October 14, 2012

Fall

Over the past ten days, many leaves have fallen, and I've had a couple stellar runs.....I think that my reward for dealing with the trials and tribulations of summer running (heat, humidity, sweat, bugs, yuckkkkk) is that fall running has been easy-peasy :)

Last week, I did a fun 11 mile trail run all around Mansfield's parks and preserves---wow, there were a couple tough climbs plus and epic run through a soggy field.  And yesterday I ran 13 on the (nice and flat) Hop River trail.  The air was brisk, and my legs just wanted to go, go, go.  In fact, I had to hold them back.

I'm bracing myself for the darkness of winter but am hoping that I can do some runs on UConn's well lit campus.  Till then, it's fall, and I'll continue feasting on pumpkin treats :P

September 13, 2012

To the Farm


Wow!  The Winni relay exceeding all of my expectations-  I had a blast getting a chance to bond with fellow Mansfield runners and was impressed with the scenery of New Hampshire. Oh, and the run kicked my tail ;)  Many thanks to Warren for sharing this unique race with us and to Rachel for organizing so many logistics.

I ran leg #5--10.6 miles from a ski area to Morgan Farm.  I waited with team members at the ski area for Alicia to arrive.  Around 1:30, I lined up very seriously in the exchange zone and was stoked to see Alicia finishing strong. I grabbed the baton and took off, but then my visor flew off!!  So I actually had to turn around and grab my visor. Geez, I'm a klutz!  That inspired me to take off a bit quickly.  After a few minutes, I passed a dude wearing a purple singlet.  It was hot and the sun was glaring down on me.  The course was on the side of a somewhat busy road. I was sweating a lot and had to deal with the extremely slick baton.  I felt like I was running pretty strong and powered up a couple short hills.  My first two miles were under 9 minute pace.



It was getting hotter, and I drank water at every opportunity. At a couple spots, folks were stopped on the side of the road, handing out water, and their cheering really helped out.  I could see a couple runners ahead of me, and I was glad that I wasn't lost ;)  By mile 4, I could tell that I was expending a lot of energy. The course was scenic- going by farms with traditional New England stone walls.

At mile 5, I took a gel.  I was a mess during this race!  I was running in a sports bra and shorts and was still boiling. I guess that's what happens when you race in the middle of the afternoon!  I started dumping water on my head to cool myself down. I did NOT want to overheat. I pretended that I was doing an Ironman- where they end up running a marathon in hot, brutal conditions. There were some extended downhills, and I knew they'd shred my quads but I also wanted to make up some time. I tried to let myself float down those hills. 

At mile 7, I had to bribe myself to get to mile 8. I checked my garmin a ton, hoping that the miles would click along.  Fortunately, there were a few shaded sections of the course and some clouds rolled in.  I passed a couple people and crossed my fingers that I could stay ahead of them. I sang a few Lady Gaga songs in my head. I reminded myself that my comrades from Connecticut were waiting for me and that really, really motivated me to keep running. It made a huuuuge difference to be running as part of a team.

By mile 9, I knew that I'd make it to the finish. I wanted to finish strong.  My leg ended with a downhill, and I forced my jello legs to move to the exchange zone. I was elated to hand off to Stacey.  I couldn't believe that I survived this race.  Apparently, Lake Winnipesaukee means the"smile of the Great Spirit."  I think someone was smiling that we had the moxy, the fierceness, and the sense of humor to run all the way around this fine lake.

September 9, 2012

Lake Winni Relay

I had an awesome time running with the Mansfield Trail Runners' relay team at Lake Winni.

My leg required mettle:

I will put together a proper race report soon on this hardcore New England race and my fantastic relay team!!

August 2, 2012

Bolton XC Race

After a month of Connecticut running--with many hills, some mud, and a few falls--I was beginning to feel the urge to race.  Fortunately, Rachel informed me of a fantastic cross country race series a few towns away.  The Bolton summer series involves a challenging 2.2 mile cross country course--on grass and trails in the woods. 

The race consisted of 2 loops, and I wanted to make sure I had energy for the second loop. So, at the start, I ran fast but didn't let myself sprint.  First, we went downhill on grass. Then there was an oh-shit uphill, and I passed one woman on that section. Then there was a gradual uphill and a flat portion where I picked my pace back up.  The second loop began with the fun downhill and not so fun uphill. But then we descended into the woods. I was leaping over roots and rocks and even crossed a platform bridge. I was working to stay close to another woman. After turning around a lovely tree, we had to work our way back up & out of the woods. And then there was another gradual uphill on the grass- where I attempted to close the gap between me & the next group of runners (Alas! I didn't catch them). Once the grassy path became flat, I willed myself to sprint, and a fellow Mansfield Trail Runner cheered for me :> Apparently, I ran the final 0.2 miles at 7:20 pace!! After crossing the finish line, I got that pukey feeling, and that means that I was redlining and pushing myself.

I'm glad that I took the leap and that this Bolton race was my first Connecticut race. The barn was precious and the scenery was so green and expansive. I loved that there were runners of all ages--from speedy teenage boys to older women (rock on!). I also loved that there was plenty of hanging out before & after the race.  The running community continues to impress me with their kindness; I seriously feel welcomed. I hope to pay that forward.


July 8, 2012

Hitting the trails

After arriving in the Quiet Corner of Connecticut last week, I decided to join a couple running groups to acquaint myself with local trails.  I went for a couple mellow weekday runs with a Meetup group and really enjoyed the feeling of running through the woods.

My fellow runners were welcoming, and it was great to stick together while cruising along the trails. Some parts of the trail were rocky, but others were soft, pine needle laden routes.  I managed to avoid most bugs (after dousing myself with a DEET-containing repellant!).

Today I joined the Shenipset group for a longer run on the Nipmuck Trail.  The group took off at a pretty fast pace. Again, I loved the trail- with lots of rocks and roots and even a couple stream crossings.


But I just felt icky and couldn't get my heartrate down. So I stopped after 2 miles and a very kind group member ran back to the start with me.  We talked about running routes in the area, and he was encouraging (yay for the uber-kind running community!!).  With less than a mile to go,  I fell--it felt like a long time before I hit the ground.  Fortunately, I just scraped up my thighs, and I didn't even draw blood :)  Of course, I was quite embarrassed because a) I was fried and couldn't do the full length of the group run; and b) I face planted right in front of my new buddy. Aaarghhhhhh.  Anyways, I survived.  I suppose it's all part of acclimating to a new place--with new trails, new people, new weather, new bugs. So many new things.

June 21, 2012

Running in the Bay Area

I remember training for my first marathon (the 2001 Chicago Marathon) with Carolyn. I remember finishing the Skyline 50k ultra and being proud of covering so much terrain. I remember training very hard for the New York City marathon in 2009. I remember tough tempo runs around Lake Merritt and hardcore track workouts in the January rain. There have been lots and lots of races. I have amassed a solid collection of medals and ribbons from races in SF, Oakland, and even Santa Rosa! And most of my PRs were set around the Bay Area. I remember fun runs with old and new friends in San Francisco and on the East Bay trails. I've also done plenty of running by myself- on good days and bad days- to dig deep, to figure stuff  out, to reflect, to celebrate, and to move on.

The glories of being a runner in the Bay Area include:
-awesome routes just out our front door with challenging hills
-foggy runs over the Golden Gate Bridge
-flat runs in Alameda, Walnut Creek
-DSE races all over SF- for $5- and the lure of delectable chocolate chip cookies
-long runs in Golden Gate Park- with car free roads on Sunday
-hot, sunny runs in the South Bay
-trail running galore in Tilden, Chabot, Redwood Parks, Mt. Tam
-the San Francisco marathon
-the Kaiser half marathon
-Nike women's
-yummy restaurants for post-run refueling
-running in shorts in January and February :)

June 10, 2012

Iron Horse Trail

I decided to go out to Walnut Creek for today's long run. I ran 8.7 miles on the Iron Horse Trail, and it was nice and toasty out today!  I thought it would be good to begin acclimating myself to running in warmer weather :O  My legs felt quite good, and they seemed to 'want' to run at 9 minute pace.

I said goodbye to the dry heat, brown hills, and adorable horses.  I recalled a couple great workouts on the trail, as well as a few tough days out there.  And I'm determined to find greenways and rails-to-trails out east.....

June 4, 2012

Canyon Meadow Trail Race

For several reasons, I wanted to run another race in the Bay Area in 2012.  This year marks my 20th runniversary.....I ran middle school track in 1992 and, today, totally identify as a runner!! Since May's Coastal race went so well, I signed up for one of their half marathon trail races which was conveniently located in Oakland's Redwood Park.

A few days before the race, I had a pretty bad cold. I sent some pathetic text/google messages to my running buddies who encouraged me to try my best.  I was pretty determined to just run it---even if my nasal passages felt disgusting :(

On race morning, it was kinda gray and cool (oh, Bay Area summer) but I wore shorts and a tank top.  This was a good choice because, at points during the race, it was sunny and warm (and I always get hot while running/racing). The start of the race was tough with a cruel uphill.



I was running and hiking and attempting to keep my heart rate down. I struggled at points and, during the third mile, I was questioning why I was running the 1/2 distance. I bribed myself to just get to the first aid station at mile 5. I managed to keep going and treated myself to m & ms and pretzels at the aid station (hooray for the junk food at trail races!!).

Around mile 6 or 7, my legs started to feel much, much better. I found my groove and told myself that, yes, I could run a strong 1/2. There were some fun downhill sections, and I felt strong yet relaxed.  I definitely wasn't pushing myself all-out. I let myself soak up the scenery, including the tall redwood trees. I started running back and forth with a couple other women. On other sections of the trail, it was very quiet, and I felt like I was totally alone in the woods. In fact, at a couple points, I double checked to make sure I wasn't lost ;)

The next aid station was at mile 11. After drinking a small cup of coke, eating a few treats, and grabbing an oreo to eat while running, I reminded myself that there were just a couple miles left. So I let myself work a bit harder.  I knew I'd be proud to finish this race.

The last mile was on a flat path, and the women around me were picking up the pace. I decided to stick with them and ran the last mile at 8:50 pace (my fastest mile of the day). I suppose that means that my legs still had some pep left in them! I think I ran a smart & strong race---in trail races, you can't sprint the entire way, but I did push myself on certain sections, and it was a great workout.  After the race, I enjoyed some snacks and delicious watermelon plus a beer. This was a fantastic racing experience.  I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to fall in love with trail running in the Bay Area. Whether I'm running on the west coast or east coast, I'll treasure the ups and downs of running and racing.

May 28, 2012

More distance, more hills

Last weekend, I ran a very solid 12 miles around Alameda and the Bay Farm path. The next day, I got my PhD  :)

This weekend, I chose to do a hilly 10 mile run- with over 1130 feet of elevation gain. This involved running up Broadway Terrace and up through Piedmont.  My quads were pretty achy after the run.  I thought that the hilly training would help prepare me for next week's trail 1/2 marathon. Yeah, I impulsively signed up for the race and just want to enjoy spending time on the East Bay's trails!!

May 14, 2012

Cinderella

This weekend was chock-full of running!  On Saturday, I ran the Cinderella trail 10k in the East Bay Regional Park system.  The race was fun and well organized. This was my first race of 2012. Since it was a trail race, I just ran by effort, also letting the terrain dictate my pace.


I started pretty hard and worked to weave my way around people on the single track trail. I was cruising on the flatter sections! I ran some of the uphills but hiked a long & super steep uphill around mile 4.  Closer to the end of the race, my legs were achey from the terrain. There was a rocky downhill that I walked down, and, unfortunately, several women sped down past me :O  I kicked it in at the finish and felt like I'd worked hard throughout the race.

On Sunday, I went for a scenic, classically San Francisco run with R....We ran down Golden Gate Park, up past the Cliff House, and absorbed a misty but awesome view of the GG Bridge!  I tried to soak up the views since I'll be moving eastwards & won't have views of the Pacific Ocean. At the end of the 10 miler, my legs still had some pep. All in all it was a fantastic long run.

April 22, 2012

Up to Ten

I ran 10 miles in Tilden Park this morning. And, even with the hills, I had some pep left in my legs at the end.  I think that means that my mileage build up is going pretty well and, of course, that makes me happy :)

I aim to build my long runs up to about 14 miles in June.  Right now, I'm not worried about speed. I just want my running to be about strength, endurance, and fun---that means enjoying my favorite routes & spending time on the roads and trails.

April 5, 2012

Beautiful

A beautiful run on a beautiful day with beautiful new shoes!!  It's spring, and I'm a runner.

'Nuff said.

March 25, 2012

The Run Down

To catch up, I did a couple fun races in the fall (a 5 miler in September, a 4 miler in October, a 10k in November, and a 5k at the very end of November). I ran most of the races with friends and family, which was terrific! I also did some trail running around the East Bay in the fall and winter (big thanks, XL). I am pretty sure that I'll do a trail race in mid-May.

Today I ran 40 minutes in the neighborhood- with a solid uphill and then a very nice downhill. Running gives me a certain amount of faith and hope that, yes, there's sunshine and that my body can be strong.
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