Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Comment and question

When I run any distance less than about 20 miles I only carry a small water bottle with me - with some Shaklee performance in it; 2 fruit leathers, and a cliff bar.

Generally, I don't get dehydrated or that hungry. I tend to drink a lot of water during the week (well try to); and the night before and the morning before, I really eat A LOT. Actually, really the 2 days before, I start upping my calorie intake. Then, after I finish my long run, I eat again, a lot of food.

I am on the fence about a 50k in western, NC (well assuming I get in). And, there is little aid - advice? I am looking at Camelback packpacks - maybe the "CamelBak Octane XC 70 oz Hydration Pack." I do have a camelback - fanny pack, but it is annoying and ride up (I have very narrow hips).

Thoughts??? I know - I need to hang out with more ultra runners - hahaha! to learn

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Relatively high mileage weekend

Saturday morning I woke up early to run Grendel before we did our Saturday volunteering. It was a horrific attempt. My mental and physical resistance was winning until Grendel ran up to me with his tail wagging, and I relented. To increase my motivation, I tried coffee and a small snack, but to no avail.

I stumbled down our driveway to start running. My legs were weights; they would not move; my pace slowed until I I was prodding along with grendel pulling my arm; my breathing was laborious. Anyone who saw me probably had empathy for someone who appeared so out of shape. [I think it was because I tried to start running before 8am].

Contrast that experience with Sunday. My run started around 1pm; i was on trails; the sun was relatively high; I started with gloves and a hat, but these were shed quickly. Grendel was by my side (most of the time), and we managed to run almost all the trails in the area to a cumulative approximately 17 mile run -victorious!

These experiences reinforce my knowledge of when I run better: afternoon!!!!!! (but I make exceptions, often, so i don't have to run by myself)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Week of good pavement quick runs

This morning my legs felt slightly stiff, and I did not want to get out of bed. (well the getting out of bed - I really like to sleep, so that is a per usual). My thoughts drifted back to review the runs of the week on pavement at a quick pace (my dog likes to sprint):
Tuesday: 50 minutes
Wednesday: 55 minutes
Thursday: 55 minutes
Tonight: (if my running friend does not bail) 60+ minutes

This will be a good mileage week. I will have to sleep some to get ready for some good trail miles this weekend. My recent goals: over 20 miles on weekends to prepare for some good marathons.

Will register for Twisted ankle - after the new year!!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009 - Grendel looking towards TN

Grendel and I are at the top of a Bald in Western, NC over 5000 feet with views of Grandfather, Mt Mitchell, TN, the app trail - really one of my favorite places.

Nov 2009 - Western North Carolina - heading up the Shut in trail

Lovely day - heading up the shut in trail in western, NC. Lovely trail that crosses the blue ridge parkway several times on the way to Mount Pisgah!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Good GUTS party & low mileage weekend

After a 40 mile week two weeks ago, last week did not provide such success. The stresses were high, and my motivation to run was low. After several not enough sleep nights, I rolled into the weekend exhausted and unmotivated. So, I retreated to the couch. Saturday consisted of morning volunteering, and then some more activity (not running), and then the couch for netflix watch instantly bad movies & popcorn. There, I rested. Then, Sunday I mustered up enough energy to go the gym and run 7 miles on a treadmill. Out of character - but variety is good, right? At least Dirty Jobs was on & an MSNBC special about catching con artists.

Although I will probably not run tonight (need to plan my yoga class), Monday is usually a rest day anyway...

TO end: Great GUTS party on Sunday!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I can rationalize my not going over 2 hours to Greenville to one of my favorite races, or I can accept my human limitations. After a brutal week, and an opportunity to network last night, I came home relaxed and ready for sleep. The alarm went off; I looked up; reached my arm out and ended the noise.

I have to say - I am bummed, of course. I love the paris mountain road race with its 4 miles of climbing and then downhill and cruise to the finish. Again, as has been the theme, this week - ugh to life, which interferes with my favorite activity.

Next week should be more manageable, and the running should settle into its usual importance and focus in my life.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Smooth 6 miles last night

Last night's run was eventful, and, further, concreted my schedule of running Tuesday, and then Thursday through Sunday (so rest days on Mon & Wed - the nights i teach yoga - more on this soon). The run was an hour of exploring the streets of one of the small towns where I work. There is a meandering road, which quickly takes you away from the "hustle and bustle" of the small downtown to quiet streets and sparsely placed houses. There is a hill before the turn around - maybe 200 yards to the top, but good place to hustle up to keep the legs warm and the body churning heat. It was cold yesterday!

The Greenville, SC race is on the horizon tomorrow morning...We shall see if I make it after a Gainesville Bar Party tonight. I have been trying to catch up on sleep this week, but alas I am sleep deprived, so the sleep may win tomorrow morning when my alarms starts buzzing at me around 5:30am. And, if I could here, I would drop a footnote - I am not a morning person. not a morning person. One more time, I am not a morning person.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stress (physical, emotional, work, sickness, etc) and running

I have posted on this topic before.

As I also have posted, I love to run; I love the feel of any type of surface under my feet; I try to straighten my back, and with each step all my disappointments and stresses fade away. But, there are some days, where the week has just kicked me down so far, and I cannot muster the energy to lace up my shoes. This week has been one of those weeks: with a large memo due Tuesday, I was set up for a low mileage week.

Sometimes I wish I had a Phd in some useful science, eg kinesiology, or worked with professional athletes, so I could understand at a deeper level how the stress, eg from work, affects my running. (Or, in the alternative, how my previous week, etc etc affects my running). Today, for example, the weather is beautiful; the sky is blue, the air is chilled, and the trees are waiving me to come and run. But, my body is begging me otherwise. My physical self is screaming: go home after work; lie down with a book after a big comatose inducing dinner and relax. Relax all your muscles and breathe and then sleep many hours. But, there is my mind - it is a powerful unit of persuasion - you should run; it will relax you and reinvigorate you; it is beautiful outside - it torments me with "I want I want." But, my physical self is hunching over the desk and trying to concentrate on reading a case.

Then, my mind skips to my runs last week and weekend: they were easy fast jaunts on any surface and up any incline. My night running was fast and invigorating and prepared me for sleep. Not this week. My night run last night was slow and laborious. My legs were heavy; my back kept hunching over, and it was an effort to squeeze in 4 miles.

And, as the icing on the cake, I have one of my favorite races this weekend, and I was hoping for my usual age prize, but this year, I hope to finish with a reputable time. Ugh to life interfering with my favorite activity...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ode to the ups and downs

Today, I went running in Northeast Georgia in a rather flat place. It was a smooth and lovely 12 miles. Grendel ran well on a leash (heavy mountain bike traffic), and I sauntered along behind him. When I finished, I was not that hungry; my legs were not sore, and I was not completely trashed - ah the benefits of the flats. (sometimes this is a nice respite from - see pics to the left - my preferred running grounds in Western NC)

It is forecasted to be a cold & wet winter....

Friday's run was lovely. The air was not too cold around 5pm; the streets we chose were quiet, and there was good conversation. To repeat, most importantly, the temperature was not too cold. I did not have to wear gloves (I did wear a hat), and when I returned home, I was not too cold.

Contrast that description with my Saturday jaunt. Similar to Friday, it was late afternoon when we went, but we still had time for over an hour run. The sun was lower on the horizon; I was wearing gloves, a hat, and layers on the top. Now, as usual, I did not get cold while i was running, but my fingers did (I have that disorder (disease?) where your fingers turn white then a blackish color). I did sweat (what does Les Stroud - Survivorman you sweat you die) - uh oh. When I finished, I thought - I am cold. Really. So, I put on my Mountain Hardwear puff jacket (thank you Frugal Backpacker in Asheville), and we turned on the heat in the car. But, when I got home, realized - I was still cold. So, I began a warm up process: the removal of sweaty running clothes, hot shower, warm food, Patagonia long john's and blanket.

Is this the natural process after a run in the cold? I remember: I ran 2 hours in the snow at over 5000 feet last week while in Western, NC? I enjoyed that, but I think when I stopped running - I, yes, was cold - I have to say I miss the fall 60 degree days.

It is going to be a long winter for me...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Night Running"

I used to run at night in Boulder. After a long day on campus, I loved to run around the city at night. I remember, after I would finish my run, hearing tales of crimes against women on the streets where I had just run, but these stories did not deter me from my nightly outings. I loved the darkness and the clear sky (Boulder has many days of no rain), and the cars and dodging the people walking and the other obstacles...

Taking these memories, I tried to re-create this sense of wonder on the streets Monday night. I suited up in warm (and of course dark clothes) and leashed Grendel, and off we went. We cruised up and down the rolling streets, under streetlamps and around blind turns. This time there were more nerves than I remember... I surmised it was because - there were less people, less cars, less streetlamps, less . . . But, maybe it was just because I am not in my early 20's and as brave? Regardless, it was enjoyable; the moon was full; the streets were quiet, and there are advantages to less people and dogs out - less reasons for Grendel to pull my arm strongly.

I think I will try it again...

Monday, November 30, 2009


Thanksgiving - a time of sharing & of course, trail running. Many hours of trail runnning.

While the other women cooked (I am on clean up duty with the men), I took to the trails. I ran for hours, and then would hike later that day or in the evening.

More description to come. Western North Carolina - I thank you for your high mountains and opportunity for lots of climbing...
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Signed up for the Red top Rumble

Whoo hoo! Signed up for the Red Top Rumble. Sounds fun!!!

Please give feedback on Trail - really hilly?? What other tidbits can yall tell me

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Contemplating an ultra

I am contemplating a local ultra (preferably in GA) - any suggestions? What about sweetH2O 50k

I love very hilly trail runs with scenic views...


Really (and repeat)

Really - another unfortunate plug for the book Born to Run - since reading the aforementioned book, my enjoyment of running has increased; my relaxation while running, I know, is evident.

My run last night provides anecdotal evidence of the success of applying lessons from Born to Run. Sunday night I had a difficult time falling asleep (i blame a later than usual consumption of caffeine). I woke up on Monday morning dreading work and tired. Somehow I struggled through the day and really wanted a run despite my tiredness. I left work and went to the town of Demorest, GA for some small town loops. Applying the tricks of the Book (although I did have a pair of trail running shoes - i am not to the barefoot stage yet), I piled on some layers of clothing and started running. Usually, when I run after work, I am tired, stressed, and ready to be done with the run. Last night was different. My shoulders were relaxed; my breathing was consistent and my eyes were open and clear. On hills, I tried keeping my back straighter and moving forward on the balls of my feet as compared to letting my posture fall and just plodding up. I tried smiling more and envisioning the tarahumara running Leadville and laughing and enjoying themselves - this image also helped (even when the little Dachshund tried to bite me). Really, not to repeat myself too often - it was a great run. I finished over 5 miles, and then went and taught yoga, and then to the gym with the Husband.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Next time - pay the registration fee

After a hard week - an hour on any surface is welcoming and has become my custom. Usually, Friday, I leave work and race home to put on my tennis shoes and grab my anxious dog, Grendel for an hour anywhere.

Then, usually, on Saturday, I rest. But, this Saturday, my good friend convinced me to lace up and race a 5k with her. Since I have limited income, I am choosy about what races to run, so I decided not to pay the registration fee and just run. My thoughts were: I have not raced in a while, I won't do well - the usual self-defeatist labels. However, this Saturday I won for women overall. Whooops - I forgot to calculate my recent reading of Born to Run - which had caused me not to replace my lost watch; my new desire to run faster than usual when I am feeling good; training at altitude (including the treacherous 18 mile Shut-in race); and lots of caffeine that morning. Pre-race my mind did incorrect calculations, and I had forgotten that I can race well, sometimes.

With this background, an outsider would have assumed I would not performed well; however, my body and mind were in parallel that after the first mile when my lungs were breathing well, ie,I could still talk, and my legs had the ideal turnover, and I took off. I left my friend and several men and ran; I ran like I had no time to beat and every time to beat; I ran as though this was the most fun I had had in a while; my breathing kept smooth - my legs did start screaming towards the end - from the lack of training for this type of torture, and then I had to drop out before the very end, but I knew I had run fast and well. I enjoyed the feeling at the end of a good race regardless of a trophy or verbal recognition. But, next time, I may register... Or, not... Have to save my money for the good races - Red top Rumble?!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quick week runs

Again - another plug for Born to Run; I really don't want to read it too quickly; each chapter is inspiring. When I read it at night, I become so excited to lace up my shoes (although there is all this research about how better it is for you to not run with shoes) and pound any surface - pavement, trail - anywhere - just to be outside (preferably) and moving. As I blog before, with each step - the stress of work seems farther away. Reading this book, really, has reinforced my love to run. Run - anywhere and anytime.

So, with those thoughts in mind - last night, I only had a moment before the in-laws were coming, so I grabbed Grendel, and we pounded down the leafy driveway until the paved trail and around the neighborhoods. The misty rain kept us cool, and Grendel's energy kept the pace high.

Today, I will pound more pavement, unfortunately without Grendel, but it will be a stress reliever and a focus exercise before I teach yoga tonight.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Yeah man!" - the long legged blonde

Climbed to the highest point in Georgia (well - ran) with my favorite running partner - a long legged blonde - ha! My favorite running partner has a higher tolerance for pain. After racing 16 miles on tough trails in western North Carolina on Saturday, she called me and invited herself down to Georgia on Sunday, so we could run up Brasstown Bald.

Having quasi-rested legs, my desire to run was high. And, the 68 degree weather and sun fueled this desire. We ran the Jack (name?) knob trail going up one side of the road, then we re-fueled and tackled Brasstown Bald, which was on the other side. Knowing that she was pushing me, I tried my new method of tackling hills with switchbacks. I ran hard on the straight and would walk the curves up; this worked pretty well! I kept up a solid pace and felt strong. But, then when we reached the paved area to the tower, she took off. Those long legs galloped up to the tower with me huffing and puffing behind her wondering what happened to her earlier statement - "oh we will walk this part." Reaching the top gave me a chance to catch my breath (notwithstanding the altitude) and drink in the panorama view - assisted by the loss of trees and clear blue skies.

Then, we went back down the trail towards the car only to repeat the other part of Jack's knob again. Eventually, my legs gave out (and hers did too), and we retreated down towards Hiawassee for some coke & pizza.

Really an unforgettable 14.5 (or so) miles!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Born to Run

To try and not start a stereotypical plug for a book -but Born to Run really has exceeded my expectations.

For example, last night, I got in bed early and was reading and reading this book, and I felt as though I was on the Leadville 100 course witnessing all that was happening (must admit here - my dream is to one day do this race; I LOVE this type of running, but it also frightens me - as my friend Hayley can attest; (I get bad nerves before races)). And, this morning I got out of bed easily before the alarm and kept thinking about how I could just get the day's work done and then - I could run; it did not matter where; it only mattered that there was a place to run and an hour to do it. I really just want to feel each step this afternoon as a thank you for the ability to run -

Really everyone who loves to run & who appreciates the long distance - should read this book.

So, this afternoon, as I often repeat, I will lace up my shoes and head out of the government building towards a rural road where some silence will fill my mind as I clear of the day's stress and burdens.

Ode to running!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sleep, sleep and more sleep

Sleep. Unfortunately, on weekends where I have big runs, I don't sleep well on Friday or Saturday night. Friday night - I have nerves; Saturday night - after a saturday morning race- my body is too worn out, yet too full of adrenaline (still?) to sleep.

When I returned Monday, I still had not crashed from the weekend. Monday night: ran over 3 miles; taught a 1 hr + yoga class; and lifted weights with the husband. Then, I crashed around 10pm. On Tuesday, work was difficult. Each word I typed on the keyboard was the result of much effort and many thoughts of "keep typing don't stop; keep typing." Then there was the hunger. Packing my lunch Tuesday morning, I did not anticipate the hunger that would grab me and pull at my stomach ALL day; the hunger would not let go. not after lunch or after the subsequent snacks. I went home Tuesday after work, and I was still starving. I proceeded to relax on the couch with an oversized bowl of chili & crackers, and I ate and ate until I had to set the bowl down. Then, the tiredness followed the full stomach. Not the tiredness I was used to after eating a large meal; this tired was different; it was debilitating; my head and upper body fell over on the couch to a horizontal position. There I stayed for an hour until I picked up my exhausted limbs and moved slowly to the bed where I proceeded to stay until 7am Wednesday morning. This morning, I am still tired. My mind and body feel rested, yet there is still this slowness to my starting projects (hence my updating my blog) and moving from destination to destination.

I can only hope that this feeling will subside before another double digit run this weekend (though not in Chattanooga - good luck david!!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Recovery is nice

Last night was a nice recovery. Pavement abounds, but with good slow hills to loosen up the tight muscles. 35 minutes on this loop provided a good release from the stress at work & a return to sanity before making the drive back to Gainesville.

On Mondays & Wednesdays I teach yoga, which again provides more release for the tightness.

Trying to figure out the next "race" to run - preferably under 20 miles - not at the ultrarunners level yet... Maybe the Paris Mountain Road Race... Or, the double header in Madison, GA...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wow - long time no post

Avoidance is my excuse; avoidance of training for the recent 18 mile 4000+ feet of elevation run I just ran (11/7); avoidance of posting. Something crawled in my system successfully prevented me from properly training and typing.

Quick overview - pictures to come - weather was beautiful; we had great car support; and I finished it under 3 hrs 47 minutes with little training - one of those lucky days! I am tired, but more excited to run now!!!

Today will be quick & short... Posting will be more frequent, and I am going to add my name to more races -

Friday, October 9, 2009

Week of pavement - eye on the woods

As I have previously posted, my weekdays are filled with pavement pounding & grendel on a leash pulling me at warp speed. Interestingly enough, I have accepted this new routine & am looking more closely at adding a Tuesday night track workout (ha I really say this at least once a month; i am in denial). But, to add a positive perspective - when I do hit the trail on the weekends, I breathe more deeply and look for subtle changes since the previous weekend.

This weekend I will be heading to NC to really see some significant leaf change and insert some altitude into my training.

Happy friday!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

running in the double digits again

Now that wedding planning is over, I can divert that energy into running in preparation for my 18 mile run (not race), which will include about 4000 feet in elevation change. And, perfect timing too - because fall has slowly and bedgrudingly arrived in Northeast Georgia.

On Sunday, we drove up to the National Forest in Northeast Georgia to run some hills & go over the double digit mark for mileage. I, being very out of shape, suffered along up the hills, but fortunately, I had slept a LOT this weekend, so I could run with my friend on the downhill & flat parts. We ran up and down the trails stopping so grendel could get water and dip his feet in streams.

Overall, it was a lovely return to trail running and being out running for over an hour. The return was welcome & future weekend adventures are events to look forward to.

Happy FALL

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wedding Joy - exchanging of the rings in Black Mountain, NC

Transition back to running

To anyone who has ever planned a wedding without a wedding planner & on a low budget - you will have empathy.

The last month before the wedding was spent deep in planning with my mother; my amount of stress increased; my amount of quality sleep decreased, and, consequently, my mileage decreased, and decreased and finally leveled off to 0 by last Thursday (before the wedding)

We had our wedding weekend; it was amazing; so much good food & drink & supportive friends and family - the weekend surpassed any expectations I had. But, after the wedding, as before the wedding, sickness came over me, and I have not run since last Wednesday! I think this is one of the longer stretches I have had without running. The lapse has not been without effort to run.

On Tuesday, of this week, for example, the weather was beautiful; cool breeze; bright and cloudless skies, yet I was so exhausted, the thought of even running a mile resulted in nausea. This pattern continued, which I tried to prevent by going to sleep extra early, but to no avail. Finally, last night - I took a good walk with Grendel, and I think I tried to run for about 200 yards; I achieved my goal, and I think I am ready to re-enter the world of running.

This weekend I will hit trails on sunday, but they will be slow, and I will, uncharacteristically, try to avoid the hills

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rain, Rain go away

Usually, I enjoy the rain; it provides a cool relief to the Southeast's smothering heat. Yesterday, was no exception, but excess is not always welcome.

Yesterday, we battled our way up through the respective counties until we reached Clayton, GA. There, we went to the Black Rock State Park to do a good (some good climbing) around 8 mile trail (we added some distance for the nice lookout - minus the chicken plant view). It has some good climbing in several places without the pain or the distance of the Coosa. Enjoyable! But, the rain; the rain. It rained the whole time; no break. Fortunately, we had forest canopy cover & limited exposure, so it was tolerable, but the trails had become small creeks. Our feet were wet; the gore tex could not provide a barrier to the wetness. We were loud sloshing slow runners (many slippery roots & rocks).

But, overall it was enjoyable. We were out there for about 2 hrs (grendel needs water Breaks) and the waterfalls & rivers were rushing. Really spectacular & a rare view in these times of drought.

But, I think I am ready for a little blue sky even if for 5 minutes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Looking forward to some days off

A week from tomorrow I will be a betrothed woman. I will wear the rings and be committed. To celebrate, i am taking off a week to plan, be busy & get my nails done (already done the hair). And, I will have more time to run & Grendel will be with me.

I will spend most of the week before the wedding in Greenville, SC, which is one of my favorite cities in which to run. The roads are hilly; there is an awesome state park, and you can take off any in any direction (in several parts of town) and find a challenging 10 mile + route where you can browse the soft houses and large trees. I miss my long runs there.

But, today, I will still be in Gainesville, so I will have my usual long pavement day, which begins with the friend & chatter. After she leaves, I will take off again to really help me relax for the weekend, so I can rest tomorrow and be prepared for a long trail run on Sunday.

I like the weekends...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Getting back into the "run" of things

Keeping in optimal trail running shape has been difficult this summer notwithstanding the usual longer nights.

My weeks are full of pavement; I am getting married in a week (lots of stress there); i caught a flu bug (no i am not sure if it was H1N1; i got better quickly), and I stopped running for a while. Now, I feel out of shape, and I have a gnarly 18 miler north of Asheville to finish (maybe) in November (the weekend after my birthday). I will need to step up the miles on the weekends.

Fridays I enjoy long runs with other Gainesvillians - again on pavement, but the comraderies is enjoyable; people are out walking in the park, and we chatter chatter. But, I sometimes will be out running for around 2 hours if I can... Saturday I rest, and Sunday I hit the hills.

Slow recovery; slow recovery -

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Attacks on trails

Recently, another woman was attacked this time - on the Suwanee trail.

News such as this and hearing about other attacks on trails in North Georgia have kept me close to home and on the pavement (not saying it is always safe, but....).

I attended undergraduate university in Colorado, and I don't remember tales such as this. Maybe my memory is limited to the good times, but I would run by myself often. My main fear was lions...

I guess bring mace? To other women who read this - what do you do to increase your safety?

On weekends, I have my trusty pup (actually i am considering adopting another dog to increase safety) who I know provides an extra set of eyes and ears. On the weekends, I know I am more relaxed and enjoying the run in contrast to after work runs when I am tense...

Maybe some more trail runners will move to Gainesville...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Schedule for new marathon on the horizon

Trying to develop a new schedule; have a new marathon to do in February 2010 - the Black Mountain Marathon.

Sundays: long trail run
Mondays: mellow recovery run
Tuesday: (goal - really want to do speedwork on a track)
Wed: off
Thurs: long trail day
Friday: long pavement day
Sat: off

I hope to implement this schedule after 9/26 - after I get married. I am taking next week off from work to really get ready for the wedding. I think there will be some long runs during the week because I know during that weekend, I won't have any time to run.

Run some miles for me; the next week & 1/2 is going to be stressful leading up towards the wedding!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sickness, the sickness

Not sure what grabbed a hold of me on Thursday and pulled me into bed, but I know it was fierce. It brought pains to the arms and legs, exhaustion, and a massive headache. I did not move for 2 days.

On the third day, the fever broke, and it was replaced with a head cold, which was accompanied by a cough. Not a faint - light of heart - cough, but a deep and painful cough, which left me wondering what part of my lungs were coming up.

I have not run since last wednesday, and the thought of forcing my lungs to work any harder has kept me away from the running shoes. I have taught a yoga class and lifted some weights, which have kept me sane, but helped with the exhaustion, so at night - there is no reading; only sleeping.

All of this was preceded by a glorious weekend in western NC above 5000 feet...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Red wine + brewester's ice cream does not equal fast sunday morning running

After an evening of red wine (the fiance made a good dinner) & brewsters ice cream, I thought it would be a good idea for me to meet my friend before 7am to meet others at 7am several miles away.

I woke up drowsy and foggy. A seasoned and experienced morning runner would have set the alarm clock early enough and the coffee timer on. Not me, not the unseasoned and lazy me. I, in my rational morning choices, turned off my alarm. When i finally made enough progress towards meeting my friend before 7am, I barely had enough time to drink any coffee or eat enough food. And, despite my best efforts (of getting up late, taking too long to get dressed or tie my shoes), I was late to meet my friend. So, as a domino effect, we were late to meet the others.

of course, as the morning runners say, it was nice to get an 8 mile run over with so early in the morning... Maybe I will work on a solid morning routine...

High mileage pavement weekend

For me, the uncommitted runner, who will run various lengths and speed according to my feeling then, ran a high mileage weekend (again for me).

I transitioned to the weekend by running for 2 hours on Friday after work. The run began with a slower pace, which was good because it was warm, and Grendel started to slowing down early. The run continued all over Gainesville. Up hills, around corners and through streets. We covered some significant ground, and then were joined by another female friend. After she joined us, our pace increased slightly, followed by Grendel's heavy panting.

Thereafter, I dropped Grendel & 1 friend off, and the other friend and I took again to the streets, but with a quickened step. We covered several more miles and between our own panting we relayed events of the week. [Reminded me of Once a Runner - where the author describes the talking and running quickly]. This increase in pace led to my legs being sore and a smile on my face.

To the new reader - it is important to note that joy was experienced during the Friday after work - workout. This same joy was not found on Sunday morning...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thunderstorm forced me to run in the same place for 40 minutes

Webster's definitions of a treadmill: (source:
1. a device having an endless belt on which an individual walks or runs in place for exercise or physiological testing

I relate to Merriam Webster's second definition:
2 a wearisome or monotonous routine resembling continued activity on a treadmill

(my thoughts on Thursday night before stepping on the treadmill)
I can run on the treadmill for an hour. That will be great; the temperature will be consistent. The treadmill has a nice fan; there are TVs and people to watch. I can run on the treadmill for an hour.

(reality on Thursday night - my thougths will on the treadmill)
This is so boring; this is so boring; I am not going to make it to ten minutes; no really i am not going to make it to twenty minutes; oh my gosh I am going to vomit I am so bored. The TV - is so boring... OH my

Conclusion: I only ran for 40 minutes (it was preceded by 5 minutes & 30 seconds on the weird stairmaster, which loops - so it is scary because I am always worried it will go to fast and i will fall down)... And, it was the LONGEST 40 minutes of my life... No, I did not have headphones... (I have gotten out of the habit of wearing them because I don't like to run with them in when i am outside - safety issue) No, I did not try to read a magazine.

I think next time; I will split the machines up. 30 minutes on one; 30 minutes on another. The monotony was dreadful

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Leave the watch at home

To all of us - who are always, usually, or rarely - held captive by our watches, this article should serve as a message: LEAVE THE WATCH at home!

Inspiring! I will pound the pavement tonight with a quicker stride and try to listen to my body more and less to the constrains of a watch.

Happy evening running!!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tricks- please leave suggestions

Must trick myself.

As I have briefly noted before, 2 things (for lack of a better word) I despise are: (1) waking up early to run (2) doing track workouts.

But, I am stubborn; very stubborn and strong - headed and [readers fill in the blanks with another synonym especially if you have been described as such] [imagine i am dropping a footnote here: which I like to think makes me (us) better long distance runners - we are bad at stopping] SO - I have a hard time getting over my strong inner resistance to, for example, a track workout.

Readers have suggested: doing hill repeats (very good one), for example.
I have found that doing track workouts in groups helps - A LOT. but, then it must be scheduled for certain because if folks say "yeah maybe I will be there" - that to my mind = YES, i don't have to go - they really don't want to go - alas - i am free again of the track.

Ha - to the thoughts of the mind.

I will work on the tricks for overcoming my internal resistance - and you readers -please leave suggestions

Taking to the pavement again

I should have gone to the trails, but....

Grendel was not with me; there was a storm coming; I had to backtrack on the highway - so many more excuses came to mind as I left work early and headed towards Gainesville.

So, in the alternative, did I hit the trails at Chicopee close to Gainesville- no again. Rather, I went home and took a good nap (I had changed at work, so I slept in my running clothes) - not one of those drooling on your pillow naps, but a restful and mind clearing over 30 minute nap that was difficult to get up from.

Maybe this nap worked because later that evening I took to the streets of Gainesville for over an hour, and until I was overheated around minute 45 and dehyrdated, the run felt great. There was a breeze (or was I hallucinating), and the streets were quieter, the birds were singing - wait - a fairytale?

Gainesville is moderately hilly, so I enjoyed the rolling hills, but I missed the miles of climbing that I usually enjoy at least 1 time during the week..
Maybe next week I will run out of excuses....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2 days and no running

The no-running days are piling up in August.

My daily routine (pre-August). Get up and go to work, and then my long commute brings me back to the low land. During the commute back, I (sometimes) ponder how my evening run is going to be - which course around the streets of Gainesville I will traverse.

However, these past 2 days, this routine has not left the safety of my thoughts. Rather, I have returned home, and as soon as I open the door, the heat engulfs me; it takes away my breath and my walking slows. Being in the car and using my air conditioning (supposedly it is more gas efficient), I forget the heat, and I am reminded when I open my door. This reminder is enough to shake thoughts of pounding on pavement, and thoughts of doing my usually beloved activity is pushed to the back of my mind. Thoughts of other activities, which don't require movement replace them. I could take Gren to the Hall County dog park. OR, stay at home and read. I will run later; I tell myself. I will run when it is cooler. But, later brings tiredness and fullness post-dinner, and darkness.. And, then, before bed, I am left with a feeling of guilt for not exploring my neighborhoods- and wondering what I was doing when I got home from work that was so important that I could not run - even for 30 minutes.

Ode to the long month of August for its heat and shorter days than July. I miss July...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Amicola - run to the Inn

To all those who have already discovered the Inn at Amicola Falls state park - you must remember the joy of arriving there for the first time.

This weekend, I was excited about an adventure, but hesitant as well. Recently, because of the added stress from planning the wedding, I had not returned to the woods since I had run Coosa at Vogel (only 1 direction - note to GUTS hardcores!), and I was feeling out of shape. In addition, the heat had been impacting my miles and the amount of time I was outside when I had tried to run on pavement. However, as I have posted before, after an hour running to the Inn from the visitor center parking lot, I felt centered and full of gratitude for being back among the sounds and smells of a Georgia forest.

When we arrived at the Inn, I was taken aback by its simplicity, and of course, its coolness (there was a strong breeze when I was resting on the front covered porch). I immediately wanted to book a night to stay there - and, as was noted in my earlier post, in the FALL!

SO, here is the end of summer and time on the beach in the flat land, and a beginning ode to fall and the hills and cool breezes and changing landscape.

(brief aside: I do LOVE the summer for its long nights, time at the beach and a respite from (as much) mountain climbing, but August is painful in Georgia)

Fall brings light into my running slump

This article (and the result of recent wedding venue disasters) = me

After a couple of weeks hiatus from my usual running schedule, I see a light at the end of the tunnel of running slump. At the end, I am surrounded by light and by changing leaves & I have a long sleeve shirt on. My reason for the light - Fall. Already, in the past 2 weeks, I have signed up for 2 trail runs this fall: one in GA and one in Western NC.

They are longer trail runs (well for me - maybe not for the GUTS folks). And, I am excited. I am excited to return to hours in the woods when it is not oppressively hot.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Stress and no running

Planning a wedding is stressful; planning a wedding in a weekend after pulling out of your original wedding venue 2 months before your wedding is REALLY stressful.

So, how did I deal with my stress? Did I admiringly lace up my trail shoes and hit the trails outside of Greenville, SC? Or, take my legs to the pavement to pound out my worries. No. I watched tv; I slept; I stared at the wall, and Saturday night, I drank wine and laughed.

Background: Saturday morning I woke up excited and ready for a run in western, NC. I packed my mother, my sister, my trail running shoes and my gear, and we headed north. When we arrived, our original wedding venue was clean and breezy (beautiful day in western NC). We sat down on a couch and waited for our anticipated meeting to finalize the details. Instead, we were met with awful news about the hotel's potential demise. We asked numerous questions, listened and eventually went into shock.

We left confused, distraught and without a wedding venue 2 months before the scheduled date. Anger was my first emotion. For my mother it was sadness and confusion. Fortunately, anger can be a powerful tool when you need to find a "game plan." After we found a viable alternative (although not preferred), we found a caterer and we went home to finalize the details that were supposed to be finished by 6pm on Saturday. We had a healthy dinner and then the wine started.

We drank wine and watched wedding videos of couples dancing (i assumed at their first choice of wedding venue) and we laughed. And, laughed, and I eventually fell asleep, exhausted.

Sometimes, a run is perfect; it is the perfect time to labor over details and clear the mind of excess thinking. Sometimes, it is dreaded (maybe I have been running too much...) This weekend, I skipped my beloved routine of a Sunday or Saturday long gaunt around the mountains for a weekend of rest. But - this week I feel better and ready to tie the laces and pound out the everyday anxieties.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Leave the desire for long runs in the mountains

My expectations were of no running last weekend at the beach. I assumed 3 days of sun, sitting and meditating on the waves as they rolled over and over.

But, on Saturday, my friend had rented a bike, so we packed up some water and rode off onto the paved trail. I, again, assumed that it would be short and quick with no adventure. But, when our "trail" ran into the beach, we thought - how wonderful that would be. Sand, the sound of the ocean and moving air!! We were deceived by our delusions. The beach part started off well; until we realized we were running (she was biking - remember) against the wind. We were being sprayed with sand and salt. Then, I tried to find some solid ground. Again, mistake, I allowed my goretex shoes to get wet, but due to the amount of saturation, they had become unbearably heavy. I felt as though I had attached heavy weights to each shoe. After this realization, I tried to speed up. The effort was futile. And, my friend was having an even harder time on her bike. We were both miserable; wet and stinging with sand, so as we smart and well conversed in beach activity decided to take a random "path" off the beach.

Then, we were in a massive condominium complex surrounded by large trees, and there was no breeze. To spare the reader too many details, before we had to ask for directions 3 times, before I had to stop and walk b/c I was exhausted; before we were out there for over 2 hours, we were attacked by mosquitoes. Large, unyielding mosquitoes. They came for us. Like an army hiding in the bush - the lunged at us; pulled on our limbs and left me bleeding and running and screaming "help me" (although I don't remember the scream - my friend had to inform me).

I may return to my original assumption - when I go to the beach, leave the desire for LONG runs in the mountains.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Weekend of glory - hurrah 4th and my questionable sanity

Lately, there has been a new style of running on the weekend. Now, my rest day has become Saturday, and my day of miles has become Sunday (with (hopefully) a long run during the week in addition). These Sunday runs are cherished, and are comprised of: me, my dog, and a forest somewhere in the southeast with dramatic vistas.

This weekend was no exception. 4th of July! To celebrate, the fiance and I packed our car, loaded Grendel, and headed to North Carolina. I took advantage of the cool weather and lovely balds all above 5000 feet. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were some of the best days of running I have had in a while.

Sanity questioned at the house: When questioned about the amount of time I had been running up and down each surrounding peak, I found myself blaming the altitude for this apparent lack of judgment (as surmised by the non-runners)- how do you explain to someone that running several 6000 foot peaks is enjoyable?

Sanity questioned on the trail: We also faced answering the hikers' on the AT questions. Fortunately, I had my favorite human trail partner with me, and as we gabbed about our lives, we were able to (sometimes) avoid the strange looks from hikers and dodge questions about our sanity.

Ode to those who are cursed to love running up the sides of mountains!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Track, again

The Lanier Running Club meets at the track every tuesday night in June for some friendly competition. I have a difficult time with the competition part. The track is my newly discovered nemesis. Although when I was younger, I would use it for strength and speed, now I dread each step around the circle.

Notwithstanding the paragraph of complaint, my experience with a group of people laughing and trying to achieve a pace or PRs has been enjoyable.

The club has an event in each distance: 100, 200, 400, etc (not necessarily in that order). My goal, as a self-proclaimed distance runner, is to run all the events. So, what has resulted, is by the time the "distance" event (3000 meters) arrives, I am too tired to compete, so I run it as a quasi-cool down(if I feel better around the last lap or before, I will speed up). However, I know that this amount of running on the track must help my anaerobic threshold and will help me attack my favorite hills. Another alternative I explore while doing all the events is if I run 1 event quickly (for me), then I will try and pace the other events to remind my legs how to race in the longer races i enjoy.

I will, undoubtedly, miss the June weekly sessions...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ten miles of therapy

Always, it seems, when I begin a long run, my arms are tight, my muscles are tight, and I often develop a minor stomachache. Today, was no exception.

Brief overview of week: after a grueling week at work, my runs in the afternoon were less than ideal. Tuesday's run, for example, was supposed to be over an hour with several long arduous climbs - an unwind from the grind. The first climb was solid; my legs locked in an admirable pace, and I put my head down, and I climbed. The next miles were solid; increasing my pace, I held onto the feeling of strength. However, my last climb was cut short by exhaustion and restlessness (the irony is i come to the woods to get rid of the sitting at a desk restlessness), and I turned off from the hills' crest to another trail, which gently led me down to the car.

Today, I was able to change this week's theme of tiredness. My run today started out slow with the usual stomachache and clenched fists. It took over 6 miles and some good climbing before I was able to relax. Is this an indication of the weeks I have had recently? I surmise - affirmatively. As the work has piled on and deadlines loom, my desire to run has decreased. This is unfortunate for me, who is dependent on several long runs for a restoration of sanity.

Reflection is good - this week ends on a high note with a 10+ run with Grendel in NGA. Hopefully, it is a sign that next week will be better than the last; however, with a mandated extra, extra early start tomorrow, my luck may not hold.

Friday, June 19, 2009

More pavement

This past week, I have been adjusting to a new running schedule. We have moved south Highway 365, and I have added additional miles on pavement and have decreased the miles on the trails. It was inevitable to move: fiance needed year without commute; and isolation in a town with few people and fewer people who run.

Before moving, I enjoyed endless afternoons deep in the Chattahooche national forest with my dog, Grendel. He would run ahead (or behind at the end); I would rely on his senses to detect unwanted guests early, so, as a result, I spaced out with the chirping of the birds and the sound of the leaves rustling until his bark would wake me from my stupor. Now, I attach a leash and hold him close as we sprint (he pulls) on the sidewalk, and we become overheated easily as we pound each step without much shade.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Summer has arrived, so we went to the track

A local running club has started all comers track meets on Tuesday evenings. This was a surprisingly enjoyable evening considering...

Summer has officially begun in Georgia - last night was sweltering. A small group (mostly kids under eighteen) gathered at the track to "compete" or pace or whatever - (comradery was a factor). There were many events: from the 100 to the 3200. I tried to do all of them to maximize the detested track workout (I really avoid any type of track workout); however, last night it was enjoyable.

Because most of my running is on trails or up any type of hill, mtn, etc - this was a nice change. The distances were quick (although my times were nothing to brag about), and there were people cheering and fast children to watch and everyone was overheated and a little dizzy, but there were only smiles.

This is a weekly event and my attendance will be probably perfect.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

PS- that race is why I did not run Sat morning

Unfortunately, i signed up for the Rock2Rock race before the Xterra series was announced - I had planned to come down to Greenville on Saturday morning to run the Xterra 15k, but the race was so hard on Friday night that I could not make it down to Greenville.

Alternative - ran the 10 miler Sunset Stampede in Asheville... Pavement and relatively more mellow climbing (although it was still 4 miles up). My lungs cooperated and my legs cooperated - placed 7th for women; 3rd in my age group 30-39!

But, this week my legs are unusable; my quads have not ever felt so sore. I am hobbling around and walking up and down stairs and down hills is not enjoyable. so what i am doing to ease into running - going to an open track event. Ha! Lets see how the legs respond. It will be some slow track runs

BUT, i have put the August and November races on my calendar; those will not be missed.

Rock2Rock race in Swanannoa, NC (Northeast of Asheville)

Originally uploaded by cbfoto
This weekend I did one of the hardest runs I have ever done.

First, I train in North Georgia; although some of the mountains are steep, I really do not get over 2000 feet in altitude. I did not and usually do not consider this factor when I travel to Western North Carolina, but every time I try to run hard to the top of a mountain - over 4000 feet, my lungs explode. - this pattern repeated on Friday night.

Friday night 5pm. The first mile started climbing immediately, but it was a gentle, gentle climb - warmup - (albeit fast) . Then, another mile - manageable climbing. Then, the torture started (I use the word torture purposefully). The grade for climbing shot up vertically at an angle I was not expecting. Then, once my legs recovered from the vertical shock, my lungs had to acclimate, but they could not. My lungs, which I think are pretty good at the transferring of oxygen (not sure the correct name for hte scientific process) failed on Friday night. They could not handle the lack of pressure that comes with the increase in altitude. They could not alter their processes quickly enough. It was torture. I started profusely sweating (see picture); I started sounding as though I had not ever run in my life; I got lightheaded and put my head down to focus on the ground and not my laborious and loud attempt at breathing.

Even the downhill was too steep to gain any amount of time back.

Needless to say, my performance was not as stellar as I would have hoped. BUT, the experience was good - looking back. A reminder that to enjoy running straight up hill at altitude - need to incorporate this into training - And, the views were AMAZING!! at the top (where the picture is), which makes any run worth it - no matter the pain!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Coffee -

Being a skeptic, when I first read this article, I was skeptical (ha!).

However, before running several races, such as the Athens Habitat for Humanity, I have consumed some coffee (not sure quantitative amount). And, I noticed an decrease in my time there, for example, and a more enjoyable and energetic performance.

To re-test my theory, this weekend, before the 5K I did not consume coffee. And, my time was dreadful (subjectively) as compared to other performances. Then, I had some coffee before my 10k, and I had that 2+ mile runner's high, and overall,I felt more energetic in my run.

Ah - the coffee may be part of the running routine (for a while)...

Returning to the racing Circuit - Saturday in Madison

I guess I have returned.

In my 20's the racing was sporadic, and I don't remember most of the times. Often, the races would involve a mountain and (hopefully) a trail.

Since I have finished law school, my return to more traditional races has ensued (for how long - can't know it). This weekend was no exception.

I traveled far for 2 races (overall - more economical to do two). They were in Madison, GA. The 5k was at 7:30, which is VERY early for me. My best running occurs around 1:00pm. And, the 10k was at 8:30. Both courses were flat (subjectively) and the weather was warm (again subjectively). My times were slower than I had hoped, but my placement was commendable.

The 5k was rough; my body is not accustomed to the flatness and speed. I am more used to a rolling (hopefully very rolling) and diverse tempo. The 5K to me was fast and painful. For the first mile, my legs felt like rocks, and I could not get my mile < 6:42. During the next two miles, my legs continued to not work.

The 10K was more enjoyable. The distance allowed more warming up; the breathing was less labored and more oxygen (felt) consumed. This race, although my time was not too celebrated, was more of a representation of how I like to perform. The first two miles were around 7:15, and then the middle miles were a little slower. However, at mile 4, my body felt strong and a runner's high kicked in that last until the finish. A 2 mile + runner's high - always a reason to celebrate!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Back in the saddle?

It has been since last Saturday, since my legs have met the ground with a running stride. I took 4 days off, then started back with Billy Blanks, Basic and then ultimate boot camp on Thursday. During those sessions, I squatted, did many push ups and minutes of jump roping. This cross training can be very ideal for strengthening certain muscles and as a welcome? break from the repetition of running, but for me - it is not a good enough replacement. (The only replacement I enjoy, really, is road biking or spin class). Today, I was nervous when I took my first strides towards the trails. Will my leg hurt again? What if I worsen the strain? (My diagnosis on Wednesday was a mildly torn/strained hamstring)

The distance was probably longer than would have been advised (over 5 miles), but the cadence was slow, and there were some breaks, so Grendel could drink and take a dip. The views were lovely: Dogwoods blooming, and the landscape was painted green (we have had a significant amount of rain).

An hour or so post-run - leg still not sore... Will give another report tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

humbled by those of you would do speed regularly

For the past two Saturdays, I have tested my speed limits and found my body- not responding well. Brief background: for those readers who have not read many of my posts - I prefer long steep climbs up mountains - where you set the cruising speed and you get into stride for a long time. These are my favorite types of runs. With this running, I, mistakenly, thought I had built up the muscles to tackle any feat. My assumption was inaccurate.

Almost 2 weeks ago, I set up my own course, and I raced a 5k in 19:30. I injured my hamstring. There was no pop or immediate pain. The pain was slow and crawled up the back of my leg. Last Saturday, I raced again, but this time the pain was quick and deadly, and I was reduced to a two-step shuffle (fortunately, my first 1.5 miles were very quick, and I was victorious). And, since Saturday, I have not run; i have not had the energy or the desire to run. This injury is taking a significant amount of my reserve and strength. I walked over a mile yesterday, and I finished tired and sore.

I am going to a physical therapist/MD today - I can only hope for good news.

PS - thanks again for the creative speed work tips. After I recover, i WILL implement them!!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A GA 5K win - BUT

In preparing for the relay I am embarking on with other fellow runners in Gainesville, GA, I have started my weekly 5Ks. This weekend "race" was in Athens, and I was victorious notwithstanding immeasurable pain and a failure to meet my goal time of: 19 minutes (my body had another story for me)

The race started off quickly with a 5:45 first mile; I continued at this pace until 1.5 miles. Then, the pain started. It was not a slow undulation, which peaked and had me bent over. It was deeper and arrived more quickly. A bystander would have noticed that all of a sudden my stride strangely changed from a smooth turnover to being humbled to a two step to try and keep up my fast pace - of course to no avail. Notwithstanding the pain, the slowing of the pace, I still won the race for women (albeit at a time of which I am not too proud).

Another downside, I was supposed to run my favorite trail in NGA with some friends, and I will have to abstain. The trail is very difficult, long and the climbing is arduous - my perfect mix for an ideal running day in the woods. This is my biggest regret -

Lesson learned: schedule races the day after my trail running adventures.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Yesterday I celebrated the National Forests

To all who have taken a stand to protect our National Forests, I applaud you. Sometimes, this can be an uphill battle and the words spoken are to deaf ears. But, yesterday, the voice for protection was heard, and the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 was signed into law (

In celebration, I, although exhausted from my speedy 5k on Sunday and work, went to the National Forest area closest to my house. I did not focus on my speed or hill climbing. Rather, I reviewed my surroundings more closely; I surveyed the new green, the tall and bent trees, and I enjoyed the noisy local birds. During this joyful and slow run, yesterday's focus was on the forest - my place of solitary retreat and challenges (miles of challenges).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Sunday Surprise: good 5k time

In < 3 weeks, I am running a relay with other GA runners in Southern IL. The relay consists of 3X 3.5 legs. The team is composed of me, a 25 yr old woman and several retired-age and very fast gentlemen. From the emails they have sent, I easily have deduced that their level of commitment and pride in this race is devoted and extreme. I am not familiar with the relay, the history, past successes or losses by this group, and/or, when I first agreed to sign up, the level of seriousness in the training. (One individual told me he was going to run 2 5ks a week to train - whoa)

-Aside - my approach to races. I enjoy running mountains and distance on trails, so other races seem easier in comparison... This running style lacks commitment to speed or consistency. However, I recently I have been surprised with a win or a fast time -

Return - From the emails I received, i deduced that I had better alter and increase my "training." My response today: set up a course around my neighborhood and run a 5k. So, this afternoon around 5:30pm (after several hours of trying to do work), I embarked. The first mile was warmup approx 9:00 minute mile; then the "race." My first mile was 6:07; it was painful. The pain started at the first 1/2 mile. After that first 1/2 mile, I told myself, wellllll maybe I will only do 2.1 miles. But, the second mile I slowed down to 6:31 mile, which aided in recovery, so the last mile was: 6:19 - and then I finished in 19:30. a 5k in 19:30! Now, I can say it has been a long, long time since I have run that fast. And, notwithstanding the pain, it was such a great experience. Such a great runner's high. My breathing was laborious, but my legs felt strong, and I increased my speed during the last mile. After I finished, I congratulated myself in my quest to race a 5k, by myself, and I ran a cooldown mile.

An enjoyable day of free 5k racing!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Suggestions for creative speed work

Recent weakness:speed. I dread any type of track work out or tempo. I prefer a non-watch, long run with an arduous climb. But, any activity needs balance in the training and since I have signed up for some shorter relays - speed will have to be inserted into my weekly accumulation of miles.

Please leave suggestions. eg - what do you do to incorporate speed?

For example: I have read articles where some runners will run 5ks regularly for speed... Or, should I run faster down (or up) the hills?

Alternatives on Saturday

After a long week - any type of running sounds great: a training run for the 1/2 earth day marathon in Greer, meeting at Fleet Feet early, or [insert]. But, after a long week, one of my other favorite activities is to sleep late (very late to some). On Saturday, this type of behavior prevented me from joining fellow greenvillians. Instead, I slept, and I slept past 10:00am, which may sound late (or not), but it prevented an early rise and finish for my run. So, as another alternative, I drove north to another favorite stomping ground: any area outside of Asheville. There, I met a friend at Bent Creek Experimental Forest.

This forest is ideal for long climbs and not too-technical trials. On Saturday, under blue skies and in still chilled air, we completed a mellow loop of 10 miles (or so). - Brief aside: as I have alluded to before, since the marathon, my long distance runs have felt easier and less demanding. Most runs in the double digits provide for an enjoyable balance to sitting most of the week. Hills are also welcome. - this pattern proved true on Saturday. A hill that I had hated on a training run before the marathon had become a welcome warm up, and my breathing was slow and relaxed; during the climb, I even tried to initiate conversation with my unwilling companion. The loop continued on the ridge and then rolled down and around to the dirt road, which finally met up with our parking lot.

To conclude: the weekends are becoming predictable with their trail binges (Sunday we squeezed in 5+ - ran out of time)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Weekly "routine"

Preface: I have always hated using the word routine. For me routine = something I do several times and call it a routine, ie tell other people it is a routine. Explanation? Is it because I hope it will become a routine by overtly calling something I do more than once this label?

Notwithstanding my introduction, I now write that I have developed a weekly routine. The thought process is: on the weekends I (attempt to) binge run - run as many miles as I can over Saturday and Sunday. So, on monday I am "burned out" of running and the thought of going back to the woods slightly nauseates me. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays are my days when I am not as excited to be at work, so the fifty minutes or so in the woods provides a much needed head clearing, mind wandering and eye resting. These days are spent deep in the woods with Grendel bird watching and hill climbing; these afternoon sessions must be a type of therapy through adventure. I tell myself: I have discovered new trails, new ridges and seen many birds - I have had an adventure (i am chuckling at my ability to deceive).

The glorified and much welcomed end of the week: Fridays (this explanation needs its own paragraph). - an assumption could be that - this would be a celebration run - the week at work is over (very cliche), my weekend has started (yes I confess, I am a quasi-weekend runner warrior as evident by the binges). But on Fridays, I am mentally and physically exhausted, and the only activity that looks appealing is sitting on my couch with my fiance, Grendel, a beer and some dinner.

So, this is my second week of my "routine" - the real theme of this post is - will I break this habit of my routines not developing and meeting the definition(a regular course of procedure b: habitual or mechanical performance of an established procedure - see , or will I succumb to my usual failure and not meet this definition...

Maybe this routine will carry me to the next marathon??

Monday, March 16, 2009

Life post-marathon and weekend binges

To veteran marathon runners: the recovery and post-first-marathon life - the reality has been a contrast to numerous stories willingly shared by runners of other individual's lives being destroyed (exaggeration). There were tales of: those people not being able to run for weeks; severe illnesses; debilitating injuries; and other horrible events. But, since the marathon several weeks ago, I have already returned to the double digits and weekend binges. This weekend was no exception.

Saturday, it was raining, and since I recently have proven my love for running in horrible weather, I loaded up my dog in the back of the station wagon, and we rode out to the favorite Chattahoochee national forest for some rainy fun. We were on a time crunch, so I allotted us 50 minutes, and we took it in stride.

Sunday, thankfully, the weather was gentle, and the rain left us alone. I smiled more as I tried to perfect my trail running. [Aside: new trail running goals: increase my time going down the hill and lessen my fear of tripping over rocks and roots to fall on my face and run faster!!! notwithstanding the danger]. We found a new trail; a lovely and calm single track that followed the roaring river for several miles before heading North. The trail was an easy 4.3ish out and back. But, there had been a recent burn, which filled the air with the smell of smoke (not visible but attached to the humidity)! But, realizations (in the areas of proximity of trails and geography of this expansive forest) were made. The Chattahoochee National forest contains a Wildlife Management Area that covers several counties, yet the areas containing trails are very close (difficult to briefly describe here). For example, yesterday, after we finished our over 8.5 mile relatively flat run, I realized our closeness in proximity to Currahee Mtn. Delighted, we paraded (albeit slowly) up this familiar mountain where the weather was dryer and the views were better.

In retrospect, again - another brief ode to the marathon - the enjoyment of running for several hours, as of now, seems to be quasi-permanent. [illustrative example: Saturday - my legs were confused as to why we had to finish after only 50 minutes]

Perhaps another trail marathon soon?

Friday, March 13, 2009

more pictures from black mtn marathon!!!

More pictures from the marathon!!!!

Before being too wet!!!! Very nervous & Excited!!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My first marathon - COMPLETED

I will begin with the end. I completed my first marathon; it was an arduous task.

We started running at 7am before the sun woke up. It was raining, but, fortunately, still around 45ish degrees. The first 3 miles were on pavement, and I was worried I was going to be get too hot and would start shedding layers.

Then, the climbing started on a muddy sick single track. We turned upwards while the landscape thickened; the rhododendrons fell closer to us because of the moisture and the fog enveloped us. There was fog above us, next to us and below us. So, I put my head down and climbed for 3 miles until I reached the wider quasi-dirt road. Then, we reached the first aid station. The adrenaline was still pumping as i grabbed a cup of water, some banana and a slice of orange. I left the comfort of the tent and started climbing, again in the rain and fog. Again, I put my head down to avoid the rocks and some of the deeper puddles, which had turned our wider trail into a "creek bed." This continued for 10 more miles during which we had to gain 2500 feet.

Once we reached the blue ridge parkway, I started to panic. We were at 5180, but it was not the altitude, which bothered me, it was the cold: the very cold wind and the colder sleet, which came in sideways and seared through my clothes - my soaked thin rain jacket, and my two layers of thin high tech fabric shirts. Before I reached the turn around tent, I considered stopping and asking to be taken down because of strong concerns of hypothermia, but once i reached the tent, got out of the wind, and ate some more food, some braveness kicked in. It was temporary, but it lasted enough to bring me back to the trail.

The down should have been easier. I had gravity to help me; I no longer had to climb, but this was a false assumption. The rocks were slicker, the puddles deeper and the rain kept coming and the fog was thick. I should have gained immeasurable time back from my ascent, but instead I focused on not slipping and keeping my head down and focused. For many miles, I was alone and concerned that I had missed a turn until I reached one of the few aid stations and was revived by Gatorade. These thoughts and concerns continued until I was spit out onto the campus of Montreat College.

There, I followed the road/path back to the Lake where I knew we finished.

From an outsider's view - this marathon may have sounded as though it was torture and why would anyone chose a mountain marathon as your first? There is no hope for a good time; there is no hope for speed; there is no hope for flat stable land with sunshine. However, - it provided a challenge - I wonder if I will be able to repeat. It allowed for such intense focus and determination - that now - any other marathon will seem enjoyable. Those several hours(not going to repeat my time) provided me with strength and confidence to run another. - for this - I am grateful.

Been gone so long....

Since I have not posted in a while - it is difficult to begin again. Similar to running again after you have taken a break because, for example, you develop the flu & bronchitis (if you are new to my blog - these 2 sicknesses took me out for about a month in Jan - my marathon was at the end of Feb). So, here I am - beginning again.

The next posts will take you through my adventure enduring my first marathon and all its "gifts."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

quasi-grateful to the marathon

Training for this marathon (my first) has been an arduous and laborious task. Each weekend has been filled with hours on my feet. The nights before filled with much eating and little drinking. During the week, my mind is consumed presently (and into the future) with thoughts about when I am going to run, where and for how long. And, of course - each day - is it a rest or a run day (usually the latter)? From all the aforementioned statements, one can deduce that the marathon training has consumed my life and my thoughts. This conclusion is accurate. Then, accordingly, one could conclude that there may be resentment for this loss of freedom and choice. Again, this conclusion is accurate, but with footnotes. I will drop them below.

A brief ode to the marathon:
I have learned to love being on my feet for 2 days in a row for 2 hrs at a time. (This allows for much needed woods sight seeing). I have learned to consume alcohol in more moderation, but food in more extreme. (gorge the night before with anything and everything - from pasta to brownies and ice cream). I have learned the enjoyment of getting into really, really, really good shape to where I can slide up a mountain side and then stop at the top and enjoy the scenery without wondering if my legs and lungs were going to explode.

Ah to the marathon - in a week and 1/2 I may return to resentment, but - one can reminisce.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pain Lessening & Pain Lessons

Marathon training has reiterated so many lessons:
1. Don't wear shoes that do not fit correctly on a long run - you will be in PAIN
2. If you are in pain from shoes that fit incorrectly, ice your legs the day of! -->
3. Take an anti-inflammatory after you run (while icing your knees)
(There are other lessons - but I know you smart readers do not need to be reminded of them - Me on the other hand, I am a slow learner)

Today, my legs have finally recovered after yesterday's torture and stiffness. I am angry because I wore some bad shoes on Saturday, and since then, my knees have felt swollen and sore; my hamstrings too tight (yet I still ran 10+ on trails on Sunday). Yesterday, while working, if I was sitting on a leg, and then I tried to stand up, my leg was too stiff and it became stuck in a bend and took at least 30 seconds (if not more) to unbend.

Needless to say, I need new shoes before the epic adventure in < 2 weeks

Monday, February 16, 2009

ambivalence lessening

Since the holiday sickness, I have become more ambivalent towards the marathon. The drive to fill my weekends with long runs declined.

This weekend provided a much needed change. (well the 18 miles in Asheville the weekend before really was the much needed change, but that was accompanied by the feeling of not being to breathe on top of several ridges; this weekend was less painful)

On Saturday, I started with some runners at Fleet feet, but their pace quickly sped up, and mine did not, so I broke off from the group to run the remaining 9 miles by myself. I headed towards North Main Street and some hills. The hills were rolling, the sidewalks were confusing, but the lack of cars was welcoming. When North Main ended, I contemplated running to Paris Mountain, but my lack of supplies and time crunch prevented this adventure. Instead, I headed around town, through Cleveland Park and around the Augusta Road area before finishing with 2 hours on my watch.

Sunday was supposed to be a recovery run, but ended up as very much enjoyable 10 mile adventure through the national forest. My legs started cramped and tired, but as the miles continued they loosened up and enjoyed the climbing.

As the marathon countdown begins, I have realized that I do enjoy running the 20+ mile weekends... Not sure if I enjoy the days over 15 miles still..

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Attempt at weekend binge - can someone define binge?

To start: does 13+ miles one day and 6 miles the next = a binge? I am leaning towards no; however, my legs are trying to "argue the other side." [here is where, if the software would allow me, I would drop a footnote explaining my quote, but lucky for you readers - you are saved from this].

First day was spent running in a north Georgia state park - a favorite 6 mile loop - a couple of times; we mixed in some side trails, said hello to mellow hikers, and tried to keep Grendel from harassing the other law abiding citizens who kept their dogs on a leash. We clocked around 2 hrs of fun, which may sound short this late in the training session to Mr. Higdon; however, my recent (is it still?) bout with bronchitis and the flu has kept my mileage lower and shorter than ideal.

Second day was spent only with grendel as my companion on Curahee Mtn. I have not been there in a while, and it was lovely, as usual. The sun was high; it was quiet (ie there were no gun shots), and the mountain was steep. My only complaint was that there were too many cars - but the rock climbers have to reach their summit first by car, right? [here I would drop another footnote explaining this passage because I was a loyal rock climber for many years before returning to the South]. This second day, my legs were tireder, and the mountain felt steeper than it had in a while. Usually, on this mountain, I will set the legs into cruise and slowly sail up. However, today, they felt heavy and unresponsive. I guess the lack of nap and too much post-run activity on Saturday did not help the healing process.

So, what is the verdict - did I attain the "binge" goal, or do I have many more miles to go ("before I sleep")?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Hoping for a weekend binge -

This week has been filled with the usual after work short distance runs with Grennie intermixed with a mid-week cross-training/body pump class.

This weekend I hoping to do some binge running before the marathon in a month. Yes, after my bout of bronchitis, I am fretting over running this marathon; I think it is going to be painful, long and not as welcome as i would have hoped. My goal for this weekend is to: remind the legs how it feels to run for many miles, again.

On Saturday, I will go to a state park where the land is flat and the scenery more urban than I like, but it will be trails, nonetheless. This flat warmup for the pain filled weekend will be a nice start to the Sunday's hills and into the wild jaunt.

Hopefully, this weekend will give me the strength to proceed with the marathon or the realization that another marathon my have to suffice.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

External Events

I re-read some of my previous posts, and I wonder where all that strength has gone on days when my legs feel like lead. And, then a flash of light will shine, and I will remember the last four days and "Ah" no wonder I am so exhausted.

This weekend I bought a very used - but well loved - Honda Station wagon. But, as many can attest, the process of purchasing a used car is littered with many hours spent obsessing, researching, talking, obsessing, and more talking. I spent many hours on the computer reading, Kelley blue book site, and many others; i sent many emails and discussed intimate details about cars on the phone with strangers. (hopefully this lengthy illustration where my mind has been since last Thursday). All this energy and time has, surprisingly to me, affected my running, including my desire to run.

For example: I have a favorite route in Greenville. It begins on Pelham Road, and it does a large loop on black's road and up a long hill and back to Pelham. I love the undulations of the roads, the silence on certain sections, and probably most importantly, the familiarity; however, when i ran my favorite loop this weekend, all I could think about was when it was going to be done so i could return to my chair in front of my parent's desk top and keep researching. I was officially obsessed. And, it was devouring my energy.

The contrast was especially noticed on Tuesday when I returned to north Georgia, and I took Grendel out for our neighborhood loop, and my feet felt lighter, and my stride more relaxed.

Lamentation: times when the days are too long and the thoughts are silent.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Longer days - sign of warmer weather coming?

Usually, when I notice that the days have lengthened, this awareness is accompanied with a brush of warmer weather. Not this weekend. Up here in North Georgia, we are predicted to have record cold temperatures. Notwithstanding these temperatures, this weekend and in the evenings, I will be enjoying the extra amount of light added to the day; I always welcome this event.

This week has proved to be a relief after weeks of battling bronchitis, and I feel as though my step has lightened. Was the break good for me? Did my body welcome the many more minutes spent horizontally? No matter the reason, this week has been filled with good runs. Even yesterday, the day of dreaded cross-training, I smiled while lifting weights and doing the hated sit-ups.

Today, I fell back into the old pattern of squeezing a run in after work; this road-run consists of a long hill and then a quick swoop around our neighborhood with the beloved Grendel. These 30 minutes, although too short for Hal Higdon's standard, provide for of a long exhale and re-introduction of oxygen to the body after a day of tense reading.

This weekend I hope to make up some of the lost aerobic capacity and strength to my legs by returning to some old stomping grounds in the National Forest.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Returning to training

Finished the antibiotics; tried to go bed early all week - healed - probably not...

But, today, I went out with the fiance, and we hiked Currahee before the rain started. It was a cool morning with good visibility, and notwithstanding several cars and a scare with grendel when he chased a fox into its den, it was a lovely hike. My legs and lungs have not felt this weak in a while, but they took the climbing in stride.

Tomorrow, I will attempt the run/walk strategy on some trails. From today's hike, it is apparent that it will be a slow return to the 16 mile victory i was celebrating less than 3 weeks ago, but it is just enjoyable to be back in the mountains.

See you for Greenville 5k in a couple of weeks!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Diagnosis - bronchitis - PLEASE RUN AN EXTRA MILE FOR ME

Bronchitis. I sat there in the examining room - stunned and I stared at the doctor. I have not ever had bronchitis before. I started pelting him with questions - How did he know i had bronchitis? What are the symptoms? What about my constant sweating - is that a symptom of bronchitis? He just listened to my lungs! Is that enough evidence? I did not have a fever (anymore). My pulse had stopped racing - Was he sure??

But, ultimately, I gave in and have now ingested my first round of antibiotics, but at least I am cleared for my hike on Sat. Hopefully, I can start MY 2009 run off next week.

Cheers to all you out there running. PLEASE RUN AN EXTRA MILE FOR ME

6 days of not running and counting

After my mediocre attempt at running consistently while in NOLA for vacation, the sickness came swiftly and furiously. After five days of being bedridden, I am now just waiting for the lingering cough and phlegm to slightly subside, the tiredness in my bones to recede, and my energy level to rise a little before I lace my shoes up again.

Yesterday, my Grendel, after being sedentary like his sick owner for too long, convinced me to walk him around the block for some fresh air, I reluctantly complied. I leashed him up, and we were off. The beginning of the walk was enjoyable; my legs seemed to respond well to the movement, but my respiratory and energy level did not respond similarly. After about 1/2 mile, I was looking for a place to sit down and rest, and my cough had started again. I think I started frowning. And, my mind started racing. How is this going to affect the marathon in 8 weeks? Will I be able to make a come back?

But, alas, I have concluded that the sickness is what it is, and I will have to pick myself back up and try hiking this weekend to remind my body about mountains and movement and how much I enjoy being out there. The running may not start for a little while...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Runnning Gear - Yay for Holiday! + disclaimer

I have been stuck in the last century with my running gear since I can remember. My shirts are too big or too small; they ride up; my shorts ride up; overall the clothes never fit correctly; they rub; they annoy me, and they never help enough to battle the heat or the cold, and they don't have pockets!

This Holiday I received: long & short shirts of various materials & a running skirt! And, many of the shirts and the running skirt have pockets. I have run in these clothes several times, and I am ecstatic. SUCH a difference these clothes make!! I had no idea.

Disclaimer: NOW, I am not saying that new fancy gear is a necessity. One beautiful thing about running is that most of us only require running shoes + some clothes + a place to run - that is what i have always loved about running - the simplicity. My reflection is: for some of us - these running clothes only add to the enjoyment; they are not a necessity.

Coming out out of a fog of sickness and from a land where it is flat

My apologies for lack of posting.

Recently, I have been in New Orleans (NOLA) visiting in-laws, and then on New Year's Eve I came down with a flu which had me bedridden for 5+ days. Quite a respite from running!

In my limited knowledge about NOLA, it is not a city where people go to run. There are some beautiful parks: Audobon and City Park, for example, and many people run in these parks, but, again, most of the stories I have heard about NOLA include references to food and heavy drinking.

I did run while I was there; however, as many may know from their visits to NOLA, it is very flat. There are no hills, and if there is an incline, it is hard to notice. Where I was staying, the runs were in a neighborhood that was laid out very well so a non-native would not get lost. The streets running vertically where numbered consecutively while the streets running horizontally were labeled. My runs consisted of timed loops, over and over. I would run down a named street until it hit a busy 4 lane road, and then run on the numbered street until it hit a named street to run the numbered blocks back to the house. This loop would repeat depending on how much time I had. Also, the weather. It was never below 65 degrees while we were there. This was an enjoyable event for me, but my Grendel was panting early, and the style of the runs changed from longer to 2X a day shorter runs.

Then, there is the flu. This flu has kept me in bed for most of the last week. It started with a sore throat, which I intelligently ignored, and then our New Year's eve was spent inside watching movies instead of downtown roaming around. My biggest upset of 2008!

I do look forward to posting in 2009!