Chasing 42

Life, the Universe, & Running

Vertical 5K Fun

A week ago, I felt adventurous and eager to try something new. The result was the inaugural Vertical 5K (as it shall henceforth be named)! I felt it was worthy of it’s own shout-out Daily Chase-style post due to the hilarity and suffering that ensued.

Chasing42 Log: 20160919

Run: I was feeling antsy, and found myself thinking about all the climbing I had coming up at Grindstone. After a relatively restful weekend, my legs were feeling really good and I wanted to push things a bit harder. I had been out to the Newark Reservoir on several previous occasions and had enjoyed running the perimeter, hoping onto the nearby trails, and doing a few repeats on the enormous hill that stretches from the parking lot to water level. However, I thought it would be fun to take it to the next level, and see how many repeats I could complete.

The hill itself is grassy, and sits at about a significantly steep incline. There is a paved path that winds around up to the water level more gradually, but enough people take the shortcut that the city has found it necessary to redirect traffic up slightly different paths in the grass to avoid erosion. This made the .08 mile climb that much more challenging, and added to the fun! I began my ascents by pushing pretty hard and feeling my pulse jump as my heart and lungs were called on for a more intense experience. I was wearing relatively light weight road shoes unfortunately, so the run down did not offer nearly as much reprieve because I needed to be overly cautious of my footing so as not to do my best Jack impersonation.

The distance accumulated incredibly slowly on the steep incline, and my quads were burning pretty quickly. However, I loved watching the elevation gain increase much more quickly than the distance, with 80-90 feet of gain over each summit. I lost count of my repeats fairly quickly, but started paying attention to the distance and decided after about a mile that I would push for a full 5K. The final runs up involved quite a bit of pushing, but I hit my goal, and relished running down the hill one final time and taking a lap around the parking lot to shake out my legs. I was drenched from head to toe, and no doubt looked like a mess, but it felt incredibly. After 3.3 miles, I had gained 1,772 feet. This won’t be my last time tackling this hill and #chasing42!

vertical-5k

MD H.E.A.T. 50k Race Report

The race may have occurred several weeks ago, but make no mistake…the heat is very much still a factor in Delaware. Of even more consequence is the consistent 80-95% humidity, which leaves me wondering if it’s about to rain every day! I was talking with a friend this past weekend about the need for rain because the ground was so dry locally, and it occurred to me that I didn’t even realize it had been so long since a solid rain. The humidity leaves me feeling like it’s always damp and sticky outside. This feeling was the backdrop for my second consecutive running of the MD H.E.A.T. 50k on August 27th.

Last year, this race was my first stab at an east coast trail race, and the 6,000 ft. of vertical gain served as quite the wake-up call. It may not sound like much, but it was quite a bit for this Midwestern transplant. Oh, what a difference a year makes! The course was virtually the same this year, aside from a few adjustments for washed out trails, but running it felt entirely different this year. It was a nice reminder that I’ve been putting in a lot of work over the past year to increase my leg strength and climbing ability.

This year, I was lucky enough to have a friend from Iowa fly out to join me for the race. Ben has been training for the Twin Cities Marathon in October, and naturally saw his first attempt at the 50K distance as a perfect training run to test his endurance. It’s always nice to know I’m not the only one with a backwards logic🙂 As I did last year, I woke up around 3:30am on Saturday morning, and hopped in the car for the quick drive down to Patapsco State Park in Maryland, where we loaded onto the bus around 5:45 for the short drive into the closed park.

I found Ben on the bus, we exchanged our groggy greetings, and we got settled near the start. The RD called everyone together a few minutes before 7:00AM for some quick announcements, and then we made our loop around the start/finish area and onto the trail for the start of the race. We fell into a comfortable pace/rhythm pretty quick during the first of two loops, and the small group of entrants spread out enough that we weren’t tripping over each other on the mostly single-track course.  I had a very visceral memory of the course from last year, and went in prepared for the hilly, technical nature. However, before I knew it, we were 5 miles in and moving along really well. The well-stocked and enthusiastically-staffed aid stations came up quickly, and we focused on moving quickly between them, while still maintaining a comfortable, conversational pace.

My recap of the race and the course itself last year provides plenty more detail regarding the various twists and turns, stream crossings, and steep climbs that awaited us. The memorable Grist Mill climb (all 47% grade of it) was waiting for us around mile 5.8 again, and I relished the experience in a much different way this year. I’m pretty sure Ben cursed my name for celebrating the climbing opportunity, but it was much more fun this year!

We hit the giant stone wall around mile 15 feeling pretty good, and gingerly tackled the climb and descent, managing not to face plant in the soft, muddy ground near the Patapsco River, which was an accomplishment in and of itself. We paused for a few moments at the start/finish to re-hydrate and take in some more calories. Ben’s shoes happened to be water proof, which might make the stream crossings more manageable, but also did a lovely job of keeping in all the sweat on this warm, 90& humidity morning. He was able to ring out his socks before putting them back on, while I pulled out a dry pair of socks and was never more happy to have remembered to pack them! I was much more familiar with the course this year, so I skipped my larger hydration vest, and opted for a bottle and smaller waist pack, which definitely contributed to my not overheating as much.

The second loop was, as expected, a bit more crowed due to the 25K race that had started around 9AM. We completed the first loop in a little under 3 hours and were feeling pretty good, so we kept the pace going. I had been worried about my pace prior to the start of the race, knowing that Ben is considerably faster than I am, but it would seem I have indeed developed a bit more speed myself in the past year. We were both running comfortably, and still able to carry on a conversation, which is exactly what I wanted out of the race as a solid long training run. I excitedly pointed out to Ben at the 26.3 mile mark that we had now run longer than he had previously gone, and it was fun to think back to my first 50K in D.C. at the Northface Endurance Challenge in 2011. We kept pushing along, and were both happy to get through the halfway point of the second loop, since the climbing was definitely front-loaded.

The time continued to tick by, and we moved along, enjoying the beautiful morning. I was once again reminded of how lucky I am to be able to venture out into the woods like this and explore so freely, and it served as a good reminder of my desire to keep my running sustainable. As we ran the final few miles, the reality of the distance caught up to Ben a bit, but he pushed on very well, and we were greeted by children with water guns as we crossed the finish line. At that point, we were both soaked through anyway, so washing off a bit with clean water was a welcome relief!

The post-race spread was impressive as always, and a cold beer tasted quite good after running 31 miles! We lingered and filled up a bit on the excellent spread, before deciding to call it a day and head back to the cars. The epicurean and Looper had stayed home this year, so I was on my own. Based on how I probably smelled after the race, I’m guessing she was happy she didn’t spend a few hours in the car with me afterwards as well. I ended up finishing almost 30 minutes faster than last year, and more importantly, felt much stronger the entire time. It was once again a great race, and certainly nice to see a familiar race and be a part of his first 50K experience. I have no doubt he is going to kill it at the TC Marathon this year, and I’m definitely feeling much more confident about Grindstone as well. All told, it was a great way to spend a Saturday, running the trails, and living the dream. Keep #chasing42 everyone!

 

Daily Chase: Vol. 59

Life is most definitely about balance, and I’ve found myself examining my own balance in a lot more detail as of late. I’ve become acutely aware, now that I’ve had some time to settle into my new position at the University of Delaware, that there are only so many hours in the day. I have always loved to be busy and fill my days with as many activities as possible, but I’ve also had many more things on my to do list than time to complete them. I suppose that is the curse of finding so many different things interesting, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. However, it does mean I’ve spent quite a bit of time “doing” in the past two weeks, and far less time writing. It’s good to take a moment to stop and reflect on what life is throwing at you, and running continues to be my conduit for just that. I cherish my time running every day, whether it be one mile or 50 miles, and what it allows me to accomplish mentally.

I have some catching up to do when it comes to the happenings in September, but it’s coming…even if some of it shows up in October🙂

Chasing42 Log: 20160904- 20160918

Run: My time has been significantly more limited, especially with the class I am teaching on Tuesday nights, and the extra work it involves. However, my training has been strong as I race towards October 7th and the Grindstone 100. I celebrated my birthday a day early on September 4th at the Labor Pain 12-Hour Run in Reading, PA. My goal was to use the race as an opportunity for a long, supported training run and to hit my age (37). You can expect a more extensive report, but the short version is: perfect weather, great course, lots of climbing, well-organized, and 40 miles in a little over 7 hours. I dialed things back a bit the following week, including a relaxing taper-esque run in Lothian, MD on the 10th while visiting family. There’s just something amazing about having an entire wildlife refuge and bird sanctuary to yourself on a Saturday morning (even if the humidity was out of control)! My weekday running has made for some much longer days, and I think the totality is probably catching up with me a bit, based on how I’m feeling at the moment. Heck, I even managed to squeeze in a run in D.C. after a one-day trip for a conference! I wouldn’t recommend changing in a Union Station bathroom, but I always love running on the mall🙂 The streak is still going strong, and I love the habit itself as much as the miles. I’ve been focusing on getting as many trail miles as possible, and climbing as much as I can the past few weeks, and it seems to be paying off.

Thought: I read blog posts and see photos of beautiful mountain landscapes out West, and I seem to dream of living out there pretty regularly. The wanderlust kicks in hard when I’m reading about amazing back country outings and looking at incredible views. This has gotten me thinking lately about what my life would be like if I actually did live in a mountain town, though. Would the pull be so strong that it would be hard to focus on work at all? Would it drive me crazy to be in an office with a trailhead right outside my door? I’m not entirely sure, but I’m learning to appreciate where I am more and more, and will keep looking forward to the adventures to come. I’ll always be #chasing42!

Daily Chase: Vol. 58

I have a confession to make. I’m going through Olympics withdrawal. This is probably a feeling many of you share, so I’m sure I’m not saying anything all too crazy. This iteration of the summer games was a bit different for me, however. Since moving to Delaware, I’ve learned a great deal about the track and cross-country aspects of running. This was not an area of running I had ever explored, and it certainly wasn’t something my asthmatic, un-athletic teenage self had ever explored. However, the cross-country and track culture in this part of the country is much stronger than it was in Iowa, and many of my friends did compete at all levels, are still competing, are coaching, or their children are now running. This has meant many wonderful conversations about all aspects of the sport, which coupled with my new-found shoe knowledge courtesy of my part-time job, has increased my knowledge and awareness a great deal. My passion is still MUT running, and that’s still where I see myself competing, but I have an interest and appreciation for these shorter races that I’ve never had before. Thus, I watched on with an increased interest as records fell, dreams came true and were broken, and medals were won around that 400m oval. It was a pleasant reminder that the distance doesn’t matter. The time doesn’t matter. The race doesn’t matter. Running is running, and we are all runners. We share a passion, a dedication, and a culture, and it’s that shared identity that truly defines #chasing42!

Bright sunshine to start the semester!

Bright sunshine to start the semester!

Chasing42 Log: 20160822- 20160903

Run: It’s been a solid block of running, the #chasing42runstreak is still going strong! The Fall semester started this past week at the University of Delaware, so my schedule has been quite hectic for the past few weeks. I’ve been working in higher education for over a decade now, and I always think I’m prepared for the “New Year” but it seems to sneak up on me anyway. This has been being a bit more flexible with my running, and taking advantage of opportunities when they arise. I’ve been putting in some higher volume weekday totals going into the weekend, and then pushing hard over the weekend as well as I enter my final push before the Grindstone 100. I was able to meet up with a friend from Iowa last weekend and run the MD H.E.A.T. 50K for the second year, and we had a blast! I’ll be posting a report soon, but I can definitely say that my time and energy both saw a significant jump over last year, which I took as a very good sign of things to come! I enjoyed the first cool morning in quite some time today and enjoyed a beautiful run through Brandywine Creek State Park and up into PA with the group. The epicurean and I are heading to Reading, PA tomorrow for the Labor Pain 12-Hour Race, so I’ll be able to knock out some solid miles and test some nutritional strategies as well. Look for a report on that race coming up as well!

New UD Blue Hens participating in the Twilight Ceremony to mark the beginning of their journey!

New UD Blue Hens participating in the Twilight Ceremony to mark the beginning of their journey!

Thought: In my new position at the University of Delaware, I have the privilege of working with some fantastic colleagues. One piece of my new work environment that has taken me a bit by surprise has been the pleasant focus on work/life balance. I’ve always railed against this push in Student Affairs as an unrealistic vision of a profession that necessitates long hours and hard work. It’s the nature of the beast, and we know what we are getting ourselves into going in. However, as I’ve gotten older and the all-nighters of my youth are a thing of the past, I’ve spent a lot more time thinking about how I can balance all of the priorities in my life. I may still bring work home, read research articles after dinner, and go into the office early to get things done, but it’s a wonderful feeling to know you are in an environment that supports me in all of the areas of my life that are important to me. Did I mention that my supervisor is training for her first marathon, and I’m also loving geeking out over running and helping her as well? It’s all about #chasing42 and I’m living it!

Daily Chase: Vol. 57

Oh, hi there! This is me emerging from the Olympics rabbit hole I fell down two weeks ago🙂 There have been more incredible highlights, interesting stories, and downright strange events in the international sporting world in the last two weeks than at any other point over the past 4 years. That’s what ultimately makes the Olympics such an incredible experience. I find myself so easily sucked into the drama that unfolds with athletes I know and those that I’m “meeting” for the first time on the grandest stage of them all, and it can be quite the emotional roller coaster if you let it consume you. I’ve enjoyed some amazing victories, incredible upsets, and questioned some ridiculous decisions, but I’ve loved every minute of it. I certainly have my own thoughts on the viability of the Olympics, the actions taken and not taken by Rio and the IOC leading up to the games, and the economic viability of holding the games in a different city every 4 years. However, I think it’s important that we all learn to separate the politics from the individual stories, the passion, the commitment, and the dedication on the part of all of the athletes that spend their entire lives working towards this opportunity. Only some of them are leaving with medals in hand, but none of them are leaving empty-handed. Their spirit, emotion, dedication, and heart are what #chasing42 is all about and I salute them all for their efforts!

An etching and printmaking workshop proved a wonderful way to spend a weekend with the beautiful epicurean!

An etching and printmaking workshop proved a wonderful way to spend a weekend with the beautiful epicurean!

Chasing42 Log: 20160807- 20160821

Run: My running has been quite consistent over the past two weeks, and I’ve been really pleased with some of the efforts as I continue to maintain my #chasing42runstreak. I’ve been tackling as many hills as I can, whenever I can, and that has made for some extreme threshold runs in the ridiculous heat and humidity over the past two-week. Ultimately, training in this climate will only make me stronger as the fall facing season approaches, but that hasn’t stopped me from cursing mother nature every time I come back from a run exhausted and drenched in sweat! I capped things off this past weekend with about 35 miles of mainly trail-running, with plenty of climbing, and my legs are feeling great. I’ll be running the MD HEAT 50K next weekend for the second year in a row, and it should serve as an excellent training run and way of working out some of my race logistics. Things were a bit cooler this weekend, and in looking ahead, it would appear that the weather may finally be breaking. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

My first attempt at paddle-boarding was a small victory...I didn't fall in!

My first attempt at paddle-boarding was a small victory…I didn’t fall in!

Thought: Now that I have over a year in Delaware under my belt, I’m happy to report that the chaotic craving to run every race in sight, all at once, has subsided. I’ve always told myself to choose my races and spread things out to ensure no burnout or overuse injuries. Towards the end of the Voyageur 50, I started to feel some sharp, stabbing pain in my left shin. I immediately assumed the worst and thought about the prospect of recovering from a stress fracture. I was clearly stubborn enough to finish the race, but the pain popped up again several times in the following week. I nervously requested and x-ray from my physician, and waited anxiously for the bad news. Luckily, I received to get the message that there was no sign of a stress fracture. The pain hasn’t re-emerged in the past two weeks, but it was the reminder I needed to calm down, take my training one step at a time, and be much more methodical about my approach. The “kid in a candy store” feeling I had when we moved to Delaware has now worn off, and I can return to the careful, measured, analytical approach to my running that I pride myself on, as I move forward. My plan is set for this fall, and I’m excited to see what the next few months bring. More importantly, I’m looking forward to many years of happy running and exploring as I continue #chasing42!

Race Report: Voyageur 50

I grew up in the land of 10,000 lakes. In reality, it’s more like 11,482 lakes of 10 acres or more. Thus, you’d think I spent a great deal of time on the water, and my youth was awash with typical lake activities like fishing, boating, and swimming. In reality, I lived relatively close to only one lake, and spent next to no time out on the water, aside from some “swimming” in depths that never went over my head. My asthma and the socioeconomic realities of life meant I spent more time reading about lakes and trails than I did enjoying them. Thus, when I discovered the North Shore of Duluth as an adult, and then discovered trail running even further along in my journey, I instantly fell in love with the trails that crisscross the shores, ridges, and bluffs of Lake Superior. As luck would have it, the epicurean, despite her high water standards courtesy of a youth filled with Atlantic fishing excursions with her father, developed a pretty quick love affair with Duluth and Lake Superior as well. Thus, when I realized that the Voyageur 50-miler just happened to be on the same weekend that we were planning to travel back to visit my family, it only made sense to plan a trip up north and spend some quality time on some amazing trails.

We rented a car and drove  the short 2 hours 15 minutes up to Carlton, MN (race start location) on Friday the 29th. Luckily my mother was able to join us, and it had been a good 35 years since she had been to Duluth, so she was eager to see how drastically things had changed. We got checked into our hotel and drove down the road a mile or so to packet pickup, which was an easy-in, easy-out endeavor. Carlton was holding their annual celebration “Carlton Daze” over the weekend, and I walked up just as a youth run was beginning, and it made me smile to see so many young children lined up and ready to give it their all. Then we drove the 20 additional miles up to Duluth, and spent the evening walking around the lakeshore, and eating a delicious Italian meal at one of our favorite restaurants, which we happily discovered now had a gluten-free menu, which meant we were back in business!

All smiles after a lovely evening in Duluth!

All smiles after a lovely evening in Duluth!

After dinner, we walked around a bit more and then headed back to the hotel. I got all of my gear situated for the morning and we relaxed before hitting the hay relatively early. 4:30AM came early as it always does, but I was thankful that the starting line at the Carlton High School was mere minutes away so I didn’t feel rushed. The epicurean drove me to the start and I arrived around 5:30AM, in plenty of time for the 6:00AM start. This was the 35th running of the Voyageur, and you could feel the history in the air as runners young and old gathered to tackle this out-and-back course. For some, like myself, it was the first time running the race, and for a select few, it was incredibly the 35th time they had toed the line!

Trail sunrises are the best! (Photo credit: Endurance Kennels LLC)

Trail sunrises are the best! (Photo credit: Endurance Kennels LLC)

There were a few brief words of encouragement from the race director, and we were sent on our way with the characteristically unceremonious “go” being uttered from a megaphone. After a brief stretch on a road leading to a paved trail, the course hops onto a several mile stretch of rocky, rooty, technical single-track along the Knife River. The reviews of the race I had read indicated that getting to this section as quickly as possible to avoid being stuck too far back in a single-file conga line was important, so I pushed it the first mile or so to make sure I didn’t get stuck too far back. The sun was just rising and it was a beautiful sight to see the steam coming off of the rushing water. It was hard not to stop and take pictures, but I did manage to get my phone out while I was moving- it was too beautiful to pass up!

How could I not stop for a quick picture?!

How could I not stop for a quick picture?!

The first aid station was 3.4 miles in, just over a beautiful swinging bridge in Jay Cooke State Park. I’d run these trails before and was excited to cross the bridge and know where I was, which doesn’t happen very often! I was feeling strong, and only stopped long enough for a glass of water before continuing on. The next 7 or 8 miles flew by pretty quickly, and I fell in sync with two other runners just after the first aid station, so we started running together and had some great conversation along the way. One of the best aspects of the trail running community is how genuinely kind and social everyone is, and how easy it is to fall in step with someone and end up chatting for hours.

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The three of us reached the infamous power lines section feeling strong and ready to tackle them. I’d heard this section referenced repeatedly as a challenging and difficult section of steep climbs so I was bracing for the worst. The climbs were definitely challenging due to the extreme grade, but they were all relatively short, so I didn’t mind them in the least bit. I was ultimately more nervous on the descents due to the slick, muddy path downward. The sun was still making its way up in the sky at this point, and the cool air gave us some much-needed relief, but also reminded us that it would be much hotter on the return trip!

Nothing reminds you to slow down like a rocky stream!

Nothing reminds you to slow down like a rocky stream!

After tackling the power lines, there was a short section of ridge line running, complete with ropes to pull yourself up on a particularly steep and precarious ascent, and I had a blast channeling my inner mountain goat. We emerged from the forest and spent a few miles on some rolling gravel roads before heading up to Spirit Mountain. As we were crossing under the ski lifts and looking down the ski slopes towards Lake Superior and Duluth, the views were absolutely incredible. I reached the top of the mountain, and other than a quick pit stop to allow for the end stage of digestion, I was feeling great. I had a blast bombing down the mountain on trails and service roads towards the final aid station and turn around point at the Lake Superior Zoo.

I was feeling good on Spirit Mountain!

I was feeling good on Spirit Mountain!

I reached the turn around point aid station and saw the epicurean and my mother immediately. I was all smiles as I rolled in and greeted them calmly. They helped me fill up my hydration pack and mix in some more Tailwind, and I ate some snacks and a few glasses of ginger ale, and I bid them farewell. They left to go spend the afternoon in Duluth, and I took off to tackle the course in reverse, beginning with an ascent of Spirit Mountain. I fell in step with another runner, and we began geeking out over ultrarunning related topics. It was fun to have a conversation with someone as passionate about the sport, and who followed the “stars” in the sport as closely as I do and we had a great conversation. Near the top of the mountain, we picked up another guy, and the three of us continued on together, making our way back to Carlton.

Such beautiful views!

Such beautiful views!

The return trip was relatively uneventful, other than to say that I was still feeling really strong, and could tell I had been doing a good job with hydration and nutrition. The temps rose into the low 70s, but after the brutal heat in Delaware for the past month, this felt like heaven! I eventually pulled ahead of the other two I was running with, or more accurately, they pulled up because they weren’t feeling as good, and I carried on alone for a few miles. This chunk of the race really allowed me to reflect on how thankful I was to have the opportunity to be out there, in a place I love, doing something I love. My concentration seemed to lock in and I noticed each foot fall as I hopped over roots and sidestepped rocks, splashed through small streams, and set small goals for myself during climbs. I reached the ridge line again, and enjoyed the slightly different perspective.

Still feeling good!

Still feeling good!

Near the bottom of this section, I caught up to a guy I had been leapfrogging for several miles. We got to chatting and ended up running together for the remainder of the race without ever really talking about it. Our paces seemed to mesh well and an unspoken understanding just sort of took hold. We approached the power line section again and tackled the hills with relative ease, despite the sun high in the sky. After this chunk of elevation change, the final 10 miles flew by relatively quickly. We took our time through the rocky final miles to make sure there were no twisted ankles, and enjoyed the comfortable pace. We reached the final section of the trail and emerged out onto the paved trail we had taken to start the course, and it felt great to know were close. With about a half mile left, he looked over at me and asked if I had anything left in the tank and I said sure. We picked up the pace and sprinted in strong across the finish.

It was a memorable weekend!

It was a memorable weekend!

I crossed the finish line in 10:15, which was good for 71st/ 271 and very respectable. I claimed my finisher’s mug, and took a deep breath. My mother and the epicurean were waiting for me at the finish, and I greeted them with the same smile I had given 25 miles earlier. Happily, there were showers available in the high school, which meant I could clean up a bit before hopping in the car for the drive back. My legs were certainly feeling the effects of 50 miles, but I still felt strong and happily felt as though I could have turned around and done it all over again. This was a great test of my endurance leading up to the Grindstone 100 on October 7th, and I’m looking forward to this final training block. More than anything, this race was an opportunity for some new memories and a chance to share something I love with the ones I love. Ultimately, that’s what #chasing42 is all about🙂

Daily Chase: Vol. 56

Summer travels have made the last few weeks a bit of a whirlwind, but they have led to some thoroughly enjoyable experiences running and living life! We left to travel back to Minnesota to visit my family on the 27th, so the few days prior were a rush to wrap up things at work, pack for a week of travel, and still continue training. Luckily, the epicurean and I did a good job of planning ahead and it made travel relatively easy. We spent the week amidst what amounted to 4 separate shorter vacations, but I made sure to keep up with the #chasing42streak and still have plenty of fun and relaxation. You truly can’t put a price on spending time with family, and this was a special trip on many levels, and made me appreciate so much more the time we were able to spend with family and friends. It’s always hard to live so far away from family, and I don’t think it entirely sunk in for me until I was leaving to return to Delaware. There’s no question that #chasing42 has taken me to some amazing places and will continue to do so, but it will always bring me back home as well🙂

 

Chasing42 Log: 20160724- 20160806

Run: So, I ran a few times over the course of the last two weeks! I’ve been getting in some solid mid-week trail runs and other group training runs, which has made dealing with the continued extreme heat and humidity a bit easier. I made a point of taking it easy in the days leading up to our travels to Minnesota, as I was running the Voyageur 50 on 30th, and I thought maybe I’d give tapering a try. As it turns out, it actually does seem to have some positive effects, and I ended up having a great race playing on the trails overlooking Lake Superior. The entire Duluth area holds a special place for both the epicurean and I, so it was wonderful to return, and for my mom to be able to join us for the quick trip. A few days prior, I was able to run a few miles on the trails where I ran my first 50-miler as well, which was a fun trip down memory lane. I was able to run a familiar loop in Ames with some friends last Monday morning while we were in town as well, which was a blast despite the 5AM wake-up call. We returned home this past Wednesday, and got back to Wilmington early enough that I was able to get out for a comfortable midday run. Some solid hill-work on Thursday served as good prep for a solid long run yesterday. I was able to knock out over 26 miles on the trails with some good company, and then I headed back out in the afternoon to make it an interesting two-a-day test. Happily, my legs felt great!

Thought: The Summer Olympics started this weekend, so our collective attention will be directed to Rio for the next two weeks. There are numerous compelling stories and exciting events to hold our interest, and I’m looking forward to many of them. The lead up to Rio has been more about the chaos of Olympic facilities that were incomplete and environmental conditions that would make a cockroach cringe. I can only hope that everyone enjoys this moment. All of the athletes have worked their entire lives, in many cases, for this moment and it would be horrible for Zika or some other illness to ruin their Olympic memory.

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