Oh, the Places We Go!

“Who is the wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” Hosea 14:9

7 weeks until the Berryman 50

This week was a heavy week of training – for me anyway.  I have two weeks of 50+ miles and one week of mid-30 miles.  I run 5 days a week: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.  To date this pattern has worked out better than last year.

I found myself exhausted last year in training for a 50k. I would mountain bike on some Wednesdays in place of running.

This year I’ve been feeling great. Each year I feel stronger and more attuned to my body.

On Saturdays, I’m hosting training runs below the dam on the community trail in preparation for the April 26th Screaming Eagle Ultra.  What better way to bring local runners together and practice the course!  I arrived shortly after 6:00 am. loaded my pockets with my gear, slipped on my headlamp and off I ran.

It was a huge mental boost to be on a different course than all my usual runs. No traffic to be weary of.  No dogs.  It gets better—

On my second lap I pass Kyla (going the opposite direction).  Another runner had arrived to train.  I re-filled my Simple Hydration bottle, dropped my iPod and headed in her direction.

She had a good pace.  We ran and talked two laps before she needed to leave for family commitments.  My Garmin showed 13 miles complete – I had 11 more go.  I plugged the iPod buds in my ears to make the remaining laps bearable.

Mile 17 is always a rough bump.  It improves then the lactic acid burns in the muscles at 20 miles. I want a big gooey pizza at mile 22.  Husband calls at 23 miles to ask how much longer am I going to be gone.  I cut through a service road and did a mini lap to finish 24.6 miles.

I tried Hammer electrolyte tablets because I was getting a headache.  After returning home I ate a big (late) breakfast. I wore compression thigh-high stockings the rest of the day.  And I have to say I feel very good — even without a post run nap. Here’s to another 10 miles tomorrow.

[My run fuel: a banana, homemade trail mix (chopped peanuts, chocolate chips, raisins, dried pineapple), and Clif Shot electrolyte. Post run: one banana, 3 scrambled eggs, toast, and large glass of skim milk.]

Hoka One One Kailua Trail Review

SAM_0825Finally a scaled down, trimmer model of the Hokas has appeared. I don’t know about you ~but~ on a rocky and rooty course I balk at raising my foot an extra 1/8″ higher to gain the clearance with the thick soled Stinson model. A sigh of relief. Roll out the Kailua model. [Rapa Nui mens counterpart]

Sizing: I normally wear a womens 11 but when I got the womens 11 in the Kailua it was too big. (Not “Oh good in case my feet swell there’s room”) Reorder. Take two: Now wearing a 10.5 they feel nice. Just enough spacing that my toes won’t have an intimate relationship with the toe box.

Pros: Love the loop at the heel for ease of pulling on/off or carrying. And I love the light weight of the shoes. The lime/white/silver/black colors are another plus. Soooo tired of womens shoes styled in pink or purple. Gag.

SAM_0826Insert: The only disappointment a thin generic shoe insert. No arch. No real foam. I replaced with another brand because I don’t wear orthodics. Photo shows original orange insert.

Tread: Kudos to Hoka for stepping up on the depth of tread. Kailua Trail’s knobby rubber tread will hold you steady and grip the ground. I can’t say the Tarmac version would do the same. The road shoes have a smoother tread suitable only for asphalt/concrete and not for winter precip.

Cushioning: Say good-bye to the super, soft marshmallow pillows of the Mafate, Stinson, and Bondi versions. These are made as racers. I can’t feel that uniquely engineered midsole geometry that allows the foot to sink deeply into the shoe’s midsole. Even with less cushion these are great shoes. I would stick with the Mafate, Stinson, Bondi, or the new Conquest for high mileage training.

Cons: One thing I’ve noticed, however slight, is my heel slipping. Not enough to cause a hotspot or blister. I’ve considering looping my laces closer to the ankle but I don’t have enough spare lace for that.

SAM_0827Outer material: This model has durable outer materials. Starting with a soft suede on the tongue and layers of fine mesh added to the stitching material. You can see daylight through the sides but not overly so making it unwearable in winter months. (I’ve had shoes boosting their drain-ability to find out they froze my feet in the colder months.) I haven’t tested the drain-ability yet.

Overall: This company produces a high quality shoe that is undeniable. The Hoka design and feel won’t work for everyone but is geared for the high mileage runner.

Yeti Set Run 20k – 2014

I am the living bread that came down down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”  John 6:51

Leading up to the race, training conditions were A-Okay.  The only blip on the radar was a snotty nose for a day, which turned out to be from handling & burning old feed sacks.  Dust is not my friend.  After a neti pot rinse all went back to normal.

Race morning woke at 6:15 grabbed a shower and slipped on my racing duds.  Breakfast was a toasted peanut butter & honey sandwich, grape juice, milk, and Skratch fluids to drink en route.  Temperatures started at a dry 38* with some breezy conditions (but had been much gustier on other days).  The sun rose higher and temperatures climbed to 45* by the end of my race.

There was no waiting at the registration desk because this was a small town event.  Thirty people ran the 5k and eighteen ran the 20k in 2014.  The race director, Raymond Varner, had e-mailed us via Active.com to explain some of the trail was being  worked on so we have a shorter available course and would cause our laps to double.  One lap = 1.5775 miles.  Not a major problem.

campgalileeWe lined up behind the inflatable arch and he gave us course marker instructions, a prayer for our safety, and the horn blew.  The course initially started on asphalt but changed to many different conditions – steep hills, a flowing creek crossing, wide rutty path, and a very rocky lakefront.  This race trail had more climbing than previously but it was a fun challenge.

Each lap we were met with young girls (10-12 years old) manning the aid station (they were on the ball and had each type of drink in their hands), which was only stocked with Powerade or water.  A bit disappointing that gels weren’t available to keep the energy levels high.

Fatigue set in around lap 5 but I kept a pretty even pace.  After lap 2, I stopped running the steep hills and power walked to conserve energy.  Many nice and enthusiastic runners lined the course.  Love their spirit!

SAM_0688On lap #6 of 8 a lady runner lapped me. Wow! She looked powerful and energized.  Over 12.62 miles I was lapped by 1 male and 1 female–not bad.

I’ve maintained a good fitness base so I was a little late to draft up an official training plan but here’s mine:

Week. Day – Miles = Rest days Sun & Thu

  1. Fri-6mi, Sat-10mi (partial week)
  2. Mon-2.5, Tue-4, Wed-3, Fri-10k race, Sat-10 (speed int Mon & Wed)
  3. Mon-3, Tue-3, Wed-5, Fri-6, Sat-14 (speed Mon, Wed, Fri)
  4. Mon-2, Tue-4, Wed-2, Fri-10k race, Sat-12 (speed Mon & Wed)
  5. Mon-3.5, Tue-3, Wed-5, Fri-6, Sat-10 (speed Mon, Tue, & Fri)
  6. RACE WEEK: Mon-2, Tue-3, Wed-1, Sat 20K race Jan 18th

My training does include hill training because the course is technical & hilly.  This overlaps my 50 mile training that begins three days after my race.

What is the Draw to Ultra Distances?

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. . .But God demonstrated his own love for us in this:  while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6,8

The majority of people entering a race do not have the goal of winning but rather it’s a personal challenge (setting a Personal Record PR).  So why does a person enter a race that lasts for hours and hours and hours?

1.  They’ve progressed up the distance ladder and need another distance to conquer.

2.  Maybe they’ve been encouraged (read: dare) by a friend, family, or a local running group.

3.  Or they’ve read some books and articles on the subject and want to experience it for themselves.

4.  It could be a bucket list goal to finish an ultra – before they don’t have the energy to finish later in life.

5.  Curiosity.

They are all valid reasons for stepping into the small but growing sport.  Dean Karnazes had my curiosity peaked in his first book, Ultra Marathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner.  I could barely wrap my mind around the fact that people raced for 100 miles.  A hundred miles?!?  That was my beginning.

I started looking for long races in my local area.  Eyeing the options.  I wanted something easy for a first-timer.  I chose a 50k on a rails-to-trails converted railroad.  This would be fairly flat without much asphalt.  Fairly flat courses may cause problems (and boredom) for some people.  Because there is little variant to the elevation you use the same muscles in the same motion over the entire distance.

Over the years, I have gravitated from road events to trail.  Is it me or does road races feel über competitive?  After trying races on technical single tracks I can’t think of a good reason to go back to the flat lifeless courses.

Every year ultra distance gains a few more races.  For each hundred mile race there has to be a huge amount of volunteer support to cover each aid station for the duration of the race – through all the same elements the runners endure.  We will forever be thankful for the race volunteers that put up with our crazy sport.

One thing about training and racing ultra distances you WILL learn plenty about yourself.  The toughness it requires to get outside to run for months and months, especially in the extreme cold, high humidity, stiff winds, or precipitation will build your mental state.  Just as those miles will build your cardiovascular and muscular system.

Connect to nature! ♥ ♥ ♥

Does exercising early boosts immunity?

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. ” Isaiah 55:12

Background: When I picked up running again after the birth of my daughter I would run when time would permit.  My husband left for work WAY too early in the morning (between 4 and 5 am) to get my workout before.  I was offered more time to run after he got home in the evening.  But I noticed I was sidelined often with a cold or other illnesses – year after year.

Suddenly my husband was downsized after 21 years with the same company.  BOOM! I was able to run whenever I pleased! I liked running mid-day because I was not - I’ll repeat, not – a morning person.  I was still battling illnesses on a much too regular basis.  Light bulb moment.  During my Army service I was rarely sick, except in basic training when I was getting very little sleep.

So how could I recreate this situation?  I could start exercising (running or biking) first thing in the morning.  Boy, this was tough!  Like experiencing jet lag each morning.  After three weeks of sticking with the early morning runs at 0′ dark thirty, I was finally feeling the routine.

Guess what?  I haven’t caught as many bugs.  Sure there are other factors to consider like a better diet, more sleep, and conscience hand washing.

But consider this: by going out to sweat, eliminating waste products and rehydrating our systems we are cleansing out what may have sitting in our system for many more idle hours.  By elevating our heart rates, aren’t we raising our immunity at the same time?

Spending time outside may offer immunity-boosting benefits. According to recent research, plant release phytoncides, essential oils that have antimicrobial compounds. When they are inhaled, these chemicals increase you white blood cell levels. [1]

In the colder seasons it is healthy to sweat on a regular basis. Whether you dip into a hot tub, sit in a sauna, pose through a hot yoga session, or engage in other heart pumping exercises it’s beneficial. › Remember to replenish with plenty of liquids.

* Note: There are mice test studies that show exercising too much can suppress the immune system.  So if your going to workout hard make sure you eat well and  get plenty of rest to repair and recover your system. UPDATE: Now research shows that beta-glucan, a carbohydrate in baker’s yeast, can help negate the effect of a suppressed immunity. In a runners study, those who took the supplement reduced their cold symptoms by 37%. [2]

[1] Aaron Michelfelder, M.D., “Take  Hike,” Fitness magazine; February 2014, pg 34. Meredith National Media Group.

[2] “Post-Workout Immunity Booster,” Outside magazine; December 2013, pg 66.

Reflection

The Lord is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of of my life–whom shall I be afraid?” Psalms 27:1-2

As we bid au revoir to 2013, it’s time to reflect on the accomplishments, misses, and the goals can we set for 2014.

Reflection is a healthy way of appreciating how far you’ve come.  Looking back, I chuckle when I thought 9 miles was a long run. —How silly of me!  Or the winter I spent recovering from ITBS.  What did I learn? Plenty!  My words of wisdom:

  1. Run your own race.
  2. Run with your legs, heart, and mind.
  3. Race in the moment, be in the moment, soak up every moment.

With each passing year I learn what my body will allow.  It’s like having to build the base of a triangle before I can take in the view from the peak.  There must be hundreds of training miles (base) before the marathon (the peak).  That race — Oh that feeling, the excitement, the nervousness, and finally the gun goes off!  You’re cruising on knowledge from you hard earned training.  You’re sharing the course and the moment with fellow runners.  Once you cross the finish line don’t forget to bask in the glory.

I wish I had run more races in 2013. — But the ones I ran I can sum up in one word – F U N, excluding Flatrock.  Smashing my 50k PR by 30 minutes, running my 1st technical 26.2, and lastly pacing a female 100 miler for 18 miles of her much longer journey.  Here’s to an entire fresh year of training ahead.

Welcome 2014!

« Set Your Goals »

Ready to Upgrade in 2014?

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9

What comes standard on the human body?  Most people are blessed with body capable of many things.  Now let’s think about upgrading.  When we engage in regular exercise we are upgrading our heart muscles, lung capacity, range of motion, and muscle tone.

We all ‘ooo and ahh’ over the features in the new cars: moon roof, built-in computer, assisted park steering, heated leather seats, etc.  But with those options there is a higher price tag — those features aren’t free.  Neither is fitness!

We don’t necessarily pay for added features to our body but we must invest time to acquire those premium features.  The strong legs, more stamina, and a curvy core come with commitment to exercise.

Sure ~ after I had my daughter I had jiggly body parts.  But after years of training my body has upgraded to a better model, so to speak.  It was my decision to better my health so I would have a better quality of life.  After all God gave us many talents, let’s discover our abilities!

Improve you!

Putting the Thrift into Next to New Gear

Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened feeble hands. Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees.” Job 4:3-4

The dry, cold air is tough on skin.  Add to it  hot showers after workouts.

  • My thrifty hint is →  Vitamin E Oil!

It retails for approx. $2.00 for 4 fl. oz. at most dollar stores or discount stores.  Lotions don’t seal and protect skin from the cold and the creamier the lotion the higher the cost $$$.  I shutter at the facial night cream prices!  I love Vitamin E Oil for my face.  No flaky skin!

Onto Gear Talk  » »

With each passing season there’s usually a need to update your clothing or gear. Whichever sport you participate in the active clothing is getting lighter, thinner, wind resistant, water proof, and etc.  But who can afford the money on a brand new Salomon jacket?  I’ve found looking for second hand gear works pretty well, if you have a small budget.  The key is quality & condition.  First, is the item a good investment – have you read the reviews?  Is it going to work for the long haul?  How much use has the item had – don’t be afraid to ask the seller?  I don’t mind light stains but holes mean they haven’t taken care of the gear/clothing – or it was defective to begin with!

You would be surprised on how many things people sell in used condition headlamps, camping stoves, tents, every style of jacket, tights, base layers, shoes, boots, and I could go on.

Mountain Hard Wear JacketRATED: thumbsupI recently purchased a  women’s Mountain Hard Wear WindStopper Softshell jacket second hand (eBay).  It has some of the best features: pit zippers, thumb holes/wrist warmer, hood, adjustable bottom cords, laminated sealed seams, 2 big hand zippered pockets, 1 outside upper pocket, and 1 inside media pocket, and has plenty of length for my longer torso – all for $15.00 + shipping.  The morning temps have been 6-15 degrees and this is a great jacket!  Even with the bitter cold I wear one shirt under the jacket and have no problems staying warm on a run.

Cloudveil softshellRATED: C+ I purchased a women’s Cloudveil Softshell [unknown style] jacket (also on eBay).  It’s features: hood, 2 hand zippered pockets, 1 arm pocket, adjustable bottom cords, Velcro wrist flaps – all for $19.50 + shipping.  This would of rated higher IF it was longer.  It’s overall length is 3 1/2″ shorter than the Mountain Hard Wear jacket.  That’s a big difference when you need the coverage to stay warm.  The arms are equal in length to MHW jacket.  Cons: too short

Embrace the Seasons!

Joy in Crosstraining

All hard work brings profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”  Proverbs 14:23

I enjoy many different outdoor activities.  A person’s soul can relax with the sounds of nature — birds calling out in warning, the breeze rustling through the trees, the sun’s warming rays, and the sound of frogs chirping at a nearby pond.

Mountain Biking

During the hottest part of summer I use mountain biking as the major source of exercise. Because the speed of the bike equates to a cooling effect not paralleled by running.  As I wiz down the road or trail on a bike the rushing air keeps me much cooler.  Ahh, feel the breeze!

Mountain biking allows me to cover more ground.  I cover 30% to 70% more miles on a bike than I would running.  This affords me a new road or two to explore.  New sites to see.  I’m not a technical rider and don’t like rough & rocky courses but I like the quiet back country roads.

Kayaking

Another hot weather activity that’s great for the abs is kayaking.  The twisting motion of the paddling is great for the core muscles.  If you get hot you can park the kayak on the shore and swim out for a break.  Some local areas have kayak groups that gather to paddle different rivers, lakes, and such.  You can Google what kayaking activities are nearby.  Some races (for canoe or kayak) are held in ultra long distances.  Bam!

Snowshoe or Cross Country Skiing

This is an excellent activity for playing in the snow.  It reduces the impact on your joints and gets you out into the fresh air and serene winterscape.  Just be sure to layer the clothing.  After 15 minutes of plowing through the snow can get your blood pumping.  Indulge in the wintertime outings instead of loathing the miles covered on indoor fitness equipment or an indoor track.  Embrace the seasons!

Others

I’ve used exercise dvd’s and kettleballs to cross train more muscle groups than running uses.  I love having a strong core – it helps posture and fights fatigue form while running.  Whatever exercise works for your body, schedule, and budget is great!

 We all live – exercise helps you live well!

Why I Run

Each person has their own reason for staying dedicated to a sport.  For me it’s:

being immersed in nature–witnessing a lightening storm in the distance, seeing the first light rise up into a vivid orange sunrise, feeling the change of each new season, or a bird ushering an early spring morning in song.

feeling amazingly well and full of stamina. I love having the energy to be physical all day long.  =Power!

having great self-esteem. Nothing builds & boosts confidence like racing far distances. “If I can run XX miles, then I definitely can do this.

feeling close to God and his amazing creation. He inspires me to be a kinder, loving person and an earth’s steward.

where I have to earn all my success–nothing is a given. I must scratch, kick, and claw my way through months of training for one pinnacle race.

gives me ways to put things in perspective and mentally organize my day. Some of the best ideas are spawn during a run.

and it’s how I make my day richer. Seize the day!