Category Archives: trail running

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.

 

Weeks in Review: 7.18.16 to 7.31.16

Wait, it’s AUGUST tomorrow?!?! Slow down summer.

From my run today. It's not pretty here at all.

From my run today. It’s not pretty here at all.

7.18.16 to 7.24.16

Monday: Drove from Lexington to Charlotte then hung out in the Charlotte airport for a ridiculous amount of time. American Airlines, we are not friends.

Tuesday: Easy 3 with Will around the new XC course.

Wednesday: 6 miles with the team (hearttttttts, I missed them). Striders and hip core.

Thursday: 17 mile bike ride with Will. Every time I think I like biking, I actually do it and my butt hurts for a week…

Friday: 4.5 mile run around campus.

Saturday: Cougar Chase but no running.

Sunday: 3 miles with the dogs. Reminded myself why I never run with them. Flew back to Charlotte and drove to Asheville.

Total MIles: 16.5 

7.25.16 to 7.31.16

Every entry from this week is an iteration of “holy sh*t, humidity, hills and altitude are tough!”

Monday: 5.25 miles

Tuesday: 6.5 miles

Wednesday: 5 miles on the Mountains to Sea Trail.

Thursday: Slept in and found out why I have to run in the morning; 95 and humid when I got out from work.

Friday: 7 mile fartlek with some speedy hills on one of the many hills in town.

Saturday: 9 miles post Step 2. There is no flat here…

Sunday: 6 miles on the Mountains to Sea Trail straight up; climbed almost 2000 feet in 25 minutes.

Total Miles: 38.8 miles

This week feels like a huge accomplishment. I made it to Asheville, survived a week in the Neuro/Trauma ICU and took Step 2 (our second set of Boards). On that last item, it wasn’t my best effort with trying to cram studying in between work and training, but I’m hoping it will turn out okay.

Running here is TOUGH. It’s humid in the mornings (usually 88 to 90%) and there isn’t a single flat place in all of Asheville. The Mountains to Sea trail is pretty amazing, however, so I’ll take the elevation change for the opportunity to run on a trail like that. I seem to have adjusted to the altitude now (I had a horrendous headache on Wednesday) so I’ll be heading up higher for next weekend’s long run. I’m still stinging a little from Chicago and trying to figure out what the fall looks like but operating under the assumption that it will include a marathon so I’m stretching out my long runs little by little.

Week in Review 6.20.16 to 6.26.16

Finally, a solid week of training!!

Monday: 7.2 miles around my new neighborhood in blistering heat.

Tuesday: Back in Vermont. Didn’t have an inhaler so kind of a fake workout. Did 7 minutes at tempo pace then a mile of striders on the track. 8.5 total.

Wednesday: 8 miles at Palos Woods. What an incredible place to run!

Thursday: 11.5 miles on the Cal-Sag trail.

Friday: 10 by (1 minute hard, 1 minute easy) for a total of 9.25 miles. Focused and strong for all the hard sections. Really happy with how this went. Legs after.

Saturday: 7.1 super hot miles around the neighborhood.

Sunday: 10 miles at Palos Woods. Didn’t mean to do that much but got a little lost on the back loop. Much needed after a really rough night in the House of God. 

Total Miles: 61.6

Really happy with this week of training, especially since it was a big transition week for me in a new place on a new rotation. The running options in Chicago are amazing and I’m grateful for it because the rotation is definitely one that requires some…decompression. I also have my full schedule for the next three weeks so was able to plan all my training out. Such a luxury!

I start the coming week off with 5 by tempo miles on the Prairie Path tomorrow then speed later in the week and a long run next Saturday. I’m toying with jumping in a 4th of July 5K as well just to shake things up and check my fitness going into the half.

Race Report: Merrimack River Trail Race 2016

There aren’t many races that I feel compelled to do every year, but this race was such an exceptional experience, I’m adding it to the list to try to do whenever possible. It was challenging enough to feel like a real accomplishment, fun without gimmick and an experience I’ll be thinking about for a long time.

Short Version: 1:16:20, 12th woman overall.

All smiles post-race. Should have taken a shot of my shoes...yikes.

All smiles post-race. Should have taken a shot of my shoes…yikes.

Long Version:

I got to the race at about 8:00 am and after a quick porto-potty stop, headed out to warm up on the trail and was happy to find that at least the first mile (and thus mile 10) were totally runnable. The first few feet of the course were seriously muddy but then it opened up to dry pine needle or sand trail. I did 2 miles, took my Gu and a couple more sips of coffee then got in line to pee again. This is when I knew the race was going to be a blast. The Race Director, who is clearly a native given that I didn’t hear an “r” uttered all day, started heckling in the porto-potty line that everyone was on a time limit. It cut through the anxiety (although it was a pretty low key crowd) and made me relaxed going into the race. With just a couple minutes to go to the start, I decided to lose my long-sleeve because I was worried about overheating. EXCELLENT call on my part.

I knew the race funneled down to single track quickly, but when I saw the distance between the start line and the trail, I realized it was really quickly. Like 15 feet. I didn’t even bother to position myself near the front and decided I’d just try to get through the start cleanly (fall-wise, mud-wise was a foregone conclusion) and deal with the rest in the first mile. Although we did slow down significantly, I was running free within 30 seconds and didn’t have any trouble with traffic til much later in the race.

Given that I have a 10,000 meter on the track this coming weekend, I tweaked my race plan a bit to make sure that I didn’t totally crush my legs. From my course research, my plan was to tempo effort the first 3 (which were allegedly flat), survive the middle section then tempo effort the last 3. My knowledge of the course profiled was a bit off but I was proud to go through the first two miles in 6:27 and 6:28 and feel in total control. The course got harder in the 3rd mile with some mud and a few bigger hills and my pace dropped to 7:19 while my effort stayed constant. Mile 4 was even harder with hard but manageable climbs and some descents that scared the LIFE out of me. Area of Improvement #1: Learn how to tackle terrifying downhills. Enormous apologies to the guy behind me when I hit the brakes before sliding down the steepest hill I’ve ever attempted to run down. (This would become like the 4th steepest hill I’ve ever run down shortly…) I finished mile 4 in 7:41 and was proud that I was holding my pace. Trail running is fun!

Too soon, Sarah. Mile 5 starts with a bang. And by a bang, I mean a sandy climb called Powerline Hill that necessitates walking and occasionally the use of hands and knees. This is the first time I’ve walked in a race since Junior High and by later in the race, I was kicking myself for ever resisting it. By the time I got to the top of Powerline Hill (incidentally where spectators and cameras were…can’t wait for those photos), I was literally seeing stars and had some moments where I wasn’t sure my legs could go on. Incidentally, I wish I’d had a heart rate monitor on because I’m pretty sure it would have identified my actual max heart rate. I was stumbling over the trail, just trying not to fall down. Of course, what goes up must come down and I started down the other side, just praying I wouldn’t fall down because I was pretty confident I’d never get back up. Just about this time, the lead runners started coming back towards us so we started the game of “get out of the way.” In trying to get out of the way for a group of guys, I rolled my ankle hard enough to make it numb for a couple of miles, which impeded any hope of feeling confident over the terrain. As I made my way towards the turnaround, I realized that it had flattened out again and urged myself to pick it up. Area of Improvement #2: Don’t give up time on easy parts!

I went through the turnaround, was almost caught up to the woman ahead of me when I stepped in serious mud and SQUELSH. Off came my shoe. I had this ridiculous moment where I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do and literally stood there for about 10 seconds considering my options. Once I got it back on, I took off again but had lost sight of her and let my gap ahead of the next woman essentially close. I also realized that I’d forgotten to hit the split on my watch at the turnaround, so decided to just let it run til the mile 6 marker. At the next river crossing, I jumped into mud and SQUELCH again, as my left shoe ripped off. Area of Improvement #3a and 3b: Tie your shoes tighter than you could ever imagine and learn how to deal with river crossings cause clearly, mud isn’t the answer. My split for those two miles? 18:53. Seriously. It was hard…

The return trip over Powerline Hill and the rest of the big hills in mile 7 was much better as I stopped trying to run them and powerhiked them like everyone else around. SO much more comfortable. It was tricky to navigate around runners still heading out but people were incredibly polite and stayed to the side, although I’m sure my flailing arms and sliding feet encouraged some of that. Again, apologies. Rookie. Area of Improvement #4: Know when to hold em, know when to fold em walking wise. Mile 7 passed in 8:07 and I started to think I might just survive this race. Mile 8 was much more runnable although jumping onto bridges on tired legs was a little more sketchy than on the way out. I went through Mile 8 in 7:51 pace and as we hit the flat sections, picked it up to tempo pace, cruising through Mile 9 in 6:59. My last mile is what really made me so fricken proud of myself. As we hit the last mile (which is definitely the easiest in the course), I shifted gears again and worked on quick turnover (a feat in soaked shoes) and pressing onward while keeping things at high tempo effort and came home in a 6:32 last mile, just a couple seconds slower than I went out. I crossed the finish line in 1:16:20 with just the biggest smile. (This may have actually been in my head, I’m not sure what my face looked like…)

Coming into this race, I had hoped to run around 1:10 but after seeing the course, I realize that I was unprepared from a technical (and likely physical) perspective to do so. My downhill running skills are poor and I didn’t do a good job on the way out of managing my energy. All of that is not to indicate any unhappiness with how yesterday went. I’m brand new to trail racing and I’m thrilled to both have such a good experience and to feel pretty normal today, minus very tired quads. I didn’t think I was particular fit going into this race and although I’m clearly not sharp (see, giving up time on flats), my fitness is actually in a good place and I’m excited for the races ahead.

Splits:

Mile 1 6:27

Mile 2 6:28

Mile 3 7:19

Mile 4 7:41

Mile 5/6 18:53

Mile 7 8:07

Mile 8 7:51

Mile 9 6:59

Mile 10 6:32

 

Week in Review 4.4.16 to 4.10.16

Monday: 3.25 mile recovery run with big arms and core.

Tuesday: 5.5 miles with 10 minutes at tempo pace plus 4 by 30 seconds hard uphill. Still feeling the residual of a lot of hours on the trails. Legs after.

Wednesday: 4.27 miles with striders.

Thursday: 4.4 miles.

Friday: 2 mile progressive shakeout.

Saturday: Merrimack River Trail Race, aka the “Rivah.” Finished 12th for women in 1:16:20, which was momentarily disappointing, but overcome by the realization that I a) had a ton of fun b) executed my race plan and c) smiled for almost the entire (really flipping hard) race.

Sunday: Off Day. My legs are tired from yesterday but nothing appears broken. Given that I have to turn around and race a 10K on Saturday, however, I opted for more rest so I can get a little training in this week around that.

Total Miles: 32.4

This week (well really weekend) was one of the most refreshing ones I’ve had in a while. On Friday night, I drove up to Boston and caught up with my Uncle on the drive. He’s a retired physician and has been an enormous support to me throughout this process so it was great to catch up with him. I stayed with my best friend from college and we got to giggle and catch up all weekend. Then today, I got to catch up with another dear friend on the way back to Norwalk. Medical School is BRUTAL on personal relationships and I am so grateful to have friends who stick by me and to have a few hours to just be a regular person.

The race was also an amazing experience. I’ll recap it more in my race report, but I am just overwhelmingly proud of my execution. It wasn’t my best race and I’d hoped to be faster but I did a great job of just running my race plan, putting in a solid performance without risking my race next weekend or the half in May and had a total fricken blast.

As I’ve alluded a couple of times, the 10000 meter component of the All-Terrain Runner series is coming up next Saturday. I didn’t intend to race back to back weekends but finding a 10K on the track is a bit of a feat and I can’t make the only other guaranteed date this Spring so next weekend, I’m heading up to Fitchburg State University to run in a college meet for 27 some odd laps!

All of this means that my week gets shuffled a bit. I need to recover from yesterday, sharpen for Saturday and still keep my eye on May 1st. I’ll do a glorified strider workout tomorrow even though I won’t be fully recovered, another workout on Wednesday (trying out the Greenwich Running Company workout this week) then two easy days, use Saturday as a workout/heavy tempo and long run Sunday.

 

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!

Product Review: Skechers GoTrail Ultra 3

Disclaimer: I’m a Skechers Performance Ambassador, which means that I receive an annual stipend with which to purchase Skechers gear as well as free gear and shoes to try throughout the year. I used my annual stipend to purchase these shoes. The review below represents my opinion as well as technical specifications provided to me by Skechers. 

Dave had been bragging for a while that the GoTrail Ultra 3 was an incredible shoe so with my quiver full of road training and racing shoes, I added this shoe in anticipation of my upcoming New England Trail Championships and Loon Mountain Race in July. Despite coaching cross country, I am generally NOT a big trail runner. However, between the combination of finding my zen on trails recently and this shoe, I’m starting to think I might like to be.

GoTrail Ultra 3

From a technical perspective, the GoTrail Ultra 3 is the heaviest, most cushioned shoe that Skechers offers but has moderate structure so it still moves well with your foot, which is a must on technical trails. It has an aggressive sole with lug rubber knobs and a wide footprint for stability with the incredible bonus of a drainable outsole. Basically, there are holes in the sole that drain water after stream crossings or intentional puddle jumps. Finally, it features the same seamless upper that all Skechers shoes have, making it extremely comfortable despite being a technical juggernaut. It weighs in at 8.8 ounces, which Will informs me is not heavy for a shoe at all. I’m a princess about such things, however, after years of running in 4 to 6 ounce trainers.

What I like most about the shoe is that it is cushioned enough to really let you rip on technical trails that are littered with roots and rocks. I’m not a tender foot but I HATE when you step down on a root on your arch and get that singe of pain/stretch. Except for the gnarlyest roots, I didn’t feel anything sharp in these shoes but still had enough maneuverability and feedback to move confidently over trails. They do feel extremely cushioned when you’re on pavement but as long as most of your run or race is on dirt/rough terrain, it shouldn’t bother you.

The other thing I really like is the grip offered by the sole. It has big, rubber lugs with tiny rubber nubbins in the middle of each lug that operate like suction cups.  Like I said above, I don’t consider myself a proficient trail runner but have been working really hard to improve my skills, especially on downhills. As I’ve gotten more used to running on trails, I’ve been able to rely on the soles of the GoTrail Ultra 3 to really grab on, regardless of whether the trail is wet, frozen or somewhere in between. Because the shoe boasts a comfortable, flexible upper, it bends with your foot, no matter how awkward your landing. Because of this, I think this shoe is a great introductory trail shoe for people like me who are still learning how to navigate trails without coming to a complete stop when things get technical.

Virtually rookie proof...

Virtually rookie proof…

All in all (and with the caveat that I’ve only owned a couple of pairs of trail shoes), this shoe is a great addition to your collection if you’re looking for a hard working trail shoe that can accommodate and boost even a trail rookie.