Category Archives: trail running

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 4.24.17 to 4.30.17

MEDICAL SCHOOL IS OVER!!!!!!! Finished up my last shift in the SICU on Friday and when it was done, wasn’t sure if I was supposed to spike my badge, fist pump through the halls or run out of the building. Med school was never as bad as I expected it to be but I would never, ever want to do it again. Sorry, not running related but good riddance!

Monday: Tested out the ankle with a 30 minute trail run. All good, although I was being a wimp on the more technical portions. Legs after.

Tuesday: Simple treadmill fartlek with 10 by 1 minute on, 1 minute off. On pace was somewhere between MP and tempo.

Wednesday: Got out of the unit early and snuck in a 13 mile long run. Did a couple of miles alternating between regular pace and MP to shake out lazy legs.

Thursday: Rest Day, prorated at 4. Much needed after three days that were harder than easy in a row.

Friday: 7.6 miles easy. 82 degrees out so I felt terrible! Arms afterward.

Saturday: 3 mile shakeout. Ran to the track and back, then a mile of ins/outs.

Sunday: Sleepy Hollow Mountain Race.  Remember the last time I ran a trail race? My only goal for this morning was to use some of my lessons from last year’s Rivah. My biggest goal was to keep both shoes on, which I did! I’ll recap the rest in a Race Report tomorrow but I had a blast, stayed upright and finished somewhere around 1:01:50, although I don’t know what place I was.

Total Miles: 44 miles, 2 strength workouts

Total April Miles: 153

Going up…

Now that school is done and I have a couple of months off, I’m looking forward to getting in some more consistent training. I’ll slowly be increasing my mileage towards 55 and working on fitting three explicit strength workouts in weekly (plus my daily toothbrush squats/core etc). My next race focus is the Asheville Half Marathon. I haven’t honed in on goals yet but as I get back into workouts, I’ll be setting my A, B and C goals. I also spent a lot of time putting all sorts of possible races on my calendar for the next year. Although I don’t have my call schedule, I’m hoping that I can just keep myself in good enough shape to jump in races as I can!

 

Hello Asheville

I’m about a week away from moving to Asheville and I should be packing. Instead, I’m researching places to run, races to jump into and ways to find new running friends in Asheville. Sigh. Can’t teach an old (running) dog new tricks. My schedule for the next few years will be much less predictable than it is now, so my basic approach is to try to identify every possible race in the area, write them in my calendar then register as I know my schedule! Will this lead to top performances in every race?  Of course not. What it will accomplish, however, is a general fitness base that can hopefully parlay into a few outstanding performances a year.

Luckily for me, Asheville is a well developed running town and there are lots of group runs and races to get involved in. I joined the Asheville Track Club last night so that I can be a part of the 2017 Grand Prix (although I won’t be able to get 10 races in to be eligible for overall awards this year) and I’m considering connecting with the Asheville Running Collective which seems like an Asheville version of Olde Bones. I was also excited to find the Carolina Runner blog, which is an amazing resource of events all over the area.

When I get to Asheville next week, my first order of business after unpacking is to get an Annual Pass to the Biltmore, where there are 22+ miles of relatively flat trails to train on. Also on my list is a membership to the North Carolina Arboretum (10 miles of trails) and exploring the Bent Creek Trails.  I’m also looking forward to exploring more of the Mountains to Sea trail and to finding my daily routes from the new house!

Here’s to new adventures!

Weeks in Review: 4.10.17 to 4.23.17

When time is short, write up two weeks of training at once!

4/10/17 to 4/16/17

Monday: 5 mile recovery run. Feeling Unplugged now!

Tuesday: 7 mile run at the crack of dawn.

Wednesday: Planned off day.*

Thursday: Fartlek workout, 5 miles.

Friday: 2.5 mile early morning run.

Saturday: 12 mile long run.

Sunday: 4 mile trail run, most of which was spent sideways in mud.**

Total Miles: 35.5

4/17/17 to 4/23/17

Monday: 4.5 mile run plus striders.

Tuesday: 7.5 mile fartlek. 2 by mile uphill at t pace. 5 by 45 seconds hard uphill.

Wednesday: 2.5 mile early am run.

Thursday: Planned off day. Arm routine. 

Friday: 2.25 shake out run with 4 by minute at tempo pace, 2 by 30 seconds at interval pace.

Saturday: Off. Ankle. ***

Sunday: Off. Ankle.***

Total Miles 20.5

1 decent week, 1 not so decent week. I have 1 (how?!!?!??!) week of medical school left now and am so excited for a few weeks where all I have to do is pack, move and train.

* As I mentioned on my Instagram earlier this week, I have decided to schedule an off day every week. My recovery has been really poor over the past year and as much as I want to pretend my life is set up for optimal training, it’s not and I have to do what I can to maximize my training impact. As such, I’ll be taking a day off each week instead of a day every other week.

** This run was absurdly muddy and my ankles were sore after which I think set me up for an ankle twist later in the week.

*** I wear clogs in the SICU and usually, they + compression socks are the most comfortable thing going. On Friday, however, I was a little overzealous when wandering around in them and tweaked my ankle. It didn’t swell too badly but was sore bearing weight on Friday night so I decided to forego the Rollin Irish Half Marathon and rest instead.

The weather is beautiful, I’m ready to train again and I’m so looking forward to getting back in a groove and looking forward to the Asheville Half!

Week in Review: 2.27.17 to 3.5.17

Monday: 10 K of skate skiing at the second part of the State Championships. Kids did AWESOME. Boys ended up third overall and girls were second. Such a fun day and an amazing end (sob) to my coaching career (for now).

Tuesday: Back to reality. 4.5 mile run before work. Legs totally exhausted from skiing. 300 abs at night.

Wednesday: 7 mile fartlek workout with 5 by 30 second hills hard then 4 by 2 minutes at tempo pace.

Thursday: The post call day that just wasn’t. Didn’t leave the hospital until 5 pm and then had to pretend to study for my national shelf exam that was happening Friday morning.

Friday: The niggle of a cold on Thursday turned into a full-blown cold by Friday morning and it.was.gross. I brought a roll of toilet paper to my exam and apologized profusely to my classmates for the 2.5 hours of sneezing, sniffling and nose blowing. 5 miles on the trails behind my house, however, between components of the exam.

Saturday: Down for the count. Couldn’t breathe, think or move. Since Will is gone for the next month, we attempted to have a nice day together but all I could manage was a coffee shop and then sneezing my way through the rest of our errands.

Sunday: Still sick but decided to move (slowly) to try to feel better. 5 miles on the trails again. Didn’t feel great but didn’t feel awful and I’m glad I got out there. Arms afterward.

Total Miles: 27.2

Total February Miles: 137

I am the poster child for burning the candle at both ends right now. I had a few threats of sickness over the past few weeks but was lucky and never fully crashed until Thursday, just in time for my first full weekend off in a while. Compounding this is the fact that tomorrow (Monday) will be my last run for a week because of my Tuesday morning surgery. As I said to Erin Lopez yesterday, this winter has been a total bust for training and only some of it has been in my control. I’m obviously going to play it by ear this week and let pain be my guide but my hope is to be doing light cardio by Thursday with hopes that I can be back to running for next Monday. After that, it’s scramble as best as I can until Unplugged and hope for the best!

Week in Review 1.9.17 to 1.15.17

Monday: One of my favorite runs ever. 8 miles around Red Rock Canyon in Nevada. We did the White Rock Loop then added on and ran up to La Madre Springs. The terrain was incredible and varied but 100% runnable and the weather was perfection at 45 degrees. I was super grateful for trail shoes as it was muddy and rocky at times. Ended the run completely gassed.

We started at the White Rock Road Trailhead and ran in the direction of the highpoint. The descent was fun, the return to the parking lot was not.

Cameras can’t capture the vastness of this area but we tried anyway.

Tuesday: 20 minutes on the elliptical in Salt Lake plus arms and core.

Wednesday: 30 minutes on the elliptical plus legs.

Thursday: Planned to run in Maine but the gym didn’t open til 6 am so I did an in-room bodyweight workout instead. I loved the Elbow Plank with Leg Lift and Negative Pushups.

Friday: 2 mile run plus arms. “College” core routine at night.

Saturday: Hilly progression run on treadmill in Cleveland. 6 miles total. Legs afterward.

Sunday: Traveled home, rest day.

Total Miles: 16

This week was INSANE in terms of travel. On Monday, I was in Las Vegas. On Tuesday, we flew to Salt Lake City. On Wednesday I flew all the way to Portland, Maine. On Thursday night, I flew to Greenville, SC. On Friday night, I flew to Cleveland, OH and finally on Sunday, I flew home to Burlington. For 36 hours. I leave tomorrow for Virginia, although I’ll be back Wednesday night. With all this travel, I’m thankful I got any exercise in at all!

What I am super excited about is that I’m getting back into a routine of getting daily strength work in and it is making a big difference. I feel stronger and my back is much less achy than it usually is. Will and I both agree that going forward, it is more critical for me to be consistent about strength and core than get 5 or 10 extra miles per week in.

This week, I’m back to running at about 35 miles a week with a long run and two workouts. I’m trying out a new watch (Soleus Pulse) and excited to pick up my GoMeb Razors later in the week. This shoe is EPIC. It is a lightweight neutral trainer and I suspect it’s going to supplant all the other shoes in my arsenal.

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 12.5.16 to 12.11.16

Huge travel week for me! Burlington to Charleston to West Virginia to Minneapolis and only one missed flight and one delay.

Monday: 7 miles on the treadmill with 4 by 5 minutes at tempo pace.

Tuesday: 4.5 easy miles with Will.

Wednesday: 5.5 miles in Charleston with striders after.

Thursday: 8 miles on West Ashely Greenway with 1 minute on, 1 minute off.

Friday: 4.25 run on Deckers Creek Trail.

Saturday: 6 mile trail run at Coopers Rock (yes, there’s no apostrophe). Amazing and just what I needed.

Sunday: 7 mile progression run on the treadmill in Minneapolis courtesy of the snowstorm. Arms after.

Total Miles: 42

Bummed to miss my long run today; I was looking forward to exploring Minneapolis’ many bike paths but a snow storm had better ideas. I’ll get 90 less exciting minutes on the treadmlll in tomorrow morning before my interview. On Tuesday, I’m off to Utah and extremely psyched to explore the trails out there, although a bit anxious about the elevation.

I did finally pick a “focus” event for the spring; the New Bedford Half Marathon. Because of the way that event falls, this coming week will actually be an adaptation week before going back to gradually increasing mileage in three week chunks. It’s amazing the difference a focus event makes in terms of my willingness to get out and do workouts or runs. I’m also a bit amazed how much more eager I am to run everywhere but Burlington. I’m sure every city gets boring after a while but after almost 6 years in Burlington, I’m ready to get bored of a new place running wise!

Finally, don’t forget that I have a book giveaway going on for Matt Fitzgerald’s upcoming book The Endurance Diet. Although I’ve been in the negative a lot lately with travel, I’m loving the approach and looking forward to using it as my schedule normalizes again as well.

Week in Review 9.19.16 to 9.25.16

Monday: 7 mile recovery run.

Tuesday am: Body Pump then 7 miles easy.

Tuesday pm: 4 miles with the team, some moderately fast in their workout.

Wednesday: Interval workout. 10 by 400 on the track (87 to 89 for all). 10.5 miles total.

Thursday: 4 miles easy plus Body Pump.

Friday: 8 mile run in the rain and cold.

Saturday: 6 miles at Manchester.

Sunday: Power hiked Camel’s Hump with Will. 45 minutes up, 30 minutes down. Both of us are sore today!

Total Miles: 46.5

I’m starting to embrace whatever the day offers me for fitness. Part of me wants to be back on a strict training plan, with big race goals and high mileage, and part of me is loving the fact that when I woke up yesterday and it was 40 and sunny and crisp, I decided I wanted to go for a hike and did that instead. As I wrote last week, I’m struggling with a comparison trap and trying hard to get myself out of that rut. I did get a super successful workout in on the track last week and am happy with my effort in that. I’m also really loving getting to Body Pump a couple of times a week. I’m sore but definitely getting stronger again.

For this week, I have a marathon pace workout today (fits with the team workout…) and a long run Thursday plus Body Pump, some doubles and a hike up Mount Mansfield on Sunday.

Week in Review 8.1.16 to 8.7.16

When your Sunday run starts at 5000 feet, your legs are gonna burn...

Where my run on Sunday started. 

July Stats: 174 miles, 1 race (for which I still haven’t written a Race Report…)

Monday: 6 miles easy bright and early. Well, not bright because it was pitch black but certainly early.

Tuesday: 8 miles early.

Wednesday: In the OR until almost 10 so no run for me.

Thursday: 7 miles on the French Broad Greenway. Nice break from the hills and it wasn’t even hot.

Friday: My first real failed adventure. Headed to Warren Wilson College to run the trails but clearly didn’t get connected to the right trail network because I ended up doing 3 miles on deer paths until I gave up.

Saturday: 7.5 miles including Riverside Cemetery. Odd to run in a cemetery but Asheville maintains it as a park.

Sunday: 3 miles up Mount Pisgah.

Clouds caught on the top.

Clouds caught on the top.

Total Miles: 34.5

Not the best training week. I got off my schedule of running in the morning early and then had a couple late nights in the OR and a misfire on an adventure run. It’s tough to get workouts in here because I’m running in the dark and there aren’t a lot of flat options for interval work so I’m going to go with intervals and hills for the next two weeks and regroup once I get back to Vermont. I did decide that I’ll be switching to a 9 day cycle for my upcoming races and am excited to share what that will look like soon!

Not running related, but a beautiful piece that captures a huge amount of what I see and feel on a daily basis. It both captures what draws me to surgery and what sometimes brings me to tears after the immediacy of a situation is handled. I run for many, many reasons but finding a way to process stories like that is one of the big ones.

Looking towards Tennessee from the observation deck at ~5900 feet.

Looking towards Tennessee from the observation deck at ~5900 feet.