Food, Fitness, Photography

Food, Fitness, Photography

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Make a plan. Ignore plan.

I do this a lot.  I'm always making up training schedules for myself.  Once in awhile, I actually do manage to follow the schedule exactly.  But only once in awhile.  The rest of the's just an idea, right?  Not something set in stone?  This is why I won't hire a coach for myself.  Yet I want to coach others...because I'm good at making the plans!  I just need someone more dedicated than me to actually follow the plans!  Although I'm not sure "dedicated" is quite the word I'm looking for.  I am dedicated.  I get done what I need to eventually.  Life just gets in the way sometimes and messes up the order and timing.

This was the plan for the week : 
(purple is yoga minutes, blue is running miles)

Here's what I actually did : 

Monday : yoga : 25

Tuesday : yoga : 20
TRX : 34
run : 5.5 / 7:50 / 400 ft

Wednesday : yoga : 40
hike : 5 miles
swim : 26 / 1100yds (rest every 50)
bike (group) : 18.4 / 14.7 mph / 1050 ft

Thursday : yoga : 20
run : 9.6 / 8:46 / 420 ft
(4.5 solo, then with group)

Friday : yoga : 25

Saturday :  yoga : 20
horseback ride on and off for 7 hours

Sunday : yoga : 15
run 10.8 / 7:53 / 587 ft

total bike miles : 18.4
total run miles : 25.9
total swim : 1100 yds

I was super proud of myself for doing yoga first thing in the morning EVERY SINGLE DAY this week.  I found a different "morning yoga" video on YouTube each day.  I tried to pick the gentler ones so I wouldn't feel too horribly in need of a shower afterwards.  I meant to also do a more strenuous video at least once this week, later in the day, but that hasn't happened yet, so it probably won't happen.  I'm sure I'm benefiting just from the gentle stretching each morning though!  The trick will be trying to keep that routine once school starts and I have to be out of the house by 7:20 every day. I did start work on Thursday this week, but I didn't have to be in til 9 on Thursday or Friday.  

I don't remember why I didn't bike on Monday.  I think I just decided that my legs needed rest and that they didn't need to deal with hills on a bike.  If I could have ridden without coming across a single hill I probably would have.  Oh yeah, I remember what else happened.  I decided to dust my bedroom, and do a little vacuuming, and somehow that turned into cleaning and re-organizing my entire kitchen.  That took several hours.  It definitely needed to be done, but it also definitely threw a wrench in my day.  I had intended to go into work in the morning.  I ended up going in the afternoon instead, once I had finally finished the kitchen.  

Tuesday's run was a "shakeout" right after I did TRX.  I didn't let myself check my pace at any point during the run.  I just did whatever felt good.  I did try to throw in a good mix of hills so my legs wouldn't get too "bored."

On Wednesday I had every intention of running and biking, but then I decided that since it was my last day of vacation, I also needed to go on an adventure.  Blog post here. My adventure ended up being a 5 mile hike.  I made the mistake of telling someone I would be back in time for lunch, which meant that I got really rushed towards the end of the hike.  Like, I realized I wouldn't be back til 2 if I didn't really hurry, and that my friend might start to freak out that something had happened to me.  So I ended up walk/jogging the 2.5 miles back to the car.  In my chacos.  Which were wet from the creek crossings.  So now I have a bunch of rubs on my feet, and my calves have now almost stopped screaming at me.  But hey, my calves probably needed the workout.  Anyway, I made it back to cell service by 12:40 so all was well.  After lunch, Gail somehow convinced me to go to the pool with her to swim laps.  I've been avoiding this for ages.  I want to be able to swim...but I just can't get the breathing thing down.  I've inhaled so much water in my life it freaks me out to even think about trying that sideways turning breathing thing.  But, I went to the pool with Gail.  As I got in the pool, I realized I had forgotten my inhaler.  Because why not make this breathing thing even harder on myself?  After inhaling a tiny bit of water, I decided I was definitely going to use a nose clip.  That thing is a life saver.  I did about 20ish laps with a kickboard, just kicking myself back and forth across the pool as fast as I could with my arms straight out in front of me, and trying to practice turning my head to breathe.  I had to rest for several minutes between each lap to catch my breath.  Then I did a few laps trying to do some approximation of a breast stroke, which I decided would be easier to master the breathing for.  Turns out I can only think about 2 things at once.  So I can get the arms and the legs right, or I can get the arms and the breathing right.  But at least I was making it back and forth across the pool without a kickboard.  I did flip to my back a couple times to just kick and catch my breath though.  In the end, I survived my first ever experience "swimming" laps.  And then I decided I couldn't ditch my bike ride like I had clearly ditched my run, so I went to the group bike ride.  To which no one else showed up.  But there were a couple people who had randomly shown up to ride together at that time, and they let me join them.  So that was nice.  

On Thursday I was not feeling so great, and it was 80+ degrees out, but I was already way behind on my mileage for the week so I had to go for a run.  I decided to time my run so that I would get 4-5 alone and then be able to jump in with a group starting at 5:00 to get some more miles with them.  I ended up getting 4.5 alone and then dragging myself behind the group for the rest of the run.  I felt awful, but I made it through the whole run so, yay miles!

I accepted that Friday would have to be a rest day and that I would get the remaining miles I needed on Saturday and Sunday. 

Sue had texted me earlier in the week to say she would be at a horse show near me and would bring Pony if I wanted to ride.  Of course I said yes.  How could I say no to Pony visiting me instead of me having to go visit her?!  The show was only about 15 minutes away from  me!  I got there around 11, and ended up spending the next 9 hours on and off  my horse, riding back and forth between the trailer and the arena where they were having a cattle sorting show.  I spent lots of time just sitting on Pony watching the show.  It was a fun time, and it was great to spend some time with Pony!  But it meant that I did not run.  So...another rest day, more or less.  

I accepted that I was not getting 30 miles this week.  I briefly toyed with the idea of trying to get 15 today, but then I saw that it was going to be over 80 by noon, and closer to 90 by 5, so I scrapped that idea.  I realized if I wanted anything close to a long run I would have to get up early and run before church.  I got up at 5:15.  I hit snooze til 5:30 because I could not get myself up.  I did yoga til 5:45.  I had breakfast.  I finally got out the door at 6:45.  If I wanted to go to church in Abingdon, I had to be home by 8:15 for the 9:00 Mass.  There was a 10:30 option in Bristol, but I didn't want to drive that far if I didn't really have to.  So I got as many miles as I could by 8:15 and called it good.  I think it helped me run a bit faster than I might have otherwise though.  It actually ended up being the best I've felt on a run in awhile, and I was pleased that I averaged under 8:00 pace.  And since it wasn't super long, I shouldn't need too much recovery.  I hope to be back over 30 miles next week!  

So awesome that Pony got to come visit me!

Sue offered to take photos of us.  
Pony was much more interested in eating grass than in posing.

In other news, I found out that the gym near me (with the pool) is only $140/year for teachers.  And they have TRX hooks on the wall, in addition to a pool, so I think I will actually get a gym membership!  Then I'll have to learn how to swim efficiently and use it for cross training, AND I will be able to do so much more with TRX because I won't be confined in my hallway anymore!  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Gentry Creek Falls 8/16/2017

Wednesday was my last official day of summer vacation.  Tuesday night after run club someone told me about a great waterfall that wasn't too far from Damascus.  I looked into it when I got home.  Google Maps told me it was over an hour away, but further research showed that the actual trail head was much closer, and Google just doesn't know where it is.  Google was trying to take me to the actual falls, from the other direction, instead of taking me to the trailhead.  So, after determining that it was more like 35-40 minutes in the car, I decided it would be a good last-day-of-vacation adventure.
obligatory adventure-selfie

And an adventure it was!  Thankfully I had learned that there were many creek crossings on this trail, so I was prepared with chacos and running shorts.  There were too many crossings to count!  And, with all the rain we've had lately, the creek was up and moving.  The water was moving fast enough that not only was it sometimes hard to maintain balance while placing each foot, but it was also hard to see where to step, because the movement of the water blurred everything underneath.  Several of the crossings were up to my knees, and at least one was over my knees!

It wasn't too hard to find the trail head, thanks to the directions I found at  I was coming from the north, rather than from the south, so I took 58E to 91S to Gentry Creek Rd.  It would have been helpful to know how far down the road the trail head was.  I tracked it coming back, the trailhead is 3.1 miles from 91.  The last 1.3 miles is on a 1 lane dirt/gravel road that winds its way through the forest until it dead ends in a clearing.  It looks like there are a few different trails going out of the clearing, the blue blaze trail is the one you want for the falls.  There was at least one point along the trail where I came to an intersection of trails and couldn't see any blue blazes.  I went with my instinct which said to always choose the trail that follows the creek.  My instinct was correct.

The trail was gorgeous as it wound it's way along and back and forth over the creek.  Sunbeams came down through the trees to illuminate pockets of the forest floor.  2.5 miles down the trail I found the twin falls cascading over a cliff.  As I was photographing them, I had to constantly wipe the spray off my lens.  I had heard that you could climb up above the falls for another angle to photograph, and also that if you continued on up above the falls you would come to a gorgeous 360 view of the surrounding area.  I started to attempt the climb, but the trail was steep and covered in a wet mulch-y mud.  I think I could have scrambled up it, but it was so steep I was worried I wouldn't be able to get back down safely.  I didn't want to risk myself or the expensive camera equipment I was carrying on my back, so I decided to save that adventure for a drier day.

I thought this was cool, the spray off the waterfalls 
being carried by the wind through a sunbeam. 

To see all of the photos, visit GMcD Photography

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Time to take a break

But not from running of course!  Just from the training.  Ever since I hurt my back in July and took a week off from running, it's been hard coming back.  There was the terrible flat-ness in MI that made my legs angry, and then I got back home and my body just doesn't want to run hard anymore.  It's been super frustrating, but it's time to accept that I need to back off.  Sure, I'm 6 weeks away from half marathon that I could potentially do really well at, but I just have to keep reminding myself the real goal race isn't til November and if I want to be strong I can't keep pushing myself too hard.

So for the next 2 ish weeks, the goal is just to get back the joy in running.  I have minor distance goals for each run, but no pace goals.  I'm not going to purposely run fast, but I'm not going to purposely run slow either.  I've found my legs are angrier after being forced to run slower.  I also think part of my problem is all this time on the couch since I got home from my roadtrip.  Not working is weird.  I went into school 4 days this week more to get off the couch than because I really had to.  It was nice to get a head start on setting up my classroom and thinking about lesson plans, but it wasn't necessary.  I think getting back to work and being on a normal daily schedule will probably help my running too.

This week :
M : yoga 50 minutes
T : group run 6.1 / 7:39 / 348 ft
W : workout 30 minutes
group bike 23.1 / 15.2 mph / 1355 ft
R : group run 7.5 / 7:58 /522 ft
F : run 6 / 8:01 / 449 ft
yoga 20 minutes
Sa : bike 24 / 17.4 mph / 1348 ft
Su : run w/ Corey 14 / 8:30 / 869 ft
total bike miles : 47.1 
total run miles : 33.6

We had planned mile repeats on Tuesday, but none of us were feeling up for it so we just ran instead.  And then we planned a tempo run for me on Thursday, but I wasn't feeling up for it and no one else wanted it enough to pull me through so again, we just ran.  

Today's run was brutal.  I probably should drop long runs while I'm trying to just enjoy running, but I feel like I've lost so much of my endurance in the last 2 months and I don't want to lose any more of it.  I wanted to keep my endurance after the marathon!  The plan for today was about 12 miles.  I really wanted a change of scenery for the long run so we went to Bristol.  I filled my camelbak 3/4 full.  I didn't want to need it, but I've been feeling so drained on runs lately I figured better safe than sorry.  I ended up wishing I had filled it the whole was empty with 2 miles left in the run.  I had planned about roughly the first 6 miles of the run point to point, and then figured we'd run around Steele Creek park, see where we were mileage wise, and head back on a shorter route than how we got there.  It ended up being much sunnier and hotter than either of us expected (I got rained on during my run Friday and during my ride Saturday!) We were both feeling the heat by the time we got to Steele Creek.  We decided to run the shaded trail around the lake for a break from the sun.  Then we had to climb a looooong hill out of the park.  With little shade.  I actually thought I might pass out at one point.  How did I make it to August without acclimating to running in the heat?!  I was dragging more and more with each mile, but I did make it back to the car without giving up.  On the bright side, running 14 instead of 12 this weekend means I can do 8-10 instead of 12 next weekend.  Or who knows, maybe I'll just feel really good next weekend and do more. You never know. Maybe it won't be as hot. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017


Neither of my longer runs this week went as planned.  The heat is at least partially to blame, and overestimating my current fitness is level is most likely another culprit.  Bad runs are lessons to learn from, and I will use what I learned to help make better decisions next week.  (I hope...)

This week : 
M : pub run 4.7 / 8:10 / 121 ft
T : TRX class @ GVF 50 minutes
horseback ride 1:40
W : run 4.2 / 7:49 / 312 ft
(medium effort hill run)
R : run w/Corey 10 / 8:37 / 305
(2x 2 mile, 1x 1 mile, 1x 0.5 mile)
F : yoga 50 minutes
Sa : group bike 23.1 / 14.3 mph / 1125 ft
run 3.3 / 8:02 / 240 ft
(easy effort)
Su : run 9.7 / 8:24 / 597 ft
total bike miles : 23.1
total run miles : 31.9

Thursday's plan was to run the repeats at 6:30 pace, which is my eventual goal half marathon pace.  If I was smarter, I would have known that I am not ready to train that pace yet and I need to start at a more realistic place.  The first 2 miles went fine, but halfway through the 2nd repeat my lungs died and I started to slow.  I had to walk the recovery after that, trying to calm my breathing and my HR, but my body wasn't cooperating.  I decided not to abandon the workout, but didn't even try to hit the 6:30 pace for the mile or 1/2 mile.  I just put it whatever effort I could, and I walked the 1/2 mile recovery between the mile and 1/2 mile.  I will do this workout again in a week and a half or 2 weeks, but I will probably try for 6:40-45 pace instead of 6:30.  

Today I hoped for 10-12 miles, but after staying up too late having too much fun with friends last night, I knew it was optimistic to hope for.  I hardly drink alcohol anymore, and I'm usually good at saying no when other people offer me drinks, but last night I did not do such a good job of saying no.  I drank plenty of water after waking up this morning, but the drinking still took a toll on my body that did not mix well with trying to run 10 miles in 80+ degree heat, even with the nice breeze and the low humidity.  The first 6 or so miles were fine, but as I got slower and slower after that, I knew it wasn't worth it to keep pushing and so I cut the run short. I probably should have been satisfied with one 10 miler this week anyway.  

The good news is, I made it 30+ miles 2 weeks in a row!  I just need to start working towards getting that 30 miles in 4 runs instead of 5 and trying to bike at least once a week.   

And in other news, I signed up for the Pittsburgh marathon this week! There were 2 years between my first two marathons, 4 years between the second and third, and now I am going to have 2 in one year... I'm hoping to stay in some semblance of marathon shape while focusing on half marathon training so that I won't have to spend all winter and spring building back up, but every week I miss another long run is taking me further from that fitness level that I am trying to maintain.  

Monday, July 31, 2017


I enjoyed 5 days back home in Abingdon, getting back to my normal fitness routine.  I did my Monday yoga, my Tuesday speedwork, my Wednesday workout, and a Thursday pace run.  Then I got up at 3:45 AM on Saturday to drive to Roanoke for a short hill challenge race.  After the race I headed to Lewisburg to spend a few days with some very good friends before they move away.  It's hard to be on the road again so soon after returning home from a long trip, but I'm grateful for the time to spend with some of my favorite people!

This week : 
 M : yoga/stretching 20 minutes
run 4.1 / 8:18 / 220 ft
T : run hill sprints 5.5 / 8:39 / 551 ft
W : TRX 3x10 @45/15
R : yoga/stretching 40 minutes 
run w/Corey 8 / 7:27 / 377 ft
(6 hard, avg 7:12)
F : rest day
Sa : warm up + strides 2.6 / 8:13 / 430 ft
race 1.8 / 6:40 / 449 ft
cool down 1.1 / 9:51 / 236 ft
Su : group jog 10 / 12:00 / 584 ft
horseback ride 2 hours
total miles run : 33.2

On Monday, I kept the run easy.  I wore my watch, but I did not allow myself to look at it during the run.  I made myself keep the effort easy the whole way.  

On Tuesday, I decided that my speedwork needed to be hill sprints in order to prepare myself for Saturday's race after not having any hills to run for a few weeks.  None of my group showed up to run club so I ran the workout alone.  5 times up a 0.2 mile hill with 112ft of gain.  The last time I did this exact workout was in April.  I hit each sprint a few seconds faster this time. I used my HR as a guide for each recovery, when I couldn't get my HR back below 130 on the jog back to the bottom, I decided to only do one more.  

On Wednesday, I designed a TRX workout to mainly target my arms, but with some exercises for my legs and abs as well. It was hard, as I just took a couple weeks off from TRX after hurting my back.  I was definitely sore the next day!

On Thursday, I did a nice long yoga stretching video to help with the soreness.  I was feeling overdue for a pace run workout, and Corey was up for whatever I needed as he had done his tempo run the day before.  I knew I definitely wanted 6 miles under 7:30, but wasn't sure what pace was realistic for how slack my training had been + my sore legs.  I ended up just pushing the pace to whatever felt hard but not injury-inducing.  All 6 of the pace miles ended up under 7:30, and the last mile was a 6:49.  It was really helpful to have Corey there keeping me to my pace but staying next to or behind me so that I was the one choosing the pace, rather than getting tired out trying to chase his pace.  He did lead me for the last mile to help me push that one faster.  We talked on and off throughout the whole run, and it was really nice for me to discover that my lungs were able to handle the occasional talking even while running at half marathon race effort.  

I wasn't sure what to expect from Saturday's race with my sore legs.  I didn't want to skip the race, but I didn't want to get injured either.  I did a longer warmup than usual, to make sure my legs were ready and as loose as possible.  When the horn went off, I just took off.  I didn't start at full speed, but gave my legs about a minute to settle into the fast pace up a hill, and then I started really pushing.  I moved into 2nd place overall within a few minutes, and held that position for the rest of the race.  I didn't bother looking at my watch, but just pushed hard.  I found that I was able to keep pushing hard the whole way, and that I just felt strong!  My legs and lungs were working together and carrying me up each hill much easier than I was expecting.  After the race, I decided to look up my time from the previous year, and was astounded to see that I had PRd by 34 seconds over last year.  I wouldn't have thought it was possible to take that much time off of a 1.8 mile distance!  It gave me a great feeling of validation for all the speedwork I have been doing!  It's always nice to know that hard work is paying off with results!  

More uphill than down in this race, but here I am coming off of one of the few downs before heading up the final hill. 

King and Queen of the Hill each got a plaque and a stuffed horse. 
(the race benefits a program called Unbridled Change which uses horses for therapy)

On Sunday, I enjoyed a social jog on the Greenbrier River Trail with some people in Lewisburg.  My legs and feet were staring to bother me towards the end from being held to a slow shuffle pace, but other than that it was fine.  I know it's good for me to do the long slow runs occasionally because it gets me miles without much strain.  

Monday, July 24, 2017

MIchigan Week 2 =>OH =>VA

Trying to bring my mileage back up slowly and wisely.  It helped that I couldn't stand the flatness in Michigan so it was hard to run too long anyway.  Monday's and Tuesday's runs went really well because it felt so good to stretch out my legs, but by Thursday my legs were over it and didn't want to go.  It was nice that I got some good use out of my bike this week though!

This week : 
 M : run 8 / 7:34 / 226 ft
T : run 7.2 / 7:29 /98 ft
W : bike 16 / 18.5 mph / 305 ft 
R : run 5.1 / 7:38 / 194 ft
F : rest
Sa : bike w/Lauren 19.6 / 16.3 mph / 912 ft
kayak 5.1
Su : run 4 / 7:28 / 262 ft
total run miles : 24.3
total bike miles : 35.7

Tuesday's speedwork was timed intervals.  10 minute warm up around 8:00 pace, then 6 x 4 minutes at 6:30 pace / 2 minute jog, then cool-down back to the house.  I used the Kal-Haven trail, which is a flat bike path that is mostly well-packed dirt.  Now that I'm back home, I will still do some track Tuesday's, but I am going to start doing some Tuesday's on the Creeper Trail instead to get longer intervals without having to run so many circles.  I dislike the trail because of it's slight downhill grade going out and uphill coming back, but it's time to learn to deal with it!  I want to start doing some 2 mile intervals, and I'm not going to make myself run that many laps around a track.  I also need to be building more muscle for the flats so that they don't hurt me in races.  

I feel like I am so very overdue for a long run, as I haven't had one since my marathon/half marathon week, but it just hasn't been in the cards.  And I know I can't just go out and force a long run if I want to stay healthy.  Not sure how long it will take to lose all that endurance I built up but hopefully it can hang on for another few weeks!  I'm hoping to stay in marathon shape while working towards my half marathon PR.  

Michigan fun

Ohio fun

back home in VA

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Michigan Week 1 : Ann Arbor

I'm not going to do a full post because I don't have reliable internet and am using my phone. I ran 4 times this week, 3-6 miles each. It wasn't much fun because it is so ridiculously flat here, but other than that my legs felt pretty good. I also did an 18 mile bike ride, the flatness didn't bother me so much for that and I loved the bike lanes and bike paths!

I'm on the last week of my extended road trip, going to enjoy some time with a very good friend before heading home!