Fairfield Half Marathon. The (First) Recap.
I know that Colby is writing a recap of the FFH (the second F and H stand for Fairfield Half – I’ll let you decide what the first F stands for), but since we’re pretty sure that this was our last Fairfield Half, I think we can write 2 recaps. Right?
Here’s what my recap would read if I were allowed only 3 lines:
It was hot.
It was humid.
I think it was my last Fairfield Half.
But of course, there was so much more than that…
Like Vermont Covered Bridges, the course is beautiful, winding through great beach neighborhoods and along the Long Island Sound coastline. Whereas Vermont Covered Bridges showcases the quaint, small-town rural beauty of New England, the Fairfield Half highlights another beautiful side to New England. We got beaches, baby!
But both were hot, and alas, I did not fully get to enjoy the beauty…
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50K Training, Week 10: The Most Gorgeous Week
Some weeks are just made for running.
This past week was an absolutely gorgeous week of spring weather. The week started out in the upper 30’s in the mornings and was in the low 60’s by the end of the week — which is a pretty abrupt change in temperature. The trees are just starting to get their green leaves, the evening sunsets with a thin crescent moon were lovely, and (though I was never able to spot it) there’s a comet somewhere near the Earth. Though spring is inevitably followed by summer, my least favorite running season here in Texas, I can’t help but love running in the early springtime.
MON: Pace Run 9 mi – Since the rain cancelled my trail run yesterday, and the wind kept me nice and warm in my bed, Liz and I met up for a loop around the lake this morning. Though not 35 mph like yesterday, at 36 degrees we definitely felt the wind this morning. We felt good, added in the hilly path, ran negative splits, and wound up with a pretty fast average pace (9:06). Even though it was only 9 miles, I was too worn out for yoga afterwards.
TUE: Easy Run – 6 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – It was an absolutely gorgeous morning for a run on the Katy Trail. We are getting a little bored with running around the lake and it was a nice change. Tried to keep the pace more conservative, but the average was still only three seconds slower than yesterday’s. Enjoyed some power yoga later in the morning.
WED: Easy Run – 4 mi – Liz took a rest day so I did an easy run in the neighborhood. Legs felt tight and my allergies made me feel fuzzy headed and sluggish. Breezy, but another gorgeous spring morning.
THU: Hill Run – 8 mi – Met Liz and Hari a little later in the morning for a hill run around Lakewood. It was another beautiful day, though the temperatures did climb into the low 60’s by the end of the run. In another month I will be dying for runs in the low 60’s, so I’m not complaining. Liz watched a show Sunday morning that highlighted a study about friendship that says people perceive hills to be less daunting when they are with friends. This certainly seems to be the case when we run hills each week. I can’t imagine trying to run them without my friends (and I would do a lot more walking if I did).
FRI: Yoga – 20:00 – Because of running four straight days, I have been yoga lazy this week. Did some easy forward bends.
SAT: Long Run – 10 mi – One of the worst runs I’ve had in a long time. It was warm and humid, and I don’t think many of us have acclimated to the warmer temperatures yet. Also, my allergies have been pretty bad all week and, worst of all, my left ITB felt suspiciously tender. It continued during the run and early afternoon, but was never bad enough to call it painful. It was gone after an evening of relaxation on the couch — and it’s not easy to relax on the Saturday before St Patrick’s Day when you live where we do, just off lower Greenville Ave. For those who don’t live here, Greenville Ave. is Mecca to all St. Patrick’s Day revelers in Dallas. The noise of 100,000 drunk people, helicopters, sirens, traffic, loud music, and parties next door and across the alley (including yelling drunk women — why do women yell when they drink too much?) kept us up until 3am. It was a short night.
SUN: Trail Run – Grapevine – 8.7 mi, Yoga – 40:00 – Slept on the couch with the TV on until 3am to drown out the music from the party next door, then got up at 6:30am for the trail run with Hari and Susan. It was 64 deg, overcast, and humid, but surprisingly pleasant during the run. The ITB felt okay today, just a slight twinge of tenderness, so I’m not freaking out. It’s merely making its presence known. I will acknowledge and take tomorrow off. This has been the highest mileage week I’ve run since December, so I will back off. We had a fun encounter with a speeding armadillo on our run who ran right across our path, in a straight line uphill, running much faster than we were. I had no idea they could run that fast! And what kooky looking animals!
Looking forward to Grasslands trail marathon this weekend!
Stats for WEEK 10: Run – 46.3 miles, Yoga – 1:20:00
Armadillo photo courtesy of: Rafi B. from Somewhere in Texas 🙂 (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
50K Training, Week 9: Blow Me Away
I was a skinny little girl. My best friend’s mom used to say that one day I would blow away in a strong gust of wind. I think I took those words to heart.
Everyone has their own personal running nemeses. High heat and humidity come to mind, both of which I struggle with. For me, though, nothing is worse than running against a strong wind, especially when it’s cold.
It’s getting to be that time of year when the wind makes its reappearance. My first two marathons are still my toughest races, mostly because of high winds in each race, with the second even windier than the first. Probably because of those two races, strong wind is my least favorite weather to run in. Winter temperatures make it even worse.
Two of my runs this week were “winded out” because of strong, gusty winds and cool temperatures. No guilt; I just didn’t feel like fighting 35+ mph gusts on those two days. I did get in three quality runs, though, so I’ll call it a step-back week and pick up the mileage this week.
MON: Yoga – 40:00 – Woke up with a slightly sore lower back (probably from a small fall on the trail yesterday), so I did some back bends, then hip openers to help stretch out the sore quads. 88 degrees today!
TUE: Rest Day – Heard the wind howling all night long, bringing in a cold front and plunging temperatures. Even Liz didn’t want to run in that wind, so it was easy to convince her to bail on our morning run. We attended a luncheon together and standing in the cold wind afterwards at valet parking got rid of all my guilt at not running. The wind continued into the evening, and I was having dinner with a friend anyway, so an unplanned rest day took place. This only means I will have to try and make up the miles later in the week.
WED: Hill Run – 8 mi, Power Yoga – 20:00 – Liz and I packed in as many hills as we possibly could on our run today. As usual, I dreaded the run and wound up loving it in the end. Liz and I had a great conversation on our run, and it reminds me that I’ve made some truly amazing friends through running. Power yoga in the late afternoon wore me out.
THU: Tempo Run – 6 mi – Yoga – 20:00 – After yesterday’s hill run, I don’t know how we did it but Liz and I picked up some serious speed today. We ran fartleks in between what we thought was an “easy” pace, and couldn’t believe some of the splits we pulled off. Liz loves sprinting, especially at the end of a run (I don’t), but our fast fartleks felt exhilarating. It was a great workout, and I could barely keep my eyes open later in the evening.
FRI: Rest Day – I thought about doing a few miles in the neighborhood in the afternoon, but after a hill run followed by a tempo run, and two scheduled long runs this weekend, I decided against it. Somehow I got busy later in the day and never got around to yoga either.
SAT: Long Run – 12 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – What a warm, humid, windy run. I guess I should be thankful that the wind kept us cool, but it was mostly just plain irritating. After morning runs these past few weeks in the 30’s and 40’s, starting with a temperature of 61 degrees was a shock to the system. It certainly kept our pace slower than usual, and there were some hills in the end, but I managed to have a great run.
SUN: Rest Day – Another trail run rained out. I enjoyed sleeping in on a Sunday morning, but could hear the wind blowing and gusting outside. I had planned on running in the afternoon but felt absolutely zero desire to battle the wind. I took a rest day instead and will make up the miles next week.
Stats for WEEK 9: Run – 26 miles, Yoga – 1:40:00
Jemez 50K Training, Week 8: My Cup Runneth Over
My friend Hari had some of his favorite running friends over for dinner a few months ago. As we stood in the kitchen, shooting the breeze while we waited for Hari’s world famous pulled pork to be ready, someone noticed a jumble of running stuff in the small pantry off the kitchen. When I say “jumble,” I really mean an overflowing waterfall of running stuff spilling from the counter. It was everywhere — and it was a MESS. After giving him a hard time for it for the next few weeks — because that’s what I do — I looked around and realized my stash of running stuff looks just as bad as Hari’s.
This is my confession.
My running stuff is not confined to one area, like Hari’s. It’s all over the place. There’s the bookshelf next to my computer that’s a jumble of office supplies, yoga DVD’s, teaching materials, yoga mats, weights, and running stuff. There’s the dining room table where I put out all the things I will need for the next day’s run. There’s the closet where I keep all my shoes, jackets, shorts, shirts, capris, tights, gloves, caps, etc to ensure I’m warm/cool/dry enough for any type of weather or season. And there’s the dresser drawer where I keep all my socks. Yes, three-fourths of an entire drawer of socks — thin socks, toe socks, trail socks, and thick trail socks. And I won’t go into depth about the TEN pairs of Nike Frees I bought on sale last year that are stacked up along the floor of my closet.
Don’t get that snooty look on your face. I know I’m not alone. I bet your place looks just as overrun with running items as mine.
MON: Recovery – OUCH. My quads are very sore from yesterday’s half marathon.
TUE: Recovery – Still sore. Too sore for yoga even.
WED: Recovery – Just a little residual soreness in the quads, but I have a headache, so I’m taking another rest day and not feeling an ounce of guilt for doing so.
THU: Easy Run – 5 mi – Yoga – 20:00 – I thought I was just being lazy for not running yesterday, but my quads were still pretty sore on my run this morning, especially the left one. It was cold (37 deg) and Liz and I had to keep slowing ourselves down. We ran negative splits and finished off much faster than either of us really wanted to. I have to admit that it feels kind of awesome to be running so fast again. Enjoyed some forward bends afterwards and hoping it will help with the quads.
FRI: Yoga – 35:00 – Since my quads were still sore yesterday, and I have two long runs this weekend, I decided to do some easy yoga and take a running rest day.
SAT: Long Run – 13 mi – It was SO COLD on our run this morning. 32 degrees at the start with an icy cold wind to boot. My fingertips were frozen the entire run. Nevertheless, it was still a good run — despite the trauma of having our start time pushed back to 6:30am, UGH — and we kept a good pace. I am going to appreciate every single cold run from now on because I know these days are numbered. (I really could have done without that cold wind, though!)
SUN: Trail Run – Rowlett Creek Preserve – 11 mi – A gorgeous morning for both a trail run and a birthday. The weather was perfect, and we had a nice group running with us. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done an extended trail run with my friend Hari, so it was nice to spend the morning on the trails with him. Afterwards, breakfast at Hubbards with some of the group, and a quiet birthday at home. It was nice to take some time off this week from running to recover and to run a semi-long trail run to cap off the week.
Stats for WEEK 8: Run – 29 miles, Yoga – 55:00
Jemez 50K Training, Week 7: Cowtown Half Marathon
After last week’s running boredom, I looked forward to taking three full days off before running the Cowtown Half Marathon on Sunday. Taking three days off before a race has always worked well for me, and I arrive feeling rested and excited to race at the start line. I was also looking forward to a short weekend away from home and running on a new course. Part of my running boredom is nothing more than always running the same routes, over and over, or the same few trails, and I was really looking forward to running in a different location. I was hoping that running a half marathon would also reset all my buttons and break up some of the tedium of training — and that’s exactly what happened. There’s nothing better than running a good race.
MON: Yoga – 40:00 – I was feeling pretty sore from our short trail run yesterday, especially in the calf muscles and left groin area (which has been flaring up off and on recently, probably because of the hill work). Concentrated on forward bends and opening the hips, and felt great afterwards.
TUE: Hill Run – 6 mi – Since we’re officially tapering before Saturday’s half marathon, Liz and I ran the hilly path rather than the more challenging hill route we run on Wednesdays. It was another gorgeous, early spring morning, with blue skies and temps in the mid 40’s. Though I am sad to see our Texas winter slowly fade away, I can’t complain about these perfect mornings for running. I loved that the hilly path seemed easy, and I especially loved feeling so strong on the hills.
WED: Easy Run – 4.2 mi – It was thundering and hailing when I got up to run with Liz, so we pushed the run back to this afternoon. It was a true winter day, with cloudy skies and a blustery wind from the north. I think we would have run 6 miles if the wind hadn’t been so bitterly cold, so we cut it short and kept a relatively easy pace. I’m really looking forward to three days off from running, some longer yoga sets, and then the Cowtown Half Marathon on Sunday.
THU: Yoga – 40:00 – Enjoyed my first day of taper before the half marathon on Sunday. Did twists and back bends, then took the dogs for a long walk in the evening. After a brief rain storm this morning, it turned out to be a gorgeous, warm day. I’m really looking forward to getting away for the weekend and running a half. My last half was in Eugene almost a year ago and I loved the course. For me, half marathons are truly a fun distance to run. I can push the pace, enjoy the course, and not feel as beat up afterwards as I always do after a marathon. Liz and I are going to try and run a sub 2:00 hour. We’ve both been running really well lately, so I think it’s possible. It’s predicted to be “breezy,” and wind is not my friend during a race, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t materialize. If it does, though, we’ll still have a fun race.
FRI: REST DAY – A total rest day (except for packing for the race)!
SAT: Rest Day – Liz and I took the train over to Ft Worth and met up with Heather at the hotel, which was a very short walk from the train station. I was glad I decided to stay with them overnight in Ft Worth rather than drive over from Dallas before the race. We took the free trolley to Uno’s pizzeria for dinner and met Hari, his family, Amy, and Aaron. The restaurant was packed, but it was worth the wait because the pizza was amazing. Liz, Heather, and I went back to the room and got everything ready for the race, then it was lights out at 9pm. As always, I tossed and turned all night, nervous about the race. Some things never change, no matter the distance.
SUN: COWTOWN HALF MARATHON, Ft Worth – Sometimes everything comes together on race day and you have an amazing run. Today was one of those days for me. The weather was perfect (cold and wind-free), the course was hilly enough to add some variety, and overall I just felt very, very good. I decided not to wear my Garmin — a first for me — and tried to run according to how I felt. When I got to the top of the long hill around mile 9 (where I silently thanked all those hills I’ve been running lately) I felt great, and pushed the pace with a smile on my face. I went from a 9:10 average at mile 3 to an 8:50 finish in my second fastest half marathon ever (1:55:48), and the fastest finish I’ve had since 2010. It feels good to pull that off but, like I said, sometimes it all just comes together. The most important thing is that I truly enjoyed every minute!
Stats for WEEK 7: Run – 23.4 miles, Yoga – 1:20:00
Jemez 50K Training, Week 6: Do I Have To?
There comes a time in each training season when I start to feel a little bored with running. This week was one of those weeks. Running felt more like something I had to do rather than something I got to do. I’ve always disliked having to do certain things, when schedules and routines become more of a grudge than something to keep me on track, and this feeling tends to surface once I reach the mid-portion of a training plan. I knew the feeling would eventually pass, however, as it always does, so I put my head down and just kept going. That’s what we runners do, after all.
And as I used to tell my fifth grade students when they asked if they had to do their homework: No, the only thing you have to do is die. Everything else is optional. After puzzled silence and my pointed teacher look, they almost always understood exactly what I meant.
This week I kept the mileage about the same as last week because of this coming weekend’s half marathon. Best of all I finally got to run on trails again, though we didn’t run as far as I would have liked. Those long trail runs are in my very near future, though, so I will certainly appreciate being able to put in just enough miles to finish in time for a late breakfast and still have the rest of the day to enjoy.
MON: Rest Day – Pure day of rest. Loveliness!
TUE: Tempo Run – 6 mi, Yoga – 40:00 – Damn that Liz! Today’s tempo run felt like a race, and we kept either an 8:41 or an 8:48 average, depending on whose watch you went by. Since our morning attempt at running was rained out, we met at the lake for a late afternoon run instead, which was a nice change. It was cloudy, chilly, and perfect for a tempo run. I felt guilty for doing absolutely nothing athletic yesterday, so I did a double yoga program of standing poses and twists. I also signed up for the Grasslands trail marathon in Decatur, about 1.5 hrs drive from here, on March 23. I figure it will be good training for Jemez.
WED: Easy Run – 5.3 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – Had an upset stomach in the morning, so Liz and I changed our plans and met Bill in the late afternoon for an easy run at the lake. The weather could not have been more perfect for an afternoon run. Liz and I could definitely feel the aftereffects of yesterday’s fast tempo run. Talk about some fatigued legs!
THU: Hill Run – 6 mi – Liz was having some hip flexor pain, and I was having some stomach issues again this morning, so I wound up running solo in the afternoon. I stuck to the hilly path and kept a pretty good pace, and was rewarded with a gorgeous sunset at the finish. My boredom with running continues, so it was tough to run on my own. It was 70 degrees when I started the run, and hard to believe it is still winter.
FRI: Yoga – 40:00 – Left quad a little sore, so I did an extended set of yoga: forward bends and hip openers. I had the thought today that no matter what happens with my running as I get older, I will do yoga for the rest of my life.
SAT: Long Run – 15 mi – It doesn’t get much better than this. 32 degrees, no wind, and a perfect blue sky overhead. Hills at the beginning and end, 15 miles to keep it real, and good friends for laughs and companionship. We are so lucky to get to do this.
SUN: Trail Run – Oak Cliff Nature Preserve – 5.6 mi – It was another stunningly beautiful morning, perfect for a trail run. It warmed up quickly, we had the trails entirely to ourselves, and things just could have not been more perfect. I took an easy fall right after I made fun of Hari’s non-glamorous way of breaking his rib. It was one of those falls where one minute you’re talking and the next you’re staring at the ground, wondering what happened. I chalk it up to instant karma for making fun of Hari. Actually, those stupid little stumps that jut out from the sides of the trail seem to take me down more than anything else. We had some brand new trail runners in our group today and it was fun to see their excitement. Breakfast afterwards at Norma’s more than compensated for any calorie loss and the indignity of falling down, yet again.
Stats for WEEK 6: Run – 38 miles, Yoga – 1:40:00
Jemez 50K Training, Week 5: Fair Weather Friends
This week was a good reminder of how running has become such a social event for me through the years. The first few years I ran, I thought I preferred running alone, that it gave me time to work through the stress of teaching full-time. I could listen to music, be alone with my thoughts, and spend time outdoors. These days it’s rare for me to run alone. Running is a social event now, a time to talk with like-minded friends and train for an upcoming race. Running alone has slowly become second only to treadmill running — and that’s the worst type of punishment I can imagine. This week I got to run with all my favorite running friends and share a few beers and meals with them afterwards. And while the rest of the country dug out from a few feet of snow, we continued to enjoy unseasonably fair, spring-like weather.
MON: Yoga – 20:00 – Quads are a little sore from the back to back runs this weekend, so I did some easy yoga.
TUE: Easy Run – 6 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – Met Bill and Liz at 6:00am for my earliest run this year. It was foggy and warm (57 deg and 97% humidity) and the lake looked beautiful in the dark. It is surprising how many people run at the lake that early in the morning, each of us passing one another like phantoms, some with flashlights, most gliding silently past. I had forgotten how much I love these early morning runs in the dark. (I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune in the middle of July when I’m forced to run this early every day to beat the heat.)
WED: Tempo Run – 4 mi, Yoga – 20:00, Walk – 3 mi – Met Liz for a tempo run at the lake. We decided to postpone our usual Wednesday hill run until Thursday to give our legs a chance to recover. But of course, we couldn’t help ourselves on today’s “easy” run and still managed to push the pace into the tempo range. It was very warm and humid again and I was glad it was only 4 miles. Came home and did some power yoga, and in the evening met up with the Wednesday night running group and walked 3 miles with Hari, including a half mile run back to Fuzzy’s. I’m so glad Hari is slowly coming back to running. Susan is also running again, though she still has a cast on her hand. We had a huge crowd at Fuzzy’s to not only run, but also to drink local Lakewood beer (and get a free beer glass).
THU: Hill Run – 6 mi – I found myself dreading the hill run when I woke up this morning. It felt kind of like going through childbirth for the second time, where you know what’s coming and you just really don’t feel like going through that again! As always, once I got warmed up and put a few hills under my belt I started to enjoy the run. I am still, however, always happy when that run is over! It was warm and humid yet again, but I was thankful for the cloud cover.
FRI: Yoga – 45:00 – Tried a new kundalini yoga sequence this afternoon. It was different from my usual yoga practice, with lots of deep breathing and slow, extended poses to awaken the energy centers in the spine (chakras). Loved the abs poses to strengthen the core, my weakest area.
SAT: Long Run – 14 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – Such a great run this morning. It was overcast, around 50 degrees, and there were just enough hills to keep it interesting. I had a nice breakfast afterwards talking to my friends, and am reminded of how much I enjoy my Saturday long runs with my group of friends. I’ve been keeping a good pace lately, seeing averages I haven’t hit in quite awhile. Left quad and groin felt a little tight towards the end of the run, so I did some hip opener yoga poses to stretch out the area. If it doesn’t rain tonight like it’s supposed to, looking forward to some McKinney trails tomorrow.
SUN: Easy Run – 9 mi – It stormed in the night so we cancelled our trail run. I was disappointed because I didn’t run trails last weekend either, but it was made up for by the fact that I got to run an entire lake loop with my best running bud, Hari, who is well on his way to recovering from his broken rib incident from Christmas. Even though the yoga cured the tightness in my left groin, my legs felt a little stiff from yesterday’s hills and the somewhat faster pace, and I was glad we only ran 9 miles. I am a little shorter than I wanted to be this week in mileage (5 miles) because of the missed trail run, but I can tell my legs need some rest. I’d rather be short on mileage and have fresh legs next week than get the miles in and not feel rested enough — and cause some type of stupid injury.
Stats for WEEK 5: Run – 39 miles, Yoga – 1:45:00, Walk – 3 miles
Running is My Drug of Choice
This week I’ve found myself several times with this thought: for some people, running is a drug.
They can’t get enough. They live, breathe, and eat running. They buy stickers for their cars, get tattoos and wear running jewelry, and buy cute little t-shirts with funny running slogans on them. Sound familiar?
You should see my car. And my t-shirt drawer. And the ten pairs of running shoes I bought on sale last year.
Some are instantly addicted from the very first run. They like the way running makes them feel. It may be the first time in their lives they’ve ever felt in control, empowered, and strong. That’s how it was for me.
For others, it comes on more slowly. After years of running they one day realize they simply can’t live without it. They run in spurts, until the day arrives when they feel like they can get through a run without feeling like they’re going to die.
Sometimes it happens after your first long race. You’ve pushed yourself further than you ever thought possible. Finishing your first half marathon or marathon is exhilarating. Even though you swear you’ll never do another one, you find yourself planning your next race within an hour after crossing the finish line.
For some, racing is the drug. These runners book a race every weekend. They don’t train; they race. Continually. I don’t know how they do it. I’m good for one or two big races a year.
For many, their addiction to running only shows up when they’re injured. First they ignore that little twinge of pain that could signal something serious. They refuse to believe that they may need to back off and rest a day or two. I can’t be injured, I have a race in two weeks. They think they can run through it, that it will just go away. Denial is its own powerful addiction.
When they give in and go see a doctor, who then confirms what they knew all along, they become depressed when day after day passes and they can’t run. Some even feel like their identity disappears when they aren’t out running with everyone else. They need an intervention. We’ve all been there at one point or another.
Thankfully, I haven’t met many runners whose identities are that tied up in running. Most of us accept that there needs to be balance in every aspect of our lives, and running is just another part of the pie.
The bottom line is, it feels good to run. Nothing beats a good run first thing in the morning, and those feelings carry through for the rest of the day. That’s a pretty good incentive to keep running.
For instance, the other day my friend Liz needed to run earlier than our usual winter time of 8:15am, and we met at the lake at 6:00am. It was dark and foggy, but I have to admit it was a nice change. After the run I came home and went into hyper mode, going shopping, cleaning the entire kitchen (even the fridge!), doing dishes, doing laundry, answering emails, and even fitting in a session of yoga. I am a dedicated Night Owl, and somehow the combination of getting up earlier and a good six miler definitely felt like my own personal drug.
When I’m injured or sick, and don’t run for a few days, NOT running starts to become just as addictive as running. Not running is easy. There are other things that need to be done. Not running is relaxing. I can sit on the couch and watch TV instead. Not running makes me wonder why I push myself so hard, week after week. I could walk and stay just as healthy. Not running makes me question why I put in all those hours of physical exertion. I have so much more time in my day when I don’t run.
I mean, what’s the point? We’re all going to die in the end anyway, right?
But then I hit the road and fall in love with running all over again.
It isn’t about staying alive as long as we can. It’s about living as fully as we can.
Running is life affirming. I run because I can, because it makes me feel strong and powerful. On some level, I find running to be very spiritual, especially trail running. When it’s just me on a trail, under a canopy of trees, or running through a gorgeous desert landscape, I feel connected to everything. There’s no separation between me and the universe, and every moment becomes meditative as I focus on nothing other than the trail ahead. It sounds hokey, I know, but it feels natural and unforced. If allows me to focus on the here and now, the immediacy of moving and breathing, and nothing else. In those moments there IS nothing else: nowhere else I need to be, no one else I need to be, and nothing else I need to have.
If running is a drug, so be it. It’s cheap, easy, and does the body, mind, and soul good. And that’s an addiction I can live with for the rest of my life.
Jemez 50K Training, Week 4: Spring Training in January
Spring is definitely in the air with daytime highs in the 60’s and 70’s all week long. It made for some great running conditions. Of course, I’m trying hard to ignore the fact that it’s barely February . . .
Since I began running seven years ago, many of the people I started out with have gone on to accomplish great things in their running. Many have qualified for and run Boston, many regularly place in or win local races, and many are now tearing up the trails and winning trail races. It’s just amazing — and so inspiring — to see how strong some of our running friends have become.
MON: Rest Day – Enjoyed a day of laundry, grocery shopping, rest, and taking my car in for maintenance (but didn’t enjoy the bill). It was 78 degrees today! Crazy.
TUE: Easy Run – 6 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – Ran with Liz from the house over to the Katy Trail in the warmest conditions since the fall. Starting temp was 72 with 76% humidity and winds gusting up to 30 mph. It rained twice on us during the run, and the wind was a beast to battle. It’s hard to believe it’s not even February yet. Did a session of power yoga afterwards to counteract some lower back tightness I’ve been feeling the past few mornings when I’ve gotten out of bed. The older I get and the more I run, especially on trails, the more I find I have to work a little harder to keep my core and back strong.
WED: Hill Run – 6 mi – Almost 30 degrees colder today than yesterday’s run and even windier. It was one blustery, gusty run on the hills this morning with Liz and the wind that was always a headwind no matter which direction we faced. We ran up all the “monster” hills in Lakewood (Loving, Sperry, Shook, West Shore) and the cold air triggered my asthma at mile 2. Had to run back to the car and use the inhaler, and it was hard finishing off those last two miles. For some reason, though, I’m a glutton for punishment. I really love running hills. Give me hills over speed work any day. I skipped yoga today because Nicole and I went to see a movie (Silver Linings Playbook) and got busy with other stuff.
THU: Tempo Run – 4 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – Speed work is my least favorite workout of all, so when Liz suggested we do a tempo run this morning, after our monster hill run yesterday, I thought she was joking. She wasn’t. I wasn’t happy about it the first mile, and felt like puking at one point, but once we settled into our rhythm it wasn’t so bad. Somehow we pulled off an 8:48 average pace, which is pretty good for this old body. In the end, it made me feel a little less guilty for the Tex-Mex we had for lunch. Followed up the run with twenty minutes of power yoga for flexibility. Rodney Yee yoga DVDs rule!
FRI: Rest Day – Enjoyed a day of total laziness.
SAT: Long Run – 13 mi – I decided to skip a trail run this weekend since most of my trail running partners are down in Huntsville running Rocky Raccoon. I’m kicking myself for not going down to spectate. Here in Dallas it was a beautiful morning for a long run, with 48 degrees at the start and not a cloud in the sky. We started from a different location (Crossroads Diner) and ran down the White Rock Trail to the lake and back. Running on the White Rock Trail is a nice change, even though it’s all concrete, but there were times I expected to see an alligator raise its head from the bogs we passed along the way (supposedly they are occasionally found here).
Most of us in our running group watched the Rocky Raccoon live race results all day and night, following so many of our friends who were running the 50 mile and 100 mile trail races. We’re proud of everyone who ran, but we’re especially proud of Nicole Studer who finished first place female in her very first 100 mile race! She placed first female in her first 50 mile race in Palo Duro back in October, so to see her do so well in her first 100, just a few months after her first 50, was amazing. As someone in our group said: there’s no hiding now, Nicole! Not only is she an inspiration, she is also one of the most humble runners you will ever meet — a true class act.
SUN: Long Run – 13 mi – Met up with a small group of running friends for a great run around the lake. The weather was comparable to yesterday, which means it was perfect for running. The air smelled fresh and it felt like early spring. I was a little sad not to be on the trails on such a gorgeous run, but it was nice to sleep in a little and not have to drive to the trails. I feel so spoiled by having such a beautiful lake to run around so close to my house. Today I was filled with thoughts of Nicole and her amazing win, and of how well everyone ran this weekend.
Here’s to running our best, and to letting that guide us to becoming better people in the world.
Stats for WEEK 4: Run – 42 miles, Yoga – 40:00
Jemez 50K Training, Week 3: Settling Back Into a Routine
It was a very good running week. I managed to get in 38 miles and some solid yoga sessions. The asthma and coughing that have plagued me since early October are also much better, and I’ve enjoyed having my son’s girlfriend stay with us before she flies off to join him in Brazil at the end of the week. Most of all, after the craziness of Christmas, company, our wedding, and illness, it’s nice to settle back into a regular training routine. It helps having great friends to keep you motivated and inspired!
MON: Run – 3 mi – Well, it’s a start. Usually Mondays are my rest day, but since my mileage has been so low, and because the weather was gorgeous, I decided to do an easy 3 miles from the house just before sunset. I was Garmin-free and ran on feel, which I’m trying to do more of. For someone who tends to be a slave to their watch, running without a Garmin is not easy. I loved the freedom of not caring what pace I kept. Legs felt good — lungs not so much — but I made it back home to my inhaler and a cold Texas beer with dinner!
TUE: Pace Run – 4 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – Ran with Liz from the spillway for one of my fastest paced runs since Christmas. It feels great to be picking up the pace again.
WED: Hill Run – 6 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – Met Liz for a hilly path run on the east side of the lake. Legs felt great and we kept a good pace. I really do love running a hilly path rather than a flat course (which is another reason I love the variety of trail running). Came home and did yoga with Nicole (back bends), then met the WRRC running group for a two mile run/walk for Nicole’s second run ever. She did great once again!
THU: REST DAY – Since Nicole will be leaving us in a week to join Nick in Brazil, we did important girl things to prepare for her trip. We got our nails done, had lunch, went shopping at Target, and bought some things at the grocery store. Living in a foreign country is not easy, and you have to make sure you stock up on American essentials like peanut butter and popcorn to take with you. I’m going to miss having another girl in the house (except for the dogs) when she’s gone.
FRI: Yoga – 20:00 – Did a session of hip openers with Nicole since she’s been having some pain in her groin muscle after running the other night. My coughing is MUCH better, finally!
SAT: Long Run – 12.14 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – It was a refreshingly misty, overcast, cool morning for a run with our largest group ever. When I saw the dog’s muddy footprints in the kitchen and the 91% humidity on the weather channel, I was not feeling exactly stoked about the run, but it turned out to be perfect running conditions. I was still feeling a little grumpy up through mile 9, but I got a second wind afterwards and felt great on the hills coming up off the lake. It was great, as always, to share breakfast and funny stories with my favorite running friends, including Susan, Kurt, and Hari, who came out despite their broken body parts (ring finger, pinky finger, and rib). Came home and did yoga (forward bends), which was just what I needed.
SUN: Trail Run – 10.21 mi – Rowlett Creek Preserve – I was seriously grumpy driving over to this morning’s trail run in Rowlett. I was feeling the two glasses of wine I had at dinner with friends the night before (even if it was followed up by roller skating), and the thick fog surrounding me in pitch darkness didn’t exactly scream Let’s run! Of course, all was forgotten once I got on the trails. The fog kept things cool and refreshing, and it was a completely different experience in the heavy fog. The trail wasn’t exactly muddy, but it was slick enough to cause me concern, especially on the steep downhills. I love my Brooks Pure Grit trail shoes, but they have no grip and are very slippery on wet surfaces. (This will only give me an excuse to purchase another pair of shoes.)
A hearty breakfast of eggs, sausage, hash browns, and biscuits and gravy with good friends you’ve gotten muddy with on the trails was the perfect way to end the week. After keeping my mileage so low this entire month while I was sick, I was a little concerned about doing back-to-back 12/10 milers, but my legs felt great both days. This has been my highest mileage week in over a month, and I’m happy to get back on track with my training.
Stats for WEEK 3: Run – 38 miles, Yoga – 1:20:00