Trail Thoughts

Someone asked me last week what I think about when you’re out on a long run. It actually stumped me.

Well some pretty deep thinking occurred on my 25 mile race I just finished (Kilkenney Ridge 25M) – the following is a compilation of some thinking done during this race and during training for it:

A few hours talking about what we want to do when we finish….warm/soft slippers…

Or how we’ll feel when we finish….awesome!

I had made a huge new music playlist I did not use at all

Sometimes I listen to ultrarunner podcasts or audiobooks (if not on a road)

What we want at the next aid station (potato chips, quesadillas…)

Other races run or future races

Personal history of husbands

These mosquitoes/flies are killing me! Did I just eat one?

OMG! Those are spider eyes reflecting off my headlamp – they are everywhere

Vacations

Chafing issues

Let me help this frog get out of the road

Beautiful or horrible landscaping or scenery

Where to pee

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 switch to left, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 counting uphills right to left feet (never look up ahead, just one foot in front of the other)

Mad at someone at work….then remembering to love everyone and feeling better

If I’m this tired now, how am I going to feel in another 15 miles (quickly squashed that train of thinking!)

I’m hungry….did I eat the last hour? Once you get past hour 3, they fly by

Need to take electrolytes

Need to drink more

Turn off that Garmin 180 metronome/no way we’re hiking that fast on this race!

Photo op! Don’t drop my phone in the lake….

Who cares about the spur trail to a view, carry on! We want to finish

How close am I to last place?

Pets

Once a run, call Kenny out of breath, sometimes crying, sometimes exuberant, sometimes saying I gotta go because it’s too tiring to hold the phone up…

Beautiful weather

Are there bears out here? Moose? What am I going to do if I run into one?

Is there a murderer in the woods (this is by my house in the dark)

Scared due to weather…am I going to get lost up here? If it rains, I’m never going to get down these rocks…

Am I on or off the course?

How the &%$& am I going to get up that rock? Please don’t have any scary ledges on this trail….

Just one more “Nashoba” to go (1000-2000′)….watching elevation gains as you go up

We’re almost half done (at about a third of the way)…

I am a badass motherfucker…

I am the trained!

I am lucky to be out here

I’m going to kill myself running downhill with abandon….hope I don’t fall

I know I should run this section but hard to get started…

I get mile alerts….that was slow! that was fast! Speed up…Need to stay consistent the entire time

I love my husband…

Kilkenney 25 Miler: Once You Go In, The Only Way Out is to Finish 9/18/21

I raced the dark popping out of the woods just before the last light faded away to a few souls cheering me as I ran by the tiki torches to the finish flags! I felt elated and like crying at the same time.

I never really had tired legs like at Killington or Stonecat and ran in strong! I’ll take that although my overall pace was slower than anticipated. My hips held out great, I felt very strong at the end, although tired the first 2-3 miles, felt better and better as race went along. Very technical terrain – knowing how strong I was at the end, I wished I pushed running more throughout the race. Great weather except for a downpour around mile 17.

Planning Document/List of Stuff to bring:

Lessons Learned:

  • Ensure shoelaces are tied tight! My left one was undone and started a blister on my big toe…. I had just opened laces on right foot to help with the bunion and double knotted it so bottom could stay loose.
  • Get 2 stickers….am starting race collection on car and on bin
  • Have food available for overnight hunger. I woke up famished and thank goodness I had a banana and some white rolls!
  • Worked out well having a bag of associated running stuff (ie trail toes, washrag, etc) and a separate bag of camp stuff.
  • Bring water with you. Was stressed at night trying to fill up jugs at the campsite using the showerhead which got me all wet!

This was a very wild single track with a lot of trees down over it or shrubs/trees in the way (literally had 6′ trees smacking us in the face as we ran THROUGH them) but beautiful….

Near top of Mt Waumbek

I met two new friends who ran most of the course with me, Madeline and Vincent!

A few pics from the course:

In truth, I was more afraid of camping by myself than of the race. We had to practice setting up the tent in our house the week before and I was terrified. Thank goodness the gentleman in the campsite next to me popped by and helped me out – it was super humid with a million bugs and I spent 30 min racing the dark trying to patch up the tarp that went under! I struggled with lanterns because I didn’t remember I had a great headlamp…. I struggled getting water and will bring more with me vs. trying to find it in the dark…. Food planned for dinner and race was perfect! Proud of myself in the end for the successful camp and the FANTASTIC OUTDOOR SHOWER! I was all worried that it was cold water only and it was perfect…. I went to bed tired but clean and happy!

Kilkenney 25 Prep – About as Many Ups/downs as the Course! 9/13/21

Last minute jitters two weeks before the race…..

Am I ready? Why do I feel so slow still?

Two weeks before I almost cried to my coach asking for a pep talk while we were doing Nashoba hill day. He told me that if he didn’t think I was ready we’d be having a serious talk right now…..

I hadn’t done much strength training since my body broke down in May.

I was a few pounds heavy.

Last two months I did the best at the training sessions I have probably ever done 🙂

I was still having trouble just running distance without being tired.

Old speck inflamed my hip….was it going to crush me again like it did in my last 50k race?

I was afraid of setting up a tent.

Where was I going to eat after the race?

Did I have a useable mattress pad?

I didn’t have a good rainjacket.

where exactly was the race?

Mt. Moosilaukee and a COLD SOAK! 9/12/21

7.9 miles, 2730′ elevation, 3:48:37 Mount Moosilaukee and the South Peak Loop

Parked on side of road (no fees). Runnable on the way down. Top of Moosilaukee is an alpine meadow, no technical rock climbs.

Goal was 5.5 hrs and finished Moose early so drove a few minutes over to Franconia Falls and did a cold soak from waist down halfway through – AWESOME!!!! 6.71 miles, 1:38:33, 387′ elevation

Conquered “The Double Speck!” 8/27/21

It is historic. It is tradition. A critical tough training session, during the family vacation at Papoose Pond, before a big race in Sept. , race – THE DOUBLE SPECK!

2021:

2019

OK OK OK I was a little slower in 2021. I’m blaming the extra 10-15 lbs and work stress!

This is a TOUGH MOUNTAIN! The trail is ROCK, which HURT and I lost a toenail after with all the slamming against the front of my shoe. I finally looked up the tricks to tying shoelaces to minimize foot sliding (ie. tie a note in the laces after a few traverses) and am buying shoes size 10 now, another 1/2 size up. I felt Ok from an effort standpoint after the first ascent/descent but my feet hurt so that slowed me down the second time around…

Disappointing for sure I was slower than in 2019 but I’ll take it based on how horrible 2021 has been with work and the toll that situation has taken on me.

This year I had some better gear with extra water flasks so could easily pack for the second ascent and I had new nutrition with the chocolate/cashew/date balls. Also way better weather!

Every double Speck deserves a BIG BREAKFAST the next day! Blueberry pancakes the size of my head….

This year, we moved to a campsite across the road from Ruth and still suffered from the deflating queen size blowup mattress 🙂

Until next year. And we reserved a full week for 2022!!

Mt Monadnock 2.75, Laura 1.25, Two attempts 8/31/21 and 9/5/21

The goal was simple 4 hrs 15min with 3-4k in elevation.

FACT: 1 x Monadnock = 2:06 hrs (from 2019) and 1795′ elevation.

Twice I went there trying to do 2 loops (like the infamous DOUBLE SPECK) and battled the rain.

First attempt 8/31/21 I knew it was going to pour that morning (some hurricane remnant moving its way up the coast) but got there early to have a go at it. I couldn’t remember the course and how slick/slabby it was to know if you could do it wet or not.

You could not. Below is what turned me around the first time and I had not remember the huge slabs at the top I found my second time…

I was afraid. I admit it. Got to this part and called it quits with the slippery slabs. Did not want to get stuck up there- it was about halfway up. I ran down and back to this point and back down just to get some elevation (44:49 and 692′ in total) and it started to rain…

It was a sad slog in absolutely torrential downpours as I hit the good ole’ Buttonwood hill in my neighborhood, where I got another 1:15 and 659′ before accepting the ride from my husband. He was worried because of how heavy it was raining. I had been gathering trash while running to keep my mind off these miserable conditions! (Damn the plastic and fast food companies for creating this garbage and the lazy assholes that discard it wherever they choose…)

Laura .25 , Monadnock 1.75 (as I only made it halfway up of a target 2 full ups/down).

Second attempt 9/15, also on day rain was expected. I thought I could beat it but did one ascent/descent and it started. Now I saw the huge, slippery slabs and felt the rain and decided to do my final 2.25 hrs on a trail in Hollis. While I was near the top, you could the fog/rain rolling in and I raced down the mountain!!

At least I made one loop!!! Note that I DID NOT LIKE the White Cross trail coming down and would recommend going up and down the White Dot next time (other runners had already learned this and passed me coming down several times).

Laura 1, Monadnock 1 (as I only completed 1 of 2 loops)

Until next time, when I crush this mountain in a knock out!!

Mt Greylock vs My Chin 8/14/21

We had a little work gathering in July that kicked me into high gear. My friend, Dan Danecki, told me he was running the Mt Greylock Half Marathon. Mt Greylock is the highest peak in MA. I signed up immediately and then just after, did the epic week of confidence building including 3 big hikes Skyline Trail, Mt Washington, and Mt. Garfield.

Although again, I was near the end of the pack, it was a beautiful day, a road trip to get there (2.5 hrs) and a runnable downhill. Stats:

The only down”fall” was my fall in the last 3 miles on the dirt trail which I broke with my chin and forearm. I almost cried but did not!! I have to admit I like crossing a finish line covered in blood (remember my epic fall just after I had my sling off for shoulder surgery?)!

I also figured out that my Poles are my superpower. Noone else was carrying them. I took them for practice and used them for 9 miles of the race going up and down. Nothing is more fun than poling down the mountain!

I got to show it off all week long – here it is at Nashoba 2 days later:

Lesson learned is you need intermediate goals. Now that I have done this, I am focused on the Kilkenney 25 mi/9000′ run in Sept. I am seriously worried about my ability to run far. I am working hard on hills and plan to do Old Speck twice again this week as we camp at Papoose Pond in Maine.

I have been researching the NH48 so I can choose the right length/elevation trail for my long sunday sessions.

Today; however, was a bust. We have a hurricane coming in. I wanted to run Mt Monadnock twice before the rain hit. Got a little late start and the woman at the check-in said it was pretty slick without rain. I planned then to run up and down the lower section. It got darker and was doable but I got scared thinking of it wet/raining so bailed after 45″ and 700′ elevation. Went home and ran an hour in my neighborhood to get another 700′ – was pouring. Did not do the 3000′ and 4.25 hrs planned. I could barely move later so maybe better to take a little recovery…

the Downhill Zone…Mt Garfield 8/1/21

Hiked 8/1/21 with Sam Broadaway and Gary Lombardo. I was afraid of running with these two animals!! I am way slower and had done two huge hikes this last week – wasn’t sure how much I had left in me 🙂

This hike turned out to be epic! Fantastic non-technical trail that we ran down almost the entire way. 9-10 miles, 3.5 hours, ~21min/mile, 3000′ elevation.

Just like Mt Tecumseh, which I ran down in the snow earlier this year, running downhill was an absolute blast. If you start going pretty fast, trusting your feet, concentrating on the next two steps, it really is magical and super fun. We hiked up so I could reserve energy and had plenty to careen down.

No poles used/needed.

This week has been a huge confidence builder with a total of 11,700′ elevation (skyline, nashoba, mt washington/monroe and garfiefld), 3 long runs 3.5-6 hours long and I did Nashoba and 5 miles of tempo runs Friday night. I know I can do the Greylock half marathon in a few weeks now 🙂

These extra days off are doing me good and am hoping to see the less-stressed Laura start to have energy to do anything in my time off!

Beautiful day. Epic Run. Great running partners. A handsome husband to come home to. Bright Future.

Mt Washington or Bust 7/28/21

7/28/21

In an effort to take some extra days off, AND because I turned 55, I got up early and went up to the Cog rail station to climb Mt Washington. Hiked up via the Ammonoosuc trail and down via Jewell trail with a little hour spur climb up to Mt Monro, which is at the Lakes of the Clouds Hut about an hour south of the Mt Washington peak.

Got some more practice in using poles (indispensible on this hike) and eating my new favorite Jurek chocolate balls!

Hike was way easier than Skyline – the toes of my feet were still sore from the previous Sunday but this turned out not to be a factor. Absolutely beautiful day. Felt good and proud to have done this high, “scary” mountain on my own! Added some confidence in another 10 miler, 3990′ elevation and over 6 hours to complete. Moving pace of 29:32/mile with some pretty technical climbs the entire way.

Could not run it – too technical although I ran to my car after I popped out at the end in front of the Cog Rail Station with about 100 people watching me!

Great day, great confidence builder on top of Skyline just 3 days ago and a beautiful day!

REAL FOOD

Scott Jureks Energy balls:

1/2 c raw cacao nibs

1/2 c raw cashews

8 dates (PITTED)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp coconut oil

Rolled in coarse salt. 10 balls, 131 cal, 5 g fat, 20 g carb, 2.4 g protein each. Really great! don’t like the hot pepper flakes

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good Skyline Trail 7/25/21

My nemesis. My most hated trail. It hurts me. I curse it always the last few miles.

Ran this trail July 25 for the 2nd time. Hate the trail but loved my new poles and chocolate/cashew/fig/almond energy bites!

7/13/19: 15.8 miles, 4170′, 6:12 (21:16/mile avg). When I did this, I thought it would take ~4 hours and it took forever! I fell a few times, cried on the side of the trail and remember being so tired on the way home.

7/25/21: 13.5 miles, 3668′, 6:33 (25:29/mile avg) – did not do the extra 2 mile run at the tail end. I thought with my new trail shoes and experience, I’d be faster but was not. It is just a brutal slog of technical up and down climbs. Always damages my toes (am losing a toenail due to it) and ego.

The 6 hr Mt Washington/Monroe hike and Mt Garfield hikes were both so much easier than this one. Both of those were similar elevation and a little shorter.

Least favorite trail ever. But good pole practice! The other great learning was making homemade energy balls vs using cliff blocks/GU. Made Scott Jureks chocolate, cashew, fig, almond extract and coconut oil balls rolled in coconut and sale – FANTASTIC:

1/2 c raw cacao nibs

1/2 c raw cashews

8 figs (PITTED)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp coconut oil

Rolled in coarse sale.

Blend all but coconut oil in blender. then mix in melted oil. Each one has about 100 calories – Makes 10. 131 calories, 5g fat, 20 g carb, 2.5g protein each.

Case Study in Work Stress…Broken 5/28/21

I am a case study for what work stress does to you physically. Ever since last June, when my company announced they were selling the business, over half the company was laid off or quit. This included my team, who are almost guaranteed continuation of their job in the purchasing company – I went from 15 to 4 people at one point. Losing people is stressful – like losing friends and covering the workload while doing extra work of hiring while training the new folks while keeping the fleet afloat has almost broken me.

It did break me, prior to the Grand Turk Scuba Vacation from May 29-June 12, I spent the week lying in a chair after work unable to move because all of my joints hurt so bad. I could barely finish 3 miles and was just exhausted.

The picture above is me floating in this beautiful water with my head empty – just what I needed for two weeks.

I came back and it took two weeks to fall back into a bad situation beginning of July. On the 17th, we had an NEC outing at Stonecow brewery and a trail running friend mentioned Mt. Greylock half marathon in mid August. That gave me a goal I wanted to meet.

The week of the 19th, I called my boss, the CEO etc to make sure they knew I was not doing well and just decided to take random days off for mental health. I am choosing me.

Starting July 25, I ran skyline, a terrible 13.5 mile, 6+ hr, 3600′ elevation trail to gain some confidence. On my birthday a few days later, I climbed Washington, 10 miles 6+ hr, 3900′ elevation and on the following Sunday I ran Mt Garfield 10 miles, 3.5 hr 3000′ elevation. I am hoping I am back and feeling better 🙂 I know I can do Greylock without issue now

Longest year ever. Also demonstrates the importance of intermediate goals to make sure you have something you’re afraid of to motivate you.

Shoutout to Trailrunner Nation Podcast…How to Deal with Difficult Situations

This is in reference to podcast #501 called the Comback Quotient, about a new book by Matt Fitzgerald.

“Physical fitness enables an athlete to do hard things, mental fitness enables an athlete to deal with hard things, and no athlete realizes his or her full potential without both.”

Key message is when you are faced with a setback:

Face reality.

Embrace reality.

Commit and reassess.

Implement your updated strategy.

They also had a reference to a Jocko episode called “Good” I have to watch…..

I was a Madwoman running Down Mt Tecumseh

Stats: Hike was 4.74 miles, 2224′ elevation gain and took me 2:18:55 (about 1:30 up and 45″ down) with splits: 28:32, 42:27, 36:25 (last part at top, short rest, then down), 19:36, 12:54

As usual, I was afraid. I had decided to do my first winter hike up Mt. Tecumseh, a 4000′ peak bag close to me. The hike has one trailhead in the parking lot for the Waterville Valley ski resort, which was packed, so I had to circle to find a spot. I know I have all the gear required and pulled out the once used microspikes (confirmed to be the right gear from folks online who had hiked it the day before) and all my normal trail running stuff – food, hydration, extra clothes, headlamps, safety kit, etc….

It was a beautiful day starting in mid 50s and ending in 60s. Snow was slightly slushy/sticky and packed on the trail. This hike was all trail with no rock scrambles if you take the left path to top at the loop near the top.

After a few minutes hiking, I called Kenny stating how hard anything is in the snow (and it is) and then made the slow slog to the top. Mt Tecumseh is a pretty steady 2200′ up. My mental state:

  • I often thought “Do I really love this?”
  • I learned long ago on hills that it is never easy going up and then you’re fine.
  • I remembered that I had done 6x this elevation in the 26 miles I ran at Killington Spartan Ultra… press on!
  • I was afraid to drink thinking I didn’t bring enough water
  • I was hot
  • My right shoe kept slipping off my heal
  • My former training kicked in and I employed the walking sideways technique and flipping directions every ten steps.
  • Fear really set in during one downhill on the way up that seemed treacherous and was very very slow going. I was wondering if the downhill would take 2x as long.

I picked up a hiker near the top (as I was at least an expert on the trail having a map and studying it in advance) and helped her find the top!

Then something came over me immediately on my way down. At the summit, it was a gradual downhill so I started to run it and then I couldn’t stop. I was like a mountain goat running down that hill gaining confidence in microspikes – it was AWESOME! Best run of my adult life – a short 2-2.5 miles down. What seemed steep going up seemed very reasonable going down. I gained confidence in my side to side skills as I had learned in my hill training on Wachusett last year.

So many lessons learned from early use of new gear:

  1. Importance of Shoe lacing: I got a 2nd pair of Altra Lone Peak shoes this year as I loved my first pair of 4.0 (but not the color so much!). Have hated them ever since I tried them. The right heel slipped and the middle of another shoe kind of hurt my midsole, etc. The other day I went to buy a 2nd pair of the original I bought only to realize they were both the exact same model, Altra Lone Peak 4.0, which flabbergasted me. Why did they feel so different? THIS WAS THEIR LAST CHANCE!!! I loved the colors, why couldn’t they just work like the last pair! Well, it turns out the issue was lacing. I’ve heard about tricks for runner lacing, etc and had always poo-poohed the importance of lacing thinking it was just a detail some runners obsess about. I am now a believer. A mile or so up dealing with the right heel slip, I first tightened the laces…didn’t work. Then I took a look at right vs. left and realized my right shoe didn’t have the laces thru the very top lace hole and the left did. I added just that and it made all the difference – I knew after one step.

Now I’ve been reading up on lacing since I got home and will modify the top to create this “runners loop”. Best lesson ever

2. Always dress for running: It didn’t matter so much but I didn’t have my sportsbra – my back running back did its job!

3. Bring plenty of water: I thought hike might take 4-5 hours based on online reviews and only had water for 2 hours. I did this because the last few mountain hikes I hardly used it. I was worried about it all the time though. Avoid extra stress.

4. Start cooler! When you’re hiking in 50ish weather, start with a short sleeved shirt. I’ve been hot the last few hikes having even a lightweight long sleeved shirt.

5. Practice with the pole technique and straps: I ended up using skate ski technique using both poles near my shoes going up and ended up starting to feel a slight hot spot under the strap on my left hand. Need to loosen the left strap to equal the right and consider gloves for any future long runs.

6. Microspikes: They worked well today in packed, icy/slushy conditions. They did not work so well the other week when I went running in new snow locally. In that case, even with a few inches of new snow, use the running snowshoes!

7. Always be prepared when you get back to the car. I had my list and remembered the comfy slippers to wear home, the extra set of clothes, the Recoverite and water to drink right away but forgot the washrag and was sorry for that! also forgot the banana.

Overall, fantastic, fantastic day!

Fake it Til You make It

Surviving hard times.

I am always finding that lessons learned on the road apply to my everyday life as well. In 2019, when I was in the middle of the Killington Spartan Ultra race coming off the mountain at around 16 miles, 9000′ elevation gain I was tired. I knew my husband was waiting at the bottom and was determined to show I was A-OK! This is what he ended up seeing:

I don’t think I’ve ever heard my husband speak of anything I’ve done with such pride as he does recounting this moment. He saw big tough guys pass this point, who were doing the shorter race, see the uphill sandbag carry and just walk off or sit down in defeat. I just smiled and kept going… and going another ~6 hours until I timed out at 26 miles, 12,200′ resulting in my first DNF on the 31 mile, 15.5k course. My motto I said to myself thru this race was “There are the trained and the untrained, I am trained!” (Denzel Washington, Man on Fire). I also felt better by encouraging others around me.

A podcast I was listening to this weekend, Trailrunner Nation episode 505, had one of the hosts Krissy Moehl sharing how she used to come into aid stations smiling asher mom was keeping an eye on her health and could pull her from the race. Later, she was told she had impacted others by being so positive from others at the races. In addition to the benefits of being positive, her advice for running was if you feel bad, before quitting, eat something and make your decision in a better state.

My advice to myself and to my team at work today is this: As we go through this difficult transitional period in our company sale, stay as positive as you can. If you’ve had a hard day/week, let’s pause and do something that makes us feel better before quitting. Let’s plan something to do this week that accomplishes something at work but also for ourselves.

You can do more than you think you can and if you/we end up being unsuccessful, then we were brave enough to try. If you don’t have some failures along the way then you’re not setting your sights high enough.

Question is, how do you know when you truly should stop?

2021 An EPIC Year in the Making

I have the UTMB as a longer term goal but first have to fix my shoulder and more importantly, my hip pain to survive the training and just waking up in the morning to put on my socks. A few months ago, my PT said I should feel good every day (and “sore” is considered good – I know the difference between sore/worn out and in pain). I do not. My husband had to help me with my socks this morning.

Short term goal by end Feb: Fix the hip pain and shoulder mobility

SHOULDER PLAN: I hit the six month post surgery mark this week. I have a hitch when I raise my arm and can’t get 180deg yet. I just realized I own Crossfit Symmetry. My plan:

  • Massage 2x a week
  • Crossfit Symmetry 2x a day on mobility then strength when I can do all the mobility.

Measure of Improvement: When standing flat against the wall, how far from the wall can I raise my arms. Probably about a 45 deg gap now.

My surgeon says issue is due to strength and my PT says it needs massage to loosen up the cap so I will do both. The worst exercise is the “Incline Plus” position (ie. wallball push) which is very hard to do with arms straight and just the light bands. Yesterday I tried to do 6 lb wallballs at crossfit and only did <20 before deciding the 150 in the workout was not a smart thing to do. What I can do:

  • Pushups at 35 deg – a lot. Will move to floor this week.
  • Green band pullups
  • Tons of ring rows

HIPS: Went to Dr. Kelly McInnis at MGH and got a diagnosis of B/L gluteal Tendonopathy and sent to a PT, Mike Roberts in Worcester, MA.

Problem: Hips hurt when I lie on them at night. Bursa on both sides equally sore to the touch and general pain in hips. Nothing found on X rays. Saw Mike last week.

Measure of improvement is how much I can minimize the space below my knee when lying flat on my back with lower back pressed to table. Starting 2.25″ air gap under both knees.

Exercises:

Exercises to fix Gluteal tendonopathy

GENERAL MOBILITY: I am trying hard to incorporate all of these plus a yoga session into my new morning routine.

Results to be evaluated end of Jan at next PT session. I accept the challenge.

My Evolving Relationship with My Google Nest

Now that I am on a strict daily routine for both shoulder and hip issues, I am reliant on my timing devices for those long, painful holds. I have taken over my husbands Google Nest device.

At first, my requests were somewhat polite and have now evolved to angry demands in the middle of 3 minute stretches…”Hey Google, how much time is LEFT??!!!” or curt demands “STOP!!”

Is this angry domination of this Nest device indicative of my true personality? I hope not.

Small Changes, Big Difference

So I succeeded in a few things to help my mental health and to reduce stress:

  • Thanksgiving meant a few days off and I also left early 2 days. I took off half a day Friday before thanksgiving week as well. Needed that.
  • Got moving again with 2 good weeks of crossfit
  • Upped macros to 2000 cal/maintenance
  • Played piano and practiced sight reading – can tell that is better
  • Spent more time on positive things I can do in the future
  • Moved my standing lunch meetings out of there so I can take a break at lunch (the break was not accomplished yet)
  • Put up my Christmas Tree!

Last Sunday, I went out on a trail run at Beaver Brook, not knowing how I’d feel and did an hour/5 miles and felt great – Just taking off 4 hrs on the previous Friday helped a ton. There were a bunch of leaves and I did one superman fall but didn’t get hurt. It did scare me though so I won’t be doing trails with leaves until next season while I finish my shoulder rehab – six months is end of December.

Feeling good on the run last weekend is helping a lot with my confidence again. Goals next few weeks:

  • Finish shoulder rehab – doing a ton of stretching to fix the hitch I have when I raise my shoulder and getting massages. Have appt with surgeon Dec 17.
  • Continue with crossfit mixing in cycling/running 3 x a week
  • Take it easier at work
  • Less time on phone and more on future plans/studying/learning.

Corona virus, elections, work stress and a plan to overcome

I have been in a declining state of mental health which equals physical health the last few months.

  • My company is selling the business. Because of the uncertainty, over half my team has quit and we are trying to continue to support a growing install base during the transition, which will hopefully occur first quarter 2021.
  • US elections just occurred and hopefully the horrible policies of the current administration will end soon.
  • Corona virus remains unchecked because of the administration requiring continued isolation at home
  • My shoulder is getting better but it has been 5 months now of adding PT appointments and extra work to bring it back to health

In my last blog, I was celebrating running ~8 miles in good health. A week after that, I went to run a few loops of a local 3 mile trail loop and couldn’t even make it running once around. I could barely finish walking it! I am just tired and super stressed.

My new plan:

  • Do something fun every day – play piano 15″ sight reading, 15″ fun review
  • Increase activity levels. Get back and build up strength in crossfit. I need to modify a lot but made it to 3 classes this last week! Standing at home working 8+ hours a day has made my daily steps plumment down to <1000. I can tag on aerobic run/cycle/row onto this but this forces me to stop working and go to class.
  • Eliminate lunchtime meetings and go walking with Kenny
  • Increase planned calories to maintenance 2000 to not feel bad every day about going over and then cut later. I probably have 10 lbs I can lose but don’t want to stress over it right now!

I am also going to convert over to be vegetarian, although not totally strict, and see how this impacts my energy levels. A little self-experimentation!

It is a challenge right now. My hips still hurt from a year ago – am going to see an orthopedic specialist to rule out anything serious vs. just mobility items I can work and I don’t feel so good on just a few mile run.

I need some fun and hope every day to get out of this rut. Biden won and I cried – I think anyone with empathy is stressed about the what is happening to a lot of people right now. I rang my cowbell outside for a minute in celebration and my signage is staying up until the current “President” accepts defeat or is finally carried out when Biden is sworn in.

I also put up my Christmas tree last weekend!

Let’s all hope for a less stressful 2021

Walking is not running

I got the go ahead to run again 3 months post surgery at the end of September. As I had been walking for 2.5 -3 hours I decided to just go out and try to run that. I ran and had some walking but it destroyed me after 2.5 hours and I could barely move running at the end and it destroyed me for the rest of the day.

Walking is not running. I had not expected that.

So then I ran 15 min and walking 15 min to build endurance back.

The good news is that within a month on October 31 I completed a 7.6 mile run in 1:27 – all running on a messy, snowy day and felt pretty good at the end, even picking it up the last mile!

Keep the faith and realize that you really do need train in the exact way you expect to perform. I am not sure how cross training with bicycle will work as I train to run 50 and 100 mile races where you also need to get your body used to the loads specifically due to running….

Beautiful day for a run though on the Nashua rail trail – ran to the Pepperell “station” and back. Note first snow of the year!

A Study in Walking

Not being able to run for 3 months post shoulder surgery has given me the opportunity to study walking speed. As I have learned the last year, the line between walking and running is blurred (ie. going up hills) and walking is OK, something most every ultrarunner will do during a long race – sometimes planned just to destress load on the body. Recall the blog I had last year where it was easier to run 12 miles when it was broken up into 2 mile segments even with 30 burpee pull ups in between. I’ve been thinking that that may be why the Killington spartan ultra race, although with an added 12,000′ of elevation, was easier than running 31 miles straight on flatter ground which also started hurting my hips.

So for the last 9 weeks, I’ve been walking, walking lunging, air squatting, etc as my shoulder heals back to the bone. “Easy” walking turns out to be around 20″ miles. Just the last two weeks I’ve tried to pick it up and see how fast I can go walking. A few observations:

  • By blurring that line, you will naturally soften your knees, which must be better for you
  • On pavement, I am now going 13:57″ per mile even with hillwork mixed in
  • Arms are at 90 deg and I am looking more like a power walker
  • My cadence with short steps, as I do in running, is 145, which destresses load on knees/hips also
  • Videos on internet show fast walkers doing heal strikes, which I don’t agree with
  • The fastest hill I ever did to date at Nashoba felt this way – consistent motion forward with soft knees/like gliding up the hill

So next time I am in a race, trying to be mindful, I have realized now that thoughtfulness about how I walk can save me minutes per mile. last weekend I did some trail walking trying to mimic the form on road and with some elevation (830′ over 90″) only got down to 18″/mile (on downhill portion). This gave me an appreciation for how much just trails slow you down, let alone elevation gain.

Trail flat pace still seems to be over 20″/mile. After seeing the faster road pace, I was starting to think I had been a slacker on my trail runs with over 20″/mile pacing and feel better having done this test.

Post blog addition 9/8/20: So I’ve been youtubing and realizing that what I am doing is “running”, not power walking or race walking where you do heel strikes and have straight legs. Am going to give that a try tonite!

My First Tire change At AGE 54

It took me two years to finally try and change my bike tire. I thought after a year of 3+ hour rides, I should at least know how to take care of it. I got a bike stand, soap/degreaser, a brush to clean with all this year. Finally, a few months later, took the stand out to learn how to change my tire. Forced, mind you, because my valve stem broke so I had no choice.

Wasn’t too bad. Glad I know how. The basics:

Align tire “name” area with valve stem

Take some air out before you start

Take out locking nut from inside of rim

Start at least 8″ from valve stem

Use lower parts of palms to push outer tire into groove

Remove the washer from around the shrader valve so you can remove it

Blow up inner tube a little to make it easier to install, enure it is seated and blow up ultimately slowly.

I use a 700×20-28c 40mm presta valve inner tube (specialized brand)

I don’t know why I hate doing this mechanical stuff so much but I absolutely dread it….would rather weed a 2 acre lot!

A Journey in Professional and Personal Continuous Improvement

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