Category Archives: Uncategorized

Oh, Hey. Again.

Hello there, much-neglected blog world. This about the 10th post like this I’ve written over the past few months, but if you missed those, here’s the basic formula: I apologize for being MIA, make a few excuses about how the first year at a new teaching job is just too busy for blogging, complain about the injury that has kept me from running long or fast since last July, post some pictures of mountains, and promise to be better about posting in the future. Then, a month or two later with no updates along the way, I do it all again.

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Requisite photo of me running

This time, though, I’m serious: I’m going to get back to this  blogging thing. My school year ended yesterday, and I’m determined to spend a decent chunk of my time writing. Of course, I also plan to spend a decent chunk of my time hiking, camping, playing, working on our house, and getting ready for next year, but I intend to post here at least once a week all summer, and stockpile some posts so that when next year gets busy, I can keep posting even if I don’t have time to write something new every week.

Following the formula, here’s an injury update, or rather lack thereof: nothing has changed. I can still run short and slow, but adding any speed, distance, or hills hurts too much. My PT said my pelvis is straight now so I should be feeling better, but I’m not. She suggested I go to Altitude Running in Fort Collins (wonderful running store. You should go there) and have them do a gait analysis to see if I was running in the wrong shoes. They said that I no longer need stability shoes, so I bought a neutral pair, but I haven’t felt better yet.

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New kicks
I’m going to a new physical therapist on Monday, one who specializes in runners, so I’m really, really hoping she can give me some insights. I have adventures that need to happen this summer, so this thing has to get out of my body!

In the meantime, I’ll be running short and slow, reading lots of books, and trying to catch up on my internet friends’ blogs. If you are one of those bloggers, point me to whatever I’ve missed that you think I must read!

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Mountain picture. You didn’t think I forgot, did you?

Are you/your kids out of school yet? If not, when? 

Tell me your fun summer plans!

Skirt Sports 13er Training, Weeks 3-4

You guys, it feels amazing to be training again.

I’m following a plan that repeats weeks to avoid increasing mileage too quickly, so I’m just going to list the last two weeks together, okay? (Of course it’s okay. Three people read these posts). Here we go:

Monday (2/27 and 3/6)
4 miles easy/3 miles easy, plus 15-minute strength workout

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This is my view when I run now. I don’t mind. 

Tuesday (2/28 and 3/7)
Fartleks: 8 x 2 minutes at 10k pace, 2-minute recovery. With warm-up and cool-down, I ran 7 miles on the 28th and 8 on the 7th. Both were on the treadmill because I am a wuss and didn’t want to run fartleks in the wind AGAIN. Followed by core work

Wednesday (3/1 and 3/8)
3 miles easy/ 5 miles easy, plus core work/light ST
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Thursday (3/2 and 3/9)
6 miles easy, followed by 20 minutes strength work

Friday (3/3 and 3/10)
3 recovery miles, followed by foam rolling. These were my first 6-day running weeks since getting injured, so I wanted to take it super easy.

Saturday (3/4 and 3/11)
11 miles. The 4th, I ran from my house. Since it was my longest run since we moved here, I got to explore a little farther than I’d been. I made new friends.
IMG_3565This week, I ran in Boulder as part of a Skirt Sports ambassador meet-up. Because I’m the WORST blogger ever, I took no pictures. Yep.

Sunday (3/5 and 3/12)
Rest day!

Totals: 34/ 35.8 miles

Overall, I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve been slacking a bit on the yoga and foam rolling, and I’m afraid that’s playing with injury fire, so I need to be more faithful again. It feels good to have a “3” in front of my weekly mileage, and I can’t wait until it’s a “5.” But I’m taking it slow and steady!

How’s your training going? What’s your next big goal?

Stunning

She is beautiful. Short blonde curls, cargo pants tucked into work boots, small chest hidden under a bulky hoodie. She’s stunning.

She is beautiful. Teal hair highlighting those big blue eyes, sweet smile as she hands me a latte. She’s stunning.

She is beautiful. Untamed ponytail; long, thin legs; dark circles under her eyes (probably thanks to those two little kids clutching her hands). She’s stunning.

She is beautiful. Long dreadlocks swaying; jeans hugging her curvy behind; wide, toothy grin. She’s stunning.

She is beautiful. Hair pulled back in a messy black bun; huge, dark brown eyes watching as her son plays; short, thin body sizzling with energy. She’s stunning.

She is beautiful. Skinny jeans hugging her thick hips and thighs, glossy brown hair flowing down her back. She’s stunning.

She is beautiful. Long flowing skirt covering her legs, head scarf covering her hair, sparkling eyes dancing underneath. She’s stunning.

She is beautiful. Baseball cap pulled down over ponytail, no make-up, comforting her crying baby. She’s stunning.

 

I saw these women today. I don’t know their stories. I don’t know what they see when they look in the mirror. But all I saw, in each of them, was beauty.

Maybe you were among them. You could have been. You are beautiful. You’re stunning.

 

Skirt Sports 13er Training: Weeks 1-2

Remember when I used to do training recaps? You know, when I was training? That seems like about a million years ago. But I’m finally training again, albeit slower and with less mileage than before, so it’s time to bring back the training recaps. Plus, it gives me something to blog about, and I really need to get back on a more regular blogging schedule.

The Skirt Sports 13er (don’t forget, you can get a discount to join me by using code SKIRTAMB15) is June 4. Normally, I’d do a 12-week plan for a half, but since I’m coming back from injury, I decided that 16 weeks would be better for building my fitness and preventing another injury. I’m also making a serious effort to thoroughly warm up before each run and finish with some sort of strength or core work and foam rolling, and I’m keeping with my nightly 15-25 minutes of yoga. Here’s how weeks 1-2 went down:

Tuesday, Feb. 14 –First day of training!
Fartlek run — 8 x 1-minute at 10k pace with 2-minute recoveries. Total mileage, including warm-up and cooldown: 7 miles.

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Skirt and short sleeves in February! What?!

Wednesday, Feb. 15
3-mile recovery run

Thursday, February 16
Rest day

Friday, February 17
Had the day off, hooray! 5 miles, finished with a few strides

Saturday, February 18
9 miles! Longest run in a loooong time

Sunday, February 19
Rest day. Taking three rest days in one week felt weird, but Monday and Thursday were scheduled rest days, and I felt like the ol’ hamstring needed one the day after the long run. I’ll start taking Sunday rest days again, I think. That works best for my body.

Week 1 Total: 24 miles

Monday, February 20
4 recovery miles

Tuesday, February 21
Same 7-mile fartlek workout as last week. It was SO windy out. My paces were absolutely ridiculous: super fast when the wind was at my back, super slow when running back into the wind.

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Clearly had a tailwind here — see how my skirt is plastered to my legs?

Wednesday, February 22
3 miles easy. Super slow. I was exhausted and felt like crap, so I was not sad to only run three.

Thursday, February 23
5-mile easy run on the treadmill. The gorgeous, non-Februaryish weather was gone, and it was windy and snowing out. I knew that if I ran in the cold, all I’d want to do when I got back would be take a hot shower, and I’d likely skip my strength workout, so I ran did an alternating run/strength workout in my basement.

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No, this picture isn’t staged at all! Why would you ask? …

Friday, February 24
Rest day

Saturday, February 25
10 miles!!! I went to a “writing marathon” at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on Saturday morning, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to do my long run in Denver City Park after. It feels pretty darn good to be back to double digits!
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Sunday, February 26
Rest.

Week 2 Total Mileage: 29

I’m hoping to get back to six days of running this week or next. Just gotta play it by ear and see how my hamstring feels. Either way, it feels great to be running consistently again and to have a goal on the horizon.

What are you training for these days?

Ever had to come back from an injury or other setback? Tell me about it!

Race Recap: Loveland Sweetheart Classic 2017

Before last weekend, the last time I had raced was in June, at the Skirt Sports 13er — and even then, I didn’t really race until the last couple of miles, when I realized I could place. Then I got injured in July, and moved and started a new job in August, and continued fighting that injury, so I hadn’t raced or trained hard for months.

Nevertheless, I decided to race the Loveland Sweetheart Classic 4-Miler last Saturday. My hamstring was feeling about 85% of healthy. I love this little race (this was my fourth time running it), and I figured that even though I’d have a slow-for-me time, it would give me a good baseline for getting back in shape for this year’s 13er. So I registered, and last Saturday morning found me lining up in the Loveland High School parking lot, enjoying the unseasonable warmth and getting re-familiarized with pre-race butterflies.
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One of my injury-healing (and -preventing) strategies is doing a thorough warm-up, so I did some dynamic stretching and ran an easy mile, returning to the start just in time to hear the National Anthem. Soon, the gun went off, and so did the runners. I wasn’t really sure how to pace myself, since the only fast running I’ve done recently is a few strides and a couple of fartlek workouts. I figured I’d just go by feel, playing it by ear and not paying too much attention to keeping even or negative splits, since the first mile-ish is downhill and the last mile-ish uphill.
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I ticked off the first mile in 6:50, feeling pretty decent. I picked it up a little for the flat second mile (6:42), passing a few people and high-fiving a few spectators (high-fiving little kids mid-race is the best. If you don’t usually make time for it, you need to start). Mile 3 is when I started to feel my lack  of fitness, and it was also my slowest mile (6:53), I guess thanks to a slight headwind? That’s when I started mentally repeating the mantra that got me through the end: “Just gut it out.” I knew that a race this short, even with minimal fitness, was mostly a mental game, and I just had to, well, gut it out.

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Don’t be jealous of my beautiful race face. (Photo courtesy of the Loveland Road Runners). 

Mile 4 ends with a mild uphill push, then a rewarding downhill sprint to the finish line. I managed to pass one more woman just after my watched beeped for mile 3, and then I was alone until the finish. I pushed it hard, hitting mile 4 in 6:47 and finishing in 27:36, good enough for fourth place.

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Gasping for air after the finish

After catching my breath for a few minutes, I jogged back along the course to meet my friend Christine and run her in, so I finished the day with just over 6 miles. We wandered around the post-race expo, I got a free post-race massage in the hopes that it would keep my hammy healthy, and then we stuck around for the awards ceremony. Since the overall top three women were excluded from age group awards, I took first in the 30-39 category (and my time was faster than all the 30-39 men. I like to brag). My prize was a handmade medal and a $15 gift certificate to Runners Roost. I was stoked, since I need new running shoes!
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After the awards, I took a baby-wipe bath in the bathroom (races with access to indoor bathrooms are the best), put on clean clothes, and headed to the Loveland Fire and Ice art festival with J.

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Snowman ice sculpture, part of the “ice” bit of the festival. 

Overall, I’m satisfied with how this race went. I ran hard but didn’t get reinjured, and I feel like I have a good baseline now as I build fitness for this year’s 13er, which I do plan to race (if you want to race with me, use code SKIRTAMB15 for 15% off!). Time to start training harder (but smarter)!

Have you raced lately? How did it go?

What’s your favorite local festival/event? We’re pretty darn excited to live closer to artsy things..

Updates

I made it just under a month between blog posts this time.  I’m getting better! My new goal is to post once a week, which was what I averaged back before this whole move-and-start-a-new-job thing.

Thanks to those of you who answered my poll in my last post. Sounds like you mostly want to hear about the things I started this blog to talk about — running and adventures. So that’s where I’ll keep my focus, with occasional side topics. I’ll try to keep it apolitical, as most of you were not interested in reading about politics. I need a politics-free zone in my life, anyway. My colleagues and I get so fired up that we decided to institute a “Trump jar” in our shared office this week to make ourselves talk about something else.
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So yeah. I will find other places to share my political opinions and keep this blog focused on… not that.

And on that note, let me give you a few quick updates so we’re all caught up as  I get back into this regular blogging thing:

  • I’m a Skirt Sports ambassador again! I am so honored to represent this company for another year. And good news for you: since I’m an ambassador, you get to save! Use code 1SSCAPT20 to save 20%, even on sale items!
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  • I’m slowly but surely (I hope) recovering from the hamstring injury that has kept me sidelined since July. It’s still not 100%, but it’s getting there. I ran 8 miles yesterday, which was the longest I’ve gone since getting injured. For long-time readers who remember my training posts with 70-mile weeks and 23-mile long runs, it probably sounds crazy that I’m thrilled to have run 8, but man, it felt good! Hopefully I’ll be back to my high-mileage self before TOO much longer.

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    Yes, this was February. I love Colorado. 
  • Related (I think): I’ve been doing yoga religiously. I started a 21-day challenge on January 9 and stuck with it, then spent a week doing other videos, and now J and I are starting the same challenge again. I never thought I’d be a daily yoga-er (“yogi” sounds much more advanced than I am), but it’s helping me sleep and I really think it’s helping my hamstring, too. I’m SUPER excited that J is doing it with me now, too.
  • That healing hamstring is a good thing, because I have a race this Saturday! I’ll be running the Loveland Sweetheart Classic. Last time I ran it, in 2014, I took second (read about that here), but this time, out of shape and working back from injury, I just want to enjoy myself (it’s a great little race) and use it as a benchmark and a starting point as I get back into shape for….
  • The Skirt Sports 13er in June! I’m already signed up. And I also have a 15% discount code for that, so you should sign up, too — code SKIRTAMB15 — and we will party. If all goes according to plan, my hamstring will heal completely, my weekly mileage will be back up to 50ish by the 13er, and then I can REALLY train for something — I don’t know what yet –in the fall.

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    Flashback to last year’s 13er. Isn’t it pretty? You should come run it with me.
  • I’m on Strava! Late to the party, I know. But let’s be friends! (Do you get “friends” on Strava? “Followers”? Whatever, let’s hang out on yet another online platform.)

Do you feel caught up? Cool. I’ll try not to drop off the face of the Internet planet this time.

I’m also waaay behind on blog reading. Again. What are you up to? What have you written lately that I must read?

Are you passionate about politics, or do you avoid them?

My Blog Is Having an Identity Crisis, and I Need Your Help

I’ve had this little blog for 2.5 years now. Sometimes I post regularly, and sometimes, as in recent months, posts are few and far between. One thing has stayed consistent, though: the blog’s focus on running. I was happy with that focus for a long while. I like chronicling my training and writing race reviews and reflections. When I got injured, though, and had to scale back my running, my blogging scaled way back, too.

A large piece of my motivation to start this blog in the first place was my firmly-held belief that if I’m going to be a decent writing teacher, I need to also be a writer. And lately, I have not written much at all. In addition, as I’ve watched the political and ideological turmoil in our country lately, I’ve also wondered if writing only about running is really the best use my wee corner of the Internet machine. Running is just one aspect of my life, and while I fully intend to continue writing about it, I think I’d like to broaden my blogging to incorporate more of the things about which I’m passionate. However, according to my WordPress sidebar, 1176 people follow my blog, and the first thing I teach my students about writing is that you must consider your audience.

So, audience, I need your feedback. What would you be interested in reading about here at Rural Running Redhead? Please take 30 seconds to click through this survey, and/or comment with any feedback that you have. Thank you!

My 2017 Goal: Stability

As I’m sure you could tell by my sporadic-at-best blogging, 2016 was an exciting but tumultuous year. A year ago at this time, J and I had decided to pursue a major change in our lives, seeking new jobs and a new home on the Front Range. Of course, no teaching jobs are posted in January, and we didn’t want to tell anyone about our plans until we had definite plans, so we spent several months feeling anxious, unsure, and unstable.

Then came April and May, the big hiring months in education, with the juggling act of applying, interviewing, and still being decent teachers at our then-current jobs. After what seemed like endless interviews (but really wasn’t that many), we both got hired, and then came goodbyes, and guilt, and excitement as the school year ended and summer began.

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Here’s a pic from our only camping trip this crazy summer, because what’s a blog post without any pictures?

Summer 2016 ushered in more instability, as Jordan’s new job sent him from training to training, we got our house on the market and started shopping for a new one, and I hung out in an odd place of mental limbo, wanting to do all I could to get ready for my new job, but not really knowing what to do, as I didn’t know anyone and had only a few resources. I also got injured for the first time in my running life, and, as I wrote about here and here, being injured only added to my already-turbulent mental state.

Although summer doesn’t technically end until mid-September, for us it ended in August. We moved into our new house in Milliken and started our new jobs, kicking off an exciting-but-stressful fall. For the last five months, our work-life balance has tipped almost entirely to the “work” side, as is to be expected when starting new jobs. I’m certainly not complaining — I love my new job and am grateful to have it — but that lack of balance has made settling into our new home and community happen much slower than we expected. In fact, we just this week have finally started hanging pictures, which has done wonders for making our house finally feel like home.

Being nearer the mountains also makes me feel more at home. 

2016 was a good year for us, but it was certainly a stressful one. As I look to 2017, I’ve realized that I don’t want to make resolutions, or set lofty goals. I’ve had enough big changes lately. Instead, I want 2017 to focus on one thing: stability. I want to work on continuing to make this house feel like our home, through painting and completing lots of the other projects that need done. I want to meet people and build friendships  in our new community. I want to finish out this school year and immediately start working on making next year better, now that I’ll know how things are done and what is expected at my new school. I just want to stabilize, and then, as ’17 goes on, maybe look at making changes or setting goals.

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Pic from the Skirt Sports 13er in June, one of my last longer runs before getting injured.

That same concept applies to my running life, too.  I’m knocking on wood here, but I think I’m finally recovering from this injury. I’m still taking it slowly, as I’ve thrice set myself back again by pushing too hard, too soon, but hopefully, I’m on my way back to normal. I literally need to focus on stability: strengthening, stretching, and foam rolling my muscles to keep this injury healing and prevent others from popping up. Although I’m eyeing the Loveland Sweetheart Classic four-miler in February, and I’d love to do some trail runs/races this year, I’m not signing up for or committing to anything until I’m completely healthy –stable –again.

I’m certainly excited for 2017 and looking forward to what I’ll learn and experience this year. Once I have a stable foundation, in all parts of my life, who knows what will happen next?

Do you have any resolutions/goals/words for 2017? Share them in the comments!

 

 

 

The Never-Ending Injury Saga

Once again, I’ve disappeared from the blog world for a while. Getting settled into a new school is definitely time-consuming, and then add settling into a new house and buying a car, along with normal life stuff, and time for blogging has disappeared. But today, I’m on Thanksgiving break, and we’re not leaving to visit my parents yet, so I’ll ignore my giant bag o’ grading for a few minutes and catch up with you instead.

The other reason I haven’t been blogging is  that this is a running blog, and my running life has been mediocre at best. Way back in July, I strained my hamstring, and it’s refusing to return to normal. When I first did it, I took three torturous weeks off, and eased back into running. I’ve pretty much stayed in that “easing back in” stage, as every time I try to go fast, go uphill, or go longer than 6 miles, my hamstring flares right back up, and I’m back to taking several days off.

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Pic from my last seven-miler, before my most recent flare-up

It’s intensely frustrating. I’m out of shape, and slow, and squishy, and my main form of stress relief has now become a form of stress in itself. As I wrote in this post, running is a huge part of my identity, and now, even more so than when I wrote that post, I feel like a part of me is missing.

HOWEVER. It’s almost Thanksgiving, and I’m well aware that I have plenty for which to be thankful. I have a wonderful family, including a dad who talked me through removing a dead mouse from my bathtub while J was out of town (that was traumatizing). I have an amazing husband who loves me and whom I love. When I can run, I have some pretty fantastic views.

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from my Insta

I have a warm house, a new (to me) car that will be much more reliable than my old one, and a job I love. In the grand scheme of things, I’ve got it pretty darn good. And that’s what I need to remember.

I know that even though this injury seems to be dragging on forever, it is temporary, and eventually, I’ll get back into shape, lose the injury-induced fluffiness, and be able to race again. In the meantime, I’ll be more diligent about my rehab exercises, listen to my body when it says “too much!” and focus on all the good I’ve got going on. (When I start complaining, please remind me that I said this).

How about you? What’s going on in your life? What do you have to be thankful for?

Best of… Things Lately

Best book I’ve read: Fig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz. We went to Denver’s Lit Crawl a few weeks ago — a bunch of bars and bookstores on the same street held book and poetry readings and it was amazing — and Schantz was one of the authors we heard. I bought the book after the reading, and it’s fantastic. It won the Colorado Book Award in Young Adult books this year, and I can see why. It’s sad, but so good. Probably not a good choice when you have to be alert and teaching teenagers at 7:15 a.m., because it’s hard to put away, but well worth the read.

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Best cookbook I’ve read: Paleo Takes 5 or Fewer by Cindy Sexton. I don’t really eat Paleo, but I like to use Paleo recipes because they’re so healthy, and this book has been my go-to for weeknight meals since I bought it about a month ago. It also has some not-for-weeknights (at least not for me) meals, but what I’ve made has been delicious and easy.

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Best (or at least most useful) way I’ve spent a Saturday: Refreshing my first aid and CPR skills. That’s how I spent yesterday, and although it made the weekend seem nonexistent, reading articles like this one remind me that it’s super important. I hadn’t gotten re-certified since high school, so it was definitely time.

Best husband: Pardon me if this one’s too sappy,  but my husband is the best. He cleaned the whole house while I was gone yesterday (including scrubbing under the stove. This new house is gross) AND painted more samples (we have a winner!), and today he finished controlling the jungle that was our yard. We now look like civilized people, from the outside at least. He’s the bomb.

Best vacation idea: Did you see that the Backtreet Boys are doing a residency in Vegas? I’ve never cared about Vegas before, but now I’m pretty sure I have to go and realize the biggest dream of 12-year-old Cassie’s life.

Best student quote: I’m teaching The Great Gatsby, and we’re watching the Leonardo DiCaprio movie as we read. During the scene when Gatsby comes in, dripping wet, from the rainstorm, one of my students blurted out, “Whoa! He’s moister than an oyster!” I feel like that might be some dirty thing kids say now, but I’m going to believe it’s innocent and hilarious.

Best season: It’s fall. I’m happy. Bring on the pumpkin, pretty leaves, and perfect running weather!

What’s your recent “best of”?