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12 In 2012: Into The Wild OC Trail Run 10k

I am not a morning person so when I'm getting up at 5:30am for a race a 8am, I'm not feeling so photogenic.

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No matter, I had to be up for a 10k trail race yesterday morning and per my last three races, a picture was necessary.

Friday night I went to bed with a fully carb heavy tummy and lots of nerves. Saturday I would be waking up early for my very first trail run. Not only a trail run, but my first 10k this year and I was running it alone. I had everything laid out, my alarm on and lots of my mind so sleep evaded me for a few hours when I thin I finally passes out due to exhaustion.

5:30am comes fast when you fall asleep around midnight. Up I went into the kitchen and I start a new pre-race routine. After you read this routine and see my results, you will probably agree with me that this is a winning routine I'll have to stick with.

Pre-Race Routine

5:20am: alarm blares. Smack the phone in hopes to shut it off.

5:30am: alarm blares again. Shut it off, curse a little and sit up. Wish to just fall back to sleep.

5:35am: stumble into kitchen and begin heating water.

Breakfast routine:
  • Flaxseed mug muffin
  1. 1/4 c ground flaxseed
  2. 1 tsp cinnamon
  3. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  4. 1 tsp butter
  5. 1 egg
  6. Sweetner (I use one packet of Stevia from Trader Joe's)
  7. berries froze/fresh (optional)
  8. Mix together all the ingredients in a mug/microwavable dish. Microwave for 1 minute. Eat nom noms.
  • banana
  • via Starbucks house blend instant coffee

5:40am: eat breakfast and drink coffee. Since it's so early and no one else is awake, enjoy the quiet solitude and read a book.

5:50am: get dressed and snap an unattractive picture using the bathroom mirror to document your resolve to follow through with your resolution. (See above). Use the restroom while you are in there (might as well).

6:05am: start stretching routine using the foam roller. Focus on the IT bands, piriformis, and calves. Try not to injure self before even leaving for the race. Sip on water or Gatorade, which ever is close enough to grab.

6:20am: shake out my now rolled muscles and take a dose of Aleve.

6:25am: use the restroom again.

Then it was time to leave so I packed my goodies into the car and took off. It was pitch dark and a little chilly but not too overcast. I was really worried it would be damp or rainy and that would make the trails mucky so I was glad to see that the ground was dry. I felt so alone on the road, that was until I hit the 57 freeway and had to fall into place in the fast paced flow of traffic.

As I arrived at the regional park holding the race, I was happy to find that they allowed racers into the park free of charge and I joined the train of cars making their way to the very back parking lot. Making my way with the others, I noticed an empty parking lot and an outhouse. Figuring everyone and their mother here for the race would be using the same restrooms pre-race, I jumped out of line and pulled into the parking lot to use the restroom. That was a smart move. There were no lines and clean stalls.

Once I cleaned up I popped back in the car and made my way to park. Groups of people and individuals milled around the grassy area, in different states of stretching and warming-up. I joined in and started my warm-up which included jogging from my car to the start line and then back to a further restroom and then back to the start line. Once I felt a slight sheen of sweat on my back, I started to use my stretching routine.

I focused on my hips and ankles while I hopped, skipped and jumped my way around the damp grass.

Race time was upon us as they called for the 21k runners to start. It was a smallish operation, no megaphones or sound systems to announce the start time. Just a guy and some little girls ringing cowbells and lots of happy faces as they took off to run. Having done as many races as I have lately, I enjoy these smaller crowds. There is something more personal about it and having my own issues with crowds, I liked the lack of overwhelming energy.

Then it was our turn. The races were separated by about 30 minutes because the 21k runners would start out on our path and then take a different route. Then we followed along the same route but turned off around 3 miles. We laughed as the organizer explained our route, that it was mild and low on hills till the very end. Oh how funny, giving us hills when we are most tired instead of at the beginning when we have the most energy. Either way, my adrenaline was pumping and I was ready to start.

And he was right, the beginning of our path was mild, with some low hills and a start on pavement. Then, as we carried on our little way, the pavement continued forward and we veered right, off into the gravely path away from the park.

Personally, this was an awesome race for me. I felt awake and alert and most of my aches/pains stayed away until about mile 2. That's a good start for me as the pain has a tendency to start up quickly. I ran with my GSP clicking away my milage and my running playlist pumping out the beats. 1 mile....2 miles....at 2.7 miles I checked my time and I was just cresting 31 minutes. I hit the first steep, short hill and passed the water station.

I passed my 5k point under 35 minutes, a personal best. This was huge. Not only did I best my past record of 35:08 for 3.1 miles but I also ran continuously for roughly 3 miles. That was a first. I still have a tendency to walk/run 5ks but not yesterday. Yesterday I ran, kept a moderate pace and found my rhythm. It was awesome and exhilerating. Exactly what I needed to finish out that last 5k.

By 3.5 miles I was hurting and frustrated that even with my stretching and rolling routine and the training I had done in the weeks prior still did not keep the pain away. I started to log away in my thoughts that I needed to see a doctor and make sure what I was experiencing was just an injury due to running, something I could care for and heal. And not something more serious.

Just as I was starting to lose heart at the fact that I still had another 3 miles to run and I was starting to feel tired, Skrillex's Bangarang kicked on and I felt an upswing of energy kick in. I pushed through the pain with a walk/run pace until I meet with the next water station where I sipped some water and prepared for the hills. We were now over 4 miles into the race, more than half way done and we were about to climb through some switchbacks and turning hills.

For some reason this portion of the race was exciting to me. I walked more of it than I wanted to but knowing that the moment I hit the water tower at the very top all I had to do was allow gravity to pull me forward and I'd be over the hardest part. And hard it was. But I was right, once I rounded the corner and saw the large gated water tower I found another boost of energy and pushed my feet to run the rest of the race. I finished in 68:48, a record breaking time for me.

My last 10k in September 2011 was run in 82 minutes. But with all the training and the downhill pull, I was able to finish in my best time ever. I even set myself a goal to reach. I wanted to finish in 70-85 minutes but surpassed that by a little over a minute. As the finish line came into view, the tears started to fall and I crossed with a hugh smile.

Photobucket

My follow up routine has consisted of icing, foam rolling, stretching, Tiger Balm and lots of Advil and Aleve. And I plan to take this week off of working out entirely so that I can give my hip a rest. Lots of ice and a call to a doctor are in the works to make sure nothing is wrong.

I've got some time before my nest race in April to rest up, take stock of what I need checked and what is working for me. Having coffee before the race was a first and that seemed to work really well. I had stayed away from adding coffee to my pre-race meal due to my concern that it would cause heartburn or an upset stomach. But with more than two hours before the race to digest and some water after, it seemed to settle easily and gave me some added stamina.

Thanks to the Into The Wild OC Trail Run  group who put on the race. It was a smoothly run, well organized race. I'll definitely do it again next year!

Realistic Goals: 10k Trail vs 10k Road

I've done a number of road races ranging from 5k-10k over the last two years or so. I've even attempted a 3.9 mile mud run so I've gone off road before. Tomorrow I'll officially run my first trail race and it's a 10k.

Before I go into a race, I usually gauge how long it should take me based on past races. If I've run a 5k road race in 35 minutes, then I aim for that when I race the next 5k.

As I prep for tomorrow's 10k with lots of healthy carbs and water and stretching, I'm thinking over my past 10k races and realize I can't base this race on anything I've done before because it's nothing like what I've done in the past.

Humph.....that sucks.

So knowing that I ran my very first 10k on mostly flat ground in 82 minutes, I'm trying to set for myself a goal time for this trail. I'm keeping in mind I'm running a 5k in about 35 minutes right now. Doubling that would put me at a 70 minute 10k, 12 minutes less than 2011.

Sorry while I pause to do a little happy dance in celebration of my improvement over the years. ::::happy dance::::

I was smart and visited this trail and even ran it a bit to see that it's intense but doable. It's got some high elevated areas with steep inclines and rocky declines, some flat hard packed dirt paths with a slight uphill grade and some pin-tight switchbacks. 

Because it's a different race than my previous 10k attempts, I'm thinking a reasonable goal would be to try and finish in between 70-85 minutes, giving me room for the difference in terrain and the hills. 

Now to update my playlist to include some Skrillex and Deadmau5 to give me that musical boost I'll need when I feel like giving up around mile 4.

Wish me luck and pray for NO RAIN!

Skinny Taste Recipes and Success

I'm always on the look out for tasty, easy and healthy recipes. Not long ago, someone introduced me to Skinny Taste, a great website with lots of different recipes and all reasonably healthy.

So far I've made three recipes and all with major success. One I've memorized and have been requested to make every weekend since discovering it. Below are pictures and links to the three I've made so far.

Please, do yourself the favor and check out Skinny Taste! It's been a great site for healthy meals so far!

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

My first attempt was a stuffed pepper soup. I made it with ground turkey instead of beef and use one full green and one full red pepper. I try to get peppers of similar size. I also play around with different flavored tomatoes.

This so far has been the biggest hit. The Guy loves it and when all his friends visit, they chow down like it's their last meal. I serve with brown rice and French bread for dipping.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

My second attempt at a Skinny Taste recipe was a crock pot chicken taco chili. I adore crock pot meals that need at least 9 hours because my days are long and anything shorter than that will end up overcooking or coming out dry. This was awesome and very filling. My son helped me make it and we put it together before leaving for school. When we returned home, the chicken fell apart just looking at it and the whole house smelled amazing.

I did pull out the chicken breasts and break them up on a plate while adding a little salt for flavor. This was another hit!

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Now we've recently been slammed with the flu bug and both my little guy and big guy got it. Poor guys were stuffy and feverish for a while but after they felt better their noses just worked overtime with the dipping and the blowing. So I figured it was a good a time as ever to make some comfort foods like soup.

Last night I made this recipe, a chicken pot pie soup. Sound hearty right? Well it was! It came together pretty smoothly (although the pot did boil over once or twice) and when it was all said and done, we barely let it cool before scarfing it down with many ahhhs and yummms. The guy even claimed it was better than any chicken pot pie he's had, even better than Marie Calendars!

So far I'm 3 for 3 and I'm up for attempting more. The site is set up with the WW points for the meals and the calories per serving. Even though it's offered, I tend to log the recipe here so that I can have all the data like fat, protein and fiber.

My only warnings are these: the recipes produce big batches so either cut them down to your preference or share. I tend to leave some with my guy and send some to family members. I also make the big batch to last for lunch throughout the week. Secondly, they can start off a little bland due to low salt/sodium. So flavor to your liking. I've yet to make a recipe and leave it as it came out. I find myself adding a touch of salt and pepper when it's done.

I'm becoming a huge fan of Skinny Taste and I can't wait to see what else I can cook up!

Stress Fracture

Stress:
  1. A physiologic reaction by an organism to an uncomfortable or unfamiliar physical or psychological stimulus. Biological changes result from stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, including a heightened state of alertness, anxiety, increased heart rate, and sweating.

  2. The stimulus or circumstance causing such a reaction.

Stress, it is something we all deal with on a regular basis. There is eustress and distress. Life is balance of these two things, the good and bad, the positive and the negative.

But what happens when a sensitive system (like myself) has a heightened amount of both the positive and negative? Heightened so much that they practically cancel each other out and life is just a sea of constant change and heightened emotional static?

I'm unfortunately finding out what it means to be thrust into the cold waters of the unknown.

I'm under a lot of pressure, both for good changes that I can't believe are happening and I'm super excited for but also for the bad things, the ones where I wake up and don't want to leave my bed for fear of what lies ahead.

I can feel all of this noise and interference throughout my day, the static of my brain unable to stop processing both the positive and the negative that surrounds me constantly. It's like walking around with headphones on; the left one is playing a steady stream of white noise while the right one plays a constant flow of exciting instrumental songs. There is no reprieve. It's constant and suffocating.

Underneath the noise and the insistent interference is a steady foundation blossoming. I'm finding that I am a strong person and I'm learning how to build my life, my faith, my views based on what I believe. Not on what I was taught to believe and not on what I was lead to feel. But instead on what I know is true.

Sounds wonderfully existential and mature, right? Well I wouldn't describe it as such. It's more painful and unsettling. To find that everything you held dear is no longer something to trust is devastating. And even though I've chosen to wipe away all I know and rebuild based on what I want to believe, it's bittersweet.

Growth is wonderful in hindsight but painful to go through. Pain doesn't even begin to properly describe the feelings and thoughts swirling within me everyday. And when I say everyday, I'm not being melodramatic. It is constant and tiring.

I could be a bigger person and look at the bright side only. I could see all I'm learning and the tools I'm gaining in the wake of this storm. Instead I can't help but cling to all I thought I knew as it dies within my arms.

Some days I am the bigger person and I readily take all that I'm learning and I'm happy for it. And thankfully I have someone to be happy with. And then there are other days when I'm not so strong and my frightened inner child is fearful and dreading the unknown. On these days I shut down and hold fast to that someone in hopes we survive the onslaught.

I'm tired. Tired beyond my bones and deeply saddened. I just want a break, a little reprieve from the waves crashing against me. I know I'll survive because that's what I am, a survivor. I just can't help but wonder what the damage will cost. 

For now I can only take a step forward and hope there is solid ground beneath my outstretched foot and that a new fracture doesn't appear as I rest my weary soles.

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