The big day is finally here! Today, I start my attempt for the Women’s Supported Fastest Known Time (FKT) of the Collegiate Trail Loop. While this is a goal in and of itself, it’s also the first step in my efforts to prepare for my run across the United States in 2021. Read more >>
T-minus four days until I start my Collegiate Trail Loop FKT attempt, and I’m drowning in logistics and unknowns. Will Collegiate West be impassable because of snow? Will I be able to get my Esbit fuel between when I arrive on Sunday and start early Monday morning? How will I get to the trail from my Airbnb Monday morning? How do I set up my InReach to track the attempt?
And then, I have trail worries too. What if I can’t make coffee? What if my tent leaks? What if a bear eats all of my food? What if I fall? What if I fail?
Ah, yes. The real question. What if I fail?
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I first took Pilates in college—for credit, because I was at a bougie Northeastern school—and I loved it. It spoke to my dancer spirit, and I loved the specificity of the practice, connecting breath with movement and being precise and intentional about every action.
I came back to practicing about the same time that I started running, when I joined a gym that offered mat classes. But after some life upheaval I stopped going and just ran more. Ultimately this resulted in stress fractures in both shins and a strained hamstring. Lesson learned! Once my injuries healed I joined a new gym, in part, because it also offered Pilates mat classes. I loved the classes and the gym so much that I decided to get certified to teach about three years ago.
Pilates can do wonders for runners. Its focus is on the entire powerhouse, not just your abdominals, but all the supporting core musculature including your hips and lower back. It can shore up your body to ward off a ton of common running injuries.
I recognize Pilates can be cost-prohibitive and intimidating, but I promise it’s not all graceful women hanging upside-down on what looks like a torture apparatus, and a lot of the exercises are simple things you can do at home. Starting right now!
Here are five of my favorite Pilates exercises for runners.
Whew. It’s been a challenging couple of weeks, with even more challenges to come. Travel has been insane and, weather permitting, the Collegiate Trail Loop FKT begins on July 29. That’s less than two weeks away … gulp!
On the planning front I’m still locking down travel logistics. Overall, I just feel really lucky to have the opportunity to spend a week and a half along the Continental Divide raising money for Girls on the Run.
After a training log hiatus, I’m going to jump back in this season. Hopefully, anyway. Starting with a pretty light log of the two three weeks post-Grandma’s Marathon. The irony is real, guys. I wrote two weeks of logs last Saturday and then was going to post on Sunday after I worked out … and then never posted. *face palm* But, it’s okay because this really my last down week so we’ll put ‘em all together!
Surprise, I did not run the day after the marathon. I had an early flight out of Duluth and left the hotel around 5 a.m. which sucked but I was home by 1 p.m. and all the afternoon fights were cancelled/delayed because of weather. (My friend had to rent a car and drive 8.5 hours home, another friend slept in O’Hare.) Got lunch with the hubs and dog and ran some errands, took Morgan on a longer walk.
For the two weeks after the race, Coach told me to do as little as I could stand to do. Literally his instructions were to run as close to zero miles as possible. I ran 6. That’s close, right?
6/24-6/30 — plan calls for 0-12 miles, did 6.
Monday – walked 2.5-3 miles with Morgan and did 20 minutes of Jasyoga.
- Tuesday – walked a couple miles with Morgan.
- Wednesday – got a massage! More walking. Taught Pilates.
- Thursday – more walking, more Pilates. Thought about running but didn’t.
- Friday – 3 miles quicker than I would’ve guessed with a friend in the morning.
- Saturday – more walking.
- Sunday – 3 miles super easy on trails with a friend, 29 minutes of Jasyoga (Booty Lock Mitigation)
7/1-7/7 — 9-15 miles as I want, did 10.
- Monday – walking and 20 minutes Jasyoga (Hip Strength & Stability plus 5 minute Hamstring Reset)
- Tuesday – 3.25 mi easy solo from home in the morning. Dewpoint has been hanging around 70, it’s like running in warm soup. Can I go back to Minnesota? 20 min Jasyoga — Preventative Medicine for Lower Legs and Feet plus Hamstring Reset
- Wednesday – walking and teaching Pilates (incorporated some Jasyoga for the Jasyoga July challenge!)
- Thursday – 4 mi easy. My plan was to do 3 miles and finish at a coffee shop and walk home but they were closed for the holiday so I ran the extra mile. Explored a creek and trail near our house with Mo.
- Friday – walking and a yoga class.
- Saturday – 3 mi easy trail run, ate a bug and got several facefuls of spider webs. Regretted not wearing my trail shoes.
- Sunday – Slept about 9 hours and walked with the dog.
7/8-7/14: 25 miles
Structure is back but still low and easy miles and lots of off days.
- Monday – Supposed to be 4 easy but went with RM and ended up with 5 moderate, felt good to get moving a little quicker. Early morning run, subbed Pilates in the evening. Had a great call with my coach to plan for fall and I’m feeling excited about the training ahead!
- Tuesday – 6 miles moderate in the evening, about the same pace/effort as Monday, treadmill watching So You Think You Can Dance. Jasyoga Hammy Time.
- Wednesday – No running, taught Pilates in the evening.
- Thursday – Slept in instead of running, had decided to take the day off and push the run to Friday (optional off day), but got home and decided to run. 6 miles moderate in the evening, treadmill watching Big Little Lies (no spoilers, I’m in season 1).
- Friday – Rest day, dog walking only.
- Saturday – 8 miles moderate with SH, hilly, felt good, minimal stoppage time. PIG ROAST ALL DAY after that. We roasted a whole pig in a pit and had 50-70 people over. 17 weeks until Indy Monumental.
- Sunday – No running, strength and Jasyoga Sunday Reset.
In the past few weeks, since announcing and launching the Run Across the USA for Girls on the Run, one thing I’ve come to realize is that imposter syndrome is real. It goes far beyond what I’d originally thought were the limits of imposter syndrome (e.g., my professional life). I realize that by asking you to believe in me, I’m also requiring me to believe in me.
It is a huge challenge to ask for money to support this endeavor; I don’t want to ask at all, and I wish I didn’t have to. But looming even larger is the fear that people think I can’t do it, shouldn’t do it, and shouldn’t ask for money to do it. I’m still not sure I am comfortable with it, but I do know that I believe this run (and series of runs) is important, and it’s important to me that I use it as an opportunity to raise money for Girls on the Run and hopefully to spread the good word about the benefits of running, endurance athletics, and getting active for all.
Girls on the Run provides every girl interested with a new pair of running shoes and the necessary materials and support to make running possible for girls across America and Canada. They offer their service in many places where the opportunity for girls to run, spend time with peers, and have a safe place to go after school is much needed. As a former (and future) coach, I’ve experienced firsthand that the benefits of coaching for Girls on the Run brings even more rewards; it was the single best coaching experience in all my years of running.
That’s why I’m doing this. I want to help to bring the Girls on the Run experience to as many girls as possible. And hopefully, by doing something that seems impossible, I can inspire some of them to dream big.
- Over the next two years I will be applying for grants and sponsorships. I’ll update here as those progress.
- My focus leading up to the start of each FKT attempt will be on building awareness about the attempt and raising the support I need to make it happen.
- During the actual Run Across the USA attempt my focus will be on raising money for Girls on the Run.
My goal throughout the fundraising process is complete transparency, so please reach out to me if you have questions or concerns.
Things are progressing as planned for my FKT attempt of the Collegiate Trail at the end of July. I had a great trial race at Merrill’s Mile (read the report here), and I am getting in some great runs and hikes as I travel throughout July.
Logistically, my biggest worry for the Collegiate Trail is transportation to and from the trail from the Denver airport and support along the trail itself. If you are in the Denver, Twin Lakes, or Buena Vista area and would like to volunteer to join me for a day (or a week, the entire FKT!), I’d love some support and company.
Otherwise, I need to ensure that I can verify the FKT with a GPS device and get an updated trail map. If you are interested in joining me for a segment of the trail (or meeting me at either end) or have suggestions for affordable ways to get to and from the Denver airport to Twin Lakes, please email me at cilantroruns at gmail (or leave a comment below, and I will reach out to you).
In the meantime I’m spending my time watching Rocky Mountain survival videos and reading books on wilderness survival and navigation, spurring a colleague to recommend that a book about this FKT attempt should be titled “101 Ways to Die on the Collegiate Trail.” I don’t hate it.
What questions can I answer? Are you in Colorado and want to join me? Let me know!
I’ve come to realize that my best pre-race disposition is one of doom and gloom. I go to a dark place, assume that what is coming will to be terrible and painful, and I sulk. I am for sure the person you most want to spend time with before a race. I don’t chat, I don’t make small talk, I just think about how terrible this thing is that I’m about to do. But the second that gun goes off I shift into the very best version of myself. I smile. I’m so happy to be there! I still don’t want to make small talk (I don’t even listen to music during races anymore because I find it too distracting), but I am very happy to be there.
This was the case for Merrill’s Mile, a race that consists of a one-mile loop that you run as many times as possible until your 6, 12, 24, or 48-hour race time expires. I chose to run the 6-hour race, with a goal to PR (original PR was ~30 miles), get in some good training miles, and, depending on who showed up, perhaps add a podium place to my running resume.
Because not running is losing something dear to me.
Relief. When I was finally diagnosed with hamstring tendinopathy, it was almost a relief. I knew something has been wrong for awhile. It seems I’ve spent the past year or so trying to justify my disappointing race results, wanting to figure out why I wasn’t running faster. I wasn’t looking to make excuses, rather analyzing my performances to see what I could improve to do better in the future. And many times things just didn’t add up. It was reassuring to know that something was actually physically holding me back; it wasn’t just me underperforming, getting old, getting weak mentally; my body wasn’t functioning properly to run fast. Now with a proper diagnosis I can fix the issue and get back on the fast track.
Hey, Saltines! I haven’t posted in a while, and I’ve been missing you guys. I guess I’ve been a little busy mom-ing, working, running, and repeating. I had some big stuff happen this spring, good and bad, so I’ll update you the best I can.
Last August I was invited to a trail run by a physician I work with. The group was a bunch of guys who turned out to be really cool and funny. We drank beer in red solo cups afterwards, and I won’t lie, after 10 grueling miles I could barely walk down stairs for 5 days. I was hooked.
I kept running with them throughout the fall (they helped me train a little for MCM), and instead of taking my normal long break in November/December, I kept running through the winter with them. It was SO fun. We did long runs and trails and track work. They kept me going and running became exciting again!
Then around February I decided to tackle another marathon. Being my home race, the easiest option was the Cleveland Marathon. I started upping my mileage and a good friend of mine named Sarah (who’s qualified for the Olympic Trials in the marathon … no biggie) helped me write a plan. My plan consisted of quality miles. We focused on 2 workouts per week, a long run, and 2 easy runs. I ran relatively low mileage, mostly staying in the 40 mile per week range and maxing out around 50 mpw. Especially because of my winter running, I felt SO fit going into training, and so motivated. Read more >>
Runners go through a lot of shoes. According to the National Sporting Goods Association, 4.6 million pairs of running shoes were sold in the United States in 2012. So what to do with all those shoes once they have outlived their useful running lives, beyond downgrading them to casual shoes?
Hahahaha, as if! In fact, many of us could do with adding a pair to our rotation. Still, if you keep track of your mileage-per-shoe, you start to get a really good idea of when shoes run out, and we have plenty of other tips to help you use them as long as possible. A big one: reserving your training shoes for running can help extend their lives. Once they wear out enough that you can no longer use them for training you can introduce them into casual wear rotation.
As a part of training for my Run Across America FKT attempt summer 2021, I’m planning several mini-challenges for training and to attract some attention prior to my main attempt. For the first mini-challenge, starting on July 29, 2019, I’ll attempt to set a competitive women’s Fastest Known Time (FKT) of the Collegiate Trail Loop and raise money for Girls on the Run. This loop consists of the East and West branches of the Collegiate Trail. The East trail is the original Continental Divide Trail through Colorado, which has been re-routed to include more peaks and less roads, and joins with what is now called the Collegiate West Trail. Each is around 80 miles, making the total distance a little over 160 miles. I’ll be attempting to complete the loop in five days, but have built in 10 days in case I need extra time, and to allow for bad weather, altitude adjustment, and—hopefully—some fun.
My flight is booked, so next I’m focusing on the details to make sure I’m ready to go. My first priority is ensuring I can complete the trek safely and with the right gear: Read more >>
I’m going to start this race report with two lists. First, a list of lessons I learned. We’re all here for the takeaways, right?
- Don’t trust people who tell you races are flat.
- Always wear sunscreen.
- Don’t part your hair down the middle for marathons.
- Don’t skip the warmup ever ever ever.
- Go ahead and pee in the bushes.
I always say it’s a bad idea to sign up for a race on the tail of another race, especially a bad one. But last fall, after a whole season of never feeling good (running or otherwise, which might’ve been iron, life stress or both or neither) I scrapped my fall marathon and running a half instead, and not particularly well. My husband was signed up for the full and ended up DNF’ing, so it was a rough day all-around. On my way home I was texting about my poor performance with one of my best friends. She replied that she was planning on Grandma’s, and over the next few days I did a little research. I knew a bunch of girls had run hella fast there last year, the weather should be okay, and it was net-downhill. Plus my friend was going and Mr. Chic doesn’t usually run a spring full. What the hell! I figured. Time to get myself sorted out, to get in some good training, take a fun girls’ trip, run a new race and see a new city. I signed up within a month.
Not only was the entry cheap-ish, but you get a jacket if you sign up early. A JACKET!
Which brings us to the second list, a list of things I did not know, that you may want to know before signing up:
- The race entry is cheap, but nothing else is.
- Hotels are expensive and sell out fast.
- Flights are pretty limited into Duluth.
- It’s a net-downhill course in the same way Boston is. The hilly way.
If you have been reading Salty Running since the early days, you might remember posts about my goal of a Trans-America crossing and record attempt. Unfortunately, in 2015 I had to pull out of my dream. At the time I was entering the final year of my doctoral program, and health problems first landed me in the hospital, then at the Mayo Clinic. It was devastating, to say the least, but I salvaged what I could of the process and the training by donating the funds I’d raised to RAINN and running my first 100-mile race.
Even as my identity as a runner changed, I never gave up on that dream. So I’m happy to share that in the summer of 2021, I will attempt the Women’s Fastest Known Time (FKT) for a Trans-America crossing.
This time around, I will be running to promote the value of outdoor and endurance sports while raising money for Girls on the Run, an organization that helps bring running, empowerment, and advocacy to girls across the United States. It’s the right cause for this run, the reason I’m running, and an avenue to connect with women across the country.
Even though my first bid didn’t play out the way I’d hoped I still learned a great deal from it. As a result, I’m approaching this attempt much differently.
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