Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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My friends, it is quite possible that G-town was the last rodeo for these shoes. Trail shoes wear so differently than road shoes. *sigh*  I love these shoes.*

2016 kicked off with a trail half-marathon – an inaugural run at Kercher Park in Germantown, Ohio – for which I was woefully under-prepared. I’ve been running pretty regular, but since my PR at Iron Horse last October, I haven’t gone further than 7 on trails, less on pavement.  In other words, I knew this was going to hurt.

But it was the first ORRRC run of the season (Eric & I just joined)

And it was my friend Lance’s first gig as an RD, so I didn’t want to miss that.

And we hadn’t been to Kercher Park before…I love new trails!  (which if I’d had my head on right, is really bad logic for signing on to a 13.1 you haven’t trained for). And, and, and…

And so even though I knew this was going to hurt, off we went. To the hurt. On a beautiful morning in January – it wasn’t sunny, but about 50-degrees. Lots of mud – rain earlier in the week had made things slick, so most of what we ran in was that kind of mud that makes a sucking sound when you lift up your foot. It sticks to your shoes and every step is like lifting an extra 2 lbs of weight from the suction.

Later I would ask Lance “Why do you hate the dry land, Lance?! What did dry land ever do to you?” because SO. MUCH. MUD.

The first almost mile was a paved park trail, a nice warmup since we got there literally, in time to make a U-turn and start the run, courtesy of my crappy navigational skills. We started LAST. Like, the very last 2 people to cross the line. Though chip-timed on finish, the start line was manually set at 10:00am start.

After the first mile, we turned off pavement and the trail started to climb. Forever.

Kercher Park is freaking BEAUTIFUL! Eric & I were talking about how much we wanted to come back to the trail before we even got to the car after we were done. IT. IS. THAT. BEAUTIFUL!  But WOW! Does it climb! Garmin says 1560+ ft in elevation gain, 1506 ft of coming back down. There is not much flat at all. The uphills are long and twisting, the downhills are fast and steep – meaning you spend a lot more time climbing than you do descending. But there are moments in those climbs, running alongside streams and reaching overlooks, that will take your breath away if you pause to look up.  Especially with it being January, when you can see between the trees. I am sure I would have finished much faster if I hadn’t stopped to absorb so much nature into my eyeballs.

Later I would ask Lance “Why does the trail only go UP, Lance?!” I don’t think he took me seriously, but it was a real question.

Also, I would have finished faster if I hadn’t stop-drop-&-yoga’d a couple times in miles 10-12. Leg fatigue. I needed to stretch to keep going. On trails, once you pass the water stops, there is no DNF – mainly because no one is coming to get you unless you’re bleeding. And honestly, I’m not sure how that would work either. Maybe that’s how woodland gnomes are made. Trail runners that DNF’d between water stops.

Water stops were at miles 3 & 10 – which were the same as the course is a loop (water & gatorade), and 7 (H2O, gatorade, snacks).  Very well placed with more than enough when I came through at the back of the pack. For back of the pack runners, stops being packed up or out of supplies is a concern – so there being plenty for me when I knew I was pulling through 5-6th place to the end is important for me to note. My BOTP friends, you are not abandoned here. The cutoff to mile 10 is also a very generous 4-hours. I had concerns about it knowing that I would be moving slowly, but I hit the cutoff with an hour to spare.

Some things to be proud of –

  • Through almost the whole race, I stayed in a really good place mentally. I saw the stirrings of what I dub “fuck soup” – that moment where a porridge of ‘fuck this race’, ‘fuck this mud’, ‘fuck running’, etc.,  begins to coagulate into a blob that spins ugly in your head. Giving it a name helps me have some power over it and when it came up, I told myself I was NOT. GOING. THERE.  New trail, fresh year. I was not going to allow it a start with beating myself up.  Instead I looked up, I looked around, and I told myself that going more slowly wasn’t going to make it hurt any less. Keep moving. I smiled and laughed and let the joy in, of just being and doing what I was doing.
  • I spent a lot of the race alone. In a long race, I think you meet yourself several times. Let’s just say that at Forget the PR Mohican 25k, I met myself in a very bad way being alone in the woods for an extended time. It’s good to have the ghost of that out of my head a bit and realize that this time, I didn’t even realize how long I’d been out of sight of other runners for quite a while. I was in my own race.
  • A woman said to me “You’re pretty good at the mud” when I slogged past her as she was picking carefully through a downhill.  We’d been leap-frogging for half a mile at that point through some serious slop. Lady, that comes with practice! Mud is less my enemy now than it was at the WORST F*ING RACE EVER at East Fork last Summer. I’m learning to manage it. Slog through it. Minimize it slowing me down. She was right, I’ve improved greatly at handling mud.
  • My nutrition was SPOT ON! I’ve struggled with this a bit on trails.  A piece of cinnamon toast on Oatnut Bread 1.5 hours before the race. An apple in the car 45 minutes pre-run. Every mile, a decent sip from the hydration pack (I took in about 1 liter from the pack, total.) and a shot of H2O and gatorade at each water stop. A strip of dried papaya after mile 4. Half a Gu before mile 7, where I had 5 gummy bears. Somewhere between miles 8-9, a tablespoon of nuts from my pack. At mile 10, I put the best thing I’ve ever eaten on race in my mouth – half a slice of dried pineapple. OH MY GOD!  IT WAS PERFECT! Not too much sugar, and solid – so it didn’t make my stomach sloshy.  On the whole, that doesn’t sound like much for a 13-mile run, but it was exactly what I needed. Note to self: Pineapple, nuts & papaya should always be in the hydration pack!

Everything ached and screeched at me by the time I finished, but as I said – I knew I’d signed on for the hurt.  Slow, but done – and a great start to the season!

ORRRC does 2-3 runs per month, most of which appear to be trail runs. They are either free or dirt cheap if you’re member – and still cheap even if you’re not. We paid less for a year’s membership for the two of us than it would cost for one of us to register at most 5k’s now. Go check out their calendar! See you in the woods!

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*(Sidebar: Brooks, I’m side-eyeing you on where these are failing. I know a couple other runners with failures in the same spot on their Cascadias.)

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It’s not as early as yesterday. The sky is already starting to lighten up, though it is not readily apparent whether today will be blue or gray. I am listening to the start of the day.

I’ve mentioned before that I like to write in the morning, but often times I’ve already been awake for at least an hour before I get started. There’s no specific reason for me to get up well before I need to do anything at all, except that once upon a time it started with a 5:30AM bootcamp and then it evolved into just liking the quiet.

Listening to the early time is like sharing a great secret with everything around you. I do not think anything is capable of denying it’s true nature in the first moments of waking up.

There are the normal routines of waking and tending dogs which occur. Every single morning I spare a second for tadasana about as soon as my feet hit the floor after the last snooze. I open my palms wide and sweep my hands up with a giant breath that looks like a yawn and stretch – but I feel it more deeply than that. It calibrates me somehow.

Eventually, though, on as many days as possible (there are still some days I run off to the gym at crazy-ass-early), all paths lead to a cup of coffee and staring out into space.

It’s my morning meditation.

Once upon a time, I used to watch the news before work. Catch glimpses of stories and traffic between putting on pants and putting on eyeliner. I felt very well informed when I picked up my carpool buddy. At some point the news no longer served me well and so I stopped watching it some time after 9/11. I’m not sure when or how related that is, but my brain keeps making that connection.

Now, I tuck my feet up under me, not in any formal meditation posture, but just a way I am comfortable, I cup my hands around my coffee mug, and I let my mind wander. It feels like a rebellion against the noise. Sometimes my thoughts go through the upcoming day. Sometimes a specific thing comes up, sometimes nothing at all. Today I observed that Fred already smells like feet again even though she just had a bath – courtesy of the deluge of rain in the past week. I don’t make pretense that my meditations are profound. Then I switched into thinking about some upcoming yoga studies and picked up a book. Which led me to thinking about meditation and the meditation which I chose for an online yoga group this week – “An Introduction to Sitting”.

As I sit and begin writing.*

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*Afterword: When I picked up writing the blog again, it was after a period of realizing that I wasn’t writing the way I like. I had tried to be formulaic and clearly define a more narrow focus on running & race recaps. I really don’t know what end purpose that was trying to serve – but it was an experimental failure in that it made me not want to write what I needed to write for the structure (as an example, I never wrote about Mohican 25k, which was one of my best running lessons in all of 2015), and it constrained me away from writing what I wanted to write about – which is essentially, whatever the hell I want. So, in picking this back up, expect more randomness and just as much running stuff, probably more yoga stuff, and my waxing philosophic about my coffee here and there.

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My friends, I am obsessing with the thistle in this damn picture (a trail at my office I try to spend my lunch on running once a week). I wanted to post a few close-up shots I took of it, except…I already did. A few posts ago – down there vvv.  In fact, the picture I am specifically obsessing about is that one. I have no idea why other than that there has been some type of monsoon hitting Southern Ohio and the gray and rain just. WILL. NOT. STOP.

This picture is not gray and rain. If I reach for it, I can smell the perfect weather air around this thistle. It smells like warm with that slightly dusty feeling. I run past the foreground at the top of this section of trail before turning a corner to go over the bridge you see. At far left, that hill is a steep set of stairs which lead up to an overlook before heading back into the buildings of our office complex. All in all, this section is probably just over a tenth of a mile, but it marks the usual halfway point of my lunch run. I always stop at the overlook. I like to breathe there and look for deer and birds down in that pool of tall grass. Remind myself for a moment that I am more than spreadsheets and cubicles. Then I turn around, head back down the stairs and return whence I came – back past the thistle and through the woods on campus back towards the building where waits my cubicle and spreadsheets.

It is early, on a Tuesday and I am with my coffee. I have a new coffeemaker – it has a “bold” button. A BOLD button. There is now a button with BOLD on it in my life. That I can push. And be made BOLD by dark beverage.

I am sore. And I woke up STARVING! which is annoying. I do not like waking up to my stomach complaining.

After an entire week of too much excellent food and missing workouts for work, my body was begging for movement. So yesterday lunch came with a treadmill and no thistle, because rain & gray. (Did I mention it just won’t stop raining?) A 30-min progressive run following by 10 more minutes of bringing it back down gradually on pace.  Then I hit up a Slow Flow yoga class after work. I needed that bad! But slow is a speed, not a skill level – so it was a good workout too. Today = sore, and probably a pool day this afternoon. I need to get back in the water too.

Germantown Gem 13.1 is in less than 2 weeks and I need to get my ass moving if I’m going to feel even remotely ready for that. Eric & I joined ORRRC for 2016 – which is RIDICULOUSLY CHEAP for membership. So add those to the races I’ll be doing regularly.

It’s also time to start training for Run the Bluegrass 13.1. I’m pretty excited to be run-ambassadoring for that again for 2016 and leading the yoga classes at the hotel the next morning. Every time I think Eric & Rachel can’t possibly come up with anything new to add to race weekend, they add more. This year, a big addition is Running Nannies – people who watch your children while you go run. How awesome is that?!

The Topo Winter Series has already passed race #2. Race #1 was back at East Fork. After some rain earlier in the week, it was muddy but WARM.

Friends, some day I will run East Fork when it is not a muddy mess.

Can you even believe running a trail race in Ohio in December in short sleeves?! 60-degrees! I’m proud of how I did on it. Eric took Fred’s leash and started with her at the very back, then quickly caught up to me. We ran most of the 5.2 mile loop as a family, with me setting pace and finishing together. So that was really cute. When I looked later, I’d beaten my Summer series race time on the same loop by more than 6-minutes!

Topo #2 was at Big Bone Lick State Park in Ky. We bagged that one because of rain and gray and weather radar that looked like Pac Man was about to gobble up the course. Friends who ran said it didn’t start to rain until the last mile, but photos tell me it was still a mudpit of a run.

We’ll miss Race #3 because it conflicts with Germantown. 😦

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It’s like a weight-loss commercial – before & after.  Toes take a bit more than the usual abuse when running trails.

Cynthia Running Rule #1: ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS take care of your feet.

Topo Series kicks off in 2 hours. 

It is just before 7am again, with coffee and snoozing dogs. I like to write in the morning. Mornings set a precedent for the rest of the day in that way that they come before everything else.

By 10am, I usually know whether or not I am going to kick that day’s ass.

My body is sore this morning. An ache across the neck and shoulders, and what feels like a sense of phantom fatigue through the ankles and shins. That’s after the chiropractor and a full day’s rest on Monday – other than training work with Fred, which involves numerous climbs of stairs at the moment. Some walking and yoga yesterday.

That’s the result when you venture into a 7-mile trail race after two months of slacking in the 3-to-4 mile distance range.  Fact: you can’t cram for a race. It just doesn’t work. And it makes your training-run-skipping ass sore.

On Sunday, Eric and I had put a race on the calendar. Eric a 13.1, me the quarter at 6.55 miles.

The day dawned pretty enough – a chill 28-degrees when we left the house with “freezing fog” that was starting to burn off. The sky looked like it was going to go blue, and eventually it did. As we picked up packets and got settled, big drops of water began to fall from the trees as the frost melted, slicking up the trail a bit.

My friends, when you’re short-cutting through foggy woods, and sunlight begins to stream through the fog, sending big droplets of nature down onto your head, it’s like the universe is telling you a pretty awesome secret. Most people don’t get to see things like that.

The run was at East Fork Lake – which is GORGEOUS – but has also brought me my WORST, MOST AWFUL, I HATE ALL THE RUNNING THAT IS MADE OF RUNS run earlier in the Summer.  At another trail series, I did an 11.8 miler there in calf-deep mud that about broke me. Thinking about that, and the slick below my feet, I had to shake off some negative head shit – a dullness from 2 margaritas at dinner and a migraine starting up – remind myself that I was only going 6.55 today. I’d survive.

Wave start put Eric on course 10 minutes before me. The first mile was on pavement to let people sort themselves – I really would’ve like less pavement time, but I can’t argue that it kicked off my first mile with a solid split.  Then it was off into the woods. East Fork rolls. Few flat spots in it. Several kinda challenging uphills which are offset by long slopes of down-hill. It’s a GOOD course for making time if you can handle the uphill consequences that go with those long downhills. I heard some people talking about what a rough course it was, but I guess after Mohican and Rugged Red, my definition of a tough uphill is altered.

I was still keeping good time through mile 2, but into mile 3 the wheels started to come off in the form of nausea. The migraine was starting to up it’s game. I backed off to a 3:1, then let that go to a ‘do what you can do’ after stopping to help a runner that twisted her ankle and then wiping out myself.  East Fork is also mostly single-track, so once the fast marathoners started lapping me, I had to keep stepping off course to let them pass.  It’s a courtesy. And also, you’re kind of an asshole if you don’t.

Not feeling well at all, I decided to focus on enjoying the scenery, get the demons out of my head. Even with the slickness – it’s not very technical in my opinion. A few spots for tricky footwork, but not a lot of climbing over things or navigating rockbeds. There are moments when the sun breaks through the trees, hits the mud on the ground and reflects that slick surface as if the trails were made of gold. Nature can make mud dazzling.

Nothing impressive on the finish. On the whole, it wasn’t an awful run – more in line with numbers I put up when I first started trail running than the ones I’ve been putting up lately. Slow. SLOW. Amazingly I did not finish last. I knew there was at least one person behind me, but frankly, there were a few more people back there than I knew about – so that made me feel better when I checked results. After the run, I pulled the car closer and got changed into warm clothes while I went to wait on Eric’s finish, hang out with my Team RWB peeps and listen to my head pound. My entire focus shifted on getting some migraine drugs and going to bed.

The good news, is that I get a second shot at it this upcoming weekend. Hopefully without the migraine, and definitely without the pre-race margaritas. Topo’s actual trail series kicks off back at East Fork on Saturday 12/12.

The Topo Adventure Winter set is a series of trail runs going through some of the more interesting trail systems in the area. It starts with a signature marathon, with a 13.1 and 10k option, that has all the frills of shirt, medal, pint glass, timing but still manages to keep it cheap at $40 for the 13.1 and $25 for the 6.55.

After the marathon, there are six (6) no-frills trail races – $15 a pop regardless of distance, no swag and hand-timed. Most offer 5-or-10 mile options. The first one is back at East Fork Lake this upcoming weekend.

One for fun. One for work. One because I have too many beads in my house.

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Continuing ed yoga class on the afternoon agenda. Did you know yoga teachers had to do continuing ed after a certain level? They’re supposed to. Many don’t.

Shakeout run for tomorrow’s trail race before that. 

Right now, coffee and a book. Or 3.

It’s just after 6:30AM Cincinnati time, which means I’ve been awake about an hour already. And done absolutely nothing productive – which is more rare than you’d think. As I was snuggling coffee and settling into my couch, it occurred to me that today was the first day in over a month that I didn’t have something to do almost immediately after my eyes opened -discounting the dog-related tasks (that’s every morning). I mean, like get on the computer and work kind of stuff.

So of course, blog.  🙂

It also occurred to me that my bed is a perfect little cocoon and that Friday was a complete asshole for dragging me out of it. I wish I could blame it on the alarm, but truth be told, it’s not unusual for me to wake up anywhere from 10-45 minutes before my alarm – at least long enough to notice the clock time and go back to sleep. Which, because, and probably only because it’s 6:40AM now, I have a profound question:

Absent some biological calling (bathroom, hunger, thirst), why do we wake up at all?  I know about circadian rhythms, so that’s the boring answer.  But seriously, why do we need to get up and go do? From a cognitive efficiency standpoint, wouldn’t it be much easier on the brain to only wake us up to serve a biological need, then put us back to bed?

I could really use a few more Z’s.

Again y’all, it’s early in Cincinnati. When I am caffeinated, I probably will want to delete this.

ANNNY-WAY – been thinking about this place. What to do with it. Why I haven’t been writing in it. Feeling like writing again, but also like I need to clean some things up, so change is coming. Not too much ’cause I still like the paint on the walls, but change. Re-invention.

In full disclosure, I had 2 other blogs before this one, which for reasons I felt right about at the time, I retired, locked down and forgot about. One of them came back around at me a few weeks ago and I stopped to peruse – realizing there were some things I’d like to keep. But I don’t want to keep them where they are. The other fucked up thing, is I logged into WordPress this morning and signed in, and wrote this entire post into a blog I didn’t remember having.

Friends, I WROTE THIS POST IN A BLOG I DIDN’T EVEN REMEMBER and then had to move it over here.

So maybe there are 3 out there, or maybe I just don’t remember the name of the second one correctly. Oops. Probably a result of trying to clean up some Google Account stuff the other day.

In other words, if someone has some tips on bringing shit from Blogger over to this blog, can you help a girl out?  It’s time to consolidate. And dust. Fucking dust. Having more blogs out in the world than I can keep track of is a problem. A creepy, creepy, dusty problem.

I suppose it would help if I could remember the web addresses and passwords to those blogs, too…sheesh, you’re asking a lot. Wait, that could be me that’s asking a lot.  All that to say that if you start seeing some weird pictures of my feet from 2010 in here, be alarmed. Pictures of my feet were a 2011 thing.

 

“Holee crap, that was hard!”

This was my whole assessment of this race when I posted my finish on Facebook. Or at least, that was all I could mutter from the surrealism of race-recovery.

The Powder Keg 5k Trail Run was the next race up after Midsummer Night’s. It was on August 23rd, and ventured around the grounds of the Historic Kings Mansion in Deerfield Township. It’s also part of the Dirt Days series put on by the Running Spot each year. Having missed an opportunity to preview the course with some of my RWB friends, this was the first time I’d ever been there. Packet pick up was quick and easy. There was plenty of space to stretch and move, find my friends. The grounds were nice and I kept looking to the building and the barns thinking what a nice event space that would be, though it needs a little restoration in my opinion.

In 2 races, my opening observations are that (1) trail races are generally less expensive – MNT cost me $12, I think and this one was $10 w/o a tshirt and $20 with – and that (2) trail races are just way more mellow.  Starting times seem to have an ‘ish’ after them. We’ll start 9-ish. There’s a bit of courtesy extended based on how many people are still coming in to park and do packet pick up.  Distances have a “might be more” to them since you can’t measure exact finish distance on trails.  Powder Keg’s course description for distance included “Race is listed as a 5K. However, actual will probably be at least 3.5 miles.”  And mostly, which is part of the keeping the cost down I’m sure, they use gun time instead of chip timing. In a pavement race, that irritates the crud out of me, but for trails, the run really is more about how YOU FEEL about your run than what the clock says – at least for me. I’m digging it on the trails!

The run started a little bit cross-country before taking to a path that started off as asphalt, then that treacherous deep-rutted thing that asphalt does when water breaks it down, and then after that I think it turned to dirt. Compared with the narrow, single-file trail of MNT, this trail was nice and wide and winding. There were a few moments I’d pass on given the option – a right turn that drops about 4ft without much warning, a wide concrete pillar that makeshifts as a bridge except that it doesn’t have any railings, and that 12-14ft climb of a steep grass hill that is so steep you are literally climbing using hands as well as feet – but those are more due to my novice level in trail running than the obstacles themselves. Things just caught me by surprise a little, is all.

Among the other things on route were the stairs. OH MY GOD – THE STAIRS!  There is no running them. Steep, wooden and they feel like they’re going up the side of a mountain. Did I mention steep?  STEEP STEEP stairs. No passing. No running. Steep.

When the run was over I felt like I had been rode hard for sure! This 5k-ish course left me a little more exhausted than the 5-mile-ish MNT.

I also felt accomplished, hungry and ready for a nap.

Y’all, if MNT opened up the door for trail running in my lift, Powder Keg sealed the deal on a new love in my life. A trail runner is born.

Hello friends!  I still contend that there are few things in this life more luxuriously relaxing than a weekend morning with some quiet and a cup of coffee! It’s about 8:45 as I’m starting this and I’ve been awake about an hour, feet tucked under a blanket on the couch and coffee mug in hand. It’s a form of meditation. And then I started thinking about the day, more about the days of other people than myself really. The Queen Bee 13.1 is this morning, with a large group of my RWB crew crossing that start line.  The Bourbon Chase 200-mile relay started yesterday morning and I know 3 different crews of runners from all walks of life in that adventure – an RWB crew, a group from my old training group, and some of my Lexington friends from Run the Bluegrass – actually they’re Louisville friends but I met them in Lexington…so does that make them Louisville friends or Lexington friends? Hmmm.

Finally, there’s my friend Allison, who in just over an hour, will be challenging Kona – the Ironman World Championships. Holeeee crap!

What am I doing this morning? Um, dog walking, at some point. Ha! I had a pretty aggressive chiropractic adjustment on C1 Wednesday which demands a few days of taking it easy til the stiffness fades away. Going to try a full on run either later today with the other dog or first thing tomorrow.

It’s gotten a little dusty in here, so I’m planning to clean that up – mainly because I have a short flurry of Race Recaps to update with a few other events tossed in.  After not being able to race, or even run at all for most of the Spring and early Summer, I noticed that the knee issues were finally starting to fade and it’s almost as if I’ve been trying to cram an entire year’s worth of races into this Fall.  On top of which, I started trail running – not on well-manicured gravel trail at my office, but on actual trails – with rocks and ruts and grass spears jutting up to stab your ankles. I LOVE IT! It’s like all of the best parts of running for me without the pounding of pavement echoing through my bones. So there will be a few posts coming up in the next few days to bring things up to speed, shake the dust off.

After I finish my coffee. 🙂