Sunday, June 5, 2016

"Let's pretend you didn't just see me walking!" The photographer was hiding in grass midway through the final (brutal) ascent and completely caught me by surprise. I continued to run for another six feet or so before returning to a hike. Also, I apologize for taking this photo but I am a sort-of struggling grad student.

So despite my reservations, the Ridgeline Ramble was actually a pretty awesome time! I should consider racing for fun more often because it's a very different experience. For one, I actually slept the night before. I was also way less stressed about getting to the start on time because if I missed the shuttle to the start I got to go back to sleep! It was really a win-win situation. Of course, there was really no risk of me missing the shuttle because it was such a small race and the start was a six-minute drive from my apartment, but it was comforting nonetheless.

It was gratifying to cover the entirety of Eugene's Ridgeline trail in one go. I had been on all but about .25 miles of the course before so there weren't many surprises but considering the lack of variety in my normal runs, it was pretty exciting.


I realized two things during this race: a) trail runners are speedy people, and b) I'm horrible at downhills.

The latter isn't all that surprising given my preferred footwear, which isn't really conducive to bombing downhill. In fact, I've found that my pace is often slower on downhills. That must deserve some kind of award, right?

The former shouldn't have been that surprising but it was. I'm by no means a "fast" runner but I often seem to fall towards the bottom of the middle of the pack. I figured I'd do better than that in a trail race since I spend a fair amount of time on trails and don't seem to encounter that many runners out there, which obviously means I'm the only person on earth who hill trains (or, more logically, it's probably a time of day/failure to notice my surroundings kinda thing).

Nope! 77/99. I will say that I passed a lot of people once the climbing really started (miles 5 - 8), but they must have been largely 10k racers. To be clear, how I place in races is of very little importance to me but it was interesting to learn.


Here are some more stats if you're interested:


All in all, it was a nice way to spend a Saturday morning. Also, I know that most people hate it when a course is short but I was pretty damn happy it ended half a mile early. I was expecting to run circles around the finish line parking lot, which sounded pretty hellish, and was pleasantly surprised to realize the finish line was actually right there! It also made my official final pace a 10:45 which is obviously bullshit but it sounds a lot better than a 11:11, right? I'll take it!

Ridgeline Ramble

"Let's pretend you didn't just see me walking!" The photographer was hiding in grass midway through the final (brutal) ascent and completely caught me by surprise. I continued to run for another six feet or so before returning to a hike. Also, I apologize for taking this photo but I am a sort-of struggling grad student.

So despite my reservations, the Ridgeline Ramble was actually a pretty awesome time! I should consider racing for fun more often because it's a very different experience. For one, I actually slept the night before. I was also way less stressed about getting to the start on time because if I missed the shuttle to the start I got to go back to sleep! It was really a win-win situation. Of course, there was really no risk of me missing the shuttle because it was such a small race and the start was a six-minute drive from my apartment, but it was comforting nonetheless.

It was gratifying to cover the entirety of Eugene's Ridgeline trail in one go. I had been on all but about .25 miles of the course before so there weren't many surprises but considering the lack of variety in my normal runs, it was pretty exciting.


I realized two things during this race: a) trail runners are speedy people, and b) I'm horrible at downhills.

The latter isn't all that surprising given my preferred footwear, which isn't really conducive to bombing downhill. In fact, I've found that my pace is often slower on downhills. That must deserve some kind of award, right?

The former shouldn't have been that surprising but it was. I'm by no means a "fast" runner but I often seem to fall towards the bottom of the middle of the pack. I figured I'd do better than that in a trail race since I spend a fair amount of time on trails and don't seem to encounter that many runners out there, which obviously means I'm the only person on earth who hill trains (or, more logically, it's probably a time of day/failure to notice my surroundings kinda thing).

Nope! 77/99. I will say that I passed a lot of people once the climbing really started (miles 5 - 8), but they must have been largely 10k racers. To be clear, how I place in races is of very little importance to me but it was interesting to learn.


Here are some more stats if you're interested:


All in all, it was a nice way to spend a Saturday morning. Also, I know that most people hate it when a course is short but I was pretty damn happy it ended half a mile early. I was expecting to run circles around the finish line parking lot, which sounded pretty hellish, and was pleasantly surprised to realize the finish line was actually right there! It also made my official final pace a 10:45 which is obviously bullshit but it sounds a lot better than a 11:11, right? I'll take it!

Friday, May 27, 2016

I don't know how it happened*, but I'm running another race tomorrow. This one's called the Ridgeline Ramble. a 20k trail race on Eugene's Ridgeline trail. So it's basically my running tour from the other week with a different starting point. 

A whole lotta this

This was very much an impulse registration. I was at a brewery last night hanging out with my friends' puppy...



... when a drunk woman came over to meet the little one.

[side note: it is next to impossible to do anything or go anywhere with a puppy; everyone wants to say hello and go on and on about their own dogs.]

Anyway, for some reason she started talking about running up Skinner Butte and one of my friends immediately said "Jean does that." I guess that signaled to her that I wanted to talk about running, which I very much did not, but after some rambling she mentioned this race. I was kind of done with the conversation by then so (unconvincingly) said "Cool, yeah, maybe I'll see you out there!"

Surprisingly enough, I looked up the race as soon as I got home and figured, why not? It's a shorter distance than last weekend, albeit on harder terrain, and I can take it as slowly as I want. It was also only $30 and a (small) portion of the race covers some trail I haven't seen before.

I honestly kind of regretted signing up when I woke up this morning. The idea of waking up at 5:30 on a weekend is incredibly unappealing, plus I think I'm still kind of fatigued from my race last Sunday. But as long as I don't end up with a horrible injury I should manage to have some fun!


*I know exactly how it happened

Another Weekend, Another Race

I don't know how it happened*, but I'm running another race tomorrow. This one's called the Ridgeline Ramble. a 20k trail race on Eugene's Ridgeline trail. So it's basically my running tour from the other week with a different starting point. 

A whole lotta this

This was very much an impulse registration. I was at a brewery last night hanging out with my friends' puppy...



... when a drunk woman came over to meet the little one.

[side note: it is next to impossible to do anything or go anywhere with a puppy; everyone wants to say hello and go on and on about their own dogs.]

Anyway, for some reason she started talking about running up Skinner Butte and one of my friends immediately said "Jean does that." I guess that signaled to her that I wanted to talk about running, which I very much did not, but after some rambling she mentioned this race. I was kind of done with the conversation by then so (unconvincingly) said "Cool, yeah, maybe I'll see you out there!"

Surprisingly enough, I looked up the race as soon as I got home and figured, why not? It's a shorter distance than last weekend, albeit on harder terrain, and I can take it as slowly as I want. It was also only $30 and a (small) portion of the race covers some trail I haven't seen before.

I honestly kind of regretted signing up when I woke up this morning. The idea of waking up at 5:30 on a weekend is incredibly unappealing, plus I think I'm still kind of fatigued from my race last Sunday. But as long as I don't end up with a horrible injury I should manage to have some fun!


*I know exactly how it happened

Sunday, May 22, 2016

And before any of you even realized I was racing, it's over! But man, what a frustrating race that was!

I'll start off by acknowledging that I raced well. Really well. I started off at a reasonable speed, continued at a consistent pace, was the only person I saw running up the large hill mid-race (granted, there were only like twenty people in my view) and didn't get passed by a single person after the first few miles. Crucially, I didn't get a 2:04, a number I worried was basically my limit post-minimalist-shoe-transition!! In fact, I PRed. 2:02:10.

But my god, I really thought I was going to sneak in under two hours. I ran the first 12 miles in 1:50:16 and had both the energy and desire necessary to kick it up a notch for the last mile. It was going to be close but I was fairly certain I had a sub-2:00 locked down. And then...

I ran an 11:09 final mile. Why? Because the race directors decided it would be funny to place the finish line at the top of an enormous hill. It gained over 250 feet in half a mile. What the f-ck?!?! Definitely didn't see that one coming!

Of course, I would have known it was there had I bothered to look more closely at the elevation profile provided to all runners. Really all I saw was a large-ish hill and a total gain of 940 feet, which didn't sound that bad. In fact, I had it in my head that we ended on a downhill. Whoops! 

Anyway, whine, whine, whine (wine, wine wine? This was a vineyard half, after all). I'll get over it. This just wasn't the race for me to go sub-2:00. That wasn't even my goal, really, but when you're running a 9:10 pace it would be kind of incredible if it didn't cross your mind. 

I'm kind of tempted to sign up for this half next month as a sort of redemption race but I'm not sure it's really worth driving the 30-ish miles to nowhere, Oregon. I do love how it (well, the marathon, actually) describes itself, though: "The Dam Marathon is named the most beautiful marathon in the United States by a runner in 2014 (who has run at least one marathon in every state)!!!" I'd be curious to know which Alaskan race that runner ran because the Mayor's Marathon is definitely more scenic than freaking Oakridge.


2:02:10

And before any of you even realized I was racing, it's over! But man, what a frustrating race that was!

I'll start off by acknowledging that I raced well. Really well. I started off at a reasonable speed, continued at a consistent pace, was the only person I saw running up the large hill mid-race (granted, there were only like twenty people in my view) and didn't get passed by a single person after the first few miles. Crucially, I didn't get a 2:04, a number I worried was basically my limit post-minimalist-shoe-transition!! In fact, I PRed. 2:02:10.

But my god, I really thought I was going to sneak in under two hours. I ran the first 12 miles in 1:50:16 and had both the energy and desire necessary to kick it up a notch for the last mile. It was going to be close but I was fairly certain I had a sub-2:00 locked down. And then...

I ran an 11:09 final mile. Why? Because the race directors decided it would be funny to place the finish line at the top of an enormous hill. It gained over 250 feet in half a mile. What the f-ck?!?! Definitely didn't see that one coming!

Of course, I would have known it was there had I bothered to look more closely at the elevation profile provided to all runners. Really all I saw was a large-ish hill and a total gain of 940 feet, which didn't sound that bad. In fact, I had it in my head that we ended on a downhill. Whoops! 

Anyway, whine, whine, whine (wine, wine wine? This was a vineyard half, after all). I'll get over it. This just wasn't the race for me to go sub-2:00. That wasn't even my goal, really, but when you're running a 9:10 pace it would be kind of incredible if it didn't cross your mind. 

I'm kind of tempted to sign up for this half next month as a sort of redemption race but I'm not sure it's really worth driving the 30-ish miles to nowhere, Oregon. I do love how it (well, the marathon, actually) describes itself, though: "The Dam Marathon is named the most beautiful marathon in the United States by a runner in 2014 (who has run at least one marathon in every state)!!!" I'd be curious to know which Alaskan race that runner ran because the Mayor's Marathon is definitely more scenic than freaking Oakridge.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

So I'm running a race tomorrow and am (uncharacteristically) kind of nervous about it. It's not that I don't think I can finish; it's that I'm hoping to actually race it. See, I've never been someone who cares about running fast. I like running far and feeling strong, but speed has definitely never been a priority. In fact, my half PR (2:03:??) came from my very first race seven years ago! I have (impressively, might I suggest?) defied all expectations by staying the exact same speed for the entirety of my running career. Of course, my speed has fluctuated some depending on whether I'm training for something, but the pattern thus far has been pretty consistent: 2:03-2:1?-2:04-2:11-2:04-2:11-2:04-2:07 - slower when the half is a training run and faster when it's my goal race (with the exception of last fall's shitstorm).

A few months ago I decided it was time for a change: I was going to speed up my runs every once in a while! It started with a few quick spurts here and there, which evolved into 400/800-meter intervals, which then became actual tempo runs. My longest was 6 miles (excluding warm-up/cool-down) averaging an 8:50-ish pace. 

[Can I take a moment to add that tempo runs are so awful?!?!?! I know we all know that but can we just acknowledge it again for my sake? I avoid speedwork precisely BECAUSE it feels like shit! Of course, it feels like shit BECAUSE I don't do speedwork. Is that a Catch-22? A legitimate Catch-22? I've recently taken to calling everything a Catch-22 because I think it's funny but I don't think I've ever successfully called one before. But I digress.]

I have no idea whether all this speed stuff will translate into a faster race. It's hard to believe that it won't but I'm still skeptical. My biggest worry is that I'll be overly optimistic and start too fast (said every runner, ever). That never used to be a problem of mine until last fall. In fact, I often start much slower than necessary, believing myself less fit than I am. I guess that expectations can really f-ck up a race, huh? So this time around my goal is to strike a healthy balance between believing I can run fast(er) without deluding myself into thinking I can run, like, a four-minute mile. We'll see how it goes! Did I mention that my department's crazy annual party is tonight? Well it is. I failed to realize that when I paid $75 to register for this race. Stellar move, Jean.

----

I'll leave you with some pictures so this post isn't just words, words words. My boyfriend and I have wanted to go to "the" rhododendron garden for weeks now and finally got around to it this morning. After going I can't understand what all the fuss is about!*



*"You went far too late in the season," you say? "Those flowers are all dead," you say? Yeah, you're right. We got a good laugh out of it, though.

Racing... Fast?

So I'm running a race tomorrow and am (uncharacteristically) kind of nervous about it. It's not that I don't think I can finish; it's that I'm hoping to actually race it. See, I've never been someone who cares about running fast. I like running far and feeling strong, but speed has definitely never been a priority. In fact, my half PR (2:03:??) came from my very first race seven years ago! I have (impressively, might I suggest?) defied all expectations by staying the exact same speed for the entirety of my running career. Of course, my speed has fluctuated some depending on whether I'm training for something, but the pattern thus far has been pretty consistent: 2:03-2:1?-2:04-2:11-2:04-2:11-2:04-2:07 - slower when the half is a training run and faster when it's my goal race (with the exception of last fall's shitstorm).

A few months ago I decided it was time for a change: I was going to speed up my runs every once in a while! It started with a few quick spurts here and there, which evolved into 400/800-meter intervals, which then became actual tempo runs. My longest was 6 miles (excluding warm-up/cool-down) averaging an 8:50-ish pace. 

[Can I take a moment to add that tempo runs are so awful?!?!?! I know we all know that but can we just acknowledge it again for my sake? I avoid speedwork precisely BECAUSE it feels like shit! Of course, it feels like shit BECAUSE I don't do speedwork. Is that a Catch-22? A legitimate Catch-22? I've recently taken to calling everything a Catch-22 because I think it's funny but I don't think I've ever successfully called one before. But I digress.]

I have no idea whether all this speed stuff will translate into a faster race. It's hard to believe that it won't but I'm still skeptical. My biggest worry is that I'll be overly optimistic and start too fast (said every runner, ever). That never used to be a problem of mine until last fall. In fact, I often start much slower than necessary, believing myself less fit than I am. I guess that expectations can really f-ck up a race, huh? So this time around my goal is to strike a healthy balance between believing I can run fast(er) without deluding myself into thinking I can run, like, a four-minute mile. We'll see how it goes! Did I mention that my department's crazy annual party is tonight? Well it is. I failed to realize that when I paid $75 to register for this race. Stellar move, Jean.

----

I'll leave you with some pictures so this post isn't just words, words words. My boyfriend and I have wanted to go to "the" rhododendron garden for weeks now and finally got around to it this morning. After going I can't understand what all the fuss is about!*



*"You went far too late in the season," you say? "Those flowers are all dead," you say? Yeah, you're right. We got a good laugh out of it, though.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Just time for a quick recap of... my long run!

Two things brought me back to the ol' blog:

1) I finally connected two routes I often run as out-and-backs and turned them into a loop. I knew it would be about twelve miles but until recently twelve miles was "too long" (although given that ten or eleven miles have been "totally manageable" for some time, that idea makes zero sense). With a half marathon on the horizon, though, I figured it was time!

2) For a while now I've thought about taking a picture during every mile of some run to share with you guys and give you an idea of what Eugene running (sometimes) looks like. There are plenty of boring, repetitive miles in this town but there are also some pretty cool places nearby. Looking through these photos also reminded me that a lot really can happen over the course of one run!

Unsurprisingly, it was a real pain in the ass to pull out my camera each mile, not to mention the fact that moseying about snapping photos may not be the best training strategy. Consequently this may be my first and last run tour but who knows! It was kind of a fun addition to my long run.

Mile 1: Amazon Park


Everything's so lush in Eugene right now! The volume of trees and flowers in the park seems to have ballooned almost overnight. Amazon Park is a pretty popular place for runners although there's only, like, a mile of trail so it's best used the way you'd use a track.

Mile 2: Rexius Trail


The Rexius Trail connects Amazon Park to the trails over by Spencer Butte but my god, it's boring. Nothing to see here.

Mile 3: TURKEYS!


Turkeys are badass. I see them occasionally in this part of town but it's infrequent enough that I flip out whenever it happens. They were not pleased by my presence (odor?). They puffed up once I got too close and ran off. Sorry dudes.

Mile 4: free water!


I don't know who these people are but I love them. This cooler contains free water and plastic cups for anyone in need and as far as I can tell, it's there every weekend. Today was the first day I actually took advantage of it (my handheld water bottle's only good for about 10 miles so I wanted to top it off).

Mile 5: trail!


Is this the Ridgeline Trail? I run here all the time and I still can't figure out which thing is actually Ridgeline. Whatever the case, this somewhat brutal hill takes you up, up, up to the trails around Spencer Butte. Again, it's all so lush right now!

Bonus mile 5: snail!


I couldn't help myself, this guy was too cute.

Mile 6: more trail


This was just before Dillard Road, which you have to run on for half a mile or so to access Mt. Baldy.

Mile 7: Mt. Baldy


It makes me laugh that this place somehow qualifies as a mountain when it's far smaller than the Butte and doesn't really have a summit. The views are pretty nice, though. That's a McMansion down there. This area is full of them. I was pretty excited once I made it here since it meant I was nearly done climbing!

Mile 8: more McMansions


To get from Baldy to Hendricks Park, you have to run through an insanely expensive-looking neighborhood. Seriously, this place is ridiculous. The massive hedge shrouding this mansion as well as the totally unnecessary gate made me laugh. Seriously, Eugene is so safe. Also, homeless people aren't going to shlep all the way out here to steal your shit.

Mile 9: 30th Ave.


Just a quick trip over the highway before getting back to trails at Hendricks Park.

Mile 10: Hendricks Park


This is next to the rhododendron garden, which was super popular today. This is also where my throat started freaking out and made me worry I was having an allergic reaction to... rhododendrons? Unclear. I'm nearly back to normal two hours later so I'll take that as a good sign.

Mile 11: Hayward "who gives a shit" Field


I altered my route slightly to take this gorgeous shot. YOU'RE WELCOME. But seriously, the excitement this thing incites confounds me.

Mile 12: Spencer Butte


Twelve miles in the books! 

This ended up being a really enjoyable run, and not as hard as I thought it would be, given the elevation (total gain 1,500 feet).

You want to see the elevation chart, you say? But of course!

And that's all I've got time for! Let's do this again sometime, huh?

Running Tour of Eugene

Just time for a quick recap of... my long run!

Two things brought me back to the ol' blog:

1) I finally connected two routes I often run as out-and-backs and turned them into a loop. I knew it would be about twelve miles but until recently twelve miles was "too long" (although given that ten or eleven miles have been "totally manageable" for some time, that idea makes zero sense). With a half marathon on the horizon, though, I figured it was time!

2) For a while now I've thought about taking a picture during every mile of some run to share with you guys and give you an idea of what Eugene running (sometimes) looks like. There are plenty of boring, repetitive miles in this town but there are also some pretty cool places nearby. Looking through these photos also reminded me that a lot really can happen over the course of one run!

Unsurprisingly, it was a real pain in the ass to pull out my camera each mile, not to mention the fact that moseying about snapping photos may not be the best training strategy. Consequently this may be my first and last run tour but who knows! It was kind of a fun addition to my long run.

Mile 1: Amazon Park


Everything's so lush in Eugene right now! The volume of trees and flowers in the park seems to have ballooned almost overnight. Amazon Park is a pretty popular place for runners although there's only, like, a mile of trail so it's best used the way you'd use a track.

Mile 2: Rexius Trail


The Rexius Trail connects Amazon Park to the trails over by Spencer Butte but my god, it's boring. Nothing to see here.

Mile 3: TURKEYS!


Turkeys are badass. I see them occasionally in this part of town but it's infrequent enough that I flip out whenever it happens. They were not pleased by my presence (odor?). They puffed up once I got too close and ran off. Sorry dudes.

Mile 4: free water!


I don't know who these people are but I love them. This cooler contains free water and plastic cups for anyone in need and as far as I can tell, it's there every weekend. Today was the first day I actually took advantage of it (my handheld water bottle's only good for about 10 miles so I wanted to top it off).

Mile 5: trail!


Is this the Ridgeline Trail? I run here all the time and I still can't figure out which thing is actually Ridgeline. Whatever the case, this somewhat brutal hill takes you up, up, up to the trails around Spencer Butte. Again, it's all so lush right now!

Bonus mile 5: snail!


I couldn't help myself, this guy was too cute.

Mile 6: more trail


This was just before Dillard Road, which you have to run on for half a mile or so to access Mt. Baldy.

Mile 7: Mt. Baldy


It makes me laugh that this place somehow qualifies as a mountain when it's far smaller than the Butte and doesn't really have a summit. The views are pretty nice, though. That's a McMansion down there. This area is full of them. I was pretty excited once I made it here since it meant I was nearly done climbing!

Mile 8: more McMansions


To get from Baldy to Hendricks Park, you have to run through an insanely expensive-looking neighborhood. Seriously, this place is ridiculous. The massive hedge shrouding this mansion as well as the totally unnecessary gate made me laugh. Seriously, Eugene is so safe. Also, homeless people aren't going to shlep all the way out here to steal your shit.

Mile 9: 30th Ave.


Just a quick trip over the highway before getting back to trails at Hendricks Park.

Mile 10: Hendricks Park


This is next to the rhododendron garden, which was super popular today. This is also where my throat started freaking out and made me worry I was having an allergic reaction to... rhododendrons? Unclear. I'm nearly back to normal two hours later so I'll take that as a good sign.

Mile 11: Hayward "who gives a shit" Field


I altered my route slightly to take this gorgeous shot. YOU'RE WELCOME. But seriously, the excitement this thing incites confounds me.

Mile 12: Spencer Butte


Twelve miles in the books! 

This ended up being a really enjoyable run, and not as hard as I thought it would be, given the elevation (total gain 1,500 feet).

You want to see the elevation chart, you say? But of course!

And that's all I've got time for! Let's do this again sometime, huh?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Let's summarize my life since I last checked in: 50k training didn't pan out (there are many reasons for this - my training plan was likely overly ambitious, I was sick for a few important training weeks, was feeling close to injury, got a boyfriend, had way too much going on at school, was planning to spend a week in Wyoming during what was supposed to be my peak training week, etc.) so I had to abort mission about ten weeks in. It was a hard decision to make because I despise setting goals and failing to meet them, but it really was the wisest thing to do.

Time limitations really put a damper on all things running in 2015 but I wasn't as torn up about it as I thought I would be. With the exception of a rather long stretch this summer (see below), I've continued to run/hike four or five days a week, albeit much shorter distances. The past few months I've consistently run between 20 - 25 miles per week (mileage excludes a weekly/biweekly hike), usually with a long run of about 10 miles and plenty of trails. I also ran a half marathon in October (again, see below). I don't have any exciting races on the horizon but I'm okay with that. Life is good!

-----------------------------

I dragged myself to this corner of the internet to check in while I have time, and to share my favorite pictures of the past year with you all. I stole the idea from Jill in 2013 and am quite fond of it. The rules are simple: choose your favorite photo from each month and say something about it, if you want.

It was interesting to see my schedule reflected in the photos I had to choose from. Unsurprisingly, I had fewer/worse options for months when I was swamped at school. February, April, May, and June seem to have been particularly bleak (each with only one photo worth keeping on my phone!). Conversely, choosing photos for months in which I had time off was difficult, to say the least. In fact, it was so difficult that I've altered the sacred rules of this photo review thing to allow for "alternates" at the end of the post. Hey, it's been a while! We've got a lot to catch up on.

Check out 2014 and 2013 for previous incarnations!

January: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


This sunrise was ridiculous. In fact, I blogged about it before my annual 11-month blogging hiatus. I took this at Spencer Butte, a place I aim to go once or twice a week. It took me a while to fully appreciate this place, but now I enjoy it immensely. It doesn't hurt that it takes me less than ten minutes to drive to the trailhead!

February: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


Ugggggghhhh, another Spencer Butte sun picture, you say? See above - February was bleak. Also, this is sunset, not sunrise, so you will accept it.

March: Grand Teton National Park - near Jackson, Wyoming


I spent Spring Break at a friend's cabin in Jackson, which was super fun and super beautiful. I drove through different parts of Wyoming on two separate occasions in 2015 and I have to say, Wyoming's scenery gives Alaska a run for its money. And before you yell at me about shitty Wyoming, I've heard about shitty Wyoming. I just haven't seen it. I hear it's near Utah. My friend here decided it was a good idea to walk on the lake and throw an ice chunk at it.

April: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


Are you sensing a pattern? When I have a lot of work, Spencer Butte and Mount Pisgah (see May, below) are the only pretty places I go. I almost crushed this little critter coming down Spencer. I happened to see its moss hut quivering just in time to avoid it. Adorable, right? Let me know if you can tell what it is - a vole, maybe?

May: Mount Pisgah - Eugene, Oregon


There are lots of beautiful colors in May, although you can't really tell from this photo. Spring in Oregon really is wonderful.

June: Alton Baker Park - Eugene, Oregon


This was the month I taught my first solo class, one of the most stressful (and rewarding!) things I've ever done. I was at school 10 - 14 hours per day, including weekends, and didn't run more than 3 miles at a time. It was rough. I did make it to Alton Baker for a nice sunset, though.

July: Shoshone National Forest - outside Yellowstone National Park


Shoshone was such a pleasant surprise. My boyfriend and I went on a three-week road trip through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, and Utah, some because they're beautiful, others to see friends, and yet others because they couldn't be avoided. We ran into some issues in Yellowstone (apparently showing up at 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday night in July without a place to stay is a "bad idea"), which made the park less enjoyable than it otherwise would have been. It was still beautiful, of course, but frenzied. We were on our way to the Black Hills in South Dakota when we came upon the Shoshone National Forest just east of Yellowstone. It was amazing. As soon as we saw it, we knew we were staying the night. It didn't matter that we had only been driving for a few hours and were expected shortly in Madison (that's in Wisconsin, which is definitely not next to Wyoming). If you ever find yourself in Shoshone, stay! Our campsite was $6, a steal compared to the $65 we had paid for a KOA "campsite" the previous night. This was the view from our tent, just before a (brief) rainstorm.

August: Bird Ridge - Bird Creek, Alaska


I was torn between this photo and the August alternate (see below). There are fewer mountains in this photo (a negative) but it's got a nice view of the mud flats (a positive). Bailey's also a welcome addition.

This was taken during my trip home to Alaska. I was really happy to finally make it up Bird Ridge. I had wanted to do this hike for years but something always seemed to prevent me from doing it. I'd recommend it to anyone! Anyone who's ready for a real grind, that is. This is not an easy hike.

September: the Pacific Ocean - near Florence, Oregon


My boyfriend and I chanced a trip to the coast one day when Eugene was particularly gross. We were pretty pessimistic about the weather until a couple of miles from the coast when it suddenly cleared up. Oregon weather is weird. This is a very small but very idyllic beach.

October: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


Another Spencer Butte photo, because school. Winter in Oregon!

I also ran a half marathon this month. It didn't go that well - 2:07, I think? That time (relative to my previous half times) doesn't properly convey what a shitty race it was - I started out too fast, positive split, and ended feeling completely drained and defeated. I've never been a particularly fast runner but I pride myself on having a really strong mental game. I'm used to feeling strong and passing people at the end of races, which definitely didn't happen during this one. Basically, I raced like I was Fall 2014 Jean instead of Fall 2015 Jean. I lost a lot of fitness this summer (teaching and my road trip meant I was largely inactive for about seven weeks) so I had no business running like I did. Lesson learned!

November: someplace near Reedsport, Oregon


November photos were slim pickins. It was either this or another Spencer Butte photo. I took this on the way to my friend's cabin when the fall colors were doing their thing. This part of Oregon is full of short, steep mounds covered with pine trees, something I haven't seen anywhere else. They make me laugh.

December: looking back towards Williwaw Lakes - near Anchorage, Alaska


Home for the holidays! I've been here for two weeks and it hasn't snowed at all. The snow that's on the ground fell weeks ago. I really am bummed that I'm not going to see any snowfall this year but it's still been a beautiful trip.

Alternates:

July: somewhere in Yellowstone. I didn't think I'd be that into hot springs/geysers but I totally am. Old Faithful was so cool! This is not Old Faithful.

August: Brothers, Oregon. This was the last day of the road trip. I love this picture even though there's not much going on. I think it's the openness, colors, and clouds.

August: Bird Ridge - Bird Creek, Alaska. The sun was bright that day, which really washed out my pictures. The view was unbeatable, though!

September: Diamond Peak - Oregon. Some friends and I hiked Diamond as a last hurrah before the school year started. It was an awesome hike on a bluebird day.

-----------------------------

So there you have it! I had a great year and saw a lot of great things. I wish I had more time to run and hike but I'm content with my decision to focus more on other parts of my life. I'm just happy to be able to get outside for a bit four or five days a week.

Happy new year!

(My) 2015 In Pictures

Let's summarize my life since I last checked in: 50k training didn't pan out (there are many reasons for this - my training plan was likely overly ambitious, I was sick for a few important training weeks, was feeling close to injury, got a boyfriend, had way too much going on at school, was planning to spend a week in Wyoming during what was supposed to be my peak training week, etc.) so I had to abort mission about ten weeks in. It was a hard decision to make because I despise setting goals and failing to meet them, but it really was the wisest thing to do.

Time limitations really put a damper on all things running in 2015 but I wasn't as torn up about it as I thought I would be. With the exception of a rather long stretch this summer (see below), I've continued to run/hike four or five days a week, albeit much shorter distances. The past few months I've consistently run between 20 - 25 miles per week (mileage excludes a weekly/biweekly hike), usually with a long run of about 10 miles and plenty of trails. I also ran a half marathon in October (again, see below). I don't have any exciting races on the horizon but I'm okay with that. Life is good!

-----------------------------

I dragged myself to this corner of the internet to check in while I have time, and to share my favorite pictures of the past year with you all. I stole the idea from Jill in 2013 and am quite fond of it. The rules are simple: choose your favorite photo from each month and say something about it, if you want.

It was interesting to see my schedule reflected in the photos I had to choose from. Unsurprisingly, I had fewer/worse options for months when I was swamped at school. February, April, May, and June seem to have been particularly bleak (each with only one photo worth keeping on my phone!). Conversely, choosing photos for months in which I had time off was difficult, to say the least. In fact, it was so difficult that I've altered the sacred rules of this photo review thing to allow for "alternates" at the end of the post. Hey, it's been a while! We've got a lot to catch up on.

Check out 2014 and 2013 for previous incarnations!

January: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


This sunrise was ridiculous. In fact, I blogged about it before my annual 11-month blogging hiatus. I took this at Spencer Butte, a place I aim to go once or twice a week. It took me a while to fully appreciate this place, but now I enjoy it immensely. It doesn't hurt that it takes me less than ten minutes to drive to the trailhead!

February: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


Ugggggghhhh, another Spencer Butte sun picture, you say? See above - February was bleak. Also, this is sunset, not sunrise, so you will accept it.

March: Grand Teton National Park - near Jackson, Wyoming


I spent Spring Break at a friend's cabin in Jackson, which was super fun and super beautiful. I drove through different parts of Wyoming on two separate occasions in 2015 and I have to say, Wyoming's scenery gives Alaska a run for its money. And before you yell at me about shitty Wyoming, I've heard about shitty Wyoming. I just haven't seen it. I hear it's near Utah. My friend here decided it was a good idea to walk on the lake and throw an ice chunk at it.

April: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


Are you sensing a pattern? When I have a lot of work, Spencer Butte and Mount Pisgah (see May, below) are the only pretty places I go. I almost crushed this little critter coming down Spencer. I happened to see its moss hut quivering just in time to avoid it. Adorable, right? Let me know if you can tell what it is - a vole, maybe?

May: Mount Pisgah - Eugene, Oregon


There are lots of beautiful colors in May, although you can't really tell from this photo. Spring in Oregon really is wonderful.

June: Alton Baker Park - Eugene, Oregon


This was the month I taught my first solo class, one of the most stressful (and rewarding!) things I've ever done. I was at school 10 - 14 hours per day, including weekends, and didn't run more than 3 miles at a time. It was rough. I did make it to Alton Baker for a nice sunset, though.

July: Shoshone National Forest - outside Yellowstone National Park


Shoshone was such a pleasant surprise. My boyfriend and I went on a three-week road trip through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, and Utah, some because they're beautiful, others to see friends, and yet others because they couldn't be avoided. We ran into some issues in Yellowstone (apparently showing up at 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday night in July without a place to stay is a "bad idea"), which made the park less enjoyable than it otherwise would have been. It was still beautiful, of course, but frenzied. We were on our way to the Black Hills in South Dakota when we came upon the Shoshone National Forest just east of Yellowstone. It was amazing. As soon as we saw it, we knew we were staying the night. It didn't matter that we had only been driving for a few hours and were expected shortly in Madison (that's in Wisconsin, which is definitely not next to Wyoming). If you ever find yourself in Shoshone, stay! Our campsite was $6, a steal compared to the $65 we had paid for a KOA "campsite" the previous night. This was the view from our tent, just before a (brief) rainstorm.

August: Bird Ridge - Bird Creek, Alaska


I was torn between this photo and the August alternate (see below). There are fewer mountains in this photo (a negative) but it's got a nice view of the mud flats (a positive). Bailey's also a welcome addition.

This was taken during my trip home to Alaska. I was really happy to finally make it up Bird Ridge. I had wanted to do this hike for years but something always seemed to prevent me from doing it. I'd recommend it to anyone! Anyone who's ready for a real grind, that is. This is not an easy hike.

September: the Pacific Ocean - near Florence, Oregon


My boyfriend and I chanced a trip to the coast one day when Eugene was particularly gross. We were pretty pessimistic about the weather until a couple of miles from the coast when it suddenly cleared up. Oregon weather is weird. This is a very small but very idyllic beach.

October: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


Another Spencer Butte photo, because school. Winter in Oregon!

I also ran a half marathon this month. It didn't go that well - 2:07, I think? That time (relative to my previous half times) doesn't properly convey what a shitty race it was - I started out too fast, positive split, and ended feeling completely drained and defeated. I've never been a particularly fast runner but I pride myself on having a really strong mental game. I'm used to feeling strong and passing people at the end of races, which definitely didn't happen during this one. Basically, I raced like I was Fall 2014 Jean instead of Fall 2015 Jean. I lost a lot of fitness this summer (teaching and my road trip meant I was largely inactive for about seven weeks) so I had no business running like I did. Lesson learned!

November: someplace near Reedsport, Oregon


November photos were slim pickins. It was either this or another Spencer Butte photo. I took this on the way to my friend's cabin when the fall colors were doing their thing. This part of Oregon is full of short, steep mounds covered with pine trees, something I haven't seen anywhere else. They make me laugh.

December: looking back towards Williwaw Lakes - near Anchorage, Alaska


Home for the holidays! I've been here for two weeks and it hasn't snowed at all. The snow that's on the ground fell weeks ago. I really am bummed that I'm not going to see any snowfall this year but it's still been a beautiful trip.

Alternates:

July: somewhere in Yellowstone. I didn't think I'd be that into hot springs/geysers but I totally am. Old Faithful was so cool! This is not Old Faithful.

August: Brothers, Oregon. This was the last day of the road trip. I love this picture even though there's not much going on. I think it's the openness, colors, and clouds.

August: Bird Ridge - Bird Creek, Alaska. The sun was bright that day, which really washed out my pictures. The view was unbeatable, though!

September: Diamond Peak - Oregon. Some friends and I hiked Diamond as a last hurrah before the school year started. It was an awesome hike on a bluebird day.

-----------------------------

So there you have it! I had a great year and saw a lot of great things. I wish I had more time to run and hike but I'm content with my decision to focus more on other parts of my life. I'm just happy to be able to get outside for a bit four or five days a week.

Happy new year!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

50k training was going great! Until it wasn't.

I was rolling right along, completing every workout as prescribed, and gearing up for a big week when an illness knocked me flat on my ass. What started as a sore throat turned into a coal miner's hack and intense fatigue, the likes of which I hadn't experienced since I had low iron levels a couple of years ago. I even missed my first grad school class! Then again, I hadn't been sick in over a year and a half so my stellar attendance is more a comment on my super luck/habits/genes/whatever than mental fortitude but still, missed class!

Anyway, it wasn't a huge deal but it did make me miss nearly a week of running. And missing runs, in case you were wondering, is something I really hate to do. I don't think I can stress that enough so let me say it again: I hate missing runs. Especially long runs. So when I had to scrap a 13-miler last weekend, I was pissed.

It's easy for me to fall into that "if I can't do it perfectly, I don't want to do it at all" trap (which is strange since I'm very much not like that in other aspects of my life). So I went through a mini crisis this past week wondering whether I had lost too much ground (especially since I got sick just after a stepback week so hadn't run more than 8 miles in 3 weeks) and whether I should just give up on this 50k idea. But then again, it was just 1 week and I'm only 5 weeks into training. 

After some thought, I decided to give this weekend's mileage (14 and 6) a shot to see how my body held up. Because, you know, running the farthest you've run in two years on much harder terrain when you can hardly ascend stairs without a cough attack is a great idea.

Saturday was rough but I did it.

The weather definitely helped.

I was pretty exhausted just two miles in but fortunately I don't mind slowing to a walk on steeper stuff. I usually have pretty high standards for what should be run versus hiked but that bar was very generously low yesterday. I guess that's why 14 miles took 3 hours! Although to be fair, I probably only walked a total of 15 - 20 minutes.


I have no idea what that extra line is doing there. I'm glad to see the first half was uphill because it definitely felt like it. Plus, I ended up at the summit so I must have gone up once or twice.

I also experimented with real food, one of the things about longer races that excites me most (in addition to, you know, scenery and challenging myself and all that nonsense. But really it's about the food). I didn't actually require that many calories but forced myself to eat Cheez-its and Oreos at miles 5 and 10, respectively. There were also some gummy bears thrown in for good measure. It all stayed down and I didn't bonk in any noticeable sense (although one could argue that the entire run was one long bonk) so I guess it worked!

I realized afterwards that this run was likely one of the longest and hardest of my life, which makes me feel better about it. My longest runs during marathon training were somewhere around 2 hours and 40 minutes (Hanson method, yo!) and on much flatter ground. Which is what I told myself when I was hobbling around my friend's apartment a few hours later. I was surprised by how beat-up I felt and for a while was pretty concerned about it. I did feel much better today, though, and my 6 (flat) miles felt pretty good. I have tomorrow off and will reassess on Tuesday whether the weekend was a big ol' mistake. For now, though, I'm calling it a win.

Total mileage weeks 2 - 5 (I run Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday):

5-8-5-10-6 = 34
5-8-5-8-6 = 32
4.5-3.5-4-6-0 (cough cough cough cough cough) = 18
2 (cough)-0 (cough)-2 (cough)-14-6 = 24

----

I had a second half to this post but it's already far too long so you'll have to wait. Next time: peeing homeless men and running in the dark! I'm also planning to do a more thorough post on my training plan (which Meagan asked about) but that'll have to wait. Here are some pictures from the past few weeks to tide you over:

Pisgah.

More Pisgah.

Such Pisgah. 

Pisgah can be muddy.

Spencer Butte.

It's bloom season! 

Bloom, baby, bloom!

Happy running!

One Long Bonk (Plus 50k Training, Weeks 2 - 5)

50k training was going great! Until it wasn't.

I was rolling right along, completing every workout as prescribed, and gearing up for a big week when an illness knocked me flat on my ass. What started as a sore throat turned into a coal miner's hack and intense fatigue, the likes of which I hadn't experienced since I had low iron levels a couple of years ago. I even missed my first grad school class! Then again, I hadn't been sick in over a year and a half so my stellar attendance is more a comment on my super luck/habits/genes/whatever than mental fortitude but still, missed class!

Anyway, it wasn't a huge deal but it did make me miss nearly a week of running. And missing runs, in case you were wondering, is something I really hate to do. I don't think I can stress that enough so let me say it again: I hate missing runs. Especially long runs. So when I had to scrap a 13-miler last weekend, I was pissed.

It's easy for me to fall into that "if I can't do it perfectly, I don't want to do it at all" trap (which is strange since I'm very much not like that in other aspects of my life). So I went through a mini crisis this past week wondering whether I had lost too much ground (especially since I got sick just after a stepback week so hadn't run more than 8 miles in 3 weeks) and whether I should just give up on this 50k idea. But then again, it was just 1 week and I'm only 5 weeks into training. 

After some thought, I decided to give this weekend's mileage (14 and 6) a shot to see how my body held up. Because, you know, running the farthest you've run in two years on much harder terrain when you can hardly ascend stairs without a cough attack is a great idea.

Saturday was rough but I did it.

The weather definitely helped.

I was pretty exhausted just two miles in but fortunately I don't mind slowing to a walk on steeper stuff. I usually have pretty high standards for what should be run versus hiked but that bar was very generously low yesterday. I guess that's why 14 miles took 3 hours! Although to be fair, I probably only walked a total of 15 - 20 minutes.


I have no idea what that extra line is doing there. I'm glad to see the first half was uphill because it definitely felt like it. Plus, I ended up at the summit so I must have gone up once or twice.

I also experimented with real food, one of the things about longer races that excites me most (in addition to, you know, scenery and challenging myself and all that nonsense. But really it's about the food). I didn't actually require that many calories but forced myself to eat Cheez-its and Oreos at miles 5 and 10, respectively. There were also some gummy bears thrown in for good measure. It all stayed down and I didn't bonk in any noticeable sense (although one could argue that the entire run was one long bonk) so I guess it worked!

I realized afterwards that this run was likely one of the longest and hardest of my life, which makes me feel better about it. My longest runs during marathon training were somewhere around 2 hours and 40 minutes (Hanson method, yo!) and on much flatter ground. Which is what I told myself when I was hobbling around my friend's apartment a few hours later. I was surprised by how beat-up I felt and for a while was pretty concerned about it. I did feel much better today, though, and my 6 (flat) miles felt pretty good. I have tomorrow off and will reassess on Tuesday whether the weekend was a big ol' mistake. For now, though, I'm calling it a win.

Total mileage weeks 2 - 5 (I run Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday):

5-8-5-10-6 = 34
5-8-5-8-6 = 32
4.5-3.5-4-6-0 (cough cough cough cough cough) = 18
2 (cough)-0 (cough)-2 (cough)-14-6 = 24

----

I had a second half to this post but it's already far too long so you'll have to wait. Next time: peeing homeless men and running in the dark! I'm also planning to do a more thorough post on my training plan (which Meagan asked about) but that'll have to wait. Here are some pictures from the past few weeks to tide you over:

Pisgah.

More Pisgah.

Such Pisgah. 

Pisgah can be muddy.

Spencer Butte.

It's bloom season! 

Bloom, baby, bloom!

Happy running!