Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Compression Socks Make My Legs Happy

I recently bought a pair of compression socks so I could see if there was really anything to them.  After every run, I put on the socks and wear them for a few hours.  Amazingly, I've seen a huge difference!  My recovery time is cut in half and my legs feel better than they have felt in years.  I ran my longest run ever Saturday and wore the compression socks for several hours afterwards.  Sunday I had some slight leg soreness but not nearly as much as I thought I would. Monday my legs felt absolutely perfect and rarin' to go.  That is not typical for me at ALL.

I'm wondering if anyone else has tried compression socks or sleeves and if they have noticed a huge difference in recovery time as I have?  Also, do you wear the sleeves or socks?  And do you wear them while running or just afterwards?

By the way, the brand I have is Zensah and while I like them a lot, they were pretty pricey.  I would guess that all compression garments work pretty much the same and one brand would be as good as any other, but since Zensah is the only brand I have tried, I can't say for sure.   


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Double Dirty Dozen 6 Hour Trail Race Report

 Katharine talked me into signing up for Double Dirty Dozen 6 hour race a couple months ago. 

Honestly, I wasn't excited about it at first.  The idea of running a two mile loop over and over again wasn't hugely appealing.  As the event grew closer, I started to see the positives to doing a two mile loop.  First of all, aid station every two miles.  Heck, yeah!  This was awesome.  Carried my handheld with some Gatorade and Endurolytes only and got to fuel up with great food every 30 minutes.  Secondly, it was nice knowing the course so well after just a lap or two.  I knew exactly how hard to push on the hilly sections and when to conserve for a hard section coming up.  The first mile of the loop has lots of small steep ups and downs with lots of roots.  The last mile has some double track, flat field and flat fast single track.  I took the first mile conservatively and then ran hard on the second mile. 

One thing I have to mention..the race swag was amazing!  I drove to Bluff Creek Trails (where the race is held) on Friday night to pick up my packet and received this HUGE shopping bag that was quite heavy.  When I got home and looked inside this is what I found.

Two very nice long sleeved shirts, two Hammer gels, pretzels, business card holder, Recoverite powder, Red Bull, Gatorade, granola bar, ginger chews, flashlight, coupons and other odds and ends.  Wow!  Chisholm Deupree is the RD and does an amazing job.  Exceeded every expectation!

There was several options for runners in this event.  You could either do 24 The Hard Way on a 1 mile paved loop and run for 6 hours, 12 hours or 24 hours.  Or, do Double Dirty Dozen for 6 hours, 12 hours or 24 hours (for those that like to "do it in the dirt").

The 24 hour race went from 9am Saturday - 9pm Sunday.  The 12 hour race went from 6am-6pm.  And the 6 hour race was 12pm-6pm.  When I left home it was pouring rain and strong winds.  I had no idea what it was like 45 minutes north where the race was held but was hoping for the best.  The farther north I drove, the more the skies cleared.  We ended up with hardly any rain at the race, but it was extremely windy!  A few of the tents were blown down and for an hour or two volunteers had to stand and hold down the top of the food tent.  God bless volunteers and the people that make these races possible!

I got to the race site at about 11 am and got my lawn chair and bag set up near the start/finish area.  Got to chat with a few friends and get my chip on.  We started right on time and I settled into a nice easy pace right away.  The trails there are pretty and when the wind would blow hard it would blow leaves down all around me and felt kind of magical!  The temperature was perfect, about 60 degrees and while I'm sure the wind was a big factor for the people out on the paved loop, for the people doing the trail loop with the trees blocking most of the wind it felt great.

I felt like I flew through first couple of loops as the miles kept ticking by.  I was eating something after each loop.  Half a banana, orange slices, gummy bears, peanut butter sandwich and a chocolate GU.  Nothing hurt and I was completely enjoying myself.  Dave surprised me when I was coming in from my 4th loop.  I popped out of the woods and there he was with camera pointed at me.  I wasn't sure he would be able to make it but there he was and that put a little extra pep in my step.  He hung around for a little while and the next loop I got to see and talk to him a bit more before he left.

Right after he left I tripped over a tree root and took a hard fall.  No damage but it shook me up and slowed me down a bit.  At mile 14 I started having leg cramps so bad I had trouble walking, much less running.  Miles 14-16 I ran/walked with Melissa and tried to assess what my body was telling me.  Melissa told me they had vegetable soup at the aid station and I should try that.  Coming in from mile 16 I did just that and almost instantly the leg cramps disappeared and I was off running again.  My legs felt brand new and fresh and I put in my headphones, zoned out and just ran and ran.  Saw Katharine several times throughout the race, (Her and Melissa ran the 24 hour which is mind boggling impressive to me!) and she was looking strong and looked happy as can be doing what she loves to do.  : )

I was really hoping to go over 26.2 this race and almost made it but not quite.  Ended up with 25.3 and got second overall female.  Got a beautiful finishers bracelet.  I cannot recommend this race enough and will DEFINITELY be doing it every year!  Maybe even bump it up to 12 hour next year?  Hmmm...  : )

Instead of my usual hard rock tunes, this race I changed it up a bit and made a mellow playlist with some country and old favorites.  Bellamy Brothers, Brooks & Dunn, Jack Johnson, Zac Brown Band and a few rocks songs thrown in.  PERFECT.  I'll definitely do this in other long races.  Don't know if the other runners thought I was crazy, but I was in such a happy, tired fog the last part of the race that I was singing and having a great ole time.

Next up, Rockledge Rumble 30K on November 13th.

Happy trails to you!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Palo Duro 20K Race Report

Ahhhh...Palo Duro Canyon...  A beautiful, magical place!  I've been hearing for over a year about the beauty that is Palo Duro Canyon State Park.   And about the trails that are scenic, hilly and fun.  Everything that I heard is true, plus about 100!  I was so happy that I was here in this place for the 26th annual Palo Duro trail run.

Dave and I drove the 4.5 hours to PD on Friday morning.  We met our friends H and J at the campsite that they had already set up at Mesquite campground.  It was perfect with a nice covered picnic table and some trees and was right next to bathrooms with hot showers.  NICE! 

After setting up our tent, we went on a hike to check out the trails. 

Here is where I made a stupid mistake.  We had some road and one water crossing between us and the trail we were heading to.  I had on my running shoes and socks and after wading through the cold, refreshing water, I decided I didn't need to take the time to put my shoes and socks back on and just kept walking along the pavement back to our campsite.  (about a 1/2 mile?)  The pavement got hot and felt a little rough on my feet but I didn't think to much of it.  I noticed after arriving back at our tent that my foot felt sore and was hot.  I took a good look and had two blisters forming on the ball of my foot.  I think the hot pavement did it.  So yeah...I was going to be starting my race the next day with blisters.  Totally preventable and stupid on my part! 

We headed to West Texas A&M University in Canyon, TX where packet pick-up and the pasta dinner was held at 5:00.  We met up with our other friend M here who had just drove 7 hours and was glad to be out of his truck for a bit.  Pasta dinner was wonderful and there was breadsticks, salad and lemon pie for desert.  Everything was top notch.  The race director had four large screens in each corner of the room that was showing pictures from 2009's race.  Some instructions were given for the race too.

We went back to our "home sweet home" camp and turned in pretty early.

Race morning started early with lots of noise from runners walking and driving back and forth to the bathrooms at 4:00 am.  We all got up and had some coffee.  I ate my standard whole wheat english muffin with almond butter and sliced bananas.  I'd already packed my fuel belt with chocolate GU and 20 ounces of banana NUUN prior to leaving home and had pinned on my bib the night before so there wasn't much to do and with only a 1/2 mile drive to the race start it was a very laid back morning.

It was still pitch dark when the 50K and 5 milers took off.  There was a man playing the bagpipes and it was beautiful watching all the runners in their headlamps and flashlights taking off into the dark with the bagpipes playing.  The 20K race started right on time at 7:30 and by now there was some pink starting to show in the sky.  H, J and I started in the first 1/3 of the pack of runners and although the trail was packed with runners, it was moving along fast and only stopped once or twice due to a traffic jam.  By 3 miles in, the crowd was thinning a little and the sky was lit up a gorgeous pink and orange.  We kept trying to remind each other to look around and see the pretty scenery.  J was able to get around a few people and was off like a shot.  Didn't see him again until the finish line.  H and I kept a pretty steady pace and both felt great.  The temperature was perfect...upper 40's at the start and breezy and stayed pretty cool most of the way through the race.  (The longer distance racers weren't so lucky, it got extremely hot later in the day) 

One of the most interesting things to happen was when we came upon "Reds Rock".  Red Spicer was the long time race director of PD and was a much loved guy in the running community.  From what I hear he was quite a character!  He built a lot of the trails in Palo Duro Canyon.  Sadly, he died in 2008.  I wish I could of met him.  Anyway, when H and I were running by Red's Rock, we both noticed a dramatic temperature drop.  Not a breeze or cool spot, a COLD spot.  Like the temperature felt like it dropped 20 degrees.  Felt like we'd entered a cave.  I know we weren't imagining it because I heard a kid behind me comment that it got cold all of a sudden.  After the race we found out that race tradition is, you HAVE to touch Red's Rock as you pass by.  Being that it was H and I's first year to run this race, we had never heard that.  Maybe Red was trying to gently remind us of tradition?  I'd like to think maybe it was something  like that.  :)

The trail is fun to run, lots of small ups and downs throughout the whole course until about 9 miles in, there it flattens out for about a mile or so which felt great to really open it up and run hard before the hills started again. 

H and I ran together until almost the 9 mile mark.  She took off at that point and made some really good time to the finish.  I stopped at all the aid stations but only briefly.  Ate a small piece of date bar, M&M's, a couple of potato slices with salt, a few pretzels and ate one of my GU's. 

I can honestly say I enjoyed just about every single moment of the time I was on the trails.  H finished about 5 minutes ahead of me and I crossed the finish line at 2:37:26. (Garmin time, not official)  They haven't posted results yet. 

We stayed at the finish line most of the day cheering on runners and waiting on M to cross the line.  It was his first 50K and he kicked butt!  The post race grub was great..hamburgers, veggie burgers, beans and chips.  I heard the temperature got up to 95 that afternoon and I felt horrible for all the runners still out there.  It was dusty, hot and dry.  Very inspiring though to see so many tough it out and cross that line smiling!

After showers and naps, H and J fixed everyone an amazing meal.  Steaks with balsamic glaze and blue cheese crumbles, veggie packs cooked over the campfire with goat cheese followed by dark chocolate covered cherries for dessert.  We played washers and poker and enjoyed the evening, savoring the satisfaction of such a wonderful day!

Sunday morning we got a nice surprise...there was a hot air balloon launch in the park, just a few minutes from our campsite!  We watched the balloons which were so beautiful and graceful looking as they floated above us in the canyon.  H fixed us a wonderful breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, english muffins and gravy.  Mmmmm...

We all sadly packed up and headed home.  Palo Duro...I'll be back next year!  Loved every second of this weekend and this race!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Road to Recovery

Or in my case, the TRAIL to recovery.    : )
After 5 days battling the flu, I now can say I feel officially "better".  Even went for a 3.3 mile trail run and 1 mile street run in my Vibram's last night.  I cannot even express how good it is to feel well and be able to stretch my legs out on my beloved trails again.  Total happiness!

This week will be a light week as far as training goes.  Palo Duro 20K trail run is Saturday!  So ready for some camping, friends, trail running and relaxing.  The weekend after that is the 6 hour timed race, Double Dirty Dozen.  Since I've never done a timed race before I'm not exactly sure what to expect but I know it'll be fun and I'm excited!  Have I mentioned before, I LOVE FALL!!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Isn't it a little early in the year for the flu? I'm assuming that's what I have since I'm on my third day in bed and totally miserable.  The Palo Duro 20K is next weekend and being sick in bed all this week is not making me feel confident on a great finishing time for the race.  Hopefully the time off running this week will leave me rested and I will be able to run strong during the race.
Even feeling like crap right now...I'm still SO excited for Palo Duro! Running, camping, spending time with friends, great scenery and s'mores is the recipe for a GREAT weekend!
Now, think I'll go take some vitamin C and daydream about running through those Palo Duro canyons..