Tag Archives: running

Mt. Washington Road Race: Recap

Last Saturday, I ran up Mt. Washington (getting an entry is a feat unto itself, then you have to run 7.6 miles uphill with a 4696′ vertical gain (assume your half marathon time and maybe a touch more). At the start, I heard people sharing their strategy: run the first three miles, then walk/run. Walk/run the whole way. Power-walk it.

Running is good for you, and so is oral hygiene. Slightly terrifying inflatable tooth race mascot by Northeast Delta Dental.

My ultrarunning crowd says to walk the hills; you’re going the same speed as anyone running it, but conserving energy. I tried this and passed a lot of people (I walked, they ran).

“We need to run up to there.” Photo credit: Rick Ando

Due to injury, I’d been unable to train. I don’t mean training on hills. I mean running at all. Two miles into any run, my tendonitis kicked in. I gave up months ago and knew this race — this getting to the finish line — would be a crapshoot.

Anyway, it’s up up up, no break, no flats, just up. At least it was shady for the first three or so miles (fact: I’ve done a lot of hiking in the Whites but have only been up Mt. Washington once, on foot, in winter, never by the auto road).

Occasionally, after mile five, I gave my calf injury a break and walked backwards a lot (hey, guy who said the relief was “all in my head,” nope. It was real. It gave my calf a rest and used my quads for a change and then maybe I passed you, but even if I didn’t, well, walking up backwards gave my injury some rest, so…).

Around mile 5, soon after that section of dirt road started (slightly steeper), I stuffed in one earbud and turned on my iPod shuffle to “Defying Gravity.” I tried to sing along but had little lungs left at that point. A guy in a Reykjavik Marathon t-shirt said, “Good for you!” as I tried to choke out the words. But what I thought about was me, defying gravity, taking a leap after way too long to save myself.

Up, up, up…Photo credit: Rick Ando

I looked over the edge of that mountain road, suffering and wishing for it to stop, and I recognized how much strength I have summoned over the past year and how much I’ve had to turn away from and hold my head high, and how much I’ve given up and just how much I have gained.

I thought about how calm and happy I am now, and how hard I have fought for that.

I ran as hard as I could, give the circumstances — OK, I walked. And yes, I got badly sunburned in the process. It’s a metaphor. I can survive this burn. I can survive this endless hill that is a metaphor for everything right now. I am strong enough.

At some point, slightly dizzy and hoping for a break (I don’t do well with sun and heat), I sat down on a rock and put my head down between my legs. A person in our group (with whom I’d started, he having done the race several times and planning to take it slow, me having no idea what to expect from myself and intending to go it alone), came by and said “hi.” I felt obliged to get up and walk/run with him for a while, but his race strategy wasn’t mine, and I let him go on ahead.

Turns out before he’d come upon me on my rock, he’d come upon another person in our group, also untrained and sitting on a rock. And he got him back up running, too.

Photo credit: Rick Ando

I was going to get up again, anyway. I always do. I knew there’s no exit on the Mt. Washington Road Race. I wasn’t about to hang out in the blaring sun on the side of the road waiting for the road to re-open so I could hitch a ride. I knew I’d get up there to the top.

Eventually, near the very very end, the road leveled out for about two-tenths of a mile, and it was glorious, and I saw some of our group.

Then I looked up. It was only about four minutes of hell in front of me, but it was some seriously steep road (steep) that I had to get up before I could cross the finish line.

Did I dive deep and run up that hill and switchback to get there?

up up and away! Photo credit: Rick Ando

Hell no. I was sunburned and hot and had a terrible dehydration headache, despite drinking at every single water stop, and I decided that since I wouldn’t make the sub-two-hour mark, forget it. I’d get there when I got there.

Slog, slog, slog…Photo credit: Rick Ando

Then for the last 30 feet or so (I could be wrong about that distance) it was somewhat level and I managed to run to get myself across the beautiful finish line.

There I am (yellow visor)! Almost done! Photo credit: Rick Ando

Finally done!! Photo credit: Rick Ando

And that, dear people, is what it is like to run up the Mt. Washington Auto Road in blazing sun on a warm day when you are injured and haven’t been able to train and are going through a lot, life-wise.

The only other time I’ve summited Mt. Washington was in the middle of winter, and we came up Lion Head trail with snowshoes and crampons, and it was cold and snowy and beautiful, and we were careful to keep an eye on each other for signs of hypothermia — a very different scenario.

Do I want to do it again? Yes. 

97-year-old going up Mt. Washington Auto Road; apparently he participates in the race every year

(With more sun protection next time…)

Ugh. Just, ugh. Too hot for a shirt, but I wasn’t expecting so much exposure! Oops.

Ahhhhh….

 

Yeah. Stuff Is Hard.

My old pal and running partner Sasha used to say that you can only do three things well. At the time, we both had small children and were training a lot for races. Her three things were running, writing, and parenting. Mine were….running, parenting, cooking, working, knitting….I might have been trying to do too many things, actually. I’m like that. It doesn’t mean I’m doing them well. It just means I “never have time” and I have too much going on.

I’ll be honest: I am having a hard time lately. Obviously, I cannot say too much here. But that is the truth.

A big part of it, I’m sure, is the damn election. As for probably every other woman out there, it’s triggering rage at the lifetime of sexism, minor assaults, etc. No need to belabor this point. At all.

And divorce. It’s hard. I’ll just leave it at that.

The cat I lost custody of* went missing for several days (one of which was cold, rainy, windy, stormy). Thankfully, she’s been found, and in other happy news, my landlord said I can get a cat, so the boys and I will start looking around for a kitty for our home. So that is very happy news.

Here’s what I’m doing:

  1. Parenting, trying to help my kids be happy and healthy and thriving during this big transition in their lives.
  2. Working (and I have an extra client right now, one I want to impress, of course, but it means the current couple of weeks are kind of a strain on me).
  3. Training for an ultramarathon (go ahead and say, “WTF are you thinking?”).
  4. Socializing and trying to recover myself and my interests (climbing, mountain biking, baking, etc.).
  5. Finishing unpacking and setting up this apartment (actually, screw that; I’m hopefully here only 10 more months and I don’t want to put much more money into this apartment or unpack anything else; we still need some rugs and some storage items, but I’m not doing much else).
  6. Figuring out what happens next regarding the divorce, where we’ll all live next year, future employment, and so on.

That is a lot. 

Honestly, fitness has fallen right out the window. I’m not going to the gym. I’m barely running. I should be doing multi-hour runs at this point. Instead, I’m trying to get sleep or get extra work-time in when I can.

And sometimes, like tonight, I just need to spend some time baking and vacuuming and then curled up on the couch watching old episodes of “House.”

So if, by Sasha’s rules, I had to pick three, it would be parenting, working, self-care/sleep. Some of that self-care involves time with friends; some of it involves baking; some of it involves time on Facebook, and I am not ashamed of that. Some days Facebook provides my only social interaction, since I work from home. Don’t judge.

Anyway. Lately things feel hard. Maybe I’m doing too much. The ultra training, much as I hate to say it, has to go. I just don’t have the time or energy for it right now, and it’s not where I should be putting my energy, and it’s becoming a stressor instead of something to look forward to. I hate to let go of it. But I need to take care of myself and conserve energy (physical and mental) right now.

So that’s where I’m at. Feel free to give me an unsolicited hug. Or ask how I am. Or tell me a joke.

*because when I found this apartment, it was “No pets allowed,” so C took the cat when we all moved in August. But now I can have a cat, YAY THANK GOD.

Running Coach

For a couple of months now I’ve thought about hiring a running coach.  What if I spent the summer working with someone who would create an individualized plan for me so I could train harder and get faster and stronger ? What if a running coach could get this aging old body to a marathon PR this fall without injury? Wouldn’t that be amazing?

And wouldn’t that be an incredible luxury? And where would I find the time for this? I can’t even make it to my running club’s track workouts. Pipe dream, baby.

I’m also not sure how to find a running coach who would be a good fit for me. Who could work around my schedule and who really gets me and who would help me train hard but not get hurt. Someone who would take me seriously.

Today I went for my first trail run in many months. Last summer when I was training hard for the Lehigh Via Marathon, I didn’t go out on the trail too much toward the end, in case of spraining an ankle. And then I didn’t run all fall, anywhere at all, and the winter was shall we say “intense” and I was training for Boston and didn’t even want to attempt the four-foot-deep post-holed frozen snowpack in the woods. And then I’ve been recovering from Boston or had other weekend stuff. But today I finally got to get back out there with my trail running people.

It was fantastic. It’s so beautiful in the woods. Wild violets grow so tall there, and the strawberries at the edge of the meadow were blooming. The woodpeckers were very loud, and chickadees had a nice call and response going.

And the people. I’ve run with some of them before, but not much, and I really didn’t know them. It doesn’t matter on the trail. My trail group is one big friendly helpful family of trail-running goodness. At one point I found myself running behind a guy I think I’ve run with once or twice before but whom I don’t know it all. I was following him up one of the rocky hills and finally decided to say what I needed to say.

“Excuse me,” I said. “I feel weird saying this, but you have really nice foot placement.”

Foot placement matters on the trail, especially if it’s the sort of rocky, rooty singletrack we were on. You have your head down for your own footing and can’t help but watch the footing of the person directly ahead of you. And some people, honestly, I just can’t watch without wincing. Their feet flop. Their ankles roll clumsily with every step. They stub on roots. They stumble. Their feet are all over the place.

This guy? Like a dancer, every footfall so deliberately and securely placed. Such a joy to see. That is such a trailgeek thing to say, but trust me. Nice foot placement is really lovely to watch.

Well. It turns out he’s a running coach, and we talked about my form, and some things I want to fix, like the way I do a serpentine twist with my upper body. It shows up in every race photo of me, and it’s getting worse with every race. He said my legs and feet position look good, but I pointed out that my upper body is a wreck, running-wise. I’m pretty sure it’s just downright inefficient at this point.

We talked about how engaging my core might help keep my upper body from twisting all over the place, and he suggested a basic abs exercise. We talked about what he does, how he does it, where, and how much it costs. He’s not going to make me an Olympian, but he could help me fix a few things about my form that might ultimately help prevent injury, which in my book is a winning situation. He’s a Pose coach, which is like Chi running but by a different name.

I have to decide if it’s the right move for me or if I should just not bother, but the bottom line is, if you see nice foot placement, say something.

Stonyfield OP Organic Protein Smoothies Fueling Me for Boston #Review

You may have heard I’m training for the Boston Marathon (seriously, I’ve gotten to the “completely annoying” phase of training, I think, and my taper only technically started yesterday!).

So there’s a whole lotta this going on:

Ran to work, took the train home.

Run 7 miles to work, take the train home.

And this:

grocery list: need magnesium

grocery list: need magnesium

And this ridiculousness:

What? I like shoes!

What? I like shoes!

 

And (best of all!) this:

 

YEAH FINALLY!!!!! (That's an official "runner's passport," which gets me my bib, shirt, bag check, and access to the Athlete's Village)

YEAH FINALLY!!!!! (That’s an official “runner’passport,” which gets me my bib, shirt, bag check, and access to the Athlete’s Village)

So when Stonyfield asked me to review their OP Organic Protein Smoothie, you can imagine that my answer was a resounding, “YES!” When I get home from a run, I often don’t feel like making myself a big pile of veggies and eggs, or even bothering to throw some stuff in the blender to make a smoothie. I want something quick, I want something tasty and high-protein, and I want to shower and move on….to stretch, play with my kids, do laundry (well, OK, let’s not bend the truth here).

Oh, hi, lovely stuff!

Oh, hi, lovely stuff!

The Stonyfield OP smoothies come in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. I normally hate strawberry-flavored anything (including, sometimes, actual strawberries — it’s a long story for another blog post), but I like these. A lot. Anyway, I only tried the chocolate and strawberry, but I’d very happily try the vanilla, too. Thankfully, it seems to be increasingly available, meaning I can find it at the Stop & Shop down the road.

Besides being absolutely delicious, the 10-oz. strawberry OP Organic Protein Smoothies have 15 grams of protein and 15 grams of sugar (chocolate flavor has same protein, 19 grams of sugar). The sugar content led to a lively discussion on Facebook. So let’s bear in mind two things:

1) I hate a ton of added sugar.

2) I hate artifical sweeteners, including the “natural” ones like monkfruit and stevia.

3) Milk itself (and thus yogurt) has its own amount of naturally-occurring sugar, in the form of lactose. One 8-oz cup of milk has 11 grams of sugar. These smoothies not painfully sweet. And despite the fact that I cannot stand the taste of stevia, I actually didn’t notice it in these. My husband read the label and pointed it out to me. The smoothies contain some organic cane sugar (yay for real sugar!!!) and a little bit of stevia. The combination works for me. (I’d happily consume them without the stevia, too, because I think yogurt smoothies, like life, should be tangy and not so sweet.)

So I ran 17 miles and came home to gather this:

Cold Stonyfield OP smoothie, bag of ice for my ice bath, hard-working Garmin, and a mug of hot coffee.

Cold Stonyfield OP smoothie, bag of ice for my ice bath, hard-working Garmin, and a mug of hot coffee.

Ice baths suck in winter, by the way, in case that’s not totally obvious.

A week later — two days ago!! — I drove to Newton, got a ride out to Hopkinton, and ran the 21 miles back to my car with my running club, other running clubs, and a ton of charity runners. It was wet-snowing, and it was hilly, and it was fabulous. But at mile 16 or 17, I thought, “Oh, no!! I forgot to bring a smoothie with me!”

So when I got home, there was this:

Happy runner after 21+ miles, refueling.

Happy runner after 21+ miles, refueling. WHO’S EXCITED ABOUT THAT MARATHON IN 3 WEEKS???

And I also ate some pickles, and later enjoyed a beer or two while soaking in an Epsom bath (there’s that magnesium again!), and I am so ready for the big day on April 20. So incredibly ready.

Oh, and did you know Stonyfield is one of the big sponsors of the Boston Marathon? I’m not on the Stonyfield Marathon Team (that would be pretty awesome!), but I look forward to enjoying something Stonyfield after the run! (Yes, run; I’m not racing it, for a million reasons; I am running it.)

[Disclosure: I am a Stonyfield YoGetter, which means I’m an ambassador for Stonyfield. All products were provided to me free for review; all opinions are my own honest ones. All the excitement is mine, too!!]

A Sole Sister Confesses: I Didn’t Get So #Fit4Fall

Screen shot 2013-10-18 at 2.26.11 PMIn August, I was invited to join Planet Shoes for their fall fitness campaign, Get Fit for Fall, as a blogger (a Sole Sister, in fact — part of a great group of bloggers who did such amazing things through this campaign, such as a first 5k, or a woman who had a baby just as the campaign got started!). The Get Fit for Fall campaign is a six-week online fitness campaign in which you set up a profile, share your goal, and share weekly updates. Meet your challenge by October 20th (that’s this Sunday!) and you get free entry into a sweepstakes for a $500 shopping spree at Planet Shoes.

That’s not why I was into it. I love running and being fit and setting goals and encouraging others with their fitness goals. We kicked off the campaign with a really fun bootcamp on the Greenway in Boston.

Kelsey group_8423

Me and some of the other Sole Sisters after bootcamp. Several of the bootcamp regulars are in the picture, too.

Tomorrow, I’ll run the TARC Fall Classic Half Marathon (TARC stands for “Trail Animal Running Club” — it’s put on by a bunch of fun-loving trail ultra runners, and I’ve really enjoyed my weekend training runs with them). I’m not racing it. I’m just running it.

If you follow along here now and then, you might know I’d planned on running an ultramarathon this fall. This weekend, in fact. Day after tomorrow. A trail 50k (that’s 31 miles, if you don’t speak “race distance-ese”). But then I missed a few long runs in a row, was hit with a minor bout of a funk (who, me? in a funk? shocking!), and aggravated my old calf injury, so I decided to give up the ultra goal…for this year, at least.

Planet Shoes sent me a great pair of running shoes, the New Balance Minimus, the most delicious trail running shoe ever: lightweight, 4mm heel drop, enough sole to protect from sharp rocks but not much more than that…Except, with my calf injury, I need a little more heel support at this time. I cannot wait until my calf is better and I can run in these again.NB_minimus

I’ve stayed just fit enough to be confident I can knock off my trail half marathon, no problem. I haven’t followed my training schedule (or, um, any training schedule), but I’m pretty sure I can do it. I ran 11 miles without incident last weekend. Also, I will be powered by PerfectFuel (review and giveaway coming up soon!), which are these awesome little bars of organic chocolate and ginseng….yum!! Not easy to eat while running, but excellent before (and after, and any other time).

I realize that saying I can run a trail half marathon with an injury and not much training might sound really cocky. While it’s nice to know that I hover in a fitness range that will let me do that, I know I haven’t trained enough or really made the time for running. I didn’t feel as inspirational as I could have been.

In fact, instead of being an inspiration to the others in the Get Fit for Fall campaign, I felt like they were an inspiration to me — people making time to play tennis every day, people trying to get their runs in with new babies and sick cats, the single mom who took up Zumba, people with medical issues who find ways to stick to their goals. The Planet Shoes fitness campaign brought together a great group of people, and I’m so glad I got to be part of it. I admit I thought I’d be one of the more inspiring ones, with my trail ultramarathon and all, but at least I’ll be racing this weekend, and I’m inspired to sign up for more races soon.

Rock on, and stay fit!

How do you stay fit when it seems like you can’t even get your workout clothes on? Who inspires you to get moving?

 

Disclosure: As a Sole Sister with the Planet Shoes Get Fit for Fall campaign, I received a pair of trail running shoes. I was otherwise not compensated, and all opinions are my own.

 

Getting Fit: Tips for Staying Motivated #Fit4Fall

When you start a new fitness program or even just pick a goal and start training for it, life can get in the way. You’re a week or two into it, all enthusiastic and enjoying the groove, and then you hit some challenges:

  • Back to School: Getting the family into the new routine can throw you off of yours.
  • Work: You have a big new project (or three). You have a deadline (or several). You have to work late and are too tired the next morning to get up early to work out.
  • Sick Kids: Need I say more?
  • Tired (see “Sick Kids,” “Back to School,”, and “Work” above): You’re tired. That alarm goes off at 5 a.m. and you smack it off and dream of running a trail race….which you’re not exactly training for, since instead of running you’re sleeping late and dreaming about it.
  • Novelty Wears Off: Zumba was so awesome! So much fun! Or you were really digging your C25K program and feeling accomplished. And then…well…the excitement wore off, and it started to feel like a chore.
  • Injury: Muscles get strained. Ankles get sprained. Things hurt sometimes.

DO NOT GIVE UP. You have it in you. You really do. I’ve been running (and so much more) regularly since 2004, and I go through times where I’m thinking, “F*ck it. Why am I bothering? This just isn’t fun anymore.”

Obviously, I’ve learned to work through that. I am STILL learning to work through that, at least once a year but more like twice, when I go through some big crisis about WHY DO I RUN? WHY DOES IT MATTER? I DON’T WANT TO MOVE AT ALL! SELL MY BIKE, THROW OUT MY RUNNING SHOES, BLOCK MY RUNNING FRIENDS FROM EMAILING OR CALLING ME…I’M GOING TO BECOME SEDENTARY, SO THERE!!

Here are some things I’ve learned about how to get through those times when you think, “Why bother? It’s too hard and/or I just don’t have time!”

  • Enlist a friend: Sounds corny and cliche, but for some people (ME!) it works. It’s much harder to skip a run when you know your friend is waiting at the corner to run with you. Or picking you up for your barre class. And for me it’s just more fun to run with someone else. I know some people prefer to run alone but not me. I’m a social runner. I can go for miles as long as I have someone to listen to or talk to.
  • The “One Day at a Time” Approach: Just get through this week. Just three times this week (or twice, or four times—whatever). Make a weekly goal instead of a long-term goal, or break your long-term goal into weekly goals. In any case, take the A.A. approach: One day at a time. Just work out today. You don’t have to think about doing it tomorrow. Don’t worry about that. Just today.
  • Visualization: How awesome did you feel after your first week of C25K? How happy were you during and after your Zumba class? How much did you laugh while doing boot camp with your friend? Close your eyes and think about how you felt at those times. Think about how you can feel that again….just work out again!
  • Be Kind to Yourself. Sometimes, you really do need the extra sleep. Or to work the extra hours. Or to meet some other life commitment. Life happens. Sometimes you might need to miss a workout. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just get out there tomorrow and do it!
  • Think About Your Goal: Why did you choose it? How do you feel when you imagine yourself accomplishing that?
  • Rewards: Buy yourself some new workout gear. Enjoy a treat. Get out with a friend for a special evening. Find some way to reward yourself if you need to.
  • Rest: Sure, injuries need time to heal. But it doesn’t mean you need to stop moving! Try something else! Can’t run? Try spinning! Hurt your wrist and can’t do boot camp or lift weights? Great time to try Zumba! Broke several bones? Try tightening and relaxing major muscle groups! (OK, I’m kidding…sort of. I guess if you break several bones, you can take a little time off.)

My point is, you can do it. You really can. You’ve got this. I’m struggling, too. I had to revise my goal thanks to every single thing in the “challenges” list above.

We can do this!

 

Note: I’m participating in PlanetShoes’ “#Fit4Fall” campaign. I’m a “Sole Sister” with the campaign, in fact — a featured blogger. PlanetShoes was kind enough to send me a new pair of running shoes to, well, kick things off! I’ll be reviewing those soon. All opinions and running struggles are my own, and besides the new shoes, I am not being compensated for this campaign.

Changing the Race Distance: Staying Fit While Being Sensible

Well, I’ve been quiet around here on the running front. I lost my running mojo, even after deciding to train for my first trail ultramarathon (well, first ultramarathon overall). Then I got my butt back in gear and got back into training mode, pulling a midweek 10-miler out of nowhere and then running almost 30 miles over a weekend.

My old calf injury started to flare up, but did that stop me? No. Has moderation ever been my strong point?

So right after that 30-mile weekend (which I hadn’t properly built up to), I participated in a boot camp class to kick off PlanetShoe’s #Fit4Fall campaign. High knees! Jumping! Sprinting! All of it! I ignored my aching calves and Achilles tendons.

Later that same evening, I could barely walk. I could only skate around our apartment, sliding my feet on the hardwood floors. Next day, too.

I couldn’t run all week.

The following weekend, I was supposed to run 26 miles one day, 10 the next. Since I am actually not quite as big an idiot as I may appear, I knew that would be a bad idea. Sure, if I’d stuck with my ultra training plan from the get-go, then it would have been OK. But I hadn’t. I was jumping in full-bore, midway through.

I’m not ready to train for an ultramarathon right now. I’m just not. I’m starting too late, and my calf isn’t fully healed. I don’t want to cause more or long-term problems. Plus, I missed too many long runs, and I’ll be at a conference next weekend, which means I’ll miss another long run (26 miles). Between adjusting to the kids’ new school shedules and trying to get all of my own freelance work done, I just don’t have the time right now to train for an ultra, frankly.

So my new plan? To run a trail half-marathon instead. The race I was going to run, the TARC Fall Classic, is a great trail race with several distances to choose from, from 10K to 50K. I’m switching to the half marathon, which will certainly ease up my training schedule (since I can run more than 13 miles now) and (hopefully) avoid injury. I’d like to go for the full marathon, but not until the calf has been pain-free for many months of running.

An ultra? It will have to wait until next year.

 

Maybe No Ultramarathon This Year…

I’m failing. I’m supposed to be running hard, running a lot, running all the time, and I’m not. I just don’t feel like it.

My runs recently have been great, easy cruises, no problem. Two-and-a-half-hour trail run? Sure! Twelve miles of singletrack? Whatever! Six miles alone on a not-exciting road? Why not?

I was well on my way toward my first ultramarathon. Plus I’m about to kick off a fall fitness campaign with Planet Shoes (stay tuned for more on that). So I’m not sure what happened.

Maybe it was because I missed my 14-mile run because we were camping that weekend, and then the following week I was too busy with work to make the time for the run. I could have gotten up at 5 a.m. to do it, but I kept thinking it would happen somehow.

It didn’t.

Then I was running one day and got passed by someone. I decided to try to keep up and was doing my damnedest until I realized he was running a sub-7 pace. No thanks, can’t do it!

I slowed down, but not before my calf hurt. The same calf, same place, that kept me out of the Boston Marathon this year and instead had me in physical therapy. Crap.

The following weekend, when I was supposed to run at least 16 miles, we were backpacking in the Whites. So instead of a long run, I carried a heavy pack 11 miles up one day and 11 miles down the next. Sure, it was a good workout, but it was no run.

Again, this week, too much work to find the time to run. And to be honest, I keep setting my alarm for 5 a.m. and then smacking it right off when it buzzes at me. I don’t want to get up that early. I don’t want to run alone.

Wah, wah, wah.

My mood has lightened a little once I realized that instead of running the ultra as planned, I can just do the trail marathon that day (or, heck, if things continue like this, the half marathon!). For some reason I’m not in racing form, and I’m not in racing mindset. I’m slower than ever, and I’m putting on weight, and I had PMS and now have my period, and I just feel kind of cruddy when it comes to running and fitness.

So there you have it. The truth about me and running right now. I’m pretty sure between the twingy calf and the missed long runs that the ultramarathon is definitely out for this year. I’ll still pull off some kind of awesome trail race that weekend, but not my first ultra after all.

I also need to find more races to run, overall. That would help. My trail-running group has been lying low, lately, due to vacations and injuries and travel and whatnot. So I’m “running lonely.” Maybe that’s the problem!

Let’s hope I get back on track soon before I’m too out of shape to put on my running shoes or find my Garmin watch.

 

 

 

New Balance 1210 Review (and PlanetShoes, too!)

It’s no secret that I love trail running. My favorite races have always been trail races (especially last fall’s trail half marathon), and I’ve recently decided to give up my road marathon plans this year and train for a trail ultra instead. (Oh, yes, really — I just registered this morning!)

So when PlanetShoes offered me the chance to try out a new pair of New Balance shoes, of course I chose some trail running shoes. After some trial and error, I ended up with the Leadville 1210’s. My current trail shoes are the New Balance Minimus 1010, which are fantastic but which I don’t love for long runs. I do love them for shorter runs and rely on them for all my regular trail runs, which are about 4.5 miles long.

side

The New Balance Leadville 1210’s are marketed as a shoe inspired by the legendary Leadville 100, which is a crazy-tough 100-mile trail race (steep, at high elevation, etc.) in Leadville, CO. They’re a shoe designed to carry you on for miles and miles on trail, a shoe for ultra-runners. And since trail ultras are in my future, well, these were an obvious choice.

[Of course, I consulted with my local trail ultra-running group to find out if the 1210’s were a good choice for a trail runner with wide feet — the answer was YES!]

The Leadville 1210’s are lightweight. The tongue is connected on the sides to the shoe upper, to keep out debris. The tread is surprisingly…small.

bottomon

lugview

Such small-looking tread and outsoles that my trail running friends assumed they were road shoes and said, “Oh, so those will be OK for trail, too?” They do look more like a hybrid shoe than the rugged trail shoes I’m used to.

As an East Coast trail runner, I’m used to big lug soles and serious traction, shoe bottoms that are not dissimilar to my mountain bike tires: designed to give me traction no matter how deep the mud, to push me forward to matter how wet the roots or how slick the rock.

Typical Trail

Typical Trail

The first morning I was to run in my new New Balance trail shoes, I awoke to heavy pouring rain at 5 a.m. I dozed off again, hoping for a change in the weather. By 6:30 a.m., when I hit the trail, the rain had mostly stopped, but the water on the trail was ankle deep in places.

That’s when I remembered that Leadville, Colorado is a dry, hot place of sand and gravel, not mud and roots and mud and rocks and mud and everything all slippery. Oh, dear.

My running partner was slipping and skidding all over the place when we got to the really rocky parts of the trail. Me? Surefooted as a mountain goat. Also, when I went through ankle-deep water, they drained very quickly, instead of holding the water so that I’d slosh heavy-footed as I ran. The 1210’s emptied fast.

closeup_mud

Mud, dried.

When I wear or use anything new, I’m hyper-aware of it, constantly checking for flaws, even subconsciously. With these shoes, I forgot I was wearing them. I completely forgot about them, which to me is an excellent sign in a running shoe, especially since I have a wide forefoot and usually find shoes to be a little snug there.

to

I ran another regular weekday trail run in them and then a nine-mile weekend run (for the longer run, the trail was dry). The comfort and traction were just as good on dry trails as on the wet ones.

In short: The New Balance Leadville 1210’s are an excellent shoe for wide-forefooted trail runners, even on the wet/muddy/slippery/rooty/rocky trails around here. I am so happy I’ve found my new long-run trail shoe, especially as I’m gearing up to run my first trail ultramarathon this October.

The only con — and this is a weird one — is that my socks tend to slip down a little more easily in these. If I’m extra-careful about lacing through the higher eyelets and tying a little more tightly, I can avoid this problem. Also, wearing socks a little higher than my low-cut ones might help. fro

Another thing I like about these shoes and the chance to review them: New Balance is a local company that produces a consistently quality product. And PlanetShoes has an incredible array of products as well as this:

This company is green, people, in many ways. They have a real commitment to eco-ethics.

Even nicer, PlanetShoes recently partnered with New Balance to donate 300 pairs of shoes to Big Brother/Big Sister of Massachusetts Bay in Boston! How cool is that?

Disclosure: PlanetShoes provided me with a free pair of New Balance shoes for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

 

It’s Thursday. Who Am I Supposed to Run With Today?

My friend called me an exercise slut today. See, I’m now working out almost every day, at 6 a.m. (How did this happen?) I suspect she called me that because I’m now losing track of who I’ve made what workout plans with, and I’m starting to double- and triple-book myself for runs and such.

I used to do a trail run once or twice a week at the leisurely hour of 6:30, a weekend road run at 8 a.m .or so, and boot camp in my neighbor’s yard at 6 a.m. maybe once a week at most.

Somehow things have shifted. Partly I’ve shifted into higher gear as I finally really start training for my fall marathon. My options for a qualifying race, if I wanted to stay in New England or the near Mid-Atlantic area (I did), were August 18 (too soon) or September 8 (also kind of soon, but I hope I can do it if it’s not too hot that day). I’m pretty sure the September date will be fine. Any later, though, and I could miss my chance to register.

marathonedit

From the B.A.A. page. Clearly, I’m not the only one wondering WHEN registration will open, so as to race the fall marathon in time!

This week, I did boot camp with my neighbor A___’s trainer, who came to her yard. The following morning, I ran with another neighbor, P__. Yesterday, I did a trail run with one of my running partners, F___ (the one who today called me an exercise slut).

Today I couldn’t remember who I was supposed to work out with or how many miles I’d planned to do. I suspected I was due to run with neighbor P____ again, but I hadn’t arranged it with him in time, so instead I went to the track alone for my first speed workout in ages. Loved it. Speedwork can be really fun and feel productive, though my calf did get a little twingy toward the end.

Since anyone can lose track of something now and then, I decided to go big and essentially triple-book myself for running tomorrow. I’d forgotten I’d sort of planned to run a short road run tomorrow instead of today with P____. At the end of Wednesday’s trail run, I sort of committed to a longer road run tomorrow with F____. Online, I not only planned to run with my trail running group, but I talked P____ into joining us for that.

So that’s now only two runs I’m supposed to do at the same time tomorrow. I think F____ may join us in the woods. Saturday it’s boot camp with A____ in her yard, and then Sunday a 9-mile road run with — at this point — anyone who wants to join me for any part of it. (Are you having a hard time keeping track of all of this, too?) I may just do Sunday’s run with the Tufts marathon team.

I haven’t run with them since February or earlier — maybe January? I have only run with them about three times total. And you know what? Last Sunday (just before the chills and shakes set in 7.5 miles into my run — oh, hot weather, I don’t like you much) I passed the Tufts marathon coach handing out water to the Sunday runners, and this man — who has been coaching heaps of runners for years, and coaching swim teams, and generally dealing with about a billion athletes a year — he called out, “Hey, Julia, how ya doing?” to the sweaty, visor-and-sunglasses-sporting beet-faced person huffing by (I mean me, if it’s not clear).

That’s how awesome and supportive running with the Tufts marathon team can be. So maybe I’ll start joining them for my Sunday long runs for awhile.

That would certainly keep me from double-booking on everyone else, at least.