Miles to Go for Who?


“Miles to Go for You.”  If you’re a somewhat new reader to my blog you may be wondering why I chose that name.  Miles to go for who?  Don’t you run for yourself?  Read on and you will understand, I promise.   In order to explain, I will have to take you back to July 4th, 2010.  My first running race ever.  The picture below means so much to me.

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It reminds me of where I started and how far I’ve come.  Even though it was 7 years ago, I still remember Hunter and I lining up with all the other racers on the street next to Dansbury Park Pool.  It was a scorching hot summer day and I remember feeling like I was doing something so far out of my element, being there among SERIOUS runners.   When the gun went off, Hunter and I ran with the crowd.  We had a short conversation and then the next thing I knew, my nine year old son took off!  I tried to keep his blue shirt in my sight but I literally couldn’t keep up with him.  He was running so much faster than we had trained!  My goal for that race was to not walk, no matter what.  I thought Hunter and I would run together, but I was so proud of him that I didn’t mind.  I just kept telling myself not to stop running no matter how hard it felt.  The sun was beating down on me as I plugged along on the levee in the last mile of the race, Hunter far out of my sight.  Houses with torturous pools in their yards came into my view, but I kept moving.  When I crossed the finish line in 28:11, Hunter was there waiting for me.  He had ran a 24 or 25 minute race!  A guy who finished behind me said I had a good pace and he had used me to keep moving forward.  (I had no idea this was a thing and that I was helping someone out!).

 

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YMCA 2010 Firecracker 5K (July 4, 2010).  We have both changed a lot since then!

Hunter and I had trained for our first 5K for a few months, side by side.  We worked our way up to a 1.4 mile loop in our neighborhood, then to about 3 miles.  (Those were the days when  I had sneakers that weren’t actual running shoes.  I drove my car on the loop beforehand to measure the mileage.  And…I used the kitchen clock to estimate our pace!).  Those training runs were HARD!  Our 1.4 mile loop would take us through the dirt roads of our wooded community in the Pocono Mountains, past neighbor’s houses, past the community mailboxes, past their bus stop, and through a quiet woodsy area with no houses.  There was also a “big hill”, the one the entire neighborhood used for sledding in the winter, that we had to run down.   After we were able to do one loop well, we decided to double it and get as close to 3 miles as possible.  We would switch directions during the double loop, which meant that we would not only have to run down the big hill, but also UP the big hill!  When we finished our second lap, Hunter and I would literally throw ourselves down on the grass in the front yard and lay on our backs trying to catch our breath!  Then I would quick run inside to check the time so I would know how long it took us.

Little did I know that that one little race would open the door to a whole new world to me.  I had no idea that I would one day own things like Garmins, real running shoes, Gu, energy chews, compression sleeves, moisture wicking clothing, or balaclavas.  Hell, I didn’t even know what most of those things were!  I didn’t know how much running would teach me about myself and what was possible, and I certainly couldn’t have predicted all the new people and amazing friends that it would bring into my life.

I wouldn’t have believed you at all if you had told me then that someday I would be running trail races exclusively.  And I without a doubt would not have believed you if you had told me I’d be running a 50 mile trail race with crazy elevation and beautiful waterfalls.

The picture below means as much to me as the one above.  Hunter, now towering over me, and my son Eli, have watched me progress through the various distances of road races.  They were there to cheer me on during my first half marathon in Philly, my first full marathon in the Poconos, my first 50K at Pine Grove, and my first 50 mile race in Ithaca, NY.

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June 3, 2017.  Cayuga Trails 50 in Ithaca, NY

So, miles to go for who?  In case you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s these two right here.  My boys mean the world to me and in order to be the best Mom I can be, I run.  I run to stay sane, to stay healthy, and to show them that when things get hard you keep on pushing forward.  I run to show them that dedication, a fire in your heart, and a positive attitude can carry you for miles.

Who do you run for?

What do you remember about your first race ever?

Ending Week #14 with the Buck Ridge Burn!


Training Update:

It was a much needed cutback week and I spent most of it recovering from last weekend’s runs.

Monday:  complete rest day, stretching

Tuesday:  replaced my run with a 6 mile cycle

Wednesday:  4 mile roads, easy (9:30 pace)

Thursday:  5.2 mile trail run (10:57 pace) & 5 mile cycle

Friday:  complete rest day, stretching

Saturday:  7 trail miles (11:12 pace)

Sunday:  13.25 Buck Ridge Burn Trail Half (9:51 pace)  PR and 1st in Age Group!

 

Buck Ridge Burn

This is a local race that takes place in Pine Grove Furnace State Park. I wanted to do it last year, but it was too close to the Ironmaster’s 50K.  This year it fell perfectly with my schedule.  They also offer a 5K option.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day than today.  Blue skies, sunshine, and perfect running temps (40 to start and 60 by the finish). My friends from work ran it too.  For some it was their first trail half.  So exciting!

Here’s a pic from their website regarding the elevation.  Along with the super fun mix of ups and downs, you get a little taste of single-track, double-track fire roads, climbs, beautiful views, rocky downhills, and creek crossings.  We had a lot of rain recently so there were a ton of water/mud sections too!  A few of us ran part of the course last weekend and it was wet even then.

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Since it was a cutback week I wasn’t sure if I was going to take it easy or push myself.   Thankfully the extra cycling this past week brought my running legs back from last week’s miles and elevation, so I decided I would start this race off moderately and if i felt good after mile 7, I’d push it more.

I’m terrible about remembering specific parts of a race but I remember a creek crossing up to my shorts in the first mile, running along the creek, getting onto Buck Ridge, then the climb up to Hammond’s Rocks, the loop where we got to see the lead pack coming back through, the small dry and unique pine trails, the Ravine Trail (my favorite) that went straight down a rocky descent along a creek.  I had so much fun running recklessly down that trail.   I am definitely going to find my way back there again one day!  The views from Hammond’s Rocks were picturesque but I didn’t want to stop to take any pics today.  I’ll get back there too one day and share them in the future :).  During the ravine section, I passed a few people because I knew I wanted to run fast there.  I continued doing that pretty solidly and realized I was feeling good and could possibly PR if I ran all the hills.  There were some fire roads after that (fun memories of meeting Jen popped into my mind), another short climb, and then a fun twisty trail through the woods around mile 11.   I caught up to some people I’d been trailing for awhile and continued on.  Around mile 12 we crossed another stream and I recognized the trail.  I had run on it before on a training run and knew that this was the last uphill.  So I embraced the burn and ran up.  Once at the top I decided to run as fast as I could and see if I could get under 2:10.  2:12 was my PR.  I passed a girl at the top of the hill (who ended up being in my age group), and booked down the trail and onto the road toward to the finish.  My watch said 2:10:40.  Not sure of the official time yet, but still a PR and good enough for 1st place AG.  The RD was at the finish line congratulating everyone and cheering us on.  I gave her a hug and thanked her for an awesome race!

Pics from after the Buck Ridge Burn

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Jess, Jess, Carl, me, and Christy.  So proud of these guys.  It was so fun cheering everyone on at the finish line.  They rock!  I see more trail races together in our future 🙂  

 

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Handmade finisher’s coaster.
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Woo hoo! Plus a gift card to the Appalachian Running store 🙂
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Handmade AG medal!
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Finish area pic as we were leaving.  Lots of food to be had under that pavilion.  Subway sandwiches, cashew stew, chips, pretzels, rice krispy treats, cookies, m & m’s, and more!

I met people today that drove an hour or more for this race.  I would highly recommend adding it to your calendar for next year if you can.  The course was incredibly well marked (best I’ve ever run), and is so well organized.  The volunteers were awesome and like all trail runs, it was just a fun atmosphere with the trail running camaraderie that drawls us all to the sport.  If anything, do it for the views!

Following the race I felt great.  I am sleepy tired from pushing myself and running faster than my training runs, but I am not sore at all.  My training is working!  Time to ramp it up this coming week.

How was your weekend of running?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week #9 of Ultra Marathon Training & a Superfood


It’s been an awesome week.  Winter returned and we had some bitter cold and windy days.  Tuesday was a busy day with work, running, grocery shopping, and the boys.  By Wednesday I was feeling rundown and like I was going to come down with a cold, so I swapped running miles for some easy cycling at the gym, doubled my orange intake, and then tried to get to bed early.  Best decision ever!

Also, I found out I placed 76 out of 346 OA and 17/146 females in my race yesterday. Not bad for a training run!

Here’s How this Week of Training Went Down

Monday:  rest

Tuesday:  5.25 miles on xc course with coworkers (10:17 pace) & core and upper body lifting @ gym

Wednesday: cycled 55 minutes (11 miles)

Thursday: 6 WINDY miles, 3 on xc course and 3 on roads (9:13 pace, sub 9:00 for road miles)

Friday:  rest from running, core and upper body lifting @ gym

Saturday: 20.7 miles on trails (9:53 pace, Naked Bavarian 20 Mile Race), COLD and windy!

Sunday:  10.3 miles on trails (11:41 pace)

 

Some Pics from the Trails Today

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Favorite Foods of the Week

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Goat cheese on crackers with fruit and a Larabar.
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My normal concoction of plain Greek yogurt, peanut powder for protein, milled flax seed, a drizzle of honey, and a new addition….cacao powder.  Tasted just like chocolate pudding but WAY more nutritional benefits!

Cacao Powder

I always try to incorporate superfoods into our diets.  Did you know that cacao powder has 20 times the antioxidants of blueberries and that it is the highest plant-based source of iron?  It’s good for your heart, your brain, and even your mood!  I plan to use it in baking, smoothies, pancakes, and protein balls as well.  Read more about the benefits of cacao here.

 

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One More Pic from Today’s Run

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Scenic Vista trail in Kings Gap.  Now time to stretch and foam roll!

 

What are some of your favorite superfoods?

How did your running and nutrition go this week?

 

 

 

 

Naked Bavarian 20 Mile Race


20 degrees and 20 mph winds did not stop me or hundreds of other trail runners today!  I came across this race a week ago and promptly signed up.  I had a 20 miler scheduled for today anyway and figured it would be nice to get a training run in on different trails with the support of aide stations.  Also, I love the trail running community!

The Naked Bavarian is held in Leesport, PA on the beautiful trails surrounding Blue Marsh Lake.  It is a lollipop course with 6 miles out, 7 mile loop, and 6 back…although not exactly, because it’s a 20.7 mile route 🙂  The trails are nicely maintained with an occasional root or rock, some sections with some erosion we had to be careful of, a few climbs, but otherwise, very runnable and less technical that the ones I run on most of the time.

I grew up in the Berks county area and have family there, so it made for a nice visit.  I had less than a 20 minute drive from my brother-in-law’s house to get to Blue Marsh.

My Dad met me before the start to see me off.  It was 23 degrees!

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Got my bib and then sat in the warm car for a half hour or so until 8:15.  Meanwhile, the 40 mile racers started at 8:00.

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I love when my bib makes an equation  (2 + 4 = 6)  haha!

 

Lined up for the race around 8:15.

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A pleasant surprise to run into a fellow local trail runner, Scott, at the start!

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These are the only pics of the race I have, courtesy of my Dad.  It was too cold to bring my iPhone.  It always freezes and ends up useless anyway!

Because of the temps, I also did not use my hydration bladder because the water always freezes in the straw.  I used two bottles instead:  one for water and one for Nuun.  The aide stations were packed with all the food you could want so I didn’t even need my own.  During the race I ate bananas, peanut butter crackers, bacon (really hit the spot!), oranges, and peanut butter and jelly quarter sandwiches.

I felt great the whole time until the last mile when my body felt tired.   I expected this as I’ve only gone over 16 once so far this training, which was the 19 I did last week.   Otherwise, I was running comfortably. Since the trails were a little easier than I’m used to, my easy pace was faster than usual.  I really enjoyed the few climbs we had though!  This race really is a nice mix of trail.  Although I prefer more woodsy sections, it’s nice to have some different scenery once in awhile. I also enjoyed talking to a few people along the way.  It’s always interesting to hear what people are training for and what races they’ve done so far.  Seems like a lot of runners from today will be back on April 1st for the Naked Prussian!

Right after the last aide station I ran up to a girl who was wearing Altra Lone Peaks so we chatted about them. In the last mile of the race she gave me a few words of encouragement which helped me finish even stronger.  Turns out she’s training for the MMT 100.  Maybe that will be me someday!?

Finished in 3 hours 24 minutes or something like that.

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Pretty cool finisher prize.  Wasn’t expecting anything!

 

After showering and packing up, I met my Dad at V & S for some food.  If you are ever in Berks County and want some sandwiches, find a V & S.  I grew up eating from this place and all I could think about during the race was their fries…so this happened…

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California cheeseburger, fries, and Icy Tea (Straight from my high school days and still tastes the same.  40 grams of sugar and I think I earned it after burning 1800 calories!)

 

Have you done your first race for 2017?

Is there a food or drink that brings you back to your high school days or is it just me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week #7 of 50 Mile Training….(aKa: Quad Killer Week)


The running mileage this week,  starting with Monday, was supposed to be: rest, 4, 6, 6 , rest, 18, 10.   A plan is just a plan, though and it does not account for family life or your general well being!

The boys both had important wrestling tournaments this weekend, sectionals, and state qualifiers, and I will never put my running before being there for them.  Family always comes first.  So, I had planned to keep the first 3 runs as planned, but switch a long run from Sat to Friday since I had off.  I figured Saturday I would rest, and then possibly get out for a run late Sunday afternoon depending on the tournament.

Well, last week was very draining for me physically.  I did not get nearly enough sleep (only about 3-5.5 hours each night), but somehow powered through.

My Actual Mileage

Mon:  lifted & core

Tues:  4 miles on xc course

Wed:   6 road miles with hills

Thurs:  3 on xc course, steep and hilly direction (no sleep and hills were catching up to me so I did not do 6)

Fri:  slept in and felt amazing so did 12 HARD trail miles on Flat Rock Trail (2 miles up to an overlook with 1200 ft elevation gain, then back down and repeat 3 times).  The rock is flat, the trail is NOT😂

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Last time I did 2 repeats of this trail, so I decided to take a pic each time I made it to the top for 3 round trips this time.  It’s so steep in places that you have to hike, especially in the first mile. But I never stopped.  I always refueled on the first steep climb going back up.  SO much fun running back down to the car.  And so much fun seeing the looks on other hikers’ faces when they ask me how many times I am doing this today.  I can’t wait until I can say “6”! 

 

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Proud of myself when my 3 repeats were over!  And shorts in February😊.  Also, since I’m a math teacher, I had to figure out how many repeats of this trail equal 50 miles, and it’s 12.5.  Just saying…😳💪🏼😂

Sat:  After tournament, evening 5 mile cycle @ gym, lifted, 12 min on new surprise lateral trainer machine!

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This thing is AWESOME and hard!  Squat position the whole time while you push your legs outward to spin in a clockwise or counter clockwise motion. Quad killer!  I need this!

Sun:  10 hilly late afternoon trail miles

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I hope you all rocked your runs this week!  Remember, a plan is just a plan.  It won’t make you or break you.  It’s okay to listen to your body when you need more sleep, stretching, or cycling instead of running.  In fact, your body will thank you!

And of course, it’s always a given to put family first!  Hunter nade it to districts, so this coming week will also be rearranged and I’ll figure it out😀

3 Runners, 1 Trail, 30+ Animals, & Burgers


What do you do when your best ultrarunning friend lives more than 2 hours away?  Find a trail halfway between your houses and meet there for a long run of course!  For Jen and I, that meant the Horseshoe Trail that runs from Harrisburg to Valley Forge. Jen brought her brother Kevin, who is a wealth of knowledge for me as a new ultrarunner, as he has a few hundred milers under his belt!  We met at the Pretzel Hut  in Lititz, PA which ended up being a perfect way to start and end our run.   The owners were very welcoming as I got there before they opened and they let me use their restroom!

When Jen and Kevin arrived, we layered up for the negative temps and started looking for the trailhead.  Turns out you have to open the petting zoo gate in the back of the Pretzel Hut, and walk past a bunch of turkeys, chickens, goats, and pigs.  I mean, have you ever started a run in a petting zoo?  Haha!   There’s a first time for everything!

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You can see the gate and parking lot where we started.  
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Trail runs parallel to the red fence.  You will pass a few animal pens with goats, more turkeys, a pig, and maybe some other animals that were too cold to greet us today!  The pinkish building in the background is the Dance Hall.  LOL!
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I think this guy wanted to come out and run with us.  Or else he smelled our running snacks and wanted some?

Once we were past the animals, we just had to follow the yellow blazes.  We ended up off the trail by accident in the first mile or two, and decided to see where it led.  We ran past a campsite and through some pricker bushes before turning around and reconnecting with the yellow blazes again.  Jen and I both realized we had one too many layers on so we stopped to adjust before continuing on.  From then on we were running comfortably and enjoying the beautiful scenery.  It’s always fun talking about running while running!  Kevin had a lot of experiences to share and it was really a great time.

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Some of our fuel on the run. I must find these endurance bars and order some.  Perfect size and delicious date and cranberry flavor.  Jen brought those and I brought the waffles.  Haha!

We ran about 5 miles out from the Pretzel Hut and enjoyed a nice long climb in the last two miles, although it took us out to a paved road.  We ran a good way up the road and were not happy to continue that way without knowing how long it would be until we were back on the trail again, so we turned around and decided to head back.  The view of power lines and metal fencing is not appealing when you could be surrounded by nature.   The only disappointment of the day!

 

On the way back we stopped at Eagle Rock Lookout.  What a gorgeous day to share with friends on the trails!

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Jen, me, and Kevin.  
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Check out the view!
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All photo credits go to Jen, as my phone was apparently full and then frozen (just like the water in the straw and bite valve of my hydration vest)!  

 

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So peaceful.  Just enough snow on the trails to make your footsteps feel soft and muffled.
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Gorgeous blue skies today!  
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This dude was happy to show us his tail feathers upon our return to the petting zoo.  I guess he wanted to let us know that he is boss.  
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And this chick followed Jen everywhere.  A new best friend.  Haha!  Jen, I bet she will remember you next month.

 

When we got back to the Pretzel Hut it was lunchtime and the place was getting packed.  The menu had so many yummy possibilities.  We all went with burgers and fries this time.  My California Bison Cheeseburger, fries, and black tea with cherry pomegranate were just what I needed after the run.  The ice cream flavors and cones looked delicious, but since I couldn’t stop shivering after the run (despite changing clothes) that will have to wait until next time!

Thanks, Jen and Kevin for a great morning!  Looking forward to many more miles with you both 🙂

 

 

 

 

Hills Fueled by Pecan Pie


I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving full of good food and good company.  We had a nice day with family.  I didn’t get any pics except for these.

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I love watching my boys play with their little cousins!

 

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I did get a 5 mile ride and 25 minutes of lifting in before we headed to visit family for Thanksgiving dinner.  I am stuffed from turkey, cranberry sauce, squash, sweet potatoes, rolls, sugar snap peas, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pie, and cookies!

All those carbs and all that sugar really came together for my afternoon run though!  6 miles with negative splits and I felt really solid.  9:06, 8:36, 8:11, 8:10, 8:10, 7:45.  Miles 2-5 even included some steep rolling hills. I am so happy with my training so far (which is mainly base building), but I feel strong and powerful which is the whole point, right?  Running trails has really improved my downhill speed.  I know that sounds funny, but in most road races I’d always pass people on uphills and then get passed on downhills. Now on the roads when I’m running down I just imagine the trail beneath my feet.

Get control of your mind and your body will follow!  That’s my new mantra.

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Taking a pic of my Garmin after a run I’m proud really helps me stay confident and motivated for next time!

 

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They make flats seem ridiculously effortless.  They build leg strength.  They build mental strength.  They build speed and help to develop your cardiovascular system. 

I have a challenge you next time you go for a run.   Find the biggest hill in your neighborhood and run to it.  Then keep on running until you get to the top.  You might slow down, and it will be harder, but pump your arms, steady your breathing, and focus on each step.  You will be stronger for it.  Mind over matter.

Happy Running!