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Category Archives: trailrunnergirl

What lies within

 

Tuesday morning the trail dog and I set out for our first ever solo run into the dark trails. We parked at 0535 and headed east toward the flood wall and eventually made it to the Poop Loop. We scared some kind of animal shortly into the run, maybe a fox? I have no idea since it was too dark. Chevy usually sticks close to me in the dark yet that morning he re-found an animal skull I had thrown into the greenery sometime last week so he’s not scared of the dark when a skull is to be found!

skull

For months I have been working up the courage to run on the dark trails on my own, without anyone else in front of or behind me. Months is not an exaggeration. I have driven to the trailhead only to turn around and go home, waiting to run when there was more light. I’ve hemmed and hawed. I have given myself all sorts of excuses. I have psyched  myself out by imagining all the creatures lurking in the dark. We’re in the heart of the city, the only wildlife lurking are deer, the occasional fox, lots of opossums and raccoons, I have smelled a skunk once or twice and always plenty of spiders. Snakes aren’t as active at night because they’re sleeping somewhere warm, right? That is my logic anyway.

I reminded myself how well I know the trails here; that I can tell you when things have shifted, if a new path has formed, when there is a new tree you’ll have to climb over, etc. I know where every single rock and root are hiding in the dirt.* Then I reminded myself that I haven’t been afraid in the woods when I’m camping or sleeping alone in my tent or that time I slept under a picnic table.

And then I reminded myself I have done these “scary” things and somehow survived.

So.

Fuck fear. It lies.

Fear keeps you compliant. Small. Hidden behind a smoke screen, experiencing life with the sound muted.

The idea of running 10 miles on the road simply because I was allowing fear to stop me from doing what I love most was the motivation I needed to get my ass out there. (Funny thing is I used to be afraid of running solo on the road in the dark, too.) Fear of the dark and what I can’t see in that darkness has been stopping me. Surely something bad is coming when I can’t see what is about to happen, right? So I don’t even try because then I can avoid the anxiety of not knowing.

This is an uncanny metaphoric parallel to how so many of us approach life whether we realize it or not. We allow fear of the unknown to stop us from applying for that job. Or asking that person out on a date. Or moving on to the next great chance. Or signing up for that dance class we’ve been wanting to try. Or allowing ourselves to relax in our relationships. Or asking a friend for a much needed hug. Or (insert your own here). There are so many ‘what ifs’ we talk ourselves out of the possibilities before we give it a chance to prove us wrong.

Doubt feeds into fear and fear is being afraid that what could happen will be bad or uncomfortable. But there’s also a 50/50 chance what might happen will be fantastic and fun. Or you can shift your perspective and tell yourself if it’s uncomfortable, you’re growing. If nothing else, you’ll have a great story to tell others when the time arises.

My general philosophy is if it’s freaking me out, that’s what I need to do.

Which is how Chevy and I found ourselves at the trailhead on Tuesday morning before the sun rose.

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*I know what you are thinking: not enough to keep me from tripping and falling over them, though.

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Posted by on April 28, 2016 in trailrunnergirl, Universe

 

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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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Lonely Runner, Not

In mid-November I found myself in Harrisburg, PA, while a friend completed his third marathon. I had approximately 2hrs to wander the city and found that both enticing and exciting as the start line was mere blocks from the capital. The night before I had searched for a coffee shop where I could get hot tea if needed but it was 3.8mi from where I was to begin. Disappointed yet resigned, soon after I started meandering through the grounds, I found myself a bit less than a mile from that small coffee shop with plenty of time to visit and get back to the finish line. While walking around a strange city to that shop I had never before visited, this sentence kept circling around and around in my head:

 Not all those who wander are lost. ~J.R.R. Tolkien

There is a lot of truth in that small thought. And it got me thinking. Most of my running is done on my own and I like it that way. I can tell when I’ve been running with people too much because I feel the tug of the solo run; my inside self telling me it’s time to run on my own for a while. Running has given me great confidence to wander the city on my own, finding new places and seeing new things I’d never see in a car. I now know, regardless of where I am, I can find my way back to the start. It might take me a bit longer than planned, but I’ll get there.

When I run by myself: I can go anywhere I want. See anything I want. Stop and rest if needed. Take a lot of pictures. Explore new territory.

I love running with my friends, but trail running is something totally different. I crave the alonetime in the woods, running through mud and dodging downed trees, jumping over rocks and crashing through steams. On the one hand, I love showing others around the trails especially since figuring out how to get 14-16mi out of them without passing anything twice. On the other hand, being alone in the woods is glorious and magical and soul-filling. Superman gets his energy from the sun, I get mine from getting lost in the woods. Watching the sun rise over the river, smelling the wet leaves, the soft dirt under your feet, listening to the river as it tumbles onward. It’s difficult to chat with anyone on the trails anyway. You have to watch where your feet are going, concentrate on avoiding roots, rocks, ruts. Listening to music while running on trails is contradictory.

Fear keeps me hesitant in wandering and exploring new trails, then I remind myself how foreign Buttermilk, Forest Hill, North Bank, Belle Isle, the flood wall and the slave trail felt to me when I first started. Now both me and my dog have every step memorized. It is this realization that gives me the courage to try out the new places on my own because, eventually, I will every one of those steps memorized, too.

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And thus it begins…

Behold, my first ultra, the Seashore Nature Trail 50k.

Y’all will get to go on this journey with me, watching me scrape my knees and other various body parts as I explore the trails near and far, learning to navigate roots, rocks, streams and the like. To prepare for running on the trails for 4+ hours means I need to run on trails for 4+ hours even in training. It also means I need to get out on the road for 30-40 mile runs during peak training weeks.

Nutrition will be key. There are no chubby ultra runners.

Do cupcakes count?

run happy cupcake

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2014 in runnergirl, trailrunnergirl, ultragirl

 

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