Category Archives: running hills

Friday Four: New Eats (Larabar & Chobani), Step Feats & Trails

I tried to come up with a synonym for running, racing or hiking that rhymed with “eat”: mission impossible.

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With a handful of new-to-me things in this corner of the world, it’s time to group a few of them together & share with you. Because it’s Friday. Welcome to the end of the week, where brains function at 50% and {our trail-racing} minds are looking at the “63*, Sunny” forecast ahead, internally singing repetitive rejoices!

Let’s start by grabbing a bar & a spoon:

1) NEW: LARABAR – ALT (Protein bar)

Larabar ALT Bars

I’ve heard talks of this bar but had yet to see it on the shelves! I am a huge fan of the regular ol’ LB – and even worked with them for a while back in 2010 – but a lot of bar-eating clients seem to focus on that comparatively-low protein content.

C’mon, they taste great and they’re only made from nuts, fruit and spices and in theory you could make your own in your kitchen!

While I think added-protein is a bonus but not a necessity, it seems I’m an outlier. These bars use plant-based protein powders to up the ante and join the ranks of companies that cater to vegan/vegetarian-friendly high-protein food options. Nicely done, LB!

2) NEW: Chobani Bits & Bites

Chobani_New products

More on this Chobani love to come;this team has clearly been hard at work to bring out some new options for greek yogurt-lovers! You know I’m not much of a dairy eater these days, but I still admire these CHOlks and am pretty impressed by the all the creativity here. Flips, bites, champions and new flavors? They’re changing the yogurt game, here.

Specifically, they’re wooing us with  CHOcolate, and I’m intrigued:

CHOcolate bites_chobaniChobani coffee_chocolate

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3) STEP it UP: Wellness Corporate SolutionsFitbit Challenge

We’re 5 weeks into our steps challenge at work (WCS) and it’s getting competitive. I battle these two gals every week, usually having to accept that no matter how many times I walk or run in circles around NW DC, they will beat me.

Then, I had this moment:

Step updates_Fitbit challenge

One down, one to go! (JP is probably relentlessly stepping all around NYC as I type this.)

An update on this steps-challenge to come, but trust me when I say that we’ve all done some crazy things to get “more steps!” in. Incentives and friendly competition go a long way with corporate fitness.

4) Backyard Burn: Trail Racing, Round 1

backyard burn spring series
Photo credit: flickr user Swim Bike Run Photography.

The race-season has officially kicked off, but for this round we’re ready to switch gears! At the recommendation of my friend/fellow local-race-junkie Rebecca, a carful of runners have agreed to join me in the hills of Virginia on Sunday.

I signed on for the 10-mile option. There might be an ounce of in-over-our-heads and a dose of humility to come with this – all in the name of good, muddy running adventures!

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What’s new to you this Friday?

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Filed under DC, food, new things!, random, running, running hills

Choosing 20 Miles over Zero

After a 20-miler-gone-wrong last Saturday, my decision making attitude thought it was all figured out. It’s just not there, whatever “it” is.  Or so I thought. So I was ready to admit, and accept, and move on with. No Marine Corps Marathon this year? Fine. Great. No big deal!

Who does that affect? No one but me.

That decision was all good during the post-run endorphin-less fatigue. I wanted to be done at 10 and I called it a day at 15. Choosing not to extend that in-the-moment exhaustion to 26.2 miles? Awesome. Relief!

The problem(s)? Well, those turned out to be way too easy to pinpoint. Sunday-Heather was much more rational, logical and reasonable than Get-this-run-over with-NOW-Saturday Heather. Hmm.

Choose to be sore

With a little more pep in my step, a little more sleep in the bank and a lot more reason in my brain, I realized that I’d never be okay with just not running. This training cycle has been an interesting one; I’ll save you the mental ups & downs (yep – these legs, muscles and feet are 100% okay). Either way, I always come back to knowing that not only do I want to do this, but also that I can.

I can choose to behave like I’m training for a marathon. I can choose to prep for each long run. I can choose how the day will go – for better or worse – and I can choose to run 20 miles, instead of none.

Today, before getting some work done in the morning, hopping on a conference call and then jetting out of DC and into New Mexico (hello, 5 hours of flight time!), I chose to give 20 miles another chance. 

It meant a 4:30 am wake up call (9:00 pm bedtime – fine by me!), some creative looping to rope in run-buddy Stacy for 5 miles on the Mall (hi, Sunrise Lincoln!), and some music to keep distractions and attention-to-exhaustion at bay.

sunrise reflecting pool

Aside from this being one of the hilliest routes I’ve created to date (which is sayin’ something, when you live in Northwest DC…), all went according to plan! I kept my pace nice n’ easy, chatted it up with Stacy and soaked in the sunrise to let those middle miles fly by and then looked up Wisconsin Avenue. I really don’t have a clue what my logic was thinking there, and holy whoa that was exhausting, but I made it.

9.27 20miler elevation
We call this one “illogical”.

I chose to keep this MCM thing going, pass my own test and let the miles get their checked box! Happiness, all around.

Sweaty run gear

Yet another 80* day = sweatastic run-gear, well used and abused.

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What are you choosing to do this week/end? What’s holding you back, or pushing you forward?

7 weeks down and 5 to go – I’m lookin’ at you, MCM!

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Filed under marathon, MCM, running, running hills, training

Sweat & Stretch Once a Day: 20, Run, Yoga

Summer training, in any form, doesn’t often produce a line-up of pleasantries. I had delusions of a lower temperature long-run day and fading humidity levels, only to be proven very wrong by Friday morning’s agenda. It was still August; it was still hot; summer had one last point to prove before its inevitable Labor Day weekend rodeo.

I ran 20 miles, physically and mentally capable, sweating out every last ounce of doubt and drinking in every last ounce of my poor, sweat-soaked Camelbak.

seems impossible until it's done texts with D post-Long run

Yep. So, it was done.
{Ignore the delirious misspelling of today. I cannot type on the iPhone.}

I was happy to have run a hilly route and still felt strong, and to have actually made it through the last mile without calling it a day early. Small successes make a big difference at this point in the game! I’ll take them.

If you want to run 20-miles in Northwest DC, my route included:

  • North Connecticut Avenue up to Bradley Rd (crossing Maryland state line)
  • West on Bradley to Little Falls Parkway* (turn on Glenbrook, which turns into LFP)
  • Follow LFP to Massachusetts Ave, turning left to run back into the District and towards American University.**
  • Backtrack on Nebraska to Van Ness, and then hit Wisconsin back to Massachusetts Ave. This is where the route looks beautiful – take Mass Ave down to Dupont. Sweet, sweet downhill.
  • Hop on Rock Creek Trail from the P Street ramp (Rose Park), loop around the monuments and back to Dupont (or your neighborhood of choice) until the count reaches “2-0”.***

*LFP does not have a sidewalk, but does have a wide shoulder. Run with caution & without headphones!

**Your legs will not thank me for this. Be prepared to go up, Up, UP.

***Don’t rely on water fountains. In my experience, approximately 4 out of 5 don’t work. The one that does will be your very best friend. Be nice to it!

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The rest of my day was spent “stretching” out the muscles by walking around State College, PA with D (after “resting” them in the car for 4 hours).

It had been way too long since I had strolled these familiar streets, by the classic brick buildings and underneath the gorgeously summer-green trees. My heart will always save room for this place, and my feet will always wonder why I think it’s a good idea to walk miles in sandals…

on the lion shrine 2012
Old Main September 2012

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In pure enjoyment of this step-back week, I’ve been sweating and stretching with ease for the past few days! Tuesday night’s adventure included a run with my Georgetown lululemon crew followed by a post-run stretch with Shauna of The Running Yogis. This combination is pure perfection!

sweat and stretch once a day Not convinced by our forward folds and yoga-glow smiles? Well CNN took a stab at convincing runners that yoga is their friend, too!

“The breaking point came six years ago, when I injured my hamstring at the beginning of Grandma’s Marathon…

I figured if I wanted to keep being able to run, I had better learn how to stand still.”

Hurry up and stand still: Why runners need yoga

It’s becoming more and more important for me to schedule in some Om-time alongside the increasing miles per week. Not only do my hamstrings, quads, calves, glutes & hip-flexors need some lengthening and TLC, but my arms, abs and back could use some attention, too. They need some strength to hold me up for 3+ hours of running, and my mind needs some rest to put up with the fact that we’re doing this cycle all over again.

Cross training is my friend, and yoga is its halo. So far, we’re checking all boxes!

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What’s your mantra during training? What alternative forms of sweat/stretch-ing are must-haves in your routine?

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Filed under DC, learning, Lululemon, marathon, running, running hills, training, Yoga

Back to Baselines: MCM Prep

The Marine Corps Marathon is a mere 20 weeks away – who’s running and ready to face summer training days?

Not these legs.

But, after a good month of easy runs, if any, focused yoga and some walking to shake everything out, I know we’re getting there. The past two weeks have been about slowly getting back into a routine (of sorts), and I’ve had some help along the way.

Exhibit A: our Georgetown lululemon Run Club met for a 4.5 mile “Bridges Loop” on Tuesday night. A few pals from the Saturday morning 10-mile group that I run with (when in shape…) showed up, i.e. our usual “easy” pace was pushed!

lululemon georgetown sign

We ended the run with “Yoga for Runners”, thanks to another running-friend who is completing her 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training. Thanks, Shauna!

post-run yoga lululemonpost-run yoga pigeon pose
post-run yoga savasanaShauna Coleman yoga for runners

Stretching in pigeon, warrior 1 & 2, and a few pyramid poses is definitely an effective way to keep those muscles awake after a few miles! My hips thank you, too, Shauna.

We may or may not have had a few nappers in Savasana, too. Totally cool with us. Relax & soak it all in!

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Exhibit B: This morning, I convinced* Kate to tackle 10 miles with me before work. I’ll be traveling for part of the weekend, but have been feeling the pull of mental motivation. My brain needed a reminder that this distance isn’t so bad (or so it thinks, on most days), so why not test that theory on a Thursday?

*She actually needs no convincing. This girl pretty much agrees to run before I ask the question.

10 miles 6.7.12

I barely made it through this run; the middle miles were challenging, thanks to the fact that my mental toughness has had a long  rest. Once we crested a few humps (i.e. roughly 4oo ft of elevation gain between miles 5 & 6. I should really start looking at those MapMyRun elevation charts more closely…), my legs caught up and sent the message this is not going to kill anyone.

It’s just 10 miles. It’s just today. We have a long way to go, but we’re almost back to the baselines and are ready to build from there.

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Who else is building up for a fall goal-race? Fellow MCM-ers?

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Filed under DC, early morning, running, running buddy, running hills, training

TTT: ‘Now I Get It’ Edition

Three Things Thursday, a la Morgan

1) Hard taco shells, well done

I made black bean & sweet potato tacos last night, inspired by Alyssa’s recipe on Inspired Rd. Tacos never disappoint, and they are among many of my favorite dishes that allow for personal taste additions. For instance, want green without the lettuce? Add avocado! (Not exactly a nutrient/calorie substitution, but that’s not something to concern yourself with when you have fresh avocados to use up) One taco thing I have not yet mastered? The corn tortillas.

I’ve baked them, which warms up the round corn-made disc enough for bending without breaking. But I’ve overbaked them, underbaked them, and I’ve opened a fresh package only to find mold.

Corn tortillas: 3, Heather: 0.

Alyssa had a great tip for creating that taco “shell”, one I had never considered. Simplicity always works!

corntortillas

Use your already heated pan (low heat); plop the tortilla on there, and flip it like a pancake. Give it a minute or two on each side, remove from heat when it’s floppy and slightly cooked (see picture). Set it on your plate and fold in half.

No, it does not fold in on itself! I know, I thought it would, too.

Instead, it forms the perfect taco! Fold gently, and fill it up, and you have that inside space to work with, without the cracking, tearing or general “I’m too soft for this”-rolling.

I’m still amazed by how easy this is, and by the fact that I am just discovering it. Hard taco perfection? Now I get it.

tacos 002

The fillings: sliced onions & diced (peeled) sweet potatoes, saute in 1 Tbsp olive oil + 1/4 c vegetable broth, until soft & cooked through. Stir in black beans until mixture is heated through. Slice fresh avocado, layer with bean & potato mixture.

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2) Running Fast, without thinking

Remember when Kate ran a 68 minute 10-mile race, and we all agreed she is magic (along with a skilled runner, a machine, a tough gal – all of the above!)? Muscles do know better than mind; see below.

Last night we had a Tempo Run date scheduled. I got off work later than expected; it was raining, and I’d put motivation around level 3, of 10.

We rescheduled for this morning, and I knew it may not be the run I had anticipated. Tempo paces at 5:45? Eh, we’ll see. Instead I mapped a route*, without speed plans.

Taper? Hi, it’s nice to see you. Carefree & just getting through these runs!

I took my warm-up to our meeting spot easy, as usual. Once we started, we got to talking and the miles flew by, literally. I looked down at the second split and was surprised to see “7:33” – well okay then. Let’s do this.

5.4 miles later, we have clocked our first sub-8-average run, and if it weren’t for a stopwatch, I would have never guessed we were going any faster than usual.

Pushing the pace, and realizing you can go faster than you expect?
Now I get it. I’m remembering how this works.

Edited to add: I also met up with Anne P this morning – we were spoiled by the C&O canal, and I got in a few more miles with her on the trail. Pictures don’t do it justice; if you’re in the area, GO to this trail. Right now.

3) *Massachusetts Avenue always wins

The route I mapped out included a one mile Massachusetts Avenue adventure. We were running further north than usual, and I thought we were safe. I drive on this road to get to work sometimes, and yet I still screwed this up.

Note to self: never trust Mass Ave – yes, I get that now.
It will always win. Case in point:

MassAve.2

No matter where you go, that street will slap you in the face with a hill. But it will also give you a good run.

*****

Any recent epiphanies you’d like to share? We want to get it, too!

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Filed under DC, dinners, early morning, food, good days, learning, recipes, running hills, Speed workouts, training