Saturday, November 30, 2013

Finish Strong

Its Scenic Route Saturday!

Today's location- Pocahontas State Park. Trails traveled: Bright Hope, Outer Lick (yes, its ACTUALLY called that), Fendley Station, Mosely Forest, Old Mill Bike, Muddy Buddy.

Today's mileage- 13.1. (The cheapest 1/2 Marathon EVER, just missing the fanfare and fun swag bag)

Avg Pace- 10:03 min/mile

Time- 2:11:49

The onset of hunting season has made me expand my exploration at Pocahontas, which has been mostly fun and only occasionally frustrating or confusing.The areas of the park that are the most convenient for me to park & run are also the only areas of the park that are open for hunting. (Well isn't that just SUPER?!) I know I could run on Sunday when the hunters are at home skinning and gutting little Bambi and eating beef jerky like a bunch of hoodlums, but some of us gotta work on Sundays, yo. So, for the past few long runs, I've been exploring trails that I've used little to never in the past. That's one of the great things about a long run...if you get lost, its all good! You need those miles, anyway! 

Today I went over to the equestrian side of Pocahontas, which I very rarely do. Other than the big frozen piles of horse poop along the way, it was pretty nice! I'm reading The Hobbit right now and all the pine trees reaching way up into the sky and dropping pine needles to cover the path totally reminded me of Mirkwood Forest. (Dork alert!!) Anyway, it was a nice change from the leaf-laden trails I normally run. Twisty roots and rocks like to hide under those pretty fall leaves and twist your ankle in a hot second. I even stopped to snap a pic on Outer Lick because it was so pretty. Of course a photo is never as good as real-life, but it was worth a try!

My sense of direction is FINALLY improving a little (woohoo!). I was able to run on some new trails and pretty much knew exactly where I was and where I'd come out (most of the time). My husband is the navigator in the family and since he's what you might call an "anti-runner with his wifey-er," I'm on my own, folks.

The first 5 miles of my run today were pretty awful. I'm not sure why, but the longer my runs get, the longer it takes me to get into a good rhythm. Today, I was freezing, then I was sweating, then the sweat made me cold, then my pants needed re-adjusting, then a bad song came on that I could NOT listen to, then the pull-strings on my jacket were flip-flopping everywhere (that HAD to be addressed),then I thought, "Well dang, I might as well stop to take a picture." That was the first 5 miles, in a nutshell. I got myself together, gave myself a little pep-talk. It went something like, "MOVE your butt, you sissy!" Just as I'm shaking it out and regaining my composure, my Pop Fitness channel on Pandora saved me. Nothing gets my arse moving like some teeny-bopper music , and I'll admit "Call Me Maybe," is my JAM! Popped 2 Power Bar Chews (the lemon kind are YUM), and was on my merry way.

Miles 6-10 were in the sweet spot, felt great and even threw in a few dance moves along the way. (People I meet on the trail probably think I'm drunk, which is only true about half the time).

Miles 11-12 were the toughest for my legs. I'll have to make note of 2 GIANT hills on Fendley Station that I had forgotten about until I saw them in front of me (Fancy seeing YOU here, Mister Tiny Mountain).

Mile 13- Its all about the finish, duh!...As long as you finish strong and do what you set out to do, it doesn't make much difference how ugly certain parts of your run were.

For me distance running has been a great teacher of patience, determination and commitment. Today, for the first hour of my run, I felt like there was no way I was going to be able to finish the distance I'd planned for. But, with a nice stubborn attitude and some really bad pop music, my legs and I ran a nice little 1/2 Marathon and got over all the mental and physical hills along the way. I'll take it!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I've got a ridiculous amount to be thankful for; its overwhelming to think about how blessed I am in this life I've been given. I'm thankful for a husband who doesn't give me a hard time (very often) about disappearing into the woods for a few hours at a time every Saturday morning.  My running buddies have 4 paws each and make every mile on the trail interesting (and protect me from bears and squirrels). My daughter has taught me patience and filled my heart with so much love and joy. I thank God for my family (4-legged and otherwise), today and every day.

OK, I've got a date with the pavement this morning. Honestly, I don't find many things less enticing than pounding out a run in my cute but totally boring neighborhood. However, its Thanksgiving and I've got 2 casseroles to make, so we gotta get this run knocked out today. I'll take the scenic route on the trail on Saturday. I plan on eating the biggest piece of pie you've ever seen later today, so it's time to burn up some pavement.

Happy Thanksgiving! Que the Christmas music!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jogging strollers and other stuff

Days 'til the 35k- 46
Days 'til MARATHON- 108

This weather is ruining my trail-running mojo, big time! Choosing to do these long races that require winter training may not have been the smartest decision I've ever made. Today its freezing rain and totally gross outside. I really hate going 2 days without running, but it looks like that's just the way the cookie is crumbling this week. Tomorrow I'll shoot for about 9 mi, and then my long run on Saturday will be around 13. I feel like I'm running out of training weeks as these races draw ever nearer!

So today instead of running, I'm writing about running. Talk about OB-sessed, huh? What can I say, trail running takes up a lot of my brain-time, the rest of which is devoted to singing "Wheels on the Bus" and trying to build the world's largest block tower without knocking it down. So glad I'm putting that college degree to good use, ha!

I got into running when I was about 19. I adopted a 6-month old pup from the shelter who needed a lot (a LOT) of exercise. So, I started jogging a little with her when we'd go for walks. Then we jogged a little more and even more. Before long, we had our favorite routes and ran together almost every day. I'll always be grateful for that little mutt and the love of running that we shared and that I keep alive even though she's up in doggie heaven now. Probably running laps around those fatties who sat on the sofa chowing on biscuits all day. My first race was on my 20th birthday. It was a 5k and I somehow won my age group even though my time was unimpressive. Anyway, it didn't matter; I was hooked.

My love for being out on the trail was really born in Idaho. After floundering through my first 2 years of college and suffering a broken heart, I ventured out west to have myself a good old-fashioned adventure. The Dixie Chicks song "Wide Open Spaces" was my theme song that year. In Idaho I found not only some of the most beautiful trails I'd ever seen, I found kindred spirits to share that time and those miles with. I came back that winter with a ton of great memories and a fresh outlook on my future, but most importantly with a pair of killer quads earned hiking and running in the mountains of Northern Idaho. I knew if I planned to keep those beastly beauties, I was gonna have to step up my running game at home. And this is how I became a trail runner.

For a while I ran mostly on the roads and hit the trail whenever I could get out there. My first 1/2 Marathon was in 2007; I did all of my training and the race on the road. My knees paid dearly for it, and have never been quite the same after all that pounding and impact. If you're ever going up a flight of stairs beside me and hear a "snap, crackle, POP!" its not the cereal, its just the sound of my knees slowly falling apart. After that race, I was tired of the knee pain and just a little burnt out from running in general. I took a couple of years and got into other things, mainly indoor cycling, yoga and swimming. Running and I took a little time to see other people, if you catch my drift.

Then, in 2011 my daughter was born. WOW, that was pretty awesome... BUT it jacked my bod up some kinda bad. I mean like 50 POUNDS bad. Yikes, yeah?! Also, I couldn't really get to the gym because I didn't want to hand my precious little cherub baby over to whatever 14 year old they had working the child-watch. I mean I wanted to work out, but damn, can I get a college- student at least?! So, that just left me and my jogging stroller. My relationship with running was about to get rekindled, whether I liked it or not.

Let me just say this, Moms who run with jogging strollers are way more bad-ass than the dudes lifting 300-lbs at the gym. Those guys are hyped up on Muscle Milk and can go home after a long day of pumping iron and veg-out in front of Duck Dynasty all afternoon. Running with a kid in a jogging stroller is literally one of the hardest physical things I've ever done. Here's why:

1.You lose one of your hands, completely. Going up a big hill and need to pump your arms? Fresh out, homie. Your legs gotta work that out.

2. That stroller weighs like 45lbs, plus however much your kid weighs. Plus, kids get bigger and bigger, which means that no matter how much better you get at running with the stroller, the load you're pushing will continue to get heavier. Especially in the winter, when you bundle your kid up in 12 layers just to make sure that CPS doesn't get called on that crazy lady running with her toddler in a jogging stroller when its 30 degrees outside.

3. Jogging strollers are a beast to turn; your arms will be really sore for a while unless you live at the beach and can find miles and miles of straight road. In which case, screw you.

4. The most obnoxious thing about running with a jogging stroller is the fact that your passenger is a tiny little human who is on a mission to ruin your workout and make you lose your mind. Those little sippy-cup throwing, snack-eating, shoe chucking angels that you're chauffeuring around your neighborhood will no doubt be the biggest obstacle in your path to MILF status. And, unlike the Dwayne Johnson wannabe at the gym, there is no shower and protein shake waiting for you at the end of the workout. Dream on, lady.

So, here we are in 2013. Lucy is 2 and in preschool, which has freed me of my chains to that awful jogging stroller. So, for at least 2 mornings a week and one nice long run on the weekend, I'm free to roam the wild forests in Central Virginia. I'm signed up for a 35k at Bear Creek Lake in January which is sure to be interesting. My first Marathon is March 15 at Pocahontas State Park, my "home court," as far as trail-running goes. At the end of this very cold and muddy journey, I'll be one of those jerks with a 26.2 stickers on my car. You betcha!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Its Raining

I dropped my kid off at preschool today wearing my running gear, even though it was miserable, freezing and raining outside. I had every intention of going by the store to grab some stuff for Thanksgiving, then heading to the park to log a few miles. But, the guy at the grocery store was obviously on his first day, making my wait time to buy my junk like 20 minutes. As I was walking to the car, the rain began pelting down. I took these two events as a sign...I was NOT meant to run today. I usually take the "let's be a hard-ass" approach to running in the rain/cold. Today, I went shopping. I'd be lying if I said I feel bad about it. Shopping sans kiddo screaming at my feet and opening the dressing room door while I'm half-naked was AMAZING. I think that playing hookey from the running routine every now and then actually helps my running. Or maybe I'm just telling myself that now while envisioning how great those new purple skinny jeans are gonna look in the Thanksgiving photos. Cheers to a lazy day without a bit of running in sight.