Category Archives: Hills

Race Report: Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race

1:01:56, 18th Woman.

First and foremost, I am a road runner and spend very little time on trails (although I would like that to change in the coming years as we’re moving to an epic trail running town!). That said, I LOVE playing around in the woods and am wholly entertained by sliding sideways through mud and skittering along cliff edges. Despite moments of frustration yesterday, I had a complete blast getting out of my comfort zone and up some big hills at Sleepy Hollow.

Before I recap, let’s take a flash back to my last trail race and the areas of improvement I identified after that adventure.

  1. Learn how to tackle downhills.
  2. Don’t give up time on the easy parts.
  3. Tie your shoes tightly and learn how to cross rivers/mud.
  4. Know when to hold em, know when to fold em.

Coming into yesterday, my goals were simple: finish, keep both shoes on and try to apply lessons from last year’s Rivah. I actually spend a fair amount of time at Sleepy Hollow in the winter on skis but had literally never seen it without snow until yesterday. That said, I knew it featured some super gnarly singletrack and set a goal of 10 minute pace overall to balance the faster grass sections with the singletrack. Other than that, I didn’t have any plans, hopes or dreams.

The weather was perfect for a trail race with temps in the low 40s with just a touch of drizzle. We were well protected in the woods from wind but I suspect spectating wasn’t a ton of fun. Will and I ran the last 2 mile chunk of the course as a warm-up and although it was technical, it featured an amazing last mile of downhill and flat with good footing so I hatched a plan to use this place to move up if my legs allowed it.

This was the largest Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race (300 runners) ever and since I’m no trail runner, I positioned myself midpack for the start. When the horn sounded, people shot off while I jogged up the first incline. Since I didn’t know what to expect, my plan was to take it easy on the first ascent and see how I did. Even at that easy pace, I was breathing hard by about 5 minutes in. We turned onto a lovely singletrack and since we were still densely packed, this gave me time to calm my breathing and settle in. One of the best parts of this race was that it was either up or down and once you survived a climb, you knew you had a lot of recovery coming. After we crested the first hill, I felt good and started on the downhill. And people started STREAMING by me. Apparently my downhill skills have not really improved since last year…With rocks and roots and mud and leaves, I just wasn’t comfortable sending it and just did my best as what seemed like half the field went by me.

We then hit a long section of flat to downhill packed gravel/grass and I found my tempo effort and went. This awareness was a HUGE improvement from last year and was something I was able to do throughout the race. As we reached the bottom of this trail and the lowest point of the course, the hardest climb (for me) began. It started as a mudslide uphill that was nearly impossible to run, so I stayed to the side of the trail and powerhiked. (Look at all this learning!) Then after another short section of wide gravel/grass , we turned onto a switchback heavy singletrack where you could see so far up the ridgeline that the leaders were visible. Mentally and physically taxing, this was probably the hardest part of the course for me, especially when we hit the mile 3 marker and I realized I wasn’t even half done. Towards the top of this section, we saw Darth Vader and traversed a sketchy little cliff section where I literally grabbed a tree as I second guessed my footing. We went up over the absolute top of the land (another powerwalk hill) and finally headed down towards the start/finish area and the final loop.

This downhill and flat section offered a great opportunity to settle back into tempo effort and I felt strong and in control. Cruising past Will at the beginning of the third loop, I focused on my form with driving knees and turnover and felt super confident in my ability to tackle the third loop. After all, I’d already run it and it wasn’t THAT bad. Ha. As we turned onto the singletrack portion (most of which is at a 28% grade), I found myself struggling to powerwalk, let alone run. The only reason I wasn’t completely devastated was that literally everyone else around my was powerwalking too. Turns out that what might seem easy on a warm-up is a bear after 4.5 miles of racing. When we finally reached the top of that climb, I forced myself back into a jog and carefully watched footing then rejoiced when we hit the gravel/grass road descent. As I’d planned on my warmup, I clicked into tempo pace and started moving towards home. I was able to pass two people and caught up to the woman whom I’d passed on every uphill but who decimated me on the downhills. As we worked up the last hill, I realized I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was for kicking it in at a trail race and felt like maybe, that wasn’t cool. I stayed a couple steps behind her as we finished up and crossed the line at 1:01:56.

All in all, I’m so happy with the way this turned out. I wanted to get a solid effort in, have some fun in my last race in Vermont for a while and see if I could apply what I’d learned from my last trail race. I did a great job of keeping both shoes on, powerwalking when appropriate and running fast where it was possible. My downhills, however, still leave a lot to be desired. There’s always next time!

 

Week in Review: 3.20.17 to 3.26.17

Monday: 5 mile workout, half power of my usual 5-4-3-2-1 fartlek. Legs felt pretty clunky. Lifted legs afterward.

Tuesday: 3.8 mile recovery run with the dogs.

Wednesday: 7 mile workout, 4 by 5 at tempo pace with 60 seconds between. Felt pretty good.

Thursday: 4.3 miles. Legs tired!

Friday: Hour of cross country skiing with the dogs; new snow and leaving for the weekend? Needed exhausted dogs.

Saturday: Travel to Asheville. Lots of walking but no run.

Sunday: 3 mile Asheville hill classic. Great to be back. Tons of walking as well.

Total Miles: 23.1

Lots of good news this week. First, I found a house!!!!!! My mom and I spent a busy 36 hours in Asheville looking for houses and by Sunday night, I found an amazing one. Interestingly, it was the smallest one I looked at but it used the space well, has a perfect location and is a great setup for dogs. One of other parameters I used to evaluate places was ability to run. Although the new house sits on top of a hill (it’s Ridge Street, after all), it has great access to all sorts of running and even a greenway that is under construction.

Second, I’m cleared to lift and workout fully (as tolerated). I saw my fabulous breast surgeon yesterday and she cleared me for all exercise AND the surgical pathology confirmed that I had a sclerosing papilloma which means that it was a benign tumor. All great news.

This week, I’m back to reality. As I said last week, Unplugged has gone from a race to a supported workout for me so I’m training through it. I have a combination workout on the schedule for tonight and a long run planned for Saturday. In between will be easy workouts, just trying to get a base underneath me.

 

Spring 2017 Racing Schedule

For many reasons, the last year has not been an optimal one for targeting races. From away rotations to interview travel to surgery, it’s been a whole lot of two steps forward, one step back. On top of that, I didn’t know where we were moving in May, so it was difficult to aim forward at any race. Now that I know we’re heading to Asheville however, I’m ready to plan!

I’m still not able to run a ton without discomfort so I had to adjust Unplugged from a goal race to a workout. I hate running races as workouts. First, I think it’s a cop out that people use. Second, I think that even if you’re not using it as a pre-made excuse, it’s difficult to execute your workout plan and not get caught up in the race. That being said, I’m going to try to make Unplugged a valuable workout although I haven’t decided if I’ll do a progression run or a steady state run.

After that, however, I’ll be gearing up for the Asheville Half in June. What better way to kick off life in my new city!! This is a hilly half and I expect it to be warm, so I’ll be adjusting my training to prepare for the hills and hope that I’ll have enough time to adjust to the heat.

April 8th: Unplugged Half Marathon

April 22nd: Rollin Irish Half Marathon (super hill, muddy race)

April 20th: Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race (Trail 10K)

June 3rd: Asheville Half Marathon

After Asheville, my first task is to adjust to a new town and build a good base and coming up with a training plan that allows me to get good workouts in AND be an intern.

Week in Review: 2.6.17 to 2.12.17

Monday: First day back in the hospital. 6 mile early morning workout with 10 by 1 on, 1 off.

Tuesday: 3.25 easy run in the early morning snow.

Wednesday: 5 mile treadmill hill run.

Thursday: 7 mile progression run, starting at 6.1 and ending at 9.1.

Friday: Post-call, prorated off day. 4 miles.

Saturday: Nordic skied in the morning, downhill in the afternoon.

Sunday: 6 mile run plus arms and core.

Total Miles: 31.3

First week back on service! The good news is that I did a good job of getting up and getting my run done. The bad news is that I didn’t get a lot of lifting in and I missed my long run this week. I had intended to do it on Friday when I was post-call because I expected to be done around 1 but didn’t leave the hospital until 5. I coached on Saturday and I am back at work today. I got up early to fit a run in but felt miserable so just did an easy run and lifted.

We’re heading into a big storm cycle today which is going to be GREAT for skiing and snowshoeing but less good for running. I’ll be on the treadmill for my workouts this week but hoping to get outside for my easy runs and hopefully by next weekend, there will be enough clear roads for a long run.

In general, it’s working well for me to have workouts scheduled without prescribed mileage because it changes my perspective to be grateful for any effort. I am of course frustrated that I can’t seem to string together any real training but I’m working on being grateful for the running I can get in.

Finally, I got to try my new Lumo Run  this week and will admit to being a little nervous to see what it said but my initial run was very positive. The pace was off because I was on the treadmill but all of my markers looked good except for braking. I’m so excited to see how this project goes and how I can tweak my running form.

Week in Review: 1/30/17 to 2/5/17

Monday: Tempo run outside on the new part of the bike path! 3 by one mile with 90 seconds rest between. Total 7.4 miles.

Tuesday: 3.25 mile Treadmill Express Hills. 

Wednesday: 5 mile regular run with 4 by 30 striders in the end on the treadmill. 1 hour of easy classic skiing in afternoon.

Thursday: 7 mile steady state run with 4 miles at steady state.

Friday: 11.5 mile long run along Lake Michigan. Windy and cold but insanely sunny.

Saturday: 3 miles easy on treadmill pre-interview.

Sunday: Ugh. Done with interview season and instantly sick. Achy, sore throat, nauseous. Miserable.

Total Miles: 37.2

The good news is that I got all three workouts in this week: tempo, steady state and long run! I did a good job of getting glute activation in daily and did some form of core and basic strength before bed every night. The bad news is that I didn’t manage to explicitly lift a single day, my diet was somewhat of a scatter and I still didn’t do any yoga. Not great…

This is a pattern for me (and I presume many other people) that when mileage creeps up (even if it’s half of my usual mileage), all the extras get pushed out. My focus this week is on keeping the extras in, even if my mileage isn’t quite as high. It’s good practice for next year when I’m going to have almost no time to train.

The week ahead may be complicated as I go back on clinical medicine service (for the first time since August) and right back onto Internal Medicine, which is 6 days a week with rotating call. I start tomorrow post-call, which means that I probably won’t be there too late tomorrow but as the week goes on, the hours get crazier. The approach for this week? At least 30 minutes of running in the morning (varying between workouts and recovery) with lifting at night (I already wrote what I’m doing into my schedule) and a hope that I’ll be around 40 miles.

The hurdle may be how long I feel miserably sick for. I am rarely too sick to run but felt like if I could lay low today and go to sleep early, I might be able to stave off whatever this is.

Express Workout: Treadmill Hills

I’ve become a bit of a master at express workouts over the last year and wanted to share one of my favorites here. If you have 30 minutes, you can get a great, full workout in AND stave off boredom on the treadmill.

If you have more than 30 minutes, you can keep adding on 5 minute repeats or swap to my Long Hill Stamina run which I’ll share next week.

Training Approach for New Bedford

One of my strengths/weaknesses (can you tell I’ve been on the interview trail…) is that I am a hyper-analytical person and I am constantly thinking about how to change a process to make it better. While this is generally a good thing, at times it makes it difficult for me to relax, enjoy and experience. It also makes me attempt to exert control over situations where that is just not feasible. In terms of running, however, it allows me to look over past training cycles and evaluate what worked and what didn’t work.

Two of my most data rich training cycles are my two lead ups to the Philadelphia Half Marathon, one where things went well and I felt amazing and strong through a 1:21:45 half and one where I struggled to a 1:22:25 finish. Some of the differences may have been due to weather and iron deficiency, but one of the biggest things I noticed in my 2015 attempt at Philly was that I a) never felt comfortable and b) had no extra gear to kick up to. At first, I assumed that this was because I hadn’t done enough interval work but as I looked over my training log, the biggest difference was that in 2012, I did a TON of stamina and steady state work and very little frank interval work.

As I’m approaching New Bedford with less time than I had to prepare for the “Phillies” (both week wise and day to day time wise), I’m trying to train smart with the time that I do have. As such, I’m splitting my hard effort days between four major categories: interval, tempo, stamina and steady state. I pair interval and stamina in one week followed by tempo and steady state in the following week. My long runs are easy and one of my easy runs is a hill focused run. The rest are easy peasy.

  • Interval: Still important, just not the main focus of my training cycle. My workouts are time based because I’m almost exclusively on the treadmill due to footing and are either 10 by 1 on, 1 off (emulating 300 meter repeats) or 4 on, 3 off (emulating 1K repeats).
  • Tempo: If you only have time for one workout a week, science and numbers say this is your best bet. I alternate between mile or 5 minute repeats at T pace and continuous tempo. As I get in tuning phase in early March, I’ll add 200 meter repeats after my tempo workouts to tune up my top end speed.
  • Stamina: My FAVORITE kind of run. I do these as progression runs, starting incredibly easy then gearing up until I am at tempo pace. I’ll share my treadmill version of this workout later this week but I love that this workout is challenging but not killer. When the footing is better, I also do these as long hill repeats.
  • Steady State: The ultimate awkward run, this is a continuous run done at approximately marathon effort. It is not as hard as a tempo run but was incredibly helpful for me in preparing for Philly 2012 because I learned how to cruise comfortably.

The other benefit of this approach is that although it sacrifices some specificity for the half marathon, it builds a stronger base for whatever events I jump into for the remainder of the year.

Week in Review 12.12.16 to 12.18.16

I am beyond happy that I got as much physical activity in as I did this week given my travel schedule!

Monday: 10 miles on the treadmill before my interview. Horribly boring but happy to get the run in.

Tuesday: 3.75 mile run on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail in Salt Lake City. Absolutely incredible views but the trail was a wee bit muddy.

Wednesday: 7 mile run up City Creek Canyon. So happy to find that the altitude wasn’t bothering me at all, maybe an effect of how dry it is out there?

Such a fun run; up, up, up and just gradual enough that you could run smoothly.

Thursday: Planned off day. Prorated at 4.3 miles.

Friday: 4 miles easy on the treadmill in Cleveland plus arms.

Saturday: Winter hike up Mount Philo with Will.

He is incapable of taking a normal photo.

Sunday: 9 mile long run on the treadmill before leaving for Providence.

Total Miles: 33.8 Miles

There were plenty of opportunities to miss a run this week with travel delays and the general chaos that surrounds interview season but I was so psyched to be able to get in decent runs and even a couple of workouts. My favorite run of the week was definitely the climb up City Creek Canyon in Salt Lake. It was the perfect grinder of a hill workout: steep enough to be hard but completely runnable. I could see many endurance workouts happening on that hill!

Adaptation week is over now; up to 50 miles for this coming week as I start to get back into the swing of things for New Bedford and Spring 2017.

Last call for the Giveaway of The Endurance Diet!!

Week in Review 8.22.16 to 8.28.16

Monday: Minimal running around while the team ran their relay at Windridge.

Tuesday: 6.75 miles with striders on the track.

Wednesday: 7 miles with 4 by half mile hill at interval pace. Legs after.

Thursday am: 6.65 miles recovery plus arms after.

Thursday pm: 3 miles super easy with the team.

Friday: 6.8 mile regular run plus striders on the track.

Saturday: 8 miles with 3 by mile at tempo pace (6:28, 6:30, 6:23).

Sunday: 6 mile recovery run with Will.

Total Miles: 47.2 miles

Not a bad training week. Getting back into a routine at home and definitely didn’t do as much strength work as I wanted but did get in a reasonable number of miles. I’d been thinking of running the Downtown 10K as my first fall race but sadly, they canceled it this week. Downtown 10K is one of my favorite races of all time and is on an AWESOME course, but apparently interest was too low to keep it going.

Also so excited that cross country is back in full swing. As always, it’s a fantastic group of girls and I’m so excited for them to show off all their hard work from the summer. This was my first summer away from the team but they all motivated each other and are just in awesome shape going into the fall.

For the coming week, my two areas of focus are going to be getting in more strength (UVM has Body Pump now, so I’m really excited to get to a couple of classes) and finding a routine again with nutrition. We didn’t have much food in our house (Will lives on junk when I’m gone…) so I had a very random assortment of food over the last week. Unfortunately, I also have to travel back to Chicago for 24 hours at the end of the week for another set of boards (Step 2 Clinical Skills, which is under protest for a really skewed cost (~2000 if you’re lucky) to benefit (virtually none) ratio). The 9 day schedule let me put a rest day on Friday when I’m actually testing but I’ll definitely have to run on the treadmill in Chicago on Thursday.

Week in Review 8.15.16 to 8.21.16

Another whirlwind week!

Monday: 5.5 miles while I got my oil changed with 4 laps of striders on the track at UNC-Asheville. Super hot!

Tuesday: 7 miles with 3 by 5 minutes at tempo effort.

Wednesday: 5 miles of recovery running on the Mountains to Sea trail.

Thursday: 6 miles easy, my last morning in Asheville.

Friday: Travel Day. Winchester, Virginia to Roxbury, VT to meet my girls at training camp! Unfortunate feature was getting rear-ended about an hour from camp.

Saturday am: Easy warmup then 5 by 3 minutes at tempo effort (XC girls).

Saturday pm: 3.5 mile recovery run. Beach abs after.

Sunday am: Easy warmup then 5 by Windridge hill hard. Legs after.

Sunday pm: Hour plus of yoga; tons of hip and back work. Much needed.

Total Miles: 37

I’m back in Vermont! I spent the weekend with my girls at training camp and loved every second. As mentioned above, I did unfortunately get rear-ended while traveling on Friday, which was my first accident in over a decade. I was stopped in traffic and she didn’t see that we were stopped and hit me at a pretty good clip. Thankfully, I had Will’s Honda and although it needs some repairs, no one was injured and besides some sore muscles and a sore wrist, I was totally unscathed.

I’m excited to get back into a groove this week and start following my 9 day schedule on Wednesday. Since I’ve been at 35 to 37 miles for the last 3 weeks, I’ll adjust down to 45 miles for this first week back, rather than pushing for 50.