Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Training PR!

Some of you know I’ve been training all summer for Stone Cat 50 which takes place in early November.  I’ve got a decent number of marathons under my belt, but trail running has been new to me.  And the distance is….intriguing.

Fast forward to this past weekend; a 10.5 mile training run, followed by my longest training run ever of 31.18!  Scott mapped out a challenging route that included 16 miles of trails and 15 miles of road.  Here’s what it looked like on the elevation chart –

The course fell nicely into 3 loops –
  1. 1st 6 miles on trails in the dark with headlamps.  Bella rocked this 6 miles alongside us! 
  2. Next 12 miles on roads.  Hilly but manageable.
  3. Finally, 2 loops on trails of ~ 5 miles each.  Also hilly (refer back to elevation chart) but manageable.
And here’s the prettier version –

So lucky that I can run to/within this beautiful wildlife conservation area!  Check out the crane!
Trail head, where miles ~19 to ~29 went down

Our drop box....aka our BFF for our later miles!
Here’s what I learned from my 31 miler –
  • The anticipation was much more intense than the actual run
  • Very similar to marathon training; more mileage of course, but same mental focus (just for a longer period of time)
  • Falling (only once!) doesn’t have to be earth shattering to my running psyche
  • Although I could curse the latter 10 miles on trails for the difficulty, I realized just how valuable that was.  It was a great simulation of running on trails when my legs/feet/mind are tired.
  • Training in the dark on trails with a headlamp was a great way to take that mystery out of the equation!
  • Clusters of migrating birds can easily be translated into applauding spectators (hey, it worked!) 
  • I’ve confirmed a number of successful foods that seem to work without much intestinal fanfare (i.e. peanut butter cracker sandwiches, jelly sandwich, pretzels, Coke).  The chicken soup and potatoes worked OK previously, but during the 31 miles, I had absolutely no interest.
  • Too much GU in the first 18 miles left my stomach a little queasy; thinking that more food instead of GU might solve that.
  • Salt tablets were my friend
  • An endless loop of “Call Me Maybe” in my head was also my friend.  Don’t judge.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Project Volunteerism

I joined in on some more volunteer time with my coworkers at the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, VT.  We got to spend a gorgeous afternoon amongst a beautifully vast acreage.  You may recall recently that a bunch of us took half a day to clean up the riverside in an urban area where we hauled out approximately 12 tons of trash.  This time, we tackled weeding, painting, and brass polishing.  I chose weeding. It’s my thing.

Some smaller groups dispersed to perform some painting and polishing chores.  Some performed various duties in the library.  Others worked in the boat – yes, the boat that’s parked on the grounds.  “Parked” might not be an appropriate nautical term, but boats are not my thing.  You get the idea.

Our overall group consisted of people working at every level in our department, including our chief HR officer.  That’s saying something.  It’s one thing to encourage us to take advantage of company paid volunteer time; it’s another thing to feel like the company truly supports it by walking the talk.  I’m crazy busy right now and could’ve used every hour of the five volunteer hours on work, but if my chief HR officer and other members of the senior leadership team can spend the time detached from their phones, then so can I. 

We weeded, we talked, and we got to know each other a little bit more than we did a few hours before.  Titles seem to dissolve when we all jump into a project like this.  I got to talk running with Jackie, who does a fair share of triathlons, road races, and century rides.  She also participated in Reach The Beach Relay this past weekend, so it was fun to hear her experience and compare to mine of several years ago.  I got to hear stories from Hillary, who just welcomed a 6 wk old chocolate Labrador puppy to her family.  Notice the trend?  No mention of work.  At all.  Nice.    

And we got instant gratification as we saw our hard work resulting in –

Our reward?  Well, other than the satisfaction that we did good work for someone other than ourselves….

A ride on their carousel of course!

Good day. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bottomless pit

I’ve never felt so hungry.

The hunger pangs started by 9am and that was AFTER I had breakfast.  Now, my breakfast could have been better, but hey, I’m an English muffin or peanut butter toast kinda girl.  A cereal bar at 9:30 helped to ward off the desire to start nibbling on my own arm, but by 10:30 I was ravenous.  I’m sure this has absolutely nothing to do with my crazy mileage over the past weekend.  By 11:25 (as soon as I hung up from a meeting), I was dialing by memory my standard lunch place – Bertucci’s.  I think they not only know my name, but also know my favorites...

All I know is, I should probably buy some stock in Bertucci’s!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Simple Math…

…is not so simple when you’re in the middle of a 24 mile training run.  I had a 2 mile warm up with Bella planned, then 2 major loops to give me 24ish and a fuel stop in the form of my mailbox.  When I finished the first major loop, I was at 14 miles.  Easy enough to calculate the remaining miles, right?  One would think. 

The minute I left my house for the final loop, I started my mile countdown.  You know how it goes, “OK, I’ve done 15, so I have 7 left” (this is what was going on in my math challenged brain).  Then at mile 16/17, I celebrated yet another mile-ish down, leaving me with 6….

Finally, somewhere between miles 17 and 18, it hit me.  I knew I was on a 24 mile course, but my auto-pilot-running-brain defaulted to my standard longest run, which is 22.  So throughout much of my run, I was calculating miles remaining based on a 22 mile course.  I couldn’t help but laugh at myself and (out loud) called myself a knucklehead.  Don’t judge me on my 70’s terminology.

I wasn’t too shaken by the mileage realization; I think I was more focused on the hills ahead of me.   

The weather was great and finally providing a pre-Fall crispness to the air, the part of my head that wasn’t responsible for math was strong, and my legs kicked out a 9:39 average pace for 24.47 miles.  I have to remind myself of the importance of the walk breaks (though I did get a few in there today).  I continue to practice eating real food in addition to my steady diet of GU and Gatorade.  I’ve stopped worrying about my 2nd long run; I never feel it’s possible immediately after a Saturday extra-long run, but by the time Sunday rolls around I’m ready to roll again.

I haven’t quite wrapped my non-mathematical brain around a 31 mile training run yet.  That might be as possible as my ability to do simple math!

Friday, September 14, 2012


My mother recommends THE BEST books.  Evah.  This particular book, Wild – a memoir, was the perfect book for a perfect time in a perfect place.  As I wrote about recently, Scott, Bella, and I stepped off the world for a few days and headed to the White Mountains.  I had just started reading Wild but when we decided to take off I tucked it away to “save” for good 'ole reading-by-campfire.

Reading is one of my favorite things to do, yet it’s usually the first thing to fall by the wayside when I get busy.  Like running, reading allows me to escape, teaches me things, and calms me.  When I get hold of a book like Wild, Scott knows I’m not going to be much company for him.  The description of the book starts out like this:  “A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.”  Who can resist that?

Now, I’m most definitely not reeling from catastrophe.  Nor am I looking to hike eleven-hundred miles in the woods by myself.  That statement alone is laughable since I wouldn’t make it eleven miles without getting lost!  But I digress…  The lure of this story is that it could be anyone’s story.  We’ve all dealt with problems; some serious, some not-so-much.  We’ve felt the weight of the world at some point in our lives.  We’ve lost loved ones.  We’ve experienced heart break.  What was so inspiring about this story is that she (Cheryl) sought to change who/what she had become.  She took control and decided she had a different life to live.

As Scott, Bella, and I hiked Little Haystack a few days ago, I couldn’t help but think about this woman I’ve never met but felt so akin to.  On our hike, I constantly had my bear-radar up, always ready to grab my bear spray (no kidding here folks!) and mess up Yogi Bear in a big way.  Solo hiker Cheryl ran into a bear, tracked mountain lion tracks, had several near misses with rattlesnakes, and a close encounter with an icky human.  And there I was on my measly 4000+ foot hike, where I had Scott and Bella (and the bear spray) to protect me, and where I could turn back at any time to return to the comfort of our camper…and ultimately our home.  Cheryl spent months on the Pacific Crest Trail, losing her old self and finding her true self.  Her biggest threat – her own demons.

I can’t recommend this book enough!  I finished days ago, but find myself still so intertwined in her story, her strength, and her will to live a life of her choosing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


This ultra training is intense.  It’s also exciting.  It’s a great feeling to feel so fit, to see how resilient my body is, and to celebrate each set of back-to-back long runs I never thought were possible.  But man, I’m tired.

On Saturday, Scott and I ran a hilly, hot, and humid 22 miles at ~9:30 pace.  It was probably a little faster than it should have been and it was definitely a lot hotter than it should have been.  We killed that run, but that run ultimately kicked my butt.  For the remainder of the day, I couldn’t get rid of the post-run-brain-fuzz.   I felt dizzy and nauseous at times and had that terrible dehydration headache that plagued me through my hair appointment late that afternoon.  Though I thought it was perfect timing to schedule a “take care of Lisa” appointment, it was actually pretty miserable!  I spent much of that appointment trying to quiet the pounding in my head and not throw up.  I made it.  And I like my hair.  Success!

What a combination!
I felt quite a bit better on Sunday morning after a good 10+ hours of sleep.  With 10 miles on the docket, I took a deep breath and got my head on straight about it.  Here’s where Scott’s role as “coach” was clouded by his role of “caring husband”, so he encouraged me to lower my mileage or not run at all.  I had felt pretty rough Saturday, so my guess is I had looked the part as well.  I promised that I would pay attention to my head and would shorten my run if I needed to.  He knows I’m good that way so he went off and ran with the guys; I went off and ran my first couple of miles with Bella.  After those puppy miles, I felt better so continued on.  The more miles I covered, the better I felt.  10.5 miles later @ 9:04 pace, I felt like a new person.  Scott felt the same after his run and admitted, “I’m glad neither of us listened to my advice”.

No rest for the weary as we packed up to head towards the White Mountains for a couple days of hiking and camping at our favorite getaway!  Since we were heading up on a Sunday and returning home on a Tuesday, there were more chipmunks than people on the trails and at the camp areas.  Perfect.  We got our site setup quickly and Bella quickly went chipmunk hunting –
Home sweet home :)
Our hike was to include ascending Little Haystack (~4700 ft), crossing the amazing ridge to Mt. Lincoln (~5000 ft), and then another incredible ridge to the big kahuna, Mt. Lafayette (~5300 ft).  We’ve done this hike a number of times and, on a clear day, we’ve been able to see for hundreds of miles.  Monday, however, would not be that day.  We got just shy of the summit of Little Haystack and decided to turn back.  The mountains were completely socked in.  Of course, you’d never have known this from the bottom, but as we climbed higher and higher, the weather grew worse and worse.  We were dressed for it and well prepared for changing weather, but still decided it was in our best interest to turn around.  I was already tired and definitely hiking at a slower than normal pace, so the weather was the icing on the cake.

We still got a good 4+ mile hike in, thanks to Little Haystack.  Glad I wore my Garmin so I could capture the spike which was Little Haystack –
And got some great pictures along the way –

Scott & Bella at Cloudland Falls
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one dog tired.  At about 7pm, Bella stood at the camper door, apparently ready for bed.

It’s all good, but I can’t remember ever feeling so tired!  I did once post about wanting to leave this world exhausted… I guess I’m right on track!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tuckered out

That’s what I call….tuckered out.  Mission accomplished!

Bella in the foreground; her sister Bauer in the background

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Quality vs. Quantity

As I headed out for my 10 miler this morning, I started having crazy thoughts of increasing my mileage just a little bit in order to hit the 50 mile mark for the week.  After yesterday’s 22.2 miler, I felt remarkably good.  My legs felt the mileage for sure, but my body continues to surprise me with its resilience.  So as I headed out this morning, I thought, “Hm, hitting 50 would just mean grabbing another 2ish  miles at the end….”

After my customary 2 miles with Bella (boy, she really loves that time running free), I dropped her off and headed out for an 8.5 mile loop.  I felt strong.  I had left my watch at home and just ran by feel.  At mile 5, I pulled over and stretched out some tightness in my legs, retied my shoes, and took a GU.  Marching on, I had lots of company in the form of other runners, walkers, cyclists, fox……yes, fox.  Even without my glasses, I knew he was no dog.  He stared at me from a driveway and I slowed way down, wondering if he was just curious or if he was going to be a problem.  I was pretty close to him at this point.  He then darted off; I ran on….with a little more zip in my step!

Still wondering if I had just a couple more miles in me at the end…..

It was at about mile 7 that I realized how ridiculous I was being.  Now, trying to hit a particular mile total is not always ridiculous.  However, here is the question I asked myself:  Quality or Quantity?  I answered quickly to myself:  Quality.  I’ve had a decent week, I feel good despite continuing to log many more miles during my weeks than ever before (and I am not historically a high mileage kinda girl!), and I have another 22/10 combination on tap for next weekend.  That doesn’t even take into account that I’m only half way through my training cycle for Stonecat.  So, that’s why my idea of increasing today’s run would’ve been for all the wrong reasons.  For me, anyway.

So instead of thinking of different ways to get a couple more miles in today, I switched gears to thinking about how much I enjoy running.  The past couple of weeks have been a little rocky (I mentioned in another post:  some work drama, tired, more tired).  In fact, I had been starting to feel pressure about my long runs – not for speed or anything like that, but just the mere fact that I had them looming in the not too distant future.  It’s taking more and more time to run these longer and longer runs (by design), and I have honestly been feeling like I don’t have any time for anything else.  That’s one way to potentially resent an activity you normally love.

The best thing I did was accept a running invitation from Meaghan for the 22 miler.  The next best thing I did was go in to today’s 10 miler wearing no watch.  And lastly, I took the pressure off of myself that I “should be doing this” or “could be doing that” and did the best thing I could do:  be happy with my 48 miles and well, just be.