100 Mile Training, Week #4


Easing back into the mileage this month, especially since it is now August and that means a super busy time for me as a teacher.  Planning ahead is going to be key in fitting everything in!

This has been a great week with some fun runs, ice cream cake for my birthday, a meet up with my awesome running friend Karen, and even a college visit for Hunter.  I’ll let the pics tell our story this week…

A College Visit!

Hunter and I drove the 3.5 hours out to Clarion University for a preview day.  His first college visit!  We learned a lot about the school and had a great time on the tour.  Hunter will be a junior this coming school year, but we want to get him thinking about his options early, especially if he is going to wrestle in college!   The school was so nice and it reminded me a lot of West Chester U where I went.  It makes me so excited for him!

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The dorms are absolutely amazing inside!

 

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We finished our tour right before the storms let loose.

We had a nice dinner at the Pizza Pub to talk things over before heading back home.  It was a fun road trip for us!

Hawk Mountain and Lunch with Karen!

Saturday I met up with my friend Karen for some hiking at Hawk Mountain.  We’ve known each other since our kids were little (and they are pretty much the same ages), so we had a lot to talk about and catch up on!  Karen and I met in an online running group back when I started running and had no running friends!  It was awesome to find out that she lived in PA.  We continue to meet up whenever we can, around our busy schedules.  We’ve also run a few races together, although Karen is a fast road marathoner and I am an ultra trail runner, so races have not been our meet up event in awhile!

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Karen bought me this awesome orange sticker for my birthday :).  You actually had to pay to get on the trails at Hawk Mountain, so I would recommend getting your money’s worth and doing the Skyline Trail like we did.  hahaha

Can you believe this trail we chose?  We literally had to climb right over that rock where the blue paint is!  And then for another half mile or so down to somewhat flat ground!

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You definitely could not hike this trail with something in your hands!

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Here is a view from one of the first lookouts.  Honestly, you drive to the top of the mountain to park and start your hike, so the elevation we did wasn’t crazy.  You can see this view without too much effort!

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To the left in the center you can see the “River of Rocks” which is kind of like Boulder Field if you have been to Hickory Run State Park.  We didn’t take the 4 mile loop trail out there because we were ready for lunch, but that would probably be a neat area too.

A Long Run

Here’s my favorite view from today’s long run on Buck Ridge Trail.  I haven’t really run here all summer, so it was fun doing the out and back to Pine Grove.  It’s a 6 mile trail connecting two parks.  I usually start on a trail farther from the trail head for Buck Ridge so I can get some extra miles in.

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This Week’s Mileage

Monday:  10 mile cycle

Tuesday:  4 trail miles

Wednesday:  gym for lifting/core and 7 evening trail miles on the AT, and the day I officially entered a new age group!

Thursday:  off (This was not a planned rest day.  I just got caught up in doing things…or not doing things…around the house.  I planned to go in the evening after I took my son to work and then we had some storms moving through so I bagged it.)

Friday:  2 faster road miles @ 8:30 avg pace, then it was time to hit the road for Clarion!

Saturday:  2.5 mile hike and 4 slow trail miles with my aging dog.  He’s pretty sore today.  He may be done with runs and stick to walks from now on.

Sunday:  14 trail miles

Exciting Week Ahead!

I will be running the Ragnar Trail Appalachians Relay in West Virginia this Friday and Saturday with an awesome team!  Hi Team, if you are reading this!  Because of my birthday timing we get to compete as Masters.  isn’t that awesome?  I have never done any type of relay before, but I love my trails, so I’m pretty sure it’s going to be epic!

Before we go, I need to do a night run to test out my new headlamp.  And of course I need to pack.

I plan to do another blog post before Thursday, so have a great week until then!

Have you ever hiked at Hawk Mountain?

Have you ever done a Ragnar Relay?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week # 3 Training & Random Pics


My husband and I were reminiscing over a small Jamaican restaurant we used to order from every now and then when we lived in the Poconos, so  I decided to spend a few hours in the kitchen on a rainy evening putting together this Jamaican meal.  It helped with fueling up before my weekend mileage, too!

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Jamaican jerk chicken, coconut milk rice, coconut Jamaica bread, and mango jalepeno salsa.

The homemade bread was a hit and we still have some in the freezer for another day.

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The salsa was amazing.  It also has avocado in it and was so easy to make.

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This is how we spent two of our afternoons/evenings last week.  Parking cars at the Shippensburg Fair for the Newville Wrestling Association.  It was hot out there!

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I had to go back to this lake for a run early last week since Jeff and I had walked it with the dog.  It is exactly 3.7 miles around, so it makes a nice option for a weekday run.  Plus it’s not too far from the house.

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Opossum Lake

This is from a new-to-me section of the AT, a couple of miles out of Caledonia heading south.

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This is a scene from the Koppenhaver Trail in Pine Grove.  It’s only a mile around but I always try to add it to my runs there because it is so gorgeous.

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This little mole was making his way across the AT out of Pine Grove.  I was so close to crushing him with my foot because I didn’t see him!

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Monday:  rest

Tuesday:  6 trail miles

Wednesday:  5.5 trail miles, core & strength

Thursday:  5 road miles

Friday:  legs and some upper body @ gym

Saturday: 12 trail miles

Sunday:  7.5 trail miles

 

 

How were your runs this week?

Do you have a favorite salsa recipe?

Week #2 of Devil Dog Training & The Niggles


It’s been super humid and hot most of this week, to the point where running isn’t fun.  It was time to dig deep and just get out there and slog through the miles.  I can’t say they were all bad though.  I had some good company on a few runs which always makes things more enjoyable!

Dealing with Niggles

I was noticing a twinge of pain in my left knee cap area recently….only a few steps per run so nothing major, but definitely something to nip in the bud.  I’ve battled with runner’s knee in the past and don’t want to go back there!  So, the focus this week was to take care of that.  I had already planned to kick the mileage back down to the twenties for the week.   I was aiming for extra rest days and no double digits.  Here are the actions I took to help the niggle subside and hopefully not turn into an actual injury:

  • Ice the area post run.
  • Extra rest days or just cycling days.
  • Ibuprofen after the run just to keep inflammation at bay.  ( I don’ t like to mask any symptoms with meds before the run or I won’t know how it’s doing and could risk more damage)
  • New shoes (This is a BIG one!  Really thinking I ran too many miles in the previous ones past their prime which added to the niggles.  Plus running a 10 miler on roads in the old ones a few weeks ago was probably not smart either.)  Isn’t it funny how loved the ones on the left are?  These are the same exact shoe down to the color.  One has about 500 miles and the other 0.  They felt like heaven!image
  • Strengthening around the knee with lunges and squats (I have to admit I could be doing these more regularly so this was a wake up call!)
  • Less climbs and steep downhill running.  This part makes me sad but it had to be done!

Thankfully my last 3 runs have been totally niggle free, but I’ll continue some of the strategies above through this next week to ensure things are back to where they need to be for when my training gets more demanding!

Week #2 Breakdown

Monday:  REST  (hamstring, quad stretching)

Tuesday:  3 easy miles  (stretching + lunges + squats)

Wednesday:  8.5 mile cycle  (stretching + lunges + squats + upper body)

Thursday:  Gym workout (upper body/ back/core)

 

Friday:  6 easy trail miles with Eli (incorporated more walking & explored)

Saturday:  8.1 trail miles (Hoka demo day with Appalachian Running Company)

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These were the shoes I tried out for 5 of the miles.  Hoka Speedgoat 2 (men’s since all the women’s in my size were taken).  My verdict is that I’ll stick with Altra Lone Peaks.  There is nothing quite like my Altras.  I prefer to feel the ground more underneath myself and always feel more confident flying down technical terrain in the Lone Peaks.   But…. I could see these Hokas being a refreshing shoe to wear after being on your feet for 50 miles or more in an ultra.  Actually I am excited to try Altra’s new Timp shoe for this reason.  The zero drop and wide toe box make me a loyal fan!

Sunday:  9 Appalachian Trail miles with a Ragnar buddy and a killer gym workout for sweat session #2

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Warm Up:
3 x 10 lunges with 25 lb plate overhead
3 x 10 raises with plate
3 x 50 med ball slams
3 x 10 assisted pull ups
3 x 15 ab raises
3 x 30 second flutter ab kicks
3 x 10 dumbell curls
3 x 100 oblique twists with med ball
3 x 10 tricep dips with 20 lb
3 x 10 lower ab leg raises
3 x 10 knees to chest
3 x 15 lat pull downs

Food is Fuel!

I had these romaine boats with roast beef, goat feta, sriracha lemon aioli, radishes, and green onions for lunch and they didn’t disappoint.   Bottom one has chipotle mustard instead of aioli because it ran out.  Definitely need to make more!

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And this low carb/ high protein waffle for breakfast.  Made with coconut flour and egg whites, topped with mini semi-sweet choc chips, walnuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, almond butter, and honey.  I did not miss the Bisquick waffles I made for the boys at all!

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Any tips or strategies you use to handle the niggles when they show up?

Favorite gym workout?

Of everything in the list above from today, my favorite is the medicine ball slam squats. It’s so rewarding to slam something on the ground over and over.  Hahaha!

 

Week #1 of 100 Mile Training & Comparing Ultras to Childbirth?


It is a daunting task for sure, figuring out how to get myself to the start line healthy, trained, and capable of running 100 miles.   Let’s be honest, 100 miles is a whole different kind of beast.  Anything can happen.  I know that I cannot possibly prepare for every scenario I will be faced with during a race of this distance.   At some point all the physical training I’m going to do leading up to the race is only going to get me so far.  Then I’m just going to have to keep moving forward and make sure my mental game is strong!  “Relentless forward motion,” is my favorite mantra and I’m sure I’ll think of a lot more before December.

I’ve heard others describe the pain cave of a 100 mile race as equal to or greater than the pain of child birth.  Well, if that’s the case, I did my pain management training 13 and 16 years ago!  hahaha  Two natural childbirths, no meds whatsoever…only a birthing ball, my husband’s poor hand to crush, and a nail on the wall as a focal point to manage the pain.  I figure if I can push an almost 9 pound baby out of my lady parts, then I can run 100 miles, right?  They say you forget the pain once they put the baby in your arms and you look into their sweet little faces, but I still remember staring at that nail on the wall, squeezing my husband’s hand, and feeling like I was being crushed by a Mac truck from the inside out every 30 seconds.  And that was after having puked all over the hospital floor!  Hell, I pushed for 3 hours straight with my firstborn, after about 5 hours of labor and 2 days of back labor and not being able to hold down any food.  That being said, both times were the most rewarding and amazing experiences of my entire life.  I cannot even describe how amazing it felt each time to know that my boys are here because of the pain I endured.

We can laugh about the parallels between child birth and running 100 miles, but I guarantee you that those are the two main experiences I’m going to be drawing on when times get really tough during the race.  And they will, that’s a given.  It will be one of the hardest things I will do willingly in my life, but crossing that finish line will be epic.  The best part is that there will be no diaper changing in the months to follow.  I’ll take a nice shiny belt buckle instead.  Hahahaha!

Actually the best part is going to be sharing this experience with Jen.  She is tough as nails and destined to be my trail sister.   We’re in this together!

 

Awesome Training Advice

I came across this blog post today and I think it has some great tips for anyone getting ready to run 100 miles.  I know I will be rereading this a lot over the next 5 months!

A Century or Bust

 

Training Week #1

I’ll just call last week the first week of training because I figure anything I do from here on out will be preparing me for this race.  I’ve just been trying to establish a regular running cycle lately and to work my long run back up.  I’m going to scale the miles back a little bit this week and then increase again over weeks 3 and 4.  That worked well during my last training cycle.

Monday:  rest

Tuesday:  8 trail miles

Wednesday:  travel day to Nashville for a teaching conference

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Pretty epic view from 34,000 ft though!
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Best barbecue I have ever had.  If you are ever in Nashville, you have to eat here.  Guy Fieri  featured this place on DDD for a reason!  

Thursday:  2 miles on hotel treadmill (my only option and I did not enjoy one second of this).  30 minute workout with weights, leg press, rowing machine, and kettle bells

Friday:  travel day home/ rest

Saturday:  8 super easy paced trail miles (Went exploring to find the awesome overlook I came across last spring when I almost got lost during a run.  Found it pretty easily and will definitely be making this a regular run.  I sat here for awhile just enjoying the solitude and the view.)

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Sunday:  17 miles on the Appalachian Trail (Ran an easier section that is more runnable trail than I’m used to.  I figure I should try to do trails like this more often for this training.  I’m still planning to work some elevation into my long runs though, just not every time since Devil Dog’s elevation gain is more friendly than Cayuga was!)

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I couldn’t stop laughing at the picture of the guy on this sign.  I know how it feels to do a face plant!

So that’s where I’m at currently.

What is your favorite mantra?

Have you ever been to Nashville?

I had a great time there and would love to go back again someday!

 

Taking Time to Feed my Soul…


Some people run to get out of the rain.  Today I purposely ran for almost two hours in it. The temps were in the low 70’s and I was comfortable in a t-shirt, shorts, and hat to keep the rain from running into my face.  The trails provided a shelter at times from the rain, this is true, but half a mile in I was soaked and feeling an amazing connection to the dirt and mud under my feet.

Why I Love to Run in the Rain. . .

  • The glistening rocks and roots on the forest floor that I have to maneuver across, posing a new challenge, and keeping me focused on the moment I am in.
  • The overgrown tree limbs and blueberry bushes that brush against my skin leaving their wet, refreshing marks.
  •  The mossy and slippery footbridges that I have to carefully cross without my feet sliding out from beneath me.
  • All of this set in poetic motion to the sounds of pouring rain hitting the tree tops, the brim of my hat, and the earth around me.
  • The absence of others, as most people don’t tend to venture out on a day like today for a fun little hike. (Although I did see two other people out today!)

I guess in a way you have to be some kind of introvert in order to enjoy spending hours upon hours alone with your own thoughts and feelings as an ultrarunner.  As a Mom of two busy and active boys, and a teacher to about 100 middle school students, you can probably imagine why I crave and look forward to the solitude of my trail running.  Although for me it goes a little deeper.  I enjoy being alone with my thoughts, particularly in nature, moving freely through space and time with no one else to worry about.  No one needs anything from me during these times.  No one is asking me questions.   The due dates and daily demands of parenting and teaching disappear for these hours and it is just me, the earth, the sky, and the flora and fauna of the Pennsylvania trails.   It is rejuvenating and soul-filling in a way that I wish I could express more deeply to those of you who have yet to venture into this sport.

Sure I run to prepare myself for the next big race.  That’s a given.  I mean you don’t want your race to be a total suck-fest, right?   Setting huge, seemingly unattainable goals in the sport of ultrarunning can be scary, empowering, risky, and exhilarating all at the same time.  Working toward those goals, for me, is a gift.  It is a gift I give myself every time I lace up my Lone Peaks and head out to a trail head to log some miles.  It is a little slice of my day that I can look forward to and know that I am doing something to reach my goals, but even more importantly, I am doing something to feed my soul.

We all feed our stomachs, but when is the last time you thought about feeding your soul?

What is it that makes you feel the most like yourself?

 

Pics from today’s run….

Ridge Overlook

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Cameron/Masland Mansion at the top of the mountain in Kings Gap State Park.  I am forever running trails around it, but never stop to go through the grounds of the mansion during a run, so I decided to today because I was having so much fun.

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Built in 1908 by James McCormick Cameron as a summer home.  It has 32 rooms and is designed to look like an Italian Villa.  You can go inside for a tour on Sundays between 1-5:00.  We’ve done that and it’s pretty cool inside.

 

Kings Gap Water Tower

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Kings Gap Garden

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Today’s fuel of choice, which I enjoyed while sitting on a rock in the pouring rain at Scenic Vista Overlook.

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I know it looks like I jumped in a pool, but honestly I was the same amount of wet after my run two Saturday’s ago in sun, upper 80’s and ridiculous humidity.  I’ll take today’s conditions anytime!

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How do you feel about running in the rain?

 

It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This. . .


Living the Beach Life

I can’t think of a better place to rest and recover than the beach!  The boys and I spent the past week in Myrtle Beach, SC visiting family and living the beach life.   We slept in, ate a lot of good food, played in the ocean, dozed in the sand while the sun warmed our skin, roamed the Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Odditorium, and played mini golf (a 3 way tie, can you believe that?).   I literally did not exercise one time, unless you count the crunches I did while waiting for the boys to get a shower one day, or the short hike I did at the state park!

Here are a few pics from our trip!

 

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A day in Charleston.  Beautiful city if you ever get the chance to go!
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You can usually see dolphins at Waterfront Park but we didn’t see any that day.
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A view from the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach.

 

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Brotherly love?  Hunter burying Eli while I was in the bathroom.  haha
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A hiking trail in Myrtle Beach State Park.  Had to get some nature therapy from the forest while we were gone. 
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Almost looks like home. 
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But these skinks kept darting across the trail in front of me every quarter mile or so!

When we got back home to PA, my husband and I celebrated our 18th anniversary.  MORE food and it was so delicious.

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Ahi tuna with artichokes, sundried tomatoes and steamed spinach.  Then we went for ice cream for dessert of course!

Back on Track

Now that eating without abandon is out of my system, I am so ready to get back on track this week.  The fridge is stocked with spring mix, a ton of fruits and vegetables, and healthy snacks.   I am in between official training sessions, so here is my rough plan for the next few weeks. . .

Workout Goals

  • I plan to get more workout sessions in at the gym.  I want to get back to lifting more and sticking with a good core routine.   The good news is that it’s summer and I’m a teacher, so I have more time to accomplish this goal!  I lost some definition in my muscles between tapering, racing, recovering, and living the beach life.  hahaha
  • For my runs, I’ll continue running trails but taking it easy for a little bit longer.  Less miles than when I’m training, but trying not to lose any gains I’ve made in training for Cayuga!  I kind of miss having a training plan to tell me what to do, but I’ll be winging it for the next couple of weeks I guess.
  • I need to get some double runs and night runs in next month so I’m ready for Ragnar West Virginia in August.  Hoping to meet up with my relay team for the night runs!

One thing my husband wanted for Father’s Day was to give the boys a hard workout at the gym.  Great opportunity for me to get started on my goals!

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Wrestlers never smile for pictures.  Can you tell this was taken AFTER their workout?
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I got a good workout of my own done while they did their thing.  Core and upper body.  Feelin the burn and I’m sore today and loving it.

Nutrition

  • More protein. (Especially after a hard workout).
  • Less carbs. (No white flour carbs and less sugar.)
  • Whole foods. (No junk!)
  • Drink more water.  (I’m loving my raspberry watermelon water today.)

 

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Example of a typical breakfast I’ll have. . . sprouted grain toast with cashew butter, honey, and coconut and fresh fruit.

 

My First Trail Run since Cayuga

Saturday morning, Eli, my youngest, woke up in a rotten, uncharacteristically grumpy mood.  Maybe it was all the traveling we’ve done the past week, or maybe it was teenage hormones, but he was tough to get along with!  Since he’s my runner (of the two), I made him get dressed in running clothes after breakfast and we drove down to Pine Grove.  It seemed like a little trail therapy was in order.

My plan was to take him on the 5 mile Sunset Rocks / Appalachian Trail loop.  He slept on the drive there and as soon as we got out of the car, we got drizzled on and he complained.  I told him it would be fine and we started off.  His calves were sore from a workout the previous day and he was having a rough time since he didn’t want to be there.   At one point I turned around and started to head back since he was struggling and he wouldn’t let me.  He said he was going to get it done no matter what.

Two miles in we ran past some thru-hikers at a shelter on the AT and we stopped at the halfway point on the AT so I could tell him about it.   When we started running again, all of a sudden he found his legs and his attitude changed and he was flying through the woods ahead of me!    I let him go at his own pace and my heart filled with joy as I ran behind him.

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He was running pretty fast so this was not an easy picture to take!  

It was a sticky hot and humid day, and Eli stopped about a mile and a half later for a water break.  I caught up to him and noticed tears in his eyes.  When I asked him what was wrong he explained that he was realizing as he ran that he hasn’t been pushing himself enough the past two years.  He wants to work harder in wrestling and in life.  It’s true that many things often come easy for him and he has not been pushing himself to reach his full potential.  Not to say he hasn’t had successes, because he has, but they have not always been the result of blood, sweat, and tears if you know what I mean.  For whatever reason, running on the trail that day, he had an epiphany.  He was starting to enjoy and appreciate the trails and our run together in that moment.

When we got closer to Sunset Rocks, I told him we’d have to climb over some of the boulders and we wouldn’t be able to run the trail at that point.  Just like life, sometimes you can run full steam, other times you plod along, and still other times there are huge barriers in your way, but you climb over them and don’t let them stop you.   Without missing a beat, Eli says, “No Mom.  You bust right through them and show them who’s boss.”  Good point, son!  Good point.

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Eli on Sunset Rocks Trail.
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Me on Sunset Rocks Trail.
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We sat for a good 10-15 minutes soaking up the view and talking about life.  It truly does not get any better than this.  

I can’t wait for Eli to join me on more trail adventures this summer.  He says he’ll run with me at least once a week.

Miles to go for you, son.  Miles to go. . .

 

 

Week #20 and New Hydration Gear!


I think I can honestly say I’ve run through any kind of weather you can imagine, short of  a hurricane, during this training!  Blizzards, pouring rain, sunny cold days, sunny hot days, freezing rain, knee-high snow drifts, mud, puddles up to my knees…you name it, I’ve run it.  There were training runs in single digits with 40 mph winds, and 95 degree temps with high humidity.  I feel ready to run 50 in whatever nature throws my way on June 3rd.  Until then, I’m logging my taper miles, eating healthy foods, and trying to catch up on sleep and core/strength workouts.

Here’s how this week went down:

Monday:  rest

Tuesday:  10 trail miles (I was going to do my 8 on this day because Wednesday was supposed to be even hotter, but I only got in 6 on my normal trails in the time I had.  I decided to run some more while my son was at Power Train since I didn’t need to do any grocery shopping, so I went to an Appalachian Trail parking lot and had a fun evening run!)

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I ran a new to me, NOBO AT section of 2 miles out and back.  Saw 8 deer and almost as many bunnies.  Also saw a thru-hiker who had pitched a tent to rest on the edge of the trail.  

Wednesday:  3 evening road miles  (I was busy making cupcakes for a luncheon at school, so I decided not to drive to the trails for a short run.  Took the pup and he was pretty tired by the end. )  It was over 95 degrees!

 

 

Thursday:  5 trail miles, 90 degrees

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My new crew socks that I got for Mother’s Day.  They keep trail debris from getting in between my socks and feet and have been great so far!  

Friday:  rest

Saturday:  10 trail miles (Started early Saturday morning so that I could by home by 9:30 to make breakfast for the boys.  It was a nice run and felt good to feel strong for a 10 miler.  Most of my 10 – 12 milers this training cycle have been the day after a 20 + mile run when my legs are tired!)

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No pic of the trails, but here is my breakfast after the run.  It was so good that I’m still thinking about it!  3 scrambled eggs with some mozzarella, avocado, sauteed onions, chipotle salsa, and sriracha…all on a whole wheat pita.  Definitely making this again!

Sunday:  8 trail miles (Seems SO weird to be running without tired legs all this week.  Although….I did not get into a good groove until mile 7.  Hahahaha…..good thing this is a long race!

New Gear:  UltrAspire Collapsible Soft Flask with Tube

I always fill my hydration bladder with plain water and keep a bottle in my vest pocket for Nuun.  The problem is, I was using a handheld 12 oz Nathan bottle and it was leaking down my leg and all over the vest pocket during my runs (for at least the first few miles). Also, Nuun tablets are for 16 oz of water and I was drinking some pretty strong Nuun since it didn’t hold that much!   I didn’t mind the flavor too much, but the leaking was getting annoying so I ordered this soft flask and it’s working well so far.

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I’ve used it 3 times already and will definitely be using it during the Cayuga Trail 50. The soft flask is easy to fill, does not make a sloshing sound when I’m running, fits perfectly in my vest pocket, and most importantly does not leak!  I love that I don’t have to take it out to drink and that it holds exactly 16 ounces.  Also, you can trim the bottom of the straw to whatever length to fit your needs.  I trimmed off about 3/4″ and it was the perfect height to be able to secure it into the yellow loop you can see in the picture near the top of the straw.  The straw is out in the picture because I was done running and had a drink, but it stayed secure in that loop while I was running. I’ll only have to take it out of the loop when I’m refilling it at aide stations.  I also like the soft flask better than my hard bottle I was using for the fact that the more I drink the smaller it gets, which means less weight/ bulk to carry around on the trails.

You can check it out here:

Ultraspire Collapsible Soft Flask with Tube

What new gear are you loving right now?

Any races coming up soon?