Thursday, April 25, 2013

New blog platform

Hello, there! It's been awhile!

While I am still overcoming my IT Band issues, I still do a ton of hiking and so I've decided to change the focus of my blog to hike reviews. I also changed the platform to WordPress and you can access it at

I've really missed blogging about my favorite hobby: Spending time on the trails. I hope that it can serve as a resource to fellow trail-runners and hikers!

It's been real ya'll,

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy birthday, IT-band injury!

I am approaching my year anniversary of being injured.

A whole year.

Last weekend I went to a wedding with many college friends I haven't seen in over two years. This happened about 7 times: "Not that I stalk you on facebook, but you're like... a crazy runner right?" Besides the one stint in March where I ran a 50k training run, I've been doing small mile runs and nothing like what I'm used to. But, I'm actually quite ok.

I walk a lot to get in my "me" time. I volunteer at races so that I still see the VHTRC folk. I spend more evenings with my boyfriend. I read more and have moved my ambition focus to the fuck-what-am-I-going-to-do-the-rest-of-my-life part of my brain. It's probably a good thing.

Surprisingly, I haven't gained any weight, in fact I've lost a few pounds and my jeans fit much better. It's actually sort of nice that I don't need to eat so much. Even though I hadn't worked out for well over a month, I was still able to do some decent hiking in Colorado. Oh, right, I've been hiking a lot--it keeps me sane. It's like trail running, but slower and you have to carry all your shit with you. (Tip: get hiking poles so that you can control the weight on your injured leg)

So, twitter and facebook friends, I'm still out, yes, but I'm ok. Really. Promise.

Oh, and so that I can be helpful, here's what I would have done in hindsight:
  1. Don't go running with people or a group when you're recovering. A year ago, I quickly completed a 14 mile trail run that I would have half-walked if I was alone.
  2. If something doesn't stop hurting in two weeks, go see a physical therapist. I waited 8 months.
  3. Try to solve the root of the problem first. If I had stopped my minimalist footwear kick and put my orthotics back in earlier, I might have jump-started recovery.
  4. Look for a complete list of activities that will aggravate your injury. I was doing deep squats, jumps, deep squats, breast-stroke, deep squats, hiking... all things that kept my IT band tight.
  5. Have patience getting back into the game. Don't run 30 miles after you've only been back a couple months. (Like, DUH!)
P.S.: My feet look so pretty now!

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Nostalgia: MMT volunteering

    Volunteering at MMT this year was a little sentimental. I wasn't very sad or bummed about not running it, especially since I was a little hungover and exhausted. I went to bed at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning thinking "the race starts in an hour" but I was warm in bed and grateful that I had 8 hours of sleep ahead of me.

    Last year I volunteered with Brian at Camp Roosevelt and was finally introduced to VHTRC. I knew no one. I was surprised that as runners came into the aid station--everyone knew their name! After years of road running and never belonging to a running group, this was very odd. The thought of knowing all the volunteers, the race direction, the pacers, and spectator/photo support was foreign to me.

    Doing CrossFit moves at ultra events.... I'm allowed to when Bobby Gill is around.

    I remember meeting people who had run several ultras and finally started to understand how ultrarunners break every running rule in the book. These crazies ran an ultra every other weekend! I remember being surprised that there were so many young people and I was invited to WUS about 30 times.

    Another tattoo picture :) Of course I was showing it off.

    This year, I showed up in my WUS shirt. I knew at least a dozen runners. I knew the volunteers and most pacers--I was running around the camp chatting with my friends all night. More than ever, I was reminded of how awesome the VHTRC/WUS groups are. Even though I had run several ultras and 100 since my first exposure to ultrarunning last year, I felt the same admiration for the runners. I had the same awe when someone entered the aid station in bad shape, but was still courteous to all volunteers and in the end found the energy to stand up and go on. David Ploskonka was especially impressive; he was at Camp Roosevelt for over three hours but he went on to pull through and finish the race.

    I have buckle envy.
    Congrats to all the runners and thanks for letting me be involved in some small way (quesadillias anyone?!). Here are some awesome race reports:

    Doug Sullivan - PRed on the course by over 4 hours!

    Rob Colenso - First 100M finish!

    Kim Love-Ottobre - First MMT finish!

    Dave Ploskonka - A serious fast dude who proved that he can dig deep and finish a bad race.

    Neal Gorman - Impressive 2nd place finish!

    Thanks to Bobby Gill for all the pictures.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    My tattoo isn't pretty and I don't care

    I've wanted a tattoo since I was 15 or so years old. I wanted something meaningful. I wanted something pretty. I've been brainstorming tattoos involving pretty crabapple blossoms (my hometown's name is crabapple in the local Native American language) or snowflakes (that hometown is outside Buffalo). When I got my tattoo last weekend, I loved it because it wasn't pretty. It wasn't supposed to be sexy or attractive. It's just cool.

    Not to mention, it's on my foot, and I'm a runner. So, it's not like these things are pretty to begin with.

    I remember on October 1st last year, sitting by a lake enjoying a beautiful fall day in Virginia. I was drinking a beer and celebrating my 23rd birthday by starting a 100 mile race in just a few hours (I pregame races sometimes). We were talking about tattoos and Brian and I brainstormed a tattoo of the impressive Grindstone elevation profile onto a foot.

    I loved the idea immediately, as long as I finished of course. I didn't like the thought of having a tattoo in recognition of a 100 miler since I was planning on doing several more. But Grindstone was more that that. This isn't a tattoo to memorialize a race, it's a tattoo to remind myself that I can work hard and be dedicated. This elevation profile at one point terrified me. I've never considered myself hard-working, I'm way too laid back, but I thought up a crazy goal and here I was pulling through and doing it. I felt like I had learned so much. This was to memorialize that we can surprise even ourselves.

    I get that it's permanent, and in 15 years I might wish that it was "prettier" or more "feminine." When I voiced these concerns, I got the usual retort from my boyfriend. "You need to re-evaluate what is and isn't feminine." And when I roll my eyes and say something like "but it's not." He'll mumble something like "this isn't 1953" and then starts talking about hot, athletic-bodied tennis players. That wear skirts.

    Athletic women are sexy.

    He'll add "You live the feminist notion that we all create what is feminine for ourselves, that we self-define and derive confidence not from conformity with a dated societal expectation, but from being you." But is the traditional idea of feminine really outdated? At first I think that it is, that we still divide the athletic girls from the girly-girls, but the more I think about it, this is not the case. If it was, there wouldn't be so much pink athletic gear.

     CrossFit makes me feel even less girly than trail running does. It's not a big deal when you lose toenails, but now I also have blisters and rips on my hands. I got my nails done a month ago and realized that they hadn't had polish on them for almost two years. That day I went for a muddy trail run and had to dig perfectly manicured, red nails into the mud in order to get up a hill. I wished I had a camera. I could go on--I don't remember the last pair of heels I've purchased, but there have been several pairs of running shoes since--but I am in a time where I'm re-evaluating what "feminine" means to me. 

    I come from a  family of four girls and my dad. I never excelled at anything involving catching or throwing, and so I understand why I did dance, gymnastics, and cheerleading, but we always did girly things. My mother took me and my sisters to the mall a lot. We got our eyebrows waxed every two weeks. To do or not to do cheerleading wasn't a choice that I made. We were reminded to put lip gloss on every time we left the house. I remember getting a serious talk from my mother about not wearing make-up to school and how I needed to get up earlier. She even paid for indoor tanning. 

    It's funny how my youngest sister and I, once we both moved away from home, have become the opposites of our High School selves. My little sister almost never wears make-up, has hair perpetually in a ponytail, and I had to beg her to just buy a pair of ballet flats instead of being in sneakers all the time. She spends all day studying and rolls her eyes at the thought of going through all that work just for school. She's a relaxed kind of confident about who she is and what she has to offer. She doesn't care about wearing lip gloss anymore either, as do I.

    I've written before about becoming more confident and working through body issues, and while I still think that presentation matters, it's been years since I felt the need to always make sure I had make-up on. I'm not so insecure to worry about being girly or feminine. And yes, slowly the idea of being feminine is less about being a pretty girl and more about being confident. It started off with my being anti-feminine (I'm going to wear a sports bra all the time!) and it's turning more into embracing that I'm never going to feel the need to wear eye shadow again. Which is awesome. I feel much more happy with my new CrossFit sculpted shoulders and arms than I would be with a flat stomach.

    The most incredible thing about who I've become since leaving home is that I've somehow developed some weird determination to prove myself. My mother always encouraged giving up with the going got tough--but I've done everything I can to prove that I'm not that little cheerleader anymore. I'm not delicate. 

    And the traditional idea of being  feminine is actually very unsexy to me compared to my new idea. Confidence rocks. Which is a reason why I'm cutting off all my hair this week. I'm going to rock a pixie cut starting this Friday, something I've been wanting to do for months. I think that, on young women, it oozes confidence and defies traditional notions of sex appeal and femininity--something that I think I'm ready for.

     Yes, I have a new nose piercing, my first tattoo, and I'm cutting off all my hair. Now, who's going to buy me a motorcycle?

    My sister asked me if I was turning into Lisbeth Salandar. I am dating a journalist after all.

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Inaugural WUS Doughnut Run

    I don't remember why I came up with the idea that the WUS group should run from headquarters to Krispy Kreme and eat 12 doughnuts. I think it was because I was injured, and couldn't run much but since I could eat doughnuts, this was a way to still do a WUS event. The "race" probably doesn't need a report, the pictures speak for themselves. Thanks to Martha and Neal for organizing, and to everyone who came out to run it. Thanks to Bobby Gill and Keith Knipling for taking pictures!

    We started off at WUS headquarters... 15 minutes late and wearing our new WUS shirts!
    The 10k/6 doughnut option runners are off!

    The lonely 5k/12 doughnut runners.
    We're so legit that we had on-trail photographers!
    So many more to go. Anna and I were the first ones there, not because we were fast but because we ran 1/2 the distance.

    Sean couldn't run because he recently shattered his thumb during a tough 50 miler.
    I was totally that kid who's mother always said "Stop playing with your food!"
    Neal ate his 6 doughnuts in the time that I ate two... and had a few more for extra measure.
    Doug decided to make a large sandwich with all 6.
    @ultrarunnergirl and her hubby ate a few doughnuts then went to eat sushi.

    Doughnut running is as dirty as trail running.
    We're done! Everyone told me that I couldn't do it. This is exciting as running 100 miles.
    "The doughnuts are pushing forward my six-pack."

    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    The different forms of fitness

    I have no running planned until August. Nothing. I dropped out of BRR, of MMT, and I'm frustrated with my ITB enough to just, sort of, give up.

    Funny thing is, I feel stronger today (right now) than I did before Grindstone. I don't think I could run 100 miles right now, but I just did 90 pull-ups (with the lightest band) and 45 overhead squats. I had a large part of my skin hanging off of my hands when I was done. I've moved up to Level I at District CrossFit and in just a month and a half of doing the WOD twice a week I've seen incredible improvements.

    I have a stronger core and upper-body than I have ever had in my whole life. Although, my boyfriend complains that my legs are "getting small."  Still, I'm working my whole body and doing workouts with such a higher intensity that I feel strong, faster, and fitter today than I think I ever had.

    I think a huge part of this is also how I've changed my eating habits. I've been trying to wean myself from sugar and I'm eating lots, and lots of more protein. Once I upped my protein my weight lifting ability tripled. Seriously, over just two weeks I was able to go from holing my chin to the bar for 2 seconds to 20, it was freaky!

    Also, since I'm not running a gazillion miles, my appetite has dwindled. I'm no longer the little girl who could down pints of ice cream and eat 5 meals a day. Now, I'm eating little sugar and carbs, and focusing on eating just protein, fat, and veggies and fruits. I'm not strict about it, I get a sweet or a beer everyday and I eat carbs with at least one meal. Still, I eat way less, and even though I'm doing little cardio, I'm losing fat (gaining weight due to muscle mass but my clothes are bigger) and it's awesome.

    Anyway, this post is inspired because I was hanging out after the WOD, and people were chatting about distance running. I tried to describe running in the mountains and I miss it so much. I can't wait to get out there and run another long mountain run. Till then, I'll just day dream about it while hiking/running in Rock Creek Park.

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Massanutten Mountain

     How many times have you heard me say I hate Massanutten? For several reasons: the rocky climbs, the rocky flats, the rocky downhills, the downhills too steep and technical to run down, all the roads in the MMT course, etc. I am always complaining about them. I spent all last weekend in the Massanutten mountains; I ran and hiked a cumulative 35 miles. And you know what? I enjoyed it! Me!

    Elizabeth Furnace 50k

    This run started off really well. The rocky climb up Signal Knob wasn't bad since we had to walk it anyway. The trail started thinning out quickly, and the sunrise was incredible. We started early, but getting to see that view made it worth the early wake-up call!

    Boots (a WUSer) and I really started running 3 to 4 miles in, and it felt great. My legs felt strong, the trail felt good, and I was concentrating on navigating the rocks with my small feet. Then, we hit a trail bottleneck, but this was fine since we started chatting with a big group. Soon enough, Mike Baily joined us and we all chatted and had a great time taking a fire road at a good pace.

    Look! Dirty Shoes!
    It was wet outside, and when we hit the big stream crossings that made last year's race memorable, we got soaked past our knees in freezing cold water. After three dips most of us had numb toes. I think these stream crossings should be included at mile 90 of MMT.

    I really enjoyed being on the trails with new friends and soaking up the warm weather. I gave Mike dating advice, we all discussed ultrarunning in general, and about some cool runners. We gossiped and the miles flew by. Soon it was 15 miles, and my IT Band was throbbing. Words cannot describe my frustration. WHY GOD WHY?!?!

    Orange markings on the Massanutten trail

    I told them to run ahead and I walked to the finish. I did some running on flats, and sometimes it felt ok. At 22 miles, I ran into the first aid station, happy to see my boyfriend, more friends, and beer.

    It turned into a way fun day. We hung out at the aid station for a few hours having a good old time, and then at the finish I got some chili, finally talked to a few VHTRCers I hadn't met, tried on club shirts, made inappropriate jokes, laughed at Gary's inappropriate jokes, and I got tortured by the Egyptian Magician. He worked my ITB like it's never been worked before, and showed Tyler how to do it. Also, I gained lots of advice from the other runners, including advice to try the strap. I hope it works.

    That night, Tyler and I went to Clementine in Harrisonburg, VA and Dave Fraizer was there with his lovely fiance. Our coversation went like this:

    "Did you run today?"
    "Did you win?"
    "Did you get a course record?"

    He got more talkative as the evening (and weekend, we ran into them at Breakfast) went by. Overall, it was a beautiful day spent with awesome friends and despite the injury bug, I couldn't frown, or cry, or be angry. I could only smile. (OMG, so corny)

    Duncan Knob Hike

    After breakfast at the Little Grill (best pancakes in Harrisonburg and maybe all of Virginia) Tyler and I headed back to Massanutten for a 12 mile hike.

    See! Rocks, like I told you about.
    It was really warm out and the hike was lovely. We got to help a lost family find their way and also tried to catch some idiot motorcyclists on the hiking trail with our blackberrys. It was exciting. The hike was wonderful except the trail was a stream for more than 1/2 the hike due to all the rain recently. By the end of the weekend, I was sick of having wet feet. They also smelled pretty bad, I'm surprised I still have a boyfriend.