October 28, 2014

Beginner Trail Running Tips

I recently took up trail running and discovered a love for the dirt. It's an entirely a different feeling than running on the flat paved road. But before you take off and hit the dirt, there are a few things you should know. I still consider myself a beginner but these are the important things I have learned so far...

  • Be in tune with your surroundings.  Ditch the headphones and music when you trail run. There are so many things you need to be aware of like animals, other hikers on the trail, equestrian riders trying to get your attention to pass and so forth. You are also outside in the wilderness, why not enjoy the peace? Also you will need to pay attention to where you are. Out in the wild those rocks can all start to look the same. Pay attention to intersections and trail-head signs for the way back. I can't tell you how many times I have taken a wrong turn because I was completely zoned out.
  • Wear the right shoes.  A trail shoe can make all the difference depending on the type of terrain you'll be running. You can get away with wearing your regular running shoes on a flat dirt trail. However once the terrain starts to turn into singletrack or steep, rocky, covered with roots; you may want to invest in a sturdier shoe.
  • Pack it with you.  I always carry a backpack with me when I run. In fact it's my hydration as well. But before I head out, I always make sure I have a couple band-aids, a whistle (mine is built into the pack) my cell phone and extra snacks. And I always carry more water then I anticipate drinking that day.
  • Slow down and scan ahead. While you may be able to hold an 8.00 minute mile pace on the street or treadmill, DO NOT expect your pace to be the same. It will be slower, much slower and you will walk at times. I personally don't even bother to look at my pace on my watch while trail running, I prefer just to look at it for the distance. In addition to slowing down you will also want to make sure you are constantly scanning the trail for obstacles. Always look about 5-10 feet in front of you. 
  • Be safe. Always tell people where you are going. Stick to trails where you know you'll see other hikers. Stay on the path and never take shortcuts. And if the trailhead has a guest log, sign it. You just never know what will happen and it's better safe then sorry.
Most importantly get outside, have fun and don't forget to enjoy the view! 

Have you tried trail running? What tips can you add?

October 14, 2014

Silverman 70.3 Race Report

A little over a week ago we pulled into our RV site on the edge of Lake Mead, NV around 7:00 pm. I opened the door and immediately was greeted by a blast of hot air. My heart sank, I knew I was in for a hot race in about 36 hours. Even though I had been obsessively watching the forecast for the past 10 days, still I hoped maybe 93 wouldn't feel hot. Silverman 70.3 was here.

Saturday was spent hanging out on the lake hydrating in the shade while the rest of the family and friends enjoyed  "The Twins". While I had a relaxing day and enjoyed myself, I still couldn't stop thinking about the race and how it was going to go. Deep down I knew I didn't train hard enough and something inside of me told me this race would most likely end in DNF (did not finish). The day before the race was packet pickup and transition setup. This took much longer than I anticipated. T1 was located in Lake Mead while T2 was in Henderson 25 miles away. I arrived at the Expo around Noon on purpose to see what the temperature would be like the very next day. Hot, of course. I was sweating from the walk to the car to the packet pick-up. I went over to the merchandise tent and browsed at a few items. Normally this is my favorite part of the race but once again I doubted my abilities to even finish so all I bought was a $2.00 sticker. I'd display that little sticker somewhere if by chance I crossed the finish.
Do I have everything? 

Kids, hubby, the twins, and our dear friends.

Look how far out those buoys go! And I counted them all one by one in the water. 

Dude where's my bike?

That night I made a little promise to myself that I would just race with the intention of doing the swim and the bike. And by the time I got to the run and the hottest part of the day I would just call it quits if I wasn't feeling right. I went to bed that night with my normal pre-race jitters.

I woke around 5:45 the next morning (the benefit of staying so close to the starting area). I ate my usual oatmeal, peanut butter, banana, Luna Bar, Nuun breakfast combo. Do you think I would dare change it now? Paul and the kids dropped me off at the start and gave me a bunch of sleepy "good lucks and love you's!" They would later return to watch me come out of the swim. At the last minute I decided to grab my sleeveless wetsuit. The announcers told us the water was 80 the day before and that we could wear a wetsuit but we wouldn't be able to place on the podium. The morning of the race they did another water reading and the water temp dropped to 75. This race was now wetsuit legal so I decided to wear mine. I have done almost every race in my wetsuit and I feel comfortable in it so I figured I would wear it. The swim was uneventful for me. It's the part I love the most about triathlons. The swim was in the lake; out, across and back in. There was no current and it's a very calm lake when it's not windy. The swim took me 42 minutes. I was happy as this was faster than my previous half Ironman.

Transition was quick and off on the bike I went. The bike was hilly. It was either up or down. I saw a few crashes and bike parts everywhere on the downs! The course was beautiful and I enjoyed the scenery. It stayed cool for most of the bike but during one of the last aid stations it became hot enough for me to put on my arm coolers. What a difference they made in my comfort especially when I poured cold water in them. I paced myself and really focused on my hydration as I knew I had a long day ahead of me. The turnaround seemed like it was in St. George, Utah. I just kept saying to myself "it just has to be at the top of that NEXT hill." After awhile all the hills seemed the same. We finally exited Lake Mead and had a little bit of a break going down hill around mile 40 but only to be greeted with a monster and final hill at mile 50. I'm pretty sure at mile 50 several F-bombs spewed out of my mouth one happened to be in front of a police officer. My painfully slow bike time was 4:21 minutes.
Pain and suffering.
As I pulled into the run transition I grabbed my water bottle from the day before and took a swig of hot water. My GU was thin and melted. My race belt was blazing hot. My legs hurt when I jumped off the bike, really hurt. I knew I was in trouble. I wasn't even sure if I could walk. I sat down for a minute (only to jump up from the scorching hot asphalt) and gathered my thoughts. It was here that I looked for the exit (as in exit to turn in my timing chip). I was done. I stood up and told myself to just do three miles of the run. So I headed off on those three miles. I saw people walking all over the run course. I felt better knowing that they too were suffering with me. After 3 miles I told myself just do a jog-walk ratio for another three. I stopped at every single aid station to hydrate and dump ice water on my body. I'm thankful for the spectators on the course who were also handing out ice to runners. You don't know how much that helped so many of us. On the course I saw a few of my friends from Nuun. It was only a brief moment that I got to see them and exchange words but it was nice to see smiling faces. I enjoyed their encouraging words and it only made me want to push on a little harder. The run was three loops.
I think I am actually crying in this picture.

Before I knew it I had already done two loops and by this point I couldn't quit. Even if I crawled that last lap, I would finish. At mile ten I saw my family and my friends. They were jumping up and down and screaming for me. It was so inspiring and those last three miles all I could picture were their faces and I couldn't wait to hug them! Before I knew it I was rounding the last corner into the finish chute and I could hear them screaming. I also had two guys coming up on my tail that were trying to pass me those last 100 yards. They were not going to pass me, I took every ounce of energy left in my tank to not allow that to happen. Later when I looked at my stats I was running a 7:30 mile those last hundred yards. I guess I was determined!

Ha-ha take that suckas, you didn't pass this Mom!

My total time for this race was 8:02. It was a very disappointing time for me, but all in all I'm glad to have finished. There was no sticking around for any of the post race activities, it was way too hot for that. All I wanted to do was get back to the air conditioning of the RV, take a freezing cold shower and enjoy an ice cold beer.
Come closer children, I don't smell that bad, do I?
"Can we go eat now?" -said every person in this picture

Thank you to all my friends and family who cheered me on. And even bigger thank you goes out to my husband who has been a huge supporter and encourages me to always follow my dreams. He's the one who talks sense into me when I feel like quitting. He won't allow me to give up. It was his voice I heard in my head that said: "Ok you want to give up but just see if you can go a little farther." All in all he got me to the finish line and for that I am forever grateful.

October 2, 2014

Silverman, Seattle, Sound.

Silverman 70.3 is just days away. The packing has begun. I'll admit I'm ready to get this race over with. I don't have a good feeling about this one and at this point finishing within the time limits is all I could ask for. My body can't take heat and while the projected temp is no longer near 100 it's still in the 90's. All I can do is listen to my body during this race and not allow anything bad to happen since it is the start of Fall Break for the rest of the family. After the race we are heading north to Zion National Park for a week. I'm thankful the race is early on during the vacation so my friends and family don't have to witness this neurotic mess the entire trip.

Last week Paul and I enjoyed a little down time up in the Seattle area. We rented a boat and motored around the Puget Sound for 5 days. It was incredibly relaxing and romantic. It's always such a blessing to have a chance to reconnect with one another, since we both lead such busy lives. This was a crazy year and I admit at times he often came home from his trips to the "frazzled Amanda."

For 5 days we laughed, played, took in the tourist attractions, sipped wine and ate our way around Seattle and the Sound. We docked in tiny little seaside towns and explored all the ports. While some towns were great, others were not so much. But it didn't matter we had each other and NO SCHEDULE TO FOLLOW. 

P didn't really mind getting sent to the Doghouse

Poulsbo, WA

Poulsbo, WA

Getting our run on.

Doing the Seattle Underground tour.

Did you know there is actually a level below the city streets? At one point they made the city too low with the tides so they just covered everything up with cement and built on top!

Downtown Seattle
This was such a fun trip and a great way to take my mind off my upcoming race. We are already looking forward to going back someday and perhaps taking the kids...or not.