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Monthly Archives: April 2015

The best run of my life.

There have been a few contenders for this top spot, but the one I’m about to describe was the best for many different reasons.

It was a late summer Wednesday evening and I was in the midst of a thick depressive episode. I believe it had stormed earlier that afternoon so everything was cool and crisp. My boyfriend at the time (EC for sake of clarity) and I were in charge of a group run back then and usually had a turnout of 15-20 people. We got there early most weeks to run a few extra since it is the mid-week long run when training for a marathon.

At this point in my life, it was taxing to get out of bed, dressed, and out of my house. It took a lot of focus and energy to put myself together in a presentable arrangement for the outside world. By the time most social engagements were over, I was thoroughly exhausted. I slept a lot and ran little. The endorphin crash from evening runs helped settle me deep into slumber.

I was a hot mess on the inside and only my EC knew about it. Most Wednesday’s EC picked me up to take me to these group runs. I think he was worried if he didn’t I wouldn’t show up and he was probably right.

We got to our meeting spot, me wearing my Brooks PureDrift and he wearing his New Balance 860s. We ran a couple miles then got back to wait for the rest of the group. The routes were generally easy because of the varying abilities of the group joining us. We wanted to help challenge people but in a friendly way; we wanted our people to feel comfortable in that challenge.

Every once in a while my body gets into what has been dubbed by many as “rocket ass” mode. My body shifts into its 5th gear and wants to open up and fly. I love it when those moments happen, I feel so free and swift and the world around me fades away.

On this night rocket ass showed up about a mile into the group run and I could not hold it in. After, EC told me he saw my body shift into this gear and knew what it meant because he’s seen it before. My stride lengthens, my center of gravity drops, my torso tilts forward just a little and I run on the tip of my foot just a little bit more. He caught up to me further down the road when I stopped to wait for our group since EC and I do a game of leap frog where one of us runs ahead to a tricky corner while the other goes ahead to the next tricky corner and so on. I apologized for taking off and not being more considerate, explaining that I just needed to fly even if for a little bit. I was feeling the very meaning of exhilarating. He smiled at me, that very understanding and seeing smile only a true partner can give, and told me to go ahead, let my rocket ass loose.

And so I did.

I flew around those lakes, completing the figure eight. I soared up and over the pedestrian bridge. I safely floated across Main Street and pushed even harder when making that final turn. I was sad when I saw the finish in the near distance because I wanted to run like that forever. I looked down at my watch only once and that was when I was close to the end. I was going about 7:30min/mi. I felt better, I felt amazing, I felt like myself even if for just a brief moment.

Endorphins are a powerful ally in the battle against depression. Being outside and surrounded by people helps stamp the need to self-isolate. EC told me he could see the difference in my face and my body how much that run helped my mind. I almost cried because I had felt so broken before we started and now the darkness was a little less consuming. I could feel some cracks starting to appear in the darkness, as if someone had poked holes in the black felt clothe.

There were a few more runs after this that helped to chase away more of the dark, but nothing came close to what I felt on this day, the beginning of the lifting fog.

EC and I aren’t together anymore, but I’ll still always remember him fondly for these moments when I needed a true friend by my side.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2015 in depression

 

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Marathon #4, Instant Classic

I went into this race with only having started training in mid-January and I’ll admit now I didn’t take it all that serious. I broke my foot last September, took off two full months from running and started back slow and steady at the very end of November. My mileage was erratic, I’m sure because of all the aqua jogging I did while waiting for my foot to heal. Plus it’s really hard to say ‘no’ to a run when you weren’t able to do it for two whole months. Mid-January I started to follow an actual plan. Well, sort of. I view plans more as guidelines than rigid have-tos. The winter was wetter than usual which made running on the trails harder because running in snow or slush is like running on sand; you gotta work hard(er) for every step.

On the day of the Instant Classic, I was more excited than nervous because I was going to be running my first official race for my iRUN4 buddy, Kadence. She’s almost 2 years old now and has Down Syndrome. Even more special, the race was on World Down Syndrome Day, a great excuse to wear “crazy socks” and your ‘Keep calm, it’s only an extra chromosome’ t-shirt.

The day started off a bit cloudy and overcast, but it was supposed to be sunny and warm by the time we finished. I wore shorts, a tank, a long sleeve shirt over the tank and my CamelBak. The peregrines were my shoe of choice and Injinji my sock of choice. The field was small and familiar. The half and full marathon started at the same time which made it interesting when it was time to break off and later when they merged with us again.

Pocahontas Park is large, non-technical, double-track and hilly which helps to make sure you’re paying attention. We ran a full 26.2 miles and managed to see very little of the course twice. We traipsed to the Swift Creek Reservoir, over the Beaver Creek Dam and around the lake and followed the path a lot of horses had also explored given the mounds of poo we encountered. One runner suggested riders pick up after their horses like we have to pick up after our dogs. I’m not that concerned with horse poo to be honest. I figure we’re out in nature and it’s all organic, right?

My plan was to swallow a gel every 55min which also seemed to work when I ran the Creeper Marathon two years ago. The first time was somewhere around mile 7 and I had to pull off into the woods to use it as a bathroom anyway so decided that was as good time as any to suck down the first gel. I followed it with a swig of water from my pack and was off again. It was shortly after that stop – on my way back up the fun hill we had just gone down – my left knee started whispering pain feelings to me. I talked to it, telling the knee it was only joking, that it really didn’t hurt and I could run through whatever it was. By mile 9ish I was wishing Mr Miyagi was somewhere on the course to work his magic.

I talked my knee into getting the rest of me to mile 16 so that counting down was going to be in the single digits, a lot less overwhelming for what was going to happen next.

By mile 16 I realized it was time to start walking the ups and run whenever I could. I met a few other runners who weren’t prepared for the hills and their quads or calves were also not happy. (For the record, I was prepared for the hills but my ITB had other plans.) This went well for the next 8 miles and I thought I was going to make it to the very end but it was not to be. By mile 23ish, my knee didn’t want to run the half mile and by mile 26 it wasn’t even wanting to walk. I almost kissed the Mile 25 sign and took a selfie, too, so there would be proof of my elation.

Soon after passing the 25th mile, my EC showed up on the trail in front of me. I laughed and told him he gave me his cooties. He has been battling Runner’s Knee and at the time I thought that was my new problem. He chuckled then admitted he had been worried about my state of mind. He fully expected me to be angry or crying or frustrated, not happy and smiling. I reminded him that I went into this race like it was just another training run and whatever happened was going to happen so I was okay with how things turned out.

The race is a good one. It’s well supported, not a lot of community involvement but that’s hard to accomplish in nature anyway. Going by the finish to get to the last 6 or 7 miles was fun. I’d recommend this race to those wanting to complete a trail marathon even if it means they will have to travel. Plenty of campsites are available and it is a beautiful state park in the middle of tri-city suburban sprawl. I will make sure to tell those contemplating the run that a certain runner friend has come back to complete it fours years in a row, that’s how awesome a race it is.

P.S. Trail marathons aren’t for wimps and this one is no exception. However, Pocahontas isn’t very scenic in terms of mountains or rivers or rapids, and you can’t really see the birds chirping about your ear or the peepers making all the racket, but it’s quiet and tranquil and in the woods. If nature is your bliss, you won’t have a problem finding it here.

 
 

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Trail shoe review: Altra Superior 2.0

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First, let me just get this out of the way: I love these shoes! I tried. I still have the . And I still have the . But are the absolute bomb. They are a gorgeous combination of minimal with just enough cushion so I won’t break my foot again (hopefully). And right now they’re a soaking wet mess and it’s glorious.

First, let me just get this out of the way: I love these shoes! I tried Salomon. I still have the Peregrine. And I still have the Trail Gloves. But these shoes are the absolute bomb. They are a gorgeous combination of minimal with just enough cushion so I won’t break my foot again (hopefully). And right now they’re a soaking wet mess and it’s glorious.

So let’s get techy for a minute:

  • 0mm drop, it says it right on the side of the shoe
  • Stack height of 21mm
  • weighs 7.5oz (8.7oz for dudes)
  • Wide foot shaped toe box but snug on the mid-foot and heal
  • Mesh upper that dries super fast
  • Removable sock liner that has holes to assist with drainage
  • They come with a removable rock plate
  • Gaitor trap in front and back if you need ’em
  • Mesh netting on the inside of the shoe on either side of the tongue to catch dirt
  • A soft enough sole to be great even in mud yet not too rigid to discourage the flexibility needed on more technical trails
  • Regular old school laces, probably my favorite part
  • The entire shoe is soft and squishy which helps when you’re on technical trails
  • Directional lugs on the bottom to help you regardless of going up or down hill (or sideways)
  • I needed a half size larger than my typical running shoe – I usually wear an 8, but needed an 8.5 in these
  • I have no idea what the trail rudder is supposed to help with but it doesn’t hinder either so it’s all good

I really don’t have anything bad to say about these shoes at all. Not even a little bit. They survive in mud, water, dirt, dust, pollen and everything in between. They provide just enough cushion I don’t have to worry about landing on another rock too hard and breaking my foot and I don’t have the rock plate in currently. They are perfect for both technical and no-so-technical trails. It’s like Goldilocks and the Three Bears: these shoes are just right. I recommend them to everyone!

P.S. Altra has a wide variety of shoe styles to include the Olympus that have a lot of cushion to the Lone Peak that have almost no cushion. There is something for everyone, the foot shaped toe box lets your toes move and wiggle as they would naturally.

11148073_10206987462351995_1836985126_oI love them even more now that they’re good and muddy.

 

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