Friday, April 30, 2010

The Trails Are Calling and I Must Go

The title is a 'lil remix of John Muir's quote, "The mountains are calling and I must go." For being a trail runner, I haven't been doing a lot of trail running lately. Yesterday I ran a neighborhood (neigh-boring-hood) 4 miles. This has been a long winter and now a very wet spring. Which has made the trails muddy and I just haven't been feeling like making my knee's ache from the wet suction effect, nor straining muscle from trying to move through slippery earth or dealing with wet, muddy shoes. If I had shoes to rotate, it might make that a little less of a sticking point, but at this time I only have one pair of shoes that aren't over mileage.
But, tonight was the Gal Gallup run at the Sandrat trails. The ground had dried out so I went early to run with Laurie and Coleen. Coleen led at a brisk 10:30ish min/mile pace. I don't know if that was the real average but every time I looked at my watch we were doing 9 something... 10 something.... I quit looking. We past 2 miles, then 3miles.... I stopped talking. I tried to stop my brain from thinking because all that I came up with was something like:
I have to stop.
I can't keep this up.
Negativity I didn't need. So, like I said, I told myself to shut off the brain. It wasn't doing me any favors.
New rule: Don't shut off the brain.
Within no time at all of mindless brain wandering I hit a sunken rock HARD. And boom, I was down, sliding into an invisible home base. I got up and thought SAFE! But, as we resumed walking I realized my left shoulder and wrist hurt. Ugh, annoying. We resumed running and my left knee sorta clicked. UGH, very annoyed at myself.
Then, not a couple minutes later, BOOM, my foot hit another rock. Luckily I did a Superman, staying airborne until my foot was back under me. But now I was pissed at myself. I was just tired and I had probably stopped picking up my feet enough. Not used to running so fast took the juice outta me quickly.
However, I'm still really happy to have run with these girls tonight. Every Thursday is a nice little challenge for me, and I need that. It's either faster than I usually run or an exercise in not being able to take walking breaks (as much as usual) as we run single file on single track trail. Both really great for a tempo training run midweek.
At mile 2ish Laurie had just finished telling us how a tree we were climbing over had fallen during her last run. Then we heard this huge creeeeeeeeeak! Mile 4 brought back the creaking and groaning of the trees waving high in the wind so we pressed on the gas to finish up. My watch said 4.5 miles but the girls say it's a 5 mile loop.
Felt good to be back on trails and back in nature!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fourteen Mile Garage Sale & Review: Sportslick

Five days later and I still have little dots on the insides of my legs. They don't hurt at all anymore but I forgot how long it stays with you! I also forgot the stinging and burning experience in the shower after your run. I cowered under the dripping water on the verge of crying for my mother. I forgot how a mixture of moisture (rain) and friction (running) on a warm day is a perfect setup for chafing. Oweeeeeee!
Saturday was the Fort Leavenworth Yard sale and I had 14 miles to lay down so I decided to just do both. I actually didn't stop at any of the sales, but it was interesting to people watch and browse on the fly. I started up at the old DB and worked my way through the 100+ year old housing and toward the brand new housing at the back gate. The furthest houses toward the West side of post sit on a hill overlooking the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary (photo: view from the hill). At about 5-6 miles (one hour-ish) into my three hour run, it started raining.
As I made my way back down, eastward, I found a nice little trail behind some housing and was surprised at how close you can come to the Federal Pen! Ft Leavenworth also did a good job with the walking paths. Although too short for a runner doing anything over a mile or two, they are perfect for families and strollers. They really add to a park-like feel and better quality of living for Post housing I think.
Anyhow, at this point I was about 7-8 miles into my run and the burning/chafing had started. I've only ever had one chafing issue with a sports bra on a double digit run about 6 years ago. The elastic band had dug into my skin and left slash marks for a week or more. I had always chalked that up to the material (even though I've always tried to stay away from cotton). But this wasn't the material. I think it was just sweat drying and then re-wetting as well as the rain mixed with warm temps.
By this time I also needed to use the restroom and wasn't in the luxury of a hidden forest trail so I made my way to the PX. This was on route back to the db and my car, where I was looking forward to dealing w/my skin issues. In the PX I felt really self-conscious with the hydration pack on my back. It just looks, ...pretty out of place. Not to mention the rest of me, red faced, sweaty, smelly, etc. :) But I ran in, did my thing, had a chance to look at the chafing, washed up really good and felt completely refreshed. I had a fleeting hankering for a small espresso at Starbucks, which is located in the PX. I was feeling tiredness creeping in and thought it might be a nice pick-me-up as well as something to warm me on the inside. But, I still felt weird that I looked like a hiker, 7 days off trail and lost... so I walked back outside. At this point I also unstrapped my long sleeved shirt from my Nathan Intensity pack and threw that on. Back out into the rain I went.
I took a different route on the way back, which has the most scenic views on Post. This street meanders along the new Command and General Staff College campus, as well as the oldest housing along the Missouri River. I stopped off at the historical markers and checked out the old canons lining the bank. Fun!
Making it back to my car, I was able to throw on a wind breaker. The temps had dropped and by now I had been running in the rain for about an hour and a half. I also figured I'd try out my new Sportsslick Solid anti-chafing/blister stick. Although the only brand I've heard of is BodyGlide, this is the brand they carry at EliteFeet, so it's the one I picked up. They are very picky about the brands they carry and I should have known this would be a good one just because they carried it. Literally, from the moment I started walking and then running again, the pain was gone. I had another half hour or so to finish my run in the rain, and I felt zero discomfort. Had I put it on before the run - or at least when it had started raining - I believe I wouldn't even had the chafing at all. I had just thought it was mostly caused by cotton clothing but now I've learned better!

Food eaten successfully:
VitaCoco Coconut Water - best tasting brand so far.
WholeFoods 365 Electrolyte Water
Chocolate #9 Agave Energy Gel
Justin's Maple Almond Nut Butter
Reed's Ginger Chews

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Review: Black Diamond "Cosmo" Headlamp

Wet earth, my foggy breath, head light burning, damp clods of grass looking like frogs, twigs looking like snakes, still night air... I'm night running.

I had planned to run with the girls out on the Sandrat trails today but it's been raining for about 24 hours. At the risk of sounding like a wimp, I honestly didn't feel like dealing with the mud. I need to run 14 miles Saturday so getting my shoes completely muddy out there tonight, and then having to wash them out - they'd never be dry in time to do my mileage. Sometimes I can set them out in a hot sun and they might be ready in a little over a day - but it's supposed to rain a lot in the next 3 days so that's not happening. I actually don't even know when I'm going to get the 14 in but as soon as there's a break in the weather, I'm going to be out there laying it down.

I had already resigned to the fact that I just wouldn't get a run in today. I kept thinking however that I hadn't run since my Monday ...and that was eating at me a bit. I want to keep building my base miles. Running 4 miles is pretty much a breeze these days and I'd like to push it to where 8 miles feels easy. It already is very, very doable and on flat surfaces it is a pretty easy run. But, I can't wait for the day it feels just as easy as 4.

I went outside to let the dog out and realized it had stopped raining. The temperature had lifted a little as warm air infiltrated the cool. Out there I decided it'd be a great night to test my headlamp. I had picked it up last year but didn't do any races that started in the dark. I definitely had some training runs that ended in the dark unplanned but never had the headlamp on me.

I ran on city streets so the street lamps lit my way fairly well. But on the darker streets I was able to see just how well the Black Diamond Cosmo lit up the pavement. I don't have anything to compare it to but I believe this will be good enough for my purposes. Certainly, it's a lot less Blair Witch Project (read: jumpy) than holding a flashlight. The headlamp is just a lot smoother and more convenient than holding one more thing in your hands.

The Black Diamond Cosmo is also super light. I have tried out an electrician's head lamp before which is a bit bigger (as well as older) and the Diamond has definitely done a good job minimizing the weight. I would forget that I even had it on. It straps very snugly to my head and didn't move as I worked up a pretty good sweat. There are three settings: Hold to turn on (3 LED lights), push again to dim, push again to flash/blink and hold to turn off. The rubber button for these settings is fairly large, on top of the device, and I was able to access those settings easily while on the move. For being so powerful, the light is pretty compact and I can see taking it off when I don't need it and stowing it in my Nathan Intensity side mesh pockets or in the back, larger zip pocket.

As for the cons, I noticed two minor ones toward the 45 minute mark of my 4 mile run. I felt like it kind of made me itch. I probably have sensitive skin however and maybe having something strapped to my sweating skin was a little irritating. I don't know, but I feel like it was pretty minor. Secondly however, I noticed I had a headache toward the end of the run. I have no idea if this is due to the tightness of the strap, the moving light I'm constantly following or if it's completely unrelated. The pollen count has been astronomical lately - but it had just rained, and I think that's supposed to suppress environmental allergies isn't it? But still, it will take a few night runs to find out if the headache is related to the headlamp. And if it is an issue of following a shinning light in the dark, no headlamp is really going to fix that for me. I would say though, if I have to wear it for more than an hour, it could be more than a minor issue. We'll see though - maybe it'll just take some practice!

Overall, I would recommend it!

Black Diamond "Cosmo"
  • Retail: $29.95
  • 32 meters max light distance
  • 3 LED lights
  • High and low beams plus strobe signal light
  • Water-resistant
  • Uses three AAA batteries

Monday, April 19, 2010

Review: Nathan Quickdraw Plus and Adrenaline 10

Ran a 55 minute loop around the airfield today. It felt quick and very easy. I got a chance to test out two new pieces of gear as well: 1.) Nathan Quickdraw Plus Handheld and 2.) Brooks Adrenaline 10.

I tried a few hand held bottles over the past couple weeks but don't remember all of their names. I was inclined to buy the Nathan because I am so happy with my hydration pack. They test their products out on elite runners and although they aren't perfect in design, I feel like their products generally are well made. This was definitely true for the Quickdraw Plus. It fits like a glove. When you put your fingers through the strap, it just fits and stays. There is no effort to grasp the bottle at all so you don't feel like you are carrying weight at your hands. A bottle wouldn't necessarily slow you down, but mentally, I was always adverse to carrying one because I thought it would at least feel heavy enough to be a burden. I have no idea why, but it just doesn't feel cumbersome or weighty in your hands. I did have a little trouble with the screw on lid. After filling it with water, it never seemed torqued down tight enough. I couldn't tell if there was water spillage from the cap or if it was coming out the top of the nozzle or just that it was wet from being filled. I think this worked out okay though. When I started running some water was coming out but I hadn't pushed down the nozzle stopper. So that was my bad - but duly noted that you can't just throw the bottle around w/out plugging it back up. I don't think the cap not screwing down was really a problem either - - and maybe it just looks like it's not completely tight, I don't know.
Anyhow the strap also has a small pocket for keys and a few cards and /or energy gel. I didn't have to put anything in it so I'll have to do a short review when it's loaded up with stuff.

The second thing I picked up were some new shoes. I've been running in Brooks Adrenaline's since 2004 with only one deviation to Saucony that was a mistake by Garry Gribble's Running Sports. (I have a very narrow AA foot and I guess Saucony is a fairly wide shoe.) I have exclusively bought my shoes from Elite Feet otherwise and recommend them to everyone I can.
I was a little worried about the 10 because I've read that there have been a few changes in this model. It felt the same as previous versions when I slipped it on however.

Running in it for the first time today I felt two tweaks: one in my left ankle and one in my right knee. *brow furrows* I was running on the right side of a slightly sloping dirt road however so at the very end of my run, when the tweaks started letting me know something wasn't working, I moved over to the middle. I hope this was the problem. The only other thing that it could be was that I used an old insert in my new shoes. Since Elite Feet was closed, I couldn't buy my inserts because Gary Gribble's doesn't carry them. I might run in the shoes once more on a different terrain before going and getting a new insert at Elite Feet.... even if that is the issue, it's just a $20 solution. Otherwise, the feet felt fine I think.

One other issue that is still bugging me is that I'm getting a little skin irritation on my outer toes even during short runs like this one. Mainly my left foot. I'm wearing those thin drymax socks and a little disappointed in them still. I really wish I could get ahold of the thicker trail version. The skin issue turns to blisters at anything over 10 miles and especially on the trails in the mud. So in a race, I imagine I'd be in for a real problem. And the most irritating thing is that I've never had a blister problem before! I guess that's what training is for though - working out all of these problemos!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Homes Tour

Image: wikipedia

Today I planned to do 6-8 miles as a low mileage week between 12 (which turned out to be 11) miles last weekend and 14 miles next weekend. My legs were still a little sore and cranky from my trail run this week, so I decided to run the miles out at the flat Army airfield.

The first loop around, 4.5 miles-ish, went fairly easily and fast. That's one good piece of news. Every time I run a loop or two out there now it feels relatively easy. I think grass and trail running is really strengthening my legs and building my cardiovascular health as well.

When I came around from the loop, I saw some Army tents and soldiers sitting out in front of them. Mostly, everything looked dark inside the tents and I couldn't make anything out. There were also a few personal vehicles around the tents as well. My first thought was that it might be some kind of training but secondly I thought it might be a dragoon encampment! Dragoons are re-enactors who dress in 1840's uniform and educate people on what it was like living and working in a frontier fort. They usually have horses, tents, shoot cannons, as well as perform ceremonies (flag raising/lowering) and march. There are women as well who demonstrate what it was like to live and travel as an Army wife. I've heard they also have balls with full 1800s gowns and dress uniforms. Anyhow, when I saw them I decided to run the street nearest to them and check it out. Unfortunately, when I ran by, it was just far enough where I still couldn't make out what they were doing and it's not in the spot they usually perform. I didn't want to run by if it was a real training exercise so I took the road that led away and up to the old disciplinary barracks... home to the military prisoners for over a hundred and forty years.

I ran past some horses behind the DB and guiltily snapped a pic (it can be illegal to take photos on a military base). They always have horses on base but it had nothing to do with Cavalry anymore... I think they usually belong to families and even civilians. Past the horses I kept taken on the hill that leads up to the prison. It used to be called "the castle" and was built by it's own prisoners in 1875. A new facility has been built recently, but it still felt wrong to be running up along side the huge walls and guard towers. At one point I ran past the huge doors/gates that were open and led into some sort of yard inside the walls. I wanted to take a picture so bad but didn't.... So just think Shawshank Redemption and you'll pretty much get the picture not taken.

Once I got up past the DB and back onto the main post roads, I headed for the old housing. It turns out that day they were having the annual Homes Tour which features structures from the 1880-1890s. People pay to go inside homes and see the architecture and collections... in the fall they do an awesome history and ghost tour as well.

I passed the homes, wound around to the National Cemetary (c. 1844) and then pass the golf course and back to the main road for the last 1.5 mile back to the airfield. I had filled my hydration pack up with 50ml of coconut water and plain electrolyte water from Whole Foods. I ran out sometime in mile 6 so next time, if it's warm out at all, I need more than 50ml for a 1.5 hr run.

Lots of people were out walking in nice clothes for the Home Tour. I think I was attracting lots of stares passing them by at mile 6, 7 and 8 with my sun-pinked skin, hydration pack and huffing and puffing. Hey, I was just taking the tour as well... at a little faster pace!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

If I can't go to the beach, I'd rather be here

Ran the Hunt Lodge Valley trails on base today! I hadn't been to the deer trails since my hunting scare last season. It hadn't rained in days so I wanted to find out if the area had dried out, which it had for the most part. Except when the trail was muddy, it was a pit! It was also slow going over some of the dried mud because they were deeply rutted from hunting boots traipsing through this snowy winter.

I lost the trail twice on my short run but for the most part the path is easy to follow. After about 1.5 miles in you start to see quite a few trails crisscrossing. I have only stayed on the main path so I'm not sure how far the off-shoots go. It's really unfortunate that the Post doesn't assign a unit to maintain the trail system like they do at Fort Rucker. With all the PT that is required of the soldiers, you'd think it'd be an excellent place for them to get in shape. Although, I know they aren't really concerned about distance as much as speed.

Speaking of distance, I picked up an awesome GIS map from Santa Fe Bike Trails shop in Leavenworth. It's a satellite view of the West side of Post and has the trails marked very clearly. There looks to be quite a lot of miles out to explore!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Trail Run with a View

Saturday morning I met the trail hawks at Clinton Lake again. There was a pretty good sized group gathered with some new people (new to the group, not running). A couple were road racers and one of them was a triathlete.

We had some good talks about triathlon training, which I always think is something I want to do. Then I remember that I don't love the water. I can't even do a technical stroke. So at that point I always go back to hoping to get into duathlons. Until I remember that I don't own a bike anymore. Gaw.

The group went fairly slow because some people had a 25 mile run planned ahead of them and others were new to trail running. This was perfect for me as I only needed to do 12 and I was able to keep up. Finishing is always goal #1. Keeping up is goal #2. :)

The morning had started out a pretty cool 50ish degrees and almost half the folks were in long sleeves. I went sleeveless knowing that it'd warm up 20ish degrees while running in addition to whatever the sun would do for us. Nick had on some Moebens which I have been lamenting over online for quite awhile. I haven't bought any because I had no idea what size to get. I have freakishly long arms but they are skinny. Nick had size large and let me try on a sleeve. While the bicep area was almost too loose, it would totally work and was definitely the right length. So happy I got to test them - and it was exactly the right kind of day to wear them.

About mile 7 I started feeling some tiredness... energy wise. I had gotten very little sleep the night before and I'm not sure if that is why I was feeling it so much. I took a Chocolate #9 and never really felt like it did a whole lot. I don't know - the jury is still out for me on that product. If there was any way to put caffeine in that product with out using a corn derivative it'd probably be the most perfect product. This time I ate the product very slowly - maybe over a half mile or more. I didn't experience any nausea this time and I think that consuming it as slow as I can is key to this success.

I turned around at Land's End and took a mixture of blue and white trails back with one other gal. We ended up with only 11 which was fine by me. By the last couple of miles my legs were trashed. The trails are pretty tight and winding, with some hills and a good amount of mud. So the ole tree stumps took a lot of pounding. I was also out there for 2 hours and 45 minutes so if you look at "time on my feet" I was pretty happy with that...

One of the girls who had wrapped up earlier with 6 miles had gone to a cafe and brought back bagels. She opened the huge box for me but sadly, and hungrily, I said, "no thanks." My gluten free little body thanked me and I rewarded myself with at a coffee shop later with hot coffee and an allergy free Bumble Bar. :D

Thursday, April 08, 2010

5+ Miles with the Girls

I met the women's trail hawk group for a 5 mile run tonight. It started out feeling pretty cool at 55 degrees but once we started running the temperature felt awesome. Last week I had a little knee complaint after running on very muddy trails the Sunday before. This week everything seemed back to normal!
I ran with some girls who are definitely faster than me but it's probably good for me to speed it up once a week. On Tuesdays I can run at my own pace and then Saturdays I can push the mileage. This way I'm getting a varied workout through the week.
I love running with these girls and getting to talk about girl stuff - running skirts, food, yoga, boys... Good times! :)

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Review: Chocolate #9 and Drymax Socks

Easter Sunday I spent with my Dad running around Sherman airfield. The weather was great for most of the run but started pouring during the last 1/4th of my 8 miles. I had on an ipod with headphones and worried about electrocution. Can that happen? lol.

The downside to running on Post is that it's a pretty good drive for me. I feel bad about spending the gas on it when I'm also going to Lawrence to run twice a week now. I usually try to double up on my errands when I go there and visit my parents and/or grocery shop at the Commissary, get gas (tax free), etc...

But I love running here for a few reasons. The loop is 4.6 miles which means regular access to your car amost every 5 miles. I also love it because it's perfectly flat. The elevation gain and loss is about 40 feet. :) Watching planes come in over your head also makes for something new to look at.

On the front side of the loop there is almost always soldiers or their families out there. The 2 mile strip is the Army Physical Fitness Test 2 miler course so a lot of military guys and gals are out there training or doing their test.

I walked a little too much with my Dad on the first loop. He doesn't sustain a pace for long because he's not trained up but naturally, he's way faster than me and feels pretty uncomfortable running my slower pace. He's going to start biking it along side me in the future. This is what we did a couple times last year and it works out perfectly. We both get a good workout in that way. So although we walked, time wasn't really wasted because we get to catch up and spend time together. The 2nd loop he went back to the car and I really booked it. I finished the last half of my 8+ miles in 45 minutes. I just felt like I really knocked it out!

Two things I got to try during this run that were successful:
1. Chocolate #9 Agave Energy Gel

Taste: Like chocolate ganache. Amazing... sweet but not overly sweet like GU.

Ingredients: Agave and swiss chocolate. So I was able to eat it with my allergies and not have problems. This makes me so happy. This is the ONLY gel I've found that I can eat.

Packaging: I was carrying around agave sticks which would work but they are as long as straws and not easy to carry with me. I'm so happy to have a normal, rip off packet now, easily stored in my pocket.

I did get a little stomach nausea for 10 minutes about 10 minutes after eating it. I am used to agave as I use it in place of honey and maple syurp for my coffee or pancakes, etc. But, I still felt a slight queasiness so next time I'm going to try half a packet, eating the other half later.
Also, I never felt a jolt of energy. This was to be expected though, as agave is a slow burner and that's the whole point vs other sugars that spike and then crash. I only ate it on an 8 mile run so it's not a great test anyway as far as energy. I'd normally not eat an energy gel until running something like a 10 or 12+ miler. But I will say that at the end of my run, I still felt like I could do more. So overall, I'm very happy with the product and have 3 more to try out.

2. The other thing I tried out were my new Drymax socks. I wanted and looked for the trail socks but couldn't find them in stores in my area. I settled on picking up the Running Lite-Mesh version. They felt a little thin and weren't even the thinnest one they make! As soon as I put them on however, they felt comfy and gripped my feet in all the right places. No slippage or sliding. I wore them on this run even though my normal Target running socks would have probably worked fine. I still had 2 blisters from my mud run last Sunday so I didn't want to take chances on interrupting the healing process. So, for my 8 miler the Drymax socks seemed to have worked - no additonal blisters. My current blisters didn't lose their new skin and my feet felt great.
I still would like to try their trail socks though. The lite-mesh version are white and trail running turns all my socks brown. And I hate to use bleach as it damages some fibers. I also wonder if the trail version is more sturdy - especially with how much twisting and turning your feet do on a trail versus on the road... Anyway, I should be logging most my miles on trails this year and my big goal race is out on the Ice Age Trail! Can you guess which race I've set my sights on???

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Meet: The Gal Gallup

On Tuesday I ran a quick 3 miles on some neighborhood roads but tried to stay in the grass as much as possible to simulate trail running. I think it helps to build my legs muscles. Although, when running uphill or when grass isn't available I've been not worrying as much about pavement running. I'm so much faster than I used to be (at least going short distances) and it's been fun to look down at my Garmin and see a 9:45 min pace or 10:30 pace here and there. I can't hold it for long, but more often, I'm seeing those faster paces flash across the watch. My legs are used to having to dig into the grass or mud or dirt for traction, so when I'm on the roads I'm fly'n! (relatively speaking to my usual snails pace)
Thursday I met another new trail running group! This is an all women's group that meets on the Kansas River Sandrat trails. The trails are on a loop but it's so narrow it's almost an out and back. They are also relatively flat - nice! There were a bunch of new runners (new to running and new to the group) so it was a great turn out and fun to meet everybody. There were two different paces going on. The first group I went out with ran faster than a 12 min/mile pace. I stayed with them until the turn around and then joined the 12 min-ish group to go back to the trail head. We finished right before it was getting dark and the air was still warm. Such a perfect evening!

Can't wait to see these girls next Thursday!