Chasing 42

Life, the Universe, & Running

Archive for the category “Daily Chase”

Daily Chase: Vol. 77

As much as I claim to hate the heat and humidity, I certainly can’t argue with the fact that it creates quite a lush green landscape in the state parks in the area! Of course, that also means poison ivy at every turn, but as long as you know what you are looking for, you can pretty well avoid it. At times, I feel like I’ve been transported to a lush jungle or northwestern rain forest environment, and it truly adds to the enjoyment of the single track. There is just something special about being able to mentally escape while on a run and focus your energy on the beauty around you. I’m always a bit confused when I see people out on the trails with headphones in their ears, as though they were doing their best to forget they were in the woods in the first place. So, get out there, find your happy place, and enjoy #chasing42, no matter where your single track may take you!

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Lums Pond State Park

Chasing42 Log: 20170619- 20170709

Run: The miles have been relatively consistent over the past few weeks, although the combination of a Laurel Highlands recovery period and hot/humid weather has left my legs a tad bit sluggish. It’s really only been in about the last week that I’ve started to have the same spring in my step that I felt during the comfortable spring months. A solid summer routine has certainly helped push through the heavy legs and keep the summer training moving forward. Here’s a quick snapshot:

Monday- comfortable group run with the Delaware Running Club crew

Tuesday- track workouts at a local high school when I can make it, or tempo miles         around campus

Wednesday- progressive track workout with Delaware Running Club crew (how do you speed people do this all the time!)

Thursday- no drop trail miles at Brandywine Creek State Park

Friday- recovery run, short and easy

Saturday- long trail run, increasing vertical gain

Sunday- mid-distance trail run, more vertical gain

So, the #chasing42streak is still going strong, and a consistent schedule of rolling and interspersed comfortable miles has kept my legs feeling fresh…well, not that I’m starting to acclimate to the heat at least!

BCSP-1

Rainy Mist at Brandywine Creek State Park

Thought: I’ve been thinking more and more about running grit lately, in large part due to the running of the Western States 100 just a few short weeks ago. The conditions are always hot, and the net downhill course definitely creates challenges for many runners. It also increases the likelihood of a mid-race bonk that can feel like the end of the road. Those runners that can truly remember that they’ve been there before, they know they can come out of it, and they are committed to finishing strong are the ones to watch. This was perhaps no better exemplified than by ultrarunning start Kaci Lickteig, who came into this years race with the F1 bib as the returning champion. She went out strong in the early miles, but his a really tough patch where even walking was a challenge. It’s always humbling to hit those points, even after knowing you did everything correctly in training. However, her humility, perseverance, and grit are a large part of what makes her a true champion. She eventually came out of her slump and finished the race, and her experience and the grace she displayed during and afterwards are part of why I love this sport so darn much! You can listen to her fabulous interview on ultrarunnerpodcast.com here for a great reminder of the ups and downs we all face while #chasing42!

Battery Park

Battery Park along the Delaware River 

Daily Chase: Vol. 76

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and father figures out there today! Summer is in full swing, albeit not officially here yet, and that means each passing weekend is precious and filled with possibilities. Last weekend, that meant an adventure to western Pennsylvania for the Laurel Highlands 70.5, and this weekend was filled with yard work and other tasky endeavors. Not every weekend can be filled with excitement, right?

Chasing42 Log: 20170605- 20170618

Run: Last weekend, as I was ticking off the miles and chasing the sun and the clock during the Laurel Highlands 70.5 Ultra, I was struck with two competing thoughts. On the one hand, I clearly wanted to finish as quickly as possible (and certainly under the 20-hour threshold for it to count as a WS qualifier). On the other hand, I knew that If I finished after midnight, then I would have my Sunday run completed and be able to take an even longer break and still keep my streak alive 🙂 Alas, I made really good time and finished around 11:30PM. I logged a few hours of sleep in the car, and made the journey back home early Sunday morning to a much anticipated shower. It was a hot afternoon, but I still laced up my shoes for a slow mile around the block, and I kept my streak going. This past week has been all about recovery and intentionally not pushing my legs any harder than comfort would allow. I managed a solid longer run yesterday, and went swimming in the humidity today, but enjoyed every minute of my time on the trails. I’m certainly not fully acclimated to the heat and humidity yet, but it will come. In the meantime, I’ll keep pressing on and enjoying myself and my training!

rainbow

An incredible rainbow during a relaxing weekend. 

Thought: My father isn’t a runner. To the best of knowledge, he never was a runner, despite being built like a marathoner in the purest sense. However, from a very early age, he instilled in me the benefits of hard work and the importance of pursuing your dreams. He encouraged me to explore my interests, no matter how far fetched they might have been. I could have easily told him I wanted to run a marathon as a child, and he would have supported me and then asked me “what’s next?”. Anyone who has run an ultra-marathon of any kind has probably had some version of the “that’s crazy” conversation with a friend or family member. That’s simply not a response I ever received from my father. Instead, he’s always been nothing but supportive, encouraging, and proud of each and every one of my accomplishments, running or otherwise. It takes someone special to recognize a unique set of interests and never deviate from supporting someone as the chase their dreams, and my father continues to be that person. He taught me what chasing42 meant before I even had the words to describe it, and I continue to be thankful every day for his presence in my life!

Daily Chase: Vol. 75

I’m currently sitting on our front porch, enjoying a cold drink, and loving the cool breeze and comfortable temperature. I’ve spent a good majority of my time out here this weekend, and it’s been the perfect opportunity to relax, catch up on some reading, and bask in what I hope is not a short-lived spring/early summer season. It’s a nice balance between knowing I need to get things done around the house, and wanting to spend all my time outdoors. If I could hit the pause button on the weather and time of day, then I’m pretty sure this is when I’d do so. Do you have those moments when everything clicks and you just want to bask in the relaxation? Are you making the time to go to your happy place and pause to truly enjoy it? The miles fly by rather quickly and it’s easy to get caught up in the training, and sometimes it just takes someone handing you a cold drink to force your hand!

cold drink

Do you have your cold drink? 🙂 

Chasing42 Log: 20170527- 20170604

Run: It’s taper time in the #chasing42 world, and that means less volume and a slower pace. Over the past week or so, I’ve managed to stick to a slower pace, although my volume hasn’t necessarily decreased as much as I would have liked. In my defense, it’s been rather gorgeous outside for the last week. In addition, last week was a 3-day weekend, which meant an extra opportunity for a long run. I kept things slower, and have been rolling my legs out consistently, so now I just need to reign in the miles. I kept my weekend mileage low this weekend, thankfully, and did plenty of stretching. I am sure it will be even easier to do so this coming week before heading up to PA for Laurel Highlands. Here’s to a calm race week!

pausing

Thought: The bonk. The breaking point. The “that’s all I’ve got” point. We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt the life drain from our body as we realize that we didn’t consume enough calories, drink enough, or properly account for the climate or terrain. We’ve reached our mental threshold and begun making deals with ourselves. If I let myself walk to “x location”, then I’ll pick it back up again. If I take it easy until the next aid station, then I can stock up and hit it hard again. In some ways, that mentality has become crucial to my ability to push myself into and out of the pain cave, and really challenge what I’m capable of enduring. However, I’m also aware that the mind tends to give up faster than the body does. We, as a society, are not accustomed to discomfort in our daily lives (many of us, anyway), and thus our ideas about where that threshold rests have changed over the years. Today, the average American only takes approximately 5900 steps, which includes those trips to the bathroom and to the break room for one more donut. Those 3 miles aren’t typically difficult miles by any means, and it’s drastically alternated our perception of how far we can push ourselves.

Of course, runners of all sorts certainly don’t fall into those sedentary categories the same way, but it has still altered the way we mentally perceive pain and exhaustion, the way we talk about it, and the way we view it in others. Thus, I find myself, as I tackle new and unique physical challenges, thinking about how I can push myself to go just a little bit harder, just a little bit longer, and push aside those mental doubts just a bit more. Training is ultimately about growth, and that happens on a mental and physical level. So, the next time i perceive a bonk coming on, or start making deals with myself early in a race, I’m going to try and repeat #chasing42 in my mind and push just a little bit more. Do you have it in you to push just a little bit more? Let’s see what happens!

Daily Chase: Vol. 74

I’m pretty sure that I blinked and two months rolled by before my eyes! That’s about the easiest way to describe the hectic efforts to continue #chasing42. There’s a lot to fill you in on over the last two months, not the least of which is the fact that #chasing42streak is still going strong at 552 days and counting.

Perhaps the most significant alternation to my schedule this past semester was the addition of two evening classes. I’ve taught both of them previously, but never at the same time, and managing two three hour evening commitments, which meant not getting home until around 9PM, proved to be quite taxing on my training and life in general. I found myself begrudgingly squeezing in runs where I could on these days in particular. I certainly managed to make it work, but I’ve noticed the difference in my energy levels for the past 4 months. Happily, the semester ended yesterday, commencement is tomorrow, and I’ll have grades submitted by the end of the weekend. I’m very much looking forward to the change of pace ushered in by summer, and the increased availability for runs and other spontaneous activities!

jog your mind

An appropriate poster in the University of Delaware Library 🙂 

The most significant event since the Umstead 100 was my now annual pilgrimage back to Iowa for the Market-to-Market Relay over Mother’s Day weekend. I was able to spend an extra day out there this year, and the added time spent with friends was just what my heart, my mind, and my liver needed! I’ll have a belated “race” report up shortly 🙂

M2M17

The Speedy Streakers returned for year 5! 

Chasing42 Log: 20170329- 20170526

Run: As I already mentioned, the streak is most definitely still in play and the miles have continued to add up, despite the additional demands on my time. I’ve been adding in some additional Friday miles to compensate for the decreases on Mondays and Wednesdays so my overall weekly average hasn’t dipped all that much. We’ve been getting a fair bit of rain over the past month, which has kept the temperatures down for the most part, and made for some beautiful running weather. My main training focus now is preparing for the Laurel Highlands Ultra on June 10th, so I’ve been focusing much more on vertical gain and technical downhill running.

trails- BCSP

I can’t get enough of these trails! 

Thought: Becoming a morning person is an elusive dream. I’m familiar with the science, and realize there’s plenty of evidence to support the futility of my efforts. Nonetheless, I can’t seem to let go of the dream. In my ideal world, I enjoy a beautiful, quiet morning run to wake myself up every morning and start my day off right. I return to this dream periodically throughout the year but I’ve yet to put my finger on the strategy that will work best for me. Going to bed earlier obviously makes plenty of sense but it’s often pointless if I’m not actually tired. So, what’s the trick? Who out there has pushed through the struggle and truly overcome not being a morning person to get up early and enjoy those quiet workouts? What tips and tricks can you share? I’ll be waiting anxiously as I sip my coffee and continue #chasing42!

Daily Chase: Vol. 73

Phew! I feel like I blinked and the entire month of March passed before my eyes! It’s hard to believe that April Fool’s Day is on Saturday, and with it the Umstead 100 🙂 Despite an incredibly hectic work and travel schedule over the past month, I am feeling incredibly good about my training block and I’m ready to have a blast down in Raleigh, NC.

It’s spring break at the University of Delaware this week, and the timing could not have been better. Not only has it given me the extra evening time to get other things done, but I’ve been able to rest and catch up on a number of different projects occupying my time. With the exception of a small “snowstorm” 2 weeks ago (which still resulted in the university being shut down for a day and a half), it’s certainly felt like spring is in the air. If I’m being honest, it’s felt like spring since November 🙂 For the second year in a row, an incredibly mild winter has meant an amazing training season. Last year, the build-up was for the Georgia Death Race, and this year it’s Umstead.

Mary17-3

I had the trails all to myself after the snow fell! 

I may sometimes feel like the daily chase means chasing my tail with everything on my plate, but the truth is I love being busy. Not only does it leave me so much more satisfied at the end of the day, but it also means I value and appreciate every mile that much more. Each chance I get to lace up my shoes is a gift, and I won’t be taking it for granted any time soon! Keep #chasing42, y’all!

Mar17-2

Chasing42 Log: 20170303- 20170328

Run: First off, let me reassure you that the streak is indeed still in play. I am at 493 days with at least 1 miles logged, and going strong. It’s amazing how normal it seems now to make sure that I’m getting in that quick mile even on my rest/recovery days. Over the past few weeks, my hectic schedule has definitely meant some early morning and late night runs, but I’ve been holding strong to my training. Shortly after my last daily post, I headed up to Leesport, PA for the Naked Bavarian 40-miler. I planned on treating it as a solid training run for Umstead, and a chance to work through race-day logistics. The 2-loop course was made more interesting by the sub-freezing temperatures, but I still felt really good the entire way and the 6500 feet of elevation gain was nothing to shake a stick at either. I’ll eventually get up a full race report but I can definitely say it was a great way to start the month and round out this training block. Over the past few weeks, I’ve dialed my volume back and have actually committed to a legitimate taper. The Taper Gremlin has been hitting my hard, though, especially while spending all of last week in sunny Atlanta for work! However, I’m keeping myself focused and I’m ready to give it my all on Saturday!

Miles: approx. 250

Elevation gain: approx. 17,500 feet

Mar17-1

The weather in Atlanta was gorgeous all week. I love run-exploring new cities! 

Thought: I’ve been thinking more and more about gear lately. I know- shocking, right? 🙂 I’ve been gathering everything I’ll need for this weekend, and have been traveling more and more lately so I’ve been thinking more generally about the most efficient running essentials to pack. It’s an ongoing research project for me, and perhaps it is for you as well. I’ll spend more time in a future post sharing my essentials, but I’d love to hear about your essentials on race day. What do you make sure is in your race pack/ gear bag/ drop bag? What is your organizational system? Do you have a bag or other container that you have come to love? I’d love to hear all about it all! What are your essentials when you are #chasing42?

Daily Chase: Vol. 72

March is now upon us, and this is about the time that hints of spring begin to peek through the snow and cold. Well, instead, we’ve had more days above 50 than not, many in the 70s, and the snow has been nowhere to be seen. Climate change may be very real and I firmly believe in doing everything we can to slow things down, but I’m not complaining about the weather in Delaware 🙂 The busy hasn’t stopped, in my life, or around the world, in the last week or so, but that’s what keeps things interesting, right?

I’ve found my mind torn in a number of different directions as of late. Everything sparks my interest, and yet I don’t quite find enough time to do any one area justice. Perhaps part of #chasing42 is learning how to focus your energy more directly, and not get torn in as many different directions? #runningthoughts #ultramantra

Some things garnering my attention:

Shoes: I’ve been looking intently at the new Altra Escalante, and also trying to find a solid deal on the Topo Terraventure. The Escalante seems like a no-brainer, and I’ve read enough positive reviews of various Topos that I think it’s time to expand my shoe quiver!

Gear: My Salomon S-Lab 12 vest has been serving my well for a number of years, and I love the fit immensely. However, one of the zippers has completely broken, and the others are on their way out, so I’ve been thinking more intently about replacements. In addition to the S-Lab 12, I’ve been looking at several other vests, including:

  • Ulimtate Direction Fastpack 15 or Fastpack 20, PB Adventure Vest 3.0, AK Mountain Vest 3.0, or Jurek FKT Vest. I’m also coveting several of the new, larger packs- the Fastpack 25, and Fastpack 35, but I can’t honestly say that I have a use for them…yet!
  • Cotopaxi Veloz 3L or 6L vest– this is a totally new design for a running vest, and they are kickstarting the product. I’m tempted to give it a try as a lighter, shorter distance vest that would also work well for longer distances with ample aid stations.

If you have any experience with any of these items, or happen to have a discount code for me, I’m all ears!

Chasing42 Log: 20170220- 20170302

Run: My runs have continued to be consistent, even if it hasn’t necessarily gotten any easier to squeeze them in during the week at times. I’ve found myself venturing outside some mornings for quick runs sans-watch, in an attempt to focus my energy a bit more and wake up! I was in Boston this past weekend for a quick trip, and had the chance to get in a pretty phenomenal run, which you can read more about in an upcoming post. Thursday night hill workouts have been a nice challenge as well, and it’s been great getting out with others and pushing ourselves up and down the deceptively difficult hill near the Hagley Museum for some quality climbing!

Thought: Environmental concerns, protests, legislation, and research have been in the news quite a bit as of late. With numerous outdoor retailers making the decision to boycott Utah over the Governor’s stance on public lands, and the dismantling of environmental protections at the federal level, tension and fear is at an all-time high. People are downloading and archiving environmental research data due to fears that it will be scrubbed from the public record, and we continue to allow climate change deniers into positions of power within the very agency sworn to protect the environment.

In my professional life, I spend a lot of time thinking about intersectionality. In the context of my work, this is the notion that each of the various aspects of our identity intersect with each other to make us who we are and impact how we experience the world around us. None of us can solely be defined by one aspect of our identity (race, class, gender identity, sexuality, etc.), and efforts to combat oppression in any of these areas cannot be accomplished in isolation. We must acknowledge how various issues are interconnected, and acknowledge that sometimes good things are accomplished while simultaneously holding back other accomplishments. That’s why this piece in Outdoor Magazine was so powerful for me. If we can start having more difficult conversations like this about how all of our concerns are interconnected, and often not conveniently, then we can truly begin to realize the change we are looking for in the world. I highly encourage you to take a look, and think about where you fit into this puzzle. Keep #chasing42!

Daily Chase: Vol. 71

The chase continues! It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, but that’s what keeps things interesting, right? If you follow politics even remotely, then you’ve had plenty of opportunities to shake your head, roll your eyes, and let out a sigh of sadness, confusion, or utter frustration. It’s about this time of the year that the higher education professional in me begins to feel the stagnation of the semester, as do the students. This is a bit mitigated now that I’m working at the University of Delaware, since the spring semester doesn’t begin until February, but students still get antsy very quickly. I’ve been adjusting to my new schedule this semester, and the changes to my workouts as well. However, the clock continues to count down towards the Umstead 100 so I will continue #chasing42!

shenandoah-1

A weekend getaway to Virginia meant some quality time in Shenandoah National Park. 

Chasing42 Log: 20170205- 20170219

Run: It has been an incredibly busy and adventurous two weeks of running and I have the numbers to show for it! I’ve clocked in around 150 miles and 14,000 feet of vertical gain in the last two weeks as my training reached a peak weekend yesterday and today. Getting up early on Mondays and Wednesdays to run a few miles has proven quite the unique challenge but a necessary evil since I’m on campus both evenings teaching. The flip side this semester is that with my Tuesday evenings free, I’m able to make it to the track workouts and get in some speed work, which I certainly missed during the fall. So, not only is the streak alive but I’m feeling really good about my training as I head into a busy spring filled with plenty of work trips and responsibilities, and some exciting races. Did I mention that it was 70 degrees and sunny this weekend? This is normal February weather, right?

shenandoah-2

Nature’s beauty rarely disappoints. 

Thought: Don’t worry, folks, climate change isn’t that big of a deal. There’s nothing to see here. The strange weather patterns, melting glaciers, and disappearing species are a perfectly normal part of the natural world.

Well, at least that seems to be the messages many of the financially motivated, administratively inept and otherwise corrupt members of our new governmental regime would have us believe. It’s absolutely unbelievable to me that despite the overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrating the impact of humanity on the global climate, we are still debating it. We are still arguing over putting in place measures to preserve the dwindling natural environment around us, secure the clean water sources that give us life, and protect the species that keep our ecosystem in balance. We should not need to host data collection parties to preserve scientific research before it disappears from government websites. We should not find ourselves needing to protest the destruction of our environment by corporations seeking to irresponsibly develop protected lands in an effort to make money by producing goods that nobody needs in the first place. Don’t start lecturing my on the nature of capitalism, either. This isn’t capitalism. The benefits (if there are any) do not outweigh the costs. Those in power continue to demonstrate their inability to act in favor of the greater good, and not what’s good for their re-election campaigns.

shenandoah-3

Appreciation and action go hand-in-hand. 

The more time I spend on the trails, running and hiking, the more I think about how fragile the beauty around me truly is at the hands of man. The gorgeous mountain top views, flowing streams, and rushing waterfalls have been around for millions of years, existing in harmony with the flora and fauna they support. It’s sad to realize that in the blink of an eye, our species has managed to destroy so much of that beauty, and replace it with concrete jungles and fossil fuel pollution. I know I have a role to play in that, as a consumer, and as a steward of the land I explore, but it’s hard not to throw up my hands in disgust. It’s hard to fight when what you believe is so seemingly logical and rationale, and yet pushed aside in favor of fleeting notions of personal wealth and comfort. Sometimes #chasing42 feels like chasing my tail. Still, we must continue to #resist!

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