Monday, January 26, 2015

Saturday Long Run at Cougar Mountain

One of my goals for the year is to get to know the trails at Cougar Mountain very well. I would love to be able to run out there and always know where I am and always know what trails to run to get in the miles I need.

On Saturday I headed out to Cougar for a solo run. The great things about solo runs are that when you are feeling lazy, you can roll out of bed whenever you are (finally) ready. You are also able to run wherever you want, making up the route as you go. And, as was the case for me that day, you are allowed to walk as much as you want. It felt like I was battling the beginning of a cold and my energy wasn't where I would have preferred so I just really took my time to cover the miles. 

I thought it would be fun to start occasionally sharing some of my routes on the blog, in case any of you want to use them and also so I can remember them!

This run was 7.3 miles from the Sky Country Trailhead. One thing to note: I did an out and back to the Fantastic Erratic Boulder on the Bear Ridge Trail. Also to note, the Coyote Creek Trail is not marked off of Clay Pit Road. If you are running east on Clay Pit Road from the trailhead, Coyote Creek Trail is the first trail you will see off to the left.  

The elevation profile of this route is below. It is 1,305 feet of elevation gain. 

There were SO MANY wonderful things to see on this run! 

The boulder was kind of neat. I also passed by the mine shaft for the first time (spooky!). I was delighted to find one of the waterfalls at Cougar, as well, which was gorgeous. It was sweet to come up on a woodpecker working holes in to a dead tree, too.

Trail running never, ever is boring. It can be hard and and messy and exhausting as hell, but never boring.

Coal Creek Falls.

View down from the top of the boulder.

A pond.

Saturday's run brought me to 22.2 miles ran/walked with a total of 2896 feet of elevation gain for the week.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Workouts and Randomness

I think I am ready for January to be over. Everyone in our family has been hit with some sort of sickness, but here's the kicker-- we don't really seem to even all have had the same one! Of course, viruses don't necessarily act the same in all people, so who knows, I just thought it super strange. Last week I picked a sick girl up from school, this week I picked up a sick girl from school, plus we've had some early release days and days off of school . . . needless to say, my schedule has been all wonky. Such is life as a stay at home mom! Luckily the only thing to suffer was a few of my workouts and that isn't the end of the world. I do love being able to easily take care of the girls when they need to be home sick. 

Last week's walking and running totaled 21.2 miles and 1906 feet of elevation. The other training point I am stuck on (in addition to not knowing how to balance road and trail miles) is how to factor walking in to my training schedule. Is it cross training? Can it take the place of any running miles? Man, I need a coach. 

My friend Sarah and I have been having a blast working out together at her gym (soon to be my gym, too!) once a week. We have been taking turns coming up with workouts and typically will focus on either upper or lower body and then some abs. Always abs. 

Now for the randomness:

*I have been flying through the entire series of Friends. Watching it on the iPad or Kindle means I just put on an episode while I am doing something (like typing this blog post!). Just started season 7.

*recently I read an article on Huffington Post that nicely explains why I almost completely stopped using Facebook. The author, Dawn Q. Landau, writes, in part:

Anyways, it is a great article. I urge you to read it. 

*How about those Seahawks, eh?

*And speaking of play-off games, I have suddenly become obsessed with figuring out what the heck happened with the Patriots' deflated balls

Monday, January 19, 2015

Road Miles

On Thursday morning I got up and headed right out the door to run first thing, which is something I rarely do. Despite it being early (for me) and being a bit behind on sleep from being home with a sick little girl, my legs were ready to go! In the interest of my goal of "climbing mountains", I headed out the door and straight towards one of the tallest and longest hills in the area. After powering straight up I was rewarded with an amazing view of Elliot Bay, downtown, and the Cascades off in the distance right as the sun was turning everything a million shades of copper. I took the back way down to Alki, then headed off to tackle one more hill before running back home. All in all, just under 500 feet of elevation gain. Not bad for a run before breakfast!

Lately I have been annoyed that I can't quite figure out how to factor in trail AND road miles in to my training. I can't tell if I should be paying attention to mileage or time on my feet! So, for instance, last weekend I did 11.6 miles on the trails in just over 3 hours. This weekend I did 13.1 miles on the roads in about 2 1/2 hours. Which would be harder? 

My body didn't love the road miles on Sunday. About half mile from the end my right hip just started to really hurt. Every step felt painful. If I had run those miles on the trail, would the same thing have happened? Well, obviously that is really hard to know. I DO know that I won't be running any farther than that on roads during the next training cycle!

Sally (who had already run 7 before I joined her) and I took on a fun route for the 13.1. Unfortunately it ended a wee bit short so we did a bit of an out and back at the end.

The route.
The elevation. 852 feet of gain.

My goal was to hit some big hills, which we succeeded in-- both out of the way early on, fortunately! After that we just had to contend with strong winds and driving rain, you know, stuff that makes running a total bitch. Between the hills and the weather, we were pretty slow, but it was simply nice to catch up with Sally. It just wasn't my most favorite run ever, but it built character and it does feel good to say I ran a half marathon for fun outside of my training program!

One more week "off" before 50K training officially starts!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Running, Walking, and Elevation Galore

I didn't make any resolutions or goals for 2014-- I knew that my only goal for that year, and every year, would be to stay healthy enough to keep running farther and farther distances. Goal met, I would say!

Despite telling myself that goals, or rather more goals than my usual (see above), weren't really necessary for 2015 I kept coming back to some things that I would like to focus on. 

The first one stems from my "theme" for the year, which is Climb Mountains. In the past I have always tracked my miles run, which mostly worked okay. I also walk a lot, but don't log those miles, and then I wondered, what is my goal with tracking miles? Well, I really want to know how much ground I cover over the course of a week, month and year. This year I am using a google spreadsheet to log every run and walk. In addition, I am logging the elevation gain of every walk and run. 

My mileage goal for the year (walking and running) is 1,000 miles. If I stay un-injured, this should be easily do-able. I hit 700 running miles in 2014 with a lot of time off and likely walked at least 300. My elevation goal for the year is 100,000 feet. Again, if I stay un-injured, I can reach this goal with almost daily movement and some long, hilly training runs and races. 

So, anyways, in my first week of tracking this I had a total of 23.6 miles, running and walking, and 4,400 feet of elevation gain.

Almost 75% of this elevation came from Sunday's long run. Stacey needed some serious elevation training for the Orcas 25k and I was more than happy to bum along on a run up Tiger Mountain. And why not throw in a jaunt around Grand Ridge for some more hills?

The view from the almost top of West Tiger 3. 
My camera didn't do it justice.
Stacey admiring the view. Those clouds were slowly climbing up the mountain, 
it was very cool to watch. 

Stacey climbing to the top.

The elevation of the run.

It was a fantastic, and pretty brutal, run. My quads were a weeeeee bit sore. One wonderful thing about it was that the climb up, as well as the descent, weren't nearly as difficult as they were last time I did them in September. Yay for progress!

I enjoyed showing Stacey Grand Ridge, aka the scene of my marathon. Hopefully we get some more runs in out there. Despite the elevation looking pathetic next to Tiger, it is a serious challenge!

Two more weeks "off" until 50k training begins! 

Monday, January 05, 2015

So This Is the New Year

MAN. I hate to say it, but I am glad the holidays are over. It don't remember the last time I felt so stressed and rushed over what is supposed to be a fun and celebratory time of year. Ugh. And I know I should be able to let stuff go, and be okay, but I DID let stuff go (and caught grief for it) and it was still somehow just a lot to manage. Come New Year's day I was totally sick, I think more like my body was just d.o.n.e. Last week I did zero exercising. Zero runs. Eventually I was okay with it, because A. I just couldn't run, and B. I am not currently training, anyways, so no better time to feel terrible.

It felt kind of sucky to lay in bed and check instagram and see how everyone is "ohmygod I ran a million miles and lifted a ton of weights!" on New Year's Day.  The one nice thing that came out of it, though, is that once January 3rd hit and I was feeling almost 100% again I had a new-found resolve to just kick more ass in 2015. I mean, yeah, everyone feels that way, right? The trick is figuring out how to harness that enthusiasm and build off of it all year long. 

I came across a blog post by an athlete who recommended a calendar to track daily progress of a larger goal. Small steps create big successes. The idea resonated with me, so I found a calendar online for free and printed it off. I intend to use it to mark off my daily strength and foam rolling exercises. One check every day. At all of those little steps will make one big strong me not only for my 50k in May, but for the rest of the year, too.

Here's what my calendar looks like hanging up:

You can print your own HERE!

The theme I have adopted so far for the year is Climb Mountains. Both figuratively and literally. One step at a time.

I had an amazing solo run at Cougar Mountain on Christmas Eve and, despite some other okay runs later that week, I sort of considered it my last run of the year. On Sunday I had my first official run of the year back at Cougar. I love that place so much. My goal this year is to get to know the trails more so I am not taking wrong turns every single time I try to go somewhere new (I am sure Stacey loves it when I tell her I want to take new trails and then don't know where to go!). So surely, over the course of 50k training, I will figure that place out. 

It has been very wet, and amazingly beautiful, out there. 

Here's what my shoes looked like after Sunday's run (you will have to imagine how soaked they were):

These are the Pearl Izumi Trail M2s. I love them. At first I really preferred my New Balance Leadville 1210s but now I am finding myself grabbing these just as often, especially for shorter or muddier/wetter runs. And yes, these are men's. I have been wearing men's running shoes for almost a year now, and while I didn't feel cramped before the switch, I do love the extra room in men's shoes. 

On Christmas Eve I tried to get some fun shots on the trails. Succeeded, I think! 

Fog in the trees.

Self-timer shot walking over a REALLY HIGH stream. 
Usually it is much lower!

I managed to sign up for yet another race-- that would bring my total to FOUR. Wow, I am dumb. Likely I am just testing fate by doing such a thing. I registered for a March half marathon, with Tara!, and we will have to tack on seven more miles at the end (pssst, Tara, I am taking you to Cougar! See above!) to total 20 that day. 

There is now a race in February, March, April and May. Kind of sort of have my eye on a race next weekend, and then I thought, hmmm, is this a fun new thing? A race a month? We'll see. But I really need to stop registering for races because it isn't smart. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year in Review

What a year! 

The big running highlights of the year are, of course, my marathon, but before that I ran further and further on the trails, which culminated in a 30K on my 37th birthday. I spent the first half of the year working hard on organizing a Ragnar team, too! 

Things for our family were overall fairly positive, although we were thrown a tough challenge, as our beloved kitten, Inky, passed away. 

In January my older daughter played on a basketball team for the first time, and it was an absolute blast . . . for all of us! 

I also started marathon training, for the third unsuccessful time, and helped my bestie move from Texas to Oregon. 

Somewhere outside of Flagstaff, AZ. 

In February I found an amazing new trainer (whom I don't currently work with, but hopefully will again some day!). 

We also sadly discovered our newly adopted kitten was very ill


In March I got to run a half marathon with Tara


In April our dear Inky passed away and shattered our hearts. A couple of weeks later we adopted sweet Oscar, to help our hearts heal. 


My third marathon bid ended with a third suspected stress fracture

In May I mostly was all over the place trying to build my body/foot strength and figure out what the heck was going on with my foot. 

In June (and the end of May) I enjoyed testing out the Jawbone UP24 and the Fitbit Flex. It was the start of the girls' summer vacation


July was all about Ragnar, which I re-capped HERE and HERE

Team Everything is Awesome.

In August I ran my first ever trail race. And became hooked, obvs. 


Matt, the girls and I also went on a 5-day vacation to Wisconsin for some family and fun time. I didn't blog about it, but it was definitely a highlight of the summer.

In September I started running on every trail I possibly could, and even started a little trail running series on the blog (which I need to start posting about again!). I also ran up and down Tiger Mountain with Stacey, which kicked off the first of many amazing trail runs together. 

At the top of West Tiger 3.

In October I ran my first ever 30k, which was actually about 20 miles. It was amazing and I loved every second of it. 

The girlies running me in to the finish. 

In November I ran my marathon


December was about rest and recovery and doing what is fun. And Christmas. And eating a lot of unhealthy things. 

The dog and me. 

I am excited about 2015. If all goes as planned, it will hold my first 50k, a few fun family vacations, and some big changes in all of our lives and we send our oldest daughter off to middle school! 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2015 Races (So Far)

The entire first half of 2015 centers around the Sun Mountain 50k. 50k! Have I mentioned this yet? Haha.

I have a couple of other races leading up to it that I will run "for fun". Which means, no goals other than to have fun and feel good at the finish. Then again, those are the only two goals I have had for races for the last couple of years. They are decent goals, as my main priority has been upping my distance, so finishing the distance = WIN and automatic PR! 

Anyways, the first race I have coming up is in February, the Frost Eagle half marathon at Soaring Eagle Park on February 7th. I haven't yet run in Soaring Eagle Park so I am excited about the race! It is in week two of 50k training, so it should be a great way to kick things off and have a nice long, supported run.

The second race I have registered for is the Peterson Ridge Rumble 20 miler on April 12th. My trail running partner Stacey ran this last April and loved it so she wrangled a few of us in to signing up with her for the 2015 race. Besides getting to have a girls' weekend that centers around running (which sounds amazing!) I am extremely excited to visit the Bend/Sisters area of Oregon, where the race is held. The other exciting thing about this race is it was the first time I was ever able to register for a race on Ultra Signup! 

And the third race on my calendar, the big kahuna, is the Sun Mountain 50k on May 16th. It was my second ever Ultra Signup race. Haha. Half of me is like, 50k? Bring it on! I know I can do it, and am so very excited about the distance, I just hope my body holds up. It did great as I trained for the 30k and then the marathon, but I am still very, very nervous that something will go wrong. It will also be my first Rainshadow Running race, which are kind of infamous around these parts for being incredible races.

Between the Rumble and the 50k I will have to run a marathon, but I haven't seen a local trail marathon show up on any race calendars, so likely Stacey and I will end up running it somewhere on our own. I won't even lie-- the idea of running 26.2 as a training run is beyond exciting to me. Really. For real. Apparently I have many screws loose.

Bring it on, 2015! 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up: Dec 15- Dec 21

Will call this week the one with the fleas. UGH. Apparently all of our pets have fleas, which I didn't even realize they could get if they weren't ever around other pets. But they can! Fleas can come in the house on people's or pet's bodies! Let this be a lesson to you. And your second lesson is, if you go out on a crazy pre-holiday Saturday to pick up flea medicine from your vet, double check that they gave you the right stuff, otherwise you might get home and realize they gave you medicine for two dogs and a cat, instead of two cats and a dog. My very nice husband offered to go get the right stuff. Fleas be darned, I was NOT going back out there. 


So besides that (and isn't that enough?) the week in workouts has been . . . okay. Actually, mostly really good stuff, some annoying stuff. The annoying is that my right hip is, for lack of a better work, achy. Like, the entire hip. I have stretched and foam rolled and used my yoga tune up balls and got a massage and while those things provide some temporary relief, it's not fixing it. Off to the chiropractor I go-- it's been five weeks since I was last there, no wonder I'm falling apart!

The name of the game this past week was getting out as much as I felt like, especially with my pup, who I am trying to turn in to a runner. You know what I think is wrong with my dog? I think maybe she doesn't even like being outside all that much. Isn't that weird? I was telling my friend Sally about it, like, you know how most dogs get super excited when you take their leash out? Well, Heidi ducks her head down and walks towards me very, very, very slowly. LIKE SHE'S IN TROUBLE. That's the exact opposite of being excited. As I run with her, even on the trail (more about that in a second) I have to keep encouraging her to keep running with me. So, anyways, she isn't taking to the whole idea, but I'm not yet convinced she can't be trained to, well, act like a dog

Total Miles Run: 13.6

Monday: Rest-ish

I did some yoga at home, since I skipped class to do a billion things on my to-do list.

Tuesday: Strength

Met Sarah at the gym, we focused primarily on legs, a little on arms.

Wednesday: 2 Mile Run/Walk 

A little run/walk with Heidi, about two miles worth. 

Thursday: 3 Mile Run

I took Heidi out to Cougar Mountain and did a three mile loop. She was so funny. I had her on the leash because first, it's the law (despite only seeing like two other dogs ever on leashes at Cougar) and second, because she is unpredictable around other dogs. About half way in I was so frustrated trying to run and keep her in front of or behind me (rarely able to run side by side on the trail) I let her off the leash. Such a law breaker! Here's the funny thing: she ran behind me the whole rest of the way. She trotted along, never moving faster even when I did. I coaxed her to a stream to drink, but other than that she stayed right behind me. Silly dog. She was so pooped afterwards, she crashed out in the car.

Chillin' on the trail.

Sleeping in the car at Starbucks. 

Someone decorated the cougars on Cougar Mountain Way!

Friday: Yoga

Saturday: 6.6 Mile Run

I met up with Sally for the first time in a looooong time. I was originally thinking roughly 11 or so miles, but my hip was aching enough that I decided to do less. It was a good choice, despite my hip never once hurting while we ran. I have nothing to "prove" right now, so lower mileage is good. Of course, 6.6 miles barely felt like enough time to catch up. Races, jobs, weddings, travel (damn, I forgot to ask her about Hawaii!), everything else crammed in to a very wet hour long run. 

We ran from Fremont to Ballard then across the Ballard Locks then back to Fremont via Magnolia/the Fremont Bridge. It's a nice route, almost all very flat, and the locks are so cool. 

Sunday: 2 Mile Run

Grabbed my dog and my daughter and headed out for a 2 mile twilight run. It has been since I have run that late in the day! We had fun and did some running and walking and my ten year didn't even complain. Jury is still out on the dog, but I think she liked being out of the house. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Doing What is Fun

Not having a training plan is throwing me for a loop. What do I do with my "time off"? Am I running too little? Too much? Maybe both, depending on the day? It's sort of crazy-making. If I had to make a guess, I would say I am running too few miles during the week and too many of the weekend-- but here's the thing: that is how I love to run. If I had my choice I would run little to no weekday miles and a million on the weekend. The primary reason for this is that the weekdays are so busy, I am lucky if I can fit in a few pavement miles between errands/appointments/volunteering/whathaveyou. That isn't my favorite way to run. I would rather head for the hills for several hours, losing myself in the woods and the long miles. 

So I decided the plan now is "Do What is Fun". Here's what is fun: I am attempting to train my dog, a Poodle/Australian Shepherd mix, to run with me. Likely I biting off more than I can chew, as Heidi (the dog) doesn't seem to love running and can be excitable/aggressive when she sees other dogs. So I have a big bag of treats that I shovel in to her and am using all the positive reinforcement I can muster. Hopefully she can be molded in to my new running BFF.

Heidi and I taking a break on a rainy morning run/walk.

I am letting go of my concern about too-long weekend long runs and embracing time with friends. Stacey and I are gung-ho about exploring new-to-us trails, which is super exciting. Also, this weekend I finally, finally!, get to run with Sally again. 

Miss running with this girl! 
Sally and I on an Alki run last March. 

During the week I am loving strength training workouts with Sarah and yoga classes. I guess, in general, it doesn't look that much different than a formal training plan, except for the approach to it. I am doing it because it's fun, not because it's on a piece of paper. See the difference? Okay, me neither.

On Tuesday I had a wonderful massage by a West Seattle massage therapist. This was exciting, because I had yet to find a new massage therapist who was both in my 'hood AND awesome. Massages are fun, so I am glad Sarah told me about a good deal at a local place that I could take advantage of. 

Thankfully I am pretty much done with my Christmas shopping (thank you, Amazon!), creating photo books, and mailing out packages to far-away relatives. Whew. Now I am down to the rest of the list which feels vaguely manageable. No matter how thin I stretch myself emotionally, physically, financially at Christmas time, it never feels like it is enough. Does anyone else feel like this? It is frustrating that every cause I want to support is asking for more donations of money and time around Christmas-- exactly when both of those things are in short supply and I can't do it all. Ugh! Guilt city. Besides the guilt, Christmas is fun! 

This year I am super excited that my husband's sister's family is coming to our house on Christmas day. Usually it is just the four of us chilling at home-- which is actually very fun, but this year it will feel more festive to have extended family here. I decided we will have a big taco bar for dinner, how awesome is that?! 

Anyways, that's what is fun (mostly) right now. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up: Dec 8- Dec 14

Let's see. What to say about this week? It was a very busy one, I only got in two runs. I needed to (repeatedly) remind myself that this is my down time. I can take as much down time as I want/need and it's exactly perfect. 

Total Miles Run: 15.7

Monday: Yoga

Tuesday: Strength Workout

Sarah and I focused on our upper body and abs. Oooo, it was a good one! My chest was so sore the next day! We also did a little stair climber at the end which was hard and fun. 

Wednesday: 5.1 Mile Run

I had to do this run on pavement and again my legs were crazy sore afterwards. Hmmm. I think I might not actually be making this up, because my legs were less sore after a 3 1/2 hour trail run later in the week than they were after this 50 minute pavement run!

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Yoga

Saturday: Rest 

Sunday: 10.6 Mile Run

Oh, this was a good run! It took Stacey and me 3 1/2 hrs, which is about a 20 min/mile. That seems slow, but here is the elevation of the run:

Cougar to Squak Mtn Elevation

We also stopped to check maps, eat, take photos, blah blah blah. Anyways, there was still a lot of running to be had! 

That middle peak is the Squak portion. We got a great little sneak peek at Mount Baker from up there, which was so cool as we rarely can see it from this far south. The weather was amazing. Started in the 30s, got up to low 50s, sunny the whole time. We went on some trails we hadn't ventured on before, which was really fun. Can't wait to go back and explore Squak some more soon!

One of the exciting things that happened is that I tripped and laid myself out on the trail for the first time. When I tripped I felt like it was slow-mo, I knew I was falling and yelled "ahhhhhhhh" for what felt like forever. Then I was flat on my stomach. Nothing broken or bleeding, thank goodness. Not even any ripped clothes! I will have a nice big bruise on my thigh and elbow, though. At least I got that out of the way!

Originally we planned to run for 2 hours and I brought a map for a new route, having no clue how far it was-- or the elevation. Rookie move on my part. We ran much further than we planned and didn't even do half of the route I hoped we would! Stacey and I agreed we could have kept running all day if we had the time. It was one of those runs where every step (maybe not the trip . . . ) was amazing. 

One of my goals is to take more photos on the trails. Unfortunately, my phone isn't taking great pictures now. Maybe my lens is too scratched or something? Everything is blurry. But I got this one of Stacey and me on a bridge on Squak. 

Love running with this girl. We will officially begin 50k training next month and have some serious fun at the Sun Mountain 50k in May!