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Monday, July 11, 2011

Trailing behind

The 5 mile trail loop at Lake Redman yesterday actually proved to be a very satisfying and mentally invigorating run. I was weary of trail running since my last endeavor, but when you actually take enough water and wear appropriate shoes, running on a trail is pretty enjoyable. We woke up around 5:30 a.m. so we could be on the trail by 6:15 and not subject to unbearable humidity during the run. The loop was challenging with little opportunity to simply “coast along”, and I’m still struggling to regain all the fitness I lost after plantar fasciitis sidelined me for months. I briefly considered taking pictures of myself on the path to post on here, but then I remembered that I hate pictures of myself so that didn’t really pan out. You’ll just have to mentally picture the looming trees, a serene lake, and an out of breath girl feigning an unnatural interest in rocks on an incline while hikers passed her.

My two biggest obstacles with this trail run were the varying elevation and difficult terrain. The translation: my two biggest obstacles with this trail run were the ungodly amounts of steep inclines and the crazy narrow footpaths up these majestic inclines. The Alabaster Runner has a really annoying tendency to omit elevation stats for any runs that he plans, which has consistently resulted in the most bitching hill work possible. I don’t know if he does this on purpose since I haven’t fully professed my love for all things hilly, but after the second or third never-ending incline on this trail – I announced (to no one in particular) that his running mapping privileges would be revoked. At one point he tried to assure me that an incline was coming to an end and I muttered back something like, “well it has to - only Mount Everest would continue going at this point”. I need to curb my attitude on hills, it’s a 12 step program.

With that in mind, I have to bow down to the veteran trail runners out there because running with uprooted stems, skinny paths, and jagged rocks is no joke. I kept my eyes intensely focused on the ground, just waiting for the tree root that would trip me, break my fragile femur bone, and end what some would call the greatest running career of all time.  We started our run early enough that we only came across two other runners coming from the other side and after we all passed one other, I got to thinking about how trail races even feasibly exist. There were spots on that run that were so mind boggling narrow an Olsen twin would have to suck it in to get by; how are there races solely on trails where passing someone isn’t tempting death? I need enlightenment.

Being off the road and covered by shade was a delightful change from running on pavement with nothing between me and the sweltering rays of the sun. For the last .5 mile we ran directly beside the lake with an unobstructed view of the water, completely peaceful and definitely worth the inclines. I think we are both in agreement that we want to work in more trail runs into our regiment since we have access to some beautiful parks. The A.R. even said that after the run he felt more energized and alive than he had felt in awhile – exactly 45 minutes later he tried to go back to bed. That’s my superstar!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Trail Running - Good vs. Evil (mostly evil)

I don't like to talk about the worst effing run of my extensive two year running life, but since nobody asked here I go:

Short Version - C & O Canal, December 2010

The Alabaster Runner and I were visiting his father and brother in West Virgina before Christmas and smack in the midst of intense marathon training, so we decided to have our scheduled 18 mile long run on the C & O Canal early one morning. We packed our energy bars, water, Garmin, and headed off into the bone chilling temperatures that actually froze my water bottle several miles into the run. The run was doomed from the start, the trail was icy (I didn't even know dirt could be icy, what a delightful treat!), rocks were everywhere (we both were wearing Vibram bikilas), and the Alabaster was in a foul mood because we severly underestimed how much water two people needed on an 18 mile training run. After about 10 miles of this incredibly fun run, our legs felt like lead and it was a struggle to not fight over the last remaining drops of water. (If I'm recalling events correctly, I'm pretty sure this run led to our first sincere irritation with each other as newlyweds - that says a lot).

Because of the above reasons, we turned back early in the run and cut it down to a 16 miler - although we still had to walk an additional two miles back to his dad's house in the bitter cold. I still refer to this horrific experience as "the run where I lost my faith in God" only to have my belief system restored when I discovered freshly brewed coffee back at the house.

I bring this story up now because I have my first trail run since that experience scheduled for tomorrow morning. Granted it's only a five mile run with significantly warmer temperatures, but I'm still trying not to wet myself at the thought of another trail run. Trail runs aren't always so damaging to someone's pysche right?

As peaceful at winter trail running looks, it was comparable to hell on earth.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

So hot....

To further drain my bank account this month on running related items, I signed up for HARRC 7 km race at 7 p.m. on August 26th in Harrisburg. Odd distances like 7 km always get my attention because I relish getting a new PR without any real exertion on my part. I’m praying that a 7 p.m. race is on the cooler end of the day because the past few days of running have been dreadful. The heat has been zapping my energy, leaving me mentally and physically drained during the runs. And not that good kind of “wow, I just completed a 15 mile run with hills” drained – more like the “its so godd*** hot out here I would subject myself to a Ryan Reynolds movie just for a cool breeze” drained.

I commented to the Alabaster Runner that I’ll be happy once this insufferable heat spell is over – only to realize a moment later that this “heat spell” is actually more commonly referred to as summer and lasts for another two months. On a purely vain note, this summer is also causing some epidemic tanning issues from running; I don’t even where to begin on fixing criss-crossed tan lines. With no other options available, I’m forced to gut it out in the sun’s rays and continue taking cold showers like an athletic-ish psychopath (I vaguely remembering reading that only the most insane murderous people take cold showers, but my base of knowledge is US Magazine so I might be slightly off).    

 The only one taking the brunt of the heat worse than me is my poor double coated pug, Hershey. We took all the dogs out for a 10 minute walk yesterday and Hershey decided halfway through that she just would rather live in the cornfields than walk another step in this arduous journey. She plopped down on the soil and gave me huge pug eyes that read, “screw you and your exercise, this is clearly a solid case of animal abuse”.

It’s hot. It’s sticky. And to quote a great line from a movie whose title I can’t remember and don’t care enough to research – “we must be a mile from the sun”. Take it easy on your runs everyone, unless you live somewhere significantly cooler – in which case, I need to visit you immediately.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Sound of Silence

When I started running 18 months ago, it was on the treadmill at the gym and I absolutely required music to keep me entertained while staring down at gym rats (treadmills are on a second floor balcony over looking the ground level – which made it delightfully easy to people watch). My ipod was chuck-full of dance, current pop and country, and some random Jewish rabbi beats thrown in (Matiyshu – “Thunder”). Looking back on the first few months of running at the gym with music, it was not a pleasure trip; undoubtedly due more to the fact that I grew restless on the treadmill. I can only take so much running without scenery before my brain demands a squirrel or evil cat in a cornfield. Regardless, once I switched to running outside I never took my ipod with me and have run in silence ever since.

While I was cleaning out my car the other day (something had to die in there – it smells too wretched for anything to still be alive) I found my ipod and erased all my old songs and completely revamped my selections with 130 new songs. More excited than I ought to be out the situation, I wanted to try out my new music on my run this morning so I headed out today with music for the first time.

It was awesome.

I enjoyed Sugarland on the first loop, Mumford & Sons on the down hill, Rihanna on some flat stretches, and Chase & Status (feat. Liam Bailey) “Blind Faith” which has to be the best up hill song if I ever heard one. My usual 5.15 route felt significantly easier and I was positive that I was just freaking flying – though I checked my Garmin after the run and it pegged me at the same speed I usually complete the route in (unrelated note: my Garmin must be broken).

I kept the music low enough to hear if any oncoming SUVs were barreling towards me (they were suspiciously absent today) and I loved lip syncing along with the songs at with no one around. The only issue I had was the absence of an appropriate armband, so I had to settle with putting the ipod on the inside of my pants – which of course resulted in the ipod slipping down further into my pants over and over again until I eventually just held the damn thing. The run ended going uphill with my fastest speed during the route and I felt fantastic.

So now I’m utterly confused. I sort of prided myself on not running with music and I still don’t want to run races with music, no matter the distance – what’s the compromise then? Should I run half my runs with music? I don’t want to become dependent on needing music to run, it’s just a nice addition to some of my runs. Thoughts?

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Friday Post

If you talk with the Alabaster Runner (I don't know how though - for reasons completely uknown, he completely shot down the idea of posting his cell phone number on here.....loser) he will confirm that I always secretly wanted to have a black toenail from running as some sort of "running badge" from the sport. It seemed to me that getting a black toenail from completing higher mileage was a rite of passage into "real" running, much like taking your first unexpected #2 on a long run behind a bush (I had a look out, but much more than that I wish I had brought toilet paper), or hitting 20 miles on a training run finally without dying on the side of a road somewhere. I briefly thought I was getting a black toenail during marathon training, but turns out I just need to be more diligent when wearing shower slippers at the gym locker room.
However, when looking up running injuries and coming across this image (warning - graphic) my oddball fantasy has completely dissipated and shriveled up into repulsion.

I that normal for a runner's black toe or does this individual need to immediately confess all his sins and pray for swift death? I think I may have dodged a bullet here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cows go "mooooooooo"

I live outside the city of York, Pennsylvania in Hallam so I consider myself pretty fortunate to run mostly back country roads with minimal traffic and stunning views. The biggest advantage as an animal lover is that I get to see donkeys, horses, deer, cows, skunks, and birds of every color in the Spring/Summer, so no matter which way I run – I typically come across some animal that looks cute from afar (eh….maybe not so much the skunks, still trying to find their redeeming quality).

When I managed to crawl out of bed yesterday at , I was pretty pumped to run because the weather was gorgeous and I need time away from my beloved pug, who kept me up all night whining about only god knows what. I decided to run a 4.5 mile loop that is pretty hilly but doesn’t include any repeats so time seems to go a little faster on that route. The run itself was a little more difficult than anticipated – I was never able to quite catch my breath and the entire effort was far more labored than it should have been. However, my lack of appropriate breathing skills isn’t the point of the post (I'll save the gem of post for another day); when I was running I saw a small black kitten with intense green eyes staring at me from the cornfields. Its fur was as close to in coloring as you could get and the kitten stared at me as I contemplated cat-napping him because he was so freaking adorable. I’m certain he models for CatFancy on his days off from randomly sitting in cornfields.

I slowed down passing him (slowing down from a 10+ m/m is pretty much walking I believe) and made that sound that cats actually pay attention to – the “pshhh pshhh” noise to signal to him that I’m clearly an awesome individual with only good intentions to adopt him and build him a little kitten castle. The motive wasn’t to pick him up or anything, just to get a better look – but this kitten quickly decided that not only was I out of shape (cats judge), but also that I wasn’t worth his time. He raised his paw to show me he meant business with sharp claws, and then proceeded to hiss at me twice until I moved on.

I’ve gotten the same reaction in the past when I tried to make friends with the horses and baby cows on my running routes (minus the sharp claws or else those would have been some some scary ass mutant horses and cows). Apparently my farm yard neighbors aren’t enthused that I’m running past their domain and want to eat their crappy grass in peace.

So I have decided to discontinue my foreign species peace efforts while I run and concentrate my animal affections on those that appreciate it – our pug, beagle, and boxer that eagerly wag their tails when they see me come back from a run all sweaty and gross looking. Besides, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that everyone else came to seemingly decades ago…..cats are jerkoffs.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I should be at the gym instead of typing this blog.

Without much forethought, me and the Alabaster Runner have signed up for the Spartan Sprint in Palmerton, PA on September 10th, 2011. We've done quite a few mud/obstacle runs, but something utterly disturbing about their websites' race description makes me think I might want to actually train for this event.

Just for good measure I'm throwing in more tricep exercises this summer.