Solo Miles = Soul Searching

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A view from North Mountain

This post is predominately going to focus on my Saturday long run (I’ll make sure I throw in a quick training recap for documentation purposes!) and how that went.  This was the second week of a double day on Thursday.  It also snowed like a bitch, which meant plowing, snow clean up and lack of time for workouts.  I got it done, and despite my exhaustion, I feel great!

  • Total Miles: 24.3
  • Total Elevation: 2621
  • Total strength workouts: 2

This was my biggest week since August 22, 2016!!!!

It (unfortunately) worked out that all my runs were solo this week.  My Wednesday running partner is sick and Tony is even sicker.  Tony missed my hill workout on Friday and wasn’t able to even leave his house for my Saturday long run.  Coach modified my weekend because I taught yesterday (which typically amounts to 4 miles of walking… not a joke… on the range) and had me go a half hour to an hour longer on Saturday.  To get the best bang for my buck and decided to tackle Pawtuckaway.  Before I did that, I volunteered for two hours at the Acidotic Racing Exeter Snowshoe Hullabaloo .  I joined Acidotic last summer and was eager to do some volunteer time!  I used to run horse shows and trail races are a similar environment (minus the horses whinnying and people screaming “loose horse!”).  Otherwise, it’s basically the same :).  I had fun hanging out with teammates and meeting new people and took off just as the race was starting.  I had time on legs calling me!  I should mention I decided not to race this weekend because I wanted to focus on quality training time.

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I arrived at Pawtuckaway around 11:30 and was ready to hit the trail around noon.  My plan was to do an aggressive 11.7 mile loop over South and North Mountains.  The entire run gained me 1700 ft. in elevation and I expected to have to break some trail.  “Some” trail was an understatement!  In order to have all the gear I would need, there was no way around breaking out my Ultimate Direction Fastpack (30).  I bought this pack over two years ago and it has many miles on it.  I threw my Dion snowshoes, a few articles of clothing, my first aid kit, 40 oz. of water and food into my pack and threw it on.  Woof.  Weight training!  The weather was gorgeous and I erred in the pants I was wearing.  I could have gone with a much lighter weight tight.  I sweat most of the time I was out there.  I wore my Altra Lone Peak Neoshells (for the win… again) and started out in my Kahtoola microspikes knowing I would probably be alright and on groomed snowmobile trail or monorail until the summit of South Mountain.  I was right and made great time to the summit and got there in 43 minutes.

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The real fun began on the backside of South Mountain.  The trail was not broken as I suspected.  I swapped the microspikes for the Dions and proceeded towards North Mountain.  The snow was turning into mushy mashed potatoes quickly and I had to kick ice balls off the spikes along the way.  Most of the way off South, I came across a guy in his 20s coming the other way.  He was wearing a t-shirt, a full sized hiking pack and snow pants.  He was soaked and leaning on a tree.  He had postholed about a mile (I figured this out along the way).  I said to him “this is a lot easier in snowshoes” and he responded with “I can’t believe I made it this far.”  Postholers drive me nuts because there is no good way to “fix” the trail on snowshoes and I had to walk along his trail for the next mile or so.  He was sinking into the snow at least 12″ with each step!!!  I realize gear is pricey, but I don’t understand why you would even TRY this without a cheap pair of snowshoes.

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I was in good spirits once I got to the trailhead for North Mountain despite a lot of trail breaking.  I was fueling well, it was sunny and I was so happy to be out in the woods.  I didn’t see many people and could no longer hear the hoards of snowmobilers.  I was also excited to see someone else had broken out North Mountain.  The trek was still hard but the going was better than it would have been!  I summitted North, took in the views and a snack then shuffled my way across the mile long ridge trail.  I stayed in snowshoes and ran when I could.  I was tired but my legs were still moving well.  I swapped out my Dions for spikes and ran the next two miles along the snowmobile trails… occasionally suffering from air pollution as the sleds came by me.  Two miles on mushy snowmobile trails was no joke!  The only “low” point I had came at 8.7 miles and the start of the Mountain Trail.  Guess what wasn’t broken out?  Back to Dions and into the trail I went.  Holy crap was the next .6 miles HARD!  The snow was wet and heavy and I was SOAKED.

I got back to the trail junction where it switches back to packed monorail and collapsed to take my Dions off.  Here is where I pulled a stunt unique to me… I took off my snowshoes, which were all chunked up with ice.  I started to smack them together to break the ice off so they could go back into my Fastpack when my thumb took a direct hit from one of the spikes.  I tore open a sizable flap in my cuticle and started to gush blood everywhere!  I honestly figured it was worse than it was because it was flowing freely.  Oh crap.  I started to rip (one handed) into my pack and found my Dark Angel Medical Ouch Pouch.  I eventually managed to get out the supplies I needed to wrap my thumb and get it back into the glove. A quick note on Dark Angel Medical… Kerry Davis is a co-worker and friend and I adore his products.  I carry his Pocket D.A.R.K Trauma Kit for hikes in the Whites and his D.A.R.K. Trauma Kit on the range and in my purse.  His company has had many saves and while my thumb injury was minor, I am happy to carry his gear wherever I go.  Check it out!!!

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At this point, I was running a little behind my schedule which motivated me to hustle out of the woods.  I left most of what I had left on the trail and made it back to truck feeling like I put in a fantastic effort!  While I choose to do most of my long runs with company, doing to solo is like a tour inside your brain.  Sometimes it’s hard to comfortable with feelings, thoughts and troubles but I capitalize on solo time to relax and problem solve.  I ALWAYS feel mentally fresher (albeit tired) after a hard solo effort in the woods.

I am LOVING my training plan and time on legs.  I am loving working hard and waking up the next day ready to go again.  I am so thankful for access to great gear that makes it possible to train at this level.  Finally, I am thankful for my health and hope I can stay this way.  So many people around me have been taken out by serious illness this winter.

Thank you for tagging along and reading about my journey 🙂

 

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Group Running Anxiety

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Mt. Major group run circa 2013

This is a topic I have wanted to address for awhile.  I don’t believe I stand alone with these feelings and figured I would bare it all for what it’s worth.

Despite being a social person, thoroughly enjoying the act of conversing with others and spending time with friends, I have a level of anxiety induced by group runs that is uncharacteristic of the the rest of my life.  Normally you can throw me into any situation, I will adapt, find someone to bond with and enjoy the experience on some level.  Running is no different, however the feelings group running (especially with new people) induce is uncharacteristic of how I feel in other group situations.

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Pretty typical of the people I run with….

I have chewed this over for awhile and have attempted to dissect it.  What I have come up with is this…. I always feel like the weakest runner.  Running doesn’t come naturally to me and is something I have actively worked on since 2011.  Group running and hiking almost always makes me feel like I am slowing people down and taking away from THEIR experience.

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2013 VT50 (relay and 50M) DONE! We ran our hearts out that day!

Am I crazy?  Probably.

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Heather’s first 5K…. I’m pointing to the finish line

So I am committing to work on it.  While I have had wonderful solo runs (Isolation, Pineland 50K, Stairs Mountain to name a few), my best times have been with others!  What I am learning is even if I am the weakest runner, not everyone in the group is there to get a fast workout in.  Most of the time, they are simply looking for company to get their own hard miles done. I vow to find solace in that.  I am also vowing to do the run for ME on these group runs.  I can only go so fast, climb so strong and go so far.  I recognize my limits but also take chances sometimes and let the fast people drag me along.  How else will I get faster?  Stronger?  It’s the best way to get motivated!

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Running at Harmony Hill in 2013 with Katie

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Lauren’s first half – Seacoast Half 2016

The caveat to these feelings is I LOVE helping others achieve their goals.  I could not be more happy to escort someone through a hard run or a goal race.  I love sharing my love for this sport for others and when it’s not about my insecurity, I do great!

Do you feel the same anxiety when running with a faster group?  New runners?  Tell me about it!

February 6-12 Training

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View from my Friday evening hill repeats

This past week represented the first time I was scheduled for five runs and mother nature was determined to make that hard!  While my mileage is lower than most of my running friends (some of which are training for Boston) I have restraints that come in the form of long work days, horse care and snow removal.  I learned how to plow this week.  My education consisted of my husband giving me a lesson on the “fishstick” controller and walking away.  I may have scared the crap out of myself last night in the backyard but I am determined to keep trying.  Anyway…. snow removal comes before workouts, so I have found myself low on time this week.  I got it done though!

Tuesday Gym Session: I have been bugging Tony long enough about his hypocrite ways regarding cross training that he FINALLY showed back up at the gym!!!

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He cried.  I laughed.  Our typical gym routine.

Wednesday Steady State Run:  I didn’t get away from my desk on this day, so I ran after work.  That day was 50 degrees, so I scooted home, put on capris and a long sleeve and headed out the door.  The air felt amazing and I had a ton of energy.  My instructions included a 10 minute warm up, 30 minutes at half marathon pace, and 5 minute cool down.  My three miles at steady state were 9:07, 8:58 and 8:53.  I was ticking away!  Warm air makes such a difference!

Thursday Double:  Huge snowstorm that day!  I didn’t make it to the gym due to the plow “lesson” so I did an afternoon living room tabata session (40 minutes: 20 sec on/10 sec off, one minute transitions between exercises – Hollow Rocks, Tricep extensions, push ups, jump squats, mountain climbers – I went through the list twice).  Three or so hours later, I headed out into the storm for 3.2 miles after I snowblowed and plowed the yard.  I would say I burned some calories that day!  The snow had lightened up a lot and I was able to run down the snow covered pavement in spikes.  It was dark and I was the only one out.  It was peaceful.

Friday Hill Repeats: Kingman was buried in snow, so the Dions got strapped on and I suffered through 2.6 miles and 230ish feet of gain for hill work.  My heart rate was as high as it was during my steady state run, so I was working for sure.

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Saturday Long Run:  I had the pleasure of being joined by some ladies (and Tony) for a Saddleback breakout.  The trail was non-existent so we took turns breaking it out on our Dions.  What took two hours last week took three this week.  7.9 miles and 1200 feet of gain on snowshoes.  I was able to run quite a bit.  I experienced an annoying foot cramp in my right foot which I think was simply a reaction to spikes and snowshoe running this week.  I failed to roll on Friday PM and paid for that the first two miles of this run. I stretched my foot and adjusted my straps and I was fine after that!

Sunday (take account) run:  Sunday runs have become a time for me to mentally and physically check in with my body and see how we did over the week.  While my mileage is low, my efforts are hard, so I am constantly taking account of how I am doing.  Sunday was 5 miles, on which I chose road.  I am still doing my stretches and exercises and pleased to report my feet and ankles did great on Sunday.  My legs were tired overall, but I still met my goal paces.  Another 300 feet of gain finished out my week.

  • Total Miles: 23.8 (2 in snowshoes, 1 in spikes, 2 on pavement)
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1936 ft.
  • Two strength workouts

In an effort to keep this post focused, I will leave you with that!  I’m forever grateful for my affiliation with Altra Running and Born Primitive for their amazing gear, as well as friends who keep me motivated, a coach who puts up with me and the health to train. So on that note, more to come from my week!  Besides… it’s time to go plow the yard again!

Enjoy my Born Primitive code when you shop!  LIFTNRUN15 for 15% off your order!

Recovery Week 01/30

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I haven’t always believed in rest and recovery, but years of injuries and thinking I could just “push through” have changed that for me.  Even starting this training cycle with Coach Chris had me questioning his complete rest days.  That being said, he works me hard and I look SO forward to Mondays when all I have to do is stretch and rest.  Chris builds in recovery weeks during the training cycle too.  What have I found out about recovery week?  They are still interesting enough to keep me entertained!

  • Run distance: 17 miles (4 runs)
  • Elevation gain: 1407
  • Gym workouts: 2

Things that were sore this week included my hip flexors (Tony has a Strava run named for a stretching technique I employed on the trail) and my mid back.  My ankle has been incredibly cooperative since starting Egoscue Method stretching (read more about it in this post).  When I don’t do these daily, my ankles tightens up a bit and I lose flexibility.  My knee soreness is directly related to my gait, which is thrown off when my ankle doesn’t roll properly.  It’s all connected people!

I’ve mentioned in the past how much I love my gym and the workouts.  This week was a milestone for me.  I finally realized I don’t need the training wheels anymore when it comes to pull-ups.  Those training wheels are rubber bands.  I can finally, properly, complete multiple pullups!

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Can we talk about this tank top for a minute?  As a Brand Rep for Born Primitive, I am proud to not only try their product, but provide a review as well!  This tank is super soft out of the box and incredibly comfortable!  The message on this tank is strong and makes me proud to wear it.  This company is so awesome… owned and operated by an active duty military family, Born Primitive also hires veterans and their families!  Read about them here, check out their charities and finally check out their products!  If you like what you see, use my coupon code LIFTNRUN15 for 15% off your order!

Hubby asked for salads this week, so I have been pinning meal appropriate salads.  We tried an amazing Avocado Caprese Chicken Salad and loved it!  This recipe includes a ridiculously good homemade dressing (with mustard as an ingredient… I am cringing… but it was amazing!).

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This weekend had quite a bite in the air, but once again, clothing makes the difference.  I completed my long run in my heavy Craft pants, one pair of Smartwool socks, an Altra tank (review coming on that!) and a Nike windblock pullover.  That was it (hat and gloves too!).  I was plenty warm and able to regulate my temperature over the two hours of hard work in the snow.  I keep saying it every run…. Altra Lone Peak Neoshells have made winter running enjoyable!  My feet stay toasty warm despite conditions!  They are a complete game changer for a distance runner who will tackle any condition to get the work done!

Another week down!  I think about Vermont every day…. how can I not?  It’s such a HUGE goal but it will be here before we know it.  I signed up for another training race this week (Wapack) and can’t wait to be back on that course again.  Altra is sending me a shoe that will be perfect for mountain racing.  More to come on that tidbit too!