Monday, September 29, 2014

Chickamauga Marathon Training Week 3

Monday: It was a Monday.
Planned: Rest   Actual: Rest

Tuesday: Runcommute home. It was hilly and I pushed the pace. Happy with how it went and I felt strong. Foam rolled and did living room yoga (lower legs and a series of seated poses).
Planned: 5 miles  Actual: 5.25 (8:22/mile pace)

Wednesday: Headed down to Lullwater and was greeted by a high school cross-country team. They were using the flat trail loop around the reservoir, so I opted for only the paved loop (I usually do a mix of both). It ended up being a pretty good hill workout and I was happy with the pace. Oh, and I got to wear sleeves.
Planned: 10 miles   Actual: 6 miles (9:02/mile pace)
Thursday: Wanted to take it easy because my other two runs this week were not. Kept it flat and the pace light.
Planned: 4 miles   Actual: 3.5 miles (8:48/mile pace)

Friday: This felt like the longest week ever. So glad it was finally Friday. Had the 'joy' of taking the Monster to the vet. Will eat Ramen for the rest of the month.
Planned: Rest   Actual: Rest
54.2lbs of excitement. If she only knew we were headed to the vet.
Saturday: With an early soccer game to cheer for and team pictures, a morning run was not an option. Starting 20 around noon or late in the day just didn't sound exciting, so I decided to push the rush to Sunday. I did light yoga and foam rolled to get ready.
Planned: 20 miles Actual: Rest

Sunday: Headed out for a cool yet humid run (it was solidly drizzling the whole time). Early on I felt like I just didn't have that extra bounce from an energy perspective.  My legs felt great, but my stomach did not and I ended up making a pit-stop. I changed my goal and planned on getting at least half of the run in with the idea that I could always complete the rest on the treadmill. I was pretty bummed because it was a nice morning to run (quiet, little traffic, low hanging clouds). I ended up back at home at 11.5 miles and I am glad I did, because my energy was just zapped even though my legs were not. I showered, ate lunch, did the grocery shopping (about a 2.5 hour break total), and then headed down to the treadmill for another 6.5 miles. I still felt a little off stomach-wise, but my legs felt fine and I really wanted to get in the miles because I have been lacking longer runs lately. Ended up with 18 total. Sure it would have been better as one, but that wasn't happening today. Longest mileage day since the 50k!
Planned: 4 miles  Actual: 18 miles (11.5 @9:08/mile pace; 6.5 @8:49/mile pace)
 Still very green here in the south.
What a difference the weather makes. Not as pretty as Wednesday.
How was your week? Tell me stories of cool weather and changing leaves. I miss it.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Five

1. Cocogo.  I tried out Cocogo for the first time this week and really liked it. I won a box from Clarinda over at Enjoying the Course during her birthday run streak and finally remembered to pack it in my gym bag. It was Raspberry Passion Fruit flavor and I really like it. It's tart without being too sweet. Always good to mix it up and add new flavors to the hydration rotation.

2. Giveaways! Everyone loves free stuff. Keep an eye on my instagram, twitter, and here on the blog throughout October (i.e. Breast Cancer Awareness Month) for a few flash giveaways to raise awareness and (hopefully) promote a little fundraising for 26.2 with DONNA. If you just can't wait for the giveaways and have to donate now, the icon on the right side links to my page. ;) All support (tweets, shares, donations, etc.) are greatly appreciated.

3. Sleeves. I got wear sleeves on a run this week. Sure they were short, but it's a sign that not summer is coming.  It's the little things makes this northern girl's heart happy.  And while we are talking about fall...
Sleeves! Ok, it was only in the 70s but I got excited.
4. Pumpkin Beer. The Jayhawk and I have been trying more pumpkin beers. After the first couple, we decided on trying a few more and now it's kind of become a thing. A pumpkin beer palooza if you will. We are thinking of having a taste off with our favorites at the end of fall. Seems only right to do a post about it after all our hard work trying beer. You are welcome. :)
This has always been my favorite because I am a total homer and grew up only a few miles from the brewery.
5. Reading. Life has been a little hectic lately, but I've managed to find a few minutes to read (usually only a few and then I fall asleep).  Right now I'm reading What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Murakami. He is a writer and he chronicles his training for the NYC marathon. Along the way he talks about what got him running, the relationship with writing, and how the two feed one another.
Click the picture to head to the amazon review. (Affiliate link)
Alright, who has exciting plans for the weekend? Races? Fall like activities?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Chickamauga Marathon Training Week 2

Monday: I got another pair of shoes during taper. The purple mile eaters have over 400 miles on them so I needed to start breaking in another pair.  I found the same shoe on-line in another color (for a great price). Time to start racking up the miles!
Planned: Rest   Actual: Rest
Blue Steel.
Tuesday: Official results for the Snakebite 50k were posted and because of the high drop rate from the 50 miler, I ended up 12th lady.  Now I have a little motivation for next year's race!
Planned: 5 miles   Actual: 5 miles (8:55/miles pace)

Wednesday: Started to feel back in the groove on this run. Legs felt strong and I felt like I was hitting my stride.
Planned: 10 miles   Actual: 6.2 miles (8:51/mile pace)

Thursday: Returned to Lullwater for the first time since the 50k.This run felt good. I started slow and later found myself pushing the pace and feeling comfortable doing so.
Planned: 4 miles   Actual: 5.4 miles (8:31/mile pace)
There is a large Great Blue Heron that lives in the park. He was out having a snack, so I took his picture.  I swear he is in there. Keep looking. Might need a better camera phone.
Friday: After looking at my calendar, I realize that I have 24 Hours of Booty cycling ride in only a few weeks.  Probably a good time to start training. The ride isn't about speed, but rather seeing how many miles you can ride in 24 hours.  I should hopefully get in at least 10.
Planned: Rest   Actual: 35 min biking (9.35 miles)

Saturday: It was one of those days when I just wasn't feeling it.  My stomach wasn't feeling well when I got up so I didn't eat at all before my run. I met up the group I've been joining periodically for the past few months for their weekly long run (they are training for the Savannah Rock n' Roll Half). I had originally planned on tacking on 5 miles to their 10 mile run, but I just didn't have any energy by the end of 10. I'm sure I could have got through that last 5, but I decided to call it. I did have some light soreness/achiness later in the day probably due to poor fueling during the run.
Planned: 16 miles   Actual: 10 miles (10:17/mile pace)

Sunday: I was tired and my legs needed a day.
Planned: 5 miles    Actual:Rest

How was your week?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Going back to Jax with #RUNDONNA!

Great news! I'm lucky enough to be heading back to Jacksonville in February as a 26.2 with DONNA Ambassador! Anyone want to join me?

Have you ever run a race for charity? What do you look for when giving to a charity?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Chickamauga Marathon Training Week #1

First off, huge Thank You to everyone for the kind encouragement, support, and words of wisdom regarding Snakebite.  As someone who trains solo almost all of the time, I really appreciate all your comments and can't thank you enough!!
Yes, the sign indicating Beer was bigger than Start/Finish. Priorities.
After the Snakebite, I took off 5 days with no workouts, just some light yoga and stretching. I started running on Saturday (day 6 post 50k) with a slow 9 miler. This week I started working out more regularly, alternating days with no real plan.  To be honest, I was so busy at work, I didn't have time to workout everyday and it's probably for the best. Having a transition week back into regular workouts was probably smart and not something I would have been as good at if I wasn't so busy.

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 4 miles easy (8:51/mile pace)

Wednesday: Speedwork 10x20 second hill sprints

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Cycling

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 5 miles easy (8:54/mile pace)
I've put together a training plan for the next 8 weeks to get ready for Chickamauga Marathon. I still plan on taking it easy (pace-wise) for the next week but upping my mileage as my body allows (i.e. I probably won't hit all of my planned distances). Goals for the race will depend on how my body responds to training and how comfortable I feel by race day.  It's such a pretty race, I'm not worried about enjoying it as a training race.
My very flexible marathon plan.
How quickly do you ease back into running after a big event? 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Five: Thing to do during Recovery

1. Hang out with this lady. Mia Monster might just be the best creature at recovery ever.  Seriously.  The girl's special skills include napping for 18-20 hours, eating, light walking, and getting her tummy rubbed (AKA soft tissue massage).  This doesn't even mention her stretching skills.  Her downward dog is unrivaled.  She is my recovery idol.
Leave me alone. I've only slept 12 hours today. I'm swamped.
2. Utilize my finisher's spoils. I mean, who really needs another medal?

3. Read this. Great (and timely) article from iRunFar about respecting recovery. It's written specifically for ultrarunners, but I think most of the lessons apply to recovery from all distances. I've been trying my best to abide by them and respect them in terms of planning for future endeavors.

4. Eat and cook. You have to refuel, right? I made pumpkin ravioli this week. One pumpkin beer and all I can do think Fall thoughts. I'm trying to talk the Jayhawk into making his apple pie (it's killer) and am contemplating a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies this weekend. I love fall. Now if it would only start feeling like it.

5. Plot future running adventures. With the high of Snakebite and the decrease in running, I've had some free time to come up with ideas for the future. Up first is the Chickamauga Marathon in November. I've got a few ideas for winter, I'm just hammering out the details.

What are you favorite recovery activities?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lessons Learned from my first 50k


I managed to log 500 miles during my training cycle and hit most of my planned workouts. The  missed workouts came when I was travelling and recovering from the Troop Trot 39k. My training plan worked well for my lifestyle. The back to backs on weekend were essential and number of miles made me confident and in good fitness by race day. Overall, I was happy with my level of training, but there are a few things I would change (aren't there always?).
50k training plan I followed. Green items were races (2 more were later added).
  1. More time on feet. My longest run both in terms of mileage and time was the Troop Trot 39k (~5h20min), but I didn't have another run over 3 hours. All of my other super long runs, were on road/treadmill, and my pace kept them under the 3 hour mark. Next time I would make sure to have several 3+ hour training days (regardless of the mileage) because we all know things get different after you've been on your feet that long.
  2. More time on terrain. I only logged a minority of my training miles on the trails and some more practice would have benefitted me. This is not to say I ever had trouble on the trail sections, but I think I would have been more comfortable and confident had I logged more time on them pre-race. I also probably would have been less sore post race and figured out the bloody feet issue earlier than in the middle of the Troop Trot.

No joke, I brought ~15 Island Boost with me to the race and ate 3.


This is always my favorite topic but often the most stressful! I've never been good at fueling for a marathon, so the task of fueling for a 50k while sweating buckets in 90 degree heat had me pretty nervous as race day approached. I knew I hadn't fueled as much as should have during the Troop Trot and even noticed I was having salt issues in the late miles (my hands started swelling), so I really focused all raceday on fluids, salt, and fuel. This is probably why I wasn't phased by the actual mileage: I was too busy thinking about food. Here is a rundown of what I ate during the race and in true EB fashion, I even tried new things. Note: this is what worked for me, I'm not saying it will work for everyone. The salt concentration in sweat varies person to person and this salt intake worked for me during a hot, long race. I don't think I would need nearly as much in a cooler race.
  • Fluids: I kept my hydration pack loaded with full strength lemon-lime flavored NUUN (the caffeinated kind because that was all we had in the house).  I often run with half strength just because some of the flavors taste strong to me, but I went full strength on race day to get the extra electrolytes.  I carried a few extra tabs in a baggie in my pack and had an extra tube in my cooler with the Jayhawk (he needed to hydrate too) so I could make more when I refilled. I also had a ton of ice in our cooler that I would put in my pack each lap to make the fluids more enjoyable.
  • Salts: This was truly the black box item to me. I decided to carry a fuelbelt bottle in the front pocket of my hydration pack (~8oz) and kept it full of The Right Stuff salt solution. My goal was to drink the whole bottle every loop and refill from my cooler (I had a premade bottle in there) so I didn't have to lug extra. I also bought a 3 pack of SaltStick Caps (I chose them because the balance of electrolytes they offered is similar to sweat, affiliate link) and had the goal of taking one per lap (I only ended up taking 2). They advise taking them more frequently, but having never taken them and as I was also supplementing with NUUN and Right Stuff, I took 1 at the first (5.5ish) time and second (16ish) times I passed the midpoint aid station. No hand swelling this time.
  • Fuel: This one I went a little wacky (No I didn't eat GU). My goal for fueling was to use Island Boost out on the course and utilize the aid station for all the junk food they had to offer (less to lug). I did a fairly good job, but I still think I am under fueling as my energy was dipping on the 3rd lap. Lap one I ate 1 Island Boost, 1 Rice Krispie treat, some gummy bears, and a banana half at the midpoint, and a cutie, a banana half, and some Smarties at the start/finish. Lap 2 I had another Island Boost, another banana, and a few Fritos at the midpoint and Coke, Smarties, and 2 cuties at the start/finish. Lap three I had another Island Boost, Fritos, Smarties, and grapes. I think that is everything. I know that sounds like a lot of junk food, but at a certain point you eat what you interests you. Not everything sounds good. Recovery was dominated by beer, ice cream, and everything else I could get my hands on. :)
First pumpkin beer selection of the season, Harpoon's UnFiltered Offering Pumpkin Ale. It's a good one.
Also tried LA 31 Biere Pale. A lot of flavor for a pale ale and I liked it.


This is a big one. I learned (and am still learning) tons from this experience. I know a lot more about what my body likes and dislikes in terms of training and recovery. I've learned that my body is much more capable at handling higher mileage than I have given it credit for. I've learned that I still need to figure out what is the best way for me to accomplish speed workouts (I really slacked on this during this training cycle) and I've learned that wearing the correct size shoe is essential for feeling comfortable during a race. I've learned to not fear the treadmill. I've learned to relax and taking training day by day and races mile by mile. Most importantly, I've learned that I really love long distance running for both the challenges and the rewards it offers.

Do you ever look back to see what you've learned from a training or racing experience?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Snakebite 50/50 Race Recap

My finisher's glass full of my finisher's reward (Bell's Oberon Ale).
Snakebite 50/50, Lithia Springs, GA
Field: 175 for both the 50k and 50 miler
Spectators: Not a ton because it was a trail race, but the folks hiking the trails were very encouraging as were the other runners.
Start/Finish: At the group shelter
CourseSweetwater Creek State Park trails and some trails on private land adjacent to the park. 50k runs a triple loop, 50 miler does 4.5 loops.
Schwag: Everyone gets a t-shirt and homemade beer soap, and all finishers get a pint-glass with a beer (or two), some craft beer ice cream, and a high-five from the race director, Jason.
Other: The course utilizes trails within the state parks as well as some of the oldest (now abandoned) roads in the area (you can still see the cart ruts).  In the park you pass by the old mill which still shows char marks from where Sherman burned it during his march. That's right, you're getting a little history with your sweating.
It only took 3 tries to get one with my eyes open. Not kidding. 
The Jayhawk may stop agreeing to take my picture.


After months of training and planning, Snakebite 50k race day finally arrived. The Jayhawk was nice enough to join me and he volunteered to help with timing (I think he wanted to be there in case anything went wrong and he needed to lug me home). It was reassuring to have someone to chat with and to know I had a dedicated volunteer each lap if I needed help.  I felt fairly calm and relaxed on the ride, but did get some nerves as gun time approached. Having never run longer than a marathon and being a little uncertain how best to handle the heat, there were a lot of unknowns going into race day.
Waiting for Jason to yell go!
The weather for the day was set to be clear, but temps were forecast into the 90s. I have to say, I was a bit nervous about this. Balancing salts and hydration as well as fuel was already my focus for the day, and dealing with extreme heat added a little extra challenge.
I'm a big fan of the shirt.

The course:

The course consisted of a triple loop each about 11 miles long. After a quarter mile-ish on the road, the course turns into the forest. Each loop (it was actually shaped like a barbell with a some overlap in the middle) was mostly single and double track through the woods with some field crossings (ok, one precarious one that the race director aptly named Copperhead Road because the brush/grass was over knee high and there was limited chance of seeing a snake coming), gravel and paved roads (maybe a mile or two per lap), several sets of stairs (because why not), one steep ass climb through the power lines, a few bridges/makeshift bridges, a stream crossing, and a little granite to crawl over just for good measure. In short, the race director, Jason, gave us a little bit of everything that trail running has to offer. Ok, everything but a rock scramble, but I bet he would have gladly added it if there was a spot available.  The runnable parts were extremely runnable and the other part were not. Thank heavens it wasn't wet, because I'm sure I would have come down more than a few of those descents on my rear had it been.
A view of the park (not park of the course).

The Race:

I decided to approach the race like I did the Troop Trot and take it easy the first loop, find a pack to run with, focus on fueling/hydration/salt, and scout out the course. It was still a bit dark at the start, so everyone took it a little slow as it was hard to see your footing under the shadow's of the canopy. I tucked in a good spot an took in the route (as so I wouldn't get lost later). At mile 1ish we passed the giant sign that read "Timberland Rattlesnake Area: Do Not stray from trail" which was a great moment of inspiration for what was to come. The pack was constantly spreading out for the first chunk of the loop, but it allowed me to settle into a pace without being overexcited. I ran into Miranda who was holding down the fort at the midpoint aid station (it's always nice to see a friendly face) and had a quick snack. The rest of the loop I felt my body both settle into my stride and gain strength. I'm sure some of it was confidence, and by the time I cruised into the start/finish aid station, I was moving well and in good spirits.
Last mile or so of loop one on a very runnable portion of the course down by the creek. (Source)
Loop two went really well. I felt strong the entire loop, fueled well, and really found my stride. I made the most of the road like portions, pushed the pace, and made a lot of progress on those parts. I kept it consistent on the trails and felt much more comfortable with the trail aspects hopping over trees, relaxing downhill, and stomping through the stream crossings (turns out my new shoes dry really well). The loop cranked by much faster than the first, and I rolled into the start/finish with a smile on my face, pretty darn happy with how the race was going and how I was feeling.
Coming in after loop 2.
I knew loop 3 would be the hardest, not only because of the miles already logged but because of the heat. By the time I headed out for my 3rd loop, it was nearing mid-day and the heat was really building. I set the goal of running as much of the runnable sections as I felt I could without risking any heat issues. I knew this would not lead to the fastest race, but I wanted to make sure I finished and enjoyed the race rather than be dragged to the finish with heat stroke, hating the whole experience. I still felt on top of my hydration and salts (something I'll post more about later), but was beginning to get that sloshy feeling. So off I went, with a solid run/walk pattern, always moving forward, and stayed with that pattern the whole loop.
Cranking through the last mile. (source)
The heat was pretty oppressive (90s) and long periods of running did feel tough in terms of breathing and the heat, but I was still enjoying it. I never doubted finishing and I never mentally got down on myself. It was one of my stronger races mentally, and I really felt the payoff from all the months of training. At the end, I ran solidly through the final stretches, smiled at the camera, enjoyed the sense of accomplishing one of my biggest goals of the year, and pushed it up the hill to the finish and the awaiting celebration. 33 miles total in ~7:30 (my garmin died at mile 32). Good enough for 10th lady.
Climbing the hill one last time on loop 3 into the finish.
I really liked the course. It was challenging, but not impossible. It was that good kind of challenging that made you work on certain parts, but also gave you some nice runnable sections to make you feel like you were making progress. Since the terrain was always changing, it kept your mind engaged and had enjoy variety to keep it interesting.
I'm done!

Post Race:

The finish line was a pretty great place to be. Immediately, both the Jayhawk and Jason, the race director greeted me, gave me some high-fives, and a beer. After catching my breath, I joined the other finishers on the patio to cheer on runners as they came through their laps. The Jayhawk was quick to bring me ice cream (he had been waiting all day for me to finish so he could share one or two with me), and my stomach was calm enough that I could easily eat and drink.  
It's important to eat after a long race. They were small single servings, I swear, and I shared with the Jayhawk.

The spare beer and the winner's prizes.
Overall, I felt great. No wounds, pulls, twist, or troubles.  I was pretty excited to put on flip-flops (which the Jayhawk ran and got out of the car, MVP for the day), but other than that, I was no worse for the wear.  The Jayhawk and I stuck around the finish for a few hours, cheering on the other runners, enjoying the scene, and rehashing the race.
The Jayhawk told me to keep my eyes open and this is what we got. Crazy lady.
I really enjoyed the Snakebite 50k and I will most definitely be back for another Yeti Trail Runner's race. They are a great group of runners that love to have a good time and poke fun at each other (there were rubber snakes hiding at the aid station in the late miles). The race was well organized, fun course, and the group that really cares about putting on a great event and making sure everyone gets to the finish. I am eager to run another 50k (maybe one not in the heat of summer this time) and am intrigued by even farther distance. I couldn't be happier with how things went.

What are you experiences trying new distances? Do you like trail running?
Want to know more? Check out my 50k Training Plan and  Lessons Learned from 50k Training

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

August Recap

Miles: 178.1

Races: Snakebite 50k. Spoiler Alert: I finished.
Just one race on the last day of the month, but it was worth it.
Highpoint of the month: My first 50k.
From my last quarter mile.
Not so highpoint of the month: Taper was boring as usual, but I was a good runner and stuck to it.

What I'm looking forward to in September: Once recovery is over, it's back into marathon training. Sometime during 50k training, I signed up for Chickamauga Marathon again this year. I'm pretty excited to take another crack at again this year!

How was your August?  Any hope of fall coming soon to your area?
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