Beginner Trail Running

A few months ago I decided that I would take on a trail run.  I researched races that would fall on my birthday and asked fellow running folks their thoughts and opinions.  I determined the Bobcat Trail half marathon was going to be my birthday present.  I love running on my birthday because I am grateful that I was able to run another year and spend another year with family and friends.  I am also crazy enough to run a 50 miler at Mohican next June with these crazy running friends.

Signing up for a race means you should prepare for the distance and the terrain.  If you know the race will be hilly, you need to practice hills.  If the race is going to be on trails and the most you’ve run is a towpath, you need to hit up some trails.  That is exactly what I did last weekend along with some fellow running friends.  We woke up and hit the road at 5:30am to arrive at Mohican Park by 7am.  By 7:20, everyone had stretched, hit up the bathroom and we’ve reviewed the trail map.  This bought us just enough time for the sun to come out and eliminate a need for headlamps or flashlights.

Just a few miles into our run we hit up the bike path.  The terrain quickly changed to rough, bumpy, and up and down hills.  It was AWESOME!  I was seeing how fast I could take the downhills without tripping over anything or mis-stepping.  The uphills, I walked or tried to jog here and there.  Although it had rained the day before, there weren’t many puddles or muddy spots to break in my Hoka Torrents.  They are still a bright orange with a tiny spec of dirt.

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We passed a small waterfall and then a bigger waterfall, made a wrong turn and ended up back at the cars after 2 miles.  After checking the map and getting a quick bathroom trip in, we set off to do another 6 miles.  It was during this portion of the loop we were given more information about the Mohican 100 trail race and how the course logistics work out from a four time finisher.  We were running to the fire tower when someone questioned the distance.  It was at that point the maps came back out and we realized we missed our turn.  Uh-Oh, we just added an additional two miles.  Once we got to the fire tower some chose to climb the steps, I decided to rest my legs.  We started to contend with mountain bikers as they were getting a long ride in around the park.  After 10 miles, we made it back to our vehicles!  It was a fun day, I wasn’t sore and I didn’t fall once during this run or my first official trail run either, but there is always next time.  Don’t worry, I’m carrying a band-aid.  I did miss my long run for the weekend, so I will need to make that up with my marathon relay.

I have definitely found something that is challenging and exciting that I will pursue more next year!  I want to continue to explore new races to have new adventures.  Even while I’m writing this, I am receiving messages about other trail races that will be opening registration soon.  Running friends can be very persuasive.

Get out there with your friends and family and explore your national and state parks!  As always, be confident, be fit, be you!

 

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The 4am wake up

This is my why.  This is my blog post about why I get out of bed at 4:05am to workout.  This post is dedicated to explaining the purpose behind my crazy schedule and how I attempt to fit as much into my day as possible, even on the weekends.

Before I had my first child, I would get up before work around 6am and get a run or workout in before I needed to leave.  If I was feeling a bit sluggish when the alarm went off, I would just re-set it for a later time and fit my workout in after work.  Then came my first child.  After I returned to work, I had to fit my workout in before I left for the day.  I, also, needed to consider my husbands schedule to make sure I was home before he needed to leave.  This meant that I needed to get up at 5am.  That isn’t a horrible hour of the morning, I could do that a few days a week.

Then baby number 2 came along.  I completely lost my desire to workout simply because I was too tired to do just about anything outside of my normal routine.  Wake up, get kids ready, take them to grandparents by 7:30am, go to work, pick up kids, make dinner, put kids to bed by 7:30pm, clean up dinner or other household tasks.  I wanted my children to have consistency and schedules.  Children function much better when they know how the daily routine is going to progress.  This left little time for me to get a workout in before 8pm or I would have to start getting up at 4am.

I tried the 8pm workouts.  I found more ways to cancel on myself than one could believe. “I ate a donut for breakfast, the day is already shot, you can skip the run tonight.  Oh, the diaper laundry needs done, forget a workout tonight.”  If there was a way to cancel on myself, I did. This left me unmotivated and feeling very discouraged.

One thing I have learned, and my husband has learned, is that if I don’t workout consistently, I will live in a depressed state.  I want to sleep a lot more than my body really needs.  I will seclude myself from the people around me.  I cut off communication with my husband.  Therefore, I need to workout.  I need to run.  I need to commit to myself so that I can commit to others on a meaningful level.  Lucky for me, my husband completely understands that I need to do this as well.

So, I now get up at 4:05am to meet with a group of crazy runners at 5am three days a week.  On the days that I don’t run with the group, I still get up at 4:20am to head down to the home gym my husband so graciously remodeled recently.  I am able to get a positive physical and mental health start every single day.  I am able to still do the same daily routine mentioned above to maintain consistency for my family.  My children still go to bed by 7:30pm, but now I am able to be a better presence in their play when we are home.  I am a better me because of my 4am wake up.

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Newly remodeled home gym. That treadmill has seen enough use that we’ve replaced the belt!

Until next time, be confident, be fit, be you!

River Run Race Recap

Say that title five times fast.  This past weekend I completed the River Run Half Marathon in Cleveland.  This was a carefully chosen race based on a strong recommendation from a fellow runner.  After looking at the course and seeing that it was primarily flat and mostly having a slight down hill grade, I knew this was the race to add to my schedule.  Not only was I going to complete this race, but I was going to attempt to PR.  I wanted to put everything out there on the road so that I knew I gave it my all if I were to come up short.  My PR time to beat was 1 hour 57 minutes and some change completed a few years ago.  This would be my fourth half marathon this year and I would need to shave off 4 minutes from my fastest one this year alone.  I was up to the challenge.

Race day was around the corner and the forecast was calling for wind and lots of rain.  Based on the day before, the rain with the added 20 mph wind gusts could be a complete bummer for a race.  Up to this point, we’ve trained in squelching heat and humidity.  I was struggling with what to wear so I wouldn’t get too hot, but wouldn’t be shivering at the start.  If my toes get cold, I would never get them warm again.

The morning of the race, I was psyched to see what the weather was going to be like an hour north.  I filled my new hydration flasks and started to get a little nervous about the course.  Those pre-race jitters can really do a number on a person.  We hopped on the bus to take us to the start line and drove through most of the course.  It was a very windy course through the metro parks.

IMG_1160Time to start the race.  I line up midway through the pack and wait for the start.  When the sound goes off, I take off and throw my jacket to the side.  I went with the pack and we hit that first mile at 8:15 pace.  I wanted to average an 8:50 to hit my goal so I knew I was pushing it a little much.  I just kept going with how I felt and pushed through each mile.  There was a volunteer at every single mile marker calling off times, which was motivational for me.  At mile 4, I quickly grabbed water at the aid station and when I looked up shortly after I spotted an eagle in a tree.  I was so excited that I actually pointed it out to other runners, but everyone around me had their headphones in and up too loud.  I was one of the few runners without ear buds and just enjoying the scenery around me.

Mile 6, I needed to get some GU and water.  I had started to cramp in my sides and was having difficulty breathing while running.  I knew that if I got some water and food (I don’t eat before a race), I would feel stronger and can push on.  At this point I had settled into a comfortable 8:30 pace anyway.  I continued to push myself through each aid station and around mile 9 was confronted by 3 young deer.  They were trying to figure out a way to cross the street amidst the sea of runners.  They decided to cross right behind me, which I was thankful for them not running into me!

Mile 10 and 11 came and went but I was starting to have more cramping issues.  Only this time I was in need of a bathroom.  Around 11.8 miles, I found a port-a-potty and made a stop.  A minute later and I was back on my route to finish the 13.1 mile course.  The finish line was just around the bend and I heard the announcer say 1 hour 55 minutes and 15 seconds.  I was slightly crushed.  I thought I would beat my goal PR and hit just under 1:55.  I ended up crossing at 1:55:45 with a  chip time of 1:55:25.  Definitely a PR! IMG_1165 2

Two things played into my time, the bathroom and the course being slightly longer than 13.1 (my watch and my friend’s watch both said 13.25).  I probably could have hit 1:53….maybe next year.  This was a fun course beautiful scenery and lots of support at each mile.  There were ample water stops and bathrooms with lots of post race food options!  The shuttle back to the car wasn’t a long wait and we were able to get into warmer clothes right away!

I would recommend this race to anyone wanting to push themselves and hit a new PR.

Next scheduled half is in November, but I may run a full before that….we shall see.  As always, be confident, be fit, be you!!!!

First Race

This past weekend was filled with fun adventures for our family of four.  We enjoyed the Pittsburgh children’s museum again, a favorite of ours!  We spent lots of time with family for a birthday picnic! Enjoyed the outdoors at the county fair where our 4-year-old completed her first race!  Racing was something I wanted her to enjoy when she was ready but not push it too early.  Our kids have been playing “Race” with my medals and my mom’s medals for about a year now.  I’ve wanted her to participate in a kids fun run for a while, but didn’t want it to be a hundred yard dash.  I knew she could do more than that because we walk all the time.  After searching for a race for the little one, I came across a nice 1 mile run at the local county fair.

The Stampede race had a “Country Mile” option as they called it before a 5k.  Individuals could register for the mile, 5k or both. The mile was starting an hour before the 5k, so there was no concern for finishing in time before the next race started.  The race fee would get her a medal of her own and entry into the fair.  She would be excited!  I signed us both up for the Country Mile.  The race time was not ideal with a 9am start and the 5k starting at 10, so I opted to only complete the 1 mile.  It was a double loop around the dirt track.

The day of the race was upon us and I was pinning her race bib to her shirt.  She was getting excited and her brother was less patient.  We did a couple of practice laps around some of the vendors at the fair just to get us warmed up.  The little one did some stretching with Mimi and we went to the track to wait for the start.  It was an inaugural race with a ton of race options in the area, so the pool of racers was very limited.  Daughter H was the youngest in the group to complete the 1 mile.

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We set off around the track and about a quarter of a mile in, she was getting HOT.  It was a scorcher, so I don’t blame her.  But, we enticed her to keep going because the back portion of the track was shadded.  She made it around the track and as we circled the hay bail to head back the other direction, she was starting to negotiate for some sweet treats.  She wanted shaved ice, ice cream, cold water poured on her head, anything to keep her cool.

As we were coming around the end and she was getting ready to cross the finish line she took my hand and we went across together!  They hung her medal around her neck and cheered for her since it was her first race!  I poured some cool water on her head and apparently she didn’t really want that after all.  A few tears later and being allowed to dump water on my head made up for that parenting mistake.  She was proud of herself for finishing but wanted something to help cool her down.  Unfortunately the fair vendors were still not open.

Little H’s medal is now proudly displayed in her room for her to see it daily.  She has requested to get more medals to hang on her wall! I may need to make her own display rack for her to hang her accomplishments up as she earns them!  I want to encourage her to be active without burning her out or pushing her further than her body is capable at this point.  She is young and I want her to enjoy exercising and being outdoors.