Sunday, December 21, 2008

2X Currahee + Lake Russell = 16 mile victory

2X up currahee (i need the hills for my marathon) + Lake Russell trail = sixteen miles. a sixteen mile victory- Mileage victory.

Running up Currahee is my hill/mountain which never becomes easier - no matter how many times I run it. The first 1.5 miles have become easier, but the last 1.2 - still after many months running it is still so difficult. A typical run starts with fresh legs and this feeling continues until the bottom of the climbing section. There, the mountain steeply turns upward and the climbing begins. And, not just any climbing - often, in the beginning I wonder if I am going to be able to run to the top, i.e., finish the climb. Will I walk this time? Will I be able to "set it in cruiser gear" and make it to the top? Always, when I reach the top, I am bent slightly forward, my breathing is laborious and my legs feel like weights. This feeling does not quickly dissipate (as I always think it will) on the way down. In the beginning of the descent, it is steep; steep enough for your legs to do little work and for gravity to take over. But, the climb up has made me so weary that on the way down I am more tense - trying to make sure I do not trip on a loose rock.

In theme of victory, today I was able to (after a quick snack and sip on Powerade) to run this mountain 2X. Hopefully, this repetition will assist in my climb of Mt. Mitchell -

Friday, December 19, 2008


Brief comment on new routine:
Lately, I have started running during lunch on the weekdays. I have enjoyed this new switch because the traffic is lighter, my dog loves it, and it is nice to run when it is warmer out and without the fear of twilight coming.
However, yesterday, I was able to leave work early and run around the streets of one of the small towns in which I work. It was a great over 5 mile run (which I think will be the start from climbing out of the rut I have been in). I left my office after 4pm, and I headed up one street with a nice climb. I turned left and started on a more rural road toward the outskirts of town. This road was flat, and I was able to zone out and feel my legs moving quickly. And, around minute 20 after my legs had really warmed up, I started to feel a new feeling that had been absent in these recent weeks; a level of strength that seemed new. Instead of a more labored breathing; I felt similar to a person in really good shape - quick clip of the legs, soft breathing, and I am sure I was smiling.

One can surmise for minutes, hours or days why we have these runner highs (this one lasted until minute 50). Did we eat enough food today? Did we get enough sleep last night? Have the weekend double digit runs helped? Notwithstanding all these questions and obsessive compulsive thinking - the one thing that will remain in my memory is that feeling, which has been so absent these past weeks (yes this was an intentional repetition) of strength and enjoyment in contrast to previous runs, which felt like a dreaded activity rather than an enjoyed hobby.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Moving 40th Birthday Gift - Wow!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Paris Mountain Road Race

I look forward to seeing everyone on Sat!! I am excited for a good run!

Comment: Mind Matters - coping with injury

Upon receiving my "The Runaround;" I had to comment.

My posts have been more infrequent lately and my enthusiasm to run recently has declined. Have I been in a rut? Has the enjoyment of the constant plodding - become more of a dread? My surmise: the actual experience of training for a marathon vs. the initial hope.

The initial hope was styled as such: weekends full of running - anywhere everywhere - so many places I will have the opportunity to explore on foot. Time with my beloved Grendel; time with my beloved nature. Time with my thoughts - my own quiet time!
The reality has evolved as such: many hours away from my fiance, obsession with where am I going to run my double digits (small town and hunting season has decreased my available running space). And, frequent interruptions in my necessary running schedule.

To comment on Dr. Hammond's article - especially on the interruption in the running schedule - how frustrating this has become! If I miss a day - I am not too upset, but for example, my thanksgiving hiatus - really (in my mind) negatively impacted my running schedule!I was all prepared to be in Greenville running with fellow GTC members, but I ended up sleeping. I find, once i don't run for more than 1 day, my motivation decreases - am I genetically inclined for laziness? Am I a real runner?

For evidence to support the latter question: I can look to my history - 15+ years long distance running. Natural habit of running everyday. (Sufficient?)

SO -I rhetorically ask again - What has been the cause of this recent taking 2 or more days off a week?

Maybe there is no answer to this shift. Maybe it is for me to accept, quiet my mind and put on my running shoes and attempt to break this new unwelcomed habit. Or, in the spirit of Dr. Hammond - enjoy the extra hours in the day?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holiday effect - Hal Higdon would not be pleased

To all who have committed the sin of gluttony over thanksgiving, I have to say - you are in good company.

This thanksgiving was especially gluttonous for me - food and drink. After a stressful, stressful week with high productivity, I was relieved to have several days off to run (of course) and rest. However, although I succeeded at my rest goal, my running suffered. On Thursday, I was going to run, but since I don't cook, I snuck away to change into running clothes, but somehow, I ended up taking a 1.5 hr glorious nap, which included a session of drooling on the pillow. Later that evening, I drank too much wine and beer (which again is not a usual activity for me) and ate too much turkey. Although this combination should have created a sense of stupor and a great recipe for sleep, the two did not combine well, and I did not sleep until my alarm went off at 3:45am to attend Black Friday with my younger sister. (As some of you may remember from my previous posts - I am not a morning person) SO, this change in schedule, and fact that I did not sleep at all the night before, I ruined my chance at running on Friday. (oh and I had to entertain the future in-laws). Then, on Saturday, I was supposed to meet the fellow GTC members for the Paris Mtn run, but I was thwarted by my own choice to forget to set an alarm (probably a conscious decision), and I did not awake in time.

Needless to say this 3 day break was not good for the running schedule; Hal Higdon would NOT be pleased.

I recovered enough on Sunday to somehow squeeze 8 miles in but my stomach has never felt so nauseated and my legs have not ever felt so heavy.

I am glad to be back in the routine, and I now have a reason to avoid being too gluttonous during the rest of the holiday season.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lift; crunch. Lift;crunch. repeat. repeat; only 50 more

Lift; crunch. Lift;crunch. repeat. repeat; only 50 more.

This post is a support writing for all those (such as myself) who hate stomach crunches (or some other form of repetitive focused activity such as weight lifting); who dread walking into an aerobics (or some variation thereof) and hearing that the last 10 minutes of class will be devoted to abs (or just hate doing anything besides running, but if I could drop a footnote here - I LOVE spin class; such a challenge). I have tried my whole life to enjoy doing ab exercises. I think I once even took a class devoted to abs. Needless to say, at the end of the class, I went on a long run to relax.

Notwithstanding the strong emotion tied to doing repetitive focused activities such as crunches, on Monday or Wednesday nights, I target the areas that running cannot - such as the abs, the triceps. In these classes, my activities usually resonate between being bored and watching the clock obsessively. So, you, the careful and detailed reader - may wonder - why do I keep going back to these dreaded activities. Well, I can only answer you this - concern for the loss of muscle to the areas above my waist? Or, just plain need for variety? (the last educated guess is automatically stricken based on the fact that I have been running for 15+ years; my arguments for need for variety are squashed by my obvious daily running routine).

With my recognition of the benefits of cross-training and having a strong core (thanks - FIRST training) - I will concede to keeping my weekly workouts consisting of ab and other workouts, which I will do for the overall benefit of my body.

Looking forward to a (possible) paris mtn training run

(this post assumes a training run for Paris Mtn on Sat)
To all those who plan on being there on Sat to run a training run up Paris Mtn (via the road) - we will have an enjoyable couple of hours. The weather will be cool (hopefully not the sub-freezing temps we have had up here in NGA), and the traffic will be less (b/c of holiday - or wait does that cut against my argument?). But, in sum, it will provide us a nice way to pound out too much wine or turkey.

I hope to sneak in a pre-thanksgiving dinner run (we usually eat later) to expand my appetite, but Friday will probably be a rest and relax day after the intoxicating and sedating mix of turkey and wine from Thanksgiving.

So, cheers to us all for giving up a morning with family and loved ones for the unrelenting cold black road with a hint of exhaust!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday at Currahee

After a week of pavement and "city" (Toccoa, GA) exploration, the weekend of trails was a welcome relief.
Saturday morning: 8+ miles in the Lake Russell area. Legs felt a little sore but I did not have the zombie-esque reaction of last weekend.
Sunday morning (albeit - 10:00am) run was a novel experience - a gentle jog?
Brief history of my relationship with Currahee: running this mountain ( the bar torture ended (7/31). Since August, Currahee has been a weekly destination. It has provided many benefits: relief from the heat (always 5+ degrees cooler there); training ground for the Curahee challenge and other hilly runs. Before the time change, every Wed or Thurs, I would leave work in Toccoa and drive over to Curahee. Often, the last .25 miles would involve a prayer for relief; my throat would burn; my legs would request to stop. And, I would give in and start walking. Then, one afternoon in September, the voices of disdain were less vocal, and my ears heard the sounds of the birds and the leaves fluttering in the wind. And, I did not stop; I ran to the top of the mountain. Since that summit, my experience at Curahee has changed; it has become one of my favorite mountains to climb - a strenuous 1+ mile to the summit - so extreme that you must plan how the earlier 2+ will be run.
My enjoyment of Currahee has (summitted?) progressed to my earlier reference - to a gentle jog. What provided for such an enjoyable morning on such an arduous climb? Maybe it was last weekend's exhausted plodding of 15 miles, which left the door open for enjoyment of previously difficult runs? Or, just the accumulation of many different types of runs? Or, the open winter view of Stephens County?

This morning's run will be on the list for a Top Ten.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My longest run ever and so much pain

So, many of you - I am sure have experienced this feeling. You are running - you are on a long run (or maybe sometimes a shorter run), and all of a sudden - your entire body hurts from waist down. Maybe it starts in the front of your knees, or in your hamstrings, or maybe if you are really having a good day, such as I had on Saturday, it will start in your lower back.

My great friends (and amazing trail marathon runners) drove down from Asheville to accompany me on my first 15 mile trail run. They were patient (I was already feeling tired), and we embarked to run ALL three trails at one time. Although some of you may be wondering how I reached the sum of 15 miles from the earlier description - you have to run on the road some to access Ladyslipper & Sourwood and then run some to access Lake Russell. With that rough quantitative analysis completed, I will proceed to the qualitative description of my body's decline around mile 13.

We were doing well; I had slowed down; we were finishing the run on the Lake Russell trail; we had just completed the Ladyslipper trail, so we were tired from doing much climbing, but we were still running - when all of a sudden my knees started having shooting pains, my hamstrings tightened which spread to my lower back, and I was stopped short and thrown over - I felt as though I was going to break in two. I was in so much pain; pain I had not ever experienced before. Immediately, my mind started racing - I have run many miles and for many years(since I was 14) without injury. I am not prone to injury; however, on Saturday, I felt as though my whole body had a meeting without consulting my mind and decided to shut down. I stopped running; I walked. While these thoughts were racing through my head, my companions reminded me that my body was not used to this distance, that these feelings were normal, that each subsequent run will be easier, but I just stood there. How could I feel this much pain just from running? An activity I have done for over 16 years; I love to run; my joints don't mind; my knees usually don't mind. And yet, and yet on Saturday morning - all my assumptions had been shattered. I cannot think of analogy to help depict the image of me bent over trying to fight the pain - Wonder woman becoming human? A person becoming a zombie? (a little extreme...)

How am I supposed to run 11 more? (11.2?) Oh yeah, it gets easier...

Recommendation of running area in the Chattahoochee National Forest in N. GA

Since I moved from Athens to N. GA, many of my long trail runs have been at the Lake Russell Recreation Area in the Chattahoochee National Forest not far from the town of Mt. Airy. I highly recommend this area if anyone, for example, drives north on 365/23 from Gainesville, GA to Asheville, NC. There are three main trails there that I have found: Lake Russell, Ladyslipper and the Sourwood trails. These trails are approximately 4.7, 6.2 and 2.7 miles in length, respectively. I have run each independently numerous times, and several times I have run a combination of two out of three.

Brief description of each:
Lake Russell: 4.7 rolling trail following the circumference around the lake. Several access points from the main road that goes through the recreation area
Sourwood: 2.7 hilly trail (great for warmup) through a scenic part of the area. Access is the first left (group camping) from the main road. Then follow the signs
Ladyslipper: Very Hilly. First mile is climbing. then rolling hills, and then the next to last couple of miles have to climb out of valley. Great run, but always exhausts me!

With this background, the next post will describe my first 15 mile run! EVER!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Time Change - switching a comfortable running schedule

As you all may have noticed, the days are now very short. This event has greatly impacted my running schedule. I no longer can leave work at my leisure and start my running routine. Now, I must quickly finish work, throw on my running shoes and leave out the door and (usually) run wherever I am working that day (I travel my circuit as a law clerk). I run pavement; daily runs on pavement. The pavement used to welcome me when I lived in Athens and Greenville, but since I have moved to this rural area, I have started to enjoy the trails. Now my trail adventures are limited to the weekend.

So, the meticulous reader could ask - why don't you wake early in the morning and run before work - go the trails? To this I will answer: I do not enjoy anything (except for sleeping) before 10:00am. Brief aside: when I lived in Greenville, I would wake before work and run around my neighborhood off of Pelham Road, but it was one of the most dreaded times of the day. I tried to change my schedule to accommodate this early morning activity; I would go to bed before 9:00pm; drink green tea to wake me up; have some food before running; lay out my running clothes; any method to trick my body into waking up (enjoy the morning silence; the lovely clean morning air), but my body was not convinced. So, since that attempt, which lasted over a year, there have been other quasi-attempts at running in the morning. With this rambling, I will conclude and wonder - how will I reach my level of required mileage when I cannot run before work? I can only curse my unfortunate genetic make up.

Notwithstanding the earlier conviction, I (again) have vowed to start next week with waking up 1 morning a week to run; to relieve the stress I feel trying to leave work early to run. Cheers to early morning unhappiness! (I applaud the morning runners; please send me some of your talent and motivation)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A surprise win -

In comment to my last post where I complained about my lack of training - perhaps it was the rest that carried me to victory on Saturday in the Paris Mountain Trail Run(?) Those who monitor and record with precision their training - I applaud you.

Since I stopped formally running competitively, winning has become this infrequent and enjoyed surprise. Moreover, more recently, I have had a difficult time predicting how I will perform at a race.

My training does not consist of speed work or any other formal exercises. I would rather run up a steep mountain - over and over - then be on a track (I applaud those who routinely do track workouts). I do record my miles, but these are guesses because most of my training is done in the national forest. I have seemed to have adopted the minimalist approach of: shoes, a watch, a dog and some trails (although I am trying to follow Hal Higdon's guide to keep me on track for the marathon). But, upon reflection, this lack of formality or structure to my training is frustrating. It would be enjoyable to have a more accurate idea of how I am going to perform in race, or how fast to run each mile. Since I have not trained with a coach for a long time, many of these skills have seemed to disappeared.

Any thoughts from those who have been able to predict their performance (albeit not perfectly) with some consistency?

Friday, November 7, 2008

My favorite canine companion

This is Grendel; he is almost 9 months old, and he is the best running partner! He loves to wink ;)

Tomorrow's enjoyment will be the pancakes!!

Tomorrow morning I will run the Paris Mountain Trail Run.

When I lived in Greenville, Paris Mountain was a weekly destination. I loved running the Sulphur Springs trail and especially attempting the large hill up to the highest parking lot. Moreover, since moving to Demorest, I have committed myself to running a marathon up a Mt. Mitchell- so shouldn't the combination of these two factors, my knowledge of the course and my training schedule, prepare me for a PR (of sorts)? Unfortunately not. Since I was sick two (or more) weeks ago, again, my desire for my longer and hillier runs has not refueled. Perhaps tomorrow's less than ideal performance will convince me to tackle my favorite hills here (again)...

Of course, notwithstanding a less than ideal performance, the pancakes will taste most delicious.

Monday, November 3, 2008

beginning serious cross-training

Since I finished taking the GA bar this summer, I have resisted being inside unless forced to (eg b/c of work). However, with the recent time change and shorter days, I no longer can deny that much of my marathon training will (may) be inside. In fact, today I will formally add spin to my marathon schedule (I have done some yoga, etc). Although I enjoy spin, recently, most of my marathon training has been in the Chattahoochee national forest with my dog. Our weekly afternoon schedule is as follows: I leave work promptly at 5pm; I run home; I grab Grendel, put him in the front seat, and we are off. But, today, I will leave work promptly at 5pm and drive to another building to sit on a bike for an hour while being loudly encouraged by an enthusiastic instructor (for which I am grateful, but quasi-resentful because the person is so happy). I know it is inevitable, and on my Hal Higdon intermediate training (, but I was still blindly hoping for more afternoons to watch the leaves fall.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Countown until the end of my Birthday and the marathon

The marathon is February 28, 2009. My birthday will end in 30 minutes (EST).

I stared down the calendar and recounted and recounted the weeks until the marathon - only 17 more (my average). Since having a quasi-flu last week, which pushed me off my schedule, it has been harder to bounce back - mentally and physically - from what was once an easier activity - running. Before feeling so sick, I would grab my dog, my keys, my watch, and I would be out the door. Now, I have to sit myself down and give myself the pep talk, which could include the more forceful: "You signed up for the marathon - you have to" - or the desperate pleading "You will feel sooo much better physically and mentally after you have your daily dose of 'Runner high.'" Notwithstanding all the efforts to beg myself to cooperate, this week has been filled with only 3-4 mile triumphs followed by a begging for more sleep. I probably am still sick, but I hope this weekend will show me mercy and new found inspiration to start climbing the way up to 26.2

My birthday!!! I am 30 - isn't my endurance supposed to increase?

This year is an exception in many ways. I got engaged; I am turning 30, and tomorrow I will know if I can practice law in Georgia. But, most importantly, my birthday this year is an exception because I will not do my usual long, long run. Usually, my favorite activity on my birthday is to leave all my commitments early and go somewhere for a long time (for me 1-2 hrs) by myself with only my surroundings and a good pair of running shoes as companions. This alone time gives me an opportunity to reflect on the past year's events and my choices.

But, today, I do not foresee that happening. Today, there is the usual shorter day of work, but the running will be replaced by packing for the weekend and sitting at home with my human and canine companions. But, for this unusual year, these activities are apropos and I will be be present and thankful for the long distance I have come.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tearing up while reading - "Running a Marathon for a Fallen Teammate"

Each day I feel so fortunate that my knees have not given out, my heart has not given out, and that I can have an hour or so to myself to pound out the work stress on the pavement, or go to the woods with my pup and get lost staring at the changing leaves.

So glad the fallen teammate's family (and especially his new wife) have so much support.

February 28, 2009 - my 1st marathon

On Saturday, February 29, 2009, I will be running the Black Mountain marathon (running up Mount Mitchell). This is my first marathon ever; this is my first blogging effort, and I will use this beginning post as the starting point to track my progress and pain.