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.