Saturday, March 27, 2010

Meet: The Lawrence Trail Hawks

Last year, after moving to Kansas from Alabama, I knew that I needed to do two things to keep running: one; find unpaved trails and two; find new running friends.
After running the Dogwood Canyon 25k, I met up with the Kansas City Trail Nerds one night. They were very nice and have run together consistently for years. However, the 3 guys I met that night ran way faster than my pace. One guy from out of town did stay behind me but I held everybody up by alot and it was obvious. The hilly trails they run at WyCo Park were just too much for me, especially a week after doing a very muddy, hilly race. We were probably going seriously slow from their normal pace but their slow pace still sent my heart pounding into my throat. I wasn't ready and after two miles I had to drop out. I didn't go back. I didn't know when there would be girls or if there would be slower runners. I couldn't hold them up all the time and I couldn't run alone in that area. So I just quit. I ran a few more times outside at Fort Leavenworth before the weather turned cold and I turned to the treadmill at the YMCA.
But this spring, looking at hitting double digits on my long runs, I knew I'd have to find longer stretches of unpaved road or trail. I also needed people to run with for safety and for help reaching my new goal this year.
It turns out that my old boss is married to someone who is in a running group in Lawrence. So, I contacted Gary and within a half hour knew where and when everyone would be meeting! Today I met the group at the Clinton Lake north shore trail head for a 10 mile run. Everyone was very welcoming and there were a few other new to the group runners as well.
Again, everybody ran way faster than me. UGH. In fact, I'm so slow that I think people think I am new to running. People mentioned it a couple times but after we talked for a while they realized I knew a little more than a newbie would know.... I've been running since 2004. lol. Oh well. And the funny part is that I've actually gained some speed this year - - I have been running in the 10-11 min/miles on paved roads and 12+ on trails. But running with faster people all the time is tough (though they are all super supportive - it's my own negative self talk) and it makes my gains in speed seem like nothing!
I will say, in my defense, the Clinton Lake trail is more technical than I've been training on so far this year. -Lots of hills and the mud was outrageous! Almost every step we sunk, slipped and slopped. Worst mud I've ever ran in for a training run. I've run in rain, hail, sleet/snow, on icy paved paths, etc. I'm not a pansy to running in less-than-perfect conditions. But the way that the mud pulled at my shoes, my knees ached at pulling back with every step. Hoping my knees heal quickly and if I have to, I'll go back to running dirt roads and wait until the trails harden.
Anyway, Gary was awesome and let the group go on so he could run my pace to keep me company (and keep me on the right trail). Thanks Gary!! Colleen also met us half way through and finished out my milage with us.
Afterward, in my car I peeled off all my wet, brown clothing and saw blisters on my feet. Dang! I never get blisters so I chalked it up to the 2 hours and 45 min of running in the mud with old socks. As soon as I can I'm going to pick up some Drymax socks that I keep reading about...
I will definitely be running with the Hawks again! I will probably let everyone know that I can run alone because I don't want to hold people back each run. They've got their own races to train for and I'd feel terrible if someone had to baby sit me each time. I think it will be good enough to know people are out there on the trails when I am, for safety.
And I'm really excited to have new trails to train on!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Running errands

Today I decided to mix it up a bit by combining errands I needed to "run" with my 4 miler. It's almost exactly 2 miles to the Post Office from my house and the library. I found that doing this really helped to bring some purpose and new direction to my weekly run - which has been feeling like a chore lately.
Running the pavement always worrys me because I feel like they make me more prone to injuries. I felt a tweaking on the outside of my right knee and since I've been home it's felt sore. All that on a little 4 miler. But I have been mixing up my shoes lately and most of them are worn out. I think I might have put on a really old pair and I'm hoping that they were the cause of my knee pain.
Otherwise, I knocked out 3 things I had to do today in one jog. :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some Sun and some Run

Prior to yesterday, it had been snowing for three days! :( I lost my free YMCA gym membership on the 17th so I couldn't run my 6 miler scheduled for this weekend indoors or outdoors.
Yesterday, however, the sun came out and was shinning warm and strong. It melted about 3/4 of the snow and then today, the sun was working on melting the rest.
Although it felt like summer, I still didn't feel like running! This kinda shocked me because usually the sun pulls me outdoors. I decided to get my running clothes on and take the dog out on a walk to get my blood flowing. That helped wake me up and put a little energy in my step.
Anouk (puggle) was so happy to be walking: tail up and bouncing, tongue out, panting.... bliss!
Once we got home, I hopped into my car and drove an exit down where the neighborhoods have sidewalks. My neighborhood sucks on so many levels... tight hills, sidewalks that disappear and reappear, country roads where drivers can not see a runner because of the hills and overgrowth as well as a lack of shoulder for someone to safely move over for on coming traffic.
So, although this neighborhood is just as boring and the views are basically middle class mid-west suburbia, it's safe and there's a grassy area on both sides of the sidewalks. I try to run in the grass most of the time. Usually I only pop over to the sidewalk if I'm going uphill and want to bring my heart rate down. Since I don't have easy access to real trails here, I feel like running in the grass strengthens my legs and works my stabilizer muscles enough to simulate trail running. You also have to pay attention to the ground just like trail running... there are frequent dips, holes and uneven terrain that could be a quick ankle twister. Also, I can tell my heart rate jumps up pretty quickly due to having to push off ground that gives rather than hard concrete. Lastly, I hope that by opting for the grass I am pounding the pavement less which hopefully means less chance for injuries that road running seems to produce.
I had scheduled 6 miles but only got in 5. In addition to taking days off due to weather, on Thursday I only got in 2 miles so my legs were really feeling this workout. I also didn't have any coconut water so my Nathan was filled with plain water and my legs cramped up pretty good the last mile. The sun felt hot and at 60 degrees outside it probably felt like 80 running - I even got a light sun burn (reminder: start wearing sunblock)! I decided that since this coming weekend calls for 10 miles, I'd give myself a break and not push my legs now.
Usually, I hate snakes but seeing this little guy sunbathing on the side walk made me think that maybe Spring is here to stay and Summer is around the corner!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Girl in the World

Went over to another neighborhood to put in 2 - 4 miles. I'm disappointed to say I only worked up to 2. I'm obviously having motivation problems here big time. I've said it before on this blog, but running around a bunch of neighborhoods is boring and I have a hard time pulling myself out there.
I feel trapped into neighborhood running though. There is a huge trail system in a forest around a local county lake but it's just completely unsafe to run there alone. Even some guys I know don't go there at night by themselves as it's surrounded by some not-so-great areas. There are park rangers, but it's pretty big and if you're going to run miles, it's not like someone can keep an eye on you the whole time.
There is also a system of paved trails that the city maintains. These are really nice but two problems there are safety (every year there's a women who get attacked on the trail system it seems) and secondly, I don't want to put in the majority of my mileage on roads. It just leads to injury for me.
I thought about starting to pay for a gym membership but I just had 6 months of free access to a YMCA and although I appreciated being able to cross train, I know I'd never want to do the majority of my mileage on a treadmill. Running for me is about life and being in nature. Treadmill running is just something I do when I have to get in some miles and there is no other option in sight.
The best thing that could happen to be is to find someone to run with.... Someone with the same mileage goals in mind and who runs at the same pace. Almost everybody I've ever run with, runs faster than me and one of us ends up frustrated. I'm getting faster by continuing my leg workouts, but still, I absolutely hate being pushed on my daily runs. - Unless it's a run where I'm working on speed, I just want to be working in my zone.
I used to run with a group on the weekends and I could join a group. But it still leaves me with the rest of the week, running in my neighborhoods.
Anyway, it's just where things have to be right now I think.
I feel frustrated often about being a woman and having the safety issues that men might not face. A woman just can't run anywhere without safety being a concern. Men also have situations where that is true, but it seems the majority feel free to run wherever and whenever they want. A lot of woman do it too, I know. I read some trail runner blogs where girls set out for miles on their own. Sometimes I think that maybe I should just do it.... but the truth is, I'd be so full of anxiety that someone was going to mess with me out there that I'd just not even be able to enjoy the miles.

Current sources of motivation:
Dirt Diva (trail runner/ultra runner)
Lisa (ultrarunner)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Review: Ultramarathon Man DVD

Just watched Ultramarathon Man: 50 Marathons in 50 Days. I had already listened to the audio book version of Dean Karnazes' story last year, but saw the movie on Netflix and decided to watch it.
I've been trying to soak up motivation from various sources. This has been a really harsh winter with a lot more snow than we usually get. Running for me is very much tied to loving the outdoors and warm weather. Cold weather makes me want to curl up in the fetal position under a blanket and not move unless it's to eat. :) So, I thought I could at least lay on the couch and watch someone else run a bunch of miles and maybe it'd somehow light my fire.
Well, it did and it didn't. I did want to build my endurance and I did think about how I need to put in the low miles now, even though I don't feel like it because by the time my mileage builds to something decent, it'll be warm outside and I'll want to be out there.
The movie itself was pretty entertaining. The complaints I read about this film seem to be people who were upset about how focused it was on Dean. Well, Dean was the one running the 50 marathons! What do they expect? He also focused on his cause which is childhood obesity and other smaller themes like the research they did on his body and how the crew survived living in a van for a month together.
One reviewer wanted the documentary to go into how Dean prepares his body and how he's able to endure that much exercise stress. But I think the documentary does hit on that. It shows Dean running a lot of miles to prepare for the Endurance 50. It also shows how he eats well on the road, how he never got as much down time as he needed, how he admits that a lot of his success is probably due to genetics and how afterward, he ended up doing 1300 more miles and ran half way across the country!
I think that Dean isn't doing secrete concoctions of Cytomax and Gatorade or a certain amount of gels and salt caps. Maybe in important races he strategizes but in this one, the fueling plan didn't seem very rigid. I think his success is just because he puts in the mileage day after day and his body is able to recover from it quickly due to genetics and his healthy lifestyle. They said that after 50 marathons, Deans body only showed 1/4th of the damage that a normal runner would have after just one marathon!
Anyhow, I thought it was an interesting story and definitely worth watching while snowed in on your couch.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Oregon Trail Run

My Dad came out with me to run on Post today. We ran 4.6 miles around the Army airfield but had to plan out another three+ miles somewhere else unless we wanted to go another 4.6 around again.

We decided to head off the airfield towards the 120 year old housing. This post is the oldest active military post West of the Missouri and and has a lot of beautiful old buildings and housing. I figured we could run up the hill and then just run in the grass along the sidewalks and look at all the scenery.

There's a huge grassy field that we ran up. It's a long hill that dips right in the middle which was created from all the wagons heading West on the Oregon and Santa Fe trails. It still has the double ruts from the wheels although they are covered in grass now (shown in the picture of my Dad). It was fairly steep and we looked back down the hill towards the river and talked about how difficult it would be to get where we were standing. The travelers had to float their wagons and force their oxen to swim across a swirling, quickly moving, wide, muddy river (river pictured at the bottom of the post) - unless they could pay for a ferry. I copied the inscription on the monument:

The stone monuments to the West mark the trace of the original road leading up from the river. For many pioneers, traders, settlers and soldiers, this was the beginning of the Oregon and Stanta Fe Trails leading to the Far West. The steamboat and ferry landings were nearby, and foundations of one of the old levee warehouses may still be seen to the east of this marker.

It had rained for days before we were out there so a lot of the airfield road was muddy and rutted out. My dad held up great for not having trained at all (besides working out regularly at the gym). He finished with 5 miles and is thinking about doing a 5k. I told him he could probably even do a 10K at this point. Hopefully we will plan one together soon!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Floor workout and Four Miles

Snapped a picture of the area I'm trying to run in these days. It was pretty much all long, rolling hills. It is better than my neighborhood however because of the wide shoulder and sidewalk.
I had 4 miles to do today on the schedule and got in 3.75. Close enough.
I've been doing my floor workouts - legs/abs/yoga - for a couple weeks now and I really think it's helping! I guess I'm surprised by this. The Runners World articles I collected with exercises for runners shows how each routine is targeted towards an area running requires for power or balance, etc. I found myself running at a faster pace, often. I'd look down at my watch and I'd be running in the 10:30 or 11 or 11:30 pace!? I did also have to stop and walk more here and there. My cardiovascular system might be lagging behind where my legs are ready to be! This has really motivated me to continue these floor routines! I would love to pick up my pace a little without having to do a bunch of sprinting. I also really believe this might strengthen the knee and hip area and help me to not get my ITB type injuries. Coupled with yoga and stretching my hips/thighs, of course.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Sherman Airfield lap 4.5miler

Well, I'm finally feeling like I'm running again. I've printed out a year's calendar, found some races to shoot for and planned out a training schedule. It feels so good and a great motivator for getting me out there on a cold day like today.
The weather is trying to push into Spring although it's still usually cold, especially at night. And we are still getting ice storms here and there. Ugh. But now, each month that goes by means it gets warmer and I will be gaining more endurance!! I'm finally feeling some excitement. I'm going to try to think of my long term goals when I go out for these runs where all I was doing was questioning why I'm out there.
Today I headed out to Post to run my 4.5 mile loop. The dirt road is dodgy this time of year because wet=mud=bad ruts. It was dry today, though the ruts were so hard you could twist an ankle if you were abset minded enough!
From here on out I will be working on upping my mileage - can't wait to see what my body can do with my new eating guidines!

Friday, March 05, 2010

6mile.... walk around town

I walked my dog to the library, then to a coffee shop and back home tonight. Mostly the scenery was just old neighborhoods but about halfway there was a gurgling creek that made the most plesant sound! I notice these things because I'm just not a fan of being on the roads with cars and their exhaust. So a little bit of nature goes a long way. :)
I wore my Garmin 405 GPS watch to see how many miles we racked up. Last time it was about 4 miles and this time I think we were in the upper 5 miles to 6 mile range!
It was so nice out, for once, in the evening. Really felt like Spring/Summer and just made me happy. And I know little Anouk appreciated getting out too. She's been cooped up inside just like I have all winter!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Neighborhood Loop 3 mile

Three mile loop around the neighborhood today. Still unsafe. Still dodging cars and smelling gas fumes.
Mostly I've been working out at the YMCA because we keep getting snow dumped on us here. Storm after storm after storm.
Unfortunately, my free YMCA membership expires mid-month so hopefully the weather improves enough that I can run outside. I think I'm just going to have to commit to driving to other locations to run.
One new thing I've started doing are a series of core and leg exercises at home. I'm really trying exercises to build up the muscles around my knees and hips. I've read that doing it helps to stabilize those areas when I run and may even ward off ITB and knee injuries. I got the routines from old Runner's World magazines. I've been thinking about cutting them out and sort of pasting them onto new paper so I don't have to flip through the magazine and find them each time. It'd be a way to collect floor exercises I can do at home and add to my routine. After abs and legs I follow up with a series of yoga poses for flexibility and stretching. This little routine is just something I can do on days I can't run (especially due to the weather) to make me feel like I'm doing something towards my running goals. And who knows, maybe I'll be injury free this year!