Blue Sky Trail Marathon Training, Week 11

My second-to-last week of training is done, and tomorrow starts race week. The second-to-last week is always my least favorite: close enough to the race that I’m tapering, but far enough away that my brain thinks we should still be killing it. Taper madness is real, folks.

Do I make a tapir/taper pun every training cycle? Yes. Does it ever get old? No.

Here’s how this week looked:

Monday: 

Rest. I don’t like to rest on Mondays (running = sanity), but my body needed it after Sunday’s long run.

Tuesday: 

7.2 miles of fartleks to shake the legs out, followed by core work.

Wednesday: 

10.1 miles with Jaylin. It’s so fun to have a running buddy! I love my solo runs, too, but I’ve really enjoyed these weekly meet-ups.

Thursday: 

5 miles easy + core and upper body… by which I mean I tacked 20 push-ups onto my usual core workout. I’m hardcore.

Friday: 

4 miles of “hills” on the treadmill, followed by core and — believe it or not — stretching.

Saturday: 

5 easy miles, plus the same hardcore workout as Thursday.

Sunday: 

10 miles easy. This was the first long run of training that I haven’t gone to the trails, and I”m pretty proud of myself for making it to the trails consistently. I didn’t go today because I figured it was silly to drive twice as long as I’d run, especially since I had a LOT of housework and grading to do. The work has been done now; one more short trail run would probably not impact my race.

Total: 41.3 miles

One week from today, I’ll toe the line at my very first trail race. I wish I’d decided to run it sooner — I’d feel a lot more confident with 16 or 18 weeks of training under my belt instead of 12. But I can’t change it now; all that’s left is to get out there, try my best, and most importantly, have fun. Wish me luck!

Any main events coming up for you soon? 

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Tiux Compression Socks: Review, Discount, and IG Giveaway

I’ve always been on the fence about compression socks. I’ve read all about them, of course: they supposedly aid recovery and help runners stay stronger and faster for longer, but there’s not a ton of research out there, either for or against them (for a more detailed explanation, read this article from Competitor). Plus, those puppies are expensive, and I’m not exactly overwhelmed with earthly wealth, so I could never bring myself to drop $70 on a pair of socks that may or may not actually be beneficial. I have bought a couple of bargain-bin, off-brand pairs, but I could never tell a difference in my running or recovery… probably because they’re off-brand, bargain-bin socks.

That’s a long-winded way of getting to my point, which is this: A few weeks ago, a representative from Tiux, “a small startup with something to prove” (from their website) contacted me and offered to send me a pair of socks to try. Naturally, I jumped at the chance, and a few days later, a cute pair of pink-and-yellow socks arrived in my mailbox. I couldn’t wait to try them out!

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Disclaimer: I was provided with these socks in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. 

Over the past month, I’ve worn these socks several times, and I have to say, I’m impressed. I’ve worn them during runs and for post-run recovery, and I like them for both reasons. I was hoping they’d be miracle socks that would make my flatlander legs amazing at running hills. They’re not. Turns out, you actually have to run hills to be good at hills, not just wear socks. But my feet and calves ache less during and after runs when I wore these socks, and I love them for recovery. Since my drives to trailheads are 1.5+ hours, I could really tell a difference when I wore these socks on the drive home. I’m no scientist, but they must have helped the blood flow a bit better, because I didn’t feel as stiff and uncomfortable when I got home if I put these socks on post-run.

I wore my Tiux socks while I ran in a vertical line to this point. They are comfortable, but they didn't magically make me not suck wind on the climb.
I wore my Tiux socks while I ran in a vertical line to this point. They are comfortable, but they didn’t magically make me not suck wind on the climb.

My only (minor) complaint about these socks is that they are a little too long for my legs — the tops come to the middle of my knee, which isn’t the most comfortable but is easily fixed by folding them down a little. My ankle and calf measurements had me between a medium and a small, and I ordered medium. I think if I’d gone down to a small, I wouldn’t have this issue, so keep that in mind when you order.

The best thing about Tiux socks is the price. They’re $35. That’s not a typo, and that’s not some special deal Tiux is running right now. That’s the everyday price. Unlike my bargain bin socks, though, these are a well-made, high-quality product. I’ve washed them several times, and nothing has changed (my bargain socks shrank after the first wash). They breathe and wick to keep your legs from getting hot and swampy, and the graduated compression is carefully engineered for optimal support and recovery.

Obviously, I’m a fan of these socks. They’re well worth the money… and the money is much more reasonable than other brands. If you’re looking for some quality compression socks that won’t break the bank, give these a try!

Ready to try your own pair? Enter my Instagram giveaway (through Sunday night), or if you just can’t wait, use this link for 10% off: http://tiux.refr.cc/MQNX73W

Do you wear compression socks? Have you tried Tiux?

Blue Sky Trail Marathon Training, Week 10

This week/weekend was crazy busy; my brother got married Friday, and between wedding stuff, a meeting Saturday, and work, training was a challenge. Also due to all of that, I’m really tired tonight and don’t have a lot of time, but I wanted to get this recap up so I wouldn’t forget things, as I do when I write two weeks’ worth of training recaps at once. So this is going up at lightning speed. Please excuse typos/lack of anything clever/boringness. Thanks.

Monday:

AM: 7 miles of treadmill “hills”

PM: Strength work

Tuesday:

11.1 miles easy. It was hot that afternoon, so my pace was slow, but it got done.

Wednesday: 

6 recovery miles, followed by core work

Thursday:

6.5 miles, 3.5 of which was on the incline treadmill, moving around between 10% and 18%. That was fun. I followed the run with a fast core workout, skipping my usual Thursday afternoon strength session in favor of my brother’s wedding rehearsal. That was a good trade.

Friday: 

As part of the bridal party, there was no time for running (unless I did it in the dark, which I didn’t care to do in a part of Denver that I don’t know well). I switched my usual Sunday rest day to Friday and spent the day getting beautified instead.

Saturday:

5 miles easy. I had a morning meeting (yes, I was tired) and an easy 5 was all I had time for.

Sunday:

Since we were in Denver anyway, we stayed an extra night so I could do my last long run back at Green Mountain. I ran 21.5 miles and told myself that the two late nights and fun-but-stressful/emotional days before were what made it so hard. Let’s hope there’s at least some truth in that, since soon I’ll have to tack on 5 more miles.
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I made a new friend.
I made a new friend.

Total: 57.1 miles. Let’s hope that’s enough to get me through the race!

Now I’ll do a two-week taper, and the race will be here before I know it, I’m sure.

Blue Sky Trail Marathon Training, Week 9

I can hardly believe it, but my second-to-last week of heavy training is finished. I’ve got one more big week, then a two-week taper, and then the race. I wish I’d decided earlier to do this race, so I would’ve had time for a 16- or 18-week training plan… I’m feeling less ready than I’d like. But there’s no going back, so I’ll just have to see what a 12-week plan will do.

Here’s the rundown on Week 9:

Monday:

AM: 7.3 miles of hills. Thanks to Labor Day, I went out to the only real hills around.
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PM: Strength training

Tuesday:

11.1 miles “easy.” It’s still a little warm out in the early evenings, but it’s nice to decompress after work. I’m sure Jordan is also grateful for my return to evening running, as it makes me much more pleasant for the rest of the night.
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H
ow could this not make you happier?

Wednesday:

I ran to the gym, spent three miles of steep climbing on the incline trainer, then ran home for 5 miles total. It took me the same amount of time as my 7-miler Monday. Hopefully it’ll make me stronger come race day! I also did some core work when I got home. I’m hoping that, too, will make me stronger come race day.

Thursday:

AM: 10 miles with the same group I’ve been running with the last couple of weeks. We planned nine but math is hard.

PM: Strength training

Friday: 

5 recovery miles and some core work.

Saturday:

Jordan had a meeting (and thus a hotel room) in Golden, so you know I had to crash that party and get in a long trail run. I ran 20 miles at Green Mountain (the Lakewood one, not the Boulder one). It was hard, but the climbs are pretty similar to the first part of the race. And the views were not too shabby.
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I intended to run 21 miles, but I ran out of water, and it was getting hot out. I didn’t really want to risk passing out on the trail, so I called it a day. Still, I got in almost 3000 feet of vertical, which for this flatlander is pretty darn good. I’m planning to run there again next weekend, since we’ll be in town for my brother’s wedding.

Sunday: 

Rest. I didn’t even do yoga, though I probably should have, as I’m a bit sore and stiff from yesterday.

Total: 58.4 miles… 12 miles short of what my peak weeks are for road marathon training. I’m not sure what to think about that.

Well, I’m working all of three days this week (yay, wedding!), so I’d better get rested up. Ha. Have a great week!

What’s your usual peak mileage?

What does a run with lots of vertical look like for you? Go ahead, ultra-runners. Make my 3000 feet look paltry.

Want to Be Inspired? Crew or Pace a 100-Miler

A few weeks ago, my Internet friend Logan sent out an e-mail in search of pacers and a crew for her upcoming 100-mile race. The race was Labor Day weekend, and I had no other plans. Logan and I had been trying to run together all summer and it had never worked out, plus I’m always looking for an excuse to get into the mountains, so I wrote her back and said I was in for crewing and pacing duties. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I’m so glad I volunteered — this was one inspiring experience!

(This post is light on pictures… most of my time at the Hideaway 100 was in the dark, and the pictures I did take were of Logan. I feel like she should get to post them first.)

Logan started running at 5:00 Saturday morning, but I had an appointment that afternoon and didn’t get to Winter Park until about 4:00 p.m. I met the rest of the crew, and we headed up to wait for Logan at an aid station at around the halfway point. Before she came in, this guy did:
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I totally stole this picture from Bob’s (one of the other pacers) Facebook page. Anyway, this guy was cruising in sandals, and he was FAST! He stopped at the aid station, ate a bit and chatted easily with the volunteers, and then took off again at lightning speed.

Not long after Mr. Speedy Sandals came through, Logan made it to the aid station. She was looking super strong and was in good spirits.

Logan looking strong at halfway-ish.
Logan looking strong at halfway-ish.

She dropped off her first pacer, Katie, and picked up her second, Kevin. While they ran, I took Katie back down to her car. On the way down, while it was still daylight, we saw a moose (and a crazy woman walking up to it to take its picture). On my way back, in the dark, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head, and a massive moose was running right alongside the car! I decided then that Logan and I were going to make a LOT of noise while we ran. No midnight animal encounters for us, thanks!

I made it to the next aid station not long before Logan came in. She traded Kevin for Bob, and soon they were off again. While they ran, I snagged an hour-long light nap in the back of Logan’s Subaru. My fear of oversleeping and missing their return meant I just kind of drifted in and out, and soon Bob texted us to let us know when they were close. I sneaked off to find a bush, layered up, and got myself ready to run.

When Logan came in, she explained that she had a pretty wicked blister but didn’t want to pop it, so we’d try just hiking. I didn’t admit it at the time, but I was SO glad we hiked. We climbed up to about 12,000 feet, and my 3500′-dwelling legs and lungs were burning. Plus, it was FREEZING! I didn’t complain, though — the number-one rule of pacing is that you suffer in silence and try to keep your runner’s spirits up, because no matter how rough you’re feeling, she’s got over 50 miles on you! I told myself not to be a weenie, and tried to channel some of Logan’s general badassness.

Nonetheless, I was pretty happy to drop back below treeline, where we hit the aid station again and headed off on our next, mostly downhill section. (Embarrassing: shortly after we left the aid station the second time, I puked. Yep, me. The one running 12 miles, not the one running 100. Stupid altitude.)

Now that we were back where I could breathe, I tried to keep up a steady stream of chatter. I’m not usually a very talkative person, but I figured that the best way to help Logan stay out of the pain cave — or at least out of her own head — was to jabber, so jabber I did. Logan was actually still in good spirits (admirable — I would’ve been a bear after 70+ miles!), so we actually had some conversation; it wasn’t just me yammering on. (But mostly it was). We hiked a lot and stopped at an aid station to pop Logan’s blister, which had shifted and become unbearable. Once it was popped, she was able to run a little more, and  after what seemed, remarkably, like a short while, we were back at the final aid station, where Logan picked up Deidre, her last pacer, and headed toward the finish.

Bob and I ate some aid station food (best. bean burrito. ever.), then headed down to wait for Logan to cross the line. The early morning cold had us shivering, so we alternated sitting in Logan’s car with the heat blasting and jumping out to see if she was coming. We watched another runner, who had leapfrogged with Logan for most of the race, finish and collapse in a heap, a mixture of exhaustion and elation. We chatted with a volunteer, one of the many amazing volunteers out there that day and night. And then, finally, we saw Deidre coming up the sidewalk, so we knew Logan was close.

Within seconds, she came into sight, still running. She managed to JUMP as she crossed the finish line (I have no idea how she had the energy for that, but check out the awesome picture on her blog), and then she was done and allowed to finally sit down.

I stole this picture from Facebook, too. Can you tell it was chilly?
I stole this picture from Facebook, too. Can you tell it was chilly?

Crewing and pacing Logan was an incredibly inspiring experience for me. Watching her push through the hard, dark places and overcome them to finish the race left me admiring her, of course, but it also made me wonder just how much I too could do. Seeing the wicked-fast winners come through the aid stations left me in awe of the human body’s capabilities. And chatting with the volunteers, most of whom hadn’t slept, who bent over backwards to help the runners with no thought of reciprocation, and many of whom were gearing up for the 50k racers who started Sunday morning, restored some of my faith in the goodness of human nature.

Will I ever run 100 miles? No, probably not. But pacing and crewing was extraordinary, and if I get another chance to pack that much inspiration into one short weekend, you can bet I’ll sign right up.

Blue Sky Trail Marathon Training, Weeks 7-8

School starts and I disappear from the Interwebs, apparently. Now that we’re past the craziness of the first couple of weeks, I should be able to get back to regular posting… at least as regular as I ever am. In the meantime, here’s a rundown of my training over the last two weeks. There’s a serious lack of pictures here, as the vast majority of my runs lately have been either on the treadmill or in the dark. The weather’s supposed to cool down this week, though, so I’ll switch back to post-work running in the daylight.

Monday, August 24

AM: 6.2 miles of “hills” on the treadmill. (Foreshadowing: Later that week, I learned that the “hills” I’ve been doing are inadequate).

PM: My usual strength workout at home

Tuesday, August 25

10.8 easy miles — half on the treadmill, half outside once it got light. Not bad for a school morning.

Wednesday, August 26 

8 miles with Jaylin and two guys we know who also run. It was fun to run with a group for once.

Thursday, August 27

AM: 6 miles of short “hill” sprints

PM: Strength training again, a wimpier version of my normal routine because I was tired and cranky and figured anything was better than the nothing I felt like doing.

Friday, August 28

5 miles at recovery pace, followed by core work

Saturday, August 29

I made an extra-long venture up to the trails this week, running the first part of the race course, then back to the second part, which I’d trained on before. Fun fact: this elevation chart from the race’s website is not exaggerated.
Blue Sky Trail Marathon Elevation Profile

Turns out, I should’ve been hitting the incline trainer at my gym instead of my little treadmill all this time. That first climb is a doozy. I had a 16:48 mile in there. But check out the views:
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Even though I enjoy the scenery, I hope I can get a leetle stronger on the climb in the next couple of weeks.

I ran 19 miles, and it was tough, but I loved it!

Sunday, August 30

Rest day. I did some easy yoga for my tight hamstrings and hips.

Total: 55 miles

This week was a cutback week, the last until taper.

Monday, August 31

AM: 5 miles easy

PM: Strength, per usual

Tuesday, Sept. 1

5 miles of treadmill hills… on the incline trainer this time.

Wednesday, Sept. 2

Same as last week — 8.1 miles with the same little group.

Thursday, Sept. 3

AM: Short, fast hill intervals for 5 miles

PM: Strength training

Friday, Sept. 4

Rest day. I usually rest Sundays, but I was definitely not resting this Sunday, so I took Friday off instead.

Saturday, Sept. 5

5-mile easy run plus core work, shaking out the legs for…

Sunday, Sept. 6

I paced and helped crew Logan through part of her run at the Hideaway 100 in Winter Park. We ran about 12 miles in the wee hours together, though she had a gnarly blister that made our run more of a hike. I’m counting it as a run anyway. I’m hoping to get a post up about the pacer/crew experience later this week.

Total: 40.1 miles

Now I’ve got two more big weeks, two weeks of taper, and the race! Gulp.

I’m very tired, since I slept about an hour last night and another hour when I got home this morning, and that’s it, so I’m not writing reader questions or proofreading this. Please excuse any stupid typos (Students: Do as I say, not as I do), and tell me whatever you want to in the comments.