Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Firetower Challenge: Overlook Mountain

After being hyper focused on Marathon training since August, I was excited for a change of scenery and muscle use. I was just nearing the end of my 2 weeks of rest post marathon and decided that a 5 mile hike would do the soul and heart some good. I didn't set an alarm on Saturday morning, but woke up at 6:30 and began the process of digging out my winter hiking gear. Most of it was in one spot, and I found myself packed and on the road quick. I used the coordinates found on Catskill Mountaineer ( my go to for hiking info in the catskills) with my Samsung, which lead me directly to the trailhead. 
 There were a few cars parked, but most of the people must have been waiting for friends, because they all stayed in their cars as I used the portajon and put my pack & Marcydog's pack on.  (she was gifted one in the summer !) I was signed in by 9:30 and on my way. The trail is an old jeep road, very wide and smooth. A bit boring in terms of hiking, but great for me since it had been 3 months since I've been on trails.  
Marcy stayed on leash and we made our way up the mountain. I had worn a base layer, a pull over and at the last second, my hiking sweater, it was a bit windy ( I can't seem to catch a break from the wind this year)  but a good portion of the trail was protected, so I varied between feeling too warm and comfortable.  
In less than an hour, I found myself at the ruins of the Overlook Mountain House.  Marcy and I were the only ones there, I walked around a bit, but Marcy was not. N.O.T. interested. With Marcy's encouragement, I continued on to the Firetower.  
The half a mile from the hotel to the firetower was the only icy part. I was able to walk slowly and dodge around, it wasn't icy enough to pull out my kahtoolas. When I reached the summit, a pair and their dog were in the clearning, wanting to give them space, I had a seat at the observers cabin and enjoyed hot veggie broth.  (on the windy summit, it was amazing.  I don't think I've ever been happier with myself.)
It was windy, which is unfortunate because it is a lovely summit. I didn't spend much time to enjoy it, but did climb up a few sections of the firetower for the views.  Typically I'll climb the whole thing, but the wind made it unappealing.  

We made it back down to the hotel for a bit more exploring.  There were quite a bit more people wandering about, which made it about .25 less creepy.  But I still didn't linger too long. As I made my way down, It was a bit reminiscent of hiking Gray Peak in Colorado, a very steady stream of people.  It seemed that I didn't ever go more than a minute without coming across a group  Some were geared up, others look like they got a bit lost at the flea market, in shoes that seemed a bit questionable for a 5 mile walk. Marcy and I said our hellos and kept moving along.  
While boring, jeep trails are great for descents, easy to pick up speed without worrying about rocks and ankles.  Around the 2 hour mark, I was back at the register.  (which only 5 of the many many groups had actually signed in...)  
The parking lot was now packed - with lots of NYC folks parking like jerks all over.  I was glad I had my early start and was able to enjoy the mountain climb and summit to myself.  

I had thought about walking around Woodstock, but Marcy isn't a city dog (aka doesn't greet other dogs on leash well)  and I didn't want her to spend the day laying in the car.  
Although I could see it being a day trip for a short hike & lunch in town another time.It was nice to get on the trails,  I am still strongly motivated by a few running goals, but am also hoping to get many mountains climbed before next summer.

5 miles RT - (2 hours with a few quick breaks) 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Philadelphia Marathon (4:52:29)

As training continued on through the fall, blogging came to a halt. I canceled home internet and use my phone as a hotspot most evenings.  90% of the time, this works great - occasionally it can be very slow and not worth opening the internet. So while my training logs didn't continue most of my training did. 
I took a half day on Friday before meeting up with two ladies from my running club who were coming to run the 8k, cheer for me, and drive my tired body back to Albany. The drive to Philadelphia went by quickly (except for when I had to pee and there were NO gas stations for daysss). We found our AirBnB and walked to the expo. Packet picket was quick for Marathoners and it slowly started to hit me that I'd be running 26 miles before the weekend was out. (cue: minor panic about longest run being 17 miles) 
I managed to spend nearly 100 bucks on Philadelphia merchandise and despite my cheap ways, I don't regret it.

On Saturday I woke up early to pick up Joe from the airport. I was able to navigate the closed roads for the half marathon easily enough and get my parking spot back! Joe and I joined Kait & Karen to watch them run the 8k.  The finishers chute / starting area was huge. We ended up near the Museum of Art ( close to where a kind guy gave me an umbrella while I stood in the rain there 2 years ago)  watching the end of the half marathon.  We waited and waited and waited for the 8k runners to come - we didn't think it seemed right, but could't figure out where else the race would be so we continued to wait until I noticed the stream of runners coming in from the other side of the museum.  So we hauled over JUST in time to see Karen hustle to the finish. A few minutes later Kait passed, and we made our way into the finishers area. As the ladies enjoyed their post race treats Joe and I made a start towards Whole Foods so I could indulge in my last 'heavy' meal.

We picked up ingredients for dinner and headed back to the apartment. Kait and Karen headed out for some sight seeing and Joe and I did nothing. We watched movies on netflix and I had a beer (or 2) to calm the nerves.  Poor Joe was exhausted from travel and humored my incessant nervous chatter. ( If you know me in person, you know I talk a lot and fast on a normal day)

 Somewhere around bed time-ish we both fell asleep watching xfiles.  
By now the wind had picked up, so I was glad that i had thrown away any time goals a month earlier when I stopped doing tempo/strength workouts and focused solely on mileage.  I kept waking up hoping the wind would die down. But the wake ups were in vein, the wind kept up for days (seriously, it was windy for 3 days before it went back to normal)

The alarm went off at 5:30 and I was quickly dressed still undecided about my added layers.  I had decided on shorts ( I knew they wouldn't chafe, which I can't say about most of my tights since I lost my butt to marathon training)  base layer with my Janji singlet. I nearly changed my mind approximately 18 times. I started with a throw-away sweater, with Joe carrying my warmer janji pullover.
The walk to the start was quick and I continue to hem and haw about what to wear. The security line was long, but since we had explored the previous day, I knew closer to Rocky there was another entrance, we walked down there and scooted in quickly.  Despite all the warning emails about water bottles being confiscated, we were able to bring in a full nalgene with no issues.  There were bathrooms with no lines that I took advantage of a few times before standing in a corner trying to hid from the wind.
While I knew there were corrals, I didn't realize it was wave starts.  I'm sure I missed an email somewhere, but in that, I lined up in my coral despite my lofty goal of 4:30 being behind me.  I had hoped to run with them but the whole wave start thing meant that I started a few minutes ahead. Eventually, it was go time.  I cold, stiff and awkward but wasn't worried since I know that many of my later miles can be just as fast as early ones. It was time to trust the training and go for a foot tour of Philadelphia. 

Kait and Karen had told me their tentative plan for spectating and I had told everyone that I would stay to the right, which made it possible for me to see everyone at all points.  Karen and Kait had great signs just around mile one "you're not even close"  and were dressed in fantastic onsies.  I high fived and continued along.  At mile 3, I was debating having a pee, but knew that I'd never wait in line for a portajon so when I found an appropriate parking lot, I scooted off course for a moment.  When I returned the 4:30 pacer was just passing on, so I latched onto the group.  I was still wearing my throwaway sweater, and had about 2 miles to decide if I wanted to pick up my pullover from Joe, so I ditched the sweater to see if I'd acclimate.  It was a bit of a tease, being in the city, the wind wasn't as bad as I had feared.  I felt the perfect temperature in my base & shorts.(and gloves that i put on and took off about 73 times) 
I spotted Joe, declined my pullover gave him a kiss and hopped back to the pace group.  This was the only area on the course that had much crowd support the miles went quick and before I knew it, we were up and over a bridge heading over to Drexel.

It was quiet, but I still felt great.  The wind was fine.  I was fine, I knew that since the pace group had started in the wave behind me, that it wouldn't be a 4:30 for me.  I knew better than to consider surging yet, so I enjoyed the pace, which thankfully felt quite comfortable.  
As we approached the museum I found Kait and Karen high fived and was mentally preparing myself for the 6 miles of out & back (6 miles!) 
As we turned away from the finish was when the wind came head on.  My pace immediately slowed by 30 seconds. I had hoped that by taking it slower until the turn back, I'd conserve some energy to try to earn back the time lost.  
It didn't happen.  
The wind was cold, I was cold, and I couldn't consider eating gels because my mouth was so so dry.  I started taking the on course Gatorade (which was lemonade -  anyone who has had multiple colonoscopies know why lemon flavored gatorade is undrinkable)  hoping to keep the calories up and the momentum going. When I finally made it to the turn around (which was a big party down there, a pleasant surprise since it was fairly quiet) I wasn't shocked d to find that the wind wasn't only blowing in one direction. It was drunk gusts that didn't care that a marathon was going on.  So I ran another 6 miles in the wind, once in a while the gust would come from behind and I'd try to take advantage of it, but really it was a matter of one foot in front of the other.  
More needed as a mental break than physical, I began to walk for one minute each mile. I was diligent with just one minute and it helped me inch my way closer to the finish line.  
The few spectators along the way were amazing. Folks handing out food, fruit, tissues, and beer and with some miles to go, I enjoyed a small cup of a random beer. 

nearly 5 hours later, I returned to the Museum of Art towards the finishers chute.  I spotted Karen and Kait -- but didn't make any attempts at high fiving,  I had to finish this thing. Because of the wind, there was no finishers arch and in my mental state, I honestly had no clue how long I had to go until I physically ran over the two timing mats.
And there it was after an 8 year hiatus, a marathon finish. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

2016 Goals November Recap

Run more miles than 2015 (893/695) (128%)
For a brief hot second, I thought I might be able to stretch and reach my bucketlist goal of 1200 miles in one year.  But I've been taking marathon recovery VERY seriously, so now it looks like I might get moderately closer to that goal than ever before, but for now my goal will be 1,000.  I have 3 more days of "mandatory" rest, before I start to shuffle for a few miles.  I'm still trying to decide what my running goals for 2017 will be. I vary from speed 5k goals to new distances like the 50k.  I still have 2 easy weeks once I am running to get back into the groove before I'll start to make some plans for the following year. (also, I'm a bit motivated to blog again - and may do a recap of the race/weekend and about the hansons method - but we'll see.  I work with small children and we are 11 school days away from break.

Log 100 Hours of Volunteering (54/100) (54%)
I did manage to squeeze in 2 hours of volunteering at the Stockade-athon 15k.  I personally will not run this race since I wasn't impressed with the way the race director handled the lack of water and snotty response when people complained when I had run it, but in a way to improve it, I volunteered and was assigned as a  course marshal. Fueled up on caffeine and cowbell handy to cheer on many friends & keep cars from driving into the race. 100 hours is still a stretch, but am volunteering on Sunday, so I'll continue to get as close as I can.

Read 39 Books (43/39) (110%)

I really enjoyed all three books that I read and would recommend all of them. I never quite know how to give a summary about a book without giving away too much...

Practice Yoga 78 times (51/78) (65%)
I did yoga 5 times!  Woot!  I went to my favorite instructors class during taper week and took it very easy, but it felt good to get back into class. I went two days post marathon and it was a strange sort of fantastic torture. I've also updated my yoga studio app and have been doing earth salutations a few nights a week.  Mathematically, it is still possible for me to reach this goal, but it'll be tight!

Hike 1 mountain a month (11/12) (92%)
No mountain climbs happened, as expected, but with an open schedule, I'll hopefully tackling a few more mountains before returning to Saranac at the end of December.

Complete 12 Bucket List Items (3/12)
I'd be lying if i didn't hope that I'd break 4:30 at the marathon (which is on the bucketlist but some holes in my training and the wind made that not possible) I certainly won't make it to 12 bucketlist items this year, but hopefully i'll get another trip around the sun to try again next year.

Monday, November 7, 2016

2016 Goals - October in Review

Run more miles than 2015 (789/695)

I'm so excited that I've achieved this goal with some time to spare! Lots of longer runs are happening (although I've just returned from Mexico where no running happened - but life is short & it was worth it!)

Log 100 Hours of Volunteering (52/100)
Still no volunteering hours.  Just a few more weeks left with all of my focus on the marathon. Currently I'm spending 9-10 hours a week just running (not including getting ready/to/ from etc ) so its possible I'll find some time to make up my missing hours!

Read 39 Books (40/39)

It was a bit of a quiet month for reading. I did manage to read 2 books and am about halfway done with another. Between running and progress reports, I just seemed to find other ways to spend my time. I also stopped reading before bed for a bit, because I was having a hard time sleeping.  My sleeping is back on track, so in bed reading is back too.  I Let You Go was an interesting read, without giving away anything, it unsettled me a bit - and isn't in a category of books that I love, but it was good. One True Loves was an easy read - I can see this becoming a movie (if it hasn't already)

Practice Yoga 78 times (46/78)
It wasn't much, but I did yoga once.  I'm toying with the idea of returning to hot yoga once marathon training is done, I miss yoga  - but haven't mastered including it to my schedule.

Hike 1 mountain a month (11/12)
No mountains, but am planning to knock out the last 2 Saranac 6 in December!

Complete 12 Bucket List Items (3/12)
Nothing officially to check off, but did visit a UNESCO World Heritage site while in Mexico. San Miguel de Allende falls within the category and I was lucky enough to spend a few days there with some great people.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Philadelphia Marathon Training Week 14

After a few weeks of inconsistent training (37, 29 , 31 miles)  I knew I had to get strict and back on track. The Philadelphia Marathon is just a smidge over a month away. I had my head back in the game and was able to knock out all my runs and hit 50 miles for the first time ever!

I didn't write up reviews over the past few weeks - life was busy.  I traveled to Montreal with my Mom to run RNR Montreal, I spent a long weekend (but not long enough) in Colorado. I did my best to keep up with the plan, but some miles were cut. I still feel like a much stronger runner than when I started and was able to pick up each run again this week.

Plan: 7 miles
Actual: 7 miles @ 11:39
A photo posted by Christine (@albanywayfarer) on

My legs were pretty heavy after Sundays 17 mile run, but I got it done. I did the SUNY 3 mile loop before cutting over to the track and running laps there for the remaining 4.  It was a bit of a cheat, but I wanted to the softer surface.  It was also dark and I just wasn't feeling running the loop again.

Plan: 1 mile warm up// 3 x 2 miles with 800 recovery // 1 mile cooldown
Actual: 1 mile warm up 2x200 miles with 800 recovery

I ended up cutting this run short. It's not often that I cut runs short, I was hungry and tired before I started but was determined to try to make it happen.  After the second repeat my energy was zapped.  I had bought chews to use during this training run, but had forgotten them at home. I am generally an all or nothing kind of runner, so I'm glad I at least got out and knocked out some miles.

Plan: Rest
Actual: 7 miles @ 11:24

Wednesday was a staff day - so I brought Marcy dog to school and spent the day working on fixing some materials in the classroom.  After I brought the pup with me to the Corning Preserve to run. At this point in the week, I thought I could run all my runs and still possibly hike on Saturday ( without losing any running mileage...) The run felt okay, but I was dead dead after.

Plan: 1 mile warm up// 9 mile tempo // 1 mile cool down
Actual: Rest

Skipping a rest day is not something I can manage yet.  I may be a significantly stronger runner than I was 14 weeks ago, but I need rest, especially after 3 mediocre weeks. It didn't hurt that it was raining when I was leaving work.  I took Marcy dog for a walk, bought a bottle of wine, and spent the evening learning how to use my sewing machine. It was fantastic.

Plan: 6 miles
Actual: 1 mile warm up // 9 mile tempo // 1 mile cool down

Its amazing what one day of rest can do.  It used to take me 2-3 days to feel fully recovered/rested but just one did the trick. After work I headed over to the corning preserve.  I've done some tempo runs there before and I know that its easy to get 10-11 miles by running on end to the other. As I was leaving school I couldn't find my running watch.  It put me off a bit I also left my phone charger at home, so there was no way its battery would survive long enough to GPS.  But since I knew the route and it is fairly regularly marked, I couldn't let not having a watch stop me. At first I thought that maybe I'd just do my long run for the week - but I picked up the pace and definitely made it into a tempo run.  I have no official stats - but had used the car clock to measure.  I kept somewhere between a 9:40-10:00 pace overall ( not a perfect science since I stopped on the other end to drink & eat & had to pee along the run) which is exactly where I wanted to be - so it works for me! Best of all, I didn't feel completely trashed at the end.  Tired yes, but dead dead, no.

Plan: 6 miles
Actual: 7 miles @ 10:30

A photo posted by Christine (@albanywayfarer) on

Since I ended up cutting out 3 miles on Tuesdays run, I had decided to add them back in throughout the rest of the week.  ( I really really really wanted to see 50 miles run in a week!) Since I wasn't hiking I slept in, cleaned the house and then took Marcy dog for our run. The loop we do from the door isn't scenic but its easily 5.5 miles so I didn't have to scramble much to make up the mileage. We were surprisingly speedy.  I hadn't expected it, but Marcy's joy of running can be a bit contagious.

Plan: 10 miles
Actual: 11.8 miles @ 10: 49

I went out on Saturday night.  Which I haven't done in ages. ages!  I drank a lot of water throughout the night ( after I got home, I managed to avoid all water while out.)  and woke up tired (even though I'm certain I was asleep by 10:30) but not hungover.  I hadn't reached out to anyone about picking up miles and was a bit relieved that I didn't have to work with anyone elses schedule.  After coffee, the newspaper, and contemplating napping, I finally got myself dressed to head out.  I hadn't planned to take Marcy dog, since she had run 7 the day before, but she was so eager to join, that I knew if I didn't, I'd have a very annoying/energetic dog when I returned.  So off we went for tried and true SUNY Albany & State Campus loops. It was a quiet day on the loop ( or I was just about 5 hours AFTER all the other runners) but Marcy and I enjoyed ourselves.   I had done the math several times to see exactly how far I had to run to hit my goal of 50 miles for the week. and while I really like even numbers, I didn't care enough at that point to make it to 12.

Mid last week I was teetering on burnout. I was declined from the London Marathon and felt relief.   I couldn't fathom how I was going to start & finish each of my runs. From the one rest day I took - I felt like a million bucks.It feels as though a switch has been turned. The next few weeks will be tricky - my sister and niece will be visiting from London and I'll be heading to Mexico soon but my spirit is renewed and I am looking forward to the next few weeks as they challenge me to become a stronger runner.