Struggling to find my stride…

cookies

And the cookies and cupcakes aren’t helping!!!  

Life has slowed down considerably in the last week due to a planned weekend away and some NASTY winter weather.  It has snowed more in the last 7 days than it has been sunny.  I think we have had somewhere around 15 inches in less than a week.  And cold.  And wind.  Sucks big time and I am as frustrated with it as the next New England runner/horse owner/homeowner/cop/cookie eater.  Amanda and I traveled to her rustic camp for the weekend in the north country with high hopes of reading, eating, snacking, shopping and snowshoeing (a wine ‘shoe).  The snowshoeing did not happen because Sunday dawned in the single digits with winds well below zero.  This was the most action my shoes got:

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We needed them to break “trail” to the camp and outhouse.  Then they sat for the rest of the weekend.  I did some of this though….

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Lots of gazing at the mountains, dreaming of running them and consuming delicious new beer I usually only get to try twice a year when we venture to Glen Beverage.  I was driving Amanda nuts with my “I want to run that.  I want to run that.  Can I run that?”

I need spring.  

And my brain needs a mountain.  Snow or no snow.  I am having a lot of trouble staying on track for a variety of reasons, mostly mental in nature.  My running partner have not had the opportunity to go out and tear it up.  Unfortunately that is not helping my cause.  I had a snowshoe run planned for this afternoon and had a long work afternoon instead.  I did manage to get up South Mountain on Monday with Katie.  We had fun and ran well.  Plus is it was so CLEAR!

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I am chewing over the idea of running a very difficult snow shoe race on Saturday.  I also would love to get up to the Castle in the Clouds trails and get the Mt. Roberts loop done.  This is my last low mileage week before we amp way back up again.  I am so stuck right now… it’s not that I don’t want to run, but I am having so much trouble getting out the door.  The snow and shoveling aren’t helping.  I feel so fortunate that I am so much stronger and healthier (knock on wood) than last winter and know this is all just mental.  I need a reset and a kick in the ass in a BAD way.  Snowshoe race?  Maybe…. Definitely starting in the back on that one!

I did manage a 40 minute Jillian Michaels circuit tonight at home.  I was sweating like a pig and then shoveled my deck in my shorts and boots.  It was hot 😉  I keep telling myself something is better than nothing.  I am just not very driven right now.   Here is to a break in the weather and some new adventures… adventures I need to create for myself!

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Week 5 – Recap (and where is my motivation?)

Miles run: 25 miles

Total Elevation Climbed:  2628 ft 

The toughest week so far.  But it didn’t break me.  However, it seems to have chased off my motivation.  I got in a few midweek runs, attended a Sharpfit session, played Dodgeball (no injuries!) and had two incredible runs over the weekend.  I worked hard, I played hard and in the end… I lost my motivation.

Is it the cold?  The 1,000th storm of the winter?  My long ass work schedule?  That time of the month?  Training let down?  

Sharpfit was great last week.  I felt strong and happy to be there!  This week…. skipped it due to a long day at work and no food in my house.  Grocery shopping HAD to happen or I was getting divorced.  Here is last week:

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I am finding a real value in strength training and NEED to NOT abandoned ship on it!

Here is the sacrificial dodge ball women!

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We laughed and had so much fun!  I only got beamed in the head once 😉

Long(ish) Runs:  

My Saturday run was with a new runner I have gotten to know at races.  Jen is super fast and pulled me along 12.3 miles of nasty hilly terrain on pavement.  This run was nearly 1,000 ft in climb and the longest I have had since last November (Seacoast Half).  I was suffering a bit about 11 miles in but pushed through.  It was WAY faster than I normally run (10:07 average) so no wonder I wanted to die!  There is something to be said for running with someone faster.  Jen also presented an interesting opportunity I *may* take part in.  More on that if it happens!

Sunday was more about relaxing with friends.  I headed up Mt. Major with Katie, Meg and Tony.  I haven’t been out with Meg in months and it was awesome to be out with her in the woods.  The weather was sunny, warmest in awhile and peaceful.  We spent the entire hike/run laughing!  Such a great day!

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So after a full week, one full of laughter and fun, I am so unmotivated.  I am tired.  Have no desire to run and have only been out once.  I am a little burned out in general and a trip to camp up north could not come soon enough!!!  Amanda and I are heading up to the mountains for some R & R, valentines massages, lots of food and some shopping for new gear.  We also have a snowshoe with wine planned.  I am hoping to come back recharged and ready to run.  I still have my eye on the prize but I am seriously in hibernation mode this week.  Smut novels, snacks, cupcakes and sleep here I come!

My Essential Gear – Salomon Speedcross 3

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Welcome to my new blog sub-series – My Essential Gear.  Since there are so many pieces of gear that make my runs successful and wonderful, I felt it was about time to show them off!  

I have been running in the same pair of Salomon Speedcross 3s since late fall 2012.  I coveted a pair after seeing a few local runners in them during my first season of trail running and finally got my hands on a pair in time for last winter.  This single set of shoes has seen well over 500 miles, has had only one set of replaced insoles (Ortholite Fusion recommended my Salomon – great customer service by the way!) and have seen everything from multiple 4,000 footers in New Hampshire, the mud at the Pineland Farms 25K (2013), the snow covered mountains of the Belknap Range and the lovely sea level trails of Great Bay.  These shoes are diverse, incredibly comfortable and my go-to for many runs.  I have worn them in every season and they have not only held up well, but continue to be so comfortable!  I have chosen to break this review down to several categories for your reading enjoyment.

Quality:  These shoes cost me about $100 with discounts and such from Road Runner Sports.  They have an incredibly comfortable footbed that feels like you are walking and running on a cloud.  Despite the many types of terrain I have tested these sneakers on, I don’t have so much as a loose thread or tear on either shoe.  Only con:  The insole decided to fold up on me on one shoe after getting soaked in a creek on a 4,000 footer hike.  I temporarily fixed it with double-sided tape but when it happened again, I wrote to Salomon to ask their suggestion for replacement.  They responded quickly and suggested the Ortholite Fusion insoles.  I spent the money to replace them and they shoes have been fantastic ever since, wet or dry.

Comfort:  As I mentioned, these are so comfortable.  They run very neutral with a 9mm drop.  As a runner who lands predominately mid foot, these feel great.  Once they get wet, they shed water and remain comfortable.   I ran the 25K at Pineland Farm in 2013 and literally mud soaked these over nearly 16 miles of trail and fields.  I came out of this race with no blisters or even a hot spot!  My friend wore another shoe brand and quite literally lost chunks of skin from the muckfest.  One thing to note is this shoe has no rock plate.  The longest run I have completed in them is the 25K and the longest hike about 11 miles.  At the end of the 11 mile hike, I could have used a partial rock plate but I certainly was not uncomfortable.  I was still trotting down the trail on that last mile!

Pineland 25K (2013)

Pineland 25K (2013)

Technical Traction and Grip:  Along the same lines as comfort comes the grip.  These shoes literally saved me in the mud shown above!  I remember hitting the top of some nasty downhills in the fields and watching people slide down the hill…. face first, butt first, sideways.  Tony and I just trotted our way down never losing grip.  I didn’t even take these off at all to clean the mud out.  On dry terrain, they are flawless.  Upon initially holding these shoe I thought “yikes, these might be clunky” but I was so wrong!  These handle nicely over technical terrain and I found no difference navigating over roots and rocks as I did in my everyday trail runners.  As far as mountain terrain, I climbed six 4,000 footers and have run several smaller mountains in these shoes.  My only complaint is wet rocks.  It took some getting used to on wet slabs of rock and I found it best to stab my toes into the creases and crevices in the slabs to gain traction.  That being said, no issues at all with toe bruising as they are well protected by the rubber outersole.

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Seasonal Use:  I have to say, I LOVE these sneakers in the winter.  They are a bit thicker than the average trail runner and for that reason seem to be a bit warmer paired with wool socks.  I snowshoe in these, run small mountains all winter and wear them as my everyday shoe when it is snowy out.  Despite being warm in the winter, I do not overheat in the summer.  The breath-ability is fantastic!

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Overall, I absolutely adore these shoes and will continue to have a pair on hand permanently for all types of endeavors.  It was just announced TODAY that Salomon is the primary sponsor of the races at Pineland Farms for 2014.  I am currently in training for the 50K and you better believe I will be packing these shoes!

Week Four – Recap

photo

Miles Run: 22.9

Total Elevation Climbed: 1587 ft.

This week was a total photo fail, so I have posted a throwback from this past fall.  This was taken one evening after work on the South Mountain of Pawtuckaway.  We were chasing the sunlight on those fall runs.  Cannot wait for those days to return.  Unfortunately, I got my miles in but was not inspired to take pictures this week.  I was “on call” which means for my job I am owned for 7 days by my department.  All after hours calls are my responsibility to handle and it was another 50+ hour week for me. Weeks like these kick my ass.

Short runs…. 

I got in a solo 4 miler and a solo 3 miler earlier in the week.  The three miler I used as a speed workout on the snow covered trails.  It was exhilarating to push myself and I realized that I am overrunning my lungs at this point.  Strong legs but lungs need to get stronger too.  I also realized this week that a year ago I was nursing my right hamstring and dealing with bronchitis.  What a difference a year makes.

Long Runs…. 

This was a 15 mile weekend.  I took my chances and went for a 5 miler with Katie and Steve on Saturday, just praying my phone didn’t ring.  I was going to be running fast to get home if it did!  This run felt good, but once again I was overrunning my lungs.  I need speed work in a bad way!  My digestive issues have finally settled!  I did get my Flora Digestive Enzymes and Oil this week.  The Digestive Enzymes are designed to be taken just prior to starting a meal and I have been using it with the larger meals of the day.  The oil is another thing.  I have been adding it to my smoothies but am struggling to find other non-heated meals/foods to add it to.  I really want to find a way to take it daily so I need to get creative.

Sunday’s 10.5 miler felt awesome!!!  Beyond awesome.  I never once wanted to quit.  My legs stayed strong the whole run.  I tried a bagel about a half hour before this run and it worked like a charm.  I usually get a bagel on the road on our way to mountain runs and it actually hadn’t occurred to me to eat one at home.  Duh!!!  I think the simple carbs work really well prior to a big run.  I used a heavy concentration of Tailwind in my bladder and ate one Honey Stinger Waffle along the way.  I never got hungry and my belly was silent.  This run is NOT easy and is literally 10 miles of rollercoaster hills.  My fastest mile was mile 10.  Last year I was starting to get faster the longer I ran and it is nice to see that pattern starting to develop again.  My breathing was easy and my core and hip flexors did not let me down.  Other than some calf soreness (in the good way!) I am feeling great and ready to go again.

Coming up…. 

This is a “rest week” per the plan.  On tap is the usual 2-3 runs midweek, a Sharpfit session, Dodgeball (yeah, I joined a league…. holy crap), two full days of defensive tactics training and an 8 miler and 6 miler for the weekend.  I would love to get Yoga in there somewhere too.  I did the Jillian Michaels Power Yoga DVD last week and was actually impressed with it!    I will definitely be taking pictures this week…. even if it is just Dodgeball related 🙂

A letter of apology….

marathon

Running is a selfish sport.  

There I said it.  I spend more time than you want to know thinking about food, clothing, pace, heart rate, routes, races, training methods….  Part of each day is spent either training or planning my next training session.  I eat for fuel.  I sleep to get stronger.  I lift and do core work to run longer.  I meal plan.  I snack all day.  I weigh myself to ensure I am not losing too much weight.  I read about gear.  I try new gear.  I spend HOURS in the woods.

Selfish. 

That being said, I am openly saying something that most people close to me know.  I do not have kids and will not have kids.  Don’t get me wrong, I love children.  I spent a fair amount of my career working with kids.  I love my friend’s kids.  It just isn’t for us.  Eric and I are on the same page on this one.  So instead of having kids, I have running.  And mountains.  I put the same level of dedication and love into my training and exploring as I would a child.  Ok, that is a bold statement.  I am sure some people are screaming at me right now that I have no idea what I am talking about.  You are right…. but for me… this is second to only Eric for me.  It’s all relative.  It is my baby.

All that being said, I must apologize to those in my life affected by my baby… aka running.

To my husband: I adore you.  But we both know you will never run with me, nor understand the energy that pulses through me when I really challenge myself.  You have gotten so good about doing your best to understand and no longer flinch or even question some of my running expeditions.  I appreciate you more than you will ever know.   I am so sorry I leave you for 6-8 hours at a time to tackle a mountain.  I am so sorry my latest recipe choices are not exactly “manly meals.”  I am sorry our house sometimes get a little messier than intended (due to my failure to clean!  I can only use the “I had to run” excuse so much).  Along the same lines, I am sorry I own 4 pairs of current running shoes (two more hidden in the closet) and my running gear is quite literally everywhere!

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To my non-running friends:  Sometimes I suck as a friend.  I don’t return calls.  I suck at meeting up for coffee or meals.  I have replaced you with mountains and Honey Stinger Waffles.  Replace is a harsh word….. I am just spending time with those things instead.  It’s not that I don’t love you… cause I do…. but unless you plan on trekking into the woods with me, I may not see you until October when my training season is over.  Please know I think of you often.  When I am not running, I am working.  When I am not working, I am sleeping.  Or eating.  That takes up about 24 hrs.  I know… life is too short.  Well that statement could not be more true.

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To my parents:  See above.  Because my parents pushed me to be an outdoor child from a very young age, I have turned into a very outdoor woman.  I blame them 🙂

To my co-workers:  I apologize for my ability to work running into ANY conversation.  For example… “Heather can you do X, Y and Z?”  “Sure.  Did you know I am going running today?”  Yeah, it’s pretty much like that.  These poor people have only known me for six months and definitely know I am not quite right.  I was referred to as the “athletic one” the other day.  That was actually shocking.  Never ever have I considered myself an athlete so that was very cool.  Thankfully ONE co-worker runs so we can chat about running and shoes and workouts.  That helps satisfy my fix.

To Lise:  I apologize for stealing Fish Stick.  But…. he is the only one crazy enough to run long distance with me.  I promise to buy him a puffy jacket!!!!!

Done!!!

And this is one reason I do this!