The Post I've Been Putting Off...

Some of you may have noticed it's been quiet on my blog for a little while.  In fact, I've sat down to write posts several times, but never had the heart to finish them.  The short answer to my lack of posting is a simple one - I've been incredibly depressed the past few months.  For those of you following me on social media, you may have noticed I've really dropped the ball on basically all channels the past few months.  I've just not had the heart to do much posting.  In fact, I've only recently begun to start getting active on Twitter and Instagram again.  It's very  hard to curate images that are beautiful when you feel so heavy.  

I've been doing a lot less guiding at my job the past few months.  I love being a guide and teaching people how to see and explore the outdoors in new ways.  The wildfire that swept our region back in November has had devastating effects on area businesses.  Many local places are reporting being down between 20-45% from last year.  In fact, many people are still under the impression that the entire town of Gatlinburg and all of the Great Smoky Mountains are completely decimated.  The truth of the matter is that 1700 homes were lost, but many businesses reopened in the past few months or are rebuilding.  The Smokies only saw 2% of the park damaged by fire and the damage becomes less and less noticeable every day thanks to spring rejuvenating the burned ground.  Getting people to come back to the area, however, has been really, REALLY tough.  

The past few months haven't been all bad for me.  As usual, I focus my off-season months on running.  I ran a PR in both the half marathon (finally running a sub 2-hr half) and full marathon (4:05:30 - nearly 20 minutes off last year) events I entered this year.  I ran a trail marathon without ever having really gone trail running.  I ran my fastest ever mile.  I even decided to start focusing on more endurance and ultra events in 2018.  Physically, I'm in the best shape I've ever been in.  Mentally though, I'm not doing so hot. The past few months have brought up a lot of personal issues I need to deal with and I'm just now dragging myself out of the hole to do it.  It's been really heart-wrenching at times and, if any of you have ever dealt with depression, you know it's not an easy road to recovery.  Add to that the fact that I don't have health insurance and that means I'll be paying for all of this out-of-pocket and you've got an even tougher road ahead.  

For those of you still looking for trail advice and reading trail journals, I'm still reachable by email and by Facebook.  I'm still loving answering your questions and helping you plan your journey.  Just know that the posts will be coming back slowly and it might be a quick minute before I'm feeling up to the task.  For those of you who are regular readers, please note that I'm writing posts for you guys!  It's very hard to continue coming up with new ideas, graphics, and formatting that makes sense.  Drop a comment every once in a while and let me know you're reading.  It's very tough to continue writing if you feel like no one is out there!

I'll be back at it again soon.  Happy Trails!

Sunday Runday - Week 12 of Marathon Training

I cannot believe it's my biggest week of marathon training!  I have to say, going into this week I was kind of discouraged just because my last big run day was so tough and hot... I've honestly wondered what the HELL I was thinking signing up for something so huge and then signing on to do a week-long section hike of the AT mere hours later... but here's how my week went. 

I'm definitely feeling springy!

I'm definitely feeling springy!

Monday - 6 miles. This was supposed to be a speed work run. In reality, it was a full on struggle bus!  My legs just really didn't feel warmed up. I never hit my projected pace and was so hot I could hardly breathe!  It didn't help that there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the smells of the car exhaust and fresh mulch on the greenway were so strong.  I was just happy this run was done1

Tuesday - Rest day!  I was definitely grateful for the rest, especially since it was so hot!  It seems like Tennessee went straight from winter to summer with spring being left behind!

Wednesday -  I had a 9 mile progression run scheduled for today.  I ended up getting up too late to get those miles in and had to work all day.  I did 3 easy recovery miles right at sunset just to get some miles in because I knew Thursday was going to be crazy! 

The beauty is called Bloodroot - the sap that runs from the stem is red. 

The beauty is called Bloodroot - the sap that runs from the stem is red. 

Thursday - 12 miles hiking with clients. We had a last-minute addition to my schedule and I hiked Mt. LeConte with some clients.  This hike took all day and I didn't get back to my car until it was dark outside.  I got in over 4500 feet in elevation gain, though... so it's not a total loss!

My hike for Thursday!

My hike for Thursday!

Friday - Recovery. I really needed it after the long week.  Thankfully, I got to spend some time walking my dog for a nice leisurely afternoon. 

Saturday/Sunday - Backpacking 101.  I did a total of 8.2 miles of hiking for the two days, hiking at a slow speed on an easy trail.  I'll be posting more about that trip very soon!

Hiking up Porters Creek Trail in the misty rain.  

Hiking up Porters Creek Trail in the misty rain.  

So while my week was supposed to be a huge week with a 20-miler scheduled for the weekend, it didn't quite work out that way!  I'm really glad I decided to not beat myself up over my mileage, despite the fact that I'm so close to my taper for the marathon, which is now only 14 days away!  I will be making up my long run tomorrow, so I'm hoping it goes well!  I'm so incredibly nervous to see than 20 miles on my watch!  I have done many 20-mile hiking days in the past, but running it is a whole other game!

How has your week been going? Are you training for any events? I'd love to hear about them! Leave me a comment below or find me on Facebook or Twitter to get the conversation started!

I'm linking up with the Women's Running Community for Share it Saturday!

Women's Running Community

Sunday Runday - A new toy and marathon training begin!

December 28, 2015 - January 3, 2016

This is my first week back into running since my injury at the Santa Hustle Half Marathon back in December. That injury really threw me a curveball - every time I would tape up something on my leg, the pain would migrate someplace else entirely.  After getting a foam roller (I normally use Yoga Tune Up balls), I've been able to pinpoint it to an IT band and glute muscle issue. The foam rolling and light runs have really helped.  I still have some knee pain, but it's difficult to tell anymore what is a new injury and what is an old injury for me. I've had problems with the left knee since a surgery in 2009, so to say I'm used to knee pain is definitely an understatement!  Let's look at my week in marathon training: 

Monday 12/28: Dynamic yoga (15 min) from Nike Training club. I also discovered a ganglion cyst in my wrist this week. It seems like my injuries are trying to keep me from all the things keeping me sane!

Tuesday 12/29: 3.1 miles. This was my first run since my injury and I'd be lying if I said it felt great to be back out there.  Not only was my leg still pretty sore, I could NOT figure out my gait. I kept running normally with the right foot and running tip-toe style with my left foot - a limping kind of run. I felt out of shape and generally crappy the entire run. 

Wednesday 12/30: Competitor (45 min) from Nike Training Club.  I didn't feel like working out AT all, but I did it with some slight modifications to protect my left knee. I felt much better after finishing. 

Thursday 12/31: Wipeout (30 min) from Nike Training Club.  I killed this workout on NYE to help myself stay awake.  I promptly crashed at 12:01 a.m.

Friday 1/1: 5 miles.  I was nervous doing this run, mostly because of how poorly my 5K went on Tuesday.  I felt kind of cruddy the first two miles or so, but I had been actively working on my gait and it all clicked into place around 2.5 miles in.  I ran strong for miles 3-4 and then hitting mile 5 I felt amazing.  My last mile was my fastest.  I also ran for the first time with my new Garmin Forerunner 10 - which I bought myself on Christmas morning with a giftcard (thanks mom and dad!)

Saturday 1/2: Active rest day. 

Sunday 1/3: 7.01 miles. I started off with a short walk before beginning the run today.  Around 2.75 miles into the run I got a stitch and needed a short walking break for about a block.  The stitch worked out and I was able to run again.  I was feeling stronger than I did on my five mile run earlier in the week and when I looked at the Garmin and saw I had almost 6 miles in, I decided to run for 7 instead, just because I felt strong.  My training plan had me down for 9, but I knew that would just be too far to push it, as I was starting to feel tightness in my Achilles tendon and knew I shouldn't push on.  I did Leslie Fightmaster's Yoga for Runners when I got home. 

How did your runs go this week?  Are you actively training for any races right now?  My next race is the Strawberry Plains Half Marathon on 2/6/16!

Women's Running Community

Sunday Runday - Santa Hustle Half Marathon

For those of you following me on Instagram or Twitter, you know that when I'm not actively doing a lot of hiking I am a runner.  I'm starting a new category on my blog called Sunday Runday, where I'll recap the week in running and my next adventure - training for my first marathon.  For the first installment of Sunday Runday, I'm going to write about my second half marathon, which I ran on December 13th, the Santa Hustle.  

The Santa Hustle took place on an unseasonably warm morning in December - it was already nearly 50 degrees at 6:45 a.m. and incredibly foggy. They were calling for weather in the low 70s by early afternoon, so I set out for this race wearing shorts and a T-shirt!  The turnout for the race was much smaller than I anticipated. There were only 640 runners in the half marathon, so the course wasn't crowded. Also, unlike any race I've EVER run this one actually started on time!  At 7:30 a.m. we took off uncerimoniously.  The first three miles of the race I was feeling great, despite being soaking wet from the thick fog.  After hitting mile three, the race climbed the first hill and turned away from the river which also helped with the fog.  By mile five the sun was peeking through the clouds and I felt like I was hitting my stride. 

Miles 6-7 were remarkable because the leaders were starting to head back toward the finish. It was a lot of fun to cheer them on since there weren't really any spectators on this course to do the traditional cheering you see during a road race.  When I hit the halfway mark I was surprised to see how many runners were still behind me.  It felt great to be moving at a comfortable pace.  This is also when I met girl in the white tank top.  She was walking when I saw her, but every time I caught up to her she would start running again for a few minutes.  She'd start walking again, but continue to repeat the pattern of run/walk every time I caught her.  By mile 10 I was starting to slow down.  I felt tired despite actually running downhill. I wouldn't say I had hit the wall, but I felt like I was hitting the brakes.  

When mile 11 came after what felt like hours since seeing mile 10, I started to feel a little bit more energized, especially because I knew the course was pretty flat from here to the finish line.  Mile 12 came even faster and there were more people cheering at this point.  They had a cookie and candy station between mile 12 and 13 with lots of smiling and cheering volunteers, so that was helpful also.  Mile 13 felt like sweet victory for two reasons - I was almost done running and I finally sprinted past girl in the white tank top!  I grabbed my finisher's medal, a few bananas, a few waters, and a few Clif bars and wandered back to my car. 

I signed up for this race back in October in hopes that it would motivate me to start running again. Once I started training for the race I started to have some serious doubts about my ability to run it at a decent speed.  With all the multi-night backpacking trips and then the 10 days I took to go to the Wilderness First Responder training I took back in November I really lost a lot of training days.  Thankfully, I was able to train well enough to get in a full session.  Unfortunately, the last week of my training, the taper week, turned out to be a disaster.  I started feeling some shin pain on my very last run and I got a hamstring cramp, but I ran through it and it didn't bother me again. After an active taper week, I K-taped my injuries and hoped for the best.  I did a poor job with the K-tape the morning of the race and lost all of it off my knee.  The sprint I pulled at the end of the race ended up pulling my hamstring and causing an injury worse than the shin splints. 

So this week I spent K-taping my hamstring and actively doing compression from my thigh to my knee.  The first day was by far the worst and I'm feeling much better than I did post race.  I was planning to take a few easy weeks before diving into marathon training January 1st, but knowing I've got an injury really makes me nervous.  I'll focus on injury recovery on my next post. 

I hope you enjoyed my race recap and my very first Sunday Runday post!