Monthly Archives: February 2015

Winter Patience

Unlike most of the north east, we in the south rarely see much snow, if any at all each winter.  I grew up in northern Massachusetts, so I am no stranger to snow, ice, and cold.  Not that I can say I am envious of the multiple feet of snow my family up north is dealing with currently…so sorry guys!

Instead, last week I heard snow was in the forecast for this week, and got excited!  I was really hoping for some pretty white powdery stuff to coat the forest landscape.  This morning I was greeted with maybe 1/4 of an inch of white stuff, covered in slick frozen ice.  I laced up my shoes and hopped out the door..slipping and sliding down our driveway, patience Rachel!  Faster isn’t always better.

Instead of my usual 1o minute run to the trailhead, it took me a bit more than 15 slippery minutes to arrive at the chosen meet up place.  A few brave (or stupid) souls drove from home, while the rest of us ran from our homes-up slippery streets, through snowy woods…we showed up one by one.

The group was smaller than usual today, many opting to sleep in, or living too far away to get to the trails by foot.  We headed out on a different route, knowing it would take us longer up and down the trails to the “forbidden” trail.  The bridge has long since washed away, so we had to find a way across.  No one wanted to cross the narrow pipe covered in ice, or wade knee deep in the cold water, so we wandered parallel to the creek looking for a narrow spot.  Patience, we will find a way across.  Ultimately we gave up and went back to the pipe crossing.  Only Remus crossed it, the rest of us jumped hoping for solid footing to greet us on the opposite side.

Running in snow is hard work, it was like a fine sand encrusted over with ice.  Some spots were just slick, while others were crunchy, giving way to unstable footing below.   We all worked hard to keep up the pace, steam rising from our breath in the cold air.

Eventually the trail winds back to the creek as it cambers towards the cold water below.  Several times I stopped to walk, or punch my heels through the ice crust.  It was slow going, but still, you can’t beat the beauty of untouched snow in the woods.  We stopped to take a photo by a small waterfall, and admire the winter snowscape.

We wound back around to where we had all first met.  Looking at my watch, I tried to remember to be patient with my time and distance.  After all, sometimes you need a little reminder to slow down and enjoy the trip…not the destination.

A wintery run in NC. Photo credit; Kerndog.

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Altra Ambassador; The Sequel

I am proud to share that Altra has invited me to be an ambassador again for 2015!  It is amazing and wonderful that Altra has grown up so fast over the past few years.  I can still remember the first time I wore the Altra Lone Peaks and people were so curious about them they would yell at me as I ran past in races.  I love that they are such a forward looking and innovative company, not willing to just settle, but willing to improve their products and listen to feed back.  Their Halo shoe with its built in feedback system is one of their many shoe innovations I am excited for!

Their zero drop was the first thing that caught my eye, and the foot shaped toe box has kept me coming back.  There is nothing better than having a foot shaped toe box to let my little piggies splay when I run…my feet have never been so spoiled.

Competition; Why Do Some of Us Put Ourselves Through the Emotional ups and downs of Racing?

Its that Uwharrie time of year again when my TrailHead running group spends all of Dec and Jan preparing for their 40,20, or 8 mile trail races in the woods of Troy, NC.  I love that this race is such a big focus for my running group, its so nice to have so many people to train with during the dark and cold winter months.

Uwharrie, for me, was my very first trail race..it was also my very first Ultra, and was also my very first time placing in the top three over all (not just in my age group.)  It launched me into my ultra career (if you can call it that..)  Either way, it holds very special memories for me, but I am not a person that tends to do the same race over and over, so this year I am not running it again.

Several of my friends and training partners are, however.  Some people get stir crazy and have loads of energy, some people get grumpy, others get phantom pains, and of course others get all of the above.   It reminds me of my dreaded taper tantrums, which I have come to both love and hate.  (My husband just mostly hates my taper tantrums,) but they are part of being a competitive runner.  Now when I say competitive runner, don’t misunderstand my meaning, I think everyone can be competitive if they choose…whether its competitive with yourself, with a certain time goal, with people in your age group, or competitive with the whole field hoping to win overall.

Most recently I was talking to one of my friends, Jordan, who is hoping for an overall win.  He has trained hard, recovered correctly, and eaten right.  He has the physical, psychological, and emotional potential to win Uwharrie outright and is currently in that emotional holding pattern right before the race where this imagined weight is crushing him.  The weight is that of his expectations, and of other people’s expectations…but mostly his.  He knows right now that he has all this kinetic energy that is loaded up in his legs to potentially carry him a win, but there is always the unknown that can bring you down and mess up your desired outcome.

We can only control our preparation, and our planning, its impossible to control race day mishaps.  To some people, this lack of control drives them nuts in the 48 hours leading up to a race.  We get moody, we get angst, we can’t concentrate or relax….so why put oneself through this?

My answer:  It makes me feel more alive, it makes the thrill of hitting or surpassing your goal that much sweeter!   Its the same way a terrible defeat can make a later victory that much better.   Do it for the ear to ear grin when your hard work pays off!