RunNerdier

musings on running, life, and everything in between


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Finding what feeds you or at least doesn’t kill you

I don’t know if other professions talk about their work or communities “feeding them.” Higher ed is definitely a strange place and not typical of many other contexts, so it’s hard to know what is “normal.” Awhile back, I saw a fairly well known scholar-educator post about their job not being one that “fed” them, and they felt like it was suffocating them if anything. The post didn’t say specifically (vaguebooking anyone?) about what they were talking about, but I can think of a million possible examples or scenarios from others’ situations. My response, though, was “huh, that’s a weird thing to expect.” Without getting into the politics of my own specific position or context, I have accepted that my job isn’t going to be what keeps me afloat emotionally. Even as a high school teacher, I snarled at the oft-quoted “teaching is the hardest job you’ll love” or some other derivative dribble. Teaching IS hard, and it IS rewarding, but if you expect that to be your sole sense of purpose and meaning in life, you will burn out faster than a Roman candle. I wish someone had told me that earlier…

I am not saying that you can’t find meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in your work. I definitely do. But I also don’t expect my work to be the only place where I get that, or even my main source of those things. And while that may seem obvious to some, it’s taken awhile for me to figure that out. I think one of the reasons I was so miserable in my 20’s was that I couldn’t figure out what I needed emotionally, spiritually, psychically, so I expected work or friendships to be the only place I would find validation. As I’ve gotten older, my priorities and understandings of the world have shifted through marriage, kids, running, adult jobs, etc. And I’ve realized that no one place can be my sole source of nurturing or cultivating of self.

Maybe that’s obvious for some, but that’s some hard-fought knowledge for me. Just as my life-long battles with managing depression happen through many ways–prayer, exercise, medication, therapy, community–I’ve realized that finding happiness in life has to happen through many ways. JUST surviving or NOT being miserable is NOT the same thing as actually seeking happiness and comfort. It’s not merely enough to not be suffering, but you also have to find ways to “suck the marrow out of life” (a la Whitman). And that will change throughout your life, which is why it can feel like a balancing act. Just when you think you’ve got it, another piece shifts and you have to reconfigure the whole thing.

Even though the trip to Boston was a whirlwind around the marathon, I was really happy to see and stay with my friend Swati. I can’t even begin to catalog the myriad things she’s gone through in the 8 years I’ve known her. But through it all, she is constantly on a journey to be balanced, to be happy, and to seek ways to be spiritually and emotionally positive. We talked a lot about what’s been going on in our lives–she just finished her doctorate, woohoo!!–and it made me reflective of how we have a choice in how we react or respond to various situations. Obviously we can’t control others or control the situations we sometimes find ourselves in, but we can choose how we react. And sometimes we have the choice to extract ourselves or disengage as well. But first, we have to recognize and acknowledge what our situation is and what our choices are.

 

Even in terms of my running, when I was beginning to feel disenchanted with all the speedwork and the demands of qualifying for Boston, I chose to start running types of areas and get out on the trails. I’ve loved how running has taken me to places I normally wouldn’t have gone. Case in point, down the street from Swati’s place is Forest Hills Cemetery. There are a number of famous people buried here, the most literary relevant being e.e. cummings. Sadly, I did not realize this until after my run so missed visiting his grave, but Mr. UnRunner did see it. It is a huge cemetery, with a mix of both old and new grave sites, and they day was crazy warm and bright.

I’ve always found the very fancy statue tomb stones (is that what they’re called??) intriguing. I loved the pose of the woman on this one.

I loved the idea of this one. This was a tomb stone (I’m just going to keep calling it that because I don’t know what else to call it) that had a very large birdhouse built onto the top of that. Even in death, you can continue to be a source of life 🙂

There was a section where a large number of Chinese were buried. There were even some families celebrating/holding a memorial at some of them. Burning incense, eating, meeting as a large group, etc. There was one group of plots that obviously belonged to an entire family. These Chinese dragons marked the entrance to that section.

And there was even this gorgeous water feature sent on the side of the cemetery.

I’ve been wrestling with the post-race blues, or maybe just the blues who knows, so I decided to try a new running route. I’ve been meaning to head south on the Centennial Trail by the I & M canal near work, and I finally did it the other day.

This area/trail is a very odd conglomeration of heavy industry and nature, as you might be able to see in the picture below (on the far right edge of the picture are a series of smoke stacks belonging, I think, to a petroleum processing plant).

The path itself is a pretty straight crushed limestone path that runs parallel to a rail line hidden by bushes. There were some pretty features along the path, though, including this fireplace/structure thing.

The path runs between two parts of the canal. To the right (or west of the canal) is the rail lines I spoke of and some industrial buildings set way back behind tree cover. To the left was some kind of excavation site. I saw bulldozers and earth movers at various points, and I know that it wasn’t public land. This was a particularly pretty spot and there was an even a snowy egret but my clumsy feet made too much noise and scared it off. If you look towards the back of the picture, though, you can see some kind of yellow metal barricade from the site.

The children are rumbling so it’s time to get the day started. Hope your running adventures take you somewhere new today, and you find ways to feed yourself emotinally!

 


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Denial is not just a river: Boston

It’s been awhile…I’ve been slightly in denial and slightly overwhelmed. There are some things going on outside of running that are taking up a lot of emotional energy and time. There’s barely been time to process that Boston is in less than 4 days. I get on a plane in about 24 hours. I haven’t really thought about packing or logistics or anything. This is despite the fact that Jen and Patty (mostly Patty) have been blowing up my phone with messages about Boston weather, packing lists, more weather, expo pick up, more weather…I have been only partaking in reading in small bursts. Cuz I. CAN’T. EVEN.

To my credit, part of of the reason is that I was immersed in professional nerd-dom in our nation’s capital. I attended the major educational research conference for 4 days last weekend. It was good to get away, and I got some time to run with cool people and see some more cool things. Still, it was an intense 4 days.

My favorite monument run this time was the (newer) Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Memorial. I shrink at sentiment, but I was surprisingly moved by the memorial. It’s a beautiful piece of sculpture/architecture, and I couldn’t help but feel the importance of King’s legacy and the ongoing fight for racial and economic justice today. There is still so much work to do. And it can feel overwhelming at times, but none of us struggles alone. Others have gone before us, others struggle alongside, and others will come after.

The King portion of the monument almost looked like a breakaway from a larger concrete mountain. Somehow, I failed to take a picture of that part. However, surrounding the main monument was a long wall of quotes. There were some amazing ones, and it inspired me to go back and finish a book of his essays I’ve had forever. A lot of people were taking photos, and I had trouble choosing just one. This one seemed timely, though, in terms of the importance of all of us speaking out against injustice even if it’s not comfortable.


I also did a very convoluted route (partly because I got lost and partly because it was a long run) past the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial (which is on a funky island/peninsula bit and totally reminded me of the Simpsons episode where Bart talks to the various monument/presidents), and meandering over into Virginia.

This tree was beautiful and strange. A cork tree! It actually looked dead, and there was a sign asking people not to climb or touch it so that it wouldn’t be damaged. While the majority of the cherry blossoms were gone, there were still some trees with blossoms so it was a pretty run.

I have to say that there was some strange criss-crossing back and forth across the river to try and get back from Virginia to DC. It makes it more delightful to find hidden little spots like this one, though!

I ran out of miles on that run, though. Right when I got to Theodore Roosevelt Island, I had to head home, so I dragged some of my friends back there Sunday. I wanted to see the island and get some trails under my feet. It took some convincing to get them out there as they were concerned I would be too fast, but I was tapering and more concerned about enjoying the run with friends than speed.

Tracey makes a second appearance (middle bottom), though still only in DC 🙂 Laura, top middle, also works with me. And Susan, far right, is the awesome friend that sent me lipstick a little while ago. We also make it a habit to purchase beauty supplies when traveling together. Hey, can’t be nerds all the time!

The island wasn’t very big, just over a mile running the circumference. In the middle of the island was a big carved out section with little bridges, water (though it was drained for the winter still), and a big Theodore Roosevelt monument. We asked a fellow runner to take our picture, and we went with the Black Power fist instead of the regular one hand up in the air that Teddy was doing (the photographer didn’t seem to get that we wanted Teddy in the picture also so you’ll just have to imagine it). We all do critical work, and it jived with the theme of the run as we also saw the MLK memorial (a second time for me, I couldn’t get enough!).

Us, in nature.

This last picture is of my friend, Ramon, who I HAVE run with years ago. However, he said he tends to cycle on and off with running, and he has NOT been running for a bit but wants to start again. I am putting his picture up here to publicly shame/encourage him to start running more regularly. So, if you know Ramon Martinez, make sure you ask him about running!

Work this week has been really rough. I got a chance to do an early, very therapeutic 4 miles this morning with Jen. I was greeted by this awesome sign from the amazing, supportive ladies of Best Foot Forward. It helped remind me that I’m NOT doing this alone, and these girls have helped support me every step of the way. Onward and upward!


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Belated Weekend Write-Up

Ugh, not sure what’s up…maybe the grey? The fickle early spring weather? I’m dragging and this blog-writing has been dragging too. Sigh. My son threw a tantrum yesterday morning that he was tired and just wanted to sleep all day and NOT go to school. #allthefeels He went to school.

The weekend’s run was…ok. 13 miles of trails out at Palos averaging around 10 min miles (with one flight of Swallow stairs). It was great company, but we did 1.5 loops, and that second .5 loop was tiring. The hills felt hillier, the mud muddier. I was just glad Kelly was doing it with me (the others only did about 1 loop). Still, we had a nice little crew out, and it was my first run with Deanna (I think) since the Hateya Trail Race in December (that’s her, third from the left)! And I think my first run with Katie in a year (second from right). Geez, people get busy. Katie’s busy training for a half iron distance triathlon in the fall. Sigh, I still haven’t made it back into the pool since that one time earlier this year…

One of the things I like about trail running is that no one makes you feel like a loser when you walk the hills 🙂

Most of the path was decently dry, but there were definitely some patches that were still bogged down. 

It was nice getting the group together, especially since Laura, Kelly, and I will all be at Ice Age (Laura is doing the half). I was sad to see most of the group break off, leaving me and Kelly to suffer through another 5 miles. I’m not sure if it was the 6 miles I did the day before that left me tired or if I’m just TIRED lately…either way, it’s not doing much for the old self-confidence for Boston. I’m also doing stupid things like looking at my mileage and comparing it to previous training cycles and then berating myself for not running enough.

Sigh. I’m trying to just be in it and just accept where I am, but it’s a bit much right now. For a variety of reasons, I feel pretty checked out from training, work, parenting, life…and I keep dredging the reserves to keep moving and keep doing what I need to, but it’s not great. A friendly recently called me out on some of that behavior and it hurt, but it was also much needed. I can’t keep using excuses of “I’m busy” or “It’s too much” to NOT show up for other people in my life and think I’m “getting away” with it. There does need to be some accountability. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I think I need to find a way to both recharge and re-connect with what I need to do. This is the point where I flash back to those, “Calgon, take me away” commercials of my youth. Ha. A few years ago, I was really working on mindfulness and simplifying. Instead of running around so much like a chicken with its head cut off, I think I need to really slow down and reconsider what I need to do…

We had a pretty open weekend for the first time in a bit, so we decided to go downtown and check out the Field Museum. It was crazy busy, but we got in to see the terra cotta warriors from China exhibit. It was pretty amazing to think that there were thousands of these buried. I was slightly disappointed to see that there were less than a dozen figures on display, but it makes sense. They are over 2000 years old, so I’m sure it’s quite a production just to transport these. I was fascinated to see that they weren’t all the same. Meaning, it’s not like they were stuck in a mold and cranked out. Each figure was different with different facial features, positions, and clothing. Amazing.

They had a mock-up of what they thought these warriors looked like back in the day PAINTED. They weren’t just the raw terra cotta color, but they were painted to look more life-like. I guess there were enough bits of paint for them to reconstruct the appearance. The almost cartoonish brightness of the colors reminded me of the Sistine Chapel when they started restoring the panels. People had assumed for a long time that the somber, dark colors were what they were painted like. When they started restoring them, though, they were startled by how shockingly bright they were. It’s funny to think that the sepia-toned images of history we have get translated into us thinking that’s the color people lived in 🙂

Gotta say, you can’t beat Chicago’s skyline on a blue day.

I was really excited to get Japanese food afterwards at a joint within walking distance. The ramen, sadly, wasn’t as good as it looked in this picture. The broth was super-yummy and flavorful, but the noodles were on the dry side. Still, we don’t often get a chance to eat Japanese since the kids don’t do sushi, so it was a fantastic end to a pretty good day.

The boy also really enjoyed the ramen broth. I tried to convince him to either hold the bowl and drink it (the more Chinese-way) or stoop over the bowl and quickly spoon the broth into his mouth (the more Korean-way…I think, anyway, I could totally be wrong). He decided to go with a completely different method, the straw.


Anyhow, how do you try to juggle things in your life, be present and show up? But also not fry out completely? How do you keep your training fresh? Or at least grounded?


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End of Week Wrap-Up 

How gorgeous are these ladies? Another photo from last week’s gathering.

I’ve been a Saucony gal for the last several years, ever since a bad Brooks Ghost update drove me to look for another shoe. I liked the Brooks PureFlow, but I’ve read the updates have gotten narrower. And after reading Born to Run, I was curious about Saucony. I found the Kinvaras and loved them. The Kinvara 6, though, was narrower in the toe box, which was an issue for me and my wide feet. So I bought another pair of Kinvara 5, and then I tried another Saucony shoe, the Triumph. I liked the idea of a little more cushioning. However, after trying them for almost two months, I realized that they were too narrow as well–as in, I lost some sensation in my toes and/or had tingling. This was despite pulling all my creative shoe-lacing techniques. Thanks to Roadrunner Sports’ generous return policy for VIP members, I was able to return them after two months of use. I DID try on the Saucony 7, but they didn’t feel tremendously different from the 6 in the upper. Sigh.

I had tried the Nike RN Distance the last time I was in the store, at Bill’s urging. I tried them again and liked them. I was a little nervous about it. I, like every other person who ran track in high school 20 years ago, ran in the Nike Pegasus. I haven’t run in a pair of Nike’s since then. There was that whole Nike boycott in the late 90’s/early 00’s, and they just didn’t scream distance running shoes. Anyhow, they were some of the forebears to the minimal trend with their Nike Free. And I have trended more towards that, and these are super-flexible. I had to laugh, though, because even just visually they are very different from my other shoes (hello, black?).

I took them out on a short run earlier this week, and they are definitely more minimal. The jury’s still out on them, as they were less cushioned than I had realized. However, I appreciated their flexibility in encouraging more midfoot strike and better form. I’m going to take them out for another spin today and report back.

Earlier in the week was also Pi Day. My friend made me a WHOLE oreo pie (with a side container of homemade whipped cream). How great a friend is she? Seriously?! The rest of you slackers need to step it up. I have to confess that I ate the vast majority of it…I might have shared some of it with the spawn. Some.

Yesterday’s run was gorgeous, albeit a bit wet. I randomly texted my friend Amy to see if she was available to try out the Des Plaines trail. She runs it more often than I do, and she thought it would be manageable. She did text me before I got there, “Are you ready to go swimming?” Case in point. That’s the trailhead.

She did say that it was like that last time. The trailhead is a small pond for some reason, but the rest of the trail is better. There were ALOT of downed trees, though, which made us wonder if we should start signing up for some obstacle races.

We also encountered two individual paw prints in the mud that freak us out a bit. There are coyotes in the area, but I don’t think of them as being that big. Amy muttered words like “cougar” and “mountain lion.” I will preface that Amy is a dog owner; I am not. She did not mention dog prints at all. However, upon polling Facebook, and checking some sources here and here, it was decided that either they are a) coyote prints or b) large dog (same family obviously).

I have to say, though, that I’m only like 95% convinced. They are BIG.

By the end of the run, Amy was tired of tip-toeing around the puddles so she decided to just go full in. She did regret that as the water was pretty cold.

If you couldn’t tell, the trail was a mud fest. When I showered later at home, I realized that I had scratched up my ankles as well. I really hate discovering new chafing/abrasions showering after a run.


To wrap up, this week wasn’t a huge mileage week. I’m only doing 13’ish tomorrow, and probably doing a 4-5 miler today. I ran 7 on Monday, 5 on Tuesday (in the new Nike’s), and 5.6 on the trail yesterday. I was shooting for 6, and I had us turn around at mile 3 on the Garmin. Somehow it wasn’t the same coming back. Sigh.

Finally, to top off the week, I decided to take some length off my hair. I recently saw a picture of myself and didn’t love how long and blah my hair looked. I have all these grand fantasies of doing more braids or styling my hair in more interesting ways. Honestly, it doesn’t happen. So I chopped probably 5 inches off, and since I never style my hair, I took the opportunity to do a selfie with the new cut. I love the beachy waves Michael did. It’s not going to be replicated any time soon so I thought I should document it. It’s also not the most flattering angle, but I hate taking selfies in public.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s run as a small group of us are hoping to tackle some more single-track trails. We’ll see how trail conditions look. Happy running, friends!


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Hilly hump day …

Ok, so after much haranguing, harumphing, and general boohooing, I finally looked at an elevation map of the Boston Marathon. I was totally in that “ignorance is bliss” stage. Not SO ignorant that I didn’t know Boston was hilly nor unfamiliar with the dreaded “Heartbreak Hill.” However, when I finally decided to do some Googling and actually SEE what all the insanity was about, I wasn’t sure I made the right choice. Here’s the comparison between Chicago and Boston by the numbers.

But then, here it is visually (I didn’t even bother attaching an elevation map of Chicago. It’s essentially a flat line…).

Click here for image source

It’s a NET decline…but you can see that there are pretty significant climbs. Now, when you consider climbs, you have to consider not just the amount of climb, but how quickly it happens. I’ve run many a path I thought it was flat on an out-and-back run, and realized that there was a slight decline on the way out, which feels mountainous on the way back. Also, the reason it’s called Heartbreak Hill is that it hits right at the point in the marathon where a lot of people bonk, doubt their sanity, or start crying for their moms. Right around/after mile 20. From the bit I’ve read, people will also trash their legs taking the downhill the first half of the marathon too hard. By the time you get to Heartbreak Hill, you don’t have much left.

That is why I’m glad I’ve gotten TWO, count them TWO, hill workouts in this week. Well, part of last week (Saturday’s long run) and Tuesday’s run. Here’s Kelly’s Gramin elevation breakdown from our Palos adventure.

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It was also GLORIOUSLY warm on Tuesday, hot even, so I decided to be in nature and do the hills of Morton Arboretum. I’m not gonna lie, I was tired and took them too fast. I even did some form drills–overachiever, I know.

Here are some very professional-looking shots of my run… I know my hair looks crazy, but I feel silly enough taking selfies running. To spend time fixing myself to take the selfie when I’m a hot sweaty mess? Meh. As I said to someone last week, I like to keep expectations low so people are amazed when I can clean up 🙂

This picture was to show some of the elevation change at the Arboretum, but the 3-dimensional aspect isn’t quite capture, so it just looks like flat brown grass all the way to the water. I promise it looked hilly.

This “strength” bench is still one of my favorite bits.

You can see from my Garmin data, though…hardly impressive compared to BostonSnip20160309_2

I’m gonna have to get out to Palos more or do interval hill repeats at Big Bertha at Waterfall Glen. Ugh. This whole Boston training thing is draining. Really. Jen and I have been constant Negative Nellie’s about it. It’s not simply good enough to train for a marathon, but you have to do all this extra stuff you’re not used to running as a flatlander. Yes, yes, I know it’s “good for us.”

Boo, I don’t like things that are good for me. And, the insecurity complexes come out when I read about other run bloggers trying to PR at Boston and such. My training mileage is barely breaking 35 miles right now. This coming off of last fall’s training where I was running 55+ miles weekly BEFORE peaking. Patty, Jen, and I are trying to talk ourselves up about the FUN we are going to have at Boston and it probably (at least for me and Jen as of right now) is a “once in a lifetime” experience (although this year’s Boston jacket is so ugly, I feel like I will need to run it again to get a better one. Insanity, right?). Still, I can’t help but wonder if I will feel like a failure if I don’t reach some non-determined goal time. I told Jen last night that we should force ourselves to stop and take photos to “ruin” our end times and not think about the clock. We’ll see.

It IS hard, though, isn’t it? To not compare yourself to other people? Whether it is in regards to running, parenting, or general appearances. It’s a struggle to accept what is right FOR YOU and not for someone else. Long ago, I became a distance runner because I accepted that I wasn’t fast. Then I got a bit faster and started fixating on time and wanting to be “above average” (I’m pretty happy with race times if I’m above the midpoint time, ha). Then, when everyone started running marathons, I felt the need to be “above average” by qualifying for Boston (let’s ignore the fact that the average person does not run marathons, so that fact alone makes one above average…or at least NOT average). And now that I’m training for Boston, I feel a bit unsure I guess. I am NOT going to be above average there. And the more stable-minded, balanced folk reading this might ask, “What’s wrong with average?” Or maybe “average” is relative. I’m not even sure if this makes sense. The mind hamsters on their wheels are spinning and going nowhere, right?

It’s just that lately, even that pressure of getting out and doing the tempo runs or intervals is feeling burdensome, because there’s no clear goal. I am not going to be “above average” at Boston, so then I just want to go out and run now for fun. But I also have a hard time completely accepting that.

So I guess I’m at a crossroads of sorts in trying to figure out my feelings about running and racing (which are NOT synonymous, by the way). I still love running, but I’m trying to figure out what kind of training makes sense for me after Boston. Stay tuned! And feel free to pipe up with your thoughts on mixing things up and trying to figure out your own truth.


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Trail Tuesday 

Because I can tend towards the self-destructive at times, I will ignore good advice and do what I want. There’s a part of me that believes that’s a sick part of being an endurance athlete…or at least the tension of negotiating what you WANT to do and what you SHOULD do. Recently on one of my running group pages, someone talked about having heart palpitations with their ultra running training and saw a doctor who questioned their extreme training. Briefly, there is a link between endurance sports and enlarged hearts. It’s believed, by some, that the strain of constantly pushing yourself to such limits damages your heart. I can’t get too much into the science of it, but you can find plenty of articles on it I’m sure. My brother-in-law’s father, who had run dozens of marathons, including one on every continent, was finally told he had to quit running altogether because it was too much of a strain on his heart. (That’s a nightmare of mine)

I was surprised by the number of people who chimed in with similar stories and different words of advice on how to handle it. Many suggested getting a different opinion, as well as work arounds for how they handled such a suggestion. The comment that stuck out to me, though, was one that questioned whether seeking a diagnosis from multiple doctors until you found one that said what you wanted to hear wasn’t akin to a junkie seeking out multiple doctors to get the drug scrip they wanted. Ouch. And all of this is to defend that I went trail running this weekend. Ha. Not EXACTLY the same as prescription drug abuse, but trust me there are plenty of multi-addicted folks out there running ha.

To be fair, this was a shorter long run (a “short” 12 miles) and it was just above freezing (hear the excuses?) so I thought this was my chance to do it. I’ve also been starting to worry about my lack of ultra/trail training. I’m concerned that my lack of training towards the Ice Age 50k will get me hurt racing…Although Patty and Jen would argue that this behavior might predispose me for getting hurt before. Pish posh! It was fine, although admittedly it was tougher than I thought it would be because of the snow and the above-freezing temperature. My pace felt faster than it was, which seems to be the case for trail running, and the snowed over ruts in the trail were a bit tricky at times (which raises a whole other thing about the responsibility of trail users to not go out on them when it’s soft because it’s destructive for them).

Let me back up a bit. I ran with Kelly, who I can only describe as a machine. This woman is a rock star and runs at like 3 am before she heads into work. She also just finished her first ultra event, the Chill Billy 8 hour event in a total mudfest. I mean, extreme, sucking mud. It took her that time to complete a marathon because it was such utterly slow going. She’s also signed up for her first 50k, the Ice Age, with me and Amy.

I hadn’t run with her in a long while, and hadn’t run alone with her in over a year! We vacillated back and forth about where to go–Bull Frog in Palos, Swallow Cliffs, or Waterfall Glen. Concerned about the trail conditions, we decided to try Swallow Cliffs, which has more multi-track and is more shaded (i.e., more likely to be frozen/snowed and not melted). We decided to go with Swallow Cliffs, my first time there! They are infamous for their crazy stairs, which we did one round of. I forgot to take a picture though.

Anyhow, we were surprised to see that we were the first ones on the trail. It was pristine that morning after the previous night’s snow. Well, pristine excepting the animal tracks. There were a whole mess of prints that we couldn’t identify (if you look at the two pictures on the right below). We decided based on the shape and size that maybe they were coyotes? Any trail trackers out there? I had thought coyotes weren’t ones inclined to travel in packs but I’m not sure.

The trail was mostly just snow-covered, although there were a couple of muddy, icy, or wet sections. This section was the worst, and Kelly and I both got a foot bath. Mud is good for the skin, right? For the shorter water crossings, my wool socks handled it fine, but the big dunking was enough to soak my socks and cause some chafing on my arch. Fortunately, it was only for the last 3 miles or so and not a huge issue. And yes, Kelly is wearing a running skirt! We did see several guys out there later wearing shorts so she wasn’t alone in her apparel choices 🙂

Lately, I’ve been forgetting my Garmin. Gasp, I know! I had to rely on Strava to track it, and it was WAY OFF. So Kelly was kind enough to forward me the data from her Garmin.

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All in all, it was just over 12 miles and a fantastic way to spend a Saturday morning. I’m not going to lie, my feet, Achilles, and calves were tight, but I don’t think I made a mistake going out there. If anything, it affirmed my need to continue to do some trail running so that I don’t hurt myself at the Ice Age or not meet the cutoff. I also need to start doing more ankle and footwork. I’m not going to lie, though, it all seems like a lot to fit in–the core work, strength training, drills/footwork, and running. It’s all going to the end of keeping me strong and healthy…and happy! So happy trails to you, my friends on this Tuesday!


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Been too long

Ok, so it’s been the LONGEST time since I last posted. I’m not gonna lie. I’m in a funk. Between feeling burnt out crispy with running, teaching 3 nights a week back to back (for 4+ hours), and the winter, it’s been tough. Just to give you a sense of what that means, here’s an exchange I had with Jen last night. I guess she and Jenny had a discussion about me during yesterday’s long run. I was in DC for the weekend so I did my long run earlier in the week (more on that in a bit).

Do you like how her offer of “taking me out” gets meet with immediate suspicion? Although, on the flipside, do you like how Jen downgraded the “taking you out” part to just all going out? Gotta love my friends, right? But seriously, it’s nice to know that people care enough to make sure I don’t go off the deep end.

I’m in DC for the weekend, really 36 hours for some English teacher conference planning (neeeeeerds, I know). Anyhow, I had the opportunity to meet Tracey last year at the same planning meeting and she was pregnant at the time, but we got to talking about running. We ACTUALLY got to run together this time since baby has since exited the womb and she’s back running. She just did a half marathon last month! Admittedly, she tried to duck me about running early Sunday morning, but I convinced her 🙂 AND, this makes her officially my first running buddy from traveling on the blog. Woohoo! So here we are at the mall. You may remember a similar (solo) picture from this run/trip last year.

And of course, we had to stop by and see the Obama’s. They had coffee ready for us.

And to top it all off for fabulousness, I got a free extra drink after the run! I was asking about the “flat white” drink at Starbucks (not my preferred caffeinated beverage vendor, but the only thing open in our neck of the woods). I’m not sure if they were being very generous or just confused, but I got both my almond milk cap and flat white! Extra caffeine is never a bad thing. Also, I tend to get “fancy” drinks only after a run. I’m all about the black coffee otherwise.

EDITED TO INCLUDE: Ha. I forgot. During our run I saw a black squirrel, and I commented to Tracey that we don’t see those in Illinois, and did they have them in Arizona. “Uh, is that like a groundhog?” So, no, they don’t have squirrels everywhere like the midwest. Furthermore, Tracey said “I run by javelinas and coyotes, is that like the same thing?” Um, no. Differences in running around the country!

Because I didn’t feel like finagling a 12+ mile run out of town when our time was so booked, I decided to do my long run Thursday. To try and shake things up, I decided to head out to the hills and trails of Waterfall Glen. There was a threatened fierce blizzard Wednesday night, but that didn’t really manifest. There WAS snow on the ground, though. You can see some of the path was less travelled than others. It was gorgeous and quiet. Really beautiful, and the sun started to come out. I’ve also been realizing that running in snow might help your form, but that’s another post.

The snow was powdery enough, and the trail was probably clear before the “storm,” so I decided against the Yak Trax and went with my trail shoes. I wish they were more water-resistant as my feet did get wet, but I definitely didn’t find myself missing the Trax. With the exception of some squishing around from the soft snow, I didn’t have much issue running in it. Of course, I also visited one of my favorite port-a-potties. Right around the halfway point 🙂

I also realized that I haven’t run much at Waterfall Glen in the winter. I’ve run it in the fall and early spring, but with all of the snow we’ve gotten the last couple of winters it’s been tricky trying to get any decent running there in February. With all of the foliage gone, though, I stopped around mile 5 because I noticed the foundations of an old building. I think usually there are at least some leaves covering easy viewing of it, even though it’s just a few feet from the path. I think it might be the remains of the Old Lincoln Park Nursery on this map? I did see another building ruin a bit further later on the run as well, so I’m not sure. Still, it was cool to see something that I’ve run by so many times before. Forcing myself to do hill work at Big Bertha? Not cool. But I was channeling my inner Patty Herrera (who’s obsessing about Boston’s hills) to get out there and do it.


I really did need that long run as a break from the routine, and my run with Tracey this morning. This face just about sums up how I’ve been feeling lately, both about running and life in general.

I thought about doing some very bloggery “Top 10 Things to Do to Shake Up Your Run,” but I’m a lazy blogger. So here’s a couple things, 1) Take a break. Cut yourself some slack and go do something else. 2) Try running somewhere new or WITH someone new. If you feel like you’re in a rut or routine, do something to shake it up.

There. I know. Life changing. But get out there and do something. Nobody’s making you run, so if it’s not fun, do something else. Just keep moving.