Whoa it’s 2016 already?

Creeeeekk….What’s that? Oh the sound of this blog slowly being pulled open again after nearly 8 months. That’s right I’m BAACKK. The past 8 months have been some of the busiest of my life and for my sanity I had to put the blog on the back burner for a while.  I can happily say in the last 8 months I’ve graduated nursing school, begun the process of moving to New York City, and most importantly spent more time running than ever before.

This past summer I ran more trail miles than I ever thought I would before, and one of my favorite days was spent alone running up and down Mount Adams in northern New Hampshire. Besides escaping to the mountains I also ran my first Fell Race, which if you haven’t heard of this style of racing you need to check it out! I would love to see more of these in the United States. I also got my butt handed to me at the Wapack Trail Race. I thought it would be smart to run 18 miles of trails, in 85 degree heat, having only a long run of 10 road miles under my belt….let’s just say I bonked hard and it if wasn’t for the help of two dudes named Bob I would have probably gone home in an ambulance from dehydration/heat stroke. As summer turned to fall I backed off from racing and just tried to put in some consistent miles between finishing my last semester of school. I figured spending less time blogging, and more time running was a good trade off.

Right now most of my time is spent hunting for my first nursing job. I was going to write how excited I was to announce my plans to run the Vermont City Marathon this spring, however last week I finished a run with a familiar nagging pain in my foot. I am assuming it’s another stress fracture but haven’t been able to get an appointment with my doctor because he’s on vacation. Until then I’m wearing the boot that I had from the last stress fracture I had (on my other foot last time). It’s a real bummer but I’m trying not to get too bent out of shape over it because obviously I was pushing too hard and need to back off for a bit. In the meantime I think I might join the local YMCA and try doing some pool running/swimming to keep my fitness up in a low impact way. Some good news is that I’ve got a new product review and giveaway of the SLS3 dual pocket running belt coming up this week. Stay tuned to hear my thoughts about their new product, and for your chance to win one of your own.

P.S.  Here’s some pictures I was able to scrounge together from the past 8 months, that’s all for now!

Post Fells Race

Post Fells Race

Top of Mt. Adams

Top of Mt. Adams

My first DNF from this fall

My first DNF from this fall

Half Marathon the day after the Fell Race

Half Marathon the day after the Fell Race

After the 1st climb up Bretton Woods Ski Resort

After the 1st climb up Bretton Woods Ski Resort

Advertisements

Trail Running Film Fest coming to Concord!

Trail Movies, Beer, Friends! What could be better than that?!?! (except maybe peanut butter?)Film Fest Photo

 

This week I’m going to be attending the Trail Running Film Fest being put on by Rainshadow Running.  I first heard about this online from The Ginger Runner, and I was pumped to find from my local running shop that the festival was making a stop in my area. This Wednesday night you can see a ton of films all about trail running! The films start at 6pm at Red River Theaters in Concord.  Runner’s Alley will be there raffling of some gaiters, gift cards, and  giving $5 coupons to each person attending.

If you want to know more about the films being shown head over to The Trail Running Film Fest website here, and you can buy your ticket in advance here. I’m pretty excited that they’re making a stop in NH (which can sometimes be a pretty boring place) so check this out Wednesday night cause it should be a great time! Who wouldn’t have fun with movies about running, beer, raffles, and friends!

 

Favorite Things Part Two: ENERGYbits

To continue with my favorite things part two is about ENERGYbits! I first heard about ENERGYbits on twitter and started joining in on their weekly twitter chats. It was a great way to learn more about topics related to nutrition, running, exercise, and a great way to connect with other athletes. Their community manager at the time Jonathan is also a November Project tribe member so that made me immediately interested as a former member of the Boston tribe.  Anyways so what are ENERGYbits and how do I use them?TwitterHeader_Energybits_Tin

ENERGYbits are a pretty unique source of fuel/energy because they’re considered food! Specifically algae. Now don’t gag yet…they’re not slimy or smelly or anything like that. ENERGYbits are dried, pressed tabs of algae that you swallow, and only contain one calorie per tab (you can chew but I don’t recommend it, they do have a real “green” flavor that way). If you want a complete breakdown of what ENERGYbits are here’s a link to their website, but they are just one ingredient, spirulina algae. Spirulina algae is one of the most protein dense foods (64%), and contains around 40 other nutrients including a lot of B vitamins. The algae used in ENERGYbits is 100% organic and Non-GMO.energy bits nutrition

So why are they one of my favorite things, couldn’t I fuel with gels or other sweet treats? The answer is I could and to be honest I do still use gels sometimes. The reason that I often use ENERGYbits though is because of the type of energy I get from them. I find that when I use them I don’t feel a surge or boost of energy that I can get sometimes from gels (specifically caffeinated ones), but I find my energy stays more level throughout my workout. This is why I still supplement with gels when I do feel I need a little boost, but most of the time if I’m already feeling good before a race ENERGYbits work just fine. I also like bits because I’ve never had an upset stomach when using them. Sometimes my burps will taste a bit green, but I never get GI distress from ENERGYbits. Since they provide a more constant level of energy and focus I also sometimes use them when I’m not working out. I’m in a full time accelerated nursing program so I have really long days of lecture almost all week. Sometimes for those afternoon blocks I’ll pop a few bits if I feel that I’m fading. I notice a difference and find that I can focus better and stay more alert after a serving of ENERGYbits. Over the past year I’ve found them to be a great source of constant, easy to digest energy.

If you’re looking for an alternative to sugary gels to fuel your workouts, and want something that only contains one ingredient give ENERGYbits a shot. In fact ENERGYbits has been kind enough to offer one reader a sample of ENERGYbits to try! Just enter through the Rafflecopter link below (wordpress won’t let me post the widget)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Disclaimer: I’m not a dietician or Dr, I’m just sharing my experience with ENERGYbits and would urge you to make your own decisions about what foods/supplements you decide to consume)

 

Goals for 2015

This year has been full of ups and down, but mostly ups! Since I’m still rehabbing my knee and can’t run as much I’ve decided planning for races I can’t even run yet is a better idea.

Run a 1:30 or less half marathon

When I ran my first half last spring I had no real expectations, all I knew was that I wanted to run sub 1:45. I surprised myself by finishing in 1:34! I probably could have gone faster but I was holding back a little bit because I had no idea what running 13.1 miles would be like (and that beer I drank at mile 9 slowed me down for a little bit with all the carbonation).  I really want to run more halfs next year. I loved the combination of distance and speed required to run a good race so I’m hoping next year I can PR and run 1:30 or less.

Finish marathon training as a healthy runner

Last season training started out great, but as the miles increased and school began I definitely got thrown out of my rythym. This caused me to bunch long milage together, skip workouts, and try to play catch up. At the time I was so focused on getting the miles in. Instead I should have been focused on staying healthy. With bad training habits, less sleep, and more stress my body started to revolt. I ended up with some pretty bad Patellofemoral Pain (Runner’s Knee) that I still haven’t gotten rid of. My knee and I have been in quite the on again, off again relationship for the past few months. The good news is that it’s getting better, and I really like the new PT I’m working with. Next year I want to run another marathon, but I want to do it smarter. I know if I would have been healthier I could have run a much better race.

Run some trail races

At the end of this year I really started to fall in love with trail running. I ran cross country in high school but never really thought of it as trail running, however this year I started running more trails in hopes that the surface change would help my knee pain. It didn’t really make much of a difference but it did spark something inside of me and I found myself being drawn into the woods more often. I like the lack of traffic, people, and distractions. It’s a different experience feeling totally focused in on what you’re doing step by step. When running the trails you’re almost laser focused in on each step, it’s not as easy to go into autopilot. It’s kind of counter intuitive but it feels more meditative than road running to me. I don’t know if it has something to do with being more present and in the moment, but I find it easier to leave life’s distractions behind, and just focus on not falling flat on my face. I can’t wait to take more time to run trails next spring, especially because we just got state park license plates to entry to all NH state parks is free!

If I’m healthy run a 50K by the end of the year

I’m really just throwing this out there but I want to run a 50K. I know it sounds cray with how badly I crashed and burned on my marathon this year, but I’ve heard from others it’s a very different kind of challenge and its just something that’s been lurking in the back of my head for a while now. I know this goal will only happen if I can stay healthy next year so I’m just gonna wait it out and see how things go. If it happens in 2015 that’s awesome, if not there’s always next year!

 

End of year update!

With the end of 2014 approaching I thought would reflect on some of the changes this last year has brought to my life…

Running has become a passion

Technically I started running again at the end of 2013, but I really didn’t start getting serious about it until this year. I didn’t make a new years resolution to become a runner again, but it just sort of happened. During the first part of the year November Project definitely pushed me, and once moving back to NH I found inspiration to keep going through the online running community. There are a lot of really great people out there that I’ve never met in person, but have still inspired me to continue pushing myself further than ever before.

I ran my first 13.1 and 26.2

First 13.1

First 13.1

This year I ran my first half marathon as part of a two person relay during the Vermont City Marathon, and then my first full marathon at the Maine Marathon in Portland. At the time these two distances were the farthest I’d ever run before. The best part about that is that they were both PR’s!  I’m glad that I accomplished both of these goals, even if the marathon basically broke my body (still recovering). I’m looking forward to new types of races, and distances next year.

Maine Marathon Pic

First 26.2

 

I’ve learned all about running injuries

Although I’ve had some rough spots along the way, often times feeling as if I’m moving from one injury to the next, I have learned a lot more about the human body and how it responds to training. I’ve had to deal with ITBS, a stress fracture, and now some PFPS that I can’t seem to shake. Today I actually had an appointment with a sports medicine doc who put my mind at ease by reassuring me that I hadn’t permanently injured myself. He was able to prescribe a PT/Chiro that he thinks would be a good fit for me, and then I’m going to follow up with him again in 6-8 weeks. This is the first time I’ve ever been excited to start PT and I’m trying to keep a positive outlook on next season even if right now I’m going stir crazy. This year I’ve learned the importance of rest and recovery. Hopefully I can use this knowledge to help me start next year as a stronger smarter runner.

Injury #1 of 2014

Injury #1 of 2014

Completed my 1st Semester of Nursing School!!

I feel kinda dumb saying this since I have friends completing Medical and Dental Schools, but I never thought nursing school would be so hard. I’ve put more time and effort into studying and staying on top of my work this last semester than I ever did during undergrad. It hasn’t been easy but I can happily say that I gave it my all. I finished the semester with good grades even getting an -A in my hardest class Patho/Pharm. Bring on the next semester!

I started this blog

This was the first time I’ve ever consistently blogged, and the first time I’ve really spent reading other blogs. I’ve learned a lot about running, fitness, and diet this year and a lot this is due to my time spent writing and reading running blogs. I still feel self-conscious/nervous every time I push the “publish” button on wordpress, but it’s something I like doing and has kept me motivated/accountable more than anything else. It’s nice to get my thoughts out there, and sometimes just the act of writing things out whether I publish them or not has helped me focus my brain a bit. Putting so much time and energy into school has been the main reason I haven’t updated my blog as much but I’m hoping next semester when clinicals start I’ll have more time to stay up to date. No matter what 2015 throws at me I feel ready for new challenges!

[PS I plan to put out a post about my goals for 2015 soon so stay tuned]

 

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

This was a much more successful week for me. Not because I accomplished something big, I didn’t run very far or very fast, and I didn’t accomplish the milage goal written on my training schedule. This week was successful because of the small victories. It’s not news that I’ve been feeling a little disappointed with my running and eating lately, but this week I made some small changes that I’m hoping to build on next week. For me if I try to change my routine too rapidly I just get overwhelmed and sit in a static state on the couch, frozen in place.

The first thing I did was meal plan! After eating some healthier, homemade, non-processed, or restaurant made meals I found myself waking up feeling more refreshed. I just feel better when I eat better, and I certainly run better. Even though I only planned for the second half of the week, since I was in VT until Tuesday, starting small has brought back some inspiration. I’m looking forward to starting next week off on a positive note.

My second small victory was getting some somewhat pain free running in. I had some achilles pain which went away but was quickly followed by patellofemoral pain syndrome. I’ve had this before and my sports doc says it’s basically irritation/inflammation beneath the kneecap. Unfortunately the only thing I can really do for it is rest/ice it. This only allowed me one 8 mile run while in VT 😦  On Wednesday I still upheld my #verbal for November Project and showed up to Harvard Stadium with my friend Christine who was visiting from the Denver tribe. I walked about half the stadium and made sure once I felt a little tightness in my knee I stopped before things started to hurt. Thursday I woke up expecting to feel soreness but my knee was feeling ok. Unfortunately I was waking up at 3:30am to get back to work.

After a really crappy at work I came home feeling exhausted and grumpy and not in a mood to run. After a semi-unintentional nap I basically shamed forced myself into going running. I knew I would just go short since I didn’t wanna push my knee too hard. Jogging up my hill in the light rain and cool breeze took my mind off everything else stressing me out. I don’t know what came over me but I was drawn to the trail behind my neighborhood. I usually run most of my miles on the road just because that’s what I’m used to and pretty much all my races are on the road. For whatever reason this trail run was exactly what I needed. The light rain and overcast sky left the woods enveloped in a misty haze. It felt like I had left civilization behind, and I liked that. It was just me, the trail, and my shoes. Even though it was a short three mile loop this run really left me feeling rejuvenated. My knee felt good, and my mind felt clear. Sometimes it just takes a change of pace to get back on track. This run also made me want to start running trails more often, even inspiring me to buy a pair of Merrell Allout Fuse from 6pm.com on killer discount.

I know this was a longer read than usually but if you’ve stuck in there through my poor sentence structure thank you! I chose the Emerson quote at the top because I feel like it perfectly summed up my feelings about this week. I’ve learned I need to be more patient with myself to get back on track; something I hadn’t really thought about until after my stress relieving trail run.

 

I think I fell off the wagon?

After last weekends long run I feel like I fell off the wagon. I can safely say it was my worst run ever. I thought the dehydration fiasco was bad, but this was a different kind of bad, a worse kind of bad. Don’t worry I’ll get to that.

As I already admitted during my last brief post I’ve been a bad blogger as of lately. I think I was in denial but last weeks run has lead me to also see I’ve been a bad eater, and even a bad runner the last few weeks. Without my weekly meal post to keep me accountable I haven’t been eating too great. I’ve reached for more convenience foods, and because last week was my birthday I ended up eating out quite a few meals for “celebrations”.

On top of bad eating habits I also haven’t run as much because after my November Project workout a few weeks ago I had a sore achilles. I attribute this to my lungs cashing a check my body couldn’t cash. I had the cardio to run a stadium PR which got me a picture with Phoebe the PR Pig; however my joints/muscles/tendons weren’t used to so many stairs and my left achilles paid the price. This made me miss my long run two weeks ago, plus half a week of training. It doesn’t sound like much, but trying to bounce back this week I’ve felt a difference.

Phoebe the PR-PIG

Phoebe the PR-PIG

These two lapses caught up to me Saturday during my long run. It was the most miserable 18 miles of my life. I had GI issues, muscle cramps, fatigue, and I swear I touched “The Wall”. I’ve never been the type to “walk-run” during workouts but I was forced to for about 1.5 miles. I just felt zapped. I couldn’t get leg turnover, my form was awful, and I could feel myself slipping into a survivor shuffle at mile 15. I probably wouldn’t have finished the 18 but my girlfriend Kate was nice enough to ride along on her bike for my last 8 miles so I could have as much Nuun for hydration and samples from my RunnerBox for fuel.  After the run I was totally useless. I had to lay down on my lawn, could barely stand, and slept like a zombie while Kate drove me to the store to get ice for an ice bath.  I’m just happy I finished, but it was a real wake up call for me. It also helped me see how important nutrition is for my running. I know eating out so much last week hurt me a lot. I’ve got to get back on the horse and back on track or else this fall marathon isn’t going to happen.

Has anyone else had a similar experience? Ever fallen off your fitness horse? How did you get back on track?