Saturday, November 07, 2009

Sherman Airfield 5 miler

Went out for a 5 mile loop at Sherman Airfield today. I'm trying to hold onto some of the endurance I've built up this year.
Unfortunately, driving out to this spot is pretty time consuming and gas consuming so I don't get out here as much as I'd like. And there are probably not too many more bright and warm days left in this year.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Run with TrailNerds

Since I moved back to Kansas in September and realized what my running options were locally, I've known that I'd have a hard time putting in long miles by myself. Mostly for safety reasons.
I have been following a lot of the Trail Nerds' blogs since living in Alabama and decided to meet up with them for an evening run.
I got out there with only a minute to spare but luckily for me, they never start on time. It turned out there were about 3 guys who showed up and myself. Right off I asked them if they were going to kill me slowly by pace. They were really awesome and quickly promised to "go slow."
We set out and right away I knew it was a pace I'd never be able to hold. I had never run at Wyco Park and found out immediately it's all hills with a 600ft elevation gain and loss. And November means the trails are full of leaves so seeing the trails is impossible. On top of that it was pitch black out there in the forest and I only had a flash light. Oops. Shaking and jarring around my light made me think of Blair Witch Project. Awesome. Out here with three guys I have never met, in the dark, in a forest. Brilliant!
These guys couldn't have been kinder though. As I dropped back further and further the guys took turns one at a time staying behind me to make sure I didn't get lost. Then the guys out front would stop and wait for me to catch up. It was so amazingly sweet but wow, I felt like a loser. Like I'd never ran a day in my life. I had just ran a 25k last weekend and I just completely looked like a noobie.
The guys reassured me I just needed to get to the gym and work on strengthening my legs. But two miles into it, feeling guilty for slowing them down (and with how fast they were going, they must be super fast when I'm not there), I bowed out. I asked them to loop us back to the cars so I could split.
So now, I don't know what to do. I am a 12 minute/mile pace. It's slow, I know. But I've been this pace for the 4 years I've been running long distances on and off. It's just where I'm at. I probably should join a group that you pay so you can run with a group of people who are your pace but they all run roads. I'm so not into that anymore.
Going home tonight I just felt really let down by myself.
There's one other group I thought I'd try: the Lawrence, Kansas Trail Hawks. It'd be a long drive and they are all in super long distances right now. But it seems some of them go at a 12 minute pace so maybe I could tag along some weekend runs. Right now I want to crawl under a rock with SUCK inscribed on it.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Hunting vs Trail Running

I had heard from some online sources that Fort Leavenworth has some hidden trails. After getting confirmation on this from a guy on the Kansas City Trail Nerds message board I decided to try to find the trail. My Dad said he would go with me so we took off to Post and parked near the skeet range. The guy had given us the best directions that you possibly could for finding a trail that never really reaches a road. You basically have a couple land markers (water tower, skeet range, fence, etc) and have to suss it out as you go into the woods.
Once we finally found the trail we were off at a pretty slow pace. It's basically a deer/hunting trail - single track - and at this time of year it's covered in leaves. Deceiving. You can't see any ruts, rocks or other debris under the fallen foliage, so stepping down and off each time is quite a gamble. The trail was sometimes easy to lose as well.
As we were going, and having fun we kept hearing gun shots. But, it didn't really register too much because the skeet range was at the top of the hill. They were aiming at the targets flying above us.
We go a little further and find a geocache! My Dad had never heard of these so I explained it to him and we took an item and left an item. Fun!
Going a little further on to the trail we see deer right ahead of us! There were only a couple and they were so huge and majestic! We stood still, a little in awe, watching them watch us. Then they took off and I took off after them. After they quickly out ran us I looked down and pointed out some shot gun shells on the trail. A little further, we smell gun smoke but again, just assumed maybe it was still the skeet range "perfume." :)
We decided to head off the trail and try to find the road. After coming out of the woods we see hunters hanging around at the forest edge! We also see the sign "WARNING - Hunting Area."

The shells, the smoke, the sounds - not just the skeet range. We were literally running with the hunted. WE were the hunted!

Lesson learned. For Xmas I'm getting my Dad this bright blaze orange cap from Cabelas! haha.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dogwood Canyon 25K Trail Race Report

This is the 2nd year for Bass Pro's Dogwood Canyon Trail race. The trail is located a little over an hour SW of Springfield, MO and dips into Arkansas a bit as well. This part of the Mark Twain National Forest is actually private land of the owner of Bass Pro Shop.
The Web site for this race completely sucked. Maps were promised and never posted. In fact, the forest was easy to get to using my iPhone GPS but we only found the entrance to the Dogwood Canyon park because of 5 cars turning there in a row. Had we been on our own a few minutes before, we would have certainly driven right by. Additionally, more race info should have been posted to the site. Since I am not from this area, I had no idea about the terrain. All I knew to train for was the mileage and "trails." The obvious. Well, trails can certainly vary in description... city/park trails, bridal paths, cut grass paths, single track, double track, paved.... How easy would it have been to post some pictures and/or post a more descriptive review of the challenges? Challenging it was and a few words about what to train for would have certainly focused my training runs to hills, hills and more hills! And I know true trail races might factor in hills but an elevation map was promised and in this race, the elevation change was the most significant factor in the race and they should have posted it. I need to send an email with that suggestion to the race director for next year.
There are two options for this race, the 25K (which I did) and the 50K. Weather: Although it had been freezing and winter-like all week, we woke up to temps in the 50s and a race day ending in the 60s although, it rained alot during the race.
We took off from the Springfield area about 6am and got to the park a little after 7am. Everything was easy at this point... parking was close and organized, finding the bib table was a short walk from the car and there were no lines, ... within minutes we had our stuff and went back the car to get ready. I would guess there was a 150 runner turn-out so it's quiet small and I loved that! Lining up right before 8am the race director had a LONG winded talk, introducing some famous runners and explaining the rules. We were off and running on time however.
The race starts out on the parks' paved path and within a mile or so starts going off-road. The most significant thing about the first 4 miles of this race are the 14 water crossings. We think there were probably at least 15 total in the race, with almost all of them being in the first quarter. Some are shallow and narrow and some go up to your knees and are very wide for a creek. Either way, your shoes are wet and muddy this entire section. Also starting a couple miles into the race are the hills. We counted about 9 hills throughout the race which doesn't sound like a lot at first but considering a 15.6 mile race, you are pretty much going up or coming down at any given point. You'll feel some fire in the quads, calves and glutes! We read afterward that the hills ascend around 400 feet and my Garmin 405 gave me an elevation gain of over 4500 feet! The hills were steep, muddy & rocky. It rained for 3-4 miles straight, adding to the mud fest especially around the water and really making the downhill sections a slip-in-slide except in the grown-up version if you slip, the rocks are gonna tear you up. The one thing we kept saying about the rain though was that it could have really made for a freezing cold day - but luckily the temps held and somehow I had dressed just right so that I never felt too hot or too cold! My race outfit was: wicking long black pants, short sleeved shirt, Nike wicking light jacket w/fleece outside, and a ball cap.
The course was very well marked. They used pink ribbon tape that was easy to see and marked off areas to not go and marked other ares to make sure you were still on the path. Additionally they had some signs up as well. Another nice thing was the mobile aid stations on jeeps. We heard them and saw them throughout the race and I really felt like if something happened, help would not be too long or too far away. They also were constantly joking with us and checking in to make sure we were still having fun - nice! The aid stations were also wonderful. I didn't really pay attention but I want to say they were every 3-4 miles. I don't use aid stations much due to my food allergies so I'm not sure what all they had but I did eye the gummy bears for a few seconds until my friend slapped me out of it. We did however, take advantage of the steamed new potatoes! They left the salt off and I THANKED them profusely because had they pre-salted them I would not have been able to eat it due to my corn allergy (a corn derivative binds iodine to the salt in regular table salt). This made me overly happy and gave me such a boost to be able to eat something new. Otherwise, I munched on a couple of my Yummy Earth organic candy (the only candy I've found that i can eat), a half a ginger larabar (before I knew I could have the potatoes), and one packet of maple-almond butter. I had my Nathan filled with coconut water (natures Gatorade folks, try it) and Smart Water. I had zero cramps, good energy the whole time and only a little nausea towards the end after trying to eat a 2nd potato. In my training I hadn't had any nausea since going all natural and eating less and I used to SUFFER from it constantly back in my days of Gatorade and GU products. Yuck.
Best news for last: The swag. Wow. Entrants receive a New Balance long sleeved tech tshirt (in white - bad news for girls - totally see through) and finishers received a workout towel w/race logo and a NORTH FACE TKA Glacier pull over fleece jacket!! Yes, it says North Face. Yes, it feels great. Yes, it's worth $50 which is more than the race itself cost ($45). The womens jackets were black and the men's were a mossy green. Wow.
Overall the race was a lot of fun. Beautiful scenery with numerous waterfalls towards the end of the race. The hills totally killed my legs at about halfway through the race but if I ever do this race again I'll train for the hills and take 'em on a lot stronger! Don't expect to PR here -- my time was not quite, but almost double of my normal half marathon time. But, I should add though, we also didn't go all out - not that we didn't run or try but just that the hills really made us hang back for safety and to conserve energy and we also stopped to take pictures of ourselves and the views. I don't regret that either - - I'm running to enjoy the ride. Some racers have a problem with that but I'm not a racer, I'm a trail runner and I'm out there to experience it all, not just let it whiz by unnoticed.

Link: Trail Runner Magazine review of the race.
Link: Anton Krupicka's review of the race from 2008

Sunday, October 18, 2009

13 Miles on a Dreadmill

I just ran a half marathon on the treadmill and it wasn't... that bad. I mean, I'd rather be outside on a nice day any day, but it wasn't horrible either. I don't have cable at home and therefore, pretty much never watch t.v. So when I got to the Y and there was a marathon of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, I got sucked in ... for 13 miles.
Well, at least I wasn't sitting on the couch with a bag of potato chips watching trashy reality t.v.!!

Monday, October 05, 2009

How To Train in a New Heart Rate Zone


The things you see on your daily run in suburbia.

Today I was minding my own business, running the along most boring side walk in a neighborhood near mine. As I was coming up the hill, I saw a guy standing in the middle of the side walk facing the houses on the opposite side of the street. He set up, drew up his arms, which held an archery long bow and arrow and was shooting these across the street, across the opposing yard and into his fence!

I couldn't believe how serious the bow and arrow looked. It freaked me out actually. I dawned on me why the Indians used it - it's so fast and effective! It just sinks right into the target with smoothness. As I passed by him I got a chill. I don't know why - he wasn't unfriendly. He didn't say anything and did pause his shooting but I just felt...... a little scared. He could totally turn on me in a second and take me out with that thing! It might as well have been someone shooting a gun in the street.

Maybe I'm over -dramatic but I felt uncomfortable about it. It also seemed a little unsafe. What if an animal or kid came into his yard or was playing beyond his fence and he couldn't see them? What if he accidentally aimed wildly? He should take it out to a field in my opinion.

Anyway, that definitely took my run out of boredom and into a new heart rate zone!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

10 Miles at Sherman Army Airfield

Ran 10 miles around Sherman Army Airfield while my Dad biked beside me. I was thinking for that many miles I wouldn't be able to talk much but we chatted the entire time!
It took a little over 2 hours. The weather was great but hot so we kept drinking and sweating!
As for longer, weekend runs: I'll run less than 10 next weekend, then a 13 miler the next and then taper for the Dogwood Canyon 25k!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Kansas River Run

Went for another run at Mill Creek but only got in under 3 miles. Although people were sporadically playing at the park, I was mostly alone on the trail and it just felt unsafe.

I do enjoy this area although it's paved. I wish I could run here for my weekday runs just to have a nice view and some shade. I just don't think it's smart to come out here alone. Running past the Kansas River it's very secluded and all I could think about was not wanting to end up a body floating in it.

Anyhow, this time I went North on the trail instead of South. The trail loops a couple times along the Kansas River (a.k.a. The Kaw - a nickname relating to the Kanza Indians who used to live here). It was a beautiful view. A cool breeze swept off the water and made for a pleasant run through the dense trees. Lots of flowers are still blooming as well.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Neighborhood Run

Well, I tried.
I tried to run in my neighborhood. It's boring. It's paved. It's very, very hilly... The closests streets are filled with houses and then the closest roads are so country there's no place to run.
The country roads are narrow, shoulderless and back up to fences and trees. It's just not safe as cars zoom past and I barely can get out of the way - which basically forced me to stop running every 30 seconds.
So, daily runs are going to be a challenge...

Monday, August 31, 2009

New Trails

This week, we are finally moved and settled. I have moved from the deep South to Midwestern Suburbia.

5 years ago I trained for a marathon on the local county trail system which spans a lot of different cities. I live in a different part of the city now but was still able to pick up the part of the trail. The trail head is close to my house (but I have to drive to get there) which is nice since I'm not sure that my neighborhood is conducive to running.

Today I headed out to this new-to-me part of the trail system. It looks a lot like the other paved trails: paved, dense trees, well maintained, and weaves through city parks, soccer fields and baseball fields along the way.

It was Saturday so all the fields were being used and the trail felt really safe with so many people. The air was cool for summer - maybe in the 70s!
It isn't as exciting or interesting as my Alabama trails. It isn't as natural (unpaved) or unexpected (dirt bike paths). But, it's clean and wide and I still have a chance to run in nature.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Springfield, Missouri

I'm currently staying at La Casa del Marcy. ...err... otherwise known as my friend, Marcy's, apartment. I am currently a transient, moving from Alabama to Kansas. My friend has graciously offered to let me stay with her before pressing on towards my new home. Besides opening her home, she has accommodated all my crazy food allergies with an eager willingness, helped me make TONS of delicious allergy-free foods AND to top it off, took me on a few runs this week.
Springfield, Mo has a short city trail called the Galloway Greenway which is part of the Ozark Greenway Trail System. It weaves around a macob pet cemetery, a (busy) Sequiota Park, very cute (busy) bars and stores, a (chilly) cave, waterfalls over quartz rocks at the Nature Center, and fruiting elderberry bushes (which we ate mid-run).
The first two runs were both 4 miles in length. It rained a little one run and as we turned around to come back through the old iron James River Bridge, it had flooded out where it had been perfectly dry before! We ended up having to veer off the trail cross the street on top the bridge. Then picked up the trail up again on the other side. -It surprised us how fast water can change course like that!
We are about to go out for another run tonight. How awesome is that? A true friend, a good cook, a wonderful host, and a running partner all in one little gal.

2 Southern Runs

This week I ran my last two runs in Alabama. I am moving back home to Kansas. It will be good to be near my family but sad to be leaving my southern home - very sad. I loved the weather, the forest trails, the base, and my friends here but that season is over. Change is upon me.
I like this picture of a plank "bridge" some Army maintenance unit put up over the dry ditch.. Seemed like a metaphor for this run where each footfall leaves behind Alabama and the next step brought me closer to new paths.

I ran twice for only about 2 miles each time. I had gotten some blood blisters on my feet (Doctor's office procedure) and couldn't do much more without irritating them. I have also been recovering from ITB which cropped up on my last 14 mile run.

One thing I love about the trail at Parcours Lake is that the bikers trek new, narrow paths all the time. It's an opportunity for a little exploration and a change of pace. Since I have my Garmin 405, I can go anywhere. My path, time, and distance is always tracked, allowing me the freedom to go down any new trail. Love it.

There is not much more to say - each run was lovely. My ITB never flared up. I'm cured for now. Check out the following post (below) for pictures of all the mushrooms sprouting on the forest floor.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I ran 14 miles on Friday night and I've been so bummed I haven't even wanted to write about it. I did finish. I had many successes including no nausea and really feeling good the entire run. In fact I kept getting hungry which I thought was a GREAT sign. I had some of a larabar and an all-natural fruit roll-up. Another success was being able to drink the entire 70oz in my hydration pack. I really did try to sip often the entire run and towards the end had a hard time sucking back water. I thought it was just the Nathan pack because I definitely didn't think I'd hit bottom. But I had!!! Completely emptied it.
I went back to the Golden Hawk 6 miler loop and ran it twice, then finished up with 2 miles around the Air Assult Track nearby on Post. The air was fairly cool the entire time and besides bugs hitting my chest like a car grill, it was turning out to be a fairly trouble-free run. ...Except at around mile 10 or 11 I started feeling a knee ache. I was worried this could be ITB but hoping still that it was anything else. The outside of my left knee twinged and hurt before growing into pain, searing with each step. I had to walk. I'd try to run but the pain would come immediately back radiating along my knee. This sucked. I walked for most of mile 12 trying to decide if I should just quit right there as I was nearing my car. Walking must have helped because as I kept going onto the Air Assult track for mile 13 it felt better. I finished 14 and although it still was sore, I wasn't exactly in pain anymore.
I grabbed a bag of ice and took a decent 20 minute ice bath while praying for a miracle cure. I popped some ibuprofen that night and the next day to help with inflammation. Since, I've taken Sat., Sun., and Monday off before walking my dog just now. It had been difficult to go down stairs for the first day or so but feels fine now. I'm so worried this is ITB and it's going to take me out completely like it did for my first marathon. As an overuse injury the only cure is stretching (supposedly) and strengthening the knee (supposedly) and laying off running (which I believe is the real cure here). Oh and more anti-inflammatory meds. So, that's what I've been doing. And I'm really anxious about it and praying for God to somehow heal me and let me continue to doing the one thing that I really enjoy. I'm not sure when I'm going to go out for a short run - - I'm really scared to feel that pain and know it's an over-use injury. I will probably head to the trail next so that I'm not doing the same movement over and over like I did running on the road.
Other than the knee issue I had no residual soreness. It's so sad because 14 would have been a fairly easy run for me and an easy recovery.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Zero Tolerance: Training with Food Sensitivities

I am ecstatic to see food issues get attention in the running world! Trail Running Magazine wrote an article on training Gluten Free.

Most of the article is super informative about celiac disease in which the only cure is to avoid gluten. The author did a great job explaining what the disease is, how it is diagnosed and how gluten is hidden in our food system. However, I felt like the article was a little narrow in their advice and solutions so I wanted to write my own addendum. For example, they suggest dairy and don't take into consideration that at least 50% of people with celiac disease also can't have dairy. Also, most people with food sensitivities are actually allergic to multiple foods. So, a lot of their suggestions for gluten alternatives included soy (top 8 allergy) and corn. Better advice would be to encourage the exploration of natural, whole foods like dried fruit (dates), agave, honey, seeds, and alternative grains like quinoa. The article could have been a lot more original and informative by showing readers how to make their own allergy-free granola bars or fruit roll-ups from whole foods. Both would be great race fueling alternatives.

The article was directed towards the newly diagnosed runner, which makes sense as they are probably the ones in most need of direction and help. I did think it was a great suggestion to go see a nutritionist. Especially for help learning about all the derivatives made from gluten. But the author focused too much on suggesting that the runner slow down when they are beginning to run again after being diagnosed. I can tell you that you don't have to tell someone starting to purge gluten out of their system to slow down. One of the biggest, most common complaints with this condition is extreme exhaustion. Believe me, no one has to tell me to lay down when I've been "food poisoned" because it'd debilitating when I've eaten enough. My arms and legs are completely fatigued. My mind is fuzzy and I usually have headaches so bad I used to lay in the dark. Gluten makes me feel achy all over and extremely tired, paradoxically however, I can't sleep because my body inside is in a frenzy trying to "work out the problem." Then, there are more annoying side effects like coughing, wheezing, itching and stiff joints. The author does say one time that erratic energy levels can be a side effect initially and I would say that is almost going to be a definite.
Anyhow, I just came up with a lot of negative points but I am really impressed to see an article addressing this condition. And I wouldn't expect a race to accommodate people with food allergies anymore than I'd expect to go to a foreign country and for everyone to speak English! Although, really, wouldn't dates versus gummy bears be a healthier racing fuel for all of us runners? Like they said though - and the best advice for runners with food allergies is that you have to change the way you fuel and race to accommodate food sensitivities. Gatorade, etc is out for me - - so I will have to carry my own hydration because I can't drink the common race provided beverages. I can't eat cookies and candy or broth (etc) provided at a lot of races - - so I will have to carry my own fuel. I can't use GU or powerbars and most other energy replacement products (because of my corn allergy) so I will have to carry my own natural foods. I can't even pop an ibuprofen anymore (unless I get it specifically compounded with potato starch) because it's made with cornstarch.
It definitely takes extra thinking and extra work and I enjoyed seeing that noticed by Trail Magazine.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Air Assault 4 Miler

Tonight I ran 4 miles (2 loops) around the Air Assault Track on Post. The feels like temp was 96 degrees and humidity was almost 100% as its supposed to rain any minute now. There was lightening in the distance as it grew darker and darker.
I felt sick the entire run because the last couple days I've been hit with what feels like food poisoning. It's not truly food poisoning however, it's just that my body thinks that corn/wheat/dairy is it's mortal enemy. So a few days ago it started with a headache, then stiff/achy fingers, then as I messed up a few times more it grew into eczema, nausea and then today added on exhaustion and body fatigue. When I say fatigued I don't mean like tired-at-the-end-of-the-day feeling but like as if I had the flu. But... as I looked at my running goals and my schedule, I really needed to get in 4 miles. I can't do it tomorrow, and Friday would be the day before my long run, - it had to be tonight. I decided that even though I felt like I had the flu, I knew I didn't. Even though I felt sick, even to my stomach, I knew it was just my body overreacting to what it thinks is a toxin. So I decided to run/walk as much as I could. And, I ended up going 4 miles - feeling sick the whole way, feeling tired and walking on and off but I finished.
Most people have challenges running. Running is a challenge in itself. Then there's weather, hydration, old injuries, overtraining, undertraining, etc.. And this is just one of mine - but now I know I can run through it.

Currently Listening: 50/50

I went back to the Golden Hawk Course for my weekend "long" run. I was hoping to do 8 miles but only ended up with 6. I hadn't had energy all day but towards the end of the afternoon I found a little spark and took off. I am glad for what I was able to get done and without any problemos - no aches, no nausea, and drank plenty of water.
The hour and 20 min went pretty quickly as I was listening to Dean Karnazes new book: 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days -- and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance! I'm probably 3/4 through the book and at his 26th marathon (out of 50). It's been an interesting book with a review of each marathon he accomplished in 50 days as well as tips and tricks peppered throughout. A lot of his information is obvious and he admits that his ability to run extreme distances is probably due to genetics, but I still recommend the book. The uniqueness of the subject is in the newness of each day, which brings a different marathon in a different state, with a changed climate and new people. So every chapter really is a new story, building on the aches or tiredness or drama or inspiration of the day before. I don't think this is a take-home book of technical ideas for the veteran marathoner but more of a story about running. The title leads a reader to believe they will learn how to run so far, so often, but I'm not sure that the instructions to do that are really there in the book. New marathoners will find lots of tips, but most of them are looking to just complete the distance, not yet, surpass it. Like I said, it's more of a collection of stories with his personal tips here and there.
As an author, he is really likable. Dean doesn't seem to be the media lover he is made out to be as he states over and over in different ways how he is truly an introvert. However, his "good old boy" persona does get a little grating. I found myself rolling my eyes at some of his comments about doing it all for the children and some other well-chosen ways of looking like he's completely self-less and has no idea how perfect he is... But other times he comes across as very caring and honest. Who knows, but it's a decent book to help keep your mind occupied while running. And I've found a great little technique for audio books. I've been stuffing my iphone in one of the mesh chest pockets of my Nathan Intensity vest on speaker phone. So I can listen to music or an audio book without using headphones at all. (You can't wear headphones while running on Post.) I wondered if it'd just drain the heck out of my battery but I used it on my 12 mile run and by turning the screen off while the audio book is still playing, it barely even uses battery power - and that was over 2.5 hours! Also, I'm VERY happy with my Garmin 405 battery. Reviewers all over the place complained about the battery life, but again, on my last 12 mile run, I think I still had 60-80% of battery life left in it. Whatever it was, I remember being shocked - because reviewers seemed to act like it'd never last for any decent run. I also want to note that I was using the GPS and the Heart Rate Monitor functionality!
So anyway, a good run this weekend and really happy to be able to enjoy a book and stay engaged the whole time!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Parcours Trail for 3, Easy.

Got in a little 3 mile jog tonight as the sun was sinking. Upon finishing the firefly's came out. I love summer. And I love it that the bridges got make-overs ARMY style.
My calves are still tight but I worked them out with a hand massager tonight. I'll try to do it tomorrow as well.
I am hoping to put in an 8 miler on Sunday-ish. We shall see what the day brings.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Doesn't this look like a nice place to run? It should be, but today I wasn't feeling it.
I ran 12 miles this weekend and really felt great over the last couple days except my calves felt tight (been trying to work out a couple knots) and I've just felt kinda tired.
I only went out today because it's been a couple days since I ran and needed to get moving more than a mile dog walk. I figured I'd head to the pine needle-covered trail for hopefully a soft footfall and an easy run.
Well, it was hot, humid, I felt tired, my legs never loosened and no amount of music and pretty scenery was making it better. I finished up with 3 miles and was pretty glad to head home and clean up.
Not every day is a good day. Not every run is a good run.
I've continued reading The Extra Mile and I will say that it has picked up at Chapter 17. Pam Reed starts talking a little bit more about how she got into racing the ultra marathons, including Badwater. It's beginning to be more about running (really interesting) and less about her personal life (un-interesting). I'll review again after I've finished!

Review: Running On The Sun DVD

I have no idea why but I've watched this movie about 4 times. I've had the DVD, rented through Netflix, for about a month and still haven't sent it back! The trailer is probably more professionally made than the actual documentary is... but I guess the stories are so intriguing and the race is so captivating that I keep thinking I'll watch it once more before returning. I just need to buy it! Haha. Anyway, here is the trailer if you haven't seen it.

Current Inspiration: 13 Year Old Runs an Ultra

I love this video even though it's kinda old and I've watched it a number of times.
I appreciate the moms' support of her daughter, their time together, that a 13 year old wanted to do it and succeeded.
Mackenzie says that she didn't really train,'s an ultramarathon, surely they did a little running beforehand. :) Anyway, it's inspirational and makes you want to get out there and go farther.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Golden Hawk 12 Mile Run

On Sunday morning at 6am I started the Golden Hawk 6 mile course. This route is 100% road but I ran on the grass when I could. Since it was so early, I saw very few cars. I wish I could stay on the trails but the only ones we are "authorized" to run on are short 2 mile-ish loops. I was not going to loop 6 times on the same path, especially since I did that for my 10 miler (5 loops).

The humidity was choakingly thick. I had started early just to avoid the heat and worried that I'd still be in for a steamer. Oddly though, as the sun came up it seemed to burn away the moisture and cloud cover moved in, keeping the temps down. Every so often I'd feel an almost cool, refreshing breeze move past me! Nice!

My legs and previous weak areas (calves, left knee and heels) felt really great the entire run. I've been using a hand massager on them and working out any knots I feel during the week. I also was back to wearing my Brooks Adrenaline 9 and they felt great on the grass as well as brief trips over asphalt. The major battle I had for this run was nausea - almost the entire time on and off. - - I'm still experimenting with food however, and pretty much stuck to all natural products this run. I'm just wondering if my stomach is going to be my achilles heel, causing issues no matter what I throw down it. In all other areas I seemed fine (ie: no cramping). Towards the 10th mile and then definitely at the 11th, I was running out of energy. And I know why... I simply had not been able to take in enough calories. I'm so freaking slow - especially running in grass and on trail - that in 3 hours, I had probably depleted all I had in me. I tried to eat half a luna moon around the 6th mile and could only get that much down before spitting out the rest, wishing to throw up.

Let's see, about 45 min before running I ate an Almond & Coconut KIND bar, 1/3 of a Sugar-free Red Bull, and some coconut water. I did want to eat the bar a little earlier but I was already waking up at 5am to do that and really, that's going to be the earliest I'm rising. Then, during the run I had a total of 1.5 luna moons, which are the size of 2 gummie bears. Not much. And my Nathan was filled with very, very watered down Clif Luna Sports Drink. Also interesting to note, I filled my 70oz bladder up completely and only drank 30oz. I'm sure I should be drinking more since it took me hours to finish. Then, I finished the coconut water after my run.

So, disappointingly, the nausea that haunted me in the past is still nagging me even though I'm trying to go as natural and easily digestible as possible. I don't know... maybe I still need to go more broken down, more close to the earth. I'm considering honey as my only source of fuel. Or even a honey product like Stinger. At Whole Foods I used to be able to buy raw honey sticks where you bite off the top and stir it into a drink or whatever. I don't have anything like that local but it would be convenient and easily absorbed. So, if I went the honey route, I'd probably want to get into S-caps (sodium and potassium) and then drink plain water from the bladder. Hitting some coconut water (5 electrolytes & 60 calories for energy) whenever I can as well. That would really pair down the amount of work my stomach has to do and maybe, eliminate the nausea.

Anyhow, to rap this up, next weekend I should only go out and do 8. On my last run I kept thinking I needed to re-do this 12 miler. I don't know why.... maybe just to go out and do it stronger before moving up again. I have a little bit of healthy fear about pushing mileage in one run. Things are going good and I want this to last - even if that means backing off.

Goal: I would really like to do the Dogwood Canyon 50k (31 miles) Oct 25, 2009. If I keep going up in mileage every two weeks I can probably hit 26 miles two weeks prior to the race. That should be enough training to go out and try for my first ultramarathon!

Link: Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, Missouri-Arkansas

Note: Update 4/21/10... I now know that most of the products I was eating contain ingredients such as citric acid which are usually made from corn. Corn causes a lot of problems in my body and probably caused a lot of the issues I experienced that day.

Currently Reading: The Extra Mile

Title: The Extra Mile
Subtitle: One Woman's Personal Journey to Ultra-Running Greatness
Author: Pam Reed

Pam Reed is a two time Badwater Ultramarathon winner, a multiple ultramarathon record holder including the 300 mi and 24 hr track, the Tucson Marathon Director as well as a mom and wife. Although she's achieved a lot and certainly an athletic hero, her book is less than inspirational. This may not have been the point of it however (in her defence).
It's basically an autobiography, written as if she's speaking to you. But the voice of the author is very choppy, skipping around from thought to thought and topic to topic. She talks about how energetic she is and that characteristic comes through in her writing as very scattered.
If her life other than her athletic background was exciting and full of unique, captivating stories, this book might have been a great idea. However, it feels like a public diary full of mistakes and selfishness. She even adds quotes from her children about family dynamics and her lack of maternal instinct which made me cringe.
Some amazon reviewers hinted about these negatives points and I still bought the book thinking maybe people were just uptight. I was really interested in hearing about the process and drive of an ultramarathoner. I was curious about her training and about her future goals. But, the book is about her over-idolizing some Olympic gymnast from the 70s as a child, the dissolution of her first marriage, how she is cold emotionally, has difficulty communicating her feelings, how much she and her current husband clash and how hard it is to direct a marathon. Nothing uplifting or inspirational.
I am a little more than halfway through and will finish it just because I paid money for it. If I come across anything worth more than I've described, I will update my review!

Update on my Nathan pack from my 12 mile run today (will review soon): I loved it. I didn't notice any of the previous problems except the bite valve issue. But I read a trick online that you need to twist it as you pull it out and that did seem to help. I also played with it a lot, pulling it in and out before running with it again to loosen it up. I guess you want a tight valve so you don't have leaking but, both times I've ran with it, it's leaked onto my shirt. I always end up with a huge circle of water near my waist. This has been OK since I'm sweating so much anyway, but in the winter time that would suck. Also, if I had any colored beverage like Powerade Zero in there - it could stain clothes. I'm currently thinking about getting a Camelbak Omega reservoir. Everyone seems to say that combo of the excellent Nathan pack and that bladder is the best of two worlds. The only issue there is that you have to rig the reservoir to your pack since it's got different hooks to hold the bladder down. I need to read more about this...

Friday, July 03, 2009

Review: Nathan Intensity 2L hydration pack

4 mile run tonight while the sun was setting.
The rest of my pictures were deleted by an MP who tracked me down on a complaint that I was photographing the base. He took my iPhone, then viewed and deleted the pictures before writing me up. I wasn't even aware that I had been doing something wrong.
A very upsetting end to a nice run.
Anyhow, 12 miles to run down sometime this weekend. I'm feeling a little jaded right now but hopefully I'll get into the spirit soon.

Otherwise in the news, I received my Nathan Intensity 2L hydration pack! I took it on my short run tonight to work out the kinks before really needing it on longer distances.

Didn't bounce.
Small and tight on my back but yet holds more than I even need to carry right now.
Easy to adjust - I think.
Easy to take apart and clean.
Key ring and strap so the keys don't bounce at all in the bag.
Mesh pocket holds my iPhone while I have it on speaker so I can hear music (because you can't wear headphones running on base).

Bite valve was very stiff and I had a difficult time getting a sip and then pushing it back in to lock. This SUCKED. I tried using my fingers and my teeth. It is very difficult to pull out and in on top of having slick sweaty fingers.
I felt rubbing against a piece of plastic under one arm... I'm worried about chaffing and need to look at adjusting it differently if possible.
And lastly, the cords all seemed to loosen up as I ran and I had to keep adjusting them tighter. I am not sure if this is my problem or if the fabric is too slick. I'm really worried about this one because I'm not sure I can knot the cords in place because they'll stick out and rub against my arms I think.
Argh. I really do like this water pack.... It got GREAT reviews all over with only the mention of the bite valve problem. I think there have been complaints about the bladder but I'm wondering if I have an updated model because mine seemed secure. It does slosh, but didn't really move around or slouch - and I definitely didn't notice it beyond hearing water in it.
I'm just not sure if the issues are all me yet or if it's the Nathan design. It was kind of a love/hate run with it tonight and that has me a little worried. I am really, really not a big fan of hand carrying water though, so I'm going to really try to make this work.
I did get a good deal on mine: $69 on Amazon with no tax and no shipping (I got the last one sold by Amazon however). I couldn't find it anywhere local and online it's normally $85 plus possibly the tax/shipping on top!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Eventful 4 miler

Tonight the plan was to run by the Chinook heliport and see the guys take off in their helicopters. Sounded like some good scenery! Furthermore, the weather was awesome at a "cool" -80 degrees!
I arrived at Knox ARMY heliport around 7pm. When I arrived, I saw all the Chinook heli's, maintenance crews, soldiers ...AND firetrucks, ambulances and MP cars!?
My first thought was that either someone had a bad takeoff or there was a electrical fire during their start up.... or something... I debated over my run in case they tried to reach me... Then figured I might as well and just take my phone. Also if I didn't get on the road, I wouldn't make it back in time to see them off. I grabbed my small bottle and phone and took off for the Hanchey ARMY Heliport. The intersection at that field makes 2 miles, for an out-and-back total of 4 miles.
I felt great this run! I had been drinking my sample of (Clif) Luna Sport Electrolyte Splash electrolyte drink. Zero corn syurp and gluten free! I had also had one blueberry luna moon with a lot of water. I had great energy the entire run and no cramping at all.
Half way through they called to see where I was but we had a bad connection since they were in a running helicopter and I was on a country back road. *sigh* I said I was 2 miles down the road at Hanchey which would take at least 20 minutes to get back. Since I could hear the rotor blades turning loudly in the background I figured they were starting up... if so, I didn't know how long I had before they left, especially since they were having to wait on maintanence.
After getting off the phone, I started to run back faster. I was somewhere in the 10 minute mile range. It was starting to get dark and cars were a little more frequent today than on Sunday when I ran the same stretch (but shorter loops). I really wanted to try to see them off and snap a few photos so I pushed it hard. My legs and lungs pretty much max and I'd have to walk here and there, but within seconds I'd remind myself of my goal and run again. No true cramping ever felt in my legs... just a feeling of overwhelming... something... and I'd have to slow down.
By the time I hit the forest before the airfield, all the Chinooks were on full power. The sound was like constant thunder vibrating through the trees. For probably a half mile or more it sounded like the huge helicopter was hovering over my head. I kept thinking I was closer than I really was because the sound was already so loud. Just as I was nearing the edge of the forest two Chinooks took off in front of me. I reached the airfield and saw two more go to a hover before taking off. Then, walking the last bit to my car, another hovered for awhile and took off.
Signs warn passerbys of high wind and I've heard that the breeze from a Chinook can push over motorcycles and cars! They are really powerful with double rotor blades and engines. There were a lot more helicopters on the tarmac and a lot of noise but it was dark, so I couldn't tell if there were anymore helicopters leaving.
Turns out I had finished 4 miles in 52 minutes. The first two miles were a lot more casual than the last two for sure! I can tell by my Garmin stats I was really booking it as well - my heart rate for the last 15 minutes went from the 180 range to 196! My max heart rate is estimated at 185. lol. Yeah,... well, like I said, I was workin it!

Note: I found out later that the emergency vechicles were there because someone fell out or off of a Chinook.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Running Essentials

It's hard to remember everything as you're going out the door at o'dark thirty for a run. And accidents happen out there: sweat in eyes, blisters, scrapes from thorn bushes, dry contacts, etc... So I've wanted to put together a box of things that I might need for a run and leave it in the car.

Here are the items I've bought or plan to add to my box:

1. Fragrance Free Baby Wipes

2. Travel Tissues

3. Baby Oil gel (chaffing) or Body Glide

4. New Skin Liquid Bandage (blisters)

5. Toilet Paper travel roll

6. First Aid Kit: Flex Band aids, Cleansing Wipes, Gauze, Aleve, Biofreeze

7. Individual Rewetting Eye Drops (minimizes contamination) & extra contact case

8. Hand Towel and Regular Towel (for dog park visits as well as running)

9. Water Bottles

10. Hairbands

11. Extra energy products

12. Spare headphones (forgot this last time!)

13. Spare socks

14. Flip Flops (I usually run errands after a run and don't want to stay in my wet shoes - especially after a long run where my feet have swollen some.)

15. Winter time accessories: gloves, ear-headband

16. Waterproof sunblock

17. Waterproof, light jacket

18. Girl-needs. (I've had my "monthly" start during a marathon before!)

19. Anti-bacterial waterless hand gel

20. Head lamp, flashlight & batteries

21. Reflector Belt (I have an Air Force waist-strap)

I also might keep some items in the box after each run because I forget them really easily... things like my tiny ipod shuffle and heart rate monitor. I'm a little concerned about the heat getting to things, so that's why I won't keep much food, and just a couple of the eye drops, etc. But, my car is kept in the garage and has very tinted windows.

The total for what you see in the picture was about $25. Some things, like eye drops and band aids I already had but I didn't want to take things from the house that I already use... I wanted this box to stay in the car and be used for when I'm on-the-go. I also wanted to have containers for everything (like the first aid kit, wet wipes box & T.P. holder) so things don't become messy.

It'll be so nice to have everything when I need it!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Change Up

I wasn't planning on running until I put on my shoes and headed out the door. My knee had been tender, especially on stairs lately so I haven't pushed myself at all. The most I had done for the last 4 days was the daily one mile dog walk. So, by now, I had enough of sitting around.

Driving around post, I was thinking of changing things up. Firstly, I put on my older Brooks Adrenaline 8 shoes, the predecessor to it's upgrade that I usually wear. I thought that maybe I needed to get back to switching off between two shoes to avoid overuse injuries. Then, I added coconut water to my powerade zero to try out the natural carbs and extra potassium for avoiding leg cramps and soreness. I also decided to get out of the forest and run some open road. Maybe running the technical trail every time was wearing out my knee... I thought a smoother surface might be in order. Smooth, but it was not flat I should add. Lastly, I had received my Clif Bar samples and wanted to try something. I opened up the Blueberry Luna Moons and popped one in with a couple big swigs of my mixed brew. It was much better than the Clif Shot Bloks. Much better. It tasted a lot more natural and it was a smaller serving. Another change in this run - no iPod. I had forgotten my headphones and anyway it's against Fort Rucker rules to wear headphones while running near roads.
I decided to start my run near the beginning/ending of my last 8 mile run on Hatch road. This 3 mile section spreads from the Engineer/Hatch road intersection, past the Chinook helicopters at Knox ARMY Heliport to the Hanche Heliport turn where the Apache and Kiowa pilots train. It would be just a few hills, some new scenery and low traffic. My first concern though was where to park. I pulled into Knox AHP, where an MP was staked out and asked him for suggestions. He was super helpful and said parking on the side of the road is fine but recommended a hidden parking lot just behind the tarmac. So this way I would start my run at the Chinook AHP and use my GPS watch to just mark out when to turn around.
I take off and in the 1st mile I decided to run 6 that day, as long as my knee felt good. I also realized I had left my Powerade/Coconut brew on top my car. Great, it'll boil there until I returned. The sun was blazing at about 92 degrees. The southern sunlight is totally different than back home in Kansas too. The only way I can explain it is that it's just really intense.
Pretty quickly my run deteriorated. Although there was a storm coming and thunder in the distance, shady spots of road seemed far and few between. Energy just seemed to leak out of my body. The missing hydration was a little bit of a mental blow as well as physical. I decided the best thing to do was shorten my loop. Not total distance, just shorten my out-and-back to 1.5 miles so I can return to my car halfway and reassess the situation.
I noticed after peeing in the woods that I had these black specks all over my legs. Looking closer, they were just bits of plant debris. Whew, thought they could be small bugs.
And at 3 miles, I reached my car, grabbed my warm water and chugged a good bit. My stomach had been cramping and my sweat was really cool on my body which I read is a sign of heat exhaustion. It was obviously really hot outside and I felt really hot, but there's also a chill close to my skin. My body was workin hard to bring down the internal temps. I sat for a bit in my car, which I don't normally do. My thoughts were pretty negative...
"You just did 10 last weekend and you can't even do 3 now?"
"You're walking waaaay too much, you should be going faster."
"People are totally watching you from the heliport and stressing you're a bomber...quit looking at the gate guards so much."
"My knee is gonna give out..."
"Wow, my shirt is soaked."
"Maybe peeing again would help my stomach cramps... or throwing up."
"Maybe I ate too soon to running, ...too much sugar... too much new stuff...."
"Why can't I look like the Runners World covers all tan, sweat gleaming, and effortless form.."

As if the run isn't hard enough.
I decided I felt a little better. I grabbed a water bottle and headed back out to double my mileage. Within the first mile I was considering turning around. My body just felt exhausted.
I looked down at my legs with the specks still on them and they seemed to be moving individually. Maybe they were bugs after all! I bent down to look closer.. Naw, they're not moving. I picked one on my hand - definitely plant parts. Geesh.
Okay, now it's time for my own mental tricks. I invited tiredness to jump on my back and I accepted how I felt. I kept telling myself something a civil war soldier in The Blue and The Gray would tell himself: the body can go farther than the mind. My running friend texted and I put her on speaker and told her how I felt. She encouraged me and it helped. Laughing and smiling I got off the phone. A mile or two down the road a cyclist that had whizzed past me before, waving, now slowed down to almost a stop and asked me if I had enough water. Awe. Damn, that was nice. I assured him I did and after commiserating about the heat he started grinding up the hill that was in front of us, hooping and hollering. I was smiling again and soon enough I saw the Chinook, monstrous on a runway, before me and that meant my car was near. I finished 6 miles. Not the longest run I've done my any means, but it wasn't the easiest to lay down either.