Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Feeling Alive and Close to Nature

Today I went out for an easy 5 miler today at Kings Mountain National Military and State Park. I took the loop trail to Browns Mountain today. I love this trail, a nice mix of steep hills and flat areas. The trail itself on this side of the loop is beautiful, lots of rocks, moss, and streams. The weather today was nice. It had stormed yesterday and it was still overcast this morning at 9 am. Even though it was overcast the temps were in the 70's with lots of humidity but the lack of sun made it feel so nice compared to last week's run at the same time and same place.

My feet got wet pretty quickly with all the dampness on the grasses along the sides and middle of the trail. I hit an area of wide trail early on where they have put down some small pebble footing since last week. Man that was tough to run on. I know it's there to help with trail erosion but man it wasn't fun sinking into the pebbles with each step. I hope it doesn't take long to settle in and get packed down.

I was really having fun running the trails this morning. I know I'm a bit of a freak because I love overcast weather, it's easier on my eyes and makes the warm temps easier to deal with. The overcast sky made the mood of the trail perfect for me, dark with the contrast of the green lush forest floor filled with ferns, moss, grasses, vines, and underbrush. Beauty all around. I was feeling so alive and in touch with Mother Nature. I came around a right hand curve leading to a stream with a footbridge and like a ding dong didn't slow down! What was I thinking? Rain + Wooden bridge + Running fast = SPLAT! My right foot slipped off to the left off the side of the bridge, scraping the side of my calf on two boards and landing on my right butt cheek. What would you think my first thought would be after finally coming to a stop? Well, it was to pause my Garmin! Not, oh my, let's do inventory to see if I'm hurt. Nope, I've got to stop my watch so it doesn't add any extra time to my run. After my Garmin was stopped I checked things out and my calf was red and scraped up, my left arm felt a hair sore, and the butt cheek on the right was stinging. So I got my camera out and took photos. I brought it to take pictures from the top of Browns Mountain, glad I did! After the photo opp I brushed myself off, started my Garmin, and went on my way.

My big goal was to make it to the top of Browns Mtn without walking. It was tough and mostly felt like a crawl but I did it and was rewarded with a beautiful view. I stopped and took some photos and just enjoyed my time out in the quietness of the woods. I packed my things back into my Camelbak and headed back down Browns Mtn. That was fun! Steep with lots of rocks to dodge. I imagined myself running my own mini version of Western States 100. Yes, 5 miles is a far cry from 100 but a girl can dream! At the bottom of the mountain I decide to turn away from the direction of the trail head to allow myself some more bonding time with Mother Nature. It was tough to finally make myself turn around and head back.

About 1.5 mile from the end of my run I was blazing along the trail, well it felt like blazing to me. I had a huge grin and was loving life when, SPLAT, I was on the ground! My final resting spot had me on my hands and knees. Yet again, my first instinct was to pause the Garmin! Did a quick inventory and whipped out the camera for another photo opp. No blood, just lots of scraped up skin and leaves all over my limbs. This part of the trail had leaf debris as a base instead of rocks. Had there been rocks I think I'd be a bit bloody. I used my Camelbak to rinse off my hands and packed my camera back up hit the pause on my Garmin and took off.

Man, do I feel alive today! What a run! I didn't want the trail to end but alas it always does. Luckily one of my favorite features of Kings Mountain trails is that there is a stream near the end no matter which direction you go on the loop. So, I rewarded myself by putting my tootsies in the stream and even sat down and gave my battered legs some love from the chilly water. I drove home going over my run in my head as I listened to Ben Folds and I thought, "What a wonderful day. Does it get any better than this?"

(I'm pretty black and blue now but it doesn't show well in photos. Bruised heel on palm of my left hand, bruised outside of right calf, side of right knee, and front and inside of left knee. I'm not looking forward to how I'll feel trying to get out of bed tomorrow.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Favorites (and not so favorites)

So I've decided to do a Friday Favorites post each week to force me to blog. Yep, I'm a lazy blogger, I'll admit it. I go too long between blog posts and I know you guys miss me during my silence. I've taken the first step and that is admitting my problem, sadly just one of many. Now for some taking action to recover from lazy blogger syndrome. So, without further adieu, here is the first installation of Friday Favorites (and not so favorites).

Since today I did a long run I'll talk about two of my favorite must haves for my summer long runs.

My Favorites:

1) Elete Electrolyte Add-In: I'd love to take credit for finding this but Santa brought me this last Christmas, what a smart guy he is! Apparently Santa knows my tummy gets very sensitive to sugars while I'm running. The few times I've tried Gu's or sports drinks during or after a run I've ended up doubled over wanting to die. So I've always just stuck with water in the past. The Elete add-in is great for me since there are no sugars, just electrolytes and no colorings or flavors. At first I noticed a slight taste, and I mean really super-de-duper slight, like a very watered down saline solution, but now I don't notice a taste at all. I'm thrilled that it doesn't upset my stomach and I can get electrolyte and mineral replacement that I need during my long runs. I'm excited that I'll get to test it on some really long runs this summer, so far the longest I've done using it is 13 miles, I'm hoping later to test it on some 20 milers and then a marathon!

2) Cool Off Bandanna: My friend Kay found out about this little gem of gear and convinced me to get one. This is a bandanna folded in half with a chamois in the middle and sewn together only at the bottom point leaving two openings for you to put ice in. Simple and so genius! Today I ran the first 3 of my 11 miles without it then headed to the car and jammed it full of ice. Ahhhh... gloriously cold ice on my neck was the bomb! The ice lasted just a bit past mile 8 today. This will definitely help me get through a long hot summer filled with marathon training runs. The only down side is that you get absolutely drenched from the melting ice, but hey, it's the south and I would be drenched from the humidity anyway!

My not so favorites:

1) I don't like passing billboards on the way to the trail for my long run that have a temperature reading of 76 F at 5:45 in the morning. Really? Is that necessary Mother Nature? The sun isn't even up! Don't you know it should be closer to the 60's?

2) Chaffing anywhere sucks. But it sucks even more in the bikini area. I'm not sure what I did different today. Maybe I wasn't generous enough in the right spots with my Body Glide? I can tell you my shower was extremely painful, you've been there and know that feeling. It's one of the few times I say crazy stuff like, "I'd rather go through labor again than feel that again!" Grocery shopping was unbearable and I've got more powder coated in that area than I'd like to admit. Here's to hoping the next shower doesn't make me want to cry!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Some Refrigerator Fun

The other day on Racing With Babes she blogged a post about her fridge. Oddly enough it's been one of my favorite blog posts I've read this week. I mean really, you can tell a lot about a person/family by looking at their fridge style and what's in it. She took the challenge of showing off her fridge goodies from the blog If I Can't Convince You I'll At Least Confuse You.

So here is my fridge in all it's glory! (Finger/foot print art by my son.)
First thing I think you can tell from the inside of my fridge is that I don't live far from the grocery store so there isn't a lot stocked up in it since it's not a hassle to make a run to the store to make a meal.

A few things I like in there: hubby's homemade spaghetti sauce, cucumber/tomato/onion salad from a recipe I snagged off of EricaH's blog, I added a bit of dill to it the second time around.

What I can't live without: butter, cheddar cheese, sweet and spicy jalapenos from Harris Teeter.

What I should live without that is in there currently: nothing really, the only thing in there that I wish wasn't is my hubby's pop, I wish he didn't drink so much, of course compared to the average American he drinks very little, but to me more than one or two a week is too much.

What I wish was in there: strawberries, Starbucks frappuccinos, romano cheese.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Race For The Land- A Photo Review


Here are the photos that I wanted to add yesterday but couldn’t get the interwebs to cooperate with me.

015                             Hills…

…and more hills.



The Finish.RFTL2



Removing of wet socks and calf sleeves.




The kiddos tolerating each other. Haley was nice enough to share her toys with Emmett since he neglected to bring any.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

It Takes A Village...

... to run a half marathon on a private nature preserve and survive!

Today was the inaugural Race For The Land Half Marathon and 8k. Those of you that have been following my blog for awhile know that back in Feb I ran my first half marathon. I finished but with serious IT band pain. I've been working hard on overcoming my IT band woes since then. So this half marathon was a big test to see if I finally have the hang of keeping it happy.

Today's temps were warmer and more humid than what we've been training in but I brought my super cool bandanna that I can pack with ice and put around my neck. (It's a great idea
but the ice melted by mile 4 or 5 and there wasn't anywhere to refill.) I was running with Laura and Meredith and our plan was to do the race together, through thick and thin. The trails today surprised us. We knew we wouldn't be climbing up,up, and up any mountains. But, what we didn't know was that it was going to be: straight up, down, up, down, straight up, straight down, a tiny flat bit, up, down, and rinse and repeat more times than I care to count. (Garmin says 6,700 feet of elevation gain and loss.)

The trail markings were difficult to follow. Main problem is that when you are running such rough trails you don't look up long enough to see all the ribbons marking the trail, so you tend to miss some important turns. We did some extra mileage today, not sure how much but I'll guess about a quarter to half a mile. But we got off easy. Around mile 5 a pack of faster runners came upon us from behind. They did an extra loop somewhere. Luckily everyone was in good spirits about it, it's just the nature of trail running that at some point you will get lost during a race. The fast group left us behind pretty quickly but it would not be the last we would see of them. Pretty much everyone we encountered said they had gotten lost. There were even half marathoners that finished at the 8k finish missing about 3 miles of trail. The fast pack we met probably did a 16 mile half marathon today.

I'm gonna guess around mile 7 we got confused and I headed up a big steep gravel road ahead of our little pack to scout for marking ribbons. Upon reaching the top I hear a stampede of runners. It's our pack of fast runners, again, and they are lost, again. We blaze back down to the last ribbon we saw and all look around to see where we went wrong. I'm gonna guess there were about 15 of us standing there scratching our heads. Finally someone sees some ribbons up the side of the gravel road heading off into oblivion. Off we go up the tiny path. Yet again we miss a turn due to the fact that we were all concentrating on looking where to put our feet so we don't break an ankle. So we end up in the woods with no trail. Announcements are made to turn around and hunt for the missed turn. Thank goodness that was the last time we were lost. The trails got easier to follow after that. It really took a village today to make it out of the trail system.

It's a good thing we didn't get lost again. Laura was having a rough go of it today and I don't think she could have physically or mentally taken one more sidetrack. I really felt bad that Laura wasn't doing well. She rarely had a bad run during our training but today just wasn't her day. We did our best to keep her going at the end. We walked a lot the last few miles. We pulled ourselves together to run for the finish and all crossed it together. I was bittersweet for me. I finished it with a happy IT band but also with a friend in rough shape. I would have traded my elation of having a happy leg for Laura having a better run. Hopefully this won't be her last half marathon. I really think she needs a fall or winter race. I told her when we started this journey that they were nuts for picking a June half marathon, now they believe me!

More Photos