Sunday, July 22, 2012

Countryside running

I love to run.  I really do, don't get me wrong.  But the reason I run isn't just that it makes me feel strong, it's gotten me in shape and made losing extra weight easier.  I run because it gets me outside.  It makes me feel wild and natural.  It's given me a reason to get more time in the woods or on the country roads that I wouldn't maybe make an excuse for, or wouldn't get as much ground covered if I were just hiking or walking.
Miller Station road - It was sprinkling when Jason dropped me off.
 I am a country girl.   Don't get me wrong, I enjoy cities.  I know they give us culture.  I like the theatre, and concerts, and museums and art galleries.  I like zoos, and science centers, I like eating a variety of different ethnic food, and seeing how people come together in places like cities to live and learn and grow.  I'll visit cities, big cities, but I'll always be a country girl.  Living in town right now is hard for me.  And I'm happy that I can run a mile and be back out in the country, running along corn fields and cow pastures.

I'm never going to know which fashion designer makes what clothes.  I'm never going to refer to shoes by who designed them unless they're a running shoe or a hiking shoe.  I'm never going to wear heels, and I'm never going to own a cocktail anything.
Gamelands access.
I do know what it's like to immerse myself in the outdoors.  I know the happiness of the buzz of insects and the songs of birds and the crunch of road gravel or dirt under my feet while I run or walk down a trail.  I know the smell of ragweed or hay or cows or horses.  I know the names of a lot of plants and trees.  I'm not afraid of bugs or spiders or snakes, though I give bees a healthy distance out of respect.

I always loved exploring the woods and fields around my house when I was a little girl.  My friends went to the mall or to each other's houses and hung out.  I did that too, but sometimes I just wanted to go into the woods and catch frogs or climb trees or just find things that were exciting to me.
 I don't live on a farm or really out in the country.  I miss it.  But I get out there.  Maybe someday we'll have a cabin or I'll be able to work on someone else's farm.  Because, nothing, really nothing makes me as happy as being out in the fresh air, doing hard work, and seeing myself accomplish something.  I think that's why I like running so much.  I do it for me, not really for anyone else.  I run to be IN the nature that I love.

Today's run was great.  I went slower than I'd like, but I saw heron and duck, an opossum.  I ran along cornfields and swamps and winding streams.
 I got 17.5 miles in, and mapped some of those country roads. I saw neatly trimmed lawns, and overgrown abandoned barns and houses.  I was chased by a couple of dogs, and waved at by a number of people.  And you know what?  It was a good run.  So get out there, run where you love, do what you want, and find your happy, even just for a little while...

queen anne's lace with bugs
country church
misty Jerusalem artichoke (I think)
French Creek
swamp with ducks

Friday, July 20, 2012

This is a test of the emergency blogcast system.

Weather and Running

It's been a very odd summer.  For a while there in the spring, we had late frosts and late snows, and it seemed like warm weather would never arrive.  Then the past few weeks have been brutal, both heat and humidity wise.

I actually don't mind it.  We don't have air conditioning here, so it's been a dance of my husband's secret "Lock in the cool" skills as he opens the windows at night, and then I close them around mid-morning, before the sun comes up and heats everything.  The nights with a fan blowing on us have been comfortable.  I haven't lost much sleep.  At least not to heat.

Running has been ok.  I have gotten into a routine to run early in the mornings, or run in the woods on the weekends to hide from the heat.  The last full loop of Oil Creek State Park was brutal, but I think it has made me stronger.  I'm enjoying the adventure and challenge brought by the heat, because I'm nothing if not stubborn.

Today was lovely though.  I think mid 60s, breezy, overcast is my perfect running weather.  I wouldn't even mind cooler, but today... I got up, ran out the door, up the hill and away from town.  Along fields and past little country houses, smelling the scent of hay and sky and fields.  Oh and squished snails, but I didn't smell those, thankfully. Small barky dogs warned me away from their yards, and I ran and ran.

It was only 5 miles, but I made it back in time for my husband to get to work, and I was sweaty but not as hot or sweaty as I have been the last few times I've run.  I've been ok this summer, but this kind of day just makes me long for fall...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Run Between the Suns - 12 hour endurance trail race

So this past Saturday, June 30th - I wrapped up the month of June by completing my third ultra run, and my furthest distance so far - 40 miles in about 10 and a half hours.

I was excited, and not very nervous about this race, because it was being RDed by a friend and fellow runner from the area, Jeff Nelson, and his wife, Heather Nelson.  They put in a ton of work, and in the beginning, when they were first talking about putting the race together, I had said I would volunteer, but later, I decided it would be a good middle of summer test for me as I prepared for the 100k in the fall.

Friday night I had a good dinner of salmon, quinoa salad, and drank plenty of water.  I knew it was going to be a scorcher on Saturday, with predicted temps in the high 80s.  I packed myself 2 drop boxes with extra clothes and shoes, gels, enduralytes, plus a cooler with lots of ice and Gatorade.  I knew the aid station would be well stocked, but I wanted to make sure I had a reliable source of food and drink that I knew had no soy.  Soy has been giving me the "instantly run to the nearest bathroom" syndrome, so before races, I've been avoiding it like the plague.

So I had everything packed.  I even got my ipod ready.  The course would be a 5 mile loop, and if I was going to try for 40-50 miles, I wanted to be sure if I wasn't running with someone, that I had music or a podcast to keep me going.

So Jason and Eli and I woke up early and got down to the course.  It was great seeing so many people I knew, and once I had hit the restroom one more time and greeted some of the people, pinned on my number and reset my watch, we were off.  I fell into step with Katie, and we kept up a good pace and kept each other entertained.

And so it went.  First five miles we did in a little over an hour.  The course was hilly, but not terribly so.  I told Katie the hill size were pretty much perfect, because just about when I wished I was done going up a hill, it leveled off then went back down.  There wasn't much exposure to the sky, a few bits around a really beautiful and clear lake, but the cloud cover was holding, and the temperature wasn't awful, but I was sweating a ton.  I made sure I took enduralytes, drank, but not too much, and had a gel whenever I was feeling a bit hollow.

I didn't eat anything first time through the aid station, but I did hit the toilet, then we kept going.  10 miles.  We weren't passed much, and kept fairly steady pace.  I felt a little ick the second time through the aid station, hit the restroom again, and felt much better.  I tripped over a root on the third lap, but just got up and brushed it off.  Landed on my hands, not my knees, and I was fine.  I was feeling good, and Katie and I kept going.  We were caught up by a few of our friends, and it was nice to see and visit with people each time we came through the aid station.

15 miles.  I stopped and stretched each time through, sat down a bit, ate a bit.  The boiled potatoes with salt were my lifesaver, and so was the cold Gatorade.  I also took to dumping water over my head each time, which I think kept me refreshed.  I was already soaked with sweat anyway.  I also kept slathering sunblock on, even though the clouds were staying put.  The breeze was also very nice, and keeping us running strong.

I can't say enough about the Aid station.  It was amazing to come in and have bottles filled and anything we needed taken care of.

Jason had taken Eli off for a while (It's hard to entertain a 4.5 year old at an endurance event), but by the time we came in from our 5th round (25 miles) They were back.  I gave my kiddo a sweaty hug, then we were back to it.  Katie said she wanted to get 30, then would be happy.  I begged her to do to 35 with me, then I was going to walk one more loop to get 40.  The sun decided to come out then, at mile 30.  I was still feeling great.  A little sore in the hips, but each time I stopped and stretched at the aid station, I was good for another go.  Katie was getting a little down on the 6th loop, but she perked up again for the 7th, and then we met her husband and another friend on the 7th looped, and we walked the last one together, for 40 total.
I am so happy with how this event turned out.  The course was great - long enough to not be boring, but not too rough on the body.  I didn't need my ipod, because Katie and I chatted most of the loops, and kept encouraging each other along.  And hell if I didn't feel the best I have the next day after the race.  A little sore, but of my other ultras, this was the one I hurt the least after.  Was it the cool down loop?  Was it the stretching?  Did Laurel Highlands give me an extra kick in the teeth training wise?  I'm not sure, but I'm happy and still kind of... in disbelief that I ran 40 miles in 10 hours and 38 minutes.

It was an amazing event, and I'll be excited to do it again next year, and see if I can squeeze in 45, or maybe even 50...