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

Stupid Psoas

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I’m not running right now. I’m five months away from the big day. I’m supposed to be training for the Vermont 100K.
This was going to be an ‘inspirational’ post about my new eating habits. About all the deep powder days we’ve had.
But I’m friggin injured. The crappy truth is my brain is telling me it’s forever.
My psoas is messed up. It’s either a torn muscle or a bursitis.
And I’m mad. It hurts all the time now. I walk with a limp. My quad won’t lift my thigh. My right butt cheek is on fire.
I love running. I love the routine. I love the fight. I love being tired from a long run. You get the picture. And I’m not running. I’m not even able to walk the trails.
I’m on a strict diet of rest, ice and anti inflammatories. There’s nothing else to do. I’m going a little nuts. I’m playing a lot of Solitaire and petting Aggie.
So I pray. I pray for healing and patience.

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Those are a lot of ‘I’ statements. Sorry.
In the grand scheme of things, I know in my heart, I’m incredibly blessed. This is only temporary. There are lots of folks out there with a hundred times worse health issues. I’m sorry if this is an inconsiderate post. I know you guys will set me straight and get me off my pity pot.

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Thanks for letting me vent,
Astrid

It’s Official

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Well, I’ve committed. It’s official. I signed up for this year’s VT100K. The race is July 19th. I have six months to get my butt in gear. *gulp*
Yup. It seemed like a good idea…while my finger hovered over the register button.
Aggie thinks its a great idea, of course.
I am excited, but apprehensive. 62 miles is twice as far as I’ve run, yet. I can try, right?
Here’s to dreaming big!

Thanks for sharing my big news,
Astrid

Powder Day!

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Two feet of fresh, fluffy snow fell on Southern Vermont last night. My excitement was so high, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning.
After some sweet powder turns at the hill, we took Agatha for a little romp. She had lots of deep snow to navigate. I love watching her race around in drifts higher than her shoulders. She is pure joy when she plays. I can’t help but smile as she flys by.
Fifteen minutes was enough to earn her a contented place in front of the wood stove.
Hubs and I are also vying for a hearthside spot to warm our tired muscles. I’d assumed I was in decent shape. My weekly running mileage is okay. But, deep powder is a quad burner. And the later, more chopped-up trails had my legs on fire hopping around van-sized moguls. Hooray for cross training. Finally.
Okay, NOW I’m ready for winter.

What a splendid end to a cold and crappy week.

Thanks for riding and running with me,
Astrid

Feet Relief

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Warning: Geeky Shoe Review Ahead. Hoka haters should exit left now.

I’ll be the first to admit, I love gear. Paddling, snowboarding, climbing, running. I love all the stuff that comes with the sport. Especially running gear (duh).
More pointedly, I’m nearly obsessed with Hoka One One shoes. Every runner I see with a pair is a new friend I want to meet. I lovely pour over pictures online. I talk to my shoes.
I fell in love when I slipped on my first pair, the Stinson Evo. It was truly flying, as promised. For my second pair, I moved to the Mafate 3, and fell mostly in love. Now, the Kailua Trail have graced my feets.
You know the Michelin Tire ad where the Michelin man falls in love each time a new tire comes down the assembly line? And then seems to fall apart as that tire proceeds on down the line. That’s me. I fall in love easily, then mourn that love’s passing, only to be starry eyed as I see my new prospect approaching. I started running, this time around, in a tired pair of New Balance. When my toes started to show through, I did some poking around (more puns) online. I felt a bit sad to discard my 1st love. Until…I saw THE shoe. I settled on Hoka sheerly on looks alone. Colorful and odd looking. I was in love/crush.
Crush led to a happy love story with Hoka. I put over 500 miles on my first pair, the Stinson Trail Evo. It was a beautiful thing. Since I’m a pokey runner, time on my feet is a better measure of shoe wear. 300 is probably a more appropriate measure. Maybe that’s the average life of Hokas. Not sure. Anyway, I knew around 250 miles on my Mafate that I should find another pair. I thought I’d move back into the Stinson. My Mafate were a little clunky on technical trails. I was experiencing some ankle pain that wouldn’t go away. It wasn’t bad, but I thought I should mix it up. While getting ready to order another pair of Stinson (I’d shop locally, but the closest place to buy a pair is two hours away), I stalled. Maybe lighter is the way to go. And less expense, to boot.
I’ve only run a few times in the Kailua. Like I said earlier, I fall in love easily. They’re awesome. The Kailua is still everything that Hoka is known for, but lighter and peppier.
My favorite part of Hoka is the downhill running experience. The Kailua still offers fun on steep downhills, despite being less padded. I do feel a bit more aggressive in them, versus the Mafate. While running, I can feel the weight difference between the two. Only a paltry 3 ounces, but I guess that makes a big difference in motion. And they sit a full inch closer to the ground, though I don’t feel less cushioned. While running in the Mafate, I often wished they were lighter and smaller. I tripped a bit on technical trails, but ran happily on smoother terrain. I got my wish with the Kailua, without compromising comfort.
I know some of these points may already be obvious to those familiar with Hoka One One. For those not familiar with them, the Kailua might be just the shoe to get into the maximal movement!
So far, the Kailua feels pretty grippy on rocky trail. There’s a variety of terrain here, right out my front door, so I’ll have to keep you updated on the more mountainous stuff. After this post, I’m headed out onto my first run on snowy trails of the season…hopefully it will eat up the white stuff as well.
The shoe looks narrow, but isn’t. I have really wide feet, so I ordered a half size up, with success. If you’ve never worn a pair, they stretch quickly, so I’d take this into consideration when trying them on.
My only gripe with the Kailua is minor. It’s the traditional laces. I’ve been spoiled by Hoka’s speed laces. So I’m doing a little surgery and swapping out the Stinson laces for the slippery and annoying new laces. Hopefully, the Kailua comes out in some more obnoxious colors, too. I’m a big fan of brightly colored kicks.

Here’s the stats for the Kailua Trail:
Heel to toe drop: 5mm
Weight: 9.3 ounces
Rocker: Some
Tread: Multi-directional lugs
Price Tag: $130

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Thanks for running with me,
Astrid

50K Training: Seven Weeks To Go

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I’d thought I’d be ready for a six hour run this past weekend. I wasn’t. ‘Long Run Friday’ turned into ‘snowboarding in summer Friday’. It was a glorious, steamy day on the hill. Corn snow and mash potatoes abounded. I love working on my goggle tan. No pictures, please. I imagine I may only have one or two days left to the season. I worked at wringing out every last ounce of joy from the day.

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I was about as far as I’ve ever been from wanting to run this week. My five hour run last week kind of ebbed my interest in another long run so soon. I know, I’m in training, i need to learn to push through low spots. But, my running rebirth has been nothing but joyous, and I’m not ready to compromise on this feeling. I’m sure the time will come when I’ll have to expand and use more of the tools in my kit. Right now, I’m committed to keeping running fun. Period.
So, I supplemented. In addition to riding, some hiking was in order. Last week, we had some fifty+ degree days (I know, crazy, huh?). We checked out the largest earthen dam in the US, Ball Mountain Dam in Townsend, VT. There’s a big kayak festival here in mid April when forest service does a dam release. Hmm….maybe there’s a return to kayaking in my future. I was really only there to do some reckying for a new long run route. I’ll keep you posted on that. For those who want to check it out, google West River Trail in VT. It’s a 36 mile combination of mountain and rail trails, with the potential for an awesome ultra…

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This is Aggie leaping with glee after being cooped up in the car for hours of Saturday/Sunday driving.

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Hubby and I impulsively committed to a three-ish hour loop run together. I usually run solo, with just my Aggie girl. The last time J and I ran together was in November. I love the solitude of my runs, but I’m learning to be more of a team player. Hahaha. It was good to have company, but I relish my solo efforts.
So much of the snow pack has melted away. Some of the 12 miler was ice, some not. There will probably be snow til May on the shader sections. Some of the trails were torrential rivers. Shoulda taken pictures. Twice, my Hokas almost got sucked off by ankle deep mud. Aggie loved it. She was covered with mud, head-to-tale. I bit the bullet and went straight through both kinds of Spartan fun. I wish I had TWO pairs of Hokas for the 50k, just in case. Running in dripping wet, cold shoes is a recipe for DNFing. Despite the muck and ice, I’m really grateful for a change from the usual heavy, slow, snow-covered trails. They were new and different and fun. AND I was able to go a touch faster. You know, I may have actually resembled someone RUNNING!
Actually, it felt good to push. And to be touching REAL terra firma.
As I said before, I’ve been listening to running podcasts, like Trail Runner Nation. One in particular highlighted author Tim Noakes’ book Waterlogged. In it he talks about hyponatremia. In short, we are drinking way more water than we need. So, I tried to stay away from the sloshy water stomach I usually have. On this particular run, I just drank to thirst. I think I normally drink way more than I need. We’ll see, I’ll keep messing around with what works for me, especially as the temperature rises.

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This is Aggie after a long day of snowboarding. She was spent.
Hope everyone had a family filled Easter.

Thanks for running with me,
Astrid