Plogging crew by the Prospect Park lake.

I went on my first plogging run today! Plogging is an activity that started in Sweden, a combination of jogging and picking up trash. It’s a nice complement to regular runs because a whole lot of squatting, twisting, and stretching is involved. It feels especially good for me right now when I need to just do a lot of easy running. My goal for all runs for at least the next month is to keep my heart rate below 144; during today’s run it averaged 137. Perfect.

My buddy Alex started the Plogging NYC Meetup group a while ago, and they’ve plogged in all five boroughs already. I got involved when he asked me a while ago to help lead today’s run in Prospect Park since I’m familiar with the trails. I love introducing people to the trails and was excited to plog, so that was an easy yes. We did a reconnaissance run a few weeks ago to figure out a 4-mile route, and the actual group run was this morning. The weather was good, the ploggers were enthusiastic . . . and we finished the run at Smorgasburg, a huge open-air food fair. It was fun.

Plogging isn’t going to solve the problem of plastic/trash dumping alone, but it feels good to do and does make a difference on the local level. A lot of people in the park stopped to talk to us, ask us what we were doing, and say thank you. That felt good.

If you’re interested in trying this out, you can get connected via Meetup, Instagram, or Facebook.

Mount Hood 50M race report (July 14, 2018)

View of Mount Hood from the first half of the race.

I’m having a hard time getting started, so here’s the “short version” of the Mount Hood 50 race report that I posted on Instagram, Strava, and Facebook a few days after the race:

This is it. Shuffle-run to the finish line, awkward jump to high-five the race director, and an attempt to smile despite having gone through some serious lows during the last few miles. I finished the Mount Hood 50.

I was very close to the back of the pack and honestly might not have made the cutoffs if the course hadn’t measured a tad short. The weather was HOT and there were some mean climbs in the last 22 miles. The views of the mountain were amazing, though, and the volunteers were the most enthusiastic and helpful ever. @gobeyondracing put on a most excellent (and environmentally friendly) event. All of the other runners were heroic. And the trails? SOFT! Pine needle cushioning!

Big thanks to @fransnyc for cheering me through the whole thing despite having a race of his own to run the next day. And to my dad for driving out to the middle of nowhere to hang out with dirty runners, watch me drain blisters at mile 28 (he documented it!), and catch me at the finish line. At which point I puked. It was great.

All the texts, emails, and Instagram/Facebook posts of encouragement from my Brooklyn crew meant a lot. Thanks, guys!

I’m gonna go sleep a little bit more now.

I can’t help comparing this race to the Bear Mountain 50k I ran in early May. That one was basically a 100% positive experience, executed with 100% confidence, despite the grind on the Long Path ridgeline and then at Timp Pass. This one was … NOT 100% positive, and nowhere near 100% confidence. I was fighting to talk myself out of quitting on my way into the mile 28 aid station, and I was fighting to keep going up the final 3-mile climb about 8 miles from the finish. I have no desire to do another 50 miler.

For background, my initial plan was to do the 50k at Mount Hood. But the lottery for the 50 miler opened up first and I put my name in … and got picked. Eek. Dummy. I didn’t have time to do a really solid 50-mile training plan, so instead I just ran the Bear Mountain 50k, took a week or two easy, and then rolled into a few weeks with 5- and 6-hour long runs on tough trails, which got me into the high 20s in long run mileage and the low 50s in weekly mileage. It was not ideal, but I was just hoping it would get me through the race in one piece. Here are the painful details:

Distance: 47.6 miles on my Garmin (I think it measured short for other people, too)

Total time: 12:53:24 (moving time 12:38:31)

Avg. pace: 16:15/mile (15:56 moving time/mile, EXACTLY the same as the Bear Mountain 50k)

Total elev. gain: 5,180 feet (a bit less than the Bear Mountain 50k)

Place: 128/135 overall, 49/54 women. I wish I hadn’t been quite so close to the back of the pack, but I’m trying to keep it in perspective: I finished 50 miles. Well, 47.6.

Goal: According to the spreadsheet where I record upcoming races and results: “Don’t die.” That sums it up. I didn’t know going into this if I would hit the cutoffs at mile 28 and 39. I barely squeaked through.

Weather: Thankfully the weather in this part of Oregon is much less humid than in New York, and it gets cooler at night, but it was still hot: bright sun and mid- or high 80s by midday. The course was pretty shaded except for one stretch between miles 28 and 34 (ish), which with the out-and-back was also miles 42-48 (ish). The final 4 miles of the race featured a bonus killer mosquito swarm, just to keep things interesting.

Logistics: I camped with Frans and some friends at Timothy Lake, and that was the BEST. I ate and slept well the night before the race. Our campsite was only 2 miles from the start and finish line, and I actually rode a bike to the start. My dad drove out for the day. The course was a double out-and-back: first to the north (14 miles out, 14 miles back, with crew at mile 28, which was also the start/finish), then to the south (11 miles out, 11 miles back, definitely the tougher part of the course). There were a total of 9 aid stations, and they were all amazing in terms of both food and volunteers. After-race cleanup when you’re camping is a little weird: I waded into the lake to rinse as much salt and sweat off as I could, then soaked my feet in a washtub with some dish soap by the campfire to get them cleaner. Despite my super-unsanitary blister draining operation at mile 28, nothing got infected.

Gear: Basically the same as for Bear Mountain, but with new insoles with slightly more arch support in my Altra Timps. I’ve been dealing with some pain in my left heel (above where it hits the ground, but not as high as the Achilles tendon) and I need to figure out if this is tied to the Altras, or the insoles, or something else. I taped a lot of myself (big toes and under front and back of bra strap) with Rock Tape, which prevented a ton of chafing. My middle toes, however, just recently started blistering, and this happened during the race. It wasn’t bad enough to affect my stride, but I needed to drain and tape them at mile 28.

Hydration/nutrition: I drank and ate well in the first half, less in the second half as it got hotter and I got more tired. Surprise. I carried water and Tailwind – the Tailwind gets harder for me to get down as I get further into a race, but it at least provides a few more calories. I carried a variety of gels (Clif and Hammer) plus some Clif Bloks, trying to get 100 calories in every 30 or 45 minutes. I grabbed small snacks from aid stations but mostly relied on the food I was carrying. I’d like to get better at eating aid station food at races.

Worked well: Gear, crew, and logistics in general were pretty dialed in. Also, despite all the angst, I finished the race. Recovery was pretty quick, with my left heel taking the longest.

Learned for next time: As mentioned, I don’t think there’s going to be a next time with 50 miles. At least not soon. But I’d definitely train more thoroughly for the distance, and do everything possible to get on at least part of the course beforehand to know what it’s like.

Up next: Reykjavik Half Marathon. Because half marathons are awesome, and Iceland is awesome.

Bear Mountain 50k race report (May 5, 2018)

Before the race, feeling a little giddy. Photo credit

Immediately after this race, somebody (I’m fuzzy on who it was) asked me if I’d do it again. The “yes” fell out of my mouth before I even stopped to think about it. Yes, I would do it again. Despite it being one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Here’s more on the race:

North Face Endurance Challenge New York 50k race, May 5, 2018

Distance: 30.73 miles

Total time: 8:21:20 (moving time 8:09:49)

Avg. pace: 16:19/mile (15:56/mile moving time)

Total elev. gain: 5,354 feet

Place: 14/21 in my age group, about what I expected. I would love to be able to do this faster someday. But I’m just so happy I did it and was able to keep a pretty steady effort over a very, VERY gnarly course.

Goal: Mainly to finish happy and healthy; closer to the race I was estimating an average of 15:00/mile for a finish time of 7:45:00, based on how my preview runs on the first few sections of the course had gone. My final time was a little slower than that but ah, whatever! It was an incredibly hard course and my six months of training got me to a place where I could complete it. Win.

Weather: Race-day weather was a little warmer than it had been in the weeks before the race, but it wasn’t extremely hot. There were a few spots on the course (lower elevation, breeze-free areas in the final third of the race) where I felt the heat getting me and intentionally slowed down because the last thing I wanted to do was mess around with heat exhaustion, but it wasn’t too bad. And it didn’t rain.

Logistics: We (being me, husband F, and friend F) rented a house and a car in Peekskill for the weekend and made our way up there the afternoon before the race. Race morning, we were up at 4am and out the door at 5am, then parked and in line for the shuttle bus to the start/finish area around 5:30. The bus was quick, so we were at the start area before 6, for a 7am start. Luckily, husband F brought camping chairs and blankets, I had my tea and instant oatmeal, portapotties were nearby, we found a few friends … the time passed quickly. I’m not sure what I felt at the actual start of the race. Petrified but excited? I knew the first 9 miles of the course pretty well so no surprises there. Crew was allowed at mile 21 and I had plans to meet F and F there, and that was one of the main things I focused on for the first two-thirds of the race. I was thrilled to roll into that aid station and see their faces. I topped up water, got a little more food for my pack (not that I would eat much of it in the last 10 miles), washed my face, reapplied sunscreen, swapped my wet hat for a dry one, assured them I didn’t need to change shoes, and with a few high-fives was on my way. The next (and final) 10 miles included Timp Pass and were tough. I walked uphills and jogged flats and downhills wherever I could. For the final mile we were back on trails I knew, and I was moving slow but feeling gleeful as I left the trails, crossed the parking lot, and tried to pull myself into a sprint across the grass and under the finish line arch. It wasn’t really much of a sprint, and out of nowhere I was about to start bawling, but then I saw F and F and a volunteer put a medal on me and there was a table full of oranges and I MAY have rinsed my head under a water-bottle-filling spigot and the sun was out and I got to sit down on the grass with my friends which was the best feeling in the whole universe.

Gear: Altra Timps with lightweight Darn Tough running socks and Dirty Girl gaiters kept my feet happy (or as happy as they could be given 8.5 hours of more rocks than dirt). I wore capris, an Icebreaker tank top, a light hat, and sunglasses, plus my Ultimate Direction UltraVesta pack with lots of food in it and two 500-ml water bottles (one water, one Tailwind slowly fading to water) in the front pockets. My Fenix 3 watch has a long battery life so I didn’t worry about that running out. I carried my phone, too, and texted the time I was leaving each aid station to husband F–cell coverage was very spotty but I think a few of the texts got through.

Hydration/nutrition: I was determined to eat 100 calories (either a Clif Shot or half a pack of Clif Bloks) every thirty minutes for as long as I could handle it. I also had Tailwind in one of my water bottles, and I tried to drink that as much as possible–again, as long as I could handle it. Then I picked up whatever looked tasty at aid stations, which were every 4 or 5 miles. I did pretty good at this constant stream of calories until around mile 21, and after that point orange slices and Coke were about all I could stomach. There was a delicious vegetable broth at the mile 21 aid station, and if more of that had been available I’d have been really into it. But with 10 more miles to go, I figured I could get by on oranges and Coke. I never felt much of a low-energy bonk, and I stopped to use the portapotty at two aid stations, so I think I was pretty well fed and hydrated the whole time.

Worked well: Training. The 50k plan from Krissy Moehl’s Running Your First Ultra book felt like a great fit for me. Also my spectacular crew. Also staying near the race the night before and the night after–that cut down on a lot of driving/travel stress. Oh, and starting to work out the logistics two weeks before the race was a really good move. That final week got hectic and I was glad I had my lists and plans mostly together at that point.

Learned for next time: If possible, do even more long hill/power-hiking workouts. The climbs on this course just. do. not. end. Especially on the Long Path ridgeline (around miles 12-13) and the Timp Pass climb (mile 28).

Up next: (whispers) 50-miler in Oregon in mid-July!

Bear Mountain 50k training: cycle 6/6

At the start line of the Bear Mountain 50k, feeling very unsure about what I was doing with my life.

The end of the journey!

Week 21 (4/9/18-4/15/18): Fine tuning. 47miles. Back into high mileage, but I’m not going to go beyond the 52-mile peak from two weeks ago! I did a midweek speed workout, which was kind of a nice change: 15 minutes warmup, then 6 sets of 5 minutes hard with 1 minute recovery jog between, then 15 minutes cooldown. The weekend long runs were hard – I did 20 miles on Saturday at the Rockefeller State Park Preserve in 72-degree sun, which was a shock after so much cold weather … and then 10 miles on Sunday at Palisades in 40-degrees-feels-like-34-with-windchill. Which was another shock.

Week 22 (4/16/18-4/22/18): Fine tuning. 38 miles. One hill/stair workout, one hilly run followed by stair machine, a few easy runs, and a final 18-miler up at Bear Mountain.

Week 23 (4/23/18-4/29/18): Taper. 23.4 miles. A speed workout early in the week, a few short runs, and a “long” run of 8 miles. Feeling weird not to be running a ton.

Week 24 (4/30/18-5/5/18): RACE WEEK. 39.5 miles. Super-light speed workout, a couple tiny runs, and suddenly it’s race weekend! I’ll write a separate post about the race report itself, but the summary is that I did it and it was amazing.

Total: 148 miles running.

Feeling: SO weird, confused, and unsure going into the race, and incredibly satisfied after it. Training pays off!

Bear Mountain 50k training: cycle 5/6

Steep snowy hillside, bare trees, clear sky.

Not actually a run. Appalachian trail in Harriman State Park.

Week 17 (3/12/18-3/18/18): Endurance. 45.2 miles. My training plan has some speedwork over the next few weeks but I’m swapping it all for extra hill work because the elevation situation on Bear Mountain is so intense. Lots of rock climbing this week. I tried for a long run on the 50k course in Harriman State Park but the snow was so deep it ended up being a hike. Sigh.

Week 18 (3/19/18-3/25/18): Endurance: 51 miles. I think this was my first over-50-mile week ever. I didn’t manage to do Saturday’s long run (20 miles) on trails–with serious snow earlier in the week, I was pretty sure the trails would be too snowy to actually run–so I ran 7 miles through Brooklyn down to Bay Ridge and ran a half marathon there along the water. 20 miles on roads was tough (okay, 20 miles anywhere would be tough) but I kept my pacing really even. Midweek long run (7 miles) was mid-snowstorm and awesome, though very hard. I did my workout the next day at the gym, alternating between treadmill hills and the stair-climber machine for 2 hours total. Hard work.

Week 19 (3/26/18-4/1/18): Endurance: 52 miles. Wow. This is hard work, you all. Have I said that already? But . . . I did it? Peak week of training, and most weekly miles of my life, checked off the list. The weekend was long: 5 miles on trails Friday, 10 miles on a section of the course at Bear Mountain Saturday (with a lovely crew), and 22 miles solo Sunday on the Long Path at the Palisades. I had a pretty good wipeout (scraped shin, nothing too bad) around mile 7 on Sunday but picked myself back up and finished 15 more miles. Finishing the 22 and realizing I’d kept a steady pace the whole way was just . . . wow.

Week 20 (4/2/18-4/8/18): Recover. 12.2 miles run/14 miles bike. Ahh. Easy runs, some rock climbing and strength work at the gym, probably a few too many ciders but overall an excellent recovery week.

Total 160 miles + 14 biking.

Feeling: Cautiously optimistic. I’m not gonna be anywhere near the front of the pack at the race, but I think I have what I need to finish in one piece.

Bear Mountain 50k training: cycle 4/6

At the top of the Beacon firetower.

I’m posting this so late! But here it is.

Week 13 (2/12/18-2/18/18): Endurance. 24.4 miles. This was a weird week in that it REALLY didn’t go according to plan – in the first twelve weeks of training I only missed two (minor) runs; this week I missed one regular run, one hill workout, and one speed workout! I didn’t feel very rested after last week’s “recovery,” plus my husband came down with a bad flu, and between all that and taking on too much freelance work I was lower on sleep and shorter on time than I should have been. Extending my recovery week, which is basically what I did, was a good thing, even though I’m feeling bad about missing workouts. I still got a lot of strength work in (two yoga sessions, plus some stuff at home and one rock-climbing session) and the weekend’s long runs were awesome: 7.6 miles with 3,000 feet of elevation gain on Saturday, then 12 miles flat but mostly snow and ice on Sunday.

Week 14 (2/19/18-2/25/18): Endurance. 38.6 miles + 13 biking. This is more like it! I was still feeling pretty beat from the weekend’s runs, but I dragged myself through a speedwork session on Tuesday, got in a long (8-mile) midweek run Wednesday, and swapped things around to do my Saturday long run (14 miles) on the treadmill Friday morning. It sounds worse than it actually was.

Week 15 (2/26/18-3/4/18): Endurance. 44.7 miles + 9 biking. As far as I can tell, this was my highest mileage week ever! Cool. It included a 7.7-mile hill workout, a 9-mile midweek run, and weekend runs of 15 miles (Rockefeller State Park Preserve) and 8 miles (Prospect Park). Plus quite a bit of rock climbing. I’m feeling pretty beat, and definitely ready for a recovery week.

Week 16 (3/5/18-3/11/18): Recovery. 15.4 miles + 0 biking. Lots of rock climbing and yoga.

Total:   123 miles + 21 biking.

Feeling: A little worried about the next four week. They’ll be my peak mileage weeks.

Bear Mountain 50k training: cycle 3/6

Bear Mountain was beautiful. But I’m glad there’s not gonna be any snow or ice there in May.

I just hit the halfway point! Overall I’m feeling VERY good. The hard stuff is hard, but it’s not knocking me out. I’m eating well and being much more deliberate about getting enough sleep (I actually write down how many hours I slept in my training notebook, which helps keep me honest). I’m trying very hard to be good about time management and healthy eating. Also, it’s super fun running in the woods every weekend.

Week 9 (1/15/18-1/21/18): Speed. 28.6 miles + 17 biking. Speedwork on trails is intense but kinda fun. This was also my first time throwing in some just-for-kicks hill repeats (like steep, power-hiking-style hill repeats) during my long run.

Week 10 (1/22/18-1/28/18): Speed. 36 miles + 15 biking. I got out to trails in New Jersey both Saturday (South Mountain) and Sunday (Palisades).

Week 11 (1/29/18-2/4/18): Speed. 35.7 miles, no biking. Midweek runs were lighter but weekend runs were longer at 12 speedy miles (Palisades) and 8 icy miles (Bear Mountain).

Week 12 (2/5/18-2/11/18): Recovery. 20.4 miles, no biking. This didn’t feel quite as “resty” as the recovery weeks in the first two cycles. I guess it was about 5 miles more than them, plus I threw some bouldering in, plus I had one very late night working at the Empire State Building Run-Up.

Total:  120.7 miles + 32 biking.

Feeling: Some awkward combination of hopeful (I can do this?) and realistic (there’s still a lot of hard work ahead of me).

It’s 2018!

It’s time for a quick review of 2017 plus some goals for 2018.

2017: I ran 1,106 miles total. That’s almost exactly what I ran last year and NOT very close to my goal of 1,500 miles. Oh well (*shrugs*). Mileage peaked in August as I was preparing for the Portland marathon and again in December as I got seriously into Bear Mountain training.

I ran 21 races in 2017, and I hope to never run that many races in a single year again! It was just too much, but a lot of it was chasing the NYRR 9+1 qualifier to get into the New York City marathon for 2018. My favorite race was the Breakneck Point trail half marathon. I raced my first duathlon and got a big kick out of that. I trained for and ran the Portland marathon, and even though I wasn’t thrilled with how I did I loved having so much of my family involved either as spectators or as first-time marathoners.

2018: I want to run trails, hike, and go rock climbing. I have my eye on five races this year (I’m actually registered for three of them already) and I really want to keep it limited to these: two trail ultras, two road half marathons, and the NYC marathon. I’m really enjoying the current training approach (4-5 runs weekly, 3 weeks on, 1 week off) that I’m following for Bear Mountain so I’d like to keep something similar going as I prepare for all of this year’s races.

I have a handful of wonderful running buddies, including my husband, and I want to keep spending time (and miles) with them. I need to stay focused on nutrition as I’m getting close to completely vegetarian. Sleep and recovery time continue to be hugely important.

I think that’s about it. Happy (belated) 2018, everyone!

Bear Mountain 50k training: cycle 2/6

Mission Trails Regional Park, right around the time I realized it was going to be a HARD run and not as many miles as I’d hoped.

Another four weeks done!

Week 5 (12/18/17-12/24/17): Hills and strength. 30.5 miles. Weeks 5, 6, and 7 all have a tough hill workout. I found myself wishing for longer and slightly steeper hills in Prospect Park.

Week 6 (12/25/17-12/31/17): Hills and strength. 34.5 miles + 8 biking. I bought a bike trainer from a friend and joined Zwift so I can do some indoor cardio since experience has shown I do NOT get outside on my bike in the winter.

Week 7 (1/1/18-1/7/18): Hills and strength. 27.5 miles + 6.5 biking. This week was a bit weird as I had a sick day (dizzy?! what?!) and we were traveling over the weekend so I ended up doing my hill workout and an easy run on a hotel treadmill. Which was rough. But Saturday’s long run was on some serious trails (Mission Trails near San Diego) and was both daunting and fun.

Week 8 (1/8/18-1/14/18): Recovery. 14 miles + 8 biking. I ate better this week than my last recovery week (vegetables! hooray!) and got mostly decent sleep.

Total: 107 miles + 22 biking.

Feeling: excited

Bear Mountain 50k training: cycle 1/6

Coach Fuzz.

Okay, I’m just posting a single training log for every four-week cycle of 50k training. Otherwise I’d spend my whole life posting training logs. And I’d rather spend my whole life either eating or sleeping. Or running on the snow.

Week 1 (11/20/17-11/26/17): Base building. 20 miles. Really fun to be doing almost every run on dirt. I’m so glad there are good trails in the park right next to our apartment – there’s a great 4-mile trail loop, and by adding on side trails I think you could easily run 7 miles in an “extended” loop without seeing anything twice.

Week 2 (11/27/17-12/3/17): Base building. 30 miles. Also doing strength twice a week – either the rock climbing gym or a yoga/myrtls/strength routine at home.

Week 3 (12/4/17-12/10/17): Base building. 31 miles running + 10 biking. Yeeeah.

Week 4 (12/11/17-12/17/17): Recovery. 14 miles. I was totally ready for an easy week, and it felt good. I didn’t really keep my nutrition or sleep on track like I should’ve this week, though.

Total: 95 miles

Feeling: good