows how much I adore gummies) asked if I saw the swedish fish on the trail. She said that she had tripped and her bag of candy went flying! Ha! No wonder they were all down the trail.
I shed the gloves, ear warmer, and jacket with in the first few miles!
I know that once I started running with them that we picked up the pace. I was having trouble keeping up but determined to do so! Neither of them wear a watch and had no idea how far we were. I knew I was getting tired because we were cruising a down hill and I felt like I wanted to walk. I didnt but I knew I must be getting tired to feel this way. I eventually told them that we had two more miles and that was when they both kicked it into high gear and took off. I couldnt keep up but I did manage to still pass two more people after that.

As I came out of the woods to the final stretch I could see that we had a long flat open stone trail. I decided to walk for a couple of seconds while talking to some guy wearing the YakTraks. He wasnt very happy with them and they sounded heavy. I started to run again. I rounded the last bend to see my friend Gary waiting for me. He started to yell for me to run to finish under 3hrs. He started to run with me and everyone at the finish line started yelling for me. Then he started to yell to pick it up and finish under 2:58. I dug down deep and ran across the line right about at the 2:58 mark.

I went and chatted with people, got some chocolate and headed back over to the finish line to cheer Sue in to the finish.
Even the first place guy had both knees busted up!
Eventually almost everyone was done except one more person out on the trail. We started to pack things up while waiting for him. He came around the bend and we all started cheering for him. He had a friend running him into the finish as well. It was so awesome and inspiring. He said that it was his first trail race and very first half marathon too. What an experience for a first one! He had the biggest smile on his face and said he cant wait to do it again.

That is what is all about folks. A great day running on the trails. Fun.

*My Garmin info last year was 12.4 miles/ 2:38 time/ 12:41 pace
                           this year was 13.08 miles/ 2:58 time/ 13:38 pace