The History Channel wrapped its second season of Alone, a show where ten contestants are dropped off on their own in a specific portion of Vancouver Island. Contestants had to build their own shelter, hunt their own food, adapt to the changes of the weather, and deal with the elements of living in the wild. Not surprising, the most challenging factors for the contestants were their battle with hunger and the isolation that surrounded the rugged beauty of the island. What was most evident for me was the way each contestant responded to the challenges. Patience and positivity were the most powerful weapons to battle the demons that crept in when the novelty of the experience wore off. It was the contestant who remained calm and tackled what would be a disappointing outcome (high tide, no fish on gill net, pelting rain, wet shelter, missing family members) with positivity that won the ultimate prize. The show was a personal reminder for me of how powerful and positive remaining calm and staying focused can be for your overall health and achieving a personal goal.Not being able to run has been challenging, and I will not pretend that is has not affected me psychologically and emotionally. But I am not going to dwell on self-pity and I am tackling each day with an appetite to remain active while recognizing that running is not the only physical activity my body can perform. Not training for a specific race or having a set running schedule has given me the opportunity to spend extra time on activities I enjoy, like reading. I didn’t learn to read until I was almost eight, and it wasn’t in my native language of Spanish, it was in English. I moved to the United States a month before turning seven years old. When my mother registered me for public schools, I was placed in the first grade because the district felt first grade was more appropriate given I could not speak, read, or write English. There was a part of me that wishes I would have been placed in the corresponding grade based upon my age, but I get the rationale. When I learned to read, it was ABSOLUTELY MAGICAL! Even better, once I learned all of the letters of the alphabet and their corresponding sounds, I was able to read in both Spanish and English. In high school, I added a third language, French. Although I cannot say I am proficient in French, I can say I am capable of reading and understanding the French language comfortably. Extra time has also allowed for me to take off on weekends without worrying about putting in a long run. And with the purchase of our RV, we have been taking advantage and trekking off to the beautiful pockets of nature Oregon has to offer. Finally, I have been entertaining and hosting family members for the past month, which has kept me busy and given me little time to think about missed running opportunities. Staying busy has made the month of June and July fly before my eyes, and in a way, it has made Summer felt really short. Fortunately, I have three and a half weeks remaining before I return to work, so I am planning on soaking up every a second of what’s left and make the most of it. What I will not be doing is counting down until I can run again. It will happen when I am ready and I don’t want to rush the healing process.
This was supposed to be my last race celebrating the last few days as as a 38-year-old, and the race to ring in a new year as a 39-year-old. A week prior to the race, I kept looking at the weather and the prediction went from sunny with high of 50+ degrees, to rain and temps in the 40’s the day before. I kept visualizing both scenarios and told myself regardless of how the weather played out, I was going to be grateful and remain mentally strong throughout.
On Friday morning, we took off from Eastern Oregon to Portland, Oregon. The race was on a Saturday, which is unusual in Portland (I prefer Saturday over Sunday races anyway) and both the half marathon and 5K were capped to 1,500 runners combined. I ended up paying $89 (with registration fees) for the race, which included a technical t-shirt (the shirt ran big, but I didn’t bother to swap), a giant egg medal, and a mimosa flute. The course was described as “extremely flat” but if you are from Florida, you would have vehemently disagreed with that description. Though the course wasn’t hilly, “extremely flat” was not fully accurate because there were a couple spots that required some quad work, but not for a prolonged period of time. The event organizers offered four different bib pick-up days dispersed throughout the city of Portland, which made it extremely convenient. Registration was also available during bib pick up and my husband indicated he really wanted to run the half, so he registered on Friday when we ended up picking up our bibs.
I failed to eat breakfast on Friday (I don’t recall what I did that made me forget to eat), so we grabbed McChicken Sandwiches with pickles and ranch dressing out of convenience. The four and half hour drive required a couple of restroom stops (the 3-year-old, twelve-year-old, and four-legged-furry baby accompanied us), making the trip close to five hours. Because I have been battling some hamstring and butt pain, I MADE SURE to stretch and roll as much as I could inside the vehicle and outside of the vehicle. My body aches were my main concern going into this race, and I spent a couple of hours on Thursday wrestling with the thought that running could possibly further agitate my hamstring and butt and considered not showing up. In the end, I decided that if a race was going to side line me, then I obviously wasn’t healthy enough for marathon training either way and not to run Newport Marathon. Thus, this race was a perfect way to gauge whether I should continue training for Newport Marathon or not.
My carbohydrate loading feast the night before took place at the Olive Garden, where I indulged in salad, breadsticks, and pasta primavera with grilled chicken. My husband opted for Fettuccini Alfredo, and I made a comment that should I eat Fettuccini Alfredo the night before a race, I would most likely end up with diarrhea (lactose intolerant here). In all honesty though, I don’t care for creamy, buttery or cheesy sauces – or cheesy anything for that matter. By 9:3o pm, I was pretty exhausted and I did hip flexor and hamstring stretches, along with side plank leg raises and clams before calling it a night.
Because I was supposed to run 15 long miles, I thought I would do a warm-up mile prior to the race and then do a one mile run cool down after the race. Let’s just say, that didn’t happen because we got to the starting line with thirty seconds to spare before the gun went off. Much to my chagrin, we ended crammed up in the middle of the pack. We were so rushed, I ran with five packets of Extreme Sports Jelly Beans on my left hand and my cell phone on the right. I did manage to be responsible enough to consume a UCan Cinnamon Swirl Power Bar 45 minutes before the race. Once the gun went off, we found ourselves behind people who were walking or going at a pace considerably slower than ours. Shook off the “should have been here earlier, could have gotten closer to the front” thoughts and weaved around the people in front of me. Since we also did not arrive in time to use the portable bathrooms, my husband was still carrying around a serving of Fettuccine Alfredo in his intestines. Fortunately for me, I managed to take care of that detail at the hotel. We figured we would find a portable bathroom on the course somewhere and he could do his thing. Sadly, the closest portable bathroom was not until mile 6! Around the second mile, my husband’s stomach had slowed him down, and I made the decision to keep going.
On race day, the weather was nearly perfect. There were a slight breeze, temps were in the mid 40’s, and although it was overcast, there were no visible signs of rain. The crowd had also thinned down enough where I had plenty of room to run comfortably.
I think I have mentioned some time before that I don’t tend to race against anyone in front of me during a race because I feel that the journey of each and every runner is unique, and I don’t aim to elevate my journey over someone else’s by passing them. Now, if I were an Olympic athlete, that would probably be a completely different story, but since I am not, I am comfortable enough to allow others on the course to pass right by me. However, between miles five and seven, there was this cat-and-mouse game happening between another runner and myself. She would slow down, and I’d pass her. A few seconds after passing her, she’d sprint past me and she’d slow down again. My thoughts were, “I am not racing you and I am not trying to beat you.” However, after six times of going back and forth, I decided I was just going to pass her once and for all and not give her the opportunity to sprint pass me anymore. Either I would fatigue and she’d smoke me towards the end, or I would run strong enough where she would not be able to catch me.
Mile 8 is usually when my body starts feeling the half-marathon race. The hamstrings, my back, and my shoulders are especially susceptible to the pounding of the distance and when it begins to lose its form. So when mile 8 rolled around and neither my hamstring nor my back were feeling fatigued, I thought to myself, “Have I been taking it easy this entire time?” The mapymyrun app stated I was running at an average pace of 8:08 and it made me wonder if I was at a pace where I could beat my PR from the Run 4 Luv Half-Marathon I ran a year ago. With the realization that I was not hurting, I mentally pushed my body to refrain from seeking the comfort zone. I told myself, “You don’t train so it doesn’t hurt. You train so you can tolerate it.” When I saw the finish line in sight, I still wasn’t sure whether I was on pace to PR or not, but I looked to the side and saw 1:48:24 on the clock as I sprinted past the finish line! I was in complete disbelief! I then took a look at my running app to check how close or off I was and saw 13.23 miles in 1:48.40! I got a two minute PR without expecting it! My husband came in at 1:53 after two portable stops (and he learned his lesson about Fettucinni Alfredo). Oh, and the runner that I decided to pass at mile 8, she never caught me. Marathon Training continues! Which means I ran an extra two miles after my race to complete the scheduled 15 mile long run.
Do you race against someone in front of you? Have you ever eaten the wrong food the night before? How early are you to your race?
There hasn’t been much running or blogging happening on my end this past month. In a way, it feels like I have lost the wind in my sails. My job, which was supposed to have been a twenty hour a week job, has snowballed into a 30-35 hours per week job. While I have always understood that a job may sometimes require a little extra time past the allotted pay to get done, 10-15 extra hours per week was not an expectation I had when I originally accepted the position. The stress has caused me to be physically exhausted while experiencing restless nights trying to figure out how to get all my work done on time.
Three weeks ago, I stated my case to my supervisors, and this past week, I was informed that starting next week, my hours would increase! I tell you what, there is nothing more uncomfortable than advocating for myself and risking the chance of coming off to my supervisors a whiny employee who is unable to manage her work load. However, I knew if I didn’t say something, I would grow resentful and eventually resign. At the end of the day, I figured my self-advocacy would either lead to change, or affirm that resigning was the right option. Thank goodness the former and not the latter panned out, because I GENUINELY enjoy working with students and administering assessments to help them access their academic potential.
Work, while stressful, has not been the major culprit of my low mileage. In January, when I ran my first half-marathon of the year, I ran with an uncomfortable pain on my left arch and heel, which in turn caused a jolting pain in my left hamstring. Furthermore, I also ran the race with severe stomach and back cramps and I attributed all the cramping to that biological time of the month. It wasn’t until I got to my hotel room after the race, used the restroom (in a rather painful manner), and noticed small like crystals in the toilet that I learned the cramps weren’t due to the time of the month. In reality, I was passing KIDNEY STONES! I spent three days after my half-marathon drinking excessive amounts of water, running to the bathroom, and bracing the pain. Fortunately for me, the stones were small enough to pass naturally and there was not further medical action needed. When studying my eating habits, the following was discovered:
- I was not consuming enough water throughout the day
- I was exercising with a dehydrated body
- My kidneys were working extra hard to filter the six supplements a day I was consuming with very little liquids in my system
- I wedged myself into the coffee drinker category, further dehydrating my body
- When I was drinking “water” it was carbonated (Perrier) water, another diuretic because of the carbonation.
- Since November, I went from consuming 40-60 grams of protein per day, to 90 and above grams of protein per day!
Thank Goodness I did not suffer from larger sized kidney stones after the drastic dietary changes I underwent! Thus, my water intake has now increased, I am now in the social-occasion coffee drinker category, I’ve decreased my protein intake to my pre November levels, allowed carbs to continue to be the major source of my nutrition, stayed away altogether from carbonated water, and flushed all of the supplements down the toilet – which is where they were ending up any way. The experience has only confirmed what I have always known; what works for one person does not necessarily mean will work for another person (me). Our bodies are unique machines, and while there are health guidelines that are important to adhere to, the guidelines are not a step-by-step written in stone subscription to how every individual should be governed (no different than parenting).
Because I have been training without a purpose since the end of the Marine Corps Marathon last October, my training has felt like a job without pay. This means I HAVE TO FIND A RACE. I am planning on not running at all this week to allow my hamstring the maximum amount of rest, but would like to schedule a half-marathon race taking place in the next eight weeks or so. I’m also STILL trying to figure out a good marathon that will give me an opportunity to train properly. Because of some personal scheduling and conflicting travel schedules happening this Spring and Summer, I have not been able to find the “ideal” marathon. I may just have to take the plunge and sign up for one so that I can be forced to figure out a way to make it work instead of the other way around.
There have definitely been family adventures this past six weeks, and I am hoping I get to further detail our family outings in the next post or two.
Have you ever had to advocate for yourself at work? How did your speaking out turn out? Do you think you consume enough water throughout the day?
To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven
The weather is getting cooler, the days are getting shorter, and school is about to start. I’ve also returned to work after staying home with my younger daughter for 2.5 years and she will be soon starting preschool. My husband has been away for three weeks, and after living in Oregon for 13 years, my mother has finally visited me. Of course, it only took for me to buy the airfare for her to come (yes, there is resentment in this sentence), but that is a post that needs to be saved for another day, or year, or decade. On top of that I am still in marathon training for the Marine Corps Marathon.
Long Live Summer
I’ve never shied away from declaring how much I love Summer and dislike Fall and Winter (and sometimes Spring). I don’t care for falling leaves, boots, scarves, or anything pumpkin. Ha, I sound like Grumpy Cat right now, but there is just something about short, cold, gray days that give me so much anxiety! When it’s bright and sunny outside, I want to jump out of bed and break out into song and dance like a musical on television. On the other hand, when it is cold, windy, gray, and dark out, it takes so much mental and physical energy to remove the blankets off my body. In fact, I am feeling so much anxiety thinking about it right now. With eight weeks remaining of marathon training, I am hoping I can continue my training streak and not miss a single workout ahead considering the days are getting shorter.
My 11-year-old is starting Middle School!!! This new endeavor – for me and for her – makes me as anxious as the change of seasons. Middle School broke my spirit, and I am concerned it will not do the my daughter’s own spirit. To this day, I don’t have an exact reason why middle was so challenging for me, but I know I entered middle school as a happy, fearless, and enthusiastic 12-year-old, and exited as a moody, anxious, and self-conscious 15-year-old. If you are wondering about my age, when I first moved to this country, I was placed in the first grade as a seven-year-old because I had no school records and could not read or write in either Spanish (my native language) or English You can read more about my school memories before moving to this country here. Anyhow, I can only speculate as to why my spirit was shattered into a million pieces, and it is my intent to be available for my daughter and help her navigate the social nuances of adolescence. While I am completely aware I will have many moments where I will falter and she will believe I don’t understand what she is going through, I am hoping she will look back and appreciate my effort.
Independence and Learning the Rules
My soon-to-be three-year-old is stubborn, strong-willed, and ornery, but she is just as sweet, funny, and witty! She too is beginning a new journey in her life; one that includes navigating the social world where she can be independent yet learn to get along with others. I loved spending time with her while at home, but honestly, I felt like I was holding her back. She is so funny, and so smart, and because I was so unstructured, she could have learned so much more than what I offered. I know, I know, she’s only two, but it seems like nowadays, infants are born knowing how to walk, read, and play the piano. With me, she learned how to use an iphone, and ipad, watched every single Disney movie and learned all the songs on the radio. My concern for her is how she is going to handle preschool. Apparently, the school expects for three-year-olds to wipe their own butts! Their arms can barely reach their backs let alone their butts! I am also concerned about her orneriness and like any other mother, I want for her to be happy, kind, confident, intelligent, and all the good wishes a mother prays and hopes for.
I’m back at work, but it is only part-time. This means I am either going to be stellar juggling my mother and professional duties, or completely mediocre. I don’t really want to get into the mommy wars, because I don’t have an answer as to what is best. For the first six months I stayed home with my daughters, I loved it. The house was organized, the laundry was washed, folded, and stored away on the same day, and I felt total bliss not having to do the morning rat-race. But things changed. Because I was new to a small town, I did not know anyone. The only adult interaction was with my husband, and I pined for his presence and felt so lonely when he took off for work. The chores that I excelled in the first six months became “chores.” It was as if the only way to measure my self-worth for the day was whether the house was cleaned or not, whether dinner was ready or not and whether the little one was clean or not. So I became disinterested and I longed for something more. I wanted to solve problems that did not involves spills, stains, or tantrums. Plus, I also wanted to earn my own money. I wanted to buy unncesessayy items without worrying how much it would put a dent on the budget. My husband has never begrudged or made me feel like his money was only his, so it had nothing to do with feeling financially oppressed. On the contrary, my husband has always been nothing but supportive of my wants and needs, but there is a sense of freedom and empowerment when a paycheck is made out to your name. It’s like you have put on your superhero cape and you have saved the world from a natural disaster. I knew didn’t want to go back to the full 40+ hours, but I definitely wanted to be a part of the working community. Well, patience has paid off, because not only am I returning to work exercising the profession I invested in (School Psychology), I am only doing it part-time, giving me the opportunity to balance my work life with my personal life.
As I was typing this, my husband walked into the door. After three LONG weeks, he is home. I’ve missed him so much, and as each day goes by, I feel so blessed knowing how fortunate I am to have not only a loving husband, but a formidable father as well. He is the father I never had and the husband I dreamed of. While he was away, my mother has been helping me out a lot. Despite our differences, I know my mom is doing the best she can. We are not close by any means, but perhaps my time with her (she will spend a total of six weeks with me) will help heal some of the wounds I have been carrying around for years. Because I cannot change who she is and what she thinks, the healing has to occur with me alone.
Marine Corps Marathon
The negative voices of self-doubt have been present the last two weeks of marathon training. I’ve not written about my training much for fear of disappointment like the one I experienced during Eugene, but I am still very much loyal to my runs. This past Saturday, I had an 18 miler, and it was definitely challenging. My legs ached, and my mind kept wandering negative thoughts, “What if I do terrible?” “What if I get hurt again?” “You are so slow.” “You are not a real runner.” Anyhow, I had to move each foot in front of the other and wrestle the demons that feast on weaknesses to prevent it from letting it get to me. I am officially eight weeks away and don’t feel as strong as I felt for Eugene eight weeks out, but I am still giving it all I’ve got. I don’t want to put much thought into this anymore in order to keep the voices of doubt way back in the dark area of the brain.
Are you looking forward to the change of Season? Do the shorter days affect your mood? What is your fall race schedule?
Relays are like childbirth, you’ve got to forget the pain before you decide to register for another one. Apparently, Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back was not painful at all, because a month after running it, I ran Ragnar Relay NW Passage. It actually wasn’t a planned race at all. A friend of mine who lives in Washington was registered for the race, but she contacted me asking if I was interested in taking her place because she was undergoing some medical issues and felt it was best not to run. It took a heap load of discipline not to immediately say “yes.” While extremely supportive, it would have meant my husband had to spend another weekend with the girls, and it also would have meant more money spent on racing and traveling. After deliberation, I suggested for my husband to run instead. Even though he did not seem thrilled with the idea, I knew he would enjoy running in his beloved Pacific NW.
Three days before the race, my friend from Washington contacted me once again and said her husband was thinking about not running and asked me if I was interested. Without hesitation, I said “YES!” I figured finding a babysitter for my 11-year-old and my two-year-old would happen out of will and determination, and when my mother-in-law agreed to watch them (and our dog Jake), we were over the moon!!! Running with my husband is ALWAYS a privilege!
The plan to getting to Redmond, WA (where my friend from Washington lives and where she kindly allowed us to spend the night) was cumbersome. On Wednesday, we traveled from Eastern, Oregon to the Oregon Coast (6.5 hour drive) with a 2-year-old, an 11-year-old, and a beagle in tow. On Thursday morning, we drove from the Oregon Coast to Redmond, WA (5.5 hours). On Friday morning, we met members from Van 2 and drove from Redmond, Wa to Bellingham, WA (1.5 hours) to conduct the first exchange between Van 1 and Van 2.
Distance: 4.8 miles with a rating of Moderate according to Ragnar website
Actual Distance: 4.4 According to Garmin Forerunner 220
The first mile of this leg was uneventful. It was on the streets of Bellingham and I had to cross five different lights, all of which required me to stop because they were green for passing traffic. After the first mile, you reach the bay trail and get to see the sound and the opportunity to run on the boardwalk.
Despite the fact the temperatures were in the 70’s my run was extremely hot. Maybe it was the humidity, but either way, I was drenched in sweat, and that is rare as I am not someone who perspires heavily. Fortunately, I do not mind running in warm weather, so I was not bothered by the temperatures as much as my husband (who prefers cooler temperatures).
Distance: 8.7 miles Very Hard
Actual Distance: 8.69 miles
While most people seem to prefer the night runs (those who prefer cooler temperatures), I don’t particularly care for running when it’s dark out. Running at night in the dark is very overwhelming for me. My peripheral vision is poor, so I cannot see what’s around me, and my headlamp only lights a portion of what’s ahead, making it difficult to discern the terrain. Furthermore, because of the poor lighting, you tend to momentarily lose your night vision when facing incoming headlights.
Okay, enough of my whining. The point is, night runs are just okay for me. This particular run felt very long and aside from a bridge I know I crossed, I don’t remember much about it. It was definitely dark, and without a doubt very hilly, but there’s not much I can say. In fact, for a stretch, it felt like I was running by myself because I could not make out anyone in front of me, nor could I hear anyone around me. At the end of the run, I was drenched in sweat, and relieved my longest and most challenging run was over.
Distance: 6.3 miles Hard
Actual Distance: 6.32 miles
Van’s 2 night run ended about a 1/2 hour after the sunrise. This means we were up during the hours of the morning most people would prefer to be sleeping. While some slept during other team members’ runs, I felt obligated to stay awake. Unlike Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back, we had a driver, so I was not staying awake to help the driver stay alert. I wanted to be awake for my teammates while they were running and cheer them along the way. When we finally finished, we parked our vans in the next exchange and made an attempt to sleep. Attempt was definitely the key word, because I was lucky if I got one straight hour of sleep. It was just too bright out, and because I was the first runner up, I definitely had to be ready before all the other runners. At the exchange, there were showers and restrooms. While I didn’t shower (not a fan of showering in public) I did take advantage of the flushable toilets and the luxurious sinks with running water and soap to wash my face and brush my teeth. It’s amazing how a little soap, water, and a fresh breath can make someone feel rejuvenated.
Once it was my turn to run, I was ready to be done with the relay. I missed my daughters, and while grateful for the opportunity to share this relay with my husband, I was ready to head back home to Oregon and sleep in my bed. Of course, first we had to endure the drive back to the Coast from Washington and then the drive from the Coast to Eastern Oregon. We were in Whidbey Island and I could see bodies of blue water around me. It was still warm out, and my leg had a couple of gnarly hills, but I was not fazed by the route. The last leg of the relay is the relay you run with heart because at that point, the body and mind don’t have much to offer in terms of stamina. I could tell by the number of people I was passing that they were giving it all they had to finish the last 6.3 miles of the 200ish relay.
On a really random note, I do not ever celebrate passing anyone. If you’ve run a relay before, there is this tradition in which you count the “kills,” or the number of runners you pass during your leg. I’m by no means trying to be self-righteous here, but I personally do not find pleasure passing someone who is struggling and or may have a different running pace than mine. Perhaps it’s because I believe that each and every single runner out there is on a journey, and that journey could well be a journey to self-healing (cancer survivor, the loss of a loved one), a journey to self-discovery (first relay, first run after having surgery), or a journey to raise awareness about a social or medical cause. In essence, I always feel privileged that I am traversing the same path as the runners out there, and in a way, passing them is not celebratory for me; it is more of an acknowledgement that I am grateful I was a part of their path if only for a brief moment in time. But again, I digress.
This leg was also perhaps the most motivating for me. My teammates, which were nice but complete strangers, seemed to be completely vibrant and awake during this particular leg. Maybe I was too reserved and apprehensive during my first two legs of the relay, but it was during this last stretch that I felt like I finally got to know them. It completely changed my mood around and I was so appreciative of the fact I got to share this experience with them. At the end of the relay, they no longer felt like strangers to me.
Ragnar Relay NW Passage vs Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back
Scenery: Wasatch Back
Maybe it was because I had more scenic legs, or perhaps it was because I had never been to that part of Utah (I’ve only visited SLC for the Riverton Half-Marathon), but I felt like my views for Wasatch Back were so much more worthy of a smart phone picture than NW Passage.
Exchanges: NW Passage
The exchanges at NW Passage were less congested than the ones at Wasatch Back. Don’t know if this had to do with the number of registrants or the size of the exchanges, but the exchanges at NW Passage were much more ample, with better parking. I don’t recall if Wasatch Back had a place where you could shower, but because I vividly remember the one in NW Passage, I also feel like this particular detail beat out Wasatch Back.
The Finish Line: NW Passage
Getting to the Finish line in Wasatch Back was quite the experience. It took forever for our Van to just get into the parking lot of the Finish Line. The place also seemed very small for the amount of runners, making it feel really cramped and more of a carnival than finish line.
On the other hand, NW Passage had a big finish line with plenty of room for runners to walk around. One thing that Wasatch had that NW Passage did not have: Free Ice Cream, Pizza, and Soda at the finish line. This was nowhere to be found in NW Passage. The free Pizza (Papa John’s) was all gone by the time our team finished at NW Passage and you had to form a line to wait for it if you wanted it. However, if you like Beer at the finish line, NW Passage definitely had Beer, which was not the case in Wasatch Back. My husband got to enjoy a delicious cold beer, which is exactly what he wants at the end of every race.
Have you completed a Ragnar Relay before? Were you in a team with strangers, or people you knew?
Trail running is not my thing. For one thing, trails around here tend to be technical and require an acute sense of awareness between body and surface; a skill I’ve not honed given my clumsy nature. Add in a history of numerous sprained ankles, and I’m pretty much a running hazard. Thus, I’ve done most of my running on concrete and consciously avoided trails. Following my injury, I’d been advised to avoid concrete and have been dutifully logging my miles on the softer surfaces of local tracks. However, my long runs are now longer than five miles, making running around in circles pretty tedious. Plus, with Summer in full session, running around the track means getting scorched by the hot sun due to lack of shade.
This past Thursday, my friend Sarah and I had a 5:30 am running date on the trails. My excitement levels were so high the night before, I kept waking up every hour for fear of oversleeping! The run was as as challenging as I expected it to be. Every muscle, joint, tendon, and ligament in my body was constantly working as my legs and body maneuvered and shifted uphill, downhill, and around switchbacks. The elevation made an imposing presence on my lungs and made it more difficult for my nostrils to take in oxygen.
Because we had to make it back home for both our husbands to make it to work on time, we managed to cover 4.75 miles in an hour; .25 miles short of our targeted five miles. Normally, it takes 24-48 hours post-workout for me to feel the effects of physical exercise, but as soon as I sat in my car, my quads, hamstrings, calves, and ankles were pretty sore! My Thursday was definitely off to a great a start, and I knew I would come back again for more!
Nuun Hydration put together a virtual 5k/10k/ride race to benefit Girls on the Run and I chose the 10k, which coincidentally aligned with a scheduled 6 mile long run. Even better, the run landed on what is perhaps the best day of the entire year – INDEPENDENCE DAY! Once again, I headed towards the trails, but this time, I went alone – a first for me. This 10k wasn’t only to log 6.2 miles to cover the virtual requirements of the race, it was symbolic of my freedom and embracing all the blessings I have that millions of oppressed individuals around the world only imagine having. More specifically, I was running for all of the women around the world not allowed to drive, or are stoned to death for ludicrous accusations. My run was for little girls who do not have access to an education, and for women who can’t walk out of their homes without permission. Because I got really lost, and it took me longer than expected, I had a good amount of time to be thankful for my life, and was ever grateful my daughters were growing up in a country filled with so many opportunities.
I’m definitely adding trail running to my repertoire mix. It’s challenging both mentally and physically, and the trails are bursting at the seams with awesome views. Here are some things I have learned with only two measly trail runs under my belt:
1) I will get lost.
This is pretty much a given, since I get lost even walking around my neighborhood. Fortunately, the trails connect and eventually lead to the starting point.
2) Compression socks make a difference.
I started purchasing compression socks this past fall, when I registered for the Eugene Marathon, in order to help with recovery during the long runs. I decided to wear them during my long run on Saturday and they really helped protect my legs from tall grass, dust, dirt, and debris.
3) Trail running shoes matter.
I ran in the Gel Nimbus and the sole had minimal traction on the trail, which made for a slippery run. Looks like my husband is going to have to twist my arm so that I can purchase trail running shoes.
4) GPS apps/watches are unreliable.
I for both runs, I used my Garmin Forerunner 220, and my mapmyrun application on my iPhone. Both were off. This means that the joy of running will be more joyous if you don’t take technical stuff too seriously.
5) Deer and Antelope Roam
Nature will definitely be on fully display. While on my run, I ran into deer and antelope, and I’m certain I traversed hundreds of insects and other species of animals that I may have not seen but were definitely present. I may just have to carry some pepper spray to fend off from any animals that may attack me.
Are you a trail runner? What tips do you have for a novice like me?
On Friday night, my husband, my daughters, the dog, and I, drove up to the mountains to spend quality time with the outdoors. In all frankness, I was dragged to the mountains, but it was because the forecast read rain from 11pm Friday until 8 am Saturday with the possibility of floods.While the spring temperatures are no longer below freezing, the weather for the Holiday weekend was supposed to be too cold for my liking. Cold anything is just not my cup of tea; cold weather, cold wind, cold rain, cold floors, and colds in general. If the temperature is not above 70 during camping, then I feel like the experience is more like survival. Since the whole family, including the dog, seemed excited for the excursion, I swallowed my selfishness and put on a happy face. It was wet, cold, and breezy when we arrived to our campsite. A large group of my husband’s co-workers who had arrived to the campsite a couple of ours before us had already started a much needed fire for my cold bones. There were also quadrupedal species frolicking around like small children who came to greet us upon our arrival.
As much as I wanted to relish and enjoy the outdoors, my mind was still stuck on the gray, wet, and cold weather. When I looked around the camp fire to observe whether anybody else seemed perturbed by the weather conditions, it dawned on me I was all alone in the “negative nancy” category. The cool wind and the scent of rain falling from the skies didn’t faze my two-year-old, who was running around with chocolate on her face and gooey marshmallow all over her hair. My ten-year-old had muddy legs and shoes after riding on an OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) with my husband, who was smoking a cigar and exhaling like Sean Connery on a James Bond film. Even Jake, my dog seemed to be enjoying the night as he was sitting cuddled under his fleece blanket next to the warm fire.Their happiness made up for my funk and the tempestuous nature of the dark clouds. Perhaps it wasn’t only the weather that was impacting me, given I had not worked out that morning. At approximately 9 pm, I decided to call it a night and told myself I would attempt to run the next morning so that I could create some positive energy.
Saturday was a much better day! Even though I had to get up at 2 in the morning while it was raining cats and dogs to do my business, and subsequently could not go back to sleep after doing my business due howling winds scratching the perimeters of our tent, I was still looking forward to the day. The rain continued until at least 10:00 am in the morning, but a breakfast filled with delicious eggs, hash browns, and pancakes further fueled my desires to go for a run.
Rabbit Hole Warning: I know I have not made any updates pertaining to my running injury, but it’s mostly due to the fact that there has not been much to update. There was an attempt on my behalf to shake out my legs around the track two weeks ago, which was around the fifth week of recovery, and while I managed to make it around the track four times, my foot hurt, so I decided not to push it. That one mile felt great in terms of being able to physically perform what I had easily been able to do eight weeks ago, but mentally, it was frustrating to accept the physical limitations.
Nonetheless, on Saturday, May 23rd, I accepted the strength of my body, and embraced the outdoors. Not only did I manage to pull out a 5k on a gravel/dirt hilly trail, the sun came out and warmed my body!! There was mild discomfort on my foot while, but not a painful kind of discomfort, just a cautious discomfort of not pushing it too far. The pace was slow, but my legs and lungs were getting a good workout and there was a surge of endorphins that made the trip, the rain, and the mud worthwhile. Most importantly though, my run was full of gratitude towards all the service men and women who never made it back. Men and women who did not say good-bye to their spouse and children. Men and women who were children themselves and did not say good-bye to their parents. It was a reminder Freedom comes at a price that few are willing to pay but many advantageously enjoy; the price of one’s life.
For the first time, I also got to play in the mud (don’t like mud) and ride the trails in one of the OHV’s with my husband. In all honesty, I am not an adventurous person when it comes to new experiences. In fact, I tend to be apprehensive about experiences that I feel may lead to bodily harm and or drowning (bungee jumping, motorcycles rides, diving, snorkeling), so when my husband asked me to ride with him, I went with reservations. Once again, I was grateful I did not allow the voices of fear inside my head to seize the day and enjoyed a nice ride with my main man!
On our ride back home on Sunday afternoon, I noticed the mud on the side of our vehicle, the girls with knotted hair and dirty clothes, the dirt between my nails, the scent of burning wood wafting off my clothes, a tired beagle, and a handsome husband who seemed content to have spent time with his family in the outdoors. An enlightened smile was immediately planted on my face for not allowing my selfishness that overcame me on Friday afternoon to get in the way of the beautiful memories that we created as a family during the weekend. It was a good lesson for me to experience and learn on Memorial Day weekend.
How was your Memorial Day Weekend? What are you most grateful for?