August’s First Run – Getting Outside With Friends (and a small fix for a Big Oops!)

I made a mistake! Somehow, while I was still composing my thoughts, I accidentally posted the drafted beginning of a blog entry, and it was seen by people…
and I feel  a little… naked. (Yikes!!!)

Fortunately, blog posts can be moved back to “Draft” (who knew, and Hooray!!!), so you will see a better version of the story you may have started reading and thought, “Hm… This does not seem to have a true ending” because… well, it is not yet finished! I’ll get those thoughts corralled and edited, and out to you all soon. Thank you kindly for your understanding while I remove, edit, and complete that entry.

Today, I want to share with you the run I had the pleasure of going on with my friends (nice and early to beat the heat) on Sunday. We started at a track, quickly made it to a trail for an intensely UPHILL climb, we passed the Zoo, and the beautiful Rose Garden, and made our way back into the city to finish our gorgeous, wooded, challenging, and fun run.

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I remembered to take pictures after we had jog/hiked up the first steep hill.

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We started  in the trees, and headed for the clouds…

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The view crossing the freeway.
Beautiful clouds (creating a sanctuary of cooler air... Ahh...!!!)
Beautiful clouds (creating a sanctuary of cooler air, ahh…!!!) and a view into the city from the Rose Garden.

Toward the end, we may have gotten a little silly.

(It is important to cross the road as a group and stay visible to traffic… We made the process a little more fun).

All in all, this being my first eight mile run experience in over three months, it was great! Although my quads felt like they wanted to remove themselves from my body and take a nap nearing the last half mile after all that up and down, I really, really enjoyed this run.

And spending time with those wonderful women.
(My synchronized running team). 😉

How did you move your body this weekend?
What is the goofiest thing you’ve done during a workout?

As always, wishing you fun on the run!

with Joy,
Alaina

Fabulous Stormy Weather – and My New Favorite Capris

Sunday, the forecast called for 91 degrees and sunny.  Arguably, this was a great day to get out early and run it out to beat the heat.

But I wasn’t really feeling all that ready to pull on my spandex and running shoes when I woke up before seven am.  I loligagged, checking email. perusing Instagram, making coffee, eating a light breakfast, and finally, after nine o’clock, feeling ready enough to walk out and get some miles under my belt, a deep, rumbling growl came from the sky, ending with a loud Clap!  Thunder!

IMG_1085When I looked outside upon the threatening storm, I only had one thought:

“Is it a bad idea to go run in the forest when there is a storm coming? … Or a really good idea?”

Fortunately for me, after a few sprinkles, and some laughter-provoking bellows from the sky, the sun broke through, providing great glimpses of gold along the wooded trail in the forest.

IMG_1087Half-way through my run, I met the top of the hill at the Pittock Mansion, a wonderful historic home that was celebrating their 100th year with cake at 2pm!  I was about three and a half hours early, so instead of eating cake, I took in the view of the city.

IMG_1088Due to the heat we have been having, the sky was pretty hazy, and the cloudiness only contributed to the murkiness of the air.  Despite those factors, it was still gorgeous!

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A beautiful rose in the garden at the Pittock Mansion. She smelled wonderful!!!

I made it back home in record time – apparently the repetition helps with trail navigation when it comes to anticipating rock and tree obstacles – and not a moment too soon!  The clouds once again took up their song, singing in that lovely, rumbling bass…  And soon erupting with rain and large chunks of hail.  Timed that run perfectly.  By accident.

On this particular run I wore my trusty trail shoes the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger  (I am loving them, and it’s not just me!  They got a great review from Runner’s World, as well!)  I love how comfortable they are: supportive and flexible while being a low-top.  Not to mention the great color (Dark Chino/Light lucid Green-Black-Turbo Green combo makes me happy to strap in).

I also wore a new pair of Nike Capris: The Nike Legendary Tight in the fantastic Turbo Green/Obsidian/Black color (which nicely matches the shoes).  These tights have a super high waist and fit phenomenally.  They are incredibly comfortable. I honestly felt less jiggle, there was no muffin top over the waistband (there is no elastic band at the waist – just great fabric), and, at the risk of sounding completely silly, it almost felt like I wasn’t wearing any pants.  

They’re that comfortable.  I suggest you give them a try.

For any of you wondering, these are my own words, I am not sponsored by Nike nor was I given free product.  I bought these items, and truly love them.

Do you have a favorite shoe (past or present) that you cannot live without?

Here’s to happy running, staying cool, and avoiding getting hit by lightning!
~Alaina

Hitting the Trail – A New Perspective on Running

Sunday, day two of weekend workout 50k training, I decided to use my “short” run wisely and head into the hills.  It was a double-whammy of hill workouts, this weekend; time to change it up, strap on my new trail shoes, and head out the door for some real, butt-kicking, rock and tree-toe obstacle-full muddy trails of fun.  In my brand-new shoes.

Nike Zoom Terra Kiger - my first pair of "real" trail shoes.
Nike Zoom Terra Kiger – my first pair of “real” trail shoes.

The soles of Nike Zoom Terra Kiger have an amazing sticky rubber.  When I tried them on in the store, I sounded like I had just come in from the rain with rubber sneakers on – Super squeaky!  On my mile and a half trek over pavement to the trail, running in these was mildly difficult.  On the one hand, they offer tremendous light support, and on the other – it is SO much more support than I am used to, as I generally wear the Nike Free Flyknit (which may almost feel like being barefoot in comparison).  The girl working in the shoe department was aghast that I ran marathons in the Free – apparently it is not designed for that kind of work.  I like taking the ordinary and making it  extraordinary.  I love my Free’s.

As much as wearing the Terra Kiger on the pavement was giving my calves and hamstrings a stupendous workout, as soon as I hit dirt in these bad boys, it all made sense.  They have enough support to keep your foot solid on the ground, and they feel incredibly stable, yet the sole is light and flexible enough that you can still feel the rocks and dips and bumps in the trail.  My first run in these shoes was eight miles long, five and a half on trails, and I came out of this test run completely unscathed: No blisters, raw spots, or extraordinary soreness.

Yes, I do believe the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger will work for my 50k (Siskiyou Outback, here I come!)

Although the day started out overcast and with a slight chill (which I was grateful for near the end of this run), the forest was gently bathed in a wash of soft, cool light.

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Lower Macleay 2 6/29/14

Pittock Mansion view 6/29/14The view from the top of the hill at the Pittock Mansion gave me a pleasant reprieve – a place to catch my breath, take in the city, and stop to smell the roses.

Pittock Mansion Rose 6/29/14

The descent down the hill was, of course, much quicker than my climb up to the top.  (This is the stuff negative splits are made of, right?)  51 minutes up, and 43 minutes down.  I was cautious, and took more care to watch for obstacles on the downhill leg of my journey, especially after the warning from my 50k running-mate that morning, complete with a picture of her bleeding knee, offering sage advice: “do try to pick up your feet.”  Lower Macleay 6/29/14 downhill

Overall, it was a great insight to a different type of running.  Trail running is so much more active.  I tend to get in a zone on my daily run, pleasant smile on my face, looking around, observing my fellow runners, saying good morning, and generally feeling at peace, quietly plodding along with joy.

On the trials, the “zone” is a totally different place. It requires focus, constant attention to detail in your surroundings, and persistence.  Less than halfway up my climb, I was out of breath, quads and rear burning with the effort, pulse beating, and my heart beating at my breast as though it was going to jump from my chest in a fit of agony and lay panting on the ground.  I effectively learned on Sunday that I might be a little out of shape for a race that takes place on trails.

But you can bet that I’m not going to let that little fact deter me.  

To all my fellow runners anticipating your next race: Here’s to hill training and working through the pain, because on the other side of that discomfort lies a greater level of fitness.  And satisfaction!

How do you train for a trail race?
How many of your work outs per week do you devote to hills and trails?

with joy in running (and breaking through past limitations),
~Alaina

Grateful days – 11.5 mile Trail Run and 100 Posts Completed

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This morning was quite the treat – the Saturday Run group met at one of our favorite spots: Leif Erickson Trailhead at the top of Thurman to do a trail run.  This run was unique because we ran the entire length of the trail.  A first for us all, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to view some new scenery.  The farthest distance I have run out this trial was to mile marker 6 (a total of twelve miles out-and-back).  Today’s trip was an uphill run, out one-way.  Grey, cloudy, and toward the end of the run, a bit rainy.  I think the moisture only enhanced the greenery around us, filling the air with soft pitter-pats of rain soaking into the ground, the calming scent of Earth, and helping us to feel more connected and alive in the outdoors.

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This was my longest run since last year’s St George Marathon, and it felt good to get out and do some extra mileage.  With another marathon coming up in May, I am starting to feel the need to be more strict with my training schedule, as I have yet to fully commit to running 20+ miles per week.  When I think back on last year’s training schedule, the time commitment sounds significant when I add up the hours, but since I ran before work on weekdays, it felt less so because I was done with the required mileage before I even started the work-day.  How do you manage marathon training?

Next week is the Shamrock Run!  I have signed up for this race two times previously, and been unable to attend the actual event.  This year, I am looking forward to tackling the 15k on the Terwilliger hill, and joining in the sea of runners dressed in Kelly Green, embellished with Shamrocks.  Will I see any of you out on the road next Sunday?

On another note, today is a very special post for me – this is my 101st post!  Never did I imagine that I would be able to keep writing about running for so long.  I have discovered running is a pretty interesting sport, with many sights worth seeing, places to explore, and distances to conquer!  I want to thank all of you for reading and responding to these entries; not only has this been a great outlet for writing and sharing the beauty I see while getting distance under my belt, I have also made some great connections with like-minded folk near and far.  I am humbled to know that there are 100 of my friends, family, and acquaintances who choose to read the words on these pages.  You inspire me to keep writing, and I cannot thank you enough for that gift.

All my best to you on this wonderful Saturday.

with joy and gratitude,
~Alaina

Cool, Crisp, and Crunchy: Saturday’s Run in the Forest

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The Moon, still high in the sky, as I set out Saturday morning.

Saturday, the cool morning air smelled clean, fresh like a snow-fallen day.  The wind was blowing, gusting and swirling around me as I huddled in my jacket, hood raised despite the lack of rainfall to protect my chin and neck from the cutting air.  The city was aglow with the warm peach hue of the rising sun.  It was a beautiful day for a long run in the Park.

The trails were blissfully open, full of color of the fallen leaves, and crisp with frosted mud and crunchy ice-covered puddles.  The whole of Portland seemed to be out for a run in the forest that day, taking advantage of what is sure to be one of the last sunny weekends of Fall on our way into Winter.

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The gorgeous gals of Saturday’s Run.

We went out for an out and back run of eight miles, which is lovely on the trails; the photographer in me wants to explore some more territory, so I may encourage a divergence from our usual path for the next run in Forest Park.  Despite the repeat in terrain, I was able to catch some pretty magnificent moments.

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Beautiful sunrise through the trees.
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Frozen puddle!
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Sunglasses recommended.

It was the perfect day for a run.  I enjoyed every minute of being blinded by sunlight, especially since experience tells me we will soon be running in pouring rain each day.  Love Portland winters!

Where did you run this weekend?

Summer running, having a blast!

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Overlooking the city, Mt Hood in the distance.

Hello, readers, bloggers, and runners!

Admittedly, I have spent far too much time away from my keyboard.  The past two months have worn on me; I have lost, learned, and through these experiences, I have come to conclusions which are guiding me to the center of what is important to me… But that is a blog for another day, as I am not quite ready to share my story.

This evening, I would love to tell you about this morning’s run!

I am now less than two months from Marathon day!  Today’s training schedule had eight miles slated; I plotted my course, and was out the door by 6:15am.  I wanted to savor the morning light, and get in what views I could, so my run started on a vertical climb to my favorite lookout.  I was greeted with the lovely scene above.

The sun was  just rising (tomorrow I plan to head out a little earlier to get a better look at the sun as it rises rather than after the event), and the light from that big ball of gas was blinding, highlighting everything within reach in a goldenrod hue.

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I couldn’t get enough!  But since I had another six and a half miles to cover, I resumed my run.  My next destination was the Waterfront, and on my way I happened upon a beautiful bridge sightings:

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The Fremont Bridge as seen from The Fields Neighborhood Park.
Broadway Bridge as the sun rises over the Wilamette.
Broadway Bridge with the sun rising over the Willamette.

It was a glorious morning for this run.  I thought the route would be pretty devoid of runner traffic, but this day proved a busy time for runners.  (Probably due to the fact that the temperature was supposed to top off over 90 degrees, a fact of which I was unaware until mid-day).

Looking back across the water at "Big Pink".
Looking back across the water at “Big Pink”.

I finished my eight mile double loop with a time of 1:21, yielding 10’10” miles (including time spent photographing the world around me).  It’s pretty incredible to see that I am gaining speed even without training to be faster.

Last month rounded out with 100 miles covered in training, this month the dial is already turned to nearly 86 miles, and there are six more training runs to complete!  The plain truth that my human body is able to keep up with this training regimen, constantly amazes me.

This evening, I was talking with a friend who said that a couple of his runner friends mentioned that after training, the act of running is boiled down to a factor of time – time needed to complete the run.  I find myself thinking about running with that mind-set as well: How many miles do I need to do now?  And how many minutes do I need to accomplish this next run?

How do you feel about training when you are a month away from the marathon?  Is it draining?  Exhilarating?

Does running become tedious covering so many miles (and so many minutes), or does the monotony provide the freedom for the mind to make space and just enjoy?

As always, Happy running!
~Alaina

Family of Runners

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The more I run,I learn that running is not just something that I do, it is a part of who I am.  There is a freedom and a joy that comes from running that I find satisfies in a way that no other activity or endeavor can match. When I get outside, head high, feet light and quick, smile blazing on my face, I know I am free. I am on my path and no one can move me. I am a runner. I can do anything I decide to do.

As I sat in my post-12 mile trail run Epsom Salt bath Sunday afternoon, reading the end of Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, the story brought bubbles of joyful giggles and tears to my eyes.  I thought, this is what running is about.  It’s not about the competition, or your next PR, or beating this person or that, it’s about community, cheering one another on, and the camaraderie at the heart of every runner.  We are in this together, and we are invincible when we embrace the joy of running, and move forward on the course with our teammates.

Last Sunday I had the great pleasure of running with my Grampa.  My scheduled run was to be 15 miles, and Grampa was planning about ten, so my plan was to do five prior to meeting up.  As it turns out, I ran two prior to meeting Grampa at the trailhead to tackle ten miles on Wildwood, which later turned into 12 miles on the trail, my morning run netting a neat 14 miles.  I decided to allow myself a break in mileage due to increased difficulty of terrain.  I have never run more than a 10K on trails.  It was beautiful out, but my goodness.  I knew I would experience some soreness after that run!

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We ran uphill toward Pittock Mansion, and while taking in the city view, Grampa pointed to the next hill over and let me know we were running over there, up past the zoo.  It was a fabulously cool day.

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The trails were stunning.  Lush, vibrant greens surrounded us on the hard-packed dirt trails.  The trails were dirt, gravel, and filled with random tree root or rock protrusions, which kept my eyes trained on the ground before me, and somehow my eye was still pulled to take pictures of the gorgeous surroundings.

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We had so much fun running up and down those trails; I learned the route and where to pop off the trail for water stops, and we talked about life and adventures.

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When we arrived at the Pittock Mansion for the second round, we found a garden party out of the past overlooking the city…  The attending parties were stunningly attired, and I couldn’t resist a portrait of this couple, which they graciously allowed me to photograph.

On the way back down, the sun had finally broken through the clouds, and the light all around was like liquid gold filtering through the trees.  By this time, it was nearing noon, and the trails were filled with people out for a jog, walk, hike, with strollers, dogs and walking sticks, everyone was on the trail in the forest enjoying the outdoors.

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I am so grateful to have the opportunity to run with my Grampa.   I feel very lucky to get to go on this marathon journey with my family, training with my friends, being a part of the greater running community.  It is awesome!

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Me and Grampa

Keep your head up, a smile on, say hello to your fellow running-mates, and enjoy the run!
~Alaina