The things I can’t control…

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Adding some color to the woods

I chose this title for my post because there are a few things I can’t control right now…

  • My “ass” issue
  • The clock
  • The calendar
  • Aging bones
  • Wrinkles
  • The rain
  • My schizophrenic cat

The “ass” issue I speak of has essentially grounded me as I was just coming into the strongest I have ever been.  I feel as if I had no warning and it hit me like a freight train. All of my reading, chats with Coach, my massage miracle worker and my friend with a former ass issue leads me to believe I am dealing with piriformus syndrome.  The soreness and dull ache starts deep in my right buttock and radiates down through my hamstring and into the back of my knee.  During my walk today, I felt twinges down to my big toe.  The only thing I can do is get a diagnosis, follow a recovery and strength plan and STOP freaking out.  All injured runners know this is easier said than done.

I had a scheduled 33 mile run this weekend, instead I am desperately trying to keep my mind off the loss of that run and stay mentally focused and busy.  Pineland is my 50 mile qualifier and my ONLY chance for VT100 in 2017.  I don’t even want to whisper how many days away that qualifier is from now.

I keep waiting for this to get better but it just keeps forging on with the same symptoms and little relief.  It’s ANNOYING!!!! Ultimately, I need to just realize the only thing I can control is my ability to get treatment and how I manage the recovery plan.  With some luck, I will be able to gut out my qualifier and get my training back on track.  I am NOT ready to quit yet…. hell we were just getting started!

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View from my lunch runs (or walks these days)

State of Training

Hi Mom!  I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in awhile… life has a tendency to get in the way!  This post will serve as my review of the last four weeks of training.  Buckle up!

Threeweeks

I will start out by saying this is the hardest three weeks of training I have ever completed and I have mixed feelings about it.  When I look back at the data and recall how the long runs felt, I am so proud of my work.  However, I am sitting in my recliner writing this post of being “rested” this week due to a very bunched up hamstring and angry calves. More on recovery in a bit…

Each of the long runs was fun and special in it’s own way.  The 18.5 miler is known as “I have an angry beaver.” on Strava.  I started this run with Tony and Jess and within a mile, came face to face (or shall I say beaver to ankle) with a hissing beaver.  I screamed like a little bitch and ran the other way.  Check out the aftermath on my Instagram feed: https://www.instagram.com/p/BSqn7LdlBDr/?taken-by=spottedimages.

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18 miler through Straffordshire!

That run felt good overall and I had some gas left in the tank at the end.  I spent most of the time chatting and laughing and reliving the beaver experience.

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Post Beaver.  Could not stop laughing!!!

The following week, I did my longest solo training run of 21.5.  I say solo, because I have raced solo (50K) but training is a different beast.  Lots of time to think, lament, complain and work out problems.  This run also felt good, and while I felt like I was working, I didn’t feel overwhelmed.  The shoe sucking mud in the last miles was even entertaining!  I managed to run the last beastly hills of this run.

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Solo suffering at daybreak!  It was wonderful!

Finally, I capped off week three of the mesocycle with the TARC Spring Class Marathon.  This was a perfect time for me to “practice” for my Pineland 50 mile qualifier.  Here is what went right and wrong with this race:

The Good:

  • I went out at my pace and kept to it 11:40 average with a cadence of 158 and HR of 155 (all good numbers for me)
  • My appetite and fuel was on the money – used a combination of plain water, Skratch, BCAAs, fruit pie (cherry!!!), GU bites, Huma Gels, hermit cookies…  I would have eaten more if the run had continued.  Stomach worked like a champ as usual. I recovered with real food.
  • Core, shoulders, feet, glutes, quads and calves all felt great.
  • Spent minimal time at the aid station and practiced being largely self sufficient.
  • Worked out of my first lap funk and felt lap three was my best lap.
  • Finished 25 miles in 4:57… this pleased me because it brought my 50 mile (12 hr. cut off) within reach

The Bad

  • The weather (40s and drizzle) didn’t lend itself to warming up muscles and keeping them warm.  While my core was warm, my arms and legs went through various times of being chilled.
  • The hamstring.  That bitch.  Here is the deal… I think I strained it doing reverse lunges at the gym (yeah, no more of those during training) and running 27.5 didn’t exactly help my cause.  It tightened up in lap 1 (it felt reasonable before I started running) and went through various points of releasing and tightening during this run.  I paid for this all week.
  • Blisters.  My feet just haven’t toughed up yet.  They were damp for most of the 5:28 I was on course.  I purchased some Injinjis this week.  I am not blaming the Altras for this, rather my pathetic winter feet.
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Coach called me a Bad Ass…. with pacing like a metronome and an appetite of a Velociraptor!  TARC Spring Classic “Marathon” 27.5 miles later.

AFTERMATH AND RECOVERY

I am thankful again for Coach Chris.  I had a shitty recovery week.  My calves were angry for most of the week and that hamstring bunched up high near my seat bones.  Jessica beat the crap out of it during my 90 minute massage on Friday and I felt sore, but different on Saturday.  I have been given walk workouts this weekend until I heal.

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Smiling despite the walking instructions!

I woke up today feeling like running for the first time in a week.  My runs this past week (x2) were brutally painful and crampy.  My fingers are crossed I have turned the recovery corner and will get to run with week.  I have some MASSIVE runs in store and NEED my body to cooperate.  I have been sleeping as much as I can, moving around every day and rolling, stretching, doing Egosque work for my back and ankles and generally refueling.  I keep telling myself recovery will get better over time.  I try to stop rubbing my ass in the grocery store and other inappropriate places (losing battle).  I remember how excited I am about this training, the adventures and VT100.  I know a week from now I will feel more positive than today.  I am NOT injured, just sore and recovering!

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I think he was trying to tell me he LIKES his Injinjis.

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How I did the Boston Marathon… fancy food and lovely beer while waiting for Jessica to be reunited with us.

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Post Boston Smiles… she rocked it later in the week coming in 2nd female at TARC!

Feelings

spring-fever

This shit can end anytime.  I am pissy, I am done with snow and I am straight up achy. How is that for a blog post intro?  If you were looking for sunshine and buttercups, let me know when you find them because mother nature is a bitch and won’t produce any.

So that’s a summary of my feelings at this moment.  Let me back up a bit and give you some perspective…

The final two weeks of training in this three month cycle with Coach Chris ended on a FANTASTIC note!  I capped it off with a 16 miler on the road (dirt and pavement) with Jessica and loved it.  I felt strong and had gas and miles left in the tank.  Coach Chris sent me a happy text about my performance coming into what I will refer to as my “shitty transition week.”  My broken ass was well on it’s way to healing, my knee and ankle were happy and I was eager to take some down time.  Amanda and I headed off to camp for a relaxing weekend (last weekend) and I came into taper week ready to simply move a bit.  My instructions were to come into the start of this week refreshed mentally and rejuvenated physically.

Ugh.

So, I caught a head cold that just lingers and isn’t completely ruining my life.  

My knee flared for no apparent reason (at least one I can’t put my finger on).

My butt hurt for most of the week.

I dry heaved at the gym (thanks head cold.)

I am crabby.  My skin is dry.  I hate winter.  Etc.  Etc. Etc.

I ran twice this weekend and they weren’t horrible… but I struggled with HR due to the head cold and I basically felt like a bag of shit today on my four miler.  Ironically, my brain is in a great place.  The weather was amazing today and I am ready to kick this training plans ASS.  This is it, once we start… no serious braking until VT100.  Holy crap. I can’t wait to get moving again.  I am hoping my body is just overly pissed and inflamed due to the lack of activity, the head cold and lady time.

I’ve pulled out every rehabbing trick I know to get right, but I think I just need to get healthy again because physically I am strong AF.  I cut myself some slack in an effort to de-clutter my life a bit… made a serious decision regarding an intensive training class I was supposed to attend and withdrew.  I was listening to a podcast last week where it was suggested that reducing life stress would make training and racing more enjoyable.  I agree… as I have done it in the past… and needed a reminder to consider doing it again. I want this race and I want to continue experiencing what I can make happen with this body I was given!  Cutting the clutter needed to happen.

This coming week introduces new changes to my training plan, to include two double days and two rest days!  I am looking forward to the challenge.  Long runs get crazy from here on out too.  I NEED to be healthy.  Way too much to do, personally…. professionally and in training.

Thanks for listening to my shit… I don’t get “low” often and I know it’s normal and shall pass.  Poor Coach…. wait until I actually have to taper for this beast….

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An artsy view from the Mt. Major summit – hopefully the last time I will wear the snowshoes this season.

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A new watch for the first time in five years!  Loving the Suunto Ambit3 Run.

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Winter hill climbs that never end…

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More winter runs….

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You can tell it’s spring… gloves, layers and carpis topped off with spikes.  

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There is wine in there.

That’s all for now!  I am thankful as usual for my amazing Ambassadorship with Altra Running  and my brand rep position with Born Primitive.  Their gear keeps me moving and happy!  Use my code LIFTNRUN15 at Born Primitive for 15% off the goods.

Peace out.

Buried!

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My winter face.

This winter isn’t going to quit!  I just came in from shoveling, snow blowing and plowing some seriously heavy snow.  I called Husband because I had some concerns about areas I should/shouldn’t attempt to plow in the barnyard and he called this the heaviest snow he has ever plowed.  He’s been at this for 13 years.  Eek!!!

So, I’m back inside and ready to recap the last week.  I can happily say I nailed all my runs and hit the following stats:

  • Miles Run: 31.7
  • Number of runs: 5
  • Elevation: 2287 ft.

Most of my mileage was on pavement out of convenience.  The one run I did on trails resulted in me breaking my ass (aka high hamstring strain).  I have since been rolling, stretching and received acupuncture in that area.  It’s healing nicely and didn’t keep me from my Sunday 15 miler.

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Sunday long run required SO many layers.  Check out my list at Instagram.

Those who don’t live in New England need to know the last few weeks have been brutal.  The wind.  The m*&%^r f*&%#n’ wind.  The Sunday long run was brutal for 7.5 miles as we headed directly into the wind.  Thankfully, I had a tailwind for my return to the car.  I’m DONE with the wind, the cold, the layers and THE SNOW.  Did I mention this nor’easter SUCKS?  On the plus side, I discovered that Hostess Cupcakes work as fuel 🙂

I’m done complaining.  Too much great stuff to chat about.  I missed one strength workout last week, but I almost never miss them so I am fine with it.  I religiously attend or complete some form of HIIT or strength work 2x a week and have for nearly two years.  Ben keeps training so interesting and almost never repeats workouts!

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Getting it done at AI

The Wednesday steady state run continues to be the bane of my existence.  I have never been fully invested in a training plan in the same way I have this time around.  Steady state is hard for me because I suck at pacing.  This past week was: 8:58, 8:36, 8:29.  See… sucky pacing!  I wanted to die the whole time and was so stiff.  I blame my desk chair!  Sitting is brutal!  I had a tough time with my Friday hill run too.  I just didn’t feel up to it, but felt myself coming alive halfway through.  THAT is why I consider running my salvation!

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Glad I snapped this… I took this minutes before my dreaded Friday hill run.  I woke up along the way!

In closing, everyone around me is sick.  Again.  Strep.  Stomach bugs.  Ick.  I am doing my best to stay healthy (vitamins, mostly clean eating – see below, acupuncture, lots of sleep and hydration).  Fingers crossed I make it through the next week….

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My guilty pleasure… hiding in my truck with chicken nuggets.  Husband was sick and this was a safe place!

That’s that!  I anticipate a struggle getting workouts in this week, but so it goes when winter smacks us hard.  Going to do my best!  Four months to VT!!!!

I want to take the time to say thank you to Altra Running to not only providing me amazing shoes and clothing, but for motivation from other badass Ambassadors.  I am also loving all of the clothing I have collected from Born Primitive!  Ladies… try their bras.  BEST ever!  Coupon code LIFTNRUN15 for 15% off!

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Born Primitive Rhapsody Bra and Edge Tank

Stretched thin…

226416-J-R-R-Tolkien-Quote-I-feel-thin-sort-of-stretched-like-butter

I came to the realization a few weeks ago that I just CAN’T DO IT ALL.  I have been struggling since then to thin out my responsibilities.  I’m failing.  Part of this is out of my control for a few more weeks, as I have been doing the work of two positions since January 1st.  Come early April, I will have a new supervisor to help split the work with me.  That will help.

Next up… realizing that training is a part time job and treating it as such.  I feel bad because I haven’t been able invest energy in my real part time job, but I have to let that guilt go and do the best I can to contribute when it makes sense to do so.  I am truly loving the training process and am still committed 100% to this part time job through July.

Finally, I need to commit to no longer double booking myself or booking my days so tight that I spend my entire work week stressed because I am running ragged AND the weekend worrying about how I am going to get it all done in the next week.  I figure if I start to build in buffer times and scheduling my work, I should be able to ease some stress.

I rolled into last night’s hill run tired, worn out and feeling like the run was a job.  I haven’t felt that way in a very long time and want to make an effort now to minimize that feeling.  Training is fun.  Running IS my stress relief.  I need that time on my legs to stay healthy.  I am sitting here this morning with a cup of coffee, feeling slightly sad and guilty for having to say no to an event I was suppose to attend at 8:00AM.  On the flip side, Husband is sick and I am feeling TIRED after a full night’s sleep so this is me making an effort to take care of myself.   The “normal” me would have bucked up, gotten dressed and went to the event.  Instead, I am shaving my day’s responsibilities in half in an effort to recharge my batteries.  Wish me luck!

Happy March!

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A warm run in Boston in February!

So to get into the nitty gritty… I had a 95 mile month (8100 ft. of gain) in February and last week was my longest training week since last summer.  I am just finishing up a recovery week and chomping at the bit to get going again!

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This combo is wonderful!  Altra Performance running tights and the NEW Escalante road shoe.  Heaven.

I have a serious case of spring fever… I am craving mountain running!  Tony is finally back to running and we have been chatting nearly non-stop about the trails we can’t wait to tackle and summits we need to tag.  My legs are getting strong and I can’t wait to test them (and my new Altra King MTs).  As of us in the Northeast know, we have been suffering from crazy weather patterns.  One week I am running in Boston in a tank top and capris and this week I was back into ALL of my winter gear just to get my runs done.

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Coach Chris ramped up my training and I have been doing doubles on Thursdays for a few weeks now.  I venture to say it’s my favorite day of the week.  Well, besides long runs.  I had a realization this past week that the training is working.  I also realized Vermont is 16 or so weeks ago.  HOLY CRAP.  I have started reading all I can about the race and think about it A LOT.  I am so excited!!!

I am beyond happy that Tony is back in action.  While I have done really well hammering out the workouts, I miss the comfortable rhythm and banter we have when we train together.  We can literally run miles together, not saying a word, and being in complete comfortable silence.  That reason alone is why we make excellent pacers for one another.  He also brings out the 13 year old boy in me….

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So, while I have a lot spinning around in my head and work is busy as usual, I don’t have a lot to put down on paper.  I’ll leave you with some pictures and bullet points:

  • I can’t stop eating… good stuff and cake.  And donuts.  Yay training!!!! (Average 17,500 calorie burn per week at current rate of work)
  • My favorite winter gear has been my Altra Neoshell Lone Peaks (2.0), my Craft Storm Wind running pants, my Nike Windblock pullover hoodie and a fleece lined Buff.  I got more use out of these items than any others.
  • I can’t wait to be wearing tanks and shorts for months!
  • My ankles and knees are in good shape.  Still stretching and rolling as often as I can remember.
  • I thank Ben and his workout regime every time I call on my core, quads and hamstrings.  All that weighted work is paying off.
  • I LOVE the training process and I am thankful for a coach and trainer who push me.
  • I LOVE my running partners!
  • I thank Eric often for putting up with my crazy running schedule.  I often refer to this as a my substitute for a baby.  I *think* he gets it.
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Life is too short.  Eat cake.

I’m off to the mountains to volunteer at the Special Olympics Winter Games!

See ya next week!  Thanks for checking in!

 

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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