i love running

So I’m pretty sure I’m actually obsessed with running. I scheduled myself a standard short run (1:15) and decided to do it on the mile-ish loop trail that’s about a mile and a half away from my apartment. And it was great. Just running around and around, not having to think about where you’re going, your feet having learned what to do and what to avoid and what to jump over after the first two loops… and this particular bit of trail is kind of similar in terms of elevation to the race course (aka flat, with basically one hill). So that was pretty great. Then I ran home, stretched, and… just wanted to run more. I mean, what else am I going to do (other than go to work for a couple hours and blog about running and eat food so I can run more)?

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been putting in a decent amount of mileage – the amount I should be doing every week, really. 45-60. And I’m feeling great. Stellar. Superb. Excellent. Awesome. Especially this weekend, doing 15ish then 13ish the next day… I think I’m going to adjust my work schedule for the rest of the summer so I can get a good solid 2 hours of running in every morning. I just need to avoid injury for 5 weeks…

But yeah. I’m glad I love running so very very much, because that makes it 100 percent clear and obvious that it is my passion, what I should do with my life – run a lot, get good at it, and work for something related to running (be it a magazine or a gear company). I realize this isn’t a very focused or well-written post, but I’m just so exuberant about running today and lately that I feel the need to happy-rant about it somewhere, and what better place that a running blog? I know you all share my enthusiasm  🙂

In short: running is great, and lately my running has been going so well, and I have been feeling great about it… life is just great, and I hope this feeling lasts for a very long time  🙂

peace love and running!
bec

PS. Although I did trip and catch myself on a tree with the world’s roughest bark ever, so my fingers are currently kind of ragged and bloody and still throbbing a little… still, it was a good run.  🙂

PPS. I’m also hoping this isn’t my peak, and that by the time my race rolls around, I’m over it… but I won’t let that happen!

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course preview/group training run

What is it about ultra people – and runners in general – that makes us so likeable? We’re friendly and talkative. We all share a passion. We’ve all had similar experiences, and some different ones to share. Which is why group runs are just so damn enjoyable. You drive in (hopefully finding the trailhead without too much difficulty), wait for everyone to show up, and then just kind of take off. As you fall into line and into the running rhythm, conversations start up with those in front of and behind you – introductions, past races, how you started running… As your feet become familiar with the dirt and roots beneath them, you become familiar with your future race mates.

I was a bit apprehensive about going to this training run; I was worried I’d show up at 7 a.m. to find four or five hardcore guys who all know each other, “Ok, let’s go do 6:30s!” and I’d be, “Ok, well see you later.” But nope. To my relief, I pulled into the trailhead to find an assortment of 30 to 40 runners. I was by far the youngest, but that’s fine (I actually like it that way), and there was a good variation in running levels as well. We had seasoned ultrarunners training for the 100M and a guy who had signed up for the trail 50M never having run on trails… only to discover that he doesn’t like trail running (????). After going over the course as best we could with either the RD or an assistant RD – I’m not sure, I didn’t catch her name – we traipsed off into the woods, that lovely line of runners going single-file over a fallen tree at the entrance to the trail, then beginning to jog.

The pace was pretty slow for the first 3 miles or so, and I was more or less stuck in the front of the middle, but once we hit the Lakeland Trail (part of the rails to trails program), a couple guys and I were able to get ahead to where we should be, picking up the pace. Which brings me to an important point –

This course is fast. It’s flat and downhill and FAST.

It starts out on horse trails (so not the best footing, but wide enough), then hooks up with the Lakeland Trail, then goes on some actual dirt roads before connecting with the southern loop, which is really nice singletrack. After the southern loop, you go back on the dirt roads for a little bit (not sure on exact distances since we got lost on the group run), then add a little 2 or 3 mile loop. But notice all the flat areas for picking up speed. The dirt roads, which aren’t hilly; the Lakeland Trail, which is flat; and so much of the southern loop is either basically flat or nicely rolling.

So, to my surprise, I found myself fairly flying along with the top couple guys during the group run, rollercoastering it up on the trails and pushing the pace a little (for me, anyway) on the dirt roads. We ended up accidentally cutting off the top loop, but since we’d gotten lost, we ended up running about 15 or 16 anyway. I drove away feeling jubilant and exulting in the joy that is running.

The next morning, I went out on the course again, this time with my dad (who is not a trail runner and “was not endeared to trail running” by this run, since he took two spills). Still felt just as great as yesterday. It’s just a bloody fast course. Before I ran on it, my goal was technically Finishing, Maybe Sub-10. Now my goal is 8:20 (10 min/mile) and, if the field is similar to last year’s, coming in first woman. (Last year’s came in at 10:30, 12:31 min/mile). On both of my training runs, I’d say the pace varied from about 8:45 to 9:45. Now, I realize that I will in fact get tired after three 16.6-mile loops, but still. I’m feeling confident in my running ability.

So I ended up not doing the dreaded back-to-back long runs, but I’m planning on going out this Saturday and getting two full loops in, hopefully at what my race pace will be so I can get a better feel for the correct pace. But man, I wish the RACE were this weekend. I feel ready. So. Ready. But until then, I’m just going to eat-breathe-sleep-live running (more than I already do, that is), and become and stay the best runner I can be.

Then it’s time for the 100k.

peace love and long-distance running!
bec

carrying on the fine tradition… (Oatmeal cookies)

I baked on my rest day! Of course it had to be done.

I modified this recipe, which I’ve used before, but they turned out better this time – I think because I took them out when I was supposed to. That helps, I’ve heard.  😛

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip/Raisin Cookies
(makes 12 2.5-inch cookies)

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
2T unsalted butter, softened
about 2T cinnamon applesauce
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda (I just estimated)
1 tsp cinnamon (estimated again)
dash of nutmeg
sprinkle of honey
some sea salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 chocolate chips*
1/4 cup raisins*
*you can leave these out if you want, or substitute nuts or something

Oven at 350, spoon ‘em out onto wax paper (or baking parchment if you’re fancy), leave ‘em in for about 10 minutes – until they’re golden-brownish on top. DON’T leave them in for too long! Let them cool on the pan for 5 minutes or so, then transfer to a cooling rack. Grab one while they’re warm  🙂  (They have a definite cakey texture, but if left in for the right amount of time, the edges and such have a bit of crunch.)

On a running note, good luck and happy running to a couple acquaintances from the Buckeye Buster 50k – Jeremey, Justin, and Star (and her husband Darris) – who are running the Burning River 100 tomorrow in Ohio. I’ll be following your progress!

peace love and running!
bec

 

rest day, glorious rest day!

You know you’ve been running far enough and well enough when your rest day comes around and there isn’t a niggle of doubt in your mind – or your legs! – that you need it. (Well, maybe a little niggle, but not nearly a large enough niggle to be convincing.)

I’m scared for this weekend. I’m doing back-to-back long runs… for the first time. Saturday morning is a group training run for the racers; we’ll be doing the course loop, 16.6 miles. I’m hoping (and suspecting) that it will be fairly flat – the elevation gain is 1301 feet for one loop, 3903 overall… actually, I just looked into it, and HOORAY! It looks like it’ll be pretty much flat! (http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/19936550). Then on Sunday, I’m doing that loop twice. I really want to get familiar with the course.

I’m SO EXCITED for this race – half the time. The other half (usually when I’m running up a hill) consists of me thinking, “Why, why, why? What have I gotten myself into?” But lately I’ve just been leaning towards the I wish it were this weekend instead of over a month away! mindset. I feel good. I feel ready.

But while I’m waiting for that, I did what I do best. I ate a burrito. And it was good.

I need to start putting egg in my burritos again. Protein and whatnot. This one was a whole wheat tortilla, 1 egg (scrambled), some quinoa, sauteed onions and mushrooms, salt & pepper, and ketchup. Really hit the spot for some reason. Also consumed: a Nature Valley protein bar and one of the weird moist granola cookie banana/oatmeal bite things I made the other night.

peace love and running and delicious burritos and rest days,
bec

 

a bit of a dilemma

While running in the morning is nice in some respects – in the summer, it’s cooler, and then your run is done (unless you’re doubling up) – it does have its drawbacks. For me, a major one is that some people have found that it increases their susceptibility to injury.

When you run first thing in the morning, just 10 or 15 minutes after getting out of bed, your muscles are not warmed up or stretched out. They’re just barely getting used to movement after being pretty much immobile for 8 hours, so jumping out of bed and running for an hour can be quite stressful to them. I never ran in the morning before this summer, really, when it got hot and I had to work in the later morning; I also never really had typical runner pains. But once I started running in the morning, I started getting those pains that other morning runners had complained of. Things which maybe wouldn’t have been a problem – my hip, my ankle – started to bother me.

This week, I ran in the afternoon two days in a row, and guess what? They were better runs. I was more awake, my muscles were more awake, things hurt less, and I ran faster and better. Today, I had to do a morning run because of an appointment this afternoon, and I ran noticeably slower and more painfully. (I did 6ish, about 3 on trails.) So my vote is all for afternoon and evening runs when possible – although races start early, early in the mornings…

Thoughts? Has anyone else experienced this?

peace love and running!
bec

another 9 on the trails

Ran the same trails today, except in the Minimus… so much better! Even my ankle and hip were cooperative! Temps in the mid-80s, cloudy, and with a good breeze most of the way. Still, wish I’d brought water. I think a good rule of thumb will be Always Bring Water On Trail Runs. Even if it’s just 4 miles, you’ll probably never regret bringing water – only not bringing it.

peace love and running,
bec

ah, good run.

Just ran 9, mostly on the trails 1.5mi away from my apartment… I was originally planning on doing the same loop as yesterday, but changed my plans after I left. Only downside of today’s run: I ended up wearing my Brooks, which – while I’m quite satisfied with them for roads – are definitely not made for zipping around trails. The way I had them laced probably had something to do with that, but they were loose and sliding around, which is not at all what I need when my left ankle is already weak/unstable. I tightened them up, and that helped, but it still wasn’t the feel that I want and am used to for trails. Ah well, it was still a good run. I’ve found that thinking about my upcoming group training run and race, as well as my inspirations (Ellie and Lizzy, mainly) and the results of Western States really gets my energy and excitement levels back up if I’m feeling a little bleh or How am I going to run 50 miles?

But as I said, it was a good run after all – not too hot for a July afternoon, and my ankle wasn’t too bad at all (though I did take care to take some of the steep downhills pretty carefully – aka slowly – which is a shame, since during my last 50k, my downhills were fairly strong. I’m hoping my ankle doesn’t impede my hill performance that much; I’m going to try to get a couple good hill workouts in within the next two or three weeks).

I just noticed how much I put in parentheses in here. Hmm. Unrelated: drinking green tea looks a bit like drinking algae water, but is much tastier. I like it cold, Tazo brand.

But now, off to do core work!
peace love and running,
bec