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.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Waiting Game

A little video for inspiration or torture if you're not running, like me. *sigh*

I've been sitting on my arse for a few days now and worrying over my knee. I've monitored it going downstairs. Listened for clicks or aches walking the dog. I've taken ibuprofen when I remembered too. Massaged my calves. ... All just hoping that the next time I run my knee issue will be magically gone.

Most of my alternative means of entertainment happen to be visiting running blogs, perusing Runners World, reading running books, watching running DVDs, talking to runners and searching for all natural alternatives for fuel while running. So all this not-running just makes me want to drop myself off at a trail head and disappear for an hour in the woods.

I might be difficult to live with meanwhile. *sheepish grin*

Yesterday, I hung out in this little beach town and got to go to a Fresh Market grocery store. They carry a coconut water, Zico, I've been wanting to try. I'm not sure where I first got the idea, but I'm pretty sure it was an article online about alternatives to Gatorade and GU products. Coconut water (not milk or the oil) turns out to be natures' sport drink. It has five essential electrolytes; potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous, and tons more potassium than commercial drinks. I'm so excited to try it during a run! Some brands like, Goya, have added sugar. The only benefit I can see from that would be some carbs during a run but I don't really want it. I went with Zico, although I hear that Vita Coco is also good.

Speaking of run, I may go out tonight around sundown and try for a short run. I'm almost scared that my knee will still feel weak and I'm just in for disappointment. Part of me wants to put it off another day and see how it feels....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Root Finally Got Me

One reason I love running Parcours Lake Trail on Post is that I'm almost always alone. Although I usually run with my ipod headphones on, it's still nice to just enjoy the space all to myself. Sometimes, I turn it all off and just listen to the forest and the padding of my feet on dirt. It's glorious. It sets my whole day to right. I think. I talk to God. I just watch the ground go under me and trees go over me.

The canopy is pretty thick so even though I started my run at noon, I never felt overheated. I went through a huge Powerade zero however because I wasn't sure how much I was planning to run. I looped around one trail 3 times - and going off my last GPS reading (I had forgotten my watch), it should be about 1.3 miles a loop. I forgot to check the time when I got back to my car so I have no idea how long I was out there. So I finished up around 3.9 miles. I definitely could have gone more but I'm not sure I am completely healed from this weekend because some things started breaking down.

After tripping on a root, hard, my right knee started clicking. *worry* In addition, I had cramping and soreness on my right calf and right back thigh. After my run I took ibuprofen to combat inflammation and I'll be resting it as much as possible.... even taking a couple days off I suspect.

*fingers crossed*

Funny though that just in my last post I mentioned something about my fear of tripping over a stump (near a snake).

In the picture to the right I was trying to capture a shot of a blackhawk roaring overhead. It's a speck on the left side of the opening in the tree cover. Today a TH-67 helicopter crashed near Hartford, AL killing the Instructor Pilot and sending the student pilot to the hospital. These soldiers really put their lives on the line to do their jobs and the familes certainly risk a lot to be a military family.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I'm pretty sure this is a picture of a type of snake I've seen on my trail runs. They are usually yellow and this rusty color - which by the way, blends into the reddish dirty and sandy soil perfectly. Boo. This one really doesn't have distinctive markings which, I think, are a diamond pattern.

Some have warned me this could be the poisonous coral snake. ...But... that snake usually has stripes and I'm pretty sure this trail snake doesn't. I also see black ones with rattles! Ugh.

*shivers* This is the ONE thing I don't like about trails. My only other fear would be tripping on a tree stump/root and falling near a snake. Definitely fear number 2. *shivers again*

A Slow 10

After a night where I didn't get to sleep on time, got woken up at 2am, then continuously woken up every hour due to snoring, I suprisingly got up to the alarm buzzing. 5:15am and something was already going right.

I got down to the Parcours Lake Trail and ended up parking in a new area at the trailhead. This allowed me quick access to my car between laps - and it was going to take a lot of laps. I planned to loop twice, stopping at the car every two and a half miles. This scheme worked out beautifully - I was able to switch Powerade zero for water, pick up 2-3 Shot Bloks and nibble at my Lara (raw) Bar as I was hungry.

The weather stayed on the cool side of warm/hot until about 9am when the sun was looking high in the sky already and feeling hot. Luckily, by that time I was 8 miles into my run and the last loop wasn't affected much due to being under tree canopy.

This was my first run using the Garmin Forerunner 405. I was pleasantly suprised that the GPS worked so well through the forest. My old Timex Ironman would always lose connection repeatedly and guesstimate my course. I had my distance, pace, heart rate, etc all at my finger tips. I checked my heart rate every time I felt the need to walk and found out I was hitting 171-176. This is pretty much my red zone because 185 is my max heart rate. So before I even had this watch I was able to listen to my body enough to slow down... yay me. I also realized that I'm not able to keep pace very well on trails. When I ran paved trails, I was always the person to watch pace and keep it consistant at 12 min/mi. But, on dirt paths, the terrain is inconsistant and your legs really never get used to the rolling earth. I'd go from a 9 or 10 minute pace to a walk and everything inbetween as I ducked under branches, skipped over roots and pinecones, bounded up stair-rocks and half slid down small declines. This is an issue I probably need to tease out - maybe trying to just go slower and stay on pace as much as possible. I think there is an alarm setting where it will let you know if you're off pace -which would probably help train me to be more consistant.

When I got home, my data was uploaded, and I was able to look at the stats: pace (varied), distance (10 mi), lap splits, heart rate, calories (945!), elevation changes and an awesome map of the 10 miles (pictured above). Overall, I'm super happy with this watch. There are a few settings I need to tweak, but otherwise it was easy to use and gave me the info I like to see.

Although I was on technical trails, it took me 2:41 to finish. I ran the Georgetown to Idaho Springs, Colorado in 2:45 in 2004. So that was 3 extra miles and a 1,000ft elevation change, altitude sickness (8500 feet), a bloody nose, and rolling landscape in the same amount of time. So either I was better condidtioned back then, or this was really technical, OR I just had an awesome race buddy back then. Naomi Rademeyer, from Pretoria, South Africa. I think we met about halfway though the race. She told me a bit about her lifestory which included escaping from Africa due to the violence and oppression. She moved to Englewood, CO with her husband and children but had left behind some family - I believe her fathers and brothers. She said in Africa, you can't just sign up for a race, you have to be fast enough to gain entry. And she was full of awesome tips like when going down hill, try to relax your body and run in a controlled fall. I think of her help everytime I'm going down a decent hill now.

Anyhow, I am really confused by my time and actually worried a did a lot more than 10 miles. My 8 mile run took 1 hour 30 minutes. And I had not only driven that distance to check the milage but I also plotted it out online (out and back twice equaled 8 miles). The other thing is that when I run this loop for my week days runs, it usually takes me 50 minutes to go around twice. An hour run for me right now is usually at least 4 miles. I had to loop this baby 8 times with each lap amounting to 1.3 miles. So if that's correct, my mid-week short runs are only about 3 miles since I go around twice. 3 miles in 50 minutes?? Something is off... either this trail is SO technical that I really do go that slow or I'm off in some other way. I need to use my Garmin on a marked trail and test to make sure it's accurate. I know that I only had 25% accuracy on the satelite read. I saw that, and kinda tried to figure this out during my run noticing the time but thought I just couldn't do the math while running. Now, I'm still trying to figure it out and it's not adding up.

Another note of interest.... after my 8 mile run I had some soreness. Really, I had some worries like my heel was tight and felt pulled (esp in the morning) and I had some knots in my calves and I think I had to ice my knee. This time, I did take a quick ice bath (which melted too fast due to the water being too warm) but I don't know if that is the reason or what, but I have NO side effects. The main difference with this run is also the terrain - most of my 10 miles were on soft pine-hay and dirt packed trails. Really cushioned. The 8 miles were done on road and off the side of the road in the grass and gravel. Anyway, going along with my worry about distance and thinking I could have actually done more than 10, doesn't seem right when my legs feel this great. A little tired but no aches. Sooo... ice bath? Pine needle hay terrain? I dunno, but something was working for me during this run.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Some Say Size Matters

Today I went back to the Parcours Lake ARMY obstacle course for an hour-ish run. It went really well although temps are in the 100s so the heat was killer. Since most of my distances are short and the long ones are out-and-back, I've been able to hand carry small water bottles. This weekend however will be 8-10 miles out-and-back, so that'll be 4-5 miles before I can refill a bottle. I'm starting to really think about hydration systems. I'd really like to try a Nathan women's pack but my local Dick's Sporting Goods only carry Camelbaks. ...And only one women's pack which felt like a chaffing nightmare when I tried it on. I might have to just bite the bullet and order a Nathan from The Nathan Intensity pack got 5/5 stars so it'd have a great chance of working out. $85 though... and they say running is cheap cuz all you need are a good pair of shoes. *shrugs*

A lot of people seem to use the bottles that strap to your hand. I really, really don't like carrying items so I can't see this working out for me. I tried the Nathan Quickdraw Elite ($14, Dick's) and it was better than a regular bottle since you don't have to grip it as tight. - But with water, an energy gel or keys.... ugh, too much. I left it behind.

Speaking of energy gels.... since I'm starting to up my milage finally, I've also been thinking about different sources of energy. With my food issues, I've been hesistant to try almost anything with chemicals. But considering my location (BFE), I can't find much more than GU and Clif shot bloks at Dicks, a half hour a way. I know I can't do GU except possibly vanilla - but vanilla flavorings, even in natural products like Rice Milk make my hands ache and swell. Weird. Powerade Zero (no corn syurp) has worked ok I think. I can't drink anything else on the grocery shelves (ie: Gatorade, G2, Powerade, etc). So, I ended up calling the Clif Bar customer service because their site lists ingredients but still, things like carmel color and flavorings can be allergen derrived. I told her I tried Shot bloks and was curious was Gluten/Corn/Dairy free. She admitted that all their products may have trace amounts. This means, you can have one package that was cross contaminated but buy the same thing again and it can be free of allergens. I'm willing to try anything however, if they really don't think it's in there. So, she is sending me samples of allergen-free (hopefully) items! If they work, I can start buying them online. Happiness!!!

Items for me to try:

Luna Moons (like Shot bloks): Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Brown Rice Syrup Solids, Pectin, Citric Acid, Colored With Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavor, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C) , Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax, Palmitate (Vit. A), Tocopheryl Succinate (Vit. E).
* Red Flags for my food allergies are citric acid, Natural Flavorings, juice concentrates and vitamins.

Electrolyte Splash (like Gatorade): Organic Evaporated Cane Juice Crystals, Natural Flavor, Colored With Vegetable Juice Concentrate.
* I LOVE seeing like 3 ingredients in a Gatorade alternative. The Natural Flavor though throws a red flag for me.

I've read of some runners using dates for a natural energy source. I have been wanting to try this but first need to locate dates with no additives. There is a Fresh Market, 2 hours a way in Destin, Florida that I know carries fresh dried dates. So, next week, on my monthly visit down there I will pick some up. Now... I probably should email her about how in the world she carries them.... in baggies? Sounds messy...

When I got home from my run the UPS man (a.k.a. Santa Claus) came with a a package for me! I received the Garmin Forerunner 405 with heart rate monitor.

So far I went through the short Quick Start - an automated little tutorial on the actual watch. Very easy. To set the time and dates all you had to do was get a GPS signal. It automatically updated. Nice.. easy. In fact, if you read the manual - everything was simple. But then later, I tried to put the HR strap on someone else to take his heart rate and realized I had forgotten what buttons to push to see it. Sooo I am seeing that the device is easy to use, but you have to know how to do it. Like, that HR is under the "Training" menu on the watch. So getting to that screen was where I faltered. But.. still, I really think it'll take me a couple times to do it to remember it. No big deal.

Other cool notes about the watch: the fact that I walk into the room and it auto updates all my stats to the Web site. Also, that my route gets updated to my profile and I can see exactly every drunk-driver looking swerve I made on the road. Fun. I also am loving if you get lost, it will guide you direction-by-direction back to your start. I'm going to test that on a dog walk here soon.

One thing I'm not loving,... since the watch has the GPS unit inside (all others are a device on an arm-band), you can't swim with it or wear it underwater. I used to sometimes just hop into the shower with my old Timex Ironman GPS watch (without the unit on my arm of course). I didn't even think about it. I don't swim - and have no goals to include swimming but it was just nice to never worry about the unit and water. However, this for me, is not a serious detraction.

Also, its size is a slight consideration. It isn't crazy huge - especially on a man. But how much people complained about it's size worried me before I bought it. But, heck, it's like the 1st watch to have the GPS actually in the watch. And the arm GPS units are huge - I've used one for years and it was a pain in the winter time especially with layered clothes. I'd MUCH rather be wearing this all-in-one watch. And it's not so big that it'd look odd while you're running. Now, for a woman, wearing the watch with casual clothes, - I would do it if I was afraid to leave it in my car or in a desk drawer. It's not that odd. But, I probably wouldn't put it on if I wasn't going running and I could just leave it safetly at home. I think if a runner is put off by the size of this watch, then they probably aren't serious enough about running to even buy it. The technology that this watch brings, ......size really shouldn't matter.

Now, I just gotta get the basic functions down for this Saturday!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Currently reading: Born To Run

I'm 75 pages into the 287 page book and it's been very entertaining. The book starts off with a author, a runner himself, getting diagnosed for his running aliments. That frustration propels him into a journey to research why so many people get hurt running. Why we don't seem to be made to run. But, quickly, he hears of a tribe in Mexico that run long (60+ mile) distances. Everyone in the tribe; elderly, women, kids, etc.. all run as a way of life and their name for themselves means "Running People." He goes to Mexico in search of these people, escaping drug lords, enduring an unforgiving desert landscape, walking/running/hiking everywhere and meeting interesting people. I'm hooked. And almost every review I read before buying the book seemed to be captivated beginning to end of the story.

Recommended to anyone who likes running, history, true-stories and adventure/travel books.

Fried Toes

I started my day off with a trip to the Doctor to get some plantar warts flash frozen. First, they use a knife and shred off as much as possible then move on to the cryo-thingy.
It hurt.
This is probably my 5th time going to get the treatment ...... and then going running.
I headed to the alligator trail but found another trail head to re-route past the low lake area, hitting only the flat trails above. I looped twice and even found some new short trails off the main loop. I ran for about 50 minutes to an hour so I would guess I tracked somewhere around 4 miles.
It was about 85 degrees and muggy so sweat poured down my body into my socks, stinging my new wounds. It was kind of a burning sensation actually. Then of course, I don't use gaiters so I get lots of sand and debris in my socks which added to the discomfort. Poor paws. Everything felt really good out there except my feet, and that was as expected.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Review: Clif Shot Block & Unsheduled, scheduled run

Today I was scheduled for a 6 mile run, but nothing I did today ended up being planned. I woke up late (8:30am) which means I'd be running in the heat. Not having slept well, I got up and around quickly, going out the door pretty groggy. It was hot.
My friend texted to meet her garage selling. I didn't exactly feel like shopping for junk, but I also wasn't feeling like running at all. I felt tired, hurried, I hadn't eaten, hadn't sipped coffee, and mostly unorganized. I decided to meet up with her and put off running for a few hours telling myself it was already hot and a few hours wasn't going to make much difference.
We ended up driving to the nearest city and retail shopped - until 4pm!
Going home, we both relayed how tired we were. I laid my head against the car passenger seat and planned my run for tomorrow.
Then, I remembered I wanted to try out my Clif Shot Blok. The directions said to take one before running, and although I never did that with GU products, I thought it might create some energy and help me salvage a run tonight.
I ate one. Ugh. Hard to get down. Overly sweet. Overly soft, like a jelled syrup. Whew! I swigged a little of my watered-down soda. You're suppose to eat this with a good amount of water, but I don't have it on me.
I decided to run the 6 miles. I hopped in my car and headed for the Beaver Lake Trail to do 3 loops of 2 miles. I figured that paved running would literally be the path of least resistance.
Within a mile of starting out, I felt nausea. Enough nausea to double over, hoping to throw up, only to stare at a dead, black lizard. Instead of the relief of hurling, I unfolded back upright and kept moving forward. My stomach stayed upset for most of the run and the swealtering heat just added to that discomfort.
I ended up detouring from the paved path onto a dirt obstacle course. This is a totally old-school ARMY obstacle course where the idea is to run from point to point, stopping only to hurl yourself over logs stacked up at varying heights or pits filled with water. Needless to say, I skipped that fun. I walked a lot.
I saw a fuzzy, white rabbit tail hop into the darkened forest. I saw lots of blackberries starting to juice up and turn from red to black. I got scratched until I bled on my legs and arms from said blackberry bushes (at least I think that's the culprit). I sweat salt into my new wounds. My head pounded so much that I couldn't listen to my ipod. I felt dizzy. My stomach ached on and off. My body lagged. I worried that I had gambled on pushing a crappy run instead of waiting for the next day. It was just really sucking. Until..., it wasn't.
On the 3rd lap, I all-of-a-sudden felt good. So good that I thought about throwing 2 more miles on the fire, making it 8. I basked in this new found delirium..., until the tiredness came back and I realized I was mistaking good for just better. I felt better, that was all, but not well.
Coming into view of the last bit of road I thought about how bipolar runner can be during training. The highs and lows, the goals and revisions of those goals as you delve into more miles. Getting off the roller coaster, I walked into the parking lot, to my car and was just glad to be done today.

Review for Clif Shot Blok: I felt nausea, but that's not all that uncommon for me and GU type products. I also didn't have the water to dilute it in my stomach. I felt perked up after it got into my system, but it was short lived and I wondered if it was simply a sugar (brown sugar syurp) high. But, I also had been really, tired today and additionally, I'm not exposed to a lot of sugar in one sitting like that. - Although I'd only had two of the bloks (not even a serving). I will say though, that for the first run in a long time, my legs felt GREAT. No cramping, no tightness, and really they were the least tired body parts. I was running on paved ground however, which is an eleviation from the difficulty of unpaved surfaces. Soo... I will try the Bloks again, with water, and see how it goes.

Update 2010: I now know that I can't eat Clif Blok Shots or take Ibuprophen or Aleve or drink Powerade. I had thought back then that if it didn't have corn syurp, I was okay. I now know that citric acid, salt and other additives come from corn. I probably was having an allergic reaction in this run (dizziness, tiredness, nausea, etc).

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Today I went back to the obstacle course at Parcours Lake (alligator territory). Tuesday and Wednesday this week I had taken off from running. I walked my dog but otherwise just didn't feel healed up enough from this weekend. I'm showing signs of slow recovery: achey legs, tight heals, feeling tired, etc. I've been taking time off, using an electric massager and taking Ibuprofen when I think about it. I really think that the soreness in my legs is from doing so much off-path running. I run a lot on uneven terrain or in grass and it's just so much more of a beating.
But last night I walked Anouk and my legs felt better walking than they did just sitting around. I thought today I might try a short run and see how they felt. I mean't to run on the Beaver Lake path to give my legs a break but then last minute, turned the car towards Parcours. I set out a little after 9am and found more paths to run this time. I don't think I ran farther though than Monday because I skipped the first stair section of the trail and went staight into the forest. So whatever I skipped there, I probably made up for mid-way on the new paths I found.
I found my way back to the car about 10am. I was sweating something fierce and my legs were again, toast. I'm laying on my bed hours later (after cleaning the house too) and they still feel like dead weight. That trail is just full of jumping around roots, uneven path, rolling small hills where the ground has caved in and you're scrambling up or down moving soil, ... it's a beating!
I probably should have just gone back to that paved path and took it easy.
My plan was to run 6 miles this Saturday - about a day and a half from now. I am going down in milage before hitting 8 or moving up to 10 miles the next week. With how my legs are really slow to recover, I'm thinking that I should wait to run the 6 til Sunday, and even then, run it on a flat, paved course. Then, the next week I probably need to stick to doing 8 again and not push anything.
These are the obstacles I knew would come with just not being made to run. Going against nature - but that's what's fun about it as well. Doing something you are not sure if you can do.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Alligators and other hazzards

As soon as I pull up to my new favorite dirt road near the blackhawk heliport, a car pulls up behind me. A gray, unmarked car. At first, I think that I may have running company on the road and I'm disappointed. Well, I became even more disappointed because they were actually military police. Damn.

There were two of them and they were really nice. They asked me if I was okay (probably assuming I might be having car problems). I answered that I was going out for a run on this dirt road.

They let me know that it was unauthorized and I would need to run in a designated area. *sigh* He broke it down for me that this road is a bow hunting ground and for my safety, I couldn't do it. *true*

We talked for a little bit about where the designated areas on base are located. One being the Beaver Lake Trail that is nice, but so short and paved. The other as Parcours Lake trail. I exclaim, "The one with alligators?!" "Yeap."
See, now to me, being an accidental bow hunting target seems less likely than running around alligator territory. But what does a civilian know?
He also noted that I could run along any road, but that I'd need to remove my headphones. *ugh!*

After they took off I decided to drive around a bit and think about it. Running along any road is going to be bad idea because it's already really sunny and really hot.

I decided to go to Parcours Lake. I ran this one time last year and just remember it being really short and really technical. Technical where it goes to single track and even then, half of the path has fallen down a ravine 35 feet. Or the path is broken up and caved due to tree roots that are actually probably still holding the other half of the path in place. The path winds so much its difficult to know which way to go. Even though it's used as an ARMY obstacle course, and signs are everywhere, unless you find the start they are useless. You'll run past Obstacle 3A to just run into Obstacle 16A seconds later. The other challenge is the rolling hills which wind down to the lake area and raise my blood pressure thinking about alligators.

After starting off with the blocked staircase that pretty much takes you to the top of the "hill" you then go into the forest area. This section which I think might be called "B Trail" is really short but winds quite a bit. I have no idea how long it is but guessing I would say a mile. It's a mile that kicks your glutes into high gear as you use your stabilizing muscles and push off uneven ground and climb tons of short hills.

Coming out of the forest I ran into another runner across the street coming out of the woods. I found out from him that the trail actually continues on another mile or more. SWEET! I had no idea when I ran it last time that there was so much more trail. This section which I think is "A Trail" was much flatter and the dirt path compacted and easier to traverse. I really flew this part of the trail.

Something interesting about this trail are the 1950s physical fitness signs. "Exercises" like the "toe touch" just seem so silly now. But there were harder ones like the swinging rings and the pull up bar. I tried to do a pull up and ... yeah,.... nope.

Anyway, it turned out to be a really fun run. Really different and technical - kept my mind busy. It was also fun getting a little lost and not really knowing how far it would be or where it would end. I just really had to go on how I felt and turn around when I started to feel tired.
I got back to my car and saw that I'd been gone almost an hour. So, based on my running I would guess I ran 4 miles of very technical trail. I felt tired, but mostly due to the heat as it was about noon. My legs were shot though. After 8 miles on Saturday, they weren't completely recovered. I went out on tired legs and had only planned on an easy jog on the dirt road when I came out today. So, doing 4 hard miles was unexpected but really great.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

R&R: Movies

Just ordered: Spirit of the Marathon DVD
I've watched the NOVA documentary, Marathon Challenge, on YouTube a couple times now. In that program they picked new runners and trained them for the NYC Marathon.

This movie might be based on that documentary. But it's changed somewhat: They added in more professional athletes (Deena), interviewed famous running authors (John Bingham) and filmed runners from various continents preparing for the Chicago Marathon. The original program was interesting and educational. The movie/documentary got great reviews on Amazon so I'm looking forward to it!

I just finished watching Running on the Sun. This DVD was rented via Netflix but I would like to own it.

I first heard of the Badwater Ultramarathon from my marathon Coach, Karl Keltner who is a former Marine and participated in Badwater. In fact, he was training for an ultra event while coaching us and during our marathon he would run in each team member. So basically, he'd run all over the course of 26.2 miles, visiting and checking in on each runner. Then as one neared finishing he would run up to be with them and after they crossed, he would run back to the next runner to cross with them, and so forth. It was unreal to watch when you're struggling to just lay down your own first marathon.

Running on the Sun was a pretty good documentary, focusing on the race but mostly the participants and how they trained and then how they raced in those brutal conditions. Each runner usually has a crew helping them and funds themselves: the race entry, travel and accommodations, their own gear & food, a vehicle (usually rented), the gas, the crew (free if they're your family/friends), supplies, etc. It was interesting to see how people struggled just to particpate in the race, not to mention whether or not they finish!

The movie isn't high budget. But, if you aren't a movie snob and are interested in running stories, this is a good one to watch.

I'd like to watch, Dancing the Bear, a story about two women training and racing this 100 mile ultra. It's not available on Netflix or Amazon however, so not sure how I can get my hands on it. There is a review of it on The Final Sprint Web site. It also got 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon although some people said it wasn't exciting enough. I'm thinking; running long distances is a challenge in entertainment sometimes even to the runner not to mention a producer trying to get effect out of every mile.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Small Victories

About 6:00 this morning, I get up, get dressed and peered outside. Rain, but slowly stopping. Next, I drove around my usual running spots to figure out where I was gonna lay down 8 miles.
I checked out the dirt road near the blackhawk heliport. Verdict: too muddy. I need to run today and minimize issues.
Next, I went over to where I had done my off-road runs near the grenade qualifying area. On the way there, I was eyeing Hatch Road. It runs from Andrews, the main road, to the Apache and Chinook heliports. I mark out 4 miles from Andrews to Engineer Road. Going out-and-back twice makes 8 total. This way I'll have access to my car halfway through.
Right away someone stops to ask if I need help. Nice! I guess you know you're a distance (vs sprint) runner when you're running by yourself, in the middle of nowhere, so that any reasoning person would think you're stranded.
I set out in the grass along the road at 6:50 a.m. Within a few steps, I realize, my shoes are getting soaked. Now, I've just mentioned getting wet/dirty twice, so before I start sounding like I can't deal with that I should note that I've run in mud, ice, rain, snow and temps so cold that my hair froze and sweat froze outside my clothing. My real worry is that wet = blisters. Especially if you don't have the right socks and I was wearing a target lycra-cotton mix that I didn't know if I could trust.
Runners, like animals in the wild, are constantly mindful of any and all factors that will take you out. For most, blisters are one of those and they freaking take forever to heal.
After quickly mind scanning alternative locations I decided firstly that my shoes AND socks were already completely soaked. So relocating won't change that circumstance. Secondly, any other location besides the Beaver Lake paved trail would also pose wet feet/sock issues. Short trail loops? Sidewalk? I'm already bored just thinking about it - no way.
I press on, sloshing. For being mostly a country road surrounded in forests, the grass was mostly short to medium length. I got whippings across my legs often, but it wasn't bad. The hills were tolerable - mostly long and I walked when I needed to. After 4 miles I was back at my car and ate an organic fruit roll up in loo of an energy gel. I've never loved gels and now that I have food sensitivities, I want to experiment with other sources of natural sugar/energy. I think it worked with only a little stomach upset right after consuming it, then going away quickly. I also carried my baby gatorade (powerade zero) bottle, drinking all of it over the course of 8 miles. My run ended at 8:20 on the mark for a total of 1 hr 30 min.
I ended with walking a lot of the last mile probably. My legs felt full of lactic acid and soreness was setting in. The energy blast from any stores were running out. But, ending, I felt really good. I couldn't have gone another mile with any decent effort but 8 miles was exactly where I needed to be and took pushing but not too much.
I'm ALMOST back to half-marathon distance!! It also felt like a small victory knowing I can definately knock out a 10k. That is one thing that I do love about running.. it's a series of small victories. A negative thought, pushed through. A twinge of soreness, worked out. Basic necessities felt, like thirst, and satisfied. Fatigue sets in, and then restoration.
I thought of a lot of very other elloquent sounding philosophies about running and how it's life in miniature, but most thoughts were lost among the miles. *sigh*
Next week I will probably drop down to 6 miles again before upping the next week to 8 or 10 miles. I should probably repeat my 8 miler and keep building slowly and patiently.
P.S. I ended up with only one blister; left foot, pinky toe. Popped it and spread antibacterial on to hopefully speed healing!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Same Route, Different Run

This time, when I set out to run the dirt road near the blackhawk heliport, I made sure I started early. Last time, hot temps quickly deteriorated my run. It was slightly rainy and kept temps down today. Not knowing if it had rained all night, I thought the road might be too soggy to run but I keep forgetting the sandy soil drains quickly here. Awesome. Another thing that worked out well was to bring these tiny gatorade bottles and hand carry powerade zero (calorie and corn syurp free). I drank about half during the run. Fab.
The entire run felt different this time. I set out happy and motivated. I thought of old races and new ones for most of the way. The road just slipped underneath me quickly and effortlessly (almost). Wow.
I stopped half way because the road ends and intersects with the airport. Sipping my powerade I watched new pilots trying to balance airframes the size of buses in the air. As they hovered, I'd hold my breath and watch them tip and totter back and forth. The tail dipping lowly. Most were probably getting a good tongue lashing from a Gunnery Sergeant Hartman look-alike:
If you ladies leave my island, if you survive recruit training, you will be a weapon. You will be a minister of death praying for war. But until that day you are pukes. You are the lowest form of life on Earth. You are not even human, fucking beings. You are nothing but unorganized grabastic pieces of amphibian shit. Because I am hard you will not like me. But the more you hate me the more you will learn. I am hard but I am fair.
*sigh* Poor bastards.
I turned around and set off again. This time, I didn't walk much until the last third of a mile or so. In fact, it was weird, I was thinking so much that I'd all of a sudden realize I was walking. So I would start running again, until soon, I would again be walking!? Crazy. Losin my mind.
Tomorrow I need to set up for a long run again. Last week was 6.3 miles. I could do that or push it to 8. I've been thinking all week about a slice of road that would equal four miles so I could just go out-and-back. I don't know any long stretches of road so I might have to wing it and drive it in my car real quick before running it. I do know of a VERY looooong hill on a road that would equal 1 mile, 2 there and back. I could run that four times and have access to my gatorade & car for refreshing. Loving the idea of refreshment, hating the idea of upping milage and attempting to mix in a new, large hill. The rule in running is to never up milage/speed/terrain at the same time. Do one new challenge in a week (either up milage, or add speedwork or add hill training, etc) and dedicate a run to it.
I'm a rule follower pretty much in life and in running. Not because I'm so good, but actually because I'm one of those people more likely to get screwed if I don't.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Another Dirt Road, Another Heliport, Another Run

I woke up this morning with stiff calves, not feeling well, and feeling tired. I chatted with a friend on Instant Messenger and fully believed it was going to be a day in bed watching a movie.

I was wrong.

After laying around I thought cleaning the house might be enough moving around to loosen my legs. I wiped, vacuumed, loaded the dishwasher, cleaned the floors, two bathrooms, dusted.... felt a little more energized. Then, I ate my gluten free Envirokids Rice cereal. More energy. I ran two errands. Then decided, I needed a run. I figured I'd stay slow and if my calves hurt too much I'd turn around.

I was anxious to try out a dirt road North of a Heliport on base. I parked in the grass, got out my ipod and took off around 2:19pm. It was hot but with forests on both sides of the deeply rutted road, I hit shade on/off. My calves were still tight in the beginning but started to loosen up. Unfortunately, around a half mile in my foot hit a tire rut and my ankle turned quite a bit. Scary. It felt a little achy and immediately sore but I could walk on it right away. I decided to run and found out that it actually felt better running, but was noticeably sore when I walked. So I ran.

I got to where the road splits right and left, took the right because I had driven it before and knew finishing it and turning around would give me 3 miles total. This leg of the road had quite a bit more shade and ended at the heliport. Blackhawks roared overhead and I stopped to watch them take off and land for a minute or so.

On the way back, it was really starting to feel hot and I was needing a drink. A lizard sprinted in front of me: show off. The darkened woods around me looked cool and deep but like a mirage, pretty inaccessible as they are really overgrown and thick. It's a shame the military can't make more dirt paths with the mileage of forest on this base. - Especially since PT is a really big deal to the Army.

I started to walk on/off. My calves had completely worked out the tightness but my ankle was starting to stiffen. I walked a good portion of the last 1/2 mile and returned to my car at almost 3pm. Wow that was almost a 40 min run and might have only been 3 miles. I either really took my time walking and staring at the helicopters as they flew overhead or maybe it's a little farther than I thought. I didn't get a good mileage check in my car when I drove it a few days back.

This is a PERFECT run for midweek. I will definitely use it again and learned my first off-road lesson: watch the ground or twist an ankle. Noted. Duly.

When I hit that fork in the road I was really missing my Timex Ironman Speed + Distance watch that died. I'm hoping to purchase the Garmin Forerunner 405cx. It doesn't seem to need an arm unit, looks more like a normal watch (hated the previous forerunner options), and seems to get good reviews. Need to read a little bit more about it first however, so I'm off to do that now!

Running humor