Sunday, March 18, 2018

Smoky Mountains (WW #137)

The purpose of this linkup is to
support active women.
Have you read the UPDATED RULES ??


Our spring break week fell apart.  The kids' schedules weren't working with a lengthy trip, so we didn't follow through with our original idea.  But, our college son wanted to go hiking so I hopped on board. PoPo volunteered to stay home with the dogs and do some things around the house {thank you, honey!}. Off to the Smoky Mountains we went.

We stayed in a cabin in Gatlinburg our first two nights...not because we wanted to "do Gatlinburg" (been there done that a few times) but because it was close to the trails we wanted to hike.  We arrived Wednesday just before sunset and captured some amazing pictures.

Sunset in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The first full day of hiking was quite treacherous.  Wearing my new Mizuno trail shoes with Michelin (yep, the tire) spiked soles, I had no problems with the steepness, excessive mud (oh my, at the mud!) water crossings or the snow.  But the ice?  These two hikes took so much longer to complete just to navigate the ice.

Hike 1Rainbow Falls - 6.2 miles - 2,330 elevation gain

Hike 2: Chimney Tops - 3.6 miles - 1,456 elevation gain

The second day of hiking was much easier.  Thankfully, we had very little ice to contend with.  By far, our favorite trail of the entire trip was our morning hike to Alum Cave.  We were delighted by the many geological features on this hike culminating with Alum Cave, which really wasn't a cave.  Pictured below is a tunnel on the way to the cave-that-wasn't.  

Hike 3: Alum Caves - 4.4 miles - 1,310 elevation gain

Alum "Cave" - More of an overhang but very impressive!  See the tiny hikers?

Hike 4:  Laurel Falls - 3.0 miles - 409 Elevation Gain

After two solid days and 17 plus miles of steep hiking, we drove across the state to Chattanooga where I barely limped ran the Raccoon Mountain half marathon while my son ran the 10k.  To prepare for my upcoming downhill marathon, I pushed on the downhills and took it easy on the ups.  My quads cried the whole time [see entire post devoted to hiking and elevation gain].  It was a fun event with awesome and unique swag.  We did some sightseeing there as well.  It's just too much for one post so I'll leave it here.  

I'll give you just one teaser.  From the Raccoon Mountain race site:  

"The course is NOT flat and not fast. 
Hills keep things interesting and easy is boring!   
Don’t expect to PR here.  DO expect to have a great time!"  

... {GULP} ...

And that's a wrap!

Have you visited the Smoky Mountains?  Where?

Do you like to hike?  Favorite trail?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

MGM Half Marathon (WW #136)

The purpose of this linkup is to
support active women.
Have you read the UPDATED RULES ??


Montgomery Half Marathon
Montgomery, AL
March 10, 2018
Half Marathon # 53

Alternate Post Titles:
  • The one after a 3.5 hour root canal
  • Hills, hills and hills for breakfast
  • What do you mean you ran out of grits and eggs?
  • Do high doses of antibiotics cause cramps?
  • You just can't beat the swag!

Saturday marked my 4th time running the Montgomery Half Marathon.  It's never been one of my faster finish times.  It's usually warm and humid and very hilly.  Always hilly.  I was so happy to be blessed with a cool morning this year.  Even though I wasn't gunning for a course PR (I'm marathon training and elected not to do the traditional taper) I hoped it would translate into a decent finish time. 

Well, I'll cut to the chase -- I felt fantastic until mile 9.  I was thrilled to successfully navigate those early hills and middle miles.  Then,  the cramps started.  AGAIN.   I had already taken in plenty of electrolytes. Just like Mercedes, I was forced to stop when the foot cramps reached my calves -- yes, both.  I also had a weird cramp in the back of my right knee.  That was new.   I limped across the finish line with a 2:12:14 gun time (oddly, they don't record chip time).  My Garmin recorded 13.24 in distance.  I wasn't very good with running the tangents. I was 7th out of 54 in my age group.

I admit to beating myself up for a hot minute over my time.  No, that's not accurate.  It wasn't exactly my finish time that bothered me. I've actually done worse at this race!  It was going from such a strong race to a barely-limping-in one.  If you read my alternate post titles, you've figured out I had a root canal this week.  It did not go well and I spent 3.5 hours in the dental chair.  I've also been on a high dose of antibiotics for two weeks, along with my allergy medicine (see pink azalea bush above).   There may have been a few factors working against me.  Or...maybe I'm looking for excuses. 

The swag included a large beach towel, a
truckers hat, socks, a tattoo sleeve, a pair
of arm warmers, a T-shirt and a car decal.
The photo-bombing diapered dog, not included.

Regardless of performance, I was out there doing what I love.  It was fun hanging out with a couple of the ladies from our weekend running group.  The band was rockin' and the sun was shining.  You can't beat that.  I was a little miffed that they had run out of some of the breakfast food when I came through the line.  I had been thinking about those grits and eggs for a few miles.  But, they had record attendance this year and I think I caught them in a restocking phase.  I didn't feel like going back.

Always fun catching up with Laurie and Kaye.

I crossed another finish line and hopefully learned a few lessons I can apply toward my next race. Another theory for my recent cramping is running with inserts in my shoes.  I do think they are helping my poor, sad, previously fractured metatarsals, but maybe they are a part of the cramping equation?  I think I'll try training in them but not racing in them.  

And that's a wrap!

What's the best race swag item you've ever received?

Do you run with inserts?  Like them?  What brand?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

WORK Week (WW #135)

The purpose of this linkup is to
support active women.
Have you read the UPDATED RULES ??


Goodbye February, Hello March!

This week marked the beginning of a fresh, new month.  Honestly, little happened during the workweek on the training front.  Aside from strength training on Monday and a six mile progression run Wednesday morning, all of my activity was over the weekend.  Life happened. College tours, dental visit, doctor visit, baseball tournament, and an indescribably stressful business merger -- sometimes it is difficult to get even the minimum of training done.  It's early in my marathon training cycle, so I am not panicked.  Yet

For fear of cramming too much into my weekend, and paying the price later, I opted to skip my cross training.  Cycling for over an hour on the same day of either a 10 mile run or downhill interval repeats didn't sound like the brightest idea.  Heck, doing two runs of effort two days in a row is already pushing it for this aging body. 

Saturday's long run was odd.  I had been forced out of the bed in the wee hours of the morning with a Charley Horse (calf cramp).  Although not debilitating, I definitely could feel it.  Once I hit mile 8, it wanted to cramp again.  But, I was pleased to run a steady MRP (marathon race pace) of 9:48.  It was a cool morning but I'm thankful I put a tank on under my long sleeves.  It warmed quickly and I had to shed that top layer.

Mailbox Greetings! 
Back at home base after 10 miles.

To prepare for REVEL Rockies, I must include fairly steep downhill runs into my weekly training. Sunday was the day -- 'cause I was running out of days.  I used the steepest hill in my neighborhood and  repeated it 7 times.  With my warmup and jogs back to the top, it added up to 5 miles.   It would be nice to find a really long section of downhill.  I can't say I enjoy those jogs back to the top.

Why do hills never look very steep in pictures?

This next weekend brings my hometown half marathon.  I can't afford much of a taper as the marathon is approaching quickly.  I'll just use it as a training run.  I'm very excited to catch up with Tricia who is coming to run with  me.

And that's a wrap!

What one word describes your week?

What is next on your calendar?

Have you ever done downhill interval training?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

It's Spring! (WW # 134)

The purpose of this linkup is to
support active women.
UPDATED RULES can be found HERE.

Thank you for supporting the NEW Weekly Wrap

In my world, the start of Spring occurred Tuesday February 13th.  I know because I sneezed  After 24 hours on Allegra, I had it under control.  This week, the yellow pollen made its appearance.  The Bradford Pears are exploding with their white blooms.  It was over 80 degrees each day and with our high school senior's baseball season in full swing [<< get it?] Spring it definitely here!  In typical southern fashion, it'll be a mere few weeks before I say it feels like Summer.  Oh wait...I think I've already said that.

I ran three times this week for a total of 20.2 miles and cycled an hour on the mag trainer for cross training for 19.6 miles.  There was nothing noteworthy except it was extremely humid during all three runs.  In fact my mailbox was covered with moisture, as if it had rained, when I took this picture.

I ran with the crew on Saturday morning at 6 a.m.  Mucky, mucky, mucky.  {OK, I'll stop whining.  Maybe.}  The other ladies stopped at various distances and I was very grateful to Leigh for hanging around so we could get a total of 10 miles. Conversation definitely helps take my mind off the humidity and the miles.

If you didn't catch my announcement on Friday's Runfessions, I'm signed up for another marathon.  I'm already trained for the half distance -- in fact I still have two more on my schedule -- and will build from this base.

Even though I'm less than 100 days out, I'm not increasing my long run distance just yet.  I am gradually increasing my mid week runs, however.  I had already upped my strength training while contemplating the decision.  Of course, I'll continue to cross train on my bike.  My weekly speed work will now all be downhill intervals because...

...this is the elevation profile

Yes, you read the graph correctly.  The course drops 4700 feet.  Wall sits have already become my new best friend.  I ran the half in 2014 so I know what I am getting into.  I was able to twist Teresa's arm enough to join me.  It'll be fun to share the experience of this breathtaking course with a friend.  Let me know if you plan to be there!

The great thing about REVEL is they allow you to withdraw, change distances, defer until next year, or switch to another of their locations.  If I feel I am not sufficiently trained, or if my body simply protests,  I can make a change.  I don't plan on it, but it's nice to know I can easily do so.  For me, it takes the pressure off.

And that's a wrap!

Have you had any spring like days yet?

Would you run a downhill course?

If you've run a downhill course, what was the elevation drop?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Friday Runfessions (February)

It's the last Friday of the month and you know what that means...

It's time for Runfessions!  Let's get right to it.

I runfess...

I've been avoiding buying new shoes because, shallowly, I didn't like any of my color options.  I don't know why I thought they'd change if I procrastinated.  I finally had no choice.   I do love the fact that I can lace up a new pair of Mizuno Wave Inspires, go for a run, and absolutely forget I have a new pair of shoes on my feet.   I'll just have to pretend they are red.

I runfess...

Last weekend, one of my sons clued me in to the trails located in the nearby woods.  Never mind the fact we've lived here over 18 years.  We took the dogs for a hike and, lo and behold, there they were winding their way around.  They're overgrown and hilly but not too technical. Or so I thought.  The next day I went back in for a run.   I further runfess, I guess I got a little carried away.  My ankles were sore for a few days. 

I runfess...

It is Spring here.  Being honest, it is not my favorite time to be outside.  {Please, no hate mail.}  Don't get me wrong, I love seeing everything burst with color.  In fact, spring tree green is my favorite color. (Margarita green is another...I digress...)   But, it is already warm and humid enough for running to be a struggle.  Yet, it's not warm enough to water ski or enjoy the pool.  It's that weird in between time where I have to take allergy medicine, can't think due to the excessive bird chirping outside my office window,  and have to clean the yellow pollen off my car.  Every.Damn.Day.

I runfess...

I'm signed up for another marathon!  After falling in love with the scenic downhill course of the 2014 Inaugural REVEL Rockies half marathon in the canyons outside of Denver, I decided to return for the full distance.   I see many downhill interval sessions in my immediate future.  One thing that is nice about the REVEL series?  They have a liberal refund, transfer and deferral policy - which takes a little of the pressure off. 

I runfess...

Although I'm excited to have another crack at the marathon distance, I'm still struggling to get out of bed for my early morning runs.  As the temperature has been topping 80 degrees every day this week, it's necessary to get these runs in bright and early.  I've got to get my act together!

What would you like to runfess?

I'm linking with my friend Marcia today from Marcia's Healthy Slice.
Please stop by and join in with your own Runfessions!

I'm also joining in on the Friday Five 2.0 linkup
Stop by and see what everyone is talking about.