Monday, February 6, 2012

Trail Running

This week training went pretty well.  Most of my runs were only 3 miles and by the end of the week I was ready for my longer runs on the weekend.  Saturday was a 10 mile run and since I really wanted to test out my new pack I was excited for this run.  Up until that point I was taking it on runs that didn't even really need it.  I wanted to get some miles on it though so I was the dork doing a 3 mile run with 2 liters of water on his back!  Anyways I went to the local state park for some trail running.

It's harder than you would think to take a steady picture in the middle of a ten mile run.
So the original goal was to run the 6 mile loop and then do another 4 mile turn around.  Unfortunately the trails are not marked very well and I ended up getting off the 6 mile loop somewhere and ended up on a shorter trail that ended in a parking lot.  The nice part is I got to see a lot of different terrain.  This park had pretty much everything Virginia Beach has to offer in terms of terrain.  There were parts of the trail that went by the Chesapeake Bay which was beautiful to look at.  This area also had a lot of sand on the trail which slowed me down a little, but it wasn't enough to complain about.

One of my favorite parts of the trail was the moss covered trees.  You come around a corner off the beach and there they are!  It was one of those moments where verbal "wow" came out of my mouth.  It was entirely unexpected and a nice treat.

There was also a section of marsh with dead trees everywhere.  It was beautiful to look at but man did it smell funny.  All of this was on a short 1.7 mile trail and even though it was short it was definitely worth it.  It was pretty cool to see all these different types of terrain in such a short area.

Once I got back to the trail head I decide to hit up another trail that had a lot of people on it.  This one was wooded and wide.  It looked more like a road than a trail, but the terrain was nice and I still enjoyed it.  I saw more hills in this park than anywhere else, but it was by no means hilly.  My run wasn't to bad except for the last mile or so.  It's the furthest I've run this season and I was feeling it towards the end.  There were even some points where I wanted to walk.  Once I finished I felt incredibly happy.  I hadn't missed a run since last Sunday and I was tired, but still felt good.  Having so many places to explore has really helped with motivating me to get out the door and with the weather being so nice I really don't have an excuses

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nathan HPL #020 Review

So here it is, my next review!  I've been wanting a hydration pack for a while now.  I hate to admit it, but some of the main reasons I want one has nothing to do with water consumption.  I've found myself in multiple location where I just really wanted a camera to capture how beautiful it is.  A light pack could solve this issue.  Now that it's getting cold out I finding myself starting runs with more layers on at the start of my run than at the end.  A pack would be a great place to put all this extra gear.  Now that I'm going to be having 2-3 hour runs it would be nice to have a pack with water in it.  Plus what if I find some cool stuff on the side of the road that I want to take home... ok maybe not so much that last reason, but it could be a valid point.  I've never been a big fan of running with water, but I have noticed when I do I feel better.  There's a common saying that you should train like you race, and if I plan on drinking water while I race I should probably get use to doing it while I train.  So all the above considered I started my quest to find a pack that fit my needs and this is what I came up with.

The Nathan HPL #020 is marketed as a race vest.  It's light, coming in at 10 oz without any water in it.  It's compact so it doesn't feel like your going on a 3 week hike through the mountains when you go out for a run.  It has a couple extra pockets for gear, camera, phones, keys, ect.  It also has a really cool sales pitch; a 3-way propulsion harness.  I mean come on that just sounds cool!  The idea behind it is that it moves with you and helps to eliminate pressure points on your shoulders.  It's suppose to go back and forth with your shoulders and torso so you don't get any bouncing or swaying from side to side.  It's a pretty cool concept and though I've never run with a hydration pack before I could only image the swaying you could get.  I mean come on who hasn't had to run to the bus stop with their book bag on?  Not the same thing? Well whatever you get the point.

This is the core of the 3-way propulsion harness

Without ever trying other hydration packs I would still have to say this pack lives up to it's claims.  It feels very light on the shoulders.  Almost too light.  It took me a while to get use to not having any pressure on my shoulders even with the 2L bladder completely full. It took me a couple runs to get it fit just right.  There were no fitting instructing that came with the pack and the website didn't have any so I had to do a couple trail fits before I found that perfect fit.  Once I got it fit just right, it didn't feel like it moved back and forth at all, and if it wasn't for the swishing sound of the water in my pack I would have forgotten it was there.

It has an vertically adjustable sternum strap which is a cool idea, but it doesn't lock in place.  So when you find where you like the strap it inevitably it can ends up sliding out of that position.  I may just superglue it in place, but I would rather not have to do that.  I did notice once I got the fit a little more "tuned in" the strap hardly moved at all, though again there are no instructions on how to fit the pack just right.

The pockets on this thing are awesome!  It seems to have just the right amount.  The largest pocket on the back fits keys, phone, ID, and some extra cash with room to spare.

The other pockets are on the shoulder strap and though I thought they could end up in my way they didn't.  I put my camera in one pocket and my sunglasses in the other pocket.  There is also a convenient pouch for gels and the such.

The last thing that really stand out on this pack in the bite-valve.  I've seen some where they are really difficult to bite down on and get water out of.  This one works great.  It takes some pressure, but not so much that you feel like you're chewing on a rock and no so little that it feels like the water could drip out.

I still haven't gotten to use the shock cord with one-pull tension lock, but it's another feature I'm excited about.  It's just been to warm here for me to use any of my winter clothes yet.  Overall I am very happy with this pack.  It's light, it doesn't move around that much, it's compact but still has storage room, and it feels like it's very well constructed.  I'm hoping to have many more miles of enjoyment out of this pack!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Overtraining and Airplanes

This was an eventful week for me.  My wife came to visit this past weekend, so we went exploring the Virginia Beach area.  I would have to say we had a blast.  We went to the beach, explored the local state park, checked out some navy planes, and enjoyed a lot of great sea food.  One of the best places we ate at was Trilogy Bistro, so if you're ever in the Norfolk area give it a try.  My training on the other hand was not so eventful.

Trilogy Bistro which use to be an old bank

Last week I did great and really put in a lot of miles.  I think it may have been to many too soon though.  Monday was a much needed off day from training.  I was tired and really needed the break so it was perfectly place.  The only problem is I wasn't ready to go running on tuesday.  I was still pretty worn out and by the end of the day I really didn't want to run.  I had talked with Trey that previous weekend and he gave me some words of encouragement that really stuck with me.  As I headed out the door I wasn't feeling great, but I was happy that I had started my run.  Overall it was a pretty good run.  It started slow, but as I came to the end of my run I was feeling much better.  I went to bed early and was hoping that if I got a little extra sleep that night I would feel well rested in the morning.  That couldn't have been farther from the truth.  Wednesday sucked.  I was exhausted all day and I felt like I had only slept for 3-4 hours.  My feet were killing me and I kept finding myself sitting down trying to take the pressure off my knees and feet.  It didn't feel like an injury just like I had been standing for 3 days straight.  That evening came and I was not ready for a run.  All I wanted to do was go to sleep, so I decided to listen to my body and took wednesday off as well.  I had a rest day already planned for thursday, but the more I thought about it the more I think we started with too high of a volume for my first week.  Sometimes I catch myself pushing to hard early on trying to make up for lost time.  The problem is that it's not a sprint it's a marathon (pun intended).  Lost time is lost and all you can do is make the best of what you have left.  I made the decision to take wednesday off as well to try and give my body a little more time to recover.

Carolyn next to one of the planes on base

Here's where the life decision come into play.  My wife came to visit me for the weekend after 3 weeks of being apart and I would have to say excited wasn't enough to describe how I felt.  On my way to the airport I started to think about my training for the weekend and if I thought I would be able to accomplish it.  There are a few things that can distract me in life and my wife is always at the top of this list.  I knew when she got here all I would want to do was spend every waking second with her, so I made the decision to make my training for this weekend a second priority.  It's not that I wanted an excuse or that I didn't understand that I don't have a ton of time before this marathon, it's just that I understand there are more important things in my life.  I wanted to spend time with Carolyn and I didn't want to take an hour or two from her each day this weekend.  If I had time to get out the door and go run I would and if not I would enjoy the time with my wife and head out the door on monday.  That's exactly what happened and I'm perfectly fine with it.

another one of the planes on the base

So needless to say it was a short week of training.  I had one run on tuesday and other than that I was pretty inactive.  I don't feel like I wasted my time though.  I listened to my body and I payed attention to my priorities.  I'm still incredibly motivated and I know this week I'll be able to finish all my workouts.  I took a look at my training plan for the next couple weeks so I could talk to Trey about reducing my milage and it seems like he knew what was going on before I had even said anything.  He had already reduce my milage for the next couple weeks while still putting together a pretty aggressive training plan.  It looks like something that I can handle so I'm excited about getting back into the swing of things.

On another note I've got another product review coming up!  Can you guess what it is?

Here's another clue.

No?  Well I guess you're just going to have to keep an eye out later in the week to see what it's all about!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Self Motivation

What a great week of training!  It's been cold.  It's been wind.  It's been wet and I haven't missed a day yet.  Not that I didn't struggle this week, but unlike so many weeks before I was able to get myself out the door every time I needed to.  Tuesday and Saturday were probably my most difficulty days.  Tuesday was a long day at work and all I wanted to do was relax and have a drink, but I forced myself out the door and got the job done.  My watch died halfway through the run so I lost all my data, but at least I finished it.  I wasn't happy with my run, but I was at least happy that I had done it.

Saturday was one of those days where it seemed like everything was against me.  It was suppose to be warm and it wasn't.  It was suppose to be a light mist of rain and while it wasn't heavy it certainly wasn't a mist.  It was windy.  It's always windy here.  It might not be hilly, but it's windy and I think I would rather have the hills.  I struggled all day with heading out the door and I kept coming up with excuse to not go running.  I had things to do around the house and errands to run.  It seemed the more I put off my run the more I didn't want to do it.  If I was being completely honest I would also have to say that I was somewhat intimidated my the 8 mile run that I had planned for the day.  It seemed to linger over me all day and I started to come up with more and more excuses.  "I think I have a swollen lymph node, maybe I'm sick"  "I'm not ready for a run this long, it's too early."  "I want to relax, it's the weekend who really wants to waste an hour and a half running."  Luckily unlike so many times before I didn't listen to myself and I remembered that this is something I want to do.  This is something I enjoy and I want to get better at.  So I headed out the door.

As I ran I started to think about what made this time different.  What made me overcome my obstacles and head out the door?  The more I thought about it the more I realized that it wasn't anything magical or anything unique.  It was simple the fact that this time I was real with myself.  This time I owned up to what I had decided to do and held myself accountable.  Sometimes we forget that the best motivation is ourself, or maybe it's that we get to caught up in finding motivation in others.  Either way I think we need to stop looking so much at other people for inspiration and start looking at ourselves as inspiration.  The best part is if you learn to inspire yourself you will never feel disappointed.  You will never feel like a failure.  This week I inspired myself and learned a new truth.  That I'm not limited my my excuses and that I can head out the door even when I don't feel like I can.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Place and New Goals

This weeks training was... uneventful.  I started a clerkship at the Naval hospital in Portsmouth this week, which needless to say has taken up a lot of my time.  Training in the morning is pretty much off limits since I've been up at 5am almost every day to get to the hospital on time.  This means I have to do my training in the evening and needless to say it's been more difficult than I expected.  I'm use to having longer breaks in the middle of the day where I can fit my training in, but now that I'm working a normal 8 hour day I have to set aside some time later on in the day.  This is way harder than I thought it would be.  It seems like every time I get home I have errands I need to run or I am just to tired (lazy) to go out a run.  I blame a lot of it on being in a new place and having to deal with all that comes along with that, but in the end I had the time and should have gone out even for a short run.  This isn't me beating myself up, it's me being honest.  I don't like excuses and I think everyone should at least be honest with themselves.  It's the only way to really improve yourself.

I did get out the door today and had a amazing three mile run.  It was a great reminder that one of my favorite ways to explore a new area is to go out for a run.  You get to really take in everything and see a lot of the areas you wouldn't normally see driving.  The beach is less than a mile from where I'm staying and I haven't been there yet, so I headed down to the beach for my first run here.  It was amazing out there.  There was almost no one on the beach and I really felt like I was by myself.  When I got back I was revitalized and started to think about my season coming up.  The first triathlon I do is normally in april.  There is also a marathon in march the weekend I head back to atlanta that Trey and I had talked about.  The more I think about it the more I really want to do it.  It really would be great to be in marathon shape before my triathlon season even starts.  I also like that I'll have a sort term goal to focus on and keep me motivated.  Three months is enough time to train for a marathon, but I will have to be incredibly dedicated.  I can't miss more than a couple days of training if I really want to be able to do this. So now my next step is to call Trey up and work on a training plan for the next three months.  Hopefully after that I'll have a marathon under my belt before the triathlon season even starts.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Does Skiing Count As Cross-training?

It's been a while since I posted, but I actually have a reason. I spent the last week on top of a mountain!  Ok so it may have been West Virginia where the mountains aren't as high as some out west, and there may have been a ski resort up there to keep us warm, but there was definitely no cell phone reception and we had to use some sort of "wire" to connect our computers to the internet... I think it's called an "ethernet cord???"  Since everyone had to check their facebook and email accounts our time "plugged in" was limited.  By the end of the week I started to remember how you can have fun without all of our gadgets and gismos.

This was my first time skiing and I would have to say I was a little nervous.  My wife's family have been skiing their entire lives and are really quit good at it.  Of course me being me I wanted to be a natural and even though I was better than most I was far from the best.  We had decided that the best way to approach this was ski lessons.  I know there are a lot of people decide to let their friends and family teach them and after watching some of those people I would high suggest ski lessons from a professional.  A professional is there to teach you and knows exactly how to teach you.  Your friends may know how to ski and may be the best skier on the mountain, but that by no way makes them a great teacher.  I heard way to many conversations like, "just go man, you just have to man up and go!"  I don't know about y'all but the advice I want from my instructor is not to "man up," but how and what I can do to make it down the hill in one piece.

The wife and I right before we head out to ski on my first day!
My first day of ski lessons went great!  I learned how to snowplow (or pizza pie as me and some of the kids called it) and I learned the basics of turning.  I never fell and after going down the bunny slope, which was a green, several times I felt I was ready to hit the slopes with the rest of the family.  I could have never been more wrong...  If the ground wasn't flat I was terrified and i spent the entire day either pizza pieing or on the ground.  There was a small hill on one of the greens that after my first day became know as "my hill."  This was not because I loved this hill, enjoyed this hill, or even thought it was a nice view.  I loathed this hill.  I was terrified of it and I fell a good 8 to 10 times going down this thing.  I would get up and fall after about 10 feet and this continued all the way down the hill.  Needless to say I was so frustrated and really didn't know if I was going to like skiing.

The bunny hill where they held ski lessons
The next day went much better.  I went to another ski lesson and after avoiding "my hill" all day I was starting to stay more up right then on the ground.  I was still pizza pieing, but I would only fall once or twice on each slope.  It was at the end of the second day that I realized I really like skiing.  It was a challenge and even though it took all of my concentration to stay up I was enjoying myself more and more.  It really reminded me how you can have such a great feeling when you accomplish something you struggle with.  It felt amazing to push through the hard times and the frustration.  I never gave up and by the end of the week I could go down all of the greens, including "my hill," and I even started on a blue!

That's me in yellow pizza pieing!
So how was my triathlon training while in West Virginia?  Not so hot... pun intended.  I brought my running shoes, but once we got there I found that there really wasn't any place to go run.  It was a small mountain with a lot of people.  There were no trails to walk/run on.  The roads were narrow and covered in cars.  Regardless of all this we skied from the time the slopes opened till the time they closed.  I was so tired at the end of the day that I don't know if I would have gone out and run even if I could.  The workout from skiing was actually a really good one and it hit most of the major muscle groups you use while running.  My thighs would burn at the end of a long slope and I was really getting a workout in my hip abductors, mainly from getting back up after falling but hey they were still getting worked!  Of course skiing worked those muscles a little differently, but cross training is a great way to maintain your fitness.  It breaks up the monotony of day in day out training.  So even though I wasn't running I was still working towards my training goals, just through different means.  I picked up a new hobby and was able to overcome another obstacle in my life... now thats what I call a vacation!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

and so it begins... again

It's been a while since I've done a blog post and it's been a while since I've gone out for a run.  I hit a point where I started to feel like I was only running because I felt like I had to and not because I wanted to.  It happens every now and then and sometimes you just need to take a break from it all.  I enjoyed a couple weeks off from training where I didn't do much of anything, which was nice, but now I'm ready to get back into the swing of things.  Another reason it's taken me so long to start training again is really just laziness.  I've even had days where I sat there wanting to run but never really stood up to head out the door.  It's the worse excuse ever, but if I'm honest with myself it's the only reason.  I had a Talk with Trey the other day and he really helped to motivate me.  Even though he kept claiming that "he can't motivate me and only I can motivate myself," he really did help me to get out the door again.  There are only a few people out there that understand me well enough to know how to motivate me and he is definitely one of them, so heres to you bro!

I went for a run today that ended up being a fairly light workout.  I had intended on going for three miles but about 8 minutes in I decided to make it and easy 2 miles.  It wasn't that I was suffering or that I didn't enjoy the run, it was just that I felt like 2 miles was enough and there really wasn't a need to go any further.  The more I thought about it the more I realized it didn't matter how far or how long I ran, just that I went out and ran.  I've been out of it for long enough that I need to rebuild the habit of going out and running.  I was happy afterwards and I'm hoping that if I take this one day at a time I can get back into the habit without to much difficulty.  On another note I've found a couple motivational pictures/saying and I'm going to share them from time to time when I feel the idea of the saying really fits well with my blog post so for todays I have the following: