Last Week’s Workouts – 11/26/18

Now that I am setting a base and have chosen some goals for next year, I want to make an effort to post my weekly workouts.

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I am a Training Peaks and Strava user.  I love the social aspect of Strava, but find Training Peaks does a better job of showing efforts, fatigue levels and “growth.”  I have gotten used to looking at my TP and knowing when to push and when to rest.

Monday 11/26: 45 minute RPM cycling class at home.  Have a mentioned I ADORE my Schwinn IC3?  It’s basic, but well built and rock solid.  I use spin shoes and clips, which I believe allows me to get the most out of my legs during these sessions.

Tuesday 11/27:  I started my day with a 30 minute ab session using CXWORX.  This programming incorporates bands and plates, making ab work hard.  I finished my day with friends at Kingman Farm, running in the slop.  The snow, mud and water make efforts hard and fun!  Lise had four hill repeats on her plan for the day, so we did that!

Wednesday 11/28: Easy run with the jailer at lunch.  Lunch runs help reset my brain and make me more productive in the afternoon.

Thursday 11/29: Strength session using a Bodypump class.  The point of these classes is low weight, high reps.  I am pleased with the weight of my bar right now.  I can tell my legs are getting stronger by the week.  These classes test my endurance, which translates to the trail!

Friday 11/30:  I felt like spinning again, so I did.  I bought the bike to give me the option between cold morning runs or spinning.  As someone with fairly severe Raynaud’s Syndrome, it’s nice to have the option.  The tough part about short runs and Raynaud’s is my hands often never warm up, even with mittens and warmers.  It’s just misery.  During long runs, the heat eventually makes it to my hands and I do just fine.  So yeah… I chose to spin with the hot Australians instead.

Saturday 12/1:  I am still sore from defensive tactics class at work…

Sunday 12/2:  I tried out the Les Mills Grit session.  Woof!  It reminded me of HIIT classes at the gym.  Thirty minutes of work using a bar, 10 lb plate or body weight depending on the circuit.  I loved it and it went by quick.  My abs and lats feel it this AM.  I joined Lise and Tony for a VERY wet run in Northwood after this gym session.  The water was raging down the trail and it poured for the whole 5.75 miles!  We laughed the whole way.  My new Altra RSM Lone Peaks are amazing.  Paired with a pair of water proof socks, but feet did great in standing water.

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Overall, I am pleased with the work I put in last week and feel the good “sore” as a result of throwing new work at my body.  My knee and ankles are holding up well (crossing fingers, knocking on wood) and I’m doing balancing work plus targeted strength work to keep them healthy.

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Unconventional Training

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Barn workouts!

I am no stranger to running training plans… especially those that incorporate strength work.  In fact, those with strength specific days tend to be what I gravitate towards.  As a not so fast runner, I have learned the art of building muscle and being capable of long pushes.  I can typically drop a trail marathon in training like it’s no big deal.  I make a great late mile pacer in ultras because of my strong march.  I have learned my areas of strength and have worked to perfect them in recent years.

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As we wind down 2018, a year I focused on being a pacer, and enter 2019 I have finally found that spark to train.  I am so excited to “race” next year and chose the Ragged 75 Stage Race as my A goal!  I have crewed for this race when it was the Emerald and volunteered the last two years.  This year, I swept the last 24 miles of Day 3 (also the course the 50k entrants run).  I was planning on running the 50k, since I did not get a chance to run the Pineland 50k in May.  The house fire 12 days earlier took away my will to race, so sweeping was an excellent way to get out on the trail and get miles in.

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Scenes from the Ragged 75 and 50K

This race plays into my strengths… I can climb and hike day after day.  I enjoy camping out and recovering.  I also love the camaraderie of group challenges.  I am very excited about stage racing the entire thing next year!  I also figure its an excellent way to train in the Whites and get some redlining done at the same time.

So now that I have thrown down the gauntlet for my A goal, I am spending the next two months base building.  I am pumped to finally have a home gym after all these years (a creation hubby and I talked about earlier this summer when I was actively working out in the barn) and came to fruition during the unplanned basement remodel.  I went out and bought a spin bike, a Schwinn IC3, and after a few weeks have decided I love it!  We matted my floor, installed a pull up bar and added some mobility and band products to my repertoire.  I was also fortunate to acquire equipment (squat rack, more weights, box jump, etc) from a friend who was moving away and dismantling her home gym!  It was finished off with a Sonos speaker (check it out!) and a Roku streaming TV for content.

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Home gym!

Cue the cheesy here… as a sucker for Les Mills group classes back in the early days of my athletic education, I now have the ability to stream their classes via the Roku.  I say cheesy…. but there is some good stuff to use!  Beyond Bodypump (guided lifting class) and Combat (kickboxing style HIIT class), I have access to two types of spin classes as well as mobility and yoga classes.  They even offer strength and core classes that utilize bands.  This is a great way for me to mix up my workouts and continue to apply to my education!

Finally, I continue to use the Keelo app too.  I paid for a one year subscription when I stopped going to my long time gym and still wanted the convenience of someone else programming my strength and conditioning workouts. Keelo is awesome!  You tell the app what you have for equipment and it compiles workouts for you.  You can even use it without equipment for just body weight workouts too.  Each workout includes a timer or rep count, plus demo videos to ensure you are doing the movement correctly.  It is no joke!  Here is a sample of the conditioning workouts:

Right now, I am doing whatever inspires me 5-6 days a week.  Lately it’s been a combination of cycling, running, snowshoeing and lifting.  I have chosen a stage race plan, which starts in mid February and will allow me to continue to lift and cycle.  I adore variety and can’t wait to crew, pace, hike and stage race in 2018!

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Pacing and crewing VT100 with Goldman 

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VT100 Camp antics!

Scary shit. Part 2… and time to move on.

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I initially wrote this post in late August but wasn’t ready to post it.  Now is the time.  It is the morning of the day we move back into our home.  I am ready to move on.

I have done a lot of scary shit in my lifetime.  I would venture to say I am an adrenaline junkie who doesn’t mind pushing the boundaries and feeling that “edge.”  House fire…. that takes the cake.

On July 31st, our smoke detectors went off at 11:00pm, about two hours after we climbed into bed.  As soon as we woke, we could smell and taste the smoke.  Something was burning.  Eric fled to the source, putting it out with our well placed fire extinguishers.  I was able to get both our house cats out safely once the smoke subsided.  We were safe.  For that I will forever be thankful.  I will never forget sitting outside the house in front of my garage, hugging my legs and listening for the sound of the sirens.  As someone who works in emergency services, I knew the sound of sirens would mean they were close.  I sat and watched the firefighters work…. knowing I wouldn’t find the cats yet.  I had no shoes, just the shorts and the tank top I was wearing.  I couldn’t even come up with a single thing to take from the house when I got out.  That night is still burned in my brain, as is the smell of the smoke and the horror of it all.

All things considered, we are so lucky.  No structural damage, but the smoke damage was devastating.  Our dehumidifier failed, caught on fire and the the burned plastic and rubber coated our home in the form of smoke and soot.  The cleanup is substantial and sad.  We had just finished renovated our home in its entirety and now there is a large dumpster in my front yard.

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If I had to give any advice it would be… know where your fire extinguishers are and have more than one!  It took two to put this fire out.  Have an evacuation plan and a bag stored somewhere away from your home with essentials appropriate for the season, medical issues, pets, etc.  Finally, check those smoke detectors.  They truly saved our lives and our pets.

We now live in a 350 square foot camper in our backyard.  As far as campers go, this one is pretty classy.  I have a kitchen, laundry and a king sized bed.  Hubby has a large TV and a recliner.  One cat thinks he owns the joint while the other will only come out at night.  Two weeks in hotel rooms before this was soul sucking…. I’ll embrace the camper!

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That being said… this is like an experiment in tiny house living.  The space we are occupying is smaller than one floor of our home.  We have never been in such close quarters in twelve years together.

10/19/18 Update:

We are moving back in!  I have never been as excited to unpack boxes as I am today.  I woke up at 4:00AM and got up, knowing I was too excited to sleep.  It is like being a kid at Christmas.  For nearly three months I have watched the house be deconstructed, cleaned and reconstructed.  It’s now ready.  The process was brutal, most things did not go right and I am still working through the struggle with insurance.  None of that matters today…. today our home is clean and ready for us and the cats!

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I am looking forward to recapping the adventures of the summer, our trip to Tahoe for the greatest ultra yet and what moving on athletically will look like.  I am seriously in need of some mental peace and outdoor adventures in the coming months!  Thank you to everyone who reached out, continued to check on us, handed out hugs when that was all I needed and stood by while I cried, bitched, raged and cried some more.  This year has been an ass kicker.  Much like bad runs, the bad day make the good days that much sweeter…. I hope I can repay all the favors and kind words I was fortunate enough to soak up this year.  

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Clean and painted basement!

2018. Part 1.

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You can’t make this shit up (and why 2018 is a Bitch).

Usually my blog is dedicated to running adventures and training experiences.  However, I have been known to stray in order to share some nitty gritty stuff that impacts my running.  This is one of those posts. I haven’t blogged since the beginning of the year because I simply lost my voice.  I adore writing, but I simply haven’t had the words. In an effort to return to blogging and make an effort to heal, I am writing again.  Consider this post Part I in my return to creative writing and running….

Being thirty nine has not been a pleasant experience.  In fact it’s been a year of once in a lifetime experiences that are not the good kind.  Let’s start with the worst one… losing my Dad. My father was one of those types of people who was incredibly reserved, didn’t talk much, was terrible at expressing emotion and communicating but somehow passed on some pretty cool traits.  For instance… he always went “big.” Motorhomes, motorcycles, rental properties… big. I now understand where my all in, 110% mentality came from. It’s a dangerous trait and led to some big financial debts for him. I go the other way, in that I am fiscally conservative but big in experience.

Dad was also a hard worker.  When I was a child, I remember his alarm going off around 4:00 AM everyday and he often wouldn’t get home until after my brother and I finished dinner.  My mother was a classic housewife and Dad was a workaholic. I knew how to work from an early age, because despite given a horse at seven years old, I was warned the horse could be sold if I didn’t want to commit to feeding and mucking stalls each day… as a first grader.  I bought in, dressing to feed each morning, then heading to school. I didn’t play sports like other kids. Instead, I came home to ride, clean the barn and do my homework. My horses were my first job. I love that job to this day…

Dad taught me to drive and haul trailers at sixteen years old so I could take my horses out to whatever event I pleased.  I never understood at the time the gravity of that responsibility. I learned how to back a trailer in empty parking lots and I wasn’t set free on my own until I could get that trailer into any space it would fit in.  

My Dad never missed a milestone over the course of my career.  My police academy graduation, my swearing in at each agency, award ceremonies, agency changes and promotions.  I know he was incredibly uncomfortable in crowds like that but he came anyway. I learned near his death how proud he was of me.  Everytime I met a new doctor or nurse, they referred to me as “the captain” and told me how “proud” my dad was. He never told me that.

Dad was tough to be close to because he didn’t let people “in.”  He never remarried, nor dated to my knowledge. If I didn’t call, I often wouldn’t hear from him.  When I did call, he was happy to hear from me. He wasn’t a talker. It was rare to get him to engage in a conversation.  His life was incredibly predictable… wake up, have coffee, go to work, come home to the dog and TV, go to bed late. Rinse and repeat.  Sure… he lived… boats, motorcycles, RV, race car teams, a year living on the bay… but he also felt incredible financial hardship which I believe broke his soul.

In February, Dad had a heart attack followed by two more cardiac events (which he kept from us).  He suffered from the flu in March, and while doing diagnostics for unexplained pain, they found lung and brain cancer.  In fact, they found bowel cancer too but he didn’t tell us about that. I spent months taking him to appointments, helping him get insurance coverage, sorting through the information.  My brother handled the day to day care. Dad wanted to “do the treatments” but the treatments took away his ability to walk, his will to eat and eventually he succumbed to a massive stroke.  I didn’t get to say goodbye through conversation, but said my peace by his bedside. In fact, I didn’t get to talk to him about a lot of things still on my mind because he wasn’t a talker. I knew he loved me, but I wish he knew how much.  My dad was a kind person, missed by those who understood him, and alive inside of me. I still look for his distinctive truck in the grocery store parking lot. He would go every night for his dinner. I still think I see him out in public, then realize it’s not him.  May 29th was a day that changed me.

It took me exactly two months to stop crying.  I came home from a run a week and a half ago and told Eric “I don’t feel sad anymore”.  I had an incredibly moment of clarity and happiness on that run. I was able to push my physical limits without breaking down in tears.  

Forty eight hours later, our house caught on fire.  The sadness is back. We can no longer live in our home.

 

2018 truly is a bitch.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2.  I have no idea what is next….

Coming back from illness

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Tis’ the season!  That glorious time of year when we spend many of our hours inside, trapped with other human beings who aren’t even aware they are coughing and sneezing all over the place.  You know what I mean… couple that with traveling (airplane for me next week) and public places and you can nearly guarantee at least one major illness a season.

For an athlete, this is particularly torturous.  Let’s face it, we don’t take “laying down” well… at all.

Bearing in mind I DO NOT work as a medical professional, I have simply figured out some things that work for me.  Once you have gotten over the grief of becoming sick, here are my suggestions for cutting yourself some slack and getting back on the self-inflicted pain train as quickly as possible:

  1. Plan to be down and out for a week: if you make a recovery quicker than that, be appreciative.  Generally these bugs take time to work their way through our systems.  As a planner and goal oriented person, simply knowing I’ll be “out” for a week helps me cope.
  2. REST.  Take some time off from work if it’s really bad.  No one wants to listen to you and every hour of sleep gets you back on track quicker.  Besides… no one can ever sleep at 2:00AM, but as soon as the alarm goes off at 5:00AM, the snots subside and all you can think about it sleeping.
  3. Hydrate: Water, protein shakes, BCAAs, electrolytes.  Use the stuff you normally use when you train.  You are recovering after all!  They may just be easier to take in than solid food anyway.
  4. Make a plan for returning to work slowly: Don’t expect to pick up where you left off.  Ease back into training and again, CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK.  As confirmed by my PCP, if you feel well enough and symptoms are above the neck then go back to training easy.  If you have a sore throat or your lungs are involved, listen to your body and/or see doc for confirmation if alright to start again.  If you try to run with bronchitis, pneumonia or the flu that week I warned you about it going to get a hell of a lot longer.  Ask me how I know…
  5. If you start to feel like crap again, stop and rest.  Don’t worry… the trails, roads and mountains will be there tomorrow.

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Altra Team Red!

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Blue Job Mountain in subzero temps!  Warm and happy with the right gear and shoes!

Sitting here on my recliner… Chromebook on my lap, tissues and water beside me and I am sniffling away.  The plague got me.  Just like it does every January around the same time.  I can’t really complain though, because I squeezed in 11,783 feet of gain and 87 miles since returning from my one month self imposed running break.  My goal was to set my base back in place and I am well on my way of doing that.  Right now, I am resting and staying out of the brutal cold we have been encased in for several weeks!  I am really hoping to be ready to go back to work sometime this coming week once the weather breaks and we see 30s and 40s!  I also want to note that 2017 was my biggest mileage year at 1128 miles with 125,948 ft. of gain!  Not bad for working a full time (often 40+ hours a week), a part time job and juggling a home and husband too.  I’ll take it!  Training Peaks also allowed me to see I spent 17.4% of my total training time doing strength work.  I truly believe the HIIT, barbell/dumbell and other general strength work has made a tremendous difference in my training.

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It’s also been a big week for me, as Altra Running invited me back for a second year!  Last year I was a brand ambassador, but this year I am a member of a Team Red.  I am so excited to continue working with a brand I truly loved, especially since it changed running for me so dramatically!  I also made new friends last year and had the opportunity to product test which was super fun!  I can’t even pick a favorite shoe, but I can tell you the latest version of the Lone Peak Neoshells are AMAZING.  Combined with gaiters and gore-tex socks, I can literally hang outside and my feet stay toasty warm and dry.  

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So looking ahead, bearing in mind I am still sorting through the work I want to get done in 2018, I know I want to do the following:

Run a sub 2 hour road half: for the not so fast chick this is a big goal for me!

Backpacking trips: Would like to do a handful of fastpacking overnights, self-supported in nature

A little more racing than I have in the past few years: Pineland 25K, Inifinitus Marathon… who knows what else.  I want to keep reminding my body what it’s like to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.  This is a perishable skill!

One day Pemi Loop: Yep, I need to do this one again!  Still looking to get a good weather day up there.  Both my bailout day and counterclockwise completion day were HOT!

Why all the big mountain miles?  Because I am pacing at Tahoe for the 200 miler!  I need to be in tiptop shape for that insane event in September.

So there you have it… big mountain dreams in 2018.  For now, I rest up and dream of more base building and work.  Also, stay tuned for the next two interviews in my series!  I can’t wait to share those in coming weeks!

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More fun to come!

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New Year’s Resolutions…. Waste of time.

Goals for 2018… Worth the time!

That’s just my humble opinion for what it’s worth.  I stumbled across an article that resonated with me and decided to rip it off for this blog post.  That being said, check it out for yourself.  You may just find yourself inspired as well!  Here is my version of the article, A Different Kind of Trail-running Goal (Sarah Lavender Smith), first published on Trail Runner Magazine 12/11/17.

1) Learn new wilderness skills:  I laughed when I saw this one because it’s already on the list for 2018.  A small group of us have committed to taking a wilderness first aid course, specifically designed for the conditions we play in… the New Hampshire White Mountains.  I have had a number of first responder courses over the years, but this one excites me because it’s applicable to my playground.  I am already a stickler for carrying first aid supplies, plus catastrophic event supplies like a tourniquet and bivvy sack for warmth.  I want to know what else I can be doing to keep us safe and always enjoy learning new skills.

2) Find and run a trail from Point A to Point B:  Oh where to start? I have lots in mind for this one, mountain ranges I want to string together and new places I need to see without ever leaving my State.  The Kilkenny Range, the Sandwich Range and many others already dot my list.  I have a lot of places I want to see where many others don’t go and I want to make these into epic overnight adventures.

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3) Spend a night solo in the outdoors:  Having been collecting the gear for the last year, I am just about ready to tackle this one.  The only thing that bothers me a little is the bears… so I am learning about how to keep them out of my food.  Literally, it’s not the bear that bothers me, but waking up and having nothing to eat!

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4) Make your trail adventures multisport:  Pack a burro up and bring him along?  Ironically I have that option, albeit Donkey may not agree it’s a good idea!  Maybe try a kayaking adventure?  We shall see if I make this one a reality, but I am open minded.

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5) Become a better runner through a trail running camp, class or retreat: YES is all I can say to this one. Unless a local retreat pops up for 2018, this may have to wait until 2019.  I have always wanted to do the Hut-to-Hut out west or the Transrockies event.  I will continue to dream this coming year and hop into any local opportunities I can find!

6) Run a fast road marathon: I am modifying this one… just because pavement marathons aren’t my thing.  I wouldn’t mind trying for a sub 2 hour half marathon.  Currently, 2:03:22 is my fastest half so I have some room to play with this one.  I have already committed to working some speed targeted workouts into my 2018 plan so I don’t see why I can’t work on this goal!

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7) Volunteer:  Done.  I love volunteering both as crew and as race staff.  I adore helping others, even if that means filling bladders at aid stations or changing nasty runner socks as a crew member.  I already have some plans in 2018…. The most epic being a trip to Tahoe (eeeeekkkk!!!!)

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The best part about using 2018 as a building base year is the world is my oyster.  I have no doubt I will pick out something amazing for 2019, but for now I want to continue to get strong and work on my weaknesses in the coming year.  I also want to get better at using these adventures (such as overnights and solos) as a method of clearing my head and planning for my professional future!

 

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