Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Series on Seattle Area Trail Running

In the time I spend kicking up dirt during my trail runs many different ideas for blog posts float through my head. One specific thought that I kept coming back to was how I wished that there was more information online about trail running, specifically trail running in my neck of the woods. I have found that I can sort of piece together information on things like trail races, or where the trails are, but it is hard when you are a beginner to really get a sense of what trail running is like, and what the trails are like to run on.

I have talked to several runners who are intimidated by trail running, which makes perfect sense to me. It intimidates me, too, actually. As a very, very new trail runner, I admittedly know next to nothing about it-- but I want to learn more, and I want to share what I am learning in hopes that it might help other local runners feel more confident about making the leap from the road to the trails!

My plan is, I am going to write a series of posts that gives more in-depth information about what it is like to run on some of the Seattle-area trails, from the perspective of a new trail runner. I am guessing a new trail runner would want to know things like: are the trails technical (meaning, lots of obstacles and harder to run on)? Well marked? Busy? These are all questions I have about trails that I had (still have) a hard time finding answers to, so what am I doing about it? Heading out to check out the trails on my own!

Where do I learn about running trails? All kinds of places. Friends have invited me to run with them on a couple of trails, I joined the High Heels Running Group and learned about Cougar from them, I signed up for a race through Evergreen Trail Runs, I checked out the Evergreen Trail Runs and Northwest Trail Runs websites to get information about the trails they host races on, or I have looked in my own neighborhood! Some trail runs I do on my own, some I do with other people.

So far I have explored: Cougar Mountain, Seward Park, Discovery Park, Lincoln Park, Bridle Trails, Grand Ridge, St. Edward's Park and the Lake Sammamish Trail, with many more trails on my list to hit up!

Hopefully I will be able to share about one new post per week or two. If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know. Also, if you have run on a trail in the Seattle area, or even a bit further out, and would like to contribute a post about it to my blog, please let me know!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up: Sept 8- Sept 14

Oh, so much fun, fun, fun stuff happened this week! Two new trails, two strength workouts, the highest amount of miles I have ever run in a week, a super hard kayaking session, plus my return to my favorite yoga class!  Oh, and don't forget that little thing called a three and a half hour trail run.

Total Miles Run: 28.9 (a PDR for a week, I believe!) 

Monday: 4 Miles Run

Checked out the trails in Seward Park. What a magical little forest tucked away on a small peninsula out in Lake Washington! 

Tuesday: Strength

I did two rounds of the "12 Exercises for Runners".

Wednesday: 8.3 Miles Run

Was supposed to be 7 miles, but I got a little turned around on the trails. Happy accident, I suppose! 

Thursday: 2 Miles Run plus Strength plus Kayaking

This was kind of an exhausting day. I did a two mile warm-up run before completing my strength workout. I did:

*lateral lunges with a bosu
*deep squats
*push-ups on the bosu
*bosu get up get downs
*"butt blaster" with the stability ball
*chest flys on stability ball
*lateral arm raises with squat
*dumbbell clean and press
*plank with leg abduction
*half bicycles with bosu 

Then I met my friend Sarah for what I thought was going to be an easy paddle in a kayak. I was a bit wrong. The wind was stronger than we thought and the waves were higher than we planned on (meaning I planned for zero waves) so we were paddling very hard for just over an hour. We had a wonderful time, but it was tiring work! 

Friday: Yoga

Oh man, this yoga class was just what I needed. Followed it up with a visit to my chiropractor and I felt like a new woman by the time the day was over! 

Saturday: 14.6 Miles Run

See my previous post for a detailed recap of that run. 

Sunday: Rest

Much needed! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nailed It.

14 miles on the schedule for Saturday morning. I won't lie, it was intimidating. I have done 14 on the road once before, and it went fine (though it was the last long run I did before being sidelined by injury AGAIN). 14 on the trail is a different animal. For instance, on the road that run took me 2:20-something. On the trail it took me 3:30-something.

Fortunately I was able to do this entire run with the High Heels Running Group. If you are a female runner in the Seattle area, I HIGHLY recommend you check this group out. I am a very, very new member, as I have only run with them three times, with my first time being a couple of years ago. So on Saturday I ran with lots of new women (all of whom were extremely nice) and that not only made the run more fun, but I also had zero concern for getting lost. Whew!

The first seven miles were with a large group, the next three were with a smaller group, and the last four were just myself and my new friend Angela. Because of my personality, it was more difficult to chit chat in the group than when I was running with one other person, which was just fine with me. I enjoyed listening in on conversations and hanging out (ha, like I do on the rare occasion I am at a party!).

The first seven miles went by quickly. Then we were back at the parking lot where I filled a couple of my empty bottles and grabbed a snack before heading out with the group for the next three miles. Back at the parking lot one more time before Angela and I headed out for our last four. We must had added on a bit of running going back to the parking lot as I ended up with 14.6 total when I anticipated it would be just under 14. 

One thing I was extremely happy about was that my nutrition was SPOT ON. I tried a few new things to see how it would go and it worked perfectly. Hopefully it wasn't just a fluke! I knew from my last 14 miler that just gels and water or gatorade would be awful. Before we started running I had a gel (typically I do honey stinger chews, but I was fresh out). I filled my belt with three bottles of water and one of gatorade and mostly drank out of one water and the gatorade since I re-filled after seven miles. I ate a gel between the 45 and 55 minute mark and then two fig newtons at just before the 2 hour mark back at my car. Then I ate half a pack of margarita clif bloks after the three mile loop (probably around 45 mins in to that section) and then the rest of the pack around 45 mins or so later. My stomach felt awesome the entire time and I definitely had enough energy. Definitely hope this mixture keeps working for me and I will keep using it up until (and at) the 30K!

I also wore new shoes, which is generally advised against doing on long runs, but I had worn them for the 8 miler the previous Wednesday and they were awesome, so I wasn't worried about it. They felt great until the very, very end when my feet (and body) were DONE. Zero blisters, too. I was wearing the New Balance Leadville 1210. I suppose I would say I recommend them, but as you well know, shoes are extremely personal. So if your feet are just like mine, you probably will like them, haha. (Remind me to tell you my shoe saga. I returned my Hokas, got different shoes ((not the NB)) and it was a pain)

On the way home from the run I picked up some ice for a back yard ice bath. Since we don't have a bathtub I don't take ice baths very often, but a 3 1/2 hour run called for an ice bath! The girls jumped in with me, which was hilarious. Matt served us all lunch in the ice bath and we watched You Tube videos while numbing our lower halves, so it was pretty fun. 

Three girls in an ice bath.

I have three more long runs before the race: a 10 miler, 16 miler and a 12 miler. Gulp. Just one mile at a time, though, and I will get there! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up(s): Aug 25-Sept 7

I got behind. I know, I know, my lack of posting my workouts has been devastating, I'm sure. Rectifying that now . . .

We were on vacation in Wisconsin for a long Labor Day weekend. So my workouts from August 25- August 31 went like this:

Total Miles Run: 14.5

Monday: 3 Mile Run
Tuesday: ??? (swim?)
Wednesday: 4 Mile Run
Thursday-Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 7.5 Mile Run

As seen on my WI run. A rollercoaster! 

This past week, though, has been good. And hard. I jumped my mileage back up and hit 23 (the 14.5 was a cut-back week, I didn't just jump from 14 to 23.5). I haven't hit that many miles in the last six months, likely I didn't before that for a loooong time, either. So that's exciting. But I am sore. When I hear of people running 50, 60+ mile weeks, I weep quietly in my coffee. 

Total Miles Run: 23

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Rest 

Monday and Tuesday were travel/recuperate days.

Wednesday: 8 Miles Run

I went out to Cougar Mountain and tried to run the seven mile High Heels Running Group route. I did really good following the route until about 5 miles in then I got turned around. Luckily my phone/gps worked in the woods, and luckily the map on my phone knew where the trails were, and it knew were I was. I got back to my car only adding one extra mile to my planned seven. WHEW. Lesson learned: take a damn map with me. And maybe extra food.

Three glimpses of many, many amazing sections of the trails at Cougar.

Thursday: 3 Miles Run and Strength

I overdid it this day. The plan was to meet my friend Sarah at the track for a strength workout and since I was there I thought I would do my three miles there. Well, when on a track, you just have to push yourself, amiright? So I pushed it on the straights and jogged the curves for about 8-9 laps and took it easy on the warm-up/cool-down. The strength workout was more than I had done in a while, and I was sore the next day. And the next day (ie long run day) .

My set-up at the track. 

Friday: Yoga

This was a half-assed attempt at yoga at home. I will get back to my classes soon!

Saturday: 12 Miles Run

A great long run with my friends Sally and Alma. They plotted a route that started at Gasworks Park, went over to the UW campus, north through Ravenna park, west towards Greenlake, around Greenlake, and then back south to Gasworks. I won't lie, my body was pretty sore afterwards. An ice bath would have been lovely.

Saturday's Route.

Sunday: Rest

FIVE MORE WEEKS until the 30K! 

My workout plans are all set until then. Sundays off, Mondays a four mile run, Tuesdays strength, Wednesdays my medium distance run, Thursdays three mile run plus strength, Friday yoga, Saturday long run. Trying to figure out if I can fit in a swim in there somewhere. 

If I can make it to this 30K without breaking apart, and then run it without breaking apart, I do think I will step back for a little bit. A few weeks maybe? Then ramp back up towards a new goal. I like the idea of shooting for a 50K, we shall see, though.

p.s. all of these photos (except for the map) are from my instagram. Are we following each other there? 

Monday, September 08, 2014

Back to School Happened

The girls are officially back in school for the year.

This past summer flew by at a speed I didn't even realize existed, which was incredibly disconcerting. It was, in fact, our best summer ever. Not because of big fancy trips or an abundance of special activities, but rather we just enjoyed being home together (well, for the most part. We're not the Cleavers.). Of course we threw in some fun little trips and created a summer bucket list that we did a decent job of hacking away at-- summer can't be ALL about sitting around the house. Anyways, it just ended up being (almost) perfect. A great mix of camps and trips and day excursions and down time.

First day of school girls. Don't let their expressions fool you.

But the first day of school sucked. It sucked a lot. One of my girls adores school and practically skipped in to the building like she's finally back in her element. The other of my girls, however, well, you might as well have sent her to a torture chamber. It really, really sucked. We have spent every year of her formal education trying to figure out what the best schooling scenario is for her, so far nothing really fits quite right. We'll see how this year goes, and will cross my fingers tightly. 

First day of school Menchie's. 

Of course, one bright side is that with the girls back in school I suddenly have many, many more hours of kid-free time. It is much easier to do all of my stay at home mom duties (cleaning, shopping, bill paying, etc etc) as well as all of the things I enjoy doing (mostly running). Pretty soon I will (hopefully) be back in the girls' school volunteering like I was last year, but I want to take the next few weeks to focus as much free time as I can on being ready to run my 30K. Kind of considering this training time my gift to myself for kicking so much ass as a mother all summer long, haha.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up: August 18-24

Side note: whoops. Not sure why I didn't post this last week. 

What a wonderful week of workouts. I am so grateful I am feeling really good and my body is holding up so that I can run exactly how I want and when I want. It's a beautiful thing!

Total Miles Run: 20! 

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 4.5 Mile Run

Nothing fancy.

Wednesday: Strength 

I tried to do a whole Jillian Michaels workout, for "fun". I forgot how long and hard those stupid workouts are! It killed me! I decided I am really not a fan of her videos. I love her, but there is something about her attitude that actually makes me want to stop working, instead of pushing harder.

Thursday: 1200 Yard Swim and 5.4 Mile Run

My one double day. A short-ish swim in the morning and what amounted to a tempo run on the trails in the evening. I ran two loops of Discovery Park with my friend Ray and he is a bit faster than me, so I pushed myself to keep up with him. Two loops in just under a 10:00/mi pace, which is fast for me on those trails!

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 10.1 Mile Run

This run was awesome. I decided to meet up with the High Heels Running Group at Cougar Mountain to get my long run in on trails. It made me nervous to show up and meet new people, but I am so glad I did it. It was a small group, just three of us, and the ladies I ran with were so nice and I loved running with them. We did 7 miles all together and then I did the rest of my own. The trails at Cougar Mtn are so beautiful, and really technical (at least for me they are!). Lots of roots and rocks, jumping over logs, up and down hills, dodging banana slugs. Took it nice and slow, in fact this run took me 2:27 (including stops along the way, because I never pause my Garmin). We hiked up the hills, took our time on the downhills. The whole way I thought that it was a nice pace, I wasn't ever pushing it, and I thought if I ran like that on my 30K I would feel pretty good. 

The one thing I was nervous about, however, was how much time I spent running. I was ready to run 10 miles, but on the road that would have taken me about 1:40. Judging by how my body felt the rest of that day and the next day, I think it was okay. The slow pace and the trails seems to have made up for the amount of time I spent on my feet. I would have to look back at my training, but this run might have been my longest training I have ever done. My longest run ever, the 14 miler, was in 2:22. 

Sunday: Rest 

Technically a rest day, but it involved some fun active time at our friends' house on the lake! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Upcoming Goal

Summer is screaming to a close and I think the only thing I am feeling excited about is that I will have more time to train when the girls are back in school. Since I am feeling relatively good and I want to keep running with it (pun intended) I set a big goal for myself.

Drumroll please . . . . 

Ladies and gents, I am training to run the Point Defiance 30K in October. It's also on my birthday, so in addition to being a big goal race, it's also a birthday present to myself (and my family's gift to me as they hang out all day waiting for me to run around through the mud and trees!).

30K is no joke. It's 18.6 miles (and from what I read on Lindsay's race recap, it might actually be even farther than that!). That is really, really far. Those of you following along at home might know that I haven't ever been able to run farther than 14 miles in training without injuring myself, so that's definitely weighing on me. Luckily the race also has a 15K option if I just physically cannot do the 30K.

This weekend I will do a 10 mile train run. I keep thinking this is my longest trail run ever, but a couple of years ago or so I ran four loops of the Discovery Park trail, which totals just over 10 miles. Not sure yet exactly where I am running this weekend, but I suspect the options are both a little more tough than Discovery Park. Bring on the challenge, though!

I checked in with my chiropractor this morning and she did a little work on my feet and calves. My plantar fascia is getting a teeny bit annoyed on my right foot, which my chiro says is likely connected to my calf needing some love. She gave it some of that hurts-so-good kind of love in the office and sent me out with strict orders to keep loving on it at home. She also reminded me I have got to start doing my strength exercises again. When I left her office I made a mental note that those exercises are as important as my running in getting me to the starting line (and finishing line!) of the 30K and I need to take it very seriously. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up: August 11-17

Not a terrible week, but it was chock full of runs where I didn't feel 100%, I don't know why, exactly, which is frustrating! Also a little annoyed that I didn't manage to run one more freaking mile during the week to equal my weekend mileage, but I didn't lose sleep over it. Life happens. Didn't get any strength in (again! UGH!) but I am trying to get back in to a routine of my PT exercises most days. I don't know what is wrong with me. My strength and PT exercises are what made me able to run again, why in the world do I have a mental block about keeping them up now?!

Total Miles: 17

Monday: Rest

It was freakin' hot and I was freakin' tired from the weekend.

Tuesday: 2.5 Mile Run

Holy cow, this was way harder than it should have been. I was going to go 3 miles, but couldn't even do that much.

Wednesday: 1600 Yard Swim

I decided to try again to count laps, because instead of swimming for time, I wanted to go a full mile (1600 yards is pretty close). Turns out I actually enjoyed counting laps, with every stroke I literally said the lap I was on in my head. It blocked out all of the "noise" in my head and it made for a really peaceful swim! 

Thursday: 5.5 Mile Run

Hit up my favorite trail, the Discovery Park Loop Trail, and did a couple of loops. The first one I ran way too fast so that by the time I did the second one I was walking a bit about ever .3 miles. Ah, well. It was a wonderful run anyways. One other positive about the trail is that it is fairly well traveled, a big loop and not too technical, so I felt safe running it by myself. 

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Yoga

Yoga on the beach! Was so glad the rain and gloom from the previous few days was gone so it was a sunny morning for yoga. 

Sunday: 9 Mile Run

I met Sally for my longest run sine April 13th (when we did 14 miles). I felt sort of sluggish at the start, like I was running with extra weight.  Sally plotted a fantastic route that took us from Gasworks park, across University Bridge, over to the Arboretum, then down through Madison Park, up through Capitol Hill, back across the bridge and finished at Gasworks. We climbed a monster hill in the middle (I love those hills!) and finished at a minute per mile faster than we started. Luckily I loosened up and felt great by the end. Sally did a few miles before and after meeting me, as well. Damn. I can't wait for the day when we can run our entire long run together! 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Not Looking Forward to Back to School

How is it that summer basically feels over? I am refusing to buy school supplies, don't even want to think about back-to-school clothes shopping, and mostly, well, I just don't want to send my kids back to school. 

The other day we received letters from school explaining some new changes for the school year, one of which was that the start/end times changed and 15 minutes was added on to the school day. This probably doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but over the course of a school year that adds on a few more days of school. And I think that royally sucks. 

We will spend our last couple of weeks of summer enjoying our free time, though. The bucket list of summer activities is no where near completed (but we've been working on it!) so it will be fun to go on a few more fun adventures. 

It's been a wonderful summer so far, which is a relief. Summer break can be tricky for me, because as a stay at home mom, I am used to having a lot of time to do family management stuff and also get in my workouts and appointments and person things without using up time I would otherwise spend with the family (or sleeping!) The girls have such different personalities, summer break can be tricky for them, too. Eloise wants to go-go-go. Iris needs time to chill out. I fall somewhere in the middle of their spectrum. Fortunately they have agreed on some kind of truce for the summer, not engaging in knock-down, drag-out battles as often as they were doing the school year (hallelujah!). I am so very much enjoying having kids at home that are, well, a true pleasure to be around, because they aren't constantly fighting. 

So what have we been up to? I have been posting a good amount of photos on instagram, but we've been to the pool more than once, taken an afternoon trip to Vashon Island (I keep meaning to do a blog post about that!), gone to visit Grandma and Grandpa, done a few amazing summer camps, gone for an overnight with besties to Great Wolf Lodge, had play dates, explored the woods, had lots of dinners outside, jumped on the trampoline . . . and many other wonderful things. 

Four happy girls finishing a ride on the Howlin' Tornado at Great Wolf Lodge. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up: August 4 to August 10

My new thing is I am planning on ramping up my long runs until I am able to run another half marathon. I don't actually have a half in mind, will just keep doing long runs until I am ready, then I will find a half to run. It feels much less stressful that specifically training for a half. Since I just love long runs, I am happy to keep doing them even without a goal in mind! My other plan is to make sure I run at least as many miles during the week as I plan to run on the weekend. So, if I run 8 miles on Saturday, I have to total at least 8 miles Mon-Fri. The aim is to keep my long runs to 50% or less of my weekly mileage.

Total Miles Run: 16.9

Monday: 5 Mile Run

It has been a while since I did an early morning run that was this far and it felt really good! Odd story: for the first about 2 miles before my turn-around I was following a girl who was about 1/2 block ahead. She was dressed in long sleeves and pants and did not appear to be wearing running shoes. Her long hair was down and she had on a decent sized back pack. She was just running. I kept thinking she was running to catch a bus, or a taxi, or something, but nope. When I turned around she was still heading straight. She was easily running 9 min/miles! I was so curious, what was she doing running that far and that fast?! 

Tuesday: Strength

I didn't want to do a full-on, kick my booty strength session, so I did one round of something I read about on called 12 Exercises to Build Your Running Body. I set an interval timer for one minute of work and 30 seconds of rest and it was a hard, short workout! Definitely recommend these exercises for other runners. Extending the workout in to two rounds would be very challenging, as would taking less rest breaks! 

Wednesday: 3.9 Mile Run and Strength

So I have been hearing about this idea of keeping the hard days hard by doing harder runs AND strength all on one day. Started the morning with a two 1/2 mile hill repeats and some more mileage to warm up and cool down. The run felt awesome! And don't ask why I didn't go to 4 miles. I have no idea . . . .

When I got home I did two sets of:

*extension/flexion with a dumbbell
*bicycle crunches
*forearm plank with leg abduction
*jacknife crunch
*prisoner squats (or lateral lunges in the 2nd set)
*donkey kicks
*goblet squats with a dumbbell (or lunges in the 2nd set)

Thursday: 40 Minute Swim

I decided to definitely not count laps at the pool for a while. I struggle so much in so many ways while swimming and counting my laps will mean that I will start comparing the workouts to each other and get competitive with myself . . . and I don't need to do that right now. Swimming is for recovery and cross-training and fun! 

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 8 Mile Run

I met Sally, Alma, and Alma's friend Andy for a fantastic eight mile run around West Seattle. We started in Lincoln Park then went north on Beach Drive before heading up Jacobsen hill. If you're a runner in West Seattle, you know that hill. The exciting part was we stopped to see the goats that live on that hill! They were so cute and a highlight of the run. After the goats we kept going up, up, up and then looped back towards Lincoln Park. The miles flew by, I felt great the whole time, almost like the running was an afterthought to hanging out. Alma and Sally are training for the New York City Marathon, so I hope to tag along on a few miles of their long runs. 

Sunday: Rest