Category Archives: pictures

Race Report: Cottonmouth 8 Mile Beer Relay

Hands down, this was some of the most fun I’ve ever had at a race. Will really doesn’t race anymore after three ankle surgeries but I wrangled him into this one because it was a relay race, involved beer and was on trails rather than roads. The basic setup was that there is a two mile trail loop and teams of 1 to 4 had an option to drink a beer before the lap then set off for a 2 minute deduction in total time. The other component was that you had to carry a full beer “baton” for the whole race. There were age graded adjustments built in as well for final results. We did the relay as a two person team; I ran legs 1 and 3 and Will ran legs 2 and 4.

The night before the race, we had the arduous task of choosing our beer. It had to be >5% ABV, it had to be beer based (meaning ciders etc were excluded) and we wanted it to be in a bottle for easy drinking and something we would likely never want to drink again in case we got sick while running. We spent an inordinate amount of time in Ingles and finally settled on New Belgium’s Watermelon Lime Ale, coming in at 5% in bottle form. Our only mistake was not making sure they were twist off tops, which meant that we had to also remember to bring a bottle opener.

We got to Travelers Rest a little before 9 on Sunday morning and had an easy, breezy check in process. The Race Director was delightful and super welcoming, which was a nice change from my last attempt to get involved in the running community here. Will and I set out to preview the course which was marked with big arrow signs and after the first downhill (which, incidentally, was super technical), encountered two arrows that went like this –> <–. Hm. We tried to backtrack from the other side of the loop and still couldn’t make it work. We finished the course preview of the second half, a loop that included a football field and old asphalt track and let the Race Director know that something was up with the first loop. When he went out to check, he found that someone had reversed 5 of his arrows overnight! After he fixed it, we went back out to preview the first half of the course and it had magically turned into a great trail loop!

From the get-go, this race was low key and fun and prerace was no exception. People were hanging out, drinking beers and playing beer pong and corn hole. I didn’t drink before because I was already concerned about my ability to drink two beers and run 4 miles. I was also worried that I’d overload on fluid so despite the fact that it was in the 80s and sunny, I didn’t let myself have water and was PARCHED. My biggest prerace concern was chugging a beer at the start. I’ve never been one to chug anything, in part because of my inability to burp, and I was worried that it would take me 2 minutes to finish my beer and erase the 2 minutes that drinking a beer erased from each lap.

Chose an appropriate singlet for the morning! Cheers!

The start went WAY better than anticipated for me. I got the bottle open without difficulty and managed to drink it in ~25 seconds. I started to run in about 15th place and jogged out of the start area. Our plan was to take the whole race at about tempo effort but try to run intelligently on the course. The first mile was all trail and had sections with very technical footing and a big climb. The second mile was much more runnable and had a football field and lap on the old track, so was a perfect place to make up some time. The first downhill was MISERABLE. I was so full and had a sloshy stomach and desperately needed to burp, which is never my strong point. Since the whole idea was to have fun, I just kept jogging until I finally mercifully burped and felt 100% better. I found my tempo effort and started passing people quickly. When we came out of the woods, I found myself in 3rd place, solidly behind first (the race director who is a beast of a trail runner and beat us by 90 seconds) and about 30 seconds behind second. As we moved onto the faster part of the loop, I worked at closing the gap to second (our main competition) and ultimately got within 15 seconds of him. I finished the first lap in 15:35 and tagged off to Will, who put his beer down much more efficiently than me.

The man, the myth, the legend with better knee drive than I could ever hope for.

Will’s first lap was a beautiful thing. I’ve never seen him race and it was really fun to watch him pick his way over the course. He’s a great trail runner and a heck of a gamer in races and it was incredibly fun to get the chance to cheer for him for a change. The runner from the other team was very, very fast and Will did his best to hang close enough to him to keep us in it. At some point in his loop, Will passed the second runner from the team who had come in first (they were a 3 person team) as well and he came into the exchange zone in second by about 20 seconds.

My second beer was not as smooth as my first but I got it down in about 30 seconds and took off again. Unfortunately, the team that we were chasing was much more proficient and he was gone from sight before I finished my beer. This time, I was able to burp almost immediately and pushed my effort to tempo effort from the get-go. Although I couldn’t see my actual competition, there were plenty of people to pass on course which made it very easy to stay focused. Unfortunately, the second lap was MUCH warmer than the first. When we were in the woods, it wasn’t too bad but when we came out into the full sun, woooooweeee it was hot. I worked hard to not give up on the track and through the final field and was happy yet again to find that I had the fitness to start in tempo/interval effort in the final part of the race. I came into the exchange zone in a solid second but quite a ways down from the first team. My lap time was 15:45, which I was happy with now that I had two beers sloshing around.

Will took off after another great beer exchange and I jogged to the corner at the end of the woods loop to await him. The runner for the first team is clearly a trail guy; he hammered the first half of the course and put a lot of distance on Will. When they hit the flats, however, Will started to close the gap again. They ultimately beat us handily but I think Will and I were both super happy with our efforts!

The final rule was that at the finish line, you had to shake up the full beer that had been your baton the whole time and crack it open and spray. I’ve rarely seen Will smile so easily as he did when the finish line official made him do it! I had to duck and run to avoid a full spray of warm, shaken Budweiser.

Good thing we brought a change of clothes!

All in all, it was an awesome experience for us and a decent workout to boot. After the race, we hung around for almost two hours and ate pizza and met lots of runners from the Greenville running community. I connected with a runner (incidentally the guy who ran my leg from the team who beat us) who works at Pace Running, which is a local running store in Travelers Rest that exclusively carries Skechers so it was fun to talk shop a bit. It was such a nice contrast from my first experience to feel welcome and included just by virtue of showing up.

From a race perspective, I’m just so grateful to continue forward progress. My laps were very close in time and our team average pace was 7:45, so my 7:47 and 7:52 didn’t hold us back too badly! Given that my mile pace for the Asheville half was 7:20, I feel very good about this performance on trails, in the hot sun post-beers!

My favorite part of the day, however, was getting to see Will in race mode. We met after his first ankle surgery when he was already in the long, long recovery process and he hasn’t raced much since then. He did one 5K as part of the VCM relay and paced another for one of my athletes but otherwise just runs for fun. Without putting too much of him on the blog without his permission, I’ve always thought that he was nervous about racing again because it might fall short of his prior performances. I think Sunday was a great step for him to realize that you can reinvent yourself and race for fun and still be a “runner.”

Week in Review 11.21.16 to 11.27.16

Monday am: 8 mile workout on the treadmill. 20 minute continuous tempo then 5 by minute hard, minute easy.

Monday pm: 2.25 miles easy with the team.

Tuesday am: Drills and 1 mile warmup with the team.

Tuesday pm: 7 miles easy on the treadmill.

Wednesday: 5 miles with 6 by 100 meter strides on the track.

Thursday: 5 mile workout. 5 by minute hard, minute easy.

Friday am: Lower Back Yoga from Jasyoga.

Friday pm: 3.5 mile easy run around NXR course.

With the Nike logos everywhere, stole a covert shot of my shoes of choice...

With the Nike logos everywhere, stole a covert shot of my shoes of choice…

Saturday: 3.6 mile progression run on hotel treadmill. Unknown amount of running at the course; at least 4 additional miles but not in total.

Last coaching huddle despite the fact that I spent the ride home trying to figure out how to keep going...

Last coaching huddle despite the fact that I spent the ride home trying to figure out how to keep going…

Sunday: 5 mile easy run.

Total Miles: 40.4 miles

Another crazy week down. I am happy to get a couple of reasonable runs in this week although weather and travel had me on the treadmill far more than I would like to have been. I opted not to do another race on Thursday as my right hip has been sore and is clearly not firing well. I couldn’t rationalize racing on a sore hip four days after my last race since the best case scenario was a few seconds of improvement.

The newest addition to my training is more yoga and I decided to try out Jasyoga, a website that shows up a lot on social media under the hashtag #hitreset. I started using it when I traveled to Rochester, where I did the 5 minute reset for my hips and hamstrings after my drive and felt much better. This week, I decided to try the lower back video before my drive to New York and although it wasn’t easy, my back felt MUCH better upon arrival. The other tool I’m just starting to use is the Yoga Wheel by YogDev¬†(which was sent to me by the company). My flexibility is VERY poor but as I’ll talk about in an upcoming post, the next few months are all about building a routine that will keep me comfortable and pain free throughout residency. The Yoga Wheel is helpful because it allows me to do back bends that I would not be able to sustain on my own because my back and hips are so tight. I’ll do a full review of the Yoga Wheel in a couple of weeks as well AND will have a giveaway of an additional wheel for a lucky, interested person.

The week ahead includes a trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan where I’ll be checking out the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail and the campus of Western Michigan University. I’m planning on doing a long run when I arrive on Thursday (I land early and Will doesn’t get in until the afternoon) then a nice campus tour run on Saturday. Friday is my interview, so that is likely to be a treadmill adventure at the hotel instead.

Race Report: Fallen Leaves 5K #3 2016

While this race wasn’t my best time (or even best effort), I will remember it as one of my favorites because I got to race with my girls instead of just cheering them on from the sidelines. I didn’t go into the race well-rested; travel back from Rochester was rough and I ended up being awake for almost 36 hours by the time I went to bed on Friday morning. I barely ran during the week so I decided it would just be an adaptation week and I would go into the race with a positive mindset. Regardless, it wasn’t pouring rain (although it was cold), so it was an upgrade from my past two races.

After an extended warm-up without the girls (diesel engine over here) and then our regular warm-up routine, we revealed our awesome new singlets and started behind a few other high school boys and other area men. One of my favorite things about this race is that you do the first two laps on a kitty litter track so you can calibrate your pace. Our first lap was an 82 and I said out loud to the girls with me “WHOA we need to slow down.” My/our goal was to be around 19 so that was a little hot. We went through the 800 at 3:04, which was a much more appropriate pace.

Squad Up!

Squad Up!**

As we hit the grass, I felt good and stretched out a little to find a rhythm. We made the first sharp turn onto the bike path and I went through the mile at 6:10 on the nose. Another woman caught up to me at this point and although I tried to stay with her, my legs felt more like lead than I’d anticipated. We rolled along the bike path and picked people off, made it around the 180 degree turn and headed back towards the school. These 180 turnarounds KILL me. I came to almost a complete stop and it took me a few seconds to get back into my groove. The woman I was running with got away from me here and I couldn’t make contact with her again.

A little past 2 miles, the wheels a-coming off the bus.

A little past 2 miles, the wheels a-coming off the bus.

I ran my second mile in 6:02 and mentally tried to gear up for the last mile. I felt like I was moving well on the bike path but when we got to the last sharp turn back onto the grass, my form went from collected to…terrible. It had warmed up enough that the grass was soft but wet and slippery and I got the oddest cramp in my forearms and felt like they weren’t moving at all. I just kept my eyes on the people ahead of me and trudged forward. We hit the track for the final 100 meters and I saw the clock ticking towards 19 but couldn’t find any turnover to get there. My third mile was a 6:18 and I crossed at 19:09 as second woman.

A rare decent finishing shot!

A rare decent finishing shot!

The upside? I can still beat my girls and I’m still improving every week! The downside? I’m a little frustrated with my third mile. I think it’s mostly a lack of specific fitness but my turnover is just nonexistent at this point. I’ll get a chance to race again this Thursday and will hope to continue to improve. I’m still waiting to hear what the new course will be for the First Run 5K but am planning on that as my next “goal” 5K.

**We are super lucky to have a parent who is also a professional photographer. He takes HUNDREDS of pictures at every race, shares them for free with our team and this time, I’m one of the lucky beneficiaries. If you are local and need sports, family or senior pictures, I can’t recommend Phil enough.

The First Time I Tried This

When I was first getting back into competitive running during graduate school, Emmy and I had this brilliant idea to do a trail race in January in North Carolina. We had just finished City of Oaks Marathon and wanted a reason to keep training through the winter so we signed up. The day dawned sunny but cold and we learned a valuable lesson that even though we lived below the Mason Dixon, ice could still form and that even more importantly, what was recently ice would turn into mud.

My face captures it all...

My face captures it all…

Not having raced a trail race ever (Emmy) and not having raced off the roads since high school (me), neither of us were sure what to expect. The first mile or so was fine and I thought my worries were for nothing. Then I slid down an entire hill and came up covered in mud. I don’t remember specifics from the rest of the race but do distinctly recall thinking that 5 miles had never been so hard.

An hour and a half later (seriously! 1:27 something!), I finished and turned around to cheer Emmy in. Emmy and I have done tons of races together, so I have a good sense of when she should be coming in, but when 2 hours clicked by and she wasn’t there, I will admit to getting a tiny bit worried. Shortly thereafter, Emmy came around the corner and raised her hands over her head as she crossed. It turned out that Emmy had a few falls during the muddy section of the course. Once we’d banged the mud off our shoes, we vowed to never do a trail run again, a vow I kept until recently.

Rest assured that should things get rough tomorrow (it’s supposed to be cold and snowy), I will be thinking of Emmy and our vow!

Race Report: Craft Brew 5K Stowe 2015

Short Version: It was hot and I ran just fast enough to call it a workout and win a stein.

Long Version

Mike asked me to run this race earlier in the week as part of the brewery team for Frost Brew Works, where he moonlights when he’s not running the Catamount Outdoor Family Center. Races are always a great way to get a good effort in and there’s little I like more than a beer festival, so I happily signed up. I did not anticipate quite as much heat and humidity as we encountered with a noon start time, however.

We didn't realize HOW appropriate our team singlets would be for the day.

We didn’t realize HOW appropriate our team singlets would be for the day.

We arrived a little after 11 and managed to get the second to last reasonable parking space. Seth and I found our way to the crazy registration line then did our warmup, a bit of a misnomer since we were overheated already. My legs felt horrible on the warmup but I wasn’t expecting much at 86 degrees and 98% humidity plus a week of nights. The race start was a little delayed because they were having some parking issues (1 road in created a problem) but the organizers did a good job of communicating and we were off a little after noon.

And we're off...

And we’re off…

I had no goals for the day except to get a workout effort in and win the giant Stein if I could, while helping my team to a team win. I planned to go out in no faster than 6:20 for the first mile and in hindsight, I wish I’d stuck to that plan. Much like the Champlain Classic, I looked down a bit into the race and saw 5:40 something and had to put the brakes on. I went through the mile in 6:11, which felt totally fine at the time, but was probably the nail in my coffin.

Mile 2 was BAKING hot. We turned onto the bike path at some point and I distinctly remember thinking they’d moved the marker because it seemed so long. Other people started to come back to me during this mile, which was the only consolation. Somewhere in this mile, I stopped checking my watch because it was just so depressing. I resolved to focus on good form and tempo effort and just grind it out. My watch beeped long after the marker at 6:32.

By the third mile, I just wanted to be done. We were on the uphill section of the bikepath, there was no respite from the sun and to make things more miserable, someone was blowing dust to clean out a parking lot, creating a chokingly horrible few meters. Mile 3 was 6:51.

We finally turned onto the final stretch and I just did my best to keep it together to finish, which was about 6:12 pace. 20:30 has to be one of my slowest 5Ks ever, but when I looked around at the other finishers, it was clear that everyone had a similarly exhausting experience. After a few seconds of kneeling and taking an assessment of just how overheated I was, I found Mike, Seth and Will and we headed out on the cooldown. By the end of the cooldown (and 3 full water bottles of Nuun later), I was feeling back to my springy self and much better about the run.

I was first woman overall, but not by nearly as much as I thought, so I’m happy that I didn’t phone it in more than I did! We also won Biggest Team and Fastest Team, which meant that there were plenty of steins to go around.

My stein had yet to appear, so I went with an awkward pose instead. I was wearing shorts, by the way.

My stein had yet to appear, so I went with an awkward pose instead. I was wearing shorts, by the way.

Am I thrilled with this race? No. Am I worrying about it? Not one bit. It was hot and miserable and I just plugged along and got it done. I felt amazing by Saturday afternoon and ready to attack another week of training.

A note on the race series: Craft Brew Races is a relatively new race series that brilliantly pairs running and a brewfest in a reasonably priced ($55) package. I don’t usually do events like this because they are chaotic and not generally aimed at creating a good race environment but I was really pleasantly surprised with this production and am guessing that the creators are actually runners first. The course was well thought out (great loop), well marked and had professional timing, which meant that results were accurate and fast. The brewfest was great too; unlimited samples, which meant that you could dump out beers that you just didn’t like and a reasonable sized crowd so you weren’t waiting forever in line. They had a nice combination of local breweries (including some that we had never even heard of) and some better known breweries from Vermont and New England. I didn’t sample any of the food trucks but there were plenty of those too. Two thumbs up from me!

 

The #1 Exercise for Runners

If you only have time for one “extra” in your routine, this is your pick. Bold claim, I know, but I’m good at reading science and Will is even better and over the past few years, we’ve spent an enormous amount of time reviewing literature on what makes the perfect runner. Sure, you have to have some genetic predisposition and big lungs, but you also have to have a stable foot and hip/knee drive. The exercise that comes up over and over again to facilitate the development of the best stride possible for each runner are step-ups. Anecdotally, when I do my step-ups regularly, my form is significantly better. When I don’t, it’s right back to shuffle city.

Don't mind the banner in the back. It was borrowed from Terre Haute some years back.

Don’t mind the banner in the back. It was borrowed from Terre Haute some years back.

Earlier this fall, Will built us a step-up box (you can buy them too, but they are surprisingly expensive). Ours is 18″ but anything between 12 and 20 inches should do the trick. If you want an even cheaper version, try using 2 or 3 stairs. Just be careful when you’re coming back down not to catch your foot.

As you can see from the pictures above, I still need work. In one picture, I’m looking down at my foot when I should be looking ahead. In the bottom picture, I’m collapsing towards my loaded foot. With continued lifting and drills, however, this should improve.

How do you incorporate step-ups into your life? Start with 5 on a side (so 10 total per set) with a goal of 3 sets. Eventually you want to get up to 10 on a side.These are best done after your harder runs; how else will you learn to improve form when you’re tired?! I generally do these three times a week with the rest of my leg work.

Later in the week, I’ll share my 20 minute leg and 20 minute arm workouts that really can fit in your day and are runner-specific. No future in Cross Fit with these routines, but done regularly, they’ll improve form and help you in the latter stages of runs and races.

Turns Out, I’m Not Supergirl

Most of the time, my schedule seems totally doable and I go through my day feeling like even though people stare at me like I’m crazy for trying to coach, train and survive medical school, I generally have my shit together. My house is usually (mostly) clean, I get where I need to be on time, my team runs well, my workouts go well and they keep letting me come back to school. This week was an exception. We hosted two home meets (Tuesday and Friday), I had clinic on Wednesday and an exam on cardiology on Friday. In the midst of this, I missed my first run of the cycle on Wednesday. There were just not enough hours to see patients, study for the exam and get a run in. I beat myself up for a decent number of hours but then had to ask myself the question: What are you? What is your priority? I am a runner and I love running, but the world doesn’t end if I miss a run or don’t run well in Albany. The world gets a lot more expensive and closer to ending if I fail an exam.

I won’t hit my miles this week but thankfully, I did pass my exam yesterday and we didn’t lose anyone on our home course yesterday (which is a feat on that course). I’m going to work on accepting the fact that I’m not made of steel over the weekend…

LT and I a couple of Halloweens ago, just before Philly.

LT and I a couple of Halloweens ago, just before Philly.

Week in Review 8.4.14 to 8.10.14

As I alluded in a tweet earlier this week, this was one of those weeks in marathon training that grinds on you. Almost every run felt like a struggle and even keeping my eyes open is a feat. I did reinstate my daily plank habit (1 minute plank, 30 second side plank on each side) so I’m happy about that. I also finally got to the real gym again to lift, so happy with that as well.

Monday: 8.25 miles in the hot sun in San Diego with a serious sunburn.

Tuesday: 11 miles back home. Forgot what hills felt like. Lifted arms after.

Wednesday: 12.5 miles with 35 minutes at tempo pace on a rolling course. Fatigue/time change settling in big time.

Thursday am: 7.4 miles with XC girls.

Thursday pm: 3 miles plus leg lift at the gym. Not the optimal day for it but have to keep strength up.

Friday: 10 miles easy. And by easy, mean it felt incredibly hard even though it was an easy pace.

Saturday: 18 miles with 9 at MP which was 6:50 this week. Not where I want to be but happy at the end of a big week of travel on yet another hot early morning.

Bike-fie? My fearless escort Erin made my long run fly by with her tales from summer in India.

Bike-fie? My fearless escort Erin made my long run fly by with her tales from summer in India.

About 7 miles into my MP work.

About 7 miles into my MP work.

Sunday: 9 miles at the most recovery focused of paces.

Total Mileage: 79 miles.

This coming week is our last week off before school starts again, so I have to start planning more carefully for getting runs in. It worked really well for me to do runs bright and early on our road trip and I’m thinking about starting that again, at least through the fall. I’m lucky because coaching gives me some extra miles but I still need to get workouts and long runs in.

Just a huge helicopter parked in the dog park, nothing to see here.

Just a huge helicopter parked in the dog park, nothing to see here.