Spring? Is That You?

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And just like that, winter is done.
Psych! Maybe 3-5 tonight? Ugh. I hope not. Ah, it is still April in Vermont. Any weather is quite possible until July.
Well, the flowers cry Spring. So, I’m going with it.

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Weather, smeather. Let’s talk running. And racing.
I added another ultra to the schedule. And my first race of the season is a mere ten days away!! Ready or not, the TARC Spring Classic 50k is fast approaching. I’ll toe (TLC I can hear you chuckling) the line the 26th of this month for their annual race.Wooooohoooooo!
I’d like to clarify that this may be a race. And I may be pushing myself. But, I fully expect to be DEAD FUCKING LAST for this one (earmuffs). I am slow. I don’t feel 100% ready for this race. I just got back to my long runs 6 weeks ago. Did I mention I’m slow?
But, darn it, I want to do it. I want to meet runners. I want to talk running. I want to eat salted potatoes. And most importantly, I want to run.
So, here goes.
Training has been pretty sweet. Just as my chiropractor predicted, I have been pain free for two weeks. So running has been pretty joyful. My head can wander while I’m on the trails without the constant whine of back and groin pain.
Friday was a 17 miler. At elevation, there is still tons of snow. But, at 650 feet we’re just a happy soggy mess. We hit a high of 78° F Monday. I think the temp Friday was a perfect 54°. It doesn’t get any better than that for running. I crack myself up avoiding puddling in the beginning, only to go stomping through them by the half way mark. Some of the trails were more swamp and river than dirt. >

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I’ll be grateful when the last of the frozen layers are gone. I punched through the trail multiple times, flailing around, looking like I was having a seizure. One leg would be submerged in a foot of water, the other sliding into a split. Meanwhile, my arms were looking for a dog tail to grab hold of. I’m sure Aggie was rolling her eyes at me.
I surprisingly wasn’t sore on Saturday. This is my 1st long run without soreness the next day. My hip flexors are usually pretty tight afterwards. I’m hoping as my overall fitness increases, this won’t be a problem. Any thoughts about how I can spot strengthen my hips flexors?
Hubby and I spent a leisurely last day at Okemo doing pipe runs on hero snow. Note to self: you will look like a big nerd your 1st time using a T bar. And have the bruises to prove it. *how did I avoid using a T bar for 20 years of riding??
Me and Aggie have been running 10 to 15 hours per week. I’m hoping to increase to twice that by mid June in preparation for the VT100K. We’ll see if me and the girl can achieve that goal.
Speaking of my sweet girl, Aggie won’t be coming to Massachusetts with us next week. BUT, I have a week off of work afterward, so maybe she and I can do some recce’ing then. It’s going to be epic! So much exploring to be done.
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Please say a prayer for me that I can swallow my pride on race day and be okay with DFL.

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid-o
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Tentatively Trotting

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Here I am, eight weeks after the worst of the pain has subsided. My chiro cleared me three weeks ago to try some running. I was so afraid to re injure my psoas, it took me five days to believe her and try a run. And it was the most glorious two miles. EVER.
It was slow, it was awkward. I loved it. AND it didn’t hurt. I think my last pain free run was in September. I love you, Doctor. You work miracles.
We’ve had a few more snow storms, in the meantime. I passed on snowboarding when storm Vulcan gave us gobs of snow. (My Tahoe friends are bristling). Our local trails are so deep with layers of ice and snow. It’s hard to believe Spring is a mere week away.
We have a few more nights scheduled of sub zero temps. Is this really March?
Oh well.
Aggie is so excited to be running again. Her dad stepped in a bit when I was layed up. But not as much as I would. She’s my running partner. I try never to leave laced up without her.

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We completed an incredible 10 miler yesterday. It was tough going. I could feel my lack of base. But, I was running. And I could barely take it for granted. I’m happily sore in my Glutes today.
The snowy trails are awesome for building lateral strength. Anytime I’m off trail, it feels like cheating, it’s so effortless. This winter, we invested in Micro Spikes. They’re on the heavy side, but, again, great for training. My feet feel light as air without them.
So, with this new confidence, I’m learning to love dirt roads. Really. This time of year, they feel like a gift. I’d been dreading that 75% of the VT100 is run on dirt roads. Now, not so much.
Speaking of the 100(k), I’m on track to follow the 16 week plan for training, courtesy of Google. It’s the New Zealand Ladies Ultrarunning Club training plan. I’ll put a link to it in the next post.

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I have a couple of 50k’s in the next 6 weeks. One is a late edition. More soon.
Think Spring!
Oh, one last thing, I think chiropractors are amazing. If you can, try one. Mine has done amazing work on me. I had no idea I could feel this good. She helped heal my psoas pain, aligned my hips and relieved my chronic neck pain. She has been really affordable and so worth every penny. I feel like she’s given me a new body to run with.
Thanks for running(!!!!!!) with me,
Astrid

Mornin’ Running

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Morning!
I’m mostly a morning runner. Here are some of my favorite shots from my beautiful Vermont mornings. And a couple from a recent trip to Spain.
Enjoy!

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Running continues to be a real joy for me. How’s your running going?

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

Getting Inspired

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Last week’s running, post VT100 volunteering, were some of the best runs I’ve had. I felt strong, relaxed and capable. I’m not sure what changed, but I feel more determined than ever. Watching so many strong athletes do what needing doing, convinced me to stop navel gazing. It’s time to clear your head, pokey trail runner. Just go. No excuses. Run this gift.
Friday was the return of ‘Long Run Friday’. I ran a solid 24 miles. No bonking, no boo-hooing, no complaining. Best of all, no injury. Nothing hurt, beyond the usual next day soreness. Thank you, God, for clearing the path. New shoes helped, too. Thank you, Hoka, for making awesome shoes. (My Stinson had 550 miles, it was time for their retirement and replacement with the Mafate 3).
This weekend, hubby and I are volunteering at the Moosalamoo ultra in Goshen, VT. We’re sweeping the course, with the hopes of getting in 20-22 miles. Pretty psyched for new trails. Yay, more miles and more runner peeps. My favorite kinda weekend. I promise a better photo session than my Vermont 100 post.

And now, for something completely different….
I’ve been struggling with my writing here. Instead of slogging through self reflection, I’m going to share something else. Here’s a sampling of my favorite thoughts on running. Some you may have already seen. Others, well, I hope you enjoy them, too.

Run if you can, walk if you must, crawl if you have to, but never stop. ~Dean Karnazes

There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my life. But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint. So, too, are you. Find your own play, your own self-renewing compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be. ~George Sheehan

Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the
world needs is people who have come alive. ~Howard Thurman

Describing his Naked Wrist philosophy, Ben Horne wrote:
But speed is not the only point. Racing is about pushing yourself — and to do so psychologically, having a watch may even be a distraction. Going fast is nice. But a time is not the goal, rather the best experience is what we strive for.
I kept that thought in my head every time I looked at where my watch was supposed to be and reminded myself that time wasn’t the goal. The enjoyment of the experience, and all that goes with that…the pain of the climbs, the triumph of the summit and the freedom of the descent is what is most important.

We need these wild places…. Even if we do nothing more than drive to the edge and look in…. For they are the Geography of Hope. ~Wallace Stegner

Learn to remain comfortable and confident when the mountains are throwing challenge after challenge your way, and while everyone else is slowing down out of fear and inexperience you’ll just keep plugging along comfortable, confident, and passing runners you have no business keeping up with. ~ irunfar.com

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” ~ John Bingham

Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” ~Isaiah 40:30-31

Sometimes it’s better to experience than to understand. ~ Running and Rambling blog.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. ~Helen Keller

A special series of events has been planned for me today. I shall not miss it. ~ Each Day A New Beginning

Own your convictions and have the courage to sign your name to them. ~ Running Is Mental blog

I also realized that it made no difference how I looked when I started, just that I started. …..
I guess, because it helps to see that you can start from just about anywhere. That it’s not too late. That it is worth it! ~Moore on Running blog

Well, most days, the answer to that question is oblique at best and downright pathetic at worst, but if I have succeeded in getting in a run that day, the mundane, superficial, sometimes-hard-to-define stuff is a little easier to justify and that is why the long solo run is a place of such solace. When I am running, alone, on the trail, with only the sound of my breathing and my foot plants in my head I have no choice but to unitask. Nobody can call me, interrupt me, or usurp my moment. Is this selfish? Perhaps. Is this my way of detaching myself from the Real World? Certainly. Is this some sort of an “escape” for someone who can’t handle the demands of 21st Century society? I’ll let others be the judge of that.
What I do know is that my run allows me to find some sense of balance. It allows me to address the good and the bad on my terms and in my time. It gives me the opportunity to slow down and breathe and it allows me to do one thing and one thing only. In an age when doing one thing at a time is generally frowned upon, I like to think it gives me joy. And, at the end of that run, that’s all I need. ~Bryon Powell irunfar.com

my feet flew like eagles
my heart knew no boundaries
my spirit dreamed that the trail would never end ~ UltrarunnerGirl blog

If you want to take the island, burn the boats….Whatever your boat is, burn it. Instead of protecting yourself so that failing won’t hurt, use that fear of failing as one more reason not to fail.
And if you fail — and make no mistake, you might — I promise it’ll be good for you. While everyone was sitting on the couch watching Dancing with the Stars, you were out there trying. Making progress towards something. Doing instead of watching.
If it doesn’t work out, is that really something to be ashamed of? ~No Meat Athlete blog

Today’s run was indicative and emblematic of what I love about running. No matter who you are, no matter how fast or slow you are, no matter how much you care and no matter who is looking, running, the sheer act of getting out there, makes us better. Running makes us better at who we are and running makes us better at who we want to be. In fact, for those of us who truly embrace it, running is who we are. And that, for me, is enough to get me out there again tomorrow. ~Andy Wilkins-Jones on irunfar.com

I’m not stranger to suffering in life, but this is the first time I have been in completely control of how much I suffer. I can pull the plug at any time, or I can challenge myself physically and push my body to new levels. That is so rare, and I should be grateful for it. I choose my poison. I can drink it gladly. ~Vanessa Runs

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You guys continue to inspire me, too. Please keep telling me all about it.

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

A Blogoversary!

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Amazing! One year ago today, I posted my first vttrailgirl blog post!
I’m currently celebrating by icing my sliced leggies and reading a gift copy of Trail Runner.

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Sorry, I’m guessing you don’t care what my legs look like. But, Saw Grass is no joke. Here’s the proof! I actually celebrated by doing an easy 8 miler. I hadn’t planned on another run this weekend after Friday’s 14’er. I was pretty jazzed, though, for a celebratory run. It was so worth the near-ninety degrees and full humidity.
It was an awesome sweat fest. I loved it.
Some portions of the trails are completely overgrown. Hence, the grass fight. I lost. I covered my calves, but not the thighs. They look tough now. Oww.
I hardly get in two great runs back-to-back. Mostly ’cause I’m cooked for the week, except for smallish morning runs before work. When I have the right attitude, however, it doesn’t matter if my body is tired, running feels like pure bliss. Sometimes, running is truly 90% heart and 10% fitness.

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What a year it’s been. I spent a little time flipping through my posts for some perspective. I’m incredibly grateful to be running injury-free, have a supportive family and at having lost about 40 pounds. Not to mention the friends I’ve made, the new things I’ve tried via running (say, tackle a 50K) and adventures ive gone on. And I keep shaking my head at the audacity I had, at running a mere three miles, declaring to my husband “I’m gonna run a 100 miler someday”. I haven’t lost that dream a year later. It’s what caused me to document my adventures here, that crazy statement.
I definitely feel blessed and humbled. I’m looking forward to another year of trail running and blogging.
Here are some of my favorite shots from the past year.

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Any blogs I should check out?
Thanks for running & celebrating with this grateful girl,
Astrid

New (To Me) Trails

Whoops. Runners restart.

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Finally. I got out of my running box. New trails. Today is Long Run Friday. No racing this weekend, so a long-ish run is just the ticket. AND it’s been a month since I’ve had a Friday off for playtime!

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The West River Trail runs roughly along route 30 in Southern Vermont from South Londonderry to Brattleboro. It follows the West River on an abandoned railroad bed.

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I love my bread and butter trails. They are my staple running. But, I needed a destination run to get pumped up on this week. Notice what’s missing? Yeah, no rain! A first in months!

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I also needed to get a break from bush whacking.

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We ran out about seven miles, from South Derry, through Winhall campground, past Angel Falls. Hubby and I went to Ball Mountain Dam this past March. About a mile before that point, we turned around for a return seven.
I’ll blame the dog for keeping the mileage around 14. I’m still trying to keep the dog alive. Heat + many hours running= peeing-on-the-floor-and-bed. Poor girl. There’s the pill for that. So says the vet. For now, less than four hours is Aggie’s max trail time.

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The trail is mostly gravel and pine needles. And flat. I’m grateful the scenery is so extraordinary, cause the trail itself is fairly uneventful. I love hills. And there are some short stretches through more rugged terrain. The half mile lead up to Angel Falls is an up and down with real shade.

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We swam as much as we ran. I actually walked as much as I ran. I am not in as good shape for distance as I was in early May. My hip flexors are as tight as ever. I’m not sure how to alleviate this Any thoughts for strengthening them?
Nothing a little Aleve doesn’t fix, for now.
I’m incredibly grateful to run long today. I’ve been a little blue the last week. So much heat, even more humidity. And not enough work on the recovery portion of my life. I’ve started making the necessary adjustments. Now, to continue the forward momentum so I stay out of the bad neighborhood that is my head. Having some distance running in the mix helps soothe this busy brain.
I love the post run lazy afternoon. I realized on my run my Hokas are blown out. So, I spent a little while online while rolling around on the couch. I thought I’d order another pair or Stinson Evos until I read about the Mafate 3.

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They’re supposed to be wider in the toe box and more stable. Sold. My Stinson are incredibly stable, but way too narrow for my big footsies. Here goes. I’ll let you know how they are. SO EXCITED! I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. They should arrive in time for my volunteering gig at the Vermont 100 next weekend.
My blogoversary is on the fourteenth. One whole year of vttrailgirl’ing. Any ideas for a way to celebrate?
Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

The Rain Can Stay, The Humidity Has Got To Go

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This is what a sunny day looks like. We do occasionally have them here in Vermont. We had the wettest June on record, with 15″ inches of rain.

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Most mornings, we have a brief interlude of sun before the usual afternoon deluge. I’ve been working a ton, so the rain isn’t unbearable. I run most mornings, catching a little Vitamin D before work.
The trails are swamp like. Beautiful, but steamy and thick with mud and bugs. Aggie could care less about the messy trails. She simply wants to play. I could do well to take a lesson from her.
I’ve been struggling with hip/groin pain. It’s not a deal-breaker, but a serious nuisance. I’ve been run/ walking more than I want. So, I foam roll. Okay, I SHOULD foam roll. I do ice. That’s the easy part. But, wait, rest? Naaaah. I’m much nicer when I run.

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Since my last post, I’ve done a twelve miler, two races and two respectable weeks of mileage. I’m so pleased with with all of it. The highlight was a five mile trail race Saturday I ran in 1:01:37. I took a full 14 minutes off my time from last year! It was a slippery mud fest. I’d
say half of the 150 racers took a spill in the slop. But, oh-what-fun! AND I was fast! Well, not fast, but fast for me! My friend’s kiddo calls me Fastrid. I accept. Better than the embarrassing Gastrid. Yes? Ha!

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I missed you guys. What’s new in your running world?
Astrid