Sunday, February 28, 2016

Back on the Trails

So there is no doubt, I am a city girl. I live in the heart of the city where I hear cars and sirens day in and day out. I can walk to a large variety of restaurants and bakeries, and do fairly regularly. I also am a girly girl! I have more high heels than is even appropriate to talk about and I don't particularly like to do handy things or get my hands dirty. HOWEVER, my True True Happy Place is on the trails!

Since I have been road training since December, I have slowly but surely began to miss the trails a little bit more every week. So, now that I am on the tail end of my training and Mother Nature has been oh so kind in her weather, I am back on them once a week as my day after long run recovery run. And Waylon is pretty darn happy about it too!
Waylon loves to be out running the trails. I have trained him from the time he was a pup to stay within a certain distance and to have good running etiquette. He has running specific commands that he follows with very little prompting. (And just to be safe he also runs with an electronic collar and I keep his leash handy). Today we hit up a local park that has a nice 6 mile loop that is part of a yearly 25k/50k/50mi (Hell Hath No Hurry). I grabbed a couple of friends and we headed out. And let me tell you, it was MUDDY! And it's not a big secret among my trail running friends, even as an avid trail runner, I. Don't. Like. Mud. I am pretty sure the word "princess" has been used a few times. But today, every inch was nothing but mud. So once I got a few good "ewwwwww"'s out of my system we slogged along and had a blast. 
We briefly stopped at a cute little waterfall where Bruce introduced Waylon to a fun new treat, icicles. He didn't know what to think of them! But he enjoyed chomping on them and splashing around in the water. 

We did a total of 6 miles, which is about where Waylon is right now. I am hoping before our big trail running trip this summer that I can work him up to 10-15. If today is any indication, as long as I bring treats and he has water, then we will be good to go! I am glad to be back in my Happy Place, getting some good time with nature with great friends and my 4 legged bestie. 
Happy Running! 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Running in a group vs running solo

It seems like this is an age old conundrum, is it better to run in a group or to run by yourself. Most people I have encountered over the years are firmly in one camp or another. There are those who say they only run by themselves. It is their time alone, time away from responsibility and having to to worry about others. There are people who only run in a group. It is their social time, their time to  connect with people who are not their children or spouse. Me? I am firmly in both camps, a true hybrid.
I belong to a fantastic running club (SCRR) here in Pittsburgh, and enjoy memberships in Fleet Feet's and Elite's as well. I love my club, and I love the atmosphere of showing up to a run and seeing hundreds of eager faces talking about what they ate that day, did they use the bathroom yet, what their pace plan is, etc etc. I enjoy saying hi to the runners that I never run with but know because we see each other once a week and interact on social media. During these runs I am very much a chatter! I can hold steady conversation for any amount of miles with anyone I run with. I LOVE TO TALK! And from within that group I now have a little posse of runners that I always run with. We have ran together for years and know each other well.
HOWEVER, I also enjoy running by myself sometimes. Sometimes I need quiet and to just do my own thing. A time where I am focused only on myself. During these runs I can honestly say there are often no thoughts in my head, I just let everything go.
This morning I showed up to my group run. I had 18 miles to do per my plan and after a few days off do to a muscle strain I was unsure of how it was going to go. I knew I was going to do a few early with a member of my posse and then join my 8:30 pace group for the 15 mile map option. As usual I went in and said hello to everyone and waded through the hundreds of runners waiting for the run to start. I started to get that feeling, that feeling that the crowd was too much. As the run started and my pace group took off, I quickly realized that today was going to be a run that I was going to need quiet. I was emotionally and mentally exhausted from the week and I couldn't handle the chatter that I usually love so much. So I sped up and went ahead of the group, just running my own run and my own pace. I am fortunate my crew knows me well and knows when I go ahead that usually means I need alone time and they let me go. So I did my 18 miles enjoying a quiet solitude. No music, no chatter, just me and the city. I have to say that I am glad that I did. It helped me get re-centered and back into a better positive place.
So when it comes to the argument of is it better to run in a group or by yourself, I don't think there is a clear answer. I think it should be an ever evolving thing. So if you only run by yourself, try a group run sometime. You might be surprised at how nice it is to have chatter to help the miles fly by. If you only run in groups, try a solo run sometime. You might be surprised on how clear your head gets during that time. Or maybe you are a hybrid like me. Either way I hope you all got in a good run this weekend! If not, well now is as good as time as any!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Rolling with the punches

Today I had a Tempo run planned, I was pretty excited for it! Then life happened. Like, really sucked happened. Ended up at the Dr's and Dr said.... "No running for the next two days". It's that moment when you feel your little runners heart drop to the floor and your brain go "nononononononono". But if I have learned anything in my years of running, it's that when the body says rest, you REST. Now I know there are Dr's who tell every runner to stop, I am fortunate that mine is not that way. He knows me and knows I am an avid runner and that I tend to just run anyways, however today I agreed to heed his advice.

So I didn't get in my tempo run. I grabbed a bottle of wine instead and headed to a good friends house where we ordered Chinese food and just caught up on life. I loved every moment of our impromptu girls night in. BUT of course there is a small part of me that wishes I had run. Especially as I sit and stare at my training calendar knowing I can't mark off this run, and knowing that my week will  my 9 miles short of what I had planned. There was even a little part of me that thought "I will just get up at 5 am and do it before work". I mean, I run in the mornings often, no biggie. But I really had to stop myself. That 9 miles, that 1 tempo run, is not going to kill my marathon time. It  is not going to undo 10 weeks of training.

So today I had to practice the hardest skill of all in our wonderful sport of running, Stopping to REST. I would rather take a couple days now, then push through and be out for weeks or even months. So today I rest, tomorrow I swim and hopefully, fingers double, triple crossed, I will see you all on Saturday for a nice long run through the city!
Happy running and please get in an extra mile for me :-)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The First Post

So here I am with this brand new blog, thinking what do I write to random strangers on the internet about? Well, that is pretty easy... the thing that takes up a decent portion of my life outside of work, Running. In 4 1/2 weeks I am taking on the Charlottesville Marathon, hoping for a sub 3:30 PR on a hilly course. I have been training my butt off with the help of my coach and training partners, and I am 11 weeks into a 15 week training cycle. I am currently on week 1 of a 3 week build and I am definitely looking forward to the runs coming up. And as I am doing intervals, and hill repeats, and pace runs, and all that road training goodness, I am also planning my summer EPIC ADVENTURE!
So I am training for my second year of running the Twisted Branch 100k in August. I did it last year, and loved it and came in well under the time cut off. But I also definitely have some work to do to be better than I was. I need more hills and more technical trails. It also just so happens that one of my good friends just moved to Washington, right near the Canadian border, which has all of the awesome trails. So, when she suggested I pack up Waylon, my labrador and faithful sidekick, and come out for some trail running this summer, of course I said "Hell yes!". Well as I don't think Waylon would be a great flier (he gets a little anxious), I have decided to go ahead and make it a cross country road trip.  While I am at it I am going to hit some trails I have heard about but never been on, go to some states I have never been to, and see some friends out West. So I sit here planning my route so that I can spend more time in the trails running and hiking than I do driving. The route and map have changed a few times already as people tell me about systems "You just have to hit", however 40 days is only 40 days... I can't go everywhere!
All in all I have a lot of really cool stuff coming up. So stay tuned, because it's going to be quite a ride!