Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sometimes You Just Have to Play!

Why do I run?  That is a question that I guess I don't know the answer to, exactly.  I remember I started running because I wanted to do the five mile in the Women's Run (that's coming up next week, by the way).  I suppose I keep doing it because I like the way it makes me feel and because for some bizarre reason I look forward to it.

Is it fun?  Ummmmm.... That depends on when you ask me!  Right now my reply would be "sometimes."  There are just some runs that seem more like work than anything else.

I don't do "fun" things when I am running most of the time.  There are some exceptions, like when I am traveling and I use running as an excuse to get out and see the area on foot.  That's always fun.  I've always considered my long runs my favorite, though I can't give you the psychology behind it.  I think about my long run for most of the week:  how far do I need to go?  Where will I run?  What type of terrain do I want (new question now that I am working on trails more)?  It's rare that I get done with my long run and think about how much I hated it, even if I hated it for some of the time I was doing it.  Okay... I admit.... running is weird!

But once in a while, fun stuff just happens!

It's been a rainy April here in my nook of Montana.  Every time it rains I want to hit the trails.  Something about running in the mud is just awesome.  Why?  Because it's fun, that's why.  It's like taking an opportunity to be a kid again.

Mitch and I hit the trails earlier this week after work.  I had a "working run" mentality when we left.  But what transpired was shenanigans!  Our total running time was very slow all in all but that was because I wanted to take pictures of the trail at every turn and I wanted to play in the mud... puddles.

There was a lot of standing water!

So why not jump in it??

His and hers! ;-)

The Rims have some pretty stellar trails for running and bike riding! Just don't fall off.

I have run these trails a few times this year and somehow I see new stuff every time.  It is really hard to keep the iPhone in my pocket and concentrate on the run,  It's been a whole new world taking on trail running for this reason... the run has become more about the experience and less about the work.

Today my long run was scheduled for 16 miles.  We parked at Veteran's Park which is more central to town than we usually start at.  I left Mitch and ran to 27th and up the steep hill to the airport (just once this time) and then ran trails for the rest of my run!  Ultimately, I spent about 13 miles completely on the trails that run along the Rims and then down the Back Nine to Phipps Park.  I didn't get 16 miles.  I finished at 14.4, but since my last big run was 14 turned 18, I was totally okay with that!  I did learn that trail running takes more out of me and takes considerably more time than roads.

I kept my phone in my backpack.  If I had stowed it in the front pocket, I'm sure I would have taken longer because I would have stopped to take pictures!

My 14.4 miles took over three hours and I consumed 2 GUs, one CLIF pouch, 16 oz of Tail Wind and almost 2 bottles of plain water from my hydration vest.  Even with all those calories, I was POOPED at the end.  But I still had so much fun!  Long runs are my favorites.  Yep... I'm a weirdo.

By the way... I bought one of those CLIF pouches that is Pizza Marguerite and I just can't bring myself to try it on my long run.

Next week I need to get up to that sixteen miles.  It's Mother's Day weekend and on Saturday I get to participate in the Montana Women's Run.  This event is special to me.  The first year I did it, I only took on the 2 mile and knew it wouldn't be enough ever again.  The second year I did the 5, but oddly that wasn't the year I took up running.  Year 3 was when I became a running addict.  

It's true.  My name is Angie and I'm a runaholic.  

I believe this is my 5th Women's Run.  There is nothing cooler than 8,000 women all getting together to run/walk together!  Someday I will know what it is like to run a big-time marathon in a big city and maybe then our local Women's Run won't seem so spectacular.  But for now it's the event that amazes me the most.  Being downtown there is so much course support.  Tons of friends and family line the streets of Billings to cheer on their runners and that is just so amazing.

My Mother's Day request is that we drive up to Red Lodge and hit a trail.  That will be where I get my 16 miles in.  Mitch can ride his mountain bike and I can get some elevation.  I've been dreaming about a mountain trail for weeks now and I think the snow will be melted enough to go (though it's looking like it might rain... oooh, puddles!).

Just a little help to pick what trail I get to spend Mother's Day on!

What is your favorite run?  Is it your long run, your speed work or something else?

I'm looking for good trail running munchies... any suggestions?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Peaks to Prairie Race Recap

April 24, 2016
Signed up for: Mixed Duathlon (male and female team run/bike)

We didn't find out about this race until about 3 weeks ago.  There are not many events near us that have both a run and a ride that we can team up on so we were pretty excited about this one.  Usually in May we take a trip to Great Falls and participate in the Scheel's Red, White & Blue Duathlon.  Peaks to Prairie was far more intriguing since RWB is 1.5 mile run/11 mile ride/1.5 mile run, while P2P is 9.3 mile run/47 mile ride.  We are both rather fond of long distance torture.

I've had some doubts all week about getting to the start line healthy.  Last weekend my 14 mile long run ended up being 18 and my right hip has been messed up ever since.  I took some days off and went for a short trail run on Saturday only to have it flair up again.  Then yesterday Mitch got a migraine.

On top of this, the weather forecast called for 90% chance of rain and windy.  We were in for a challenge no matter how we looked at it.

Last night I went through a ritual of steps in hopes of waking with a fresh hip.  I took a long bath with Epsom Salts, stretched, foam rolled, iced and then took some ibuprofen.  But all night long it hurt which meant I was awake sore and stressed out.  It still hurt when I woke up.  If this race hadn't cost what it did, I probably would have bailed.

We didn't get out the door quite as early as we had planned in spite of proper planning the night before.  We weren't sure we were going to make it to Red Lodge in time for me to catch my bus to the start line, but thankfully we did and the rest of the day started to smooth out a bit.

It was chilly, wet and windy.  This is the first time I've got to a race start and not been excited. LOL!  This picture was taken right before I boarded the bus.  I was trying not to shiver out of my shoes.

The bus left promptly at 7:30 as scheduled.  I was really concerned about standing in the cold and rain for nearly an hour before the duathlon start gun, but the buses stayed and let us come and go to stay warm for the whole time.  Bonus!  The weather was nicer at the start though.  There was no rain and considerably less wind.

At 8:00 from the bus window I watched the Triathlon athletes take off.  The tri for this event included the run and ride plus kayaking down the river.

At 8:30 the gun went off for all duathletes.  Some of us were teamed up with someone else riding and others were doing both events themselves, but all in all it was a small field.  I started at the front but let a swarm of people pass me knowing that I wasn't a front runner.  I only ended up there because they moved us all up to start and that's just where I landed.  I didn't look behind me.  I didn't care how many were behind once we were all at pace though I hoped like crazy that I wasn't dead last.

My hip hurt.  For the first couple of miles I wasn't sure I could keep going for the whole distance.  Then the ache seemed to dull and I got in to a rhythm.  Usually, I don't actually race.  I'm there to try and do better than I've done before and that's it.  But then I found myself closing in on a runner in front of me.  Old me would have said, "You should walk a little before you catch up... you don't want to walk after you pass."  That mentality usually leads to never quite catching up with that person.  So today I convinced myself to keep running at least until I got past her.  But once I did that, I couldn't very well stop and let her pass me back!  So I kept running.  And then I was closing the gap to the next person.  This game went on all the way in to town.  I passed a total of seven runners and didn't get passed once.

By making myself be a little competitive, I finished the 9.3 miles about 10 minutes faster than I expected, but hit the overall pace I hoped I could.  I finished in 1 hour, 24 minutes and within that I also got my 10K personal best at 55 minutes and change.  This is on a course I run fairly often and even though it is "downhill," it isn't the steep part of the route I usually do.  So, it is a legitimate personal best for me.  I logged 3 miles with sub 9 minute pace and not a single mile over 9:30.  I seriously impressed myself.

Our transition time (between me crossing in to the transition area and Mitch leaving) was 57 seconds. It would have been faster but I thought I could stop running before it was time.  Mitch took off at about 9:57 a.m.

Transition Area

I jumped in the truck, made a quick stop at the gas station to change clothes and then drove the 50ish miles to Columbus where the next transition area was - the finish line for the duathlon.

It was a long wait.  47 miles on a bike takes a while, then add to it a strong head wind and it takes even longer.  But Mitch did great and finished the bike portion in what is officially 3:20:38.  I was really hoping he would tell his own story here but his migraine came back tonight and he went to bed early.

This is Mitch dismounting to enter the transition area as was required by the race rules.  I was so happy to see him!

Rain did not end up being a factor.  It did not rain at any point during either of our segments of the race.  Only the wind was an issue, but I think that sadly we are getting used to it.

A few comments on the organization of this race:

~ It was a totally unsupported race.  No aide stations for water and very limited recovery food at the finish.  There was catered Pita Pit at the ranch where the kayakers finished but by the time we got there, all of the good sandwiches were gone.

~ The schwag bag was totally lacking.  Aside from the long sleeve tech shirt, there was one GU and the rest was advertisements.  The shirts ran very big.  I ordered a medium and it is way to big to wear for running.  Weird... most race shirts seem to run small.  Also, as I stated they are LONG sleeve.  I won't get to wear this shirt again until the fall most likely.  We did get to purchase short sleeved shirts when we picked up our packets.  What's another $20, right?

~ There were quite a few safety rules for the course.  Not the least of which was that when traveling from Red Lodge to Columbus to meet the cyclists, we were supposed to take a route that the bikers were not on.  Most people did NOT follow this rule among others.  It drives me a little crazy, but it happens at most races in some fashion or another.

~ No bling for participants that didn't place.  Not that big of a deal, but if you wanted to know... now you do.

For the cost of this event, I feel like there needed to be more to it (I consider this quite expensive).  Even some useful items in the schwag bag would have gone a long way to make me feel better about it. 

~ On a positive note:  the volunteers were exceptional and the overall atmosphere at the event was fun and energetic.

That wraps up my race recap.  I'm very proud of both of us for making it to the start line in spite of our challenges and for finishing strong.  This post has turned out to be quite wordy and sadly I didn't get very many pictures to go with it.

What is your favorite race bag schwag?

So until next time, Run and Ride Happy!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Boston Marathon Monday

Congratulations to all the finishers of the Boston Marathon!  It looks like the weather was absolutely amazing.

I scheduled the day off of work today knowing I would want to watch live coverage of the Marathon.  The first year I was in to running I tried to follow it on my smart phone while I was working and it was such a big let down.  It didn't work out well at all and I missed pretty much everything.  Last year I took the morning off and went to work when it was over but I was bummed because you just can't watch it and not want to go for a run right after!  This year I was smart about it.

In honor of the day, I went for a seven mile trail run.  A bonus of taking the day off (and the rainy weather) was a quiet, lonely trail.  No people, no bicycles, no dogs.  It was the most peaceful run I have ever had.  The only sounds were the bird songs and the wind in the trees.

Those first 2 miles were TOUGH.  I hadn't eaten much and it's been a high mileage week (more to come on that).  Thankfully, I had packed a GU and it helped bring my tired legs to life for the rest of my run.

I just couldn't help myself.  I stopped many times just to take in the view.  I had to take my own advice and remember not to live my experience from behind the lens of the camera but I wanted to snap this beautiful view from a high point just for my loyal blog readers.  I wish the camera did justice to the moment - the vast view over the valley, the low hanging rain clouds, the gentle breeze and the earthy smell of rain soaked dirt.

Rain soaked dirt.

Just me and the dirt.

I've come to the conclusion that my best editor lives in my legs and she gets quite vocal when those legs are running.  I do my best thinking and my best blog planning when I'm on a run.  Today I discovered that she works best when I'm running on dirt.  When my mind has to pay attention to every detail in the trail before me to keep from tripping on rocks and roots.  Just me and the dirt.

The downfall of the editor is the end of the run.  As soon as the legs stop moving and I'm climbing in to my truck to move on to the next thing, the editor goes back to sleep and she usually forgets to leave a memo for my conscious brain so I know what to write in my blog when I get home.

Mitch told me last time I was lamenting over my lost creativity that I should use the voice recorder on my phone and dictate as I run.  I'm not keen on the plan because running with my phone in my hand just seems to ruin that synergy between my legs and the editor.  Not to mention the potential distraction that can potentially cause me to eat dirt for breakfast.  But I took the advice today and took out the ol' iPhone and dictated some thoughts.  I'm not convinced it is practical, but it took less time than it would have taken to type it out on the notepad.  As a writer, I am definitely a work in progress.

As my conscious brain kept a careful watch on the trail, the editor went to work analyzing the Boston Marathon and my personal feelings about my sport's most prestigious event.  Anyone who knows me very well (and many who hardly know me at all) knows that my goal is to qualify for and run in the Boston Marathon.  Watching the events of the day solidified that resolve a hundred times over.  I WILL get there.  I will find a way to make it happen.  I am willing to put in the work and do what it takes to earn it.

But the editor is also a good judge of common sense and this is what she came up with today:

50K.  The Rut.  Over 10,500 feet of elevation gain.  Trails.  Mountains.  High altitude.  These are the goals I need to focus on for 2016.  This year is about me and the dirt.  It's about building endurance, learning to navigate obstacles and climb hills that I have hitherto avoided as much as possible.  I don't have to care about speed and for the sake of staying healthy and making it to the start line, I NEED to not care about speed.

When I think about it, I've given myself a blessing this year.  I get to enjoy the adventure of running!

So this year, I am going to set my sights on the big race I'm already committed to and train accordingly.  Next year I can start Boston Qualification training in earnest with a fresh perspective.  My endurance and mental toughness will be fine tuned to the task and then I can put in the hard work of building speed.

Just me and the dirt.  It's going to be a great running season!

I had so much other stuff to write about thanks to an interesting week of running but I'm afraid I've been wordy enough for one evening.  I guess that means I'll be posting again later this week.

Happy Boston Marathon Monday!  Reach out and grab your goals by the horns!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Redefining my hard - a new race and a couple of reviews
Click to visit website - Great stuff there!

The last couple of weeks I've given quite a bit of thought to what I consider to be "hard" when it comes to running.  Often I think I limit myself by my current definition as it tends to linger somewhere just a little past comfort.  This is true of my running as well as my strength training and by limiting myself in such a way I am cheating myself of lifting heavier, running longer and gaining speed.  I've won the mental game by convincing myself that a little hard is hard enough.

A quote I've become fond of is, "The comfort zone is a wonderful place to be, but nothing ever grows there." unknown

I need to stretch well out of it if I'm going to discover my true potential as an athlete.  I have made it my goal this year to reach beyond what I now consider hard and tap in to a new definition of the word.  If I don't do it now, The Rut is going to be a serious shock.

Last week I worked on this during my long run by tackling a hill in town that I haven't done before... and then doing it one more time.  It was harder than what I have previously tapped out at as a "hard workout," but I'll be doing it again and pushing to do it faster next time.  It will be a challenge I tackle until I can say it's easy (then I guess I'll have to find something else hard to do).

This week I did my long run in Red Lodge.  Mitch and I have decided to participate in a duathlon in two weeks and this was a test run combined with my scheduled 14 miler.

 Peaks to Prairie
Click to visit race website
Peaks to Prairie is a run, ride, paddle event.  We don't kayak, but they have a duathlon option that is run and bike only.  Mitch and I are teaming up.  I will run 9.5 miles and he will follow up with a 49 mile ride from Red Lodge to Columbus.

I haven't made any secret of the fact that I LOVE to run Red Lodge.  Most specifically, I love running the highway which is all downhill for my usual route.  Starting at the entrance by the campground where Mitch and I were married and finishing on the outskirts of town is 12 miles.  I had to run to the other end of the town and around a couple of blocks to get in my 14.

I mean really, what's not to love??

On this particular run, I PR'd a number of distances, including my 1 mile, 10 mile and half marathon. Keeping in mind that these are on a very downhill route, I don't put a lot of stock in those PRs but then again, I have run this same route many times so at the very least I got personal bests for this segment.  Pat on my back:

While I ran, Mitch rode the bicycle route for the race.  Having driven the route after my run to pick him up, I can say I'm seriously glad I'm not the one on the bike.  The first 19 miles are some serious rolling hills on a narrow road with lots of curves.  My husband is not deterred.  This is right up his alley.  Weirdo.

Finishing up 46.6 miles and still in a good mood!

I just have to add that we went to bed and crashed at 9:30 on a Saturday night after this!


During my last 2 long runs (and one midweek run), I tested out some new fuel.  In my last blog post, I talked about CLIF Organic pouches and reviewed the Banana-Mango-Coconut.

Since then, I have tried the Banana-Beet-Ginger: this one tasted okay (mostly banana) but seriously disagreed with my stomach.

During last week's long run, I tested the Sweet Potato and Sea Salt.  I love sweet potatoes, but I was very unimpressed with this.  It was way too pasty and a little too salty to be enjoyable.
I bought the pizza margarita yesterday.  I'm very reluctant to try it because it sounds somewhat disgusting, but I would really like to find a savory fuel that I like because sweet is going to get old really fast on a 50K race.

The gem I discovered yesterday during my Red Lodge run was Tailwind Nutrition.  I've read a litte on this product on my ultrarunning FaceBook groups.  A packet is 200 calories and is said to be all you need on a long run.

I put a packet of the berry flavor in Mitch's water bottle.  He didn't like it and when I tasted it, I could quite agree.  I thought that one tasted a bit "perfumey."
Mine was the caffeinated Tropical Buzz and that one tastes MUCH better.

I mixed this up in a 16 oz bottle of water and poured half in to one of my hydration belt bottles.  The other half I put in my shaker with about 10 oz more water and my BCAAs.  I drank the shaker concoction on the way to Red Lodge.

I did consume additional fuel.  While drinking the bottles of Tailwind on my belt and another of water, I also had a CLIF pouch at mile 6 and a GU at mile 10.  I can't say I had to have them, but I am a firm believer in fueling before you feel the need.  After that it is too late.  

That being said, I felt better on that run that I have felt on any long run in quite some time.  I didn't even need to take my traditional preworkout supplement.  I felt great the whole time and had plenty of energy.  I liked this so much that I ordered a bag almost as soon as I got home.


Before I go, I would like to say welcome to the running community to my daughter, Shaina who joined our ranks recently.  I've enjoyed sharing in her journey's beginning and getting to impart a little knowledge to someone just taking their first steps.

Also, I may have a little addiction to running shoes.  So I leave you with some shoe porn... my collection currently in rotation:

Run Happy my friends!!!