Today's Mighty Oak

From what I’ve read and learned from my team, fueling for an ultra is much different than fueling for a marathon. The constant stream of fuel your body needs turns it into an eating contest with running thrown in.

I’m a strange case, but I actually like Gu. Most of it is that I’m highly allergic to dairy, and all of their energy gels are vegan (unlike Honey Stinger, sadly), and it gives me a chance to get some chocolate in my life, something that otherwise, I have very little of. So for marathons and training runs 22 miles and shorter, I know what works for me and how to space out fuel.

But I also know that after so many hours on my feet, I’ll need more than just energy gels. So now begins the fun work of figuring out what I can stomach while I’m running!

Like all good Yinzers, I made a Sheetz run!

I’m sure I amused the clerk after wandering the aisles reading nutritional labels for things that were dairy free!

This past weekend I ran 18 and started trying things. After my first loop I had the RX Bar, which was really good and sat well. My only reservation is that further into a race, it will be hard to chew. That was also about 200 calories, which is what I think I should be aiming for, although I’m used to 100 calorie Gus. Something to think about I suppose.

After my second loop, I grabbed two Oreos. Oreos are wonderful because they’re vegan. They shouldn’t be, there should be some dairy in that filling, but thanks to those sweet, sweet chemicals, I can always have an Oreo! Anyway, those were no problem to gobble down, although they sat a bit uneasy in my stomach, which surprised me.

Anyway, the plan, whenever possible, is to keep trying new foods on runs and seeing what works. Having a looped course works for this, as I’d rather not use a vest or anything like that and having my car as a mini aid station works perfectly. I need to try to find some jelly beans and some non-dairy Pringles (Sheetz only had flavors with dairy), and I want to try some boiled potatoes as well. From there, I’ll be scouring what races list as their offerings at aid stations and see what I haven’t tried yet, and continue to train my stomach to eat solids as I run!

I headed to Cleveland for work on Tuesday, so that shifted some days around, and the weather was a bit wonky again. But still got everything in, even if not exactly as I had planned it.

  • Monday: 5 miles. Headed to the gym right after work then early to bed to wake up and drive to Cleveland the next morning.
  • Tuesday: Rest day.
  • Wednesday: 7 miles. At the gym, just totally checked out and hated this run. Worked through it though.
  • Thursday: 7 miles with speedwork: Intervals. Redemption from the day before, and getting my speedwork in for the week, 6 x 400.
  • Friday: Rest day.
  • Saturday: 6 miles. Swapped with a day from next week to still give me a recovery run of 5 miles after my long run.
  • Sunday: 18 miles. Did three loops, the first with three of us, the second with two, and the last by myself. It was a good run, and I was dressed well for the cold. The friends I ran with, plus putting in more miles and speedwork have really pushed me faster than I expected to be going, which is great, although might require a bit of recalibration in my mind.
  • Core/strength: Plan is to get back to this next week, after Vegas. I need to be held to this!

I leave Thursday for Vegas and the 2019 r/running meetup! I still have to pack and of course I’m freaking out about it, but I’m so excited to see everyone! I should be able to get all my runs in this week and just will need my long run while I’m out there. It’s a down week, so that means only 14 miles, which I hope I can get in while I pace someone from the team!

The Polar Vortex forced my running during the week inside. I love winter running, but with wind chills in dangerous ranges, I’d rather take care of myself a bit. Regardless, my hands took a beating with tons of small cuts from dry and stretched skin. The weather is coming back to bearable, so that’s good at least.

  • Monday: 7 miles. Had to shuffle some days around due to a meeting later in the week.
  • Tuesday: 5 miles.
  • Wednesday: Rest day, finally. Had a meeting after work for the Camp Staff Alumni Association, getting that back off the ground.
  • Thursday: 7 miles with speedwork: Intervals. Still brutally cold, so did intervals on the treadmill, ended up doing 6×400. I love intervals, so this was a lot of fun!
  • Friday: Rest day. Brewed beer with a friend!
  • Saturday: 5 miles. swapped my weekend days due to schedule, then dinner with my family.
  • Sunday: 18 miles. I started my run, and then got honked at my two running friends! We did loops together, which was awesome for all of us! Lots of black ice on the jail trail the first loop, but by the next time around, the sun was out, the temperature increased and it was all gone. Afterwards headed to the Death, taxes and/or cake party!
  • Core/strength: More runner’s yoga through the end of February. I wanted to add in body weight work, but it looks like that will have to wait until after Vegas, due to time constraints.

We’re two weeks out from our next meetup race, and between that and lots of work things, it’s pretty stressful, but I’m excited to get to Vegas with my running family!

Back at it, and with an increase in mileage, comes a drop in temperature. I like winter running though, although the ice and snow made things a bit tricky this week.

  • Monday: Rest day.
  • Tuesday: 7 miles. Added some mileage to the Frontrunner loop. College students are awful at not taking up too much of the sidewalk though, and as much as I love running through CMU and Pitt, it’s a bit annoying at times.
  • Wednesday: 5 miles at the gym.
  • Thursday: 7 miles with speedwork: Hill repeats. Added some mileage to the Frontrunners course, and found a pretty steep, quarter mile stretch to do repeats on. Ran up and down it twice, hoping to increase this in the future.
  • Friday: Rest day. Had dinner and yoga with some of the Frontrunners!
  • Saturday: 5 miles. swapped my weekend days due to schedule.
  • Sunday: 16 miles. Actually did 16.5, but the plan says 16, so close enough. Returned to the jail trail/color park loop, doing it three times. The first was cold and snowy, and as it warmed up with each loop, I got to see different parts melt. Also, the jail had pancakes for breakfast and it smelled great. My paces have been increasing a bit, which is great, but I’m still cautious of going too fast.
  • Core/strength: More runner’s yoga each day this week, I did two of the Yoga with Adrienne Dedicate series on Friday with the Frontrunners. I’ll be returning back to r/bodyweightfitness starting in February, so looking forward to that.

Speed work was good, although it was definitely a workout and left me sore, and I really enjoyed my long run this week (although not the snow, that made the run more difficult, too deep in some places, too melty and slick in others). We’ll see how these next two weeks go as I continue to increase my mileage.

My first stepdown week, and was a nice little break that fit in well with the weather, thankfully.

  • Monday: Rest day.
  • Tuesday: 5 miles. Mini loops around my neighborhood. Didn’t trip over any, but trash can lids are hard to see at night!
  • Wednesday: 3 miles at the gym. Finally starting to clear out of the resolutioners, which is quicker than I predicted!
  • Thursday: 5 miles. Tiny loops again, in some fresh snow, which once again let me know which neighbors never shovel their sidewalks. There was some utility work going on, so I got to watch the progress of the electric and gas company (and see a utility worker pee on his truck).
  • Friday: Rest day. Was supposed to a night for drinks with a friend, but he cancelled, so I headed to bed early so I could join some friends in the morning.
  • Saturday: 14 miles. A friend from PRorER was running 31 miles for her 31st birthday, so I met her and her partner at the Color Park and we did 5.5 mile loops! He and I stopped after two and a short out and back, and she continued, everyone finishing before the rain and the falling temperatures! A great loop that I’ll be returning to!
  • Sunday: 5 miles. First though, cross training via snow/ice shoveling. Bitter cold, and headed to the gym, which was really empty, but that was nice. Hoping some of the ice and the chill dissipates before this next week of running.
  • Core/strength: More runner’s yoga each day this week, and I made plans to meet some of the Frontrunners for yoga and dinner on Friday after work, so I’m looking forward to that! I’m also hoping to start back in with the r/bodyweightfitness routine, hopefully twice a week to start. I know I need to focus on my core especially, and the other muscle work will be good for me too.

It was a good week, and the somewhat lower mileage was a nice mental break. I know this next block of four weeks is going to probably be my craziest when I take into account the weather and my trip to Vegas, so as long as I survive, I’m confident for the rest of my plan!

Last week before my first stepdown week, and I am thankful to get there!

  • Monday: Rest day.
  • Tuesday: 6 miles. Went to run with the Frontrunners early to try to time getting my extra two in before we all left for the four mile loop. This time was successful.
  • Wednesday: 5 miles at the gym. Lots of resolutioners, but they seem to leave not too long after I’m there, so I can mostly ignore them, locker room has been super crowded though.
  • Thursday: 6 miles. Once again tried to time it with the Frontrunners, not successful, but it worked out in the end, a couple of them were doing extra, so me getting back early and their extra miles worked out just about perfectly!
  • Friday: Rest day. Became an impromptu game and drinks night with a friend, so I moved things around for the weekend.
  • Saturday: 5 miles at the gym. Had a lot of errands to run, and this was the first stop. Had tried to get a new pair of Ghosts, but the running store is restocking, so hopefully next week.
  • Sunday: 16 miles. Originally I was going to run this on the GAP, but with the snow that came down the night before (just in time for me to drive home in it from downtown), I didn’t want to deal with it on the trail. Headed to Schenley and did the Frontrunner loop four times. I enjoy doing loops like this, seeing the changes each time (and getting honked at by a driver who I inconvenienced for about a second and a half by running in the cleared bike lane versus the ice covered sidewalk; I then flicked him off, which I know I shouldn’t do, but it felt right).
  • Core/strength: I did the next two full classes of Dedicate, the 30-day Yoga with Adrienne series, on the other days, I did her 7-minute runner’s yoga, which I’m finding really helpful to loosen things up. I like that a lot more than the full classes, but I’d like to incorporate both, we’ll see what happens moving forward.

Overall it was a good, but busy week. Glad to have a bit of a down week, but of course that just means I filled my schedule in with everything else I want to get done, but so it goes.

Here we go, week two!

  • Monday (New Year’s Eve): Rest day. Threw a little get together with way too much food, board games and drinks. More on that below.
  • Tuesday (New Year’s Day): 6 miles. Mini loops in the neighborhood. Almost got hit by a car backing out of a driveway, and saw tons of doggos out for their afternoon walks!
  • Wednesday: Rest day, miles added to Sunday of previous week due to doctor’s appointment and catching up with some friends for drinks.
  • Thursday: 6 miles. Still lots of resolutioners at the gym.
  • Friday: Rest day
  • Saturday: 14 miles. Back on the Great Allegheny Passage. My body couldn’t decide if it was going to be hot or cold, which was annoying. I went out slightly faster than I should have, and although I kept it up the entire run, my hips paid for it the next day.
  • Sunday: 5. Pretty beat up from my long run the day before, so kept it slow, but still walked a bit at the end. Gym still very crowded, especially for a Sunday.
  • Core/strength: I did the first two full classes of Dedicate, the 30-day Yoga with Adrienne series, on the other days, I did her 7-minute runner’s yoga, which I’m finding really helpful to loosen things up.

At my New Year’s party, I had a bunch (too much) of some sliced summer sausage. I’ve used that exact same item while making mujarada at the Burn. This last year at the burn especially, and New Year’s, I was horrified to see my ankles and feet disappear into a wobbly, bloated mess. As in, I could feel the swelling sway as I walked.

I looked up the sodium content in it, and it’s through the roof, so I’m thinking that, or the possibility that there is something in it that I’m allergic to, makes me realize that I need to never eat it again, as well as pay better attention to my sodium intake.

Starting a new training plan, so a new series of weekly training recaps! This time, I’m doing a 24 week plan (if I counted correctly) from Relentless Forward Progress.

  • Monday: 6 miles on the mini loop (1/3 of a mile) around my neighborhood.
  • Tuesday (Christmas): Rest day (swapped from original plan with Monday, due to the holiday)
  • Wednesday: 5 miles
  • Thursday: 6 miles (mini loops in the neighborhood)
  • Friday: Rest day
  • Saturday: 12 miles. Back on the Great Allegheny Passage, and it was such a wonderful run, although a bit windy on the way back, but very enjoyable!
  • Sunday: 5 + 5. Was supposed to do only do five. Because of New Year’s and a doctor’s appointment, I opted to do Wednesday’s miles as a second workout. A bit sore the next morning, but glad I did it.
  • Core/strength: I’m finishing up the TravelStrong intermediate squat challenge (for Buttmas, the follow up to Planksgiving), and on Tuesday, we’re starting Namast-New Year, a 31 day yoga challenge!

Since we’re at the end of the year (and I’m not running tonight), I figured this would be a good time to look back at the year!

My first race was the VeteRun half marathon in West Virginia, which I turned into a mini runcation with my friend Cat and ran with my Aunt! I also set a new PR for the distance, even in the windy conditions!

The year continued with my first full marathon, and then onto the extra long 5K that was Stride for Pride! I finally broke an hour in the 10K at The Great Race, and of course, there were a few virtual races in there.

October was my fall A race, the GAP Trail Relay, and then the next morning, the Mario Lemieux 6.6K (where I exactly tied my PR for the distance) and a 10K in Central Park!

All in all, I ran 1,222.8 miles. I don’t run with Strava or any other kind of tracker, I just use a spreadsheet to track the miles (rounding down to the nearest mile, except for races, where I’ll add in the tenths). After my marathon plan, I made a goal to hit 1,200 for the year, averaging 100 a month, and I’m so glad that I did it!

I also had an amazing year in terms of clubs and teams! PRorER had our official meetup at Eagle Up Ultra (videos located down the page here), we had a mini-meetup in Pittsburgh and continued to grow our little running family through new members and two babies! We’re getting ready to tackle Jackpot in February (as well as a host of other events throughout the year), and a Pittsburgh ultra, dumb run in the woods event over the summer!

Our team from the GAP relay learned we loved running at nights so much we’ve kept doing it, leading to the creation of PRANK: Pittsburgh Runs At Night Klub. And my running group, the Front Runners, heads towards our 35th anniversary with a growing membership and some of the best running friends I could ask for.

What does 2019 bring? Well, starting the second week of my next training plan, and have a bunch of races on my calendar, including my fall A race (at least I think it will be my A race), the Philly Half, so I can get the Keystone challenge medal.

I’m looking forward to another year with wonderful people and using running to see new and exciting places. I’ll probably do the same and set a mileage goal after my spring A race, as a way to keep myself motivated throughout the summer and the rest of the year!

I run with the Pittsburgh Frontrunners, and the name was derived from the book, “The Front Runner” by Patricia Nell Warren.  I’ve never read it, and I’d like to, even though I’ve heard it’s a bit dated at this point.

However, it spawned a global running community, there are Front Runner chapters all over the world, and the International Front Runners participates in things such as the Gay Games.  That group, has awarded Warren an honorary lifetime membership (the first such award) to honor her writing and the birth of a global running organization.

I’m so happy to run with the Frontrunners, having found a great group of friends, both at my pace, and not, all of whom I’ve learned so much from!

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