Saturday, December 31, 2011

taking a step backward in order to leap forward

2011 was AMAZING! Much better than the prior few years.. I made many new friends in 2011 and two of those significantly positively improved my life. I've had many more ups than downs.. I ran farther and faster, lost weight, explored new adventures and have been happier than I have been in years. But with all ups, come downs.. I'm not going to dwell on the downs though. For the first year in forever, I'm not going to make a specific New Year's resolution such as lose weight, run 1000 miles, etc. I'm simply striving to make 2012 more adventurous/fun than 2011. I'm bored with marathon training so I did something crazy and registered for a few triathlons in 2012. This will be a first for me. At least now, cross training will feel more like it has purpose in my life!

I'm going to take a step back.. by replacing some of my runs with swimming and cycling instead. It's going to be hard, mentally, because running has always been a huge part of my life, but I'm fairly certain that this will result in a leap forward for progression and new challenges and therefore, new thrills. The most important lesson I learned in 2011 was to strive for what you desire and be open to new possibilities because they may just turn out to be a highlight in your life.

My hope for you is that you embrace life's adventures, live life to the fullest, and choose to be happy each and every day!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

silly boys.. make life so much more fun!

I ran on cruise-control along my favorite trail this morning, but it just wasn't the same.. My mind was cycling through the disappointments of the work week instead of focusing on the tranquility and joy that this trail typically evokes. I was stuck in a mental and emotional black hole until..

backtrack: On most Saturday mornings, there is a group of 6 or more young men that run in a pack (or two) on the Yellow River Park trail. I assume they are high school (possibly college) cross country runners since they disappeared during cross country season and I've occassionally overheard their conversations about their running successes. One day I'm going to work up the nerve and talk to one or more of them as they stretch in the parking lot..

Anyway.. so I'm used to seeing this pack of varying young lean bodies running in the opposite direction as me on many Saturday mornings. Most of the time they are considerate gentleman. More times than not the "leader" will say, "Excuse us" as they approach/pass. This morning I noticed that they were exceptionally louder than usual; I could hear them long before I saw them. Since they are fast, I was grateful for the advanced warning of their approach on the single-track parts of the trail. As we spotted each other approaching for the 3rd time this morning, the black guy that was 2nd in line chasing the faster white guy yelled, "STOP HIM! HE STOLE MY WALLET!" I laughed SO HARD at the reverse stereotypical image as they throttled past me.. If I didn't know better, I would have believed that he and the other white guys behind him were truly chasing a guy that stole the dude's wallet! This took me out of my mental/emotional black hole and brought me back to the joy that this trail always leaves me with! These "kids"/young men were smiling and joking as they trained. Which is the way life should be.. Live more, laugh more, let the worries float away and RUN FOR FUN!

Friday, December 23, 2011


Scary.. right? I probably had the same terrorized expression on my face after yesterday's trail run when I did the math and found out that I will have to run 7.66 miles per day, every day for the rest of December, to meet my goal of 1,000 miles in 2011. And considering how little I've run this month, that most likely would have 2012 starting off with an injury. It's still possible that I can hit 1,000 miles, since I'm taking a few days of stay-cation, but how important is this number, really? I've already exceeded my 2010 accomplishments.. I've ran more miles, ran more days, ran my fastest marathon ever, found a nearby trail that I LOVE, had more FUN, met a few exceptional athletes that have enriched my life, and lost 20 pounds! I'm HAPPY!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

2012 new challenge? fastest pace on this route this year!

I've known for months, if not longer, that I need a new challenge for 2012.. An ultra? a triathlon? an adventure race? On Friday I received an email about the Beach to Battleship triathlon. It will be on my mom's birthday in October 2012; if she were still alive it would be her 70th. I've spent a lot of time in Wilmington and know the area well; I consider it my home-away-from-home. So my mind starts churning.. Now the bigger question is whether to attempt the full Ironman distance or the half? I put the question out on Daily Mile and received support as well as input that training for a 70.3 is a little more challenging than for a marathon, but training for the Ironman is a huge time and energy commitment. I looked at registration fees and time results from last years race at this same location. The half is much more affordable $185 vs $390, and based on finish times, it looks like the half would take me longer to finish than a marathon, and it would be a first, which both equal a new challenge.. so I'm leaning towards that.

I mentioned it to the guy that I'm dating and he's so excited about it! He's a cyclist and wants to help me train for the cycling portion, which is my weakest link. Friday night we talked about going to Stone Mountain this morning and me running 5 miles while he cycles and then me hopping on a bike and riding with him as far as I feel like. But that didn't work out.. We talked early this morning and he said he was going elsewhere to ride with his friend that he hasn't ridden with in a long time. My main focus now is training for my March marathon, so it didn't bother me too much because I felt the need to run ~10 miles today. I have plenty of time to kill before seriously starting to train for an October 2012 triathlon.

I had planned to run an easy 10 miles this morning. But as I was getting ready to leave to go to Stone Mountain to run, I received a text from a friend inviting us to go see a movie at 2 p.m. Which meant I must run harder than "easy" in order to do both. Since I was such a running slacker this week, and felt great this morning, I started a little harder than easy and then began to push the pace on the second 5-mile loop. I ran the entire way, with the exception of stopping to talk with Ron (aka @losttrailrunner) and his daughter, Laura. He asked about my shoes, saying they looked like the kind that triathlete's wear and that further put the bug in my brain to try a tri next year. For probably the first time ever, I passed a male runner! Of course several males passed me, but I was thrilled to pass at least one! I was shocked at my overall pace (10:58 min/mi for 9.75 miles) which is much faster than I've run on this route all year! And it was an even bigger shock because I honestly didn't feel like I was pushing extremely hard. Loving the progress!

I've met some of my goals for 2011 already.. achieved a marathon PR; lost weight; run more miles than last year.. but still have 88.64 miles more to go to achieve my big goal of 1,000 miles. I know it's achievable, barring major injury or illness, since I ran more than that many miles for 4 of the past 11 months. But it also means no slacking.. maybe this big goal will keep the mojo flowing :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

lost my mojo, hopefully only temporarily

It's been a busy week.. I worked long hours on Wednesday and skipped that day's run.. Was busy on Thursday and skipped that run too. Was determined to run today, and actually wanted to, but just couldn't get into it. Usually the first mile is gruelsome but then I get into the groove and don't want to stop.. But that didn't happen today. Not sure what my problem was.. I was low on energy, but not bonking.. I decided that rather than force myself through the planned five miles, I would stop at 2 miles and just enjoy the hike back to the car and snag a few scenic photos since my motto is "run for fun" and the fun was missing today.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

bad turned great

I didn't sleep well last night, waking up several times and then couldn't fall back asleep when I woke at 4:30 a.m. So I got up, did laundry and dishes, made breakfast, got dressed, had an upset tummy and took an imodium because I HAVE to get my long run in.. no excuses.

As soon as I began seeing light in the sky, I packed my gear into my car and got ready to go to Stone Mountain for my planned 11 mile run. I opened the garage door to this amazing sky and my perspective totally changed from feeling ill to in awe. With a sky like this.. my run is going to be fabulous!

I was surprised that there were so few people at Stone Mountain. Usually there are a lot of walkers, runners and cyclists. Is it because of the holiday? The temperature was 60-65 degrees. I carried a water bottle with two gels in the carrier pouch. My original plan (according to Hal Higdon Advanced plan 2) was to run an easy pace (45-90 seconds slower (or more) than marathon goal pace). I planned to walk for 30 seconds either every 2 miles or when I consumed the gels at 45 minutes apart. My goal marathon pace is 10:45 so I intended to run at an average pace of 11:30 - 12:15 minutes/mile or slower. I ran at an easy exertion pace. I felt strong and didn't feel the need to walk. I consumed the first gel at 45 minutes as I ran. I consumed the second gel at 90 minutes while still running. I never felt the need to walk. I got bored, but never tired or depleted or overexerted. I didn't listen to music, I just focused on the environment and the random thoughts that flowed through my head. I pushed a little harder the last few miles, remembering Higdon's 3/1 option. I finished the 11 miles, no walking, in 2:10:59, an 11:54 average pace with mile 10 my fastest! I think this may be the first time post-childbirth, that I've run this far with no walk breaks.. and it felt easy! Progress is sweet!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

love trail hurdles..

I love how the trail is different every time I run it. The roads probably are too, but I just don't notice those changes like I do the ones on the trails. Last night there were severe storms. I had planned to do a track workout last night, but the downpour of rain was just too strong. I was thrilled to find a new hurdle to jump over (not trip over) on my favorite trail today! It instantly brought back feelings I once had about another fallen tree across another section of the trail that I loved to climb over until someone cut out a segment of it to make the path accessible to mountain bikers again. I'm sure someone will eventually cut or move this one too.. but until that happens I'll be in bliss. I LOVE trail hurdles!

On today's run, the day before Thanksgiving, I thought of things that I'm grateful for that occurred this year. Number one on my list is the meeting the guy that led me to this trail again. He made the biggest impact on my life this year and for that.. I will be eternally grateful!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I finally settled on a marathon training plan for marathon #5 that I will be doing with my relative, Ande. My aunt mailed me old photos that my uncle recently found. The couple on the left in this photo are my maternal grandparents. My grandfather's sister is Ande's grandmother. Our mom's were cousins and I remember my mom saying that she was her favorite cousin. So what does that make us? Cousins twice removed? Not sure what the correct term is.. Anyway.. He's leaning towards either the FIRST marathon training plan or a Runners World rookie marathon training plan. It will be his first marathon.

I'm feeling the need for something a little more advanced since I'm in the best shape I've been in in years, I just completed a marathon two weeks ago, and this will be my fifth marathon. So I picked the Hal Higdon Advanced 2 training plan. I'd love to PR again, but realistically am not sure if that's possible for a much hillier marathon. But I have 18 weeks to train hard and lose weight, so anything is possible. I didn't follow the plan perfectly this week, but I got most of the miles in, ran them all without walking, ran much faster than I thought I was capable of on the speed days, and enjoyed a much needed lazy day with the-main-man-in-my-life on a rainy Sunday.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

no walking.. no pain (except..)

I took four days off from running after my marathon. I didn't have a set time frame in mind, I just played it by how I felt. I was sore the first three days, felt better on the fourth, and decided to go on an easy trail run on the fifth day after my PR marathon. My left hamstring was extremely tight that morning and I hoped a run would loosen it up. 2.7 easy miles on the trail made me feel much better. The next day I tried 5 easy miles on the trail; my left IT band started hurting a little at 3.5 miles so I took the next day as a rest day.

Today I ran another easy 5 miles on a different trail. No walking and no pain.. except.. Yes, 3rd time is a charm.. I tripped and got back up immediately without looking at my knees until afterwards. Oh well.. a scraped knee is totally worth a heavenly trail run :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

motivation threesome

I met a guy this summer who instantly became my motivation to lose weight and train hard. We encouraged each other to perform our best in our respective sports. He pulled out two wins and now it was my turn to shine with a PR in yesterday's marathon by 41 minutes! We don't talk as often as we used to, but he's forever ingrained in my soul. He once admired my shell collection, so I spent my day-after-PR-marathon walk on the beach collecting new shells and reflecting on how he brought me to where I am today.

The second amazing guy that I met this summer is also partly responsible for my PR. He didn't necessarily encourage me to achieve my best, but he made sure I got out of bed many Sunday mornings and go for a run rather than lounge around until it would be too hot. He is committed to cycling with his friends on Sunday mornings, which is a quality I really admire about him.

Now I have a new man in my life.. Well, since we're relatives I guess I can't call him "new". We were never close, but his mom was my mom's favorite cousin. We reconnected this year through Facebook since I haven't made it to family reunions in years. He and his brother ran the half marathon yesterday and I really enjoyed having dinner with them the night before the race. He said I was his hero for finishing the full marathon. Now he's motivated to run his first marathon, but doesn't want to train alone. He's thinking about the Publix Georgia marathon in March and asked if I would run it too and train with him. I rolled my eyes and said I swore (pre-race) that Savannah would be my last marathon. But since I improved my marathon PR by such a huge amount, I can't help but wonder how fast I can go if I train even harder and lose another 10-20 pounds. He's much faster than me, but if he's willing to run slower I'll gladly make an effort to run faster and help him train for his first marathon. I'll help him with endurance and he'll help me run faster. Looks like marathon #5 is in the planning stages..

Saturday, November 5, 2011

marathon PR!

It was a perfect day for a marathon personal record (PR)! I registered for the inaugural Savannah Rock n Roll marathon over a year ago with a promotion code that saved me $30. Then shortly afterwards, there was talk amongst my twitter friends of renting a house on the beach; count me in!
I finally got to meet Tara yesterday after interacting with her for years on twitter. She ran the half marathon with two of her other wonder women friends. Loved their costume! Here we are waiting in the long line for the shuttle buses to the start. If this were my first race I would have been panicking because time was ticking and we were still in a long line. The race actually started before our bus dropped us off. But thank goodness there was a wave start and chip timing! I wasn't able to get to my starting corral, which was disappointing because I really wanted to start with Tonya. But I didn't let it get me down because this was going to be the day that all my hard training would pay off.

The temperature ranged from mid-40s to mid-50s with sunny skies and little humidity. I wore a skirt, tall socks, a singlet and my Chicago marathon arm warmers. I had applied body glide liberally to every part that I thought might chafe, but since this was only my second time wearing arm warmers I found out the hard way that I forgot to apply body glide to the parts that would rub against the arm warmers. I started with what felt like a slow pace, although the splits on my Garmin Forerunner 310XT seemed to indicate otherwise. It was an easy, comfortable pace but faster than what would normally be easy which I chalked up to being on a flat course rather than my usual hilly training routes. I decided to go by perceived effort rather than the watch. At 10K, I picked up the pace a little more. It still wasn't a hard pace, but a little more than easy. Miles 4-17 were at roughly a 10 minute/mile pace. Then the wheels started to fall off.. Not from pushing too hard of a pace, but because my left IT band started sending shooting pain into my knee. I took more frequent walk/stretch breaks to try to work through this, which resulted in paces in the 11 minutes/mile range for miles 18-22 and then 12 minutes/mile for the last 4.2 miles.

The shooting pain hurt, chafing from my arm warmers screamed, but I was determined to finish this race running rather than walking. I worked hard to get this far and am leaving it all out on the course. My fastest marathon finish time before this was 5:27 in my first marathon in 2008. My second marathon finish time was 5:45 in Chicago thanks to IT band problems. My third marathon finish time was 6:16 over a mountainous course. I've lost 20 pounds, trained harder and had my goal set for 4:59 on this flat course today. I totally ROCKED it with a 4:46 finish! 41 minutes faster than my fastest marathon. I'm a happy girl!

I cried tears of pride and amazement as I crossed the finish line. I shared my success with friends and family via phone calls and text messages and to my virtual friends via twitter. The congratulations were almost overwhelming. I am so thankful to be part of this great running community! I eventually made it back to the beach house and rewarded myself with an ice bath in the Atlantic Ocean. Life is great!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

what not to do the week before a marathon.. if you trip easily..

Georgia International Olympic Mountain Bike course. My daughter is participating in the Boo Rama horse show at the Georgia International Horse Park this weekend. She came in 3rd place (out of about 15) in all 4 of her events today! After her last event, I headed for the trails. This time, unlike others, I followed the signs for the bike path/no horses. The first mile was so easy that I wondered how this could possibly be the Olympic course. Then I realized that that must have been the "warm-up" portion because the following miles were more challenging. I'm sure bikers take the ramp in this picture, but I chose to leap over the fallen tree instead.

There were only a few bikers on the trail and they politely warned me that they were approaching from behind so I jumped off the trail to let them pass. I felt strong as I ran and took 30 second walk breaks every 5-7 minutes depending on the terrain and my breathing. Just shy of 2 miles I tripped and fell. I didn't bother to look at the damage.. just got up and continued along the path paying closer attention to the trail obstacles in hopes of not tripping again. I can't afford a serious injury a week before my marathon.. 4.27 miles was the loop. I assessed the damage at the car. Hopefully this is just surficial scrapes rather than more significant damage since I have a marathon to run in 7 days. I posted on Facebook and Daily Mile: note to self (aka trail tripper) NO MORE TRAIL RUNS until AFTER your marathon :-P  (But I somehow doubt I can stick to that since I am now a trail addict.) Please wish me safe trail travels instead..

Oscar warned me before he left for Colombia to please be careful.. He didn't want me to injure myself before my marathon. Obviously he knows me too well.. Today is his birthday and I miss him more than I thought I would. Hope he is having a fabulous time with his family and friends!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Bring on the marathon! Most of my miles during the past few months have been on trails. I decided that my last long run before my marathon should probably be on the road to better simulate race conditions. I ran at Mountain Park Park with the strategy that I plan to use on race day. At every 5 minutes took a 30 second walk break. At every 4 miles (~45 minutes) ate half a clif bar and drank about 6 oz of gatorade plus water. Except for the chafing, this was an amazing run! Guess all those trail miles paid off since I felt strong the entire run. I used to walk the minor hills here, but now they are easy to run. Woohoo!

Monday, October 10, 2011

zen run

I love how the trail looks different every time that I run it! Today was a rainy run and the bright red leaves of fall approaching caught my eye on this section of the trail today. It was much more gorgeous than this photo could possibly portray. Maybe because I was in the moment, smelling the fresh scent of rain and mud, feeling the cool drips of rain on my skin, hearing the leaves rustling lightly. Zen running at its best!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

dirty girls have more fun

At least this time I tripped and slid in mud rather than doing too much damage. It was actually kind of fun! Today was my longest trail run ever. I had planned for an easy 5-miler; I normally do my long runs on Sunday. But I was feeling great and had enough snacks and water in the car, so I decided early on to shift gears and listen to my body and turn this 5-miler into the 15-mile long run that I had on schedule for tomorrow. Best decision ever! At 5 miles I returned to the car, had a snack and drank water. I run a 2.5 mile loop at Yellow River Park trails, so every 2.5 miles I stopped by the car for another small snack and gulp of water. Fueling was perfect! By the end, I felt I could easily run more, but my knee was starting to hurt a little so I didn't want to push it. Dirty girls have more fun!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

rattlesnake.. thanks for the warning instead of the strike

Take a close look.. a very close look.. what neither of us see in the image was the rattlesnake that was half-way up this trail climb. I had a work meeting at Sweetwater Creek State Park today and went for a trail run afterwards. I decided to go a different route than I did last year. I loved the first mile or so. The trail thinned and I wondered if it was a true trail but decided to continue forward. Then I came to a steep incline and wasn't sure if it was a trail "dead end" or only for the hard-core. I was tempted to turn around but decided to be adventurous and climb. It was steep so I went slowly, grabbing branches/trees to keep me from slipping. About half-way up I reached for a small tree, near its base, and heard the rattle of a rattlesnake. I glanced to my left and there it was.. within inches of my hand.. I'm so grateful that it warned me instead of biting me!

If you've read any of my previous posts you may surmise that trail runs can be dangerous. Trips, lyme disease, insect stings, rattlesnakes.. Yet the trails are also where I find nirvana. I'll trade a boring/safe run for a trail any day. New adventures keep my life interesting.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

stinger fast

Fastest pace on this trail ever! Progress.. sweet progress.. I purposely ran this one fast. I didn't push too hard, but my goal was to beat my previous fastest pace on this trail route. I left my phone in the car on purpose and only carried my key in shorts pocket and Garmin 310XT in my hand (since my dog at the wrist band). I was stung by some flying insect on my lower right calf during the first mile but kept going. I kept my eye on the trail and the "virtual partner" rather than the pace and kept seeing the "time ahead" increasing until that last steep uphill. I walked up it and noted that I lost 40 seconds, but gained 20 of it back before the cut-off to return to car. I ran two loops and was amazed at overall pace (75 seconds/mile faster than my previous best), especially since I didn't think I was pushing too hard. Woohoo!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

impromptu 5K

Spontaneity ROCKS! My original plan was for a long run this morning, but last night Lisa called and asked if I would run the Duluth Fall Festival 5K with her. I'd much rather run with a friend than do a long run alone, so it didn't take much to twist my arm. She hasn't been running as much as I have so we went at her pace. I had so much fun running with her!

Lisa's daughter and her friend (who both run cross country) came in 2nd and 3rd in their age group! We all left happy and plotting out our next adventure. Another 5K? Adventure Racing? Triathlon? The sky's the limit..

Saturday, September 24, 2011

limbo contest?

So who wants to join me in a limbo contest on the Yellow River Park trail? The storms of last night left two downed trees along the paths. Thankfully a mountain biker coming in the opposite direction warned me as we passed or I might have slammed right into it since it was just after a turn. I love how the trail looks different every time that I run it! Fun 5 miles this morning!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Coosa Trail

I need a new goal.. I'm tired of training for marathons.. I love trail running and started contemplating my first Ultra. I don't necessarily want to run the ultra distance, but I learned about a nearby 30K/50K trail race that will be two weeks after my marathon and I thought that if I treated my marathon as a "training run" instead of a race, that maybe I could do a 50K two weeks later. The Duncan Ridge Trail 50K/30K held a "training run" today. My hair colorist's boyfriend is in the band Skid Row; I went to their concert last night and stayed out way too late.. Had a great time, but just couldn't get up 3 hours later to drive to Vogel State Park for the training run start. Yet I was determined to check out the trail before registering for the race, so I drove up and ran a section of the trail alone. OMG! There is no way I will be able to run this 50K two months from now. This was a hike, not a run, and the first few miles of the race are nowhere near as steep as later sections of the race. Glad I tested it out before registering! Am still contemplating registering for the 30K for the adventure, but the 50K is totally out of my current ability range.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tallulah Falls

I've driven past Tallulah Gorge State Park almost monthly this year when I travel to/from one of my work projects. I've kept saying that one day I will stop here and go for a run.. I'm usually traveling with co-workers and haven't had a chance, but today I was driving back to Atlanta alone. I stopped at the park and ran the North Rim Trail in my brand new Brooks Cascadia 6 trail shoes (that I LOVE). The North Rim Trail was more of a walking path for visitors than a real trail for runners/hikers, so I was a little disappointed, but enjoyed the view. Will have to check out the High Bluff Trail next time. And since I name all of my running shoes, my new Cascadia trail shoes are now named "Tallulah".

Thursday, September 8, 2011

darn distractions = OUCH

I worked from home today and it was gorgeous weather (70s and sunny instead of 90s) so I planned to run 8 miles on the Yellow River Trail during my lunch break. I was startled by two deer running across the path within the first quarter mile and was amazed at their beauty. I was in awe of how the trail looks so different every time I run here. It looked even more different than usual after the storms of a few days ago. I was daydreaming and not paying close enough attention to the trail. And then it happened.. I tripped over a rock. Yes.. a rock.. on the same path that I've managed to not trip over a few dozen times. I tripped on Monday and fell in the soft sand and only had a teeny scrape to show for it. Not so lucky today.. I banged my knee and skinned my shin pretty badly. On the bright side, it happened at a scenic part of the trail and I sat for a minute, watching and listening to the river water flow over the rocks beside the trail. I was grateful that my waterbottle protected my left hand from injury and my Garmin that I carry (because my dog ate the watch strap) protected my right hand from scrapes. I then decided to be tough and stick to the plan. But my knee HURT! Well, it's going to hurt whether you walk or sit or run so.. keep running! But the pain increased and my pace slowed significantly and realized that I may be doing more harm than good so I decided to cut it short since this is just a training run and not an actual race. oh well.. later in the day my knee is swollen and I can barely bend it. I hope I get a cool scar! this sucks.. but it was an incredible run that I will cherish rather than regret. And a great excuse to wear a short skirt to the office tomorrow :)

Monday, August 29, 2011


once upon a time I met an amazing guy.. we had a freaky fantasy life.. much better than a soap opera or trashy romance novel.. i kept wondering if it was a dream.. there was such mystery.. intrigue.. the build up was unreal.. then finally, finally, finally.. all the stars aligned.. and it became a reality.. prize earned and happily given..

Sunday, August 28, 2011

VFF trail run + fun bike ride

Just an easy jog/walk in my Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs). Thought I would try something other than my usual clunky trail shoes in hopes of improving plantar fasciitis. Loved running on the trail in VFFs with the exception of over stones and slamming my toes into tree roots a few times. Have a new black toenail now from one root :) But it felt awesome running in VFFs in the deep sand and smooth sand/clay/pineneedle surfaces. Purposely kept it an easy jog, with walking over stone filled areas, for transitioning to VFF purposes.. and because I had plans of cycling with Oscar this afternoon.

I haven't ridden a bike in ages.. But the old addage holds. I had forgotten the little things, like when to use the big-vs-little front ring, but thankfully I was riding with an expert! Great 23-ish mile ride on the Silver Comet Trail! Easily floated along and at times felt giddy with the rush of wind as we sailed down the path. Just hope those padded shorts were effective enough to keep my butt from hurting tomorrow..

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011 pace PR (and possibly prior years)

Holy smokes! Fastest run in years? And it included 30 second walk breaks every 5 minutes. WOW! Goal was to beat fastest pace on this route this year (11:03); killed it (9:46)! Guess increasing base mileage, running hilly routes and losing weight is starting to pay off. What a great tempo run!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Harbins Park PR

Wow.. this was the fastest pace that I've ever run this trail! 3 great runs in a row = huge ego boost! Felt really strong and properly fueled. Took 30 second walk breaks about every 5-7 minutes depending on where the inclines were and ran like a kid on the downhills. Tons of fun and feeling strong for a change. Yay!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

lucky day

Today was my lucky day.. It started out with the best long run that I've had in over a month! I made major changes yesterday and today and it paid off.. I ate lots yesterday to refuel my body from the trail run. I took a nap yesterday and then went to bed at 10 p.m. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and forced myself to go back to sleep, turning off the alarm clock. Which meant waking up later than planned, but still in the nick-of-time to get a long run in before other duties called.. Ate a decent breakfast. Started run with a Camelbak full of water and with gels tucked inside. Consumed one gel at every 3 miles and drank as thirsty. Topped off Camelbak at mile 10, when returned to car, to make sure I wouldn't run out of water as I have the previous two runs here. Nutrition and hydration were perfect! I kept a steady pace throughout the run with a 4.5 minute run/0.5 minute stretch/walk for the sake of my aching plantar fasciitis. The last 3 miles were the fastest and I felt strong the entire time! And as a bonus.. I got a kiss from the cute cyclist that I met here 3 weeks ago.. Just wish I had time for more..

After my run, I quickly returned home to shower before "Bubby" arrived. After lunch, I took my daughter, "Like a Boss", and "Bubby" bowling. Although my hamstring cramped each time I bowled, I still managed a win against these 12-year-olds. What a lucky day!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

twice the fun

I am sooooo blessed! Two trail runs in one week = heaven! Saturday is my typical trail run day, yet I had the luxury of a trail run earlier this week too. Kyra had horse riding lessons this morning so I went to the nearby Harbins Park for a trail run. I wanted to run 8 miles, but only had time for 6 and a half in order to get back to the barn before riding lessons ended. I took it easy.. Did a 4.5 minute run/0.5 minute walk interval with intense stretching of calf/PF during the "walk" breaks. It felt great! I felt like I could have run forever.. and would have if kiddo wasn't waiting on me..

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hitchcock Woods Trail adventure

hmmm... wish I had seen this sign before I crossed the following photo.. I drove to Barnwell, SC today for a business trip and decided to end the day with a trail run at Hitchcock Woods in Aiken, SC. I ran here once before and enjoyed the sandy trails. The website boasted of over 70 miles of trails so today I opted to explore a different pathway. I didn't have a trail map with me, but did have my Garmin 310 XT. I made random turns along the route and LOVED the intriguing scenery!

My favorite part was when I crossed this area that looked like it was once a river/creek that appeared now to be filled with sand. I cautiously made my way through it and then later saw the sign in the former picture. What a beautiful escape! Then the reality sunk in.. I was 3 miles into the trails and not sure how to return back to my car, my heel was hurting badly, a lone dog was following me, and the sun was setting. What to do.. I switched my Garmin to the "back to start" function, yet it had me retracing steps what weren't exactly a direct path to the car. I followed obediently until the battery died.

I should have learned this lesson a long time ago.. Make sure Garmin battery is fully charged before going on trail runs.. So then I turned to my phone, which did have a fullly charged battery, and opened up the mapping system. I had book-marked my car and just headed in that direction. My foot was KILLING me. I decided that maybe if I took off my shoes, the sand on my feet would feel so much better. It did. I eventually made it back to my car as dark was encroaching. My moments of panic subsided completely and returned to the bliss that only trail runs can impart on my pshyche.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

murky water

Yet once again I slept later than planned and only had limited time for my trail run. I got into a zone and wanted to run for hours, but didn't have that luxury. This trail is now my total escape route. It soothes my soul. It brings to life fantasies and dreams yet realized. It invigorates my life force. It fills me with desires yet unfulfilled. Its murky waters totally reflect my current predicaments. It renders me exhausted and semi-satisfied.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

they should create a new lane for that..

Remember the cyclist from last Sunday? We had a great date last night! So when I saw him on my long run at Stone Mountain today, he stopped to say good morning. We were straddling the line between the bike path and run path, and the next thing I know, he's kissing me! Then I laugh as a woman runs past and happily says, "They really should create a new lane for that." The kiss and comment really put a spring in my step and I run my warm-up miles way too fast. Miles 6-10 were supposed to be run hard according to the training plan that I'm following, and I loved that lap! I felt so strong and free and happy! But I ran them a little too hard and struggled through the last few miles of my run. My 70-ounce camelbak was completely drained by mile 13 and I was very thirsty. At that point, I shifted to a run/walk pattern. 14.47 miles done.

What's the biggest lesson learned today? Don't wear a racerback tanktop if you wear a camelbak on a 10+ mile run. Yes, I'm the one you heard screaming in the shower.. major chaffing on my shoulderblades. Ouch!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Moving on..

Notice how my stop doesn't equal my start? My plan was 15 miles which equals 3 loops around Stone Mountain. I started out running in the opposite direction of cyclist traffic. I used to run in the same direction as cyclist, but then realized that if I ever wanted to possibly meet up with one particular cyclist, I had to see him coming. I knew he wouldn't be at Stone Mountain today, but thought I might as well practice running in that direction. And honestly, I'm trying to get him out of my system, so might as well keep my options open. At about mile 3, I notice a cyclist easily climbing a hill.. he's cute and looks familiar... maybe I've seen him before and he's just now catching my eye. I smile at him as he passes. The next time we pass, I smile and he smiles back. For the next few passes we both exchange smiles. I fantasize that I could have this guy if I wanted.. I think about saying "You're cute!" at the next time I see him, but I don't.. At the next pass he waves. I wave back. The next pass he says, "good morning" and I respond "HI". OMG.. I'm loving this flirt as it is keeping me distracted from the heat induced dehydration that I'm struggling through. I mentally backtrack and realize we cross paths about every 15 minutes. I make sure I'm looking like a strong runner each time I anticipate him appearing. I wonder how long he will be riding. Then he takes me off-guard and slows down to a stop at our next pass. We exchange names and he asks how much longer I am running. I'm at mile 11, so I say 4 more. He says I'm strong to be running 15 miles. He has 3 more laps to go and says something about seeing me later.

Then fast forward.. I made the mistake of carrying only muscle milk on my last lap. It provided great nutrition, but was thick and I desparately needed water, and lots of it, in this 95 degree heat. I stopped at each fountain and drank as much as I could. Yet that still wasn't enough and I had a hard time keeping my heart rate within my target range. So I walked the majority of mile 13. At 13.92 miles I reached the mountain walk-up trail parking lot. I thought about going toward the restrooms and filling my bottle with water, but then thought I would just walk to my car where water awaited in the cooler in the trunk. As I was weighing my options, I see a guy waving at me. He's in different clothes now, so I don't recognize him at first, but decide I should stop to say hi to whoever it is that is waving at me from afar. It's the cute cyclist.. I explain my dehydration and he offers me his bottle. I drink half of it and appologize and he says no problem that he has more. We leads me over to the shade to talk. He rode 50 miles today and he's impressed with my strength to run 15 miles? It turns out, he lives in the same town as me. He has two daughters, one that is the same age as my daughter. I ask her name and I immediately recognize it and tell him that she and my daughter are friends. He asks me to lunch or to just get something to drink and I have learned my lesson from the dude I'm trying to forget and say yes. He drives me to my car (hence the lost mile) and then he follows me to the nearest open restaurant I see (did I mention major dehydration?).

I'm still not completely over Mr. Sexy, and honestly doubt I ever will be, but it's time to move on..

Saturday, July 30, 2011

over or under?

Over or under? Which would you choose? Decisions.. decisions.. to be made on trail runs.. Saturday has become my trail run day. Stone Mountain used to be my trail of choice due to convenience and familiarity. Then a friend suggested Yellow River a few months ago, and now I doubt I'll go back to Stone Mountain for trails on Saturdays. Why do I like Yellow River Trails so much? It's much less crowded and most importantly.. I LOVE running beside the river. I've always been drawn to water bodies.

And I recently realized that a group of high school cross country boys run there on Saturday mornings. Therefore, I don't feel afraid of running the trails alone.. I know they'll cross my path often. Today I enjoyed eavesdropping on their conversation as I stretched at the parking lot after my run.. One boy was telling his peers that even though he was in the top 10 in time trials, he always takes Sunday as a rest day and listens to his body and takes other days as rest as needed. He was telling his buddies that it is important to not over train. If you overtrain, you get injured and/or burned out, and that is totally not worth it if you want to be competitive. This made me feel better about taking yesterday off of running to give my plantar fasciitis another day to recover, and for running slow/easy today to be able to run my planned 15-mile long run tomorrow.

So.. over or under was my original question.. Cross country rock star would choose under (training). Yet I opted for leaping over the log, yet not attempting to make up for missed mileage yesterday. Win win.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

ice ice baby

Started out as just a general aerobic run, then realized that I haven't run hard in weeks. So I picked up the pace the last 3 of 6 miles and ended up the fastest pace for this route all year! Plantar fasciitis really flared up, so as soon as I got home I took the advice of a friend (wife of a sports medicine doc) and soaked my entire foot in a bucket of ice water rather than rolling it on a frozen water bottle. Daisy and Diesel thought this was a fun idea too..

Saturday, July 23, 2011

chasing boys

i think too much.. need to put things back into perspective.. nothing like a trail run to do that for me.. especially a trail run that includes being passed by cross country boys.. how fun it was to chase them until they left my sight.. they were so happy and carefree and i let my worries go.. at a point where i wasn't sure which path to take, i simply followed the path they took.. for once in a very long time i didn't care if i got lost on the trails.. i actually needed to get lost on the trails.. i eventually made it back to the parking lot, miles sooner than i had hoped, but i'd reached a sense of clarity and called it a day. trail runs rock!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

beach run

Had an amazing 8 mile run! 4 miles to the beach, took off my shoes and ran 2 miles on the beach barefoot, then rinsed my feet/put back on shoes and ran 2 miles back to the hotel. Life doesn't get much better than this! Then showered and went out to dinner with a co-worker at the Oceanic. I have to credit him with this photo that he shared with me. We dined at table 95 over the beach and feeling the ocean breeze. Ahhhhhh... so peaceful!

Monday, July 18, 2011

sunset over the Cape Fear

Ahhhh.. home-sweet-home-away-from-home.. Returned to my favorite town to travel to today for a business trip. Did an easy recovery run this morning before leaving home, and looking forward to a great 8-miler on/near the beach tomorrow. This photo was taken as the sun was setting over the Cape Fear River while we were at Elijah's in downtown Wilmington, NC. Today was full of pleasant surprises to cherish..

Sunday, July 17, 2011

ran an errand

Might as well run an errand during my long run.. Last night Kyra (my daughter) told me that we needed to go to the grocery store in the morning to buy muscle milk for her county swim meet. I told her that I had to do a long run, but we would leave a few minutes early for the swim meet and stop by the grocery store. She said that she wanted it for breakfast at 9 a.m. and suggested that I run to the grocery store and buy it during my long run.. She requested 6 bottles of chocolate muscle milk. That seemed like a good idea at the time..

So I got up early, ate a light breakfast, filled my camelbak with water and started my 3 mile trek to the grocery store. Since she wanted 6 bottles, I thought it would be easier to carry it back home in a wine sack rather than the typical plastic bag. Six bottles of muscle milk is heavier than I imagined and slowed my run a bit. I got lots of odd stares as people passed this crazy lady running with a wine bag. But at least it made my long run less boring! I dropped the muscle milk off at home at 6.25 miles and then continued my journey to the greenway for a total of 13.22 miles today. Nothing boring about my day!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

if it seems too good to be true..

If it seems too good to be true.. it probably is.. so what to do when you discover that it's not as perfect as you'd hoped? "You want something, go get it. Period. ~ Pursuit of Happiness." was the twitter quote that I favorited that came to mind as I ran the trails today. When faced with a tough decision, I can always rely on clarity to come out of a run, especially on trails where I bond with nature rather than being distracted by tunes. I started the run with a dilemma that weighed heavy on my mind in the middle of the night. Then I let it go and let my mind wander to the fun memories instead. I chose to literally and figuratively explore new trails. I was less inhibitive about getting lost.

And once I found my happy place, clarity came to me through nature. I saw a gorgeous doe, and a few minutes later two of her babies. My mind shifted to animalistic nature and let the brain-washing of my youth go. Life is way too short to not pursue happiness to the fullest. I entered the trails confused and left confident. Living life to the fullest!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

such a tease..

Talk about a tease.. I LOVE running in the rain.. I worked from home today and had flexibility on when I chose to run. The sky grew dark and the thunder roared. My heart raced and I quickly changed into running attire. Out the door I went, only to be disappointed as the clouds passed overhead and the sun began to shine without a single drop of rain. Not quite the adventure that I was looking for, but at least I was wearing a tank top and worked on evening out my sleeve-tan lines :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

few are willing to plow

I was on such a roll.. then my 16 day run streak abruptly ended on Thursday. I was violently ill all day on Tuesday. Woke up feeling better on Wednesday and did an easy recovery jog with the pups, but was totally exhausted. When the alarm clock went off on Thursday morning for a 9-mile run, my body refused to budge. I turned the alarm clock off and went back to sleep. I woke up in just enough time to make it to work an hour late.. But I felt much better for doing so! I debated about making up the miles missed, but decided to just call it a cut-back week instead. I've been building mileage for the past two months, so I'm probably overdue. My body definitely needed rest more than that run. With the exception of two weeks ago when I purposely ran hard on my long run, today was the fastest paced long run I've had in a long time without even trying to make it fast. Thrilled with progress!

On my long run today, I saw a marque at a church that said, "All want a harvest, but few are willing to plow". I thought about that throughout my run. Once upon a time I wanted to run marathons and put the minimal effort into it. Now I'm on a mission for improvement in all aspects of my life and am putting in lots of hours to accomplish that. I am finally now a plower..