Blog Interview #1 – Meet Kate

I was once told “don’t try to run like the boys because you AREN’T one of the boys.”  This was by no means an insult, but simply points out female runners and athletes are different!  That statement literally opened my eyes to the amazing female athletes around me.  These are the women I admire and strive to run and train like!  The idea of interviewing some of the most inspiring female athletes has been bouncing around in my head for awhile and I have finally decided to launch it!  The women you will meet over the coming weeks graciously agreed to share a little about themselves.  Kick back and meet….

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Kate

Let’s start with the obligatory “tell us about yourself” since… well… we should!  I am an almost 30 year old runner, skier, hiker living in the White Mountains of NH. I love skiing back country and trail running mostly. Primarily vegetarian (!!) but I hate tofu. Born in MA, I relocated to NH and have loved ever moment of being up here. I hold a bachelors degree in pharmacy and work as a 9-1-1 dispatcher.

Did you play sports as a child or in school?  Tell us about it! I did! Basketball and cross country mainly, and tap, ballet and jazz. Come my senior year of high school, I took a step back from running as I had double shin splints. I played indoor soccer with some old work buddies for a few winter sessions.

What does a typical week of workouts look like?  No need to get specific, simply looking for mileage, number (if any) of strength work, types of workouts. Right now my work outs are all about stretching and PT. Trying to rectify a left knee injury but usually I run around 20ish miles and have recently gotten into CrossFit for my strength training.

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How many physical pursuits do you dabble in?  What are they and which one is your favorite? Running, Skiing, Hiking, CrossFit. I can’t pick!

Tell us something interesting about yourself most people wouldn’t know. If I wasn’t in health care or dispatch, I’d be a railroad engineer. Railways and trains have fascinated me since I was a kid. I’m also sucker for Russian literature.

What is your favorite achievement to date? Running Reach the Beach

If you could one superpower, what would it be and why? Either Teleportation or foresee into the future. I can either get where I want and need to go instantly or determine how something might end up.

Favorite piece of activewear? Hmmm, I have a few key pieces. Under Armour heat gear shorts as they are awesome for running and CrossFit, my WildThings puffy as its easy to layer, especially skiing, and my SheShreds muscle tank.

Favorite pair of shoes (anything is fair game!)? Either my New Balance running sneakers or these boots from Target that are super cute, warm and practical.

Favorite piece of gear? My Volkl Aura skis. They are so much fun in all conditions.

I know you have had to overcome a difficult physical hurdle.  Would you share that with us and tell us how that impacts you today?  What do you do to overcome it? I am a cancer survivor. I had thyroid cancer and had my entire thyroid plus 24 lymph nodes removed in 2014. I also had to have radiation, which nearly killed me. I really need to watch and be mindful of what I eat (hence I’m primarily vegetarian), that I get enough sleep and listen to my body. Not having a thyroid can make being active tough, especially as I can be fatigued easily, have a high cold intolerance so thermoregulation is hard, and staying active and positive can be challenging. I just make sure to get up and get out there and have fun, and show people that nothing can hold you back.

Tell us about Sheshreds.co! SheShredsCo is a female powered team (more of a family) of athletes from all over the world. We get out there, break the boundaries, compete and shred for fun. Skiing, snowboarding, wake surfing, roller skating – you name it the girls do it. We want to inspire girls of all walks of life and ages that if you put your mind to something and work hard, you can do anything the guys do (and then some!).

So what’s next in 2018? Reach the Beach round 2, skiing, hopefully finishing my NH 48, and my first Spartan Race in May. Hoping to also run a half marathon and a bunch of other races.

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Fastpacker in a Runner’s World

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Recognizing our strengths and weaknesses is key to success in any endeavor, whether it’s work or play.  Learning how to overcome those weaknesses is also a very important part of growth.  I recognize I won’t ever run a sub 7:00 mile, much less be able to hold that pace for miles on end.  Kudos to those amazing creatures who can!  I recognize I won’t ever finish a trail ultra in the top half of the field.  That’s alright too!

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Thankfully I don’t do this for the medals!  

To overcome my weakness, I capitalize on both my desire and ability to climb.  Over the years, I have adopted a fastpacker’s mentality.  What is that you ask?  Climb steady (and as hard as you can), run the flats and the downhills and all the while maintain a pace that will carry you for many miles.  Sounds easy right?  I would venture to say most people can do this, as long as you take some time to adopt fitness and technique.  This article on I Run Far says it all.

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Fastpacking is used when you want to travel many miles in a day or over the course of several days.  You carry all your gear with you, in the lightest manner possible, in gear that allows for quick bursts of movement.  In coming articles, I will outline the gear I have gathered over the years.

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My favorite fastpack from 2017 was the Pemi Loop!  I don’t break speed records, but I am capable of maintaining movement.  That beast is 30 miles and nearly 10,000 feet of climb.  I did it in one day, but can’t wait to go back and do it in two, most likely with a stop at Owl’s Head thrown in!  Fastpacking gear is KEY to long adventures for those of us who aren’t elites.  We can all do these crazy climbs, some of us are just slower than others.  I like to think of it as being able to absorb more of the beauty!

On Being Brief

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I talk.  A lot.  I’m italian… so basically I can’t help it.  It spills over to my blog, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it means my posts take me a long time to write because I have so much to say.  Starting now, I am shooting to shorten these up but perhaps add a few more!

What was awesome this week…

TEAM TAP 2018 BADGE

I became an Endurance Tap 2018 Ambassador!  Their Canadian Maple Syrup energy gel is ridiculously delicious and was a staple during my training this year.  It tastes amazing at mile 10 or mile 92.  I am giving away a limited number of free samples in the coming weeks.  If you want one, email me at spottedimages@gmail.com.  Matt and Pat, owners of Endurance Tap, are super cool dudes who have created a niche in the running fuel industry.  If you want to buy, use my code LIFTNRUN20 for 20% off your order! Check them out by clicking this link.

I’m running again…

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The Noxgear Tracer360 is AMAZING!  If you don’t have one and run the roads, get one ASAP!

Low miles, 3-4 days a week with a focus on getting my endurance bag and foot fall.  Calves are in pretty good shape, endurance is awful.  That’s alright, I am right where I expected with 30 days off.  I am building strength for playing in the snow (which apparently is showing up tonight!).

Busted out some new shoes this past week…

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A view of Stairs Mountain (on the left) and Mt. Washington (center) from Mt. Crawford

I got to finally put some miles on my Altra Lone Peak Neoshells (3.0) in the Whites!  This shoe is amazing, keeps my feet toasty warm with it’s Polartec lining and is like running on clouds.  I am so fortunate to have been part of the Altra Ambassador Team this year.  Having the backing of such a great company… from their shoes to their clothes… has made running so much fun!  Have you seen what’s in their shoe line-up lately?  I want them all 🙂

That’s it for now!

Pleasant surprise.

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There are some really wonderful things about winter.  This is a Mt. Major throwback from a few winters ago!

If you have been following along on the journey, you know I had been experiencing a fair amount of struggle coming back to running since Vermont.  The few things I was able to pinpoint included deep fatigue in my low legs and a strain leading to a left ankle issue.  I had soreness and pain on nearly every run since starting again in August.  I continued to run, pushing through the discomfort and waiting for that “switch” the body sometimes makes.  The “switch” never happened and I finally concluded I simply wasn’t healing from workouts in the same way I was this spring and summer leading up to Vermont.

Enter the four weeks of no running.

Mentally this is HARD, but physically needed.  I continued to lift in the gym, using caution when it came to work that could tax my calves (skipping things such as sled pushes).  I haven’t really backed off the gym work in about two years and consistently work hard two days a week.  I upped that to three days after Vermont and anticipate I will be going back to it soon.  That strength work and lack of running has put me about ten pounds heavier than the weight I raced at in July.  That being said, I am HEALTHY, STRONG and haven’t lost a tremendous amount of endurance.  My clothing still fits well, my stomach is flat and my quads and calves have put on a fair amount of muscle.  I am not going to blow smoke and tell you I eat clean all the time, because that would be a lie.  I believe in moderation and working hard enough to enjoy the things I love to eat (and drink).

This past week I started to ease in low impact cardio to test my legs.  Here is what that looked like:

Monday: 30 minutes on the Arc Trainer (fat burning mode) and 10 minutes on the stepmill.  I dripped all over that thing!  My calves felt good and didn’t squawk at all.

Tuesday:  HIIT session at the gym.  Ben called this “Level 5.”  I chose option 3, which went something like this:

  • 30 minutes of work after a 500m rower buy-in
  • 30 chinups (-5 each time), 5 bicep curls (+1 each time), 6 back fly (+2 each time), bosu ball – on one leg, throw lacrosse ball at the wall 5X each side
  • I made it through the list 4 times, for a total of 90 chin ups (half without band assist), 26 bicep curls w/ 20s, 36 back flys w/ 10s, and 40 bosu ball reps.
  • My lats were junk for days!

Wednesday:  30 minutes on the Arc Trainer and 12 minutes on the stepmill. I planned on doing 15 but got derailed by chatting with an old friend.  Happy calves!

Thursday:  This was a partner WOD at the gym.

  • Went through the list three times, 3 minute sets
  • #1: 3 Shuttle runs while partner squat holds
  • #2 Single Bear Complex (55 lbs. barbell) while partner jump squats
  • #3 24″ box jump x3 while partner does plank-to-squat reps
  • This workout felt GREAT

I later went home halfway through work because I felt a cold coming home.  Lots of sleep seemed to knock that out.

Saturday Fastpack:  I decided it was time to check in with my legs on Saturday and planned to meet Tony for some of his long run.  Pawtuckaway is a perfect place to fastpack and run and as an added bonus it’s quiet after summer.  I have to admit I didn’t give any thought to mileage, but figured I would get somewhere between 6-8 miles.  Tony needed 26 so the plan was to meet him somewhere along the way and fastpack North Mountain together.

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Heading into the woods!

We started at the same time, brightly decked out in orange to announce ourselves to the hunters.  My plan was to fastpack the trails and road to Round Pond where I would meet Tony.  I enjoyed just over 5 solo miles before we came together.  My legs felt strong and I was able to stride out, averaging 15-16 minute miles.  My ankle was perfect and my calves strong.

From Round Pond we headed towards North Mountain.  This is a very quiet part of the park and my favorite little peak.  I climbed strong, almost effortlessly for me, and ascended with my second fastest climb ever and lowest heart rate on that trail.  What a surprise!  I started to think while climbing that the deadlifts, weighted squats and other intense lower body work may be starting to pay dividends!

This fastpack ended up giving me 12.9 miles and I felt strong and content to the very end.  I also racked up 1900 ft. of gain, which honestly felt like nothing.  Today, as I sit here typing, I am pleased to report my calves feel great.  My shins are a little sore (normal for me when I haven’t done a lot of hiking) but all else checks out well.

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Post fastpack Pizza!  Yes, I sat in my truck inhaling this….

So the moral of the story this week is to trust the process.  In this case, I am trusting the rest and proper strength work.  Finally, I will leave you with a list… trying to get amped for winter!

Top Ten Things to Love About Winter

  • My chap stick doesn’t melt
  • Unpacking winter clothes is like shopping… it’s all new again!
  • Bright colored layers
  • The peace of running during snowfall
  • Altra Lone Peak Neo Shells!
  • Headlamp runs
  • Warm drinks after cold winter runs
  • Hiking the mountains on snowshoes with friends
  • Having the trails to ourselves
  • Buying winter gear and calling it a “Christmas present” or “birthday present” to myself… for months 🙂 

 

Be Happy

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When was the last time you sat back and thought “I’m really happy”?

It is my belief we allow life to sort of ramble on, sometimes as speeds so fast we can’t remember what you ate yesterday, much less what projects we worked on.  Oftentimes, when we find ourselves exhausted, it’s because we haven’t stopped long enough in a days to reset our brain and take a deep breath.  While the entire human species is guilty of this, I feel women tend to hit that point of exhaustion without warning a bit more often.  Why, you ask?

Women are professional multitaskers.  Or so we think… Studies have shown over and over that we can only focus on one task at a time.  Yeah, I know…. “But I multitask all the time.”  Sure.  I do too.  What ends up happening is I lose track of what I am working on and end up with things in various stages of completion.  When that happens, in comes the stress.  Studies have also shown this type of induced stress from multitasking can be bad for the brain.

All that being said, I have been taking the time to consider where MY stress comes from and what my level of happiness is on a daily basis.  Some days I have to dig deep to find peace in my work.  The same goes for the external forces of life.  The things that make me consistently happy are the people in my life who I adore, the animals who accept my unconditional love and the hobbies which enrich my brain and help me maintain my health and fitness.

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I am currently in a lull, where I have chosen rest over running, and I am using it productively to evaluate ways to enrich my life.  In the last ten days I have climbed back into the saddle again, spent time on the range teaching and catching up on those half-done projects that got left behind in a flurry of multitasking and training. I have also committed to seeking ways to simply my life and focusing on what is truly important.  Life is too damn short, I have to many miles to run and ride and I want to keep growing personally and professionally.

By reducing (I didn’t say I stopped!) the level of multitasking, I am easing up the pressure in my brain and making way for those feelings of happiness that comes with focusing on the things I love and CAN control.

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Find your happiness…

Decompressing….

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I just came back from a week of work travel followed by rest and relaxation up north.  During this past week, I got to thinking about a few things in particular.  The conclusion I came to was impacted by four things:

  1. Consulting with my coach and my PT as to how to proceed with this fall and early winter because…
  2. My calves haven’t wanted to heal despite the self care.  I have had calf tightness and cramping in the past.  I haven’t had to deal with it for a number of years, but something isn’t right with my body right now and I am blaming….
  3. Stress.   This is a road I have been down before.  Stress wreaks havoc on healing.  I bite off a lot professionally (and personally) and have no doubt I need a break right now from structure.
  4. Break time… I haven’t ever taken a self imposed running break and it’s time.  I’m ready.

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My coach and my PT have been absolute rocks through my training.  It’s because of them I tackled and accomplished a monster year.  It’s also because of them I am confident now is the right time to break, reset and move forward.  I am always 110% and suffer (like many runners) from FOMO – Fear of Missing Out.   The trails will always be there.  The mountains will always call.  Right now, I want to get healthy so I can tackle 2018 with strong legs and a smile.

I am committing to meal prepping, smart workouts that will enable me to maintain fitness but heal the parts that need time off and catch up with those I don’t see enough.  Training is a part time job… I am missing the people, the range and time to myself that isn’t structured.  I am positive this will bring me back stronger and eager in the New Year!  

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I said “nope” this week.

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Stopping to enjoy the fall sunshine!

If you know me (even if through this blog), you are aware my drive is something that generally doesn’t shut off.  This week… it came to a grinding halt.

There have been warning signs since September.  Signs I simply chose to ignore, blaming them on the fatigue of getting back into training.  Blaming it on rolling my ankle.  Blaming it on being mentally tired from work.

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Exploring new trails… it’s choose my own adventure time!

I am done with the blame game.  I have been able to get the workouts done, but I haven’t enjoyed a single one… not the way I was in May and June.  My body doesn’t want to recovery between sessions and that became a huge warning flag for me.  This week was an “easy” week and my calves were in 100% revolt mode.  I am not injured and I AM LISTENING to my body.  I had a huge year…. multiple marathon+ distances, 50 miles and 100 miles.  I’m physically tired right now.

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At one of my favorite places in the whole wide world! Lifting makes me so happy… even more so that I have Altra HIIT XT shoes to do it in 🙂

I need a break.

What that means is knowing what I can expect from myself in the coming months.  The 2018 season is already massive for me, with my own prep and A race plus pacing duties.  I need to roll into that healthy and strong.  Right now, I am just ready to hit reset, hike, run for fun and crew for races.  Crewing and pacing makes me so happy!  I decided to drop the Fells 50K from my schedule in December, opting to crew for Tony instead and cheer on the other racers.  Taking this break also means I can hang out in the gym more and work on crafting a social running boot camp activity once a week!

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Working races, crewing and pacing are a few of my favorite parts of this sport!

I love running so much and know that in order to do it long term, I need to slow down a bit!  I am grateful I chose to do it without pushing myself into injury.  I love the idea that this fall is “choose my own adventure” territory!  I hope the moral of this story for others is it’s ok to take a break… there is no shame in saying “nope.”

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Born Primitive Edge Tank and Halloween themed sports bras! I absolutely adore their gear for running and lifting. Check them out and use my code LIFTNRUN15 for 15% off the goods!  www.bornprimitive.com

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