Saturday, April 12, 2014

Up and Down (and Up and Down) Alger Alp

I am going to West Virginia for two weeks to visit family and friends for the Easter holiday so I decided last minute to jump into the Alger Alp Half Marathon to see some good friends, enjoy the beautiful spring weather and get in a solid effort before switching coasts.

1st Place Female, 3rd Overall
The Alger Alp Half Marathon is part of the Bellingham TrailRunning Series and is directed by Candice Burt, who has just returned from winning The Zion 100. If you are interested in checking out some of Washington's finest trails, Candice's races are hard to beat. 

I have run up Alger, which is 15 minutes south of Bellingham, only once and it was when I had just moved to Bellingham. I forgot how brutal it can be. The Half distance is a double climb up to the peak and has an elevation gain of about 2,900 feet. My plan going into the race was to run the climbs fairly hard and relax on the down hills so as not to beat up my legs. I didn't want too much pounding on my legs as I am finishing up a tough training week and heading into another one.

Finishing strong thanks to La Sportiva, Align Chiropractic,
Terrain Gym and Bogg's Trail Butter.

After the race I got several questions as to why I had bright pink masking tape on my knee. I visited my chiropractor, Dr. Chris Lockwood at Align Chiropractic, on Friday and he put the kinesio tape on my knee to help support the surrounding muscles and tendons for injury prevention. Due to the combination of his adjustments, mobility exercises and tricks like the tape, I felt great the entire run.
Every finisher received this sweet pint glass!

Thank you to Candice and all of the many volunteers who were out on the course today.

I also want to thank Seven Hills Running Shop for the generous prize of a $100 gift card for their store in Seattle, WA. I will be coming by soon to pick out a hydration pack! Thanks!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Burpees, Fartleks and Graston: Training Update

I am in the thick of an aggressive training period in preparation for my next cluster of races starting with the Don’t Fence Me In 30k in Helena, Montana on May 10th. I am averaging 70 miles a week exclusively on trails (which is like 10-20 miles more on roads) and 2-3 workouts at Terrain Gym. My weekly running workouts are a variation of tempos, progressions and fartleks.

The cool kids.
My long run is a 30k in the Chuckanuts with two of Bellingham’s most passionate trail runners. Nichole and Mark (and Reuben!) have taken me under their wing while Tad has been out nursing a hamstring injury for the past several weeks. Four hours in the mountains fly by in the presence of their company.

I feel as though I have had a mini breakthrough at Terrain. I no longer feel like the clueless new kid and can walk into the gym with more confidence now thanks to Tonia’s guidance and expertise.

500 step-ups with a weighted 25# vest.

Fun Fact: Tonia’s mentor, Rob Shaul, trains Mike Wolfe who runs for The North Face and is one of the best ultra-runners in the country.

She has me doing a mix of work capacity, strength, and core and mobility workouts. A work capacity focus is a circuit of intense exertion for a certain amount of time or repetitions. An example would be X amount of burpees, box-jumps, suicide sprints and pull-ups and repeat for 10 minutes. It is tough! I am used to my heart rate gradually increasing. With work capacity, my heart jumps overwhelmingly from 0 to 200 in seconds.

I am about a quarter of the way up the strength learning curve. Push-press, hang-cleans and Curtis P’s were not previously in my vocabulary. Slowly but surely I am getting better with technique and breathing. I have to admit, the calluses on my hands make me feel pretty bad-ass. 

Core and mobility is far from just abdominal work. It targets everything from pelvic floor muscles to the diaphragm. Muscles are popping up out of nowhere and I have had soreness in some of the oddest places. It has really been eye-opening realizing all of the muscles that I have been neglecting to strengthen in all my years of running.

Dr. Lockwood putting me back together.

I am able to do all of this work with the much appreciated help of Dr. Chris Lockwood from Align Chiropractic. Thanks to his sponsorship, I have been seeing him weekly to tend to minor aches and pains and to keep the “mojo flowing,” as he likes to say. Knee pain after my long run last week was gone in just two adjustments and Dr. Lockwood has helped me keep my hamstring tightness under control by showing me some specific exercises and stretches that teach the body how to mobilize the muscles and respond appropriately. I have had tightness around my knee that causes a “clicking” sound when I extend and then bend my leg. We have been treating it with some light Graston work to help break up any adhesions that are causing restricted muscle movement and reduced flexibility.

Mountaineer Maple..Mmmm
Trail Butter continues to fuel all of my efforts. My current favorite application of TB is to spread it on brown rice cakes and serve it with plain Greek yogurt. The TB gives the yogurt just enough sweetness and the nuts add a nice crunch. I go through about a jar of week –good thing Brad and Jeff are so good to me!

"Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best."
-Tim Duncan