Friday, December 31, 2010

Surprise! Another Indulgent Year End Recap

It's that time of year where everyone recaps all the good and bad things that happened in the past year. Lots of over analyzing occurs and people set goals and resolutions. I'd like to say I'm immune to such frivolity but, alas, I am not. I will try to make this quick and painless for all, hitting on the things I am most proud of and excited about. So here goes!

In 2010 I...
  • ran my first half marathon.
  • was 4th overall female in a 5k trail race.
  • ran my first marathon.
  • ran 1,061.2 miles
  • started working towards living a minimalist lifestyle by clearing out my home and wardrobe.
  • started crocheting again with a passion.
  • made lots of new running friends that I adore!

For 2011 I want to...

  • concentrate on the half marathon distance for the spring.
  • run Medoc Trail Marathon again.
  • run 1,300-1,500 miles.
  • continue on my minimalist lifestyle journey.
  • learn to crochet good enough that I can set up an Etsy shop.
  • make even more great running friends and keep the existing ones close to my heart.

My biggest wish for the new year is that my good friend finally gets the family she wants. If only one thing could go my way in 2011 that would be the one thing I would ask for!

Happy New Year to you and yours! May you all be graced with love, good health, and happiness in 2011!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Running Wrap Up

I am happy to report that my running has been good this past week. I managed to run 5 days! I rarely ever do that. Most of the time I feel my body just can't do it. That must be a sign that physical therapy is working. I'm not 100% yet but I'm feeling stronger than I have in a long time.

Christmas Eve the hubby and I got to trail run together. We went for a run with the Carolina Trail Runners Meet Up group at Crowders Mountain. My friends Kay and Laura came along. Laura dragged her hubby along as well. Kay put everyone up to the challenge of wearing festive attire. Apparently only us ladies were in the festive spirit. We have no qualms about looking goofy out in public.

We ran to the top of Kings Pinnacle where we all took photos and enjoyed the beautiful clear view of the surrounding land. This is the first time that the air was clear enough for me to see the city of Charlotte's skyline. I got my hair bows caught on some branches while up there and couldn't seem to free myself. Luckily Kay managed to save me from hanging myself by bow. Thank goodness for friends! After our rest and photo ops we ran back down as fast as possible. I admit running up that pinnacle is painful but it's so worth it to run back down like a streak of lightning. After 5 miles of running we enjoyed some well earned snacks and good conversation. I'm looking forward to more group runs with them. It was a great way to start off the days festivities!

Christmas night it started to snow here. I was hoping the roads in the morning would be nice enough to hit the trails. When I first got up they looked good but by 8am there was a covering of slush so I decided to brave the roads for my long run. It's been a long time since I've done any long mileage on roads so I was worried more about that than the conditions.

I bundled up and I strapped on a pair of trail shoes so I'd have good traction on the snow and slush. I also filled up my new Nathan 22oz handheld water bottle that Santa brought me so I could test it out even though I was pretty sure my 10 oz would have sufficed. It was snowing when I left and it snowed the whole run. It was absolutely gorgeous! The snow made running on the road so much more tolerable and entertaining. My body held out nicely. I first committed myself to at least three miles. Then a six mile commitment. Then nine and finally to ten miles! I was thrilled with my run and pace considering the conditions and that I'm not used to running long on roads! As much as I hate to admit it, I really need to do more long runs on asphalt, maybe once a month. I think it would be good for leg endurance since there are no walk breaks built in like on trails with the super steep long hills that demand walk breaks.

All in all it was an awesome week. I hope I can start the new year of running off as strong as last week's running. I hope everyone else had a great holiday week of running!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Snow Day!

This morning I went out for what I hoped to be a 12 mile run on one of my favorite trails. I got there by 9am with the intent on getting my run in before the rain/snow started in the afternoon. Even though it was a cold overcast day I saw several trail runners and lots of hikers out on the trail.

About 5 miles into my out and back adventure, as I was making my way up the final ascent to the top of the mountain before the pinnacle, I heard precipitation. What? It's not supposed to rain until later. Wait, that's too loud for rain! That's sleet! Time to put my windbreaker/rain jacket back on. When I got to my usual turn around I considered going down the other side of the mountain for an even 6 before turning around but decided with the sleet it was best to turn around at 5.5 miles. By 5.75 miles it was snowing!

It was so beautiful and unexpected. Big fluffy flakes mixed with sleet. I was really wishing for a visor at that point since I kept getting sleet in my eyes. I enjoyed my run back. Around 7 or 8 miles I was grinning from ear to ear. What fun! Most everyone I passed was loving the conditions. Well, except one hiker, but she seemed a naturally grumpy sort anyway. I'll admit by mile 10 I was over the slush because it made for terrible traction on top of the leaves going up hill, like spinning wheels. Had I known there would be slush I would have worn my La Sportiva Crosslites with the big lugs. I made it 11 miles and decided it was time to call it a day.

Thank goodness I brought my camera. What a great day for photos on the trail!

After the run, deflated pigtails and raw nose from wiping it constantly for 11 miles.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blog Slacking

Seems I've been a bit of a slacker here lately. Every day I've been telling myself I'd sit down and make a quick blog post. Yet, each day passes and my blog sits unkempt and lonely. I've also slacked on reading other people's blogs. I've been so wrapped up in other things that for the first time in a long time the computer is being ignored unless it is required for whatever project I'm wrapped up in.

Just a quick summary of what I've been doing during my blogging vacation:

  • PT- my right knee decided to join in the IT band fun so I finally broke down and sought some help. My PT is doing an awesome job tortur... uh, I mean fixing me. I've been spending two hours twice a week there. I'm happy to report that I am up to just over 10 miles with almost no issues. I still get achy in my left leg after a long run but it usually clears up after a day. Hopefully we'll get this fixed for long term!

  • I've been working running in where I can around all the PT. Which means I've been running some at night, a rare thing for me. It's not as bad as I thought.

  • I've been crocheting a lot. I've jumped in full force with learning to crochet better. I've made lots of presents this year. I'd love to be able to post pictures of all my cool projects but I don't want to spoil any body's presents. I can post a few since they aren't presents. I'm really loving the crocheting. It's so soothing to do. In true to me form, when discovering something I really enjoy, I have become obsessed with crochet!

  • I'm still in on the Project 333 fashion minimalist project.

I'll have to make a separate post on all that I have learned during Project 333 when I have more time. Now I need to go get bundled up for a running date in the freezing cold. I finally got my cooler weather, a bit too cool, but it beats slogging around in 90+ with high humidity.

A few of my craft projects.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

28 Days Later

Well, I've been on my Project 333 minimalist wardrobe journey for 28 days now. I was going to wait for a full month to report but I couldn't resist the 28 Days Later title so close to Halloween!

I fretted and worried over my choices for the first few weeks. The weather was up and down with temperatures and I just couldn't decide if I had too much short sleeve or too much long sleeve. Do I really need that third skirt? Or even any of them? Will I actually wear my tall boots? Two tank tops? I must have been nuts when I picked my choices!

I am happy to report that all the worry was over nothing. It did take me some time to get into the swing of things and stop second guessing and just make do with what I have. I have to say I feel more confident in the choices I make each day about my wardrobe. I feel like I radiate that confidence when interacting with others. I've managed to make pieces that I love but normally have saved for the right occasion work for everyday situations. That little bit makes me really happy! Even this morning my neighbor complimented me on how nice I looked as I was getting in the car to take my little monster to preschool.

I'm loving how easy it is to make a decision about what to wear. I even look forward to certain pieces getting laundered so I can wear them again. Who would have thought that with only 33 wardrobe items I would get excited about wearing some of them over and over? Right now my favorites are my cheap-o grey tee shirt and my wool shrug. I've only worn one out of my three skirts and my boots have yet to make an appearance but that will come with cooler temps. I'm thinking of pulling out my black boots with my black skirt for a knitting group tonight!

I've already gone through my packed away clothes and put some in my donation box. I hope that in two more months I'm willing to put some more in that box. I keep the wheels turning trying to decide what else in my life I can pare down to only what I need or truly adore. It really is such a liberating feeling. I wouldn't be surprised at this point if I have more running clothes than I do day to day clothes!

If you are interested in starting your own minimal journey there is a wealth of blogs out there that can help you get started. One big thing that has helped me is setting aside a box in my garage to put things in that I will donate. Having the box always available makes it easy if I come across something during my day that I decide I don't really need. That way there is no need to take the extra step to find a box or start a messy pile of things to donate. When the box is full I load it in my car and swing by Goodwill after I drop my little imp off at preschool and bring it back home to wait for more goodies to fill it with. Seems like no matter how much I've donated lately I can always find something else that needs to find a new home.

Some inspiring minimalist blogs:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Medoc Trail Marathon- I did it!

Oh man, where to begin?012

Kay and Michael both ran the marathon as well. This was Kay’s first, as well as my first, and Michael’s second. We were all set for a day of fun and we weren’t disappointed. The weather was perfect! Just chilly enough to make you shiver but not freeze. By the end of the race it was in the mid 60’s with a pleasant breeze.

Waiting for the045 race to start I met many wonderful people. There were two girls dressed as Girl Scouts. As they walked past me they gave me the title of Fraggle because of my hair. Everyone had trail names on their bibs. I made mine up since I’d never been given one by anybody but have now proudly adopted Fraggle as my official trail name! After that a women came up to me and we started to chat, her name was Twila. How cool! I have a friend from HS named Twyla so it was neat to meet another one. In fact there were two Twilas in the marathon.

Twila and I started the race together and turned out to be a nice match in pace. Around mile 3 we caught up with a guy named Tobias and grabbed on to him making our group a threesome. The three of us ran the first lap and a half together. It was nice to have conversation while settling in to the course for the morning.

Around the halfway mark my worst fears started to come true. My IT band was feeling tight. WTH? I haven’t had issues with it since February. My only guess of what went wrong was since there was a lot of flat and I was busy chatting and feeling good I got to over striding and heel striking and it took its toll after 13 miles. At this point our group started to spread out and leave one another. Twila's hip was hurting and I needed to speed up to relieve my IT band pain. I did get to see each of them on the third lap and at the finish. I was happy to have had their company.


After finishing my second lap I decided to keep pressing on, I was at 18 miles and had too much invested to stop. I devised m031y plan of walking even the smallest incline and running the flats, stopping to stretch when needed. I managed to make my way around the final lap. Around mile 23 things got really rough. I stopped to stretch and began to cry. I was so upset at what was happening. As I was crying I started to run. The crying quickly turned to anger and I started growling at myself to get my legs going. I knew the best way to relieve the pain was to run faster and to get done! At this point there wasn’t a soul around me so I just growled and yelled at myself that I could get it done. Around mile 24.5 I started singing an altered version of Dori the fish’s motto “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!” For the last mile and a half I sang, out loud, “Just keep running, just keep running.” At the 25 mile marker I did my best to run everything up hill, flat, and down hill. Screw the pain I’m getting this done now!

Upon reaching041 the grassy area near the start finish I just started to sob. I was elated, angry, and in pain. I used that anger to propel myself to the finish as fast as I could. I was so happy to see the smiling faces of my hubby, my son, and my friend Kay! I crossed the finish and gladly accepted my medal. The Race Director was handing them out and asked if I was okay. I told him yes, just emotional and my IT band really hurt. He offered me help. I thanked him but I told him I just needed to get to my family and friend waiting for me. My official time was 4:51:40, very close to the time of 4:50:00 I was hoping to beat. I am thrilled with that time considering the troubles I had.

I really enjoyed the three loop course. I had a chance037 to see the hubby and my son twice mid run. Each time I got hugs and kisses from my son which really helped. The trail near the end of the loop passes near the finish and you can’t really see the finish well but you can hear it. On my last pass by there I hear my son crying, another good motivation to get it done! Turns out he had taken a header off a picnic table, awesome!

Kay had an awesome finish. She was 4th female in the marathon, so impressed and proud of her! Sadly Michael had some stomach problems and walked most of the last lap. I almost caught up to him around mile 20 but didn’t get to ask him what was up since he ducked into the port-a-potty. He said he finished just so he could get his finisher’s surprise. It was worth it, a nice lightweight running vest with the race logo on it.

The ride home was long and I’m very sore today. My IT band feels better than it did after my first half marathon so I’m hoping a week off will do the trick. I’m still very emotional this morning. An overwhelming sense of pride mixed with disappointment at my body’s rebellion. I’ll get this worked out because I’m planning on heading back to Medoc next year to set a PR!

So, I had to come back to edit this post because I realized I hadn't talked about the awesomeness of the race. This was the best race ever! From the RD, volunteers, and fellow racers I've never met a better group of people. Not one bad apple in the bunch. Great atmosphere, great aid stations, great medals, shirts, finisher's surprise, etc. Each volunteer on course made an effort to talk to you, and not just a "looking good," a specific comment related to each individual runner. The RD's were going around taking pictures before and meeting everyone, they even were on course encouraging as well. At aid stations the volunteers were eager to help refill my bottle and do all they could to help especially at the end when they knew you were suffering. I recommend this race to anyone interested in running a trail marathon or race. You won't be disappointed, I promise!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Marathon Week Madness

So this week has not been the calm pre-marathon week that I envisioned.

We started Saturday off with a yard sale. We made lots of money and got rid of lots of stuff. Unfortunately early that morning while I was setting up my husband came outside and declared that our son wasn't feeling well. I abandoned my merchandising to take his temperature. He had a fever of 102 and eventually it spiked over 103 during the night. By the end of Sunday his fever seemed to be gone.

Monday there was no preschool due to the holiday, but that worked out fine since he hadn't been fever free for 24 hours by then. Sadly he was a pill all day, crying, whining, acting like a piece of velcro stuck to me. I tried to clean bathrooms and regretted that. Not a relaxing day at home to say the least.

Next day he woke up in a decent mood and no fever so I sent him to school. I went for a 3 mile run and came back to two voice mails, one from school to pick him up and another from the hubby saying that he had picked him up. So I made an appt with the pediatrician. He has been tested for strep and flu, both negative. He basically has a virus. Today he has a cough and his fever is spiking again. We got some cough medicine from the pediatrician tonight. So no school the rest of the week, which means very little relaxing for me.

There was one good thing that came from our second trip to the pediatrician. I found out that the nearby high school has a cross-country trail. Our ped runs there since he doesn't like roads but isn't a trail runner either. That will be so convenient for shorter runs or speed work! Sweet! Sometimes good things can come from a bad situation. I never would have thought to check there for a trail to run. I'm going to check it out tomorrow night for my last run of my taper, a whopping 2 miles.

Another sad point to the week, I am getting a bit of what my son has. My sinuses feel clogged and I've got a scratchy throat. As long as it stays away from my chest I'll be fine. I'm running this marathon come hell or high water. I've dreamed of running a marathon for 8 years now. I'm two days away from fulfilling that dream, there is no stopping me!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Project 333- a minimalist wardrobe challenge

Today I embark on my first minimalist fashion challenge with Project 333. Here is the basic outline of what it is if you don't feel like clicking on the link:

  • Pick 33 fashion items including clothes, shoes, jewelry, accessories, outerwear to use as your wardrobe Oct 1- Dec 31.
  • What's not included in those 33: undergarments, workout clothes(thank goodness), wedding ring, in home loungewear.

My own adjustments to the rules:

  • I'm not counting jewelry and accessories in my 33 because of two reasons: 1) I have a toddler so accessories and jewelery are liabilities on a day to day basis. The only time I can wear them is when I'm out and about without him, which is rare. Chances are I won't even use any in the next 3 months. 2) I feel jewelery and accessories help to make a minimal wardrobe possible. They are what adds umph to a basic wardrobe without taking up a lot of space.
  • I'm not counting my purse because for me it's a utilitarian piece, it's like asking a man to not carry a wallet or money clip. My purse is small and I tend to have to alternate it with a diaper bag. It literally holds my coin purse, a folded shopping bag (courtesy of my pal Tara), a pen, and sometimes my phone (all things I can't leave home without.)

You may ask why do this? What can you expect to get out of such an experience? Good questions.

First, I like a challenge.

Second, lately I have been working on going minimal in my life. I'm tired of too much stuff in my home and life. I've been slowly cleaning out the house and this will help me to make some final decisions on my wardrobe. At the end I don't expect to stick with just these 33 fashion items. I suspect I'll greet some old favorites with fervor and be able to let go of others that I forgot about. My vintage clothes that only get worn on special occasions probably will stay since I'm passionate about those clothes and they are my wardrobe gems. I hope to get rid of the silly guilt I feel when I look at clothes I rarely wear. I hope to spend less time figuring out what to wear and spend more time experiencing life. I'm sure my heart will still go pitter patter when I walk through Anthropologies but I will learn to think my purchases out more thoroughly.

Life is about experiences not things. As much as I hate to admit it, I got sucked into acquiring things to a certain extent. These things started to control my life; bigger house to fit all my things, having to clean around them, worry over my spawn destroying my precious things, etc. It's time to let go of things and be free. It has been tough, there was a lot of unfounded fear upon letting things go to start with. Now that I've let so much go those unfounded fears were replaced with a sense of freedom, accomplishment and clarity. During the process of picking my 33 things I managed to weed out even more clothes to give away, yay for me!

Here is the part you've all been waiting for, my list of 33 wardrobe items:

  1. CK skinny blue jeans
  2. BKE bootcut jeans
  3. BKE black skinny jeans waiting to be purchased on Monday
  4. Grey Gap Skirt
  5. Long Brown Skirt
  6. Black Skirt
  7. Grey Short Sleeve Tee
  8. Black Short Sleeve Tee
  9. Plum Tank
  10. Grey Tank
  11. Long Sleeve Grey Tee
  12. Long Sleeve Brown Tee
  13. Long Sleeve Green Tee
  14. Brobee Tee Shirt
  15. INC Pullover Tissue Hoodie
  16. Big Grey Sweater
  17. Pink Sweater
  18. Olive Sweater
  19. Wool Shrug
  20. Cotton Shrug
  21. Knit Poncho
  22. Grey Cord Jacket
  23. Pink Northface Jacket
  24. Long Black Gap Coat
  25. Dansko Mary Jane Clogs
  26. DKNY Grey Felt Mary Janes
  27. Black Boots
  28. Brown Boots
  29. John Fluevog Wing Tips
  30. Grey Stripe 3/4 Sleeve Sweater
  31. Grey Leggings
  32. Striped A Line Mod Dress
  33. Black 3/4 Length Tux Style Jacket

We will be having a yard sale next week as part of our clearing out the crap experience. I'm sure I'll have a bit to share about that experience since I've never done one.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Let The Taper Madness Begin!

Ylast long run before medoc 007esterday was my final long run of 20 miles for my training for the Medoc Trail Marathon. Kay and Michael (aka Sideshow Jesus), who are running Medoc as well, met me at the Boulders Access Parking to the Ridgeline Trail. The weather wasn’t what I had hoped for. I have day dreamed all summer about this run. The average temps should have been in the mid 50’s for the low and mid 70’s for the highs. Instead of dreamy fall temps we got 64 for a low and 92 for a high. I decided to try to embrace the less than ideal temps with a reminder that what doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger.

Most of the run was uneventful. The temps started to rapidly climb after about 14 miles. By mile 15 I was adding a lot more walking to areas that weren’t all that hilly. I took a dip in a stream twice in mile 17. That dip revived my hips and legs for a bit. By mile 18 every time I had to walk my lower back screamed at me, threatening to seize up. I did my best to run the flats and downhill but I just couldn’t muster the ability to run uphill with the temps in the mid 80’s at that point.

Kay and Jesus ran a bit farther than I did before turning around so they were actually behind me for a bit but I knew they would catch up. At 19 miles I decided I would sit down at mile 20 and take a break if I wasn’t close to the end. I just really needed to let my back muscles relax for a minute. Kay caught up with me at 19.5 and stayed with me until I hit 20 but she couldn’t stop and sit because she was in the opposite situation, if she sat down she would seize up and I’d have to carry her in.

So, I sat down for a minute on a tiny log. I took a few deep breaths and tried to relax and not cry. I then decided to stand up anlast long run before medoc 004d stretch my back . As I was bent over touching my toes I heard Jesus coming up the trail. Uh oh, not very lady like behavior, I’d better stand up! It was too late I had already given him a bit of a show. The humor of the situation helped to lighten my mood as we made a joke out of it. Having him with me at the end helped me to get done without crying. He offered to carry my Camelbak since my back was giving me fits but I declined since it wasn’t really the problem, but it was very nice of him to ask and just what I needed at that point. We finally reached a good stopping point near the end a walked it in. My final distance was 20.44 mi in 4:30:59.

We found Kay sitting on the bench waiting for us at the bottom of the trail spur that takes you to the parking area. We all sat down for a minute before tackling that spur, it’s really brutal after a long trail run to hit this steep winding trek to the parking. We all agreed we were glad it was done. I think we were all out of water and the mountain had taken a toll on all of us. Even as beat as we were, we are all looking forward to a good time at Medoc on October 16th.

I had weighed myself before leaving for the run and when I got home. I had lost nearly 3% of my body weight. Way too much loss. Clearly I need a bigger hydration pack for these longer runs. Hopefully Santa will help me with that. I now think had I had enough water my back wouldn’t have felt so horrible. Lesson learned!

All the photos are from after the run.

Wrinkled toes from soaking in the stream. Wrinkled feet from sitting in the stream.last long run before medoc 005

A more realistic image of what we felt like after the run.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Laying Low to Run High

So, last week I took it pretty easy. Only two runs to be exact, one 5 miler and a 13 miler. Wild and crazy, I know. I had planned an 8 miler for Thursday but that day I woke up and felt like I'd been hit by the sleep truck. I decided that I needed to spend the day taking it easy and skipped my run. I took the next day off because I don't like to run the day before a long run, even if it was a "short" long run. I'll admit the morning of my long run I just wasn't feeling it mentally. Physically I felt great but wasn't feeling like running 13 miles. I got it done and was glad to be done with my running for the week.

After a week of not feeling the run I was anticipating a possible crappy week of running again. I have to report that this past week of running rocked my stripey socks! Monday was 5 miles of bliss. Cooler temperatures and an easier route allowed for speedy running, averaging my best trail pace in a long time. Tuesday was warmer than I had expected but wasn't horribly hot. It wasn't a stellar 8 miles but nothing to complain about either. Thursday was nice and effortless feeling. Not that I went fast but, at the end of 5 miles, including more than a mile climbing to the top of a mountain, I felt like I hadn't run at all.

Wow, my body felt great the whole week and I still had my long run to go. This week was another recovery week. My long run plan was for 13. I decided to meet up with a trail running group west of here, just under 2 hours. The plan was to run the Kitsuma trail as a time trial. Everyone starts their watch at the same spot and takes a halfway time at the same spot before heading back to finish up. We all stated what we thought we could run it in. Having little knowledge of the trail other than the elevation map. I declared my time goal of 1:45:45. I also planned on doing the time trial then follow it up with 3 easy miles to make my 13 for the day.

I was pretty excited when I got there this morning. We introduced ourselves and went on our quests to make our predicted times. The trail head had a trail closed for maintence sign but we decided to go anyway since it was a mountain bike trail and maybe it just wasn't suitable for bikes. One of the guys ran it just last week and it was fine.

As I headed up the mountain I glanced at my watch around half a mile and had already been going for over 8 minutes, crap! I know I'm not good at ascents. I'm working on my power hiking skills, something I truly don't like doing. I ran what little I could and walked when I had to, which was quite often. Halfway through the first mile I started noticing parts of the trail were turned up where they were working on it, not too bad, definitely tolerable. As the climbing went on the dirt became more churned up, lots of exposed and broken roots to be mindful of. It felt like running up hill in a really messy sand box, talk about lack of traction and no help propelling yourself up the hill. I made it to the top of the mountain and got a short break as I ran down to the parking area on the other side of the mountain. I took my split 4.5 miles with a time of 1:04:45. Crap! No way I will make my time unless I can find it in me to motor up the hills.

I turned back around and headed back towards the summit with as much vigor as I could muster. I tried to do as much hill running as I could and walked as briskly as I could in a sand box on the side of a hill. It was less than 2 miles to the summit which was a relief because it was mostly downhill from there. The churned up dirt made for nice cushioning as I blasted down the mountain. I'm a downhill machine. Nothing better than saying a prayer and letting go as you run down a torn up trail with little room for error, just a small tree here and there to separate you from the steep drop down the mountain. Arms flailing and dirt flying I managed to finish my run in 1:55:39, almost 10 minutes over my predicted time, and an awesome negative split for the way back. (my slowest mile was 16:04 and fastest was 9:07)

A dip in the stream as an ice bath and to clean the dirt from my legs was a perfect treat after such a leg beater of a run. I decided not to add the extra 3 miles because in less than 10 miles I had put in a 13 mile effort. Everyone brought food and we had a potluck cookout afterwards. I had a great time meeting everyone and eating some great grub!

I have to say this has been my best week of running ever! If I ever top this week I'll be pleasantly surprised and if I do I'm going to guess it will be awhile before I do. This week has been full of running high, both figuratively and literally! I hope everyone else has had a great week as well!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Favorites

Today's favorite will have nothing to do with running. It's about a popsicle and a little boy. For dinner tonight I served my son some whole wheat spiral pasta and lima beans. Seems like a strange combo but it is a big hit with my son, he loves pasta and legumes. Don't ask him to eat a strawberry or any other fruit, unless it's a fig bar. Most veggies get ejected from his mouth pretty quickly too, but, hand him a kidney bean, a pinto bean, black eyed peas, lentils, etc and he'll give you a firm, "mmmm, guud." He wasn't always like this at one time he ate spinach, avocado, sweet potatoes, and applesauce. But, now he's a typical toddler with a limited food repertoire and what little he likes he picks at like a bird.

About 15 minutes after dinner I noticed he was pretty tight lipped. Lots of, "mmm and hmmm," coming out of his little mouth. Then he did something that seems to be built into the wiring of little boys, he let a bit of the lima bean slime from his mouth seep out only to suck it back in before it disconnected from the mass in his mouth. This isn't his first time at this game. He kept a piece of turkey bacon in his mouth for over an hour a few weeks ago. Ugh. I tried to get him to spit the lima bean out to no avail. After a few tries I pull out the big gun, the lure of dessert. I showed him a popsicle and informed my little imp if he spit the lima bean out he could have the yummy raspberry popsicle. Well, I could barely get a napkin in front of his mouth quick enough!

So, rambling done, here are some pictures of the popsicle delight! It's a good thing it was bath night! .

On the running front, I've only run once this week, on Tuesday. I had planned a run for Thursday but woke up feeling extremely run down. I actually slept until 6:45, very rare for me to sleep past 6am, I only woke up because the hubby's alarm went off. So, I opted to spend my morning resting on the couch and do as little as needed to get through my mom work for the day. I'm glad to report I woke up this morning feeling like myself again! I decided not to run today since I don't like to run the day before a long run. I'm only doing 13 tomorrow (pretty exciting that I can put the word only in front of 13!) so I should be back on track after tomorrow. One more true long run on the 25th of 20 miles and it's time to taper for my marathon on October 16!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Favorites (and not so favorites)

This weeks favorites:

1) Cooler Morning Temperatures- the overnight temperatures have been more mild this past week and a hair less humid. This has made for some almost pleasant feeling runs. I'd still like it to drop about 10 degrees to make me happy but I'll take what I can get.

2) Finding a few new trail groups: Last weekend I met up with a new group called Teal Trails. They are part of the Run Like A Girl, a trail running series dedicated to ovarian cancer awareness. I ran with them last weekend as part of my long run and it was nice to have company more than halfway through my run. Kept my pace up and my mind positive. Today I met with the group's organizer and we did a short run together. It's nice to have company again since Laura, My Reason To Run, has been on the injured runners list.

I've also found a group farther west, Asheville region, that has lots of fun organized training runs and Fat Ass races. I'm hoping to do a run with them in a few weeks. It will be a great way for me to explore other trail systems in NC with people that know where they're going, instead of me heading out blindly hoping for the best. I will have to drive an hour or more but I hope it will be worth it.

Not So Favorites:

1) Afternoon heat: even though the mornings are cooler we are still reaching the mid to high 90's more than 3 days a week. This will last into next week. I hope after next week we get normalized into low 80's for the highs.

2) My relationship with the interwebs: I find that I get down on myself about the time I spend on the net: browsing blogs, checking forums, searching for trail races, checking facebook, etc. I'd like to reduce my time spent browsing but I get sucked in everyday!

Every now and then I'll set limits then follow them for a week or two before I fall back into my old routine. I need help! Admitting the problem is a good first step but it only works if you actually manage to follow it up with a real plan, and stick to it. I have gotten rid of some forums and dropped some blogs but I think I need to do more than that.

Maybe I'm just in a funk this week and can snap out of it next week? I'd like get back to doing things like reading books, doing crafts, and crossword puzzles. I need more face to face connections with people and that's something that is hard to come by right now. I hope with the new group trail running possibilities I can get that connection with the outside world that I clearly long for.

Sometimes I just wish all our technology would fail so the decision would be made for me and I could just go with it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday Favorites (and not so favorites)

Okay, so I'm a little late on getting this post done. I skipped last week since we went out of town for a wedding. Also, the spawn doesn't have preschool this week so he has been draining the life force out of me. It is also quite difficult to try to type with my budding techno geek in my lap assisting me. But, after 18 miles this morning, and the spawn locked in his bedchamber for a nap, I am all motivated to write up my Friday Favorites on a Saturday.

Favorites for the week:

1) Trail Running Anniversary: Today marks the one year anniversary of my foray into trail running. My first trail run was a short two mile run. Introducing trail running into my routine was originally an attempt to combat my IT band. It did help but I also fell deeply in love with trail running, something I wasn't expecting. Now a year later I celebrated my anniversary with an 18 mile run, I've come a long way baby! All I wanted to do was run pain free and I've managed to do much more than I ever thought I would after my second bout of ITBS. So here's to another year and hopefully many more years of happy trail running!

2) Sports Shield: Some of you may have remembered awhile back that I had some horrible chaffing after a long run. I used to use Body Glide but after hearing some other ladies rave about Sports Shield I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did! I haven't had any significant chaffing since switching. Today I had a tiny spot (size of a dime) but I'm guessing that I either missed that spot or after 18 miles it finally wore off. So if you are having any chaffing issue give this wonderful product a try, I promise you won't be disappointed!

Not So Favorite:

Black Toenail: So here I am celebrating my accomplishment of trail running for a year and what do I have to show for it? (besides some awesome legs and a healthy mental state) My first black toenail is forming. I thought I had caught it before it got bad but I guess I was wrong. I felt it during my Wednesday run and came home and trimmed the nail. But today around 16 miles or so I could feel that it was still getting punished. I'm guessing that the constant downhills probably are what is causing it. I guess I'll have to figure out how to fix it. I can't imagine needing to go up a shoe size, I already went a bit larger in this pair than my last. If I get my shoes any bigger they'll look like clown shoes. It's my middle toe which surprised me, I always figured the big toe or second toe would be the ones to lose a nail first.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

MCM Mama Goes Masters Virtual Race Report

MCM Mama decided to invite all of us in her bloggy world to join her for a virtual race in celebration of her 40th birthday. I've never done a virtual race but decided that celebrating her moving into the masters division was worthy of participation. I'll admit I am looking forward to moving up to the masters division in less than two years. Next year will be tough since my friend Kay and her biggest local competition, Jamie, will both be moving into my age group. So, for 2011 they will be smoking me in races. So, I was looking forward to helping MCM celebrate moving up in the world!

Since I already had 8 miles on my calendar for MCM Mama's birthday I decided to go for the 8.25 miles option. I know my run won't be the fastest since it will be on trails but maybe I'll snag top trail run. This week my son also doesn't have school so there is no time in the morning to get my run in. I had to plan for an evening run at the US National Whitewater Center after the hubby was done with work.

I was nervous about this run because I'm not an evening runner, heck I'm not even an evening person. After about 2pm I only get the bare necessities done around the house, no starting big projects after then. So the idea of doing 8.25 mi at 6:30 pm was daunting. I had no idea how my body would respond after a day of trying not to kill, er, I mean taking care of my beloved toddler. Also I'm used to running after eating just my oatmeal for breakfast. There was worry about how my insides would respond after a day of: oatmeal, turkey bacon, pasta with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and parmesan pretzel crisps, and some M&M's and candy corn chased with a frappuccino.

The USNWC is much more busy in the after work hours than in the morning when I'm used to going there. The weather was more pleasant than I expected, around 85 with mild humidity. I wore my party dress, aka my Nuu-Muu dress, to make my run more festive. I hit the trail around 6:40 starting with the easier green trail. Man that trail was busy. Lots of rental, novices, and a few experienced mountain bikers. It was a relief to get off the green trail and over to the south main trails where there were fewer riders.

Around mile 4 I started to lose good lighting on the trail as the sun was quite low on the horizon. In one of the darker sections, as I was just starting up a hill, I was caught off guard by a mountain biker that was barreling down the same hill. We barely missed each other and both apologized then carried on. The insects were so loud at this point all I could hear besides them was my own rhythm thus causing the sounds of the bikes to be muffled resulting in a startled Ashley! I started to push the pace just a hair knowing I was losing daylight rapidly.

Around mile 6 I had to walk a few hills due to some mild tummy discomfort, my afternoon "snack" was revisiting me. I also had brought some Honey Stinger chews to try out as an option to my fig bars on long runs. I tried them out and had no tummy trouble from them but I didn't like the texture and after taste. I'll stick with my fig bars.

Heading into mile 7 I felt like I was flying down the trail and feeling my sweat spray off the bottom of my dress with each step(yes I call that mildly humid). I knew the feeling of flying was just an optical illusion due to the low light and the narrowness of the trails. At this point there were no more mountain bikes and I actually crossed paths with two other runners. I was trying to get the run done as fast as I could without falling. With about .75 mi to go I came out of the woods and decided to finish up around the kayak pool's gravel path since it's open and lighted. I decided to push my pace at that point to a real race pace. The last .25 mi seemed longer than it should have been but it brought my 8.25 mi to an end with a time of 1:35:05 for an average pace of 11:31. I could probably knock over a minute off the time due to the constant pausing and hopping off trail to avoid collision with mountain bikes.

Here are my splits:

.25)1:59 (pace 8:01)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Report from the Podiatrist

I have good news to report on the injury front!

I went to visit a Podiatrist this morning. The first thing they did was x-ray my right foot to make sure there was no stress fracture. So, there is no stress fracture but, there's always a but, my 2nd and 3rd metatarsals are a bit too close to each other, the 4th is a little close to the 3rd but not as much. After poking around my foot to try to elicit pain, which of course she couldn't do today because my pain has reduced a lot since Friday, she declared that more than likely it's nerve inflammation.

The nerve inflammation is what is causing the pain that radiates into my toes. Depending on how inflamed the nerve is, my toe and ball of foot pain changes quite a bit. Sometimes it's only one toe, sometimes it's all my small toes and the ball of my foot.

She thinks the shin pain in my left leg was the root cause of my right foot pain. I probably started overcompensating and putting more weight on my right foot. So the week off walking around barefoot favoring the left leg just angered the nerves in my right foot.

So as long as it doesn't hurt I can run. No walking around barefoot or in any shoes that hurt my foot. I had managed to get the pain down a lot since Friday by taking ibuprofen and icing it. Even with doing 11 trail miles Sunday and 5 road miles today it didn't hurt today like it did last week. So that's good news. The marathon is still on!

So I have a prescription anti-inflammatory patch for my foot. I also am to keep icing after runs and throughout the day when I can. As long as I can baby my foot when I'm not running to keep the inflammation down all should be right in my little world!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Favorites (and not so favorites)

Last week I forgot to do my Friday favorites post. I'm sure you all had a big gaping hole in your lives due to my slacking. We had a guest at our home and I was too distracted. But fret no more! I am here this Friday to enlighten you on my favorites and not so favorites for the week.

1) Our house guest, my husbands ex-step dad, came to help us do some projects around the house. I now have an extended patio, a gravel flower bed to put my potted plants on, and a raised flower bed (4 landscaping bricks high) in my back yard. Upstairs he put in a door so we could access more attic space for storage. The builders left us with little storage options outside of our closets and our two car garage has only held one car the almost 3 years we've been here.

2)Minimalism- Now I'm not talking the running kind, though I do love more minimal shoes. I'm talking minimalism in our everyday life. I came across this article via a facebook friend. I read the article and it lead me to this blog because I was intrigued by the 100 personal items challenge that was mentioned in the NY Time article. From there I found this blog that led me to the pinnacle of my day at this blog. I've been trying to declutter our home over the past year so that's why I was so interested in the article and blogs. It's a slow process but it is very satisfying. The Minimalist blog gave me a lot to think about when it comes to getting rid of clutter, distractions, excess activity, excess blog following, and even food.

The great thing about striving for minimalism in your life is that you can set the rules and decide what you think is minimal. For some it's owning only 100 personal items (toiletries, cars, phones, clothes, anything that is mostly for your use) for others like me it will be only having what I truly use. I started taking inventory of my things ( I still have some boxes in the attic and garage to count) but I have 75 running/exercise dedicated personal items, out of over 600 personal items. Clearly limiting myself to 100 overall would not make sense because then I'd be wearing running skirts and sports bras for everyday wear. We all know asking me to let go of useful running items is like asking me to amputate my foot for no reason. My goal is to reduce my personal items by 25% in the next three months, hopefully I can eventually get it down to 50% from my starting point.

As hard as it is to decide to let something go, it's just as satisfying to finally release it from my bonds. I never thought of myself as a hoarder but it turns out that I'm not exactly living a hoarding free lifestyle. My house actually looks clutter free, but behind closet doors and in drawers it's taking on a life of its own. You don't realize how much you hang onto until you start to clear it out. I don't think it will ever end, but I look forward to the day where I have less clutter (nick knacks) to clean around and fewer clothes and shoes to choose from. I love a challenge and this is definitely a good one. One thing I always remind myself of when I am trying to let go of an item is that the item isn't a memory or a person, those are inside me and can't be taken away.

So if you are intrigued or need help trying to get started I'd say look at the minimalist blog first, it helped me to come up with a plan of attack. After reading just a few posts I felt calm and uncluttered. I still need to delve deeper into the other blogs because they are inspirational too. (I wish these few paragraphs could have been more minimalist, seems silly to have to use so many words for something called minimalism but I'm not adept at minimal writing yet.)

Not So Favorite:
Very few people outside my circle of friends and family know I'm training for an October trail marathon. This is my third time signing up for one and I'm still a marathon virgin. I haven't mentioned it because I've been afraid I'd jinx myself. Well, the hush hush plan isn't working. I took the week off to give my left shin a rest and I've been having some pain in the ball of my foot that radiates into my middle toes on my right foot. It started off mild at least three weeks back and has slowly gotten worse. I notice it less when I'm on trails and once my foot is warmed up it really isn't bothersome. But after almost a week of rest it seems worse. The shin feels good but the right foot is angry. I've made an appt with a podiatrist for Tuesday and am hoping it will be an easy fix. If not I will cry.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Church of the Long Run

My version of church is to hit the trails for a long run. It’s a great way to get in touch with Mother Nature and reflect upon myself and things going on in my life. Today my running buddy, Kay, joined me for my long run. We both brought our cameras and took some good photos. We did 14 miles with lovely weather- overcast, foggy, and low 70’s for a high! I won’t bore you with too many words just pictures. Blog posts are more fun with pictures anyway.

Foggy upon the mountain


021 (2)

The Boulders of Boulders Access on the Ridgeline Trail


“That’s a nice boulder.”

030023 (2)


Tall Grass anyone?


Is that a big foot sighting?


Maybe, but I’m guessing whatever it was had legs that felt like jello and really wanted to get back to the parking area.