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Running

Word vomit on expectations

Last Wednesday, after the girls were tucked into their beds and after much procrastination, I headed out the door for a run. It was raining, as usual, and it was that special kind of bone-chilling cold outside and so gloomy and generally just kind of awful. I told myself to just go out there and do whatever I felt like doing. Worst case, I could just run to the dog poop trash can, a measly one mile return trip.

By the time I made it to the trash can, my muscles were already good and warm, so I decided to run up and down my training hill a couple of times. Of course after that I felt fantastic and I got all high and continued for six miles, which is a lot for me for an after-bedtime run. When I came home, I was in full-on skravlepus mode and JK had to endure my overly excited monologue for 20 minutes before I was able to calm down and shut up.

Most of that monologue was about expectations – about how my best days on trail tend to happen when I’m expecting it to suck. It makes sense that if you’re expecting the worst, the reality will usually be better, but that’s not really a great way to go through life. “Well this is going to be awful.” Okay, so hopefully your run (or meeting or workday or whatever) isn’t going to live up to that grim expectation, but at that point, you’re just suffering in advance of the event instead of during it.

What worked for me last Wednesday was that I truly had no expectations. An absolutely neutral mindset. Now that is a special sort of headspace magic that I usually can’t attain.

But! If a neutral mindset is the way to go, how do I reconcile it with also attempting to be all gung ho WOO I’M GONNA ROCK THIS? It sounds so good in theory, being all zen-like and living in the moment, but doesn’t a neutral mindset also mean that you can’t really look forward to anything? Because that sounds awful too. Setting goals and looking forward to them are huge happiness boosters for me, and they pretty much can’t exist without expectations.

Where am I going with all of this? I have no idea. Maybe next time I have a really good run, I’ll have some sort of grand epiphany and figure this all out, but I don’t expect (heh) that to happen anytime soon.

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Running

Scenes from the trail

Well, this winter has been very wet. And very cold. The last time we had a shitty weather year like this, I was just about ready to defect, but this time around, I am as in love with Washington as I ever was. (In fairness, that blog post was written in mid-July and now we’re only in April. Ask me again if we’re still living inside a cloud come summer.)

Redmond Watershed

(This photo is titled ‘Pacific Northwest Child Sees Sun’)

What’s changed? I’ve embraced the magic of (a) lowland forest trails and (b) trail running. It started back in 2013, when I grew tired of depending on sunny days for my mood to lift. Instead, I hit the trails on Tiger, Cougar, and the Redmond Watershed no matter what the weather or month, and learned to love the feeling of soft rain drizzling on my face. Running and hiking the same trails over and over and over again may not sound very interesting, but it feels really rewarding to see the changing of the seasons, especially these days when the trees are a little bit greener with every visit and the trails are, uhm, fragrant with the arrival of skunk cabbage. Spring is definitely running late this year, but I finally saw my first trillium of 2017 yesterday.

Winter trails 2017 Winter trails 2017
First trillium of the year TMT

I’m finally able to run again after the bladder prolapse, thanks to five million kegels and a bit of structural support from my trusty ol’ Diva Cup. Sun Mountain is less than two months away, so I won’t really have the time to get into the kind of shape I had originally hoped, but I want to at least get to a point where 25K won’t feel miserable and I won’t have to walk too much of the course. I “ran” ten miles yesterday, but it included a lot of walking (and trillium photo breaks). But! I did focus on actually running the uphills, and was shockingly successful, something my thighs keep reminding me of today.

Winter trails 2017

(This photo is titled ‘Pacific Northwest Adult Sees Sun’)

I’ve spent a lot of time on the Cable Line this winter, slogging up and running a variety of longer trails back down, but lately I’ve decided I should probably focus on more runnable, rolling trails, like my favorite Shy Bear loop on Cougar Mountain or, closer to home, the Redmond Watershed.

Winter trails 2017 Winter trails 2017

(Mud and ice – all in a day’s work on the Cable Line)

I also suffered another minor setback that fortunately turned out to be much less of an issue than I had originally thought – I got shingles! That was the last illness I expected I would ever end up with, but in hindsight it makes sense – almost a year of hardly any sleep and a pretty serious bout of depression can do that to you. The Norwegian word for shingles translates to hellfire, and man alive is that accurate. Luckily for me, it was really only that painful for a day and a half, and then the lesions disappeared a couple of days after that. Hopefully that means that my immune system is finally on the mend, which would come in handy since Nora started daycare three times a week and is bringing home every virus under the sun.

Winter trails 2017

(Finding beauty in the puddles)

JK is back to work now which means that from now on, most of my running will happen on my old friend, the Powerline Trail, after the kids (it still feels so unreal to use the plural form there) are tucked into bed. That means the days are getting longer, friends! In the good way, not the dreary way.

Winter trails 2017

(Drenched and happy)

I usually like to listen to upbeat music while I run, but this drizzly, muddy winter called for a more mellow soundtrack. My constant auditory trail companions have been:

These songs are so mellow that they need to be listened to on headphones, loudly (especially Jupiter) – preferably while running through the forest, enveloped in an ethereal Pacific Northwest mist.

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Challenge, Health, Hiking, Nutritarian, Running, Top Trips

Cable Line Revisited

I should probably write more about this, but I’ve lost quite a bit of weight in a relatively short amount of time (30 lbs since New Year’s), and the best side effect of losing that weight is how much easier it is to run without it. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that it’s easier to run when you weigh less, but I didn’t realize just how much easier it actually is. And how much more fun! It’s like a whole new world.

Misty Cable Line

So on Sunday I decided to test just how much faster I am now by timing myself hiking up (you can’t run up this thing unless you’re insane) the Cable Line on Tiger Mountain. This trail is just a muddy track that goes straight up the mountain, climbing 2100 feet in 1.5ish miles. The first time I hiked it, it took me about an hour and fifteen minutes. In 2013, when I was in what I thought was the shape of my life, it took me an hour and four minutes. On Sunday? 46 minutes. This is what my face looked like.

Incredulous Cable Line PR face

The best part was that I had tons of energy to spare when I reached the top, whereas earlier I would have to sit down, curl into a ball, and recover for a while. This time, I ate a date, admired the non-existent views, then ran down the mountain (taking the West Tiger 3 trail instead of the Cable Line, because I’m generally a fan of having functional knees) to brag to JK about my time and then hike a somewhat less strenuous trail with this adorable little hobbit.

Wee hobbit

Man, I cringe when I think of all the years I spent obsessing about how to shave ounces off my pack weight when I could have just dropped a few pounds of belly blubber instead.

Tiger Mountain posse

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Running

Doing Trail Time

My mood has been all over the place lately, vacillating between high highs and low lows for seemingly no particular reason…until I made the connection that my little baby has decided she’s done nursing (sniff sniff) and these downer feelings are most likely the effect of prolactin/oxytocin withdrawals. At least I hope they are. And I hope they’ll disappear as my body continues adjusting to this new hormonal normal (or this old hormonal normal, I guess).

March running March running

In the meantime, I am treating it the only way I know how – with endorphins! I’m having more fun with running than ever before, and I’m counting the days until Daylight Saving Time starts so I can run after Nora goes to bed. For now, JK has stepped up to ensure that I have some solo trail time, so he’s either hiking with Nora while I run on Cougar or Tiger, or running errands with her as I’m running loops around the Watershed. They’ve become invaluable to me, those hours when I am out there all alone with my thoughts fluttering among the trees, all carefree and feeling 100% like my own person.

March running March running

I’ve known for years now how important it is for me to have time to myself so I can recharge my introvert batteries, but it’s very hard at home – if I go into another room while JK and Nora are hanging out together, I’ll inevitably hear them laughing and having the time of their lives, and I’ll get massive FOMO and go join them. But out in the woods, I have no choice. It’s just me, my feet, the trail, and the trees that are getting greener by the day. Love it.

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(Oh, and last weekend I had a little too much wine and ended up signing up for the Tiger Mountain Trail Run Half Marathon in April. Egads!)

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Albums, Running

I’ve got the runs

…is what I really shouldn’t call this album, but I probably will, because now it’s in my head and there’s no turning back.

For my first month on the Ali Edwards Creative Team, I decided to use her adorable little encouraging phrases to make a scrapbook of my races. Since I’ve only participated in two so far, it came together quickly.

Running scrapbook

I love having a home for my race bibs! The 6×8 pocket size was perfect to show off the fancy one from Beat the Blerch, but I cut down my Orcas 25K bib to fit a 6×4 pocket since it didn’t have anything around the edge.

The little take the next step speech bubble is from the Encouragement Bubbles set, the all the feels heart is from Valentine Hearts, and the you got this card is from Encouragement Journal Cards.

Running scrapbook

…and because this album deserves to be thicker than these two measly spreads, I signed up for the Beacon Rock 25K in June, which looks gorgeous but dreadfully hard. I fear I might end up using the struggle is real for that one.