Monday, September 19, 2011

Take it... to the limit....

The 8 in the Rough is touted as...
"...a fun, challenging and almost endless course of twists, single track, a bit of wide xc ski trail and park roads. It's not flat, and it's not dry. Pack your energy and have at one of the most exciting, hard core trail runs of the season in Western New York!"
 ...and they ain't lyin'!

Yesterday, I learned my limit.
A friend, and fellow runner, put it into perspective today (more on that later).

But first, here's the story.
You know I've been running a lot this summer, more than I ever have before.
I'm getting better at it, tho I still don't consider myself a runner.
I have to work hard at it - it doesn't come naturally like swimming or biking.
Running really challenges me.

But I LIKE that challenge.
I like being stubborn and saying "no, dammit, I'm not giving up"... even when I feel I'm making no progress at all.

Oh.. and you also know I've been totally digging trail runs, right.  (No?  Go here)

SO, when I was signing up for races this summer and saw "8 in the Rough" - an 8-mile trail run in my "backyard" I thought... hmmmm, might be tough, but might be a fun challenge, something to shoot for.
So I signed up.

I honestly wasn't sure how well I'd do in this race.  I never ran this distance before (5.5 and 6.5 miles were the closest I got - and one was in a rain storm (with lots of thunder & lightning) where I was literally running for my life).
One thing I did know was the awesome feeling I get when I run the trails.  I wondered if this "high" could carry me through the 8.5 miles.

And if the race was strictly a mental game, I could have done it.

But, it isn't.
So I didn't.

I made it to the 6.5 mile mark (I had actually started walking around 5.5, but there was no way out of the race except forward, so I kept moving).

What happened?  My hip started to really bother me.
Yep, the same hip I injured last year two weeks before my 1st triathlon. (I blogged about it here)
It was okay when I walked, but the pain flared up when I ran.

So when I came out of the woods, I bagged it.  I turned in my tag and went home.

Did I feel defeated or disappointed.  Yeah, a little, I guess. 
But more importantly, I felt proud of my accomplishment.  I completed 6.5 miles on a VERY challenging trail.

My friend and fellow runner (who I mentioned above) perfectly put it into perspective for me...
The 6.5 miles we ran on the trail today, equate to about 12 on the road.

This made me really proud of my run.

I learned a few things while I was out there...
I learned that I'm not ready for that big of a challenge (yet).  Maybe I'll never be... we'll see what next year brings.
I learned the REAL reason why I run - for fitness, for calorie burn, and for the trails,
and I confirmed that I'd rather be slow and happy runner (without pain) than push myself to place 18th in a race that really means nothing in the grand scheme of life.

That won't stop me from running in organized events... it's fun to run with others in a friendly competition... but I won't let it break me if I finish dead last or DNF entirely.

It's all about getting outside, being active, and having a good time.
Hope you had some good times outside this weekend.

Monday, September 12, 2011

12-of-12: September 2011

I wasn't sure I'd complete my 12-of-12 today.

I spent much of the morning doing a brick (bike/run) workout, so I was tired.
Plus, I was all "snapped" out from taking pictures at the Dirty Girl Mud Run on Saturday (click here to see those).
Plus, it's Monday, and I didn't really have anywhere "special" to go... until I decided to take my puppy-girl for a walk in the park.

Sprague Brook Park in Glenwood, NY is a gem.
It's huge.  It's beautiful. And, most days, it's so peaceful.

Today was no exception.

Being a Monday, we had the trails almost entirely to ourselves.  We walked along at a leisurely pace and tried to capture some of the unique aspects of "our woods".  Here's what we found...

Eastern Newt
Coral Fungus

"Thumb Tack" Mushrooms

Cute & Fuzzy Fungi
First Fallen Leaves
Trooping Funnel
Mossy North Side
I hope you enjoyed your walk in the woods with us.  Come back next month when the leaves promise to be in their full Fall splendor!

Thanks, Chad Darnell, for starting the 12-of-12 Project!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dirtiest 5K to date

I'm kind of surprised that I'm still awake...
Yes, it's only 8:00pm, but it's been a busy day.
A DIRTY day, too.
Today was the Dirty Girl Mud Run!
3.1 miles of mud, sweat, and obstacles... made for an AWESOME good-time!

So here we are... all pretty and clean... ready to run... 
Me and my sister
Team Brave Tarts
3000 women... need many port-o-potties
We're all checked-in... it's time to RUN!
... and then the obstacles begin...
(apologies for any of the low-res photos... 
I was using a throw-away camera during the run - to catch ALL the Dirty Girl action!)
The Barn Burner
Water Pit
The Wall (highest section is 8' tall)
Blurry action-shot, on the trail
Tire Pump
... then a little more running...
The weather was nicer than it looks here
... then back to obstacles!
Utopian Tubes
What?!  More running??
Cargo-net climb
Me, snapping a photo of Jamie (pink shirts)
My photo of Jamie!

Finally... we arrive at the finish line...

 What an amazing day... this run was all about fun... and it exceeded all my expectations.
I can't wait till next year!

Extra special thanks to my Dad, for being our team-photographer at the start/finish lines.  He took a bunch of great shots with my Digital SLR. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Turn the Page... Tuesday

It feels like Fall today.  It's crispy cool, there's a chance of rain, and I'm all snuggled up on my pillow seat talking about books.  So nice.
It's also Tuesday, September 6th - the first day back to school for many of the kids I know. AND... it's Turn the Page... Tuesday (brought to you by our good blogger-friend, Adrienne).  Check out Some of a Kind to learn more, or to join in each month to talk about the book(s) you're reading.

So what did I read in August?
As usual, my eclectic tastes took me all over the world (and the time-space continuum).

I finished Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson.  It was the final book in his Sprawl trilogy based in the future where people jack into computers to live (and trade and steal) in an alternate reality.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, it's The Matrix meets Blade Runner... and so much more.  I quite enjoyed the final chapter in this series, happy endings for most of the characters and a nice wrap up of the plot lines.  I'll admit, Gibson's writing style is not the easiest to follow all the time (it feels like you've walked in on conversations sometimes - missing the important explanations so you have to "catch up" while reading), but this challenge adds to the intensity of the stories.
If you're into sci-fi dystopic worlds, read this trilogy... it won't let you down.

I was let down, however, by the second book I read... Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors.
From the Author's website -
Set at the height of the Mughal Empire, Beneath a Marble Sky recreates the remarkable lives of those responsible for the Taj Mahal's existence. From the famous lovers who inspired it, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, to the architect who designed it to the man who sought to destroy it, Beneath a Marble Sky recounts the stories of those who oversaw the rise of the world’s most famous building. 

Maybe I shouldn't say 'let down' - more like 'not wowed'.   
This book had been on my shelf for at least two years.  I don't remember if it was a hand-me-down from a friend or if I picked it up in a book sale... but from the blurb on the back cover it seemed to have an interesting story to it.  I had hoped this could be a book I recommended to my Book Club.  It sounded like it had everything we all love to talk about - historical fiction, character interactions (the political side of romance, for example), and a setting unlike the one we live in.
It just didn't seem to grab me... it felt predictable and unoriginal.  I didn't LOVE any of the characters or root for them to succeed.  I wished I had been given that feeling, but it just didn't happen.

After Marble Sky I had to make a choice... read one more book that I could use as a Book Club recommendation or move on to The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (our September Book Club selection).  I tried to do both.

I started Jacob de Zoet.  I'm a few chapters along in it.

I also started Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.  
We all "know" the story... but do we really know it?  I've never read the book, but I hear it contains a lot more than the story of the crazy doctor who creates a monster.  It's about the struggle of life and acceptance, the quest for immortality and the conflicts in science.  I'm also curious to read it because the author is a women.  Writings like this, by women, were very rare in the early 1800s.  I want to know (and want to talk about) Mary and why she created a story like this.  I hope it's selected by the Club, but if not, I'm certainly going to read the story on my own.

That's all for this month, thanks for stopping by.  I think I'll go make some tea, snuggle up with the dog & a blanket and read for a while.  Hope you have a chance to do the same. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

99/100 Challenge - Success!

It's September 5th - the last day of the 99/100 Challenge.

First, many thanks to Elizabeth & Tee for throwing down the gauntlet this summer. 

So, how did I do?
Well, see for yourself... here's the grand-sum total of all my activities these last 99 days.
Want to see EVERYTHING (all my workouts, that is)?  Go here.

As you can see, thanks to the Challenge (and a couple Triathlons thrown in there), I made it!

115.2 running miles

I'm SO proud of myself.

I still don't love to run, but it's become a very important part of my life.  I didn't run yesterday and I was yearning to go (the plan was to do a long trail run again, but my sore muscles from Saturday's strength-training workout and the rain stopped me from going).  I never would have thought I'd actually WANT to run.

I should point out... that in addition to each of us achieving great levels of fitness, there was a "not just about me" reason for this challenge... to help others less fortunate than we.  Elizabeth and Tee selected Shepherd's Pantry (food pantry serving the south coast of Massachusetts in Fairhaven) as our cause.  I decided that I would donate 1/2 of my running mileage to Shepherd's Pantry - which brings my amount to $57.60 (I'm going to round it up to $60).

$60 is actually a pretty interesting number since many of the races I participated in this summer cost $60-70 to join.  So, it only makes sense that I pay my 99/100 Challenge "entry fee" like I did with all the others.

So what's next on the list of challenges??  This coming weekend is the Dirty Girl at Emery Park (5K with obstacles!!  Can't wait!) and the following weekend is Sprague Brook Park's 8 in the Rough (haven't committed to this 8-mile trail run yet, but I likely will do it).  October is another (5K) trail run at Sprague Brook the Autumn Challenge so, you won't see my running mileage drop off any time soon.

How about you?  What's your next challenge?