My Hamstrings Love The Himalayas

I’m spending a day in Namche Bazaar at 3440 meters to acclimatise to the altitude–and I need it. It’s hard to take a full breath here, but in a matter of hours it will be easier. It’s amazing how adaptable the human body is. Soon I’ll be able to process oxygen more efficiently, allowing me to climb even higher.

I can’t wait to see how this affects my running when I’m back in NYC. Like pro distance runners who sleep in hyperbaric chambers, I’ll be able to go faster for longer. And thanks to all these intense ascents I’m getting constant strength training–my hamstrings, quads, and glutes are firing like mad.

Running here is hilarious. My Nepali guide Subarna didn’t want us over exerting ourselves today, but I raced the assistant guide Pimba 100 meters along the Namche airstrip (7-seater planes can land here) anyway. I beat him in my hiking boots and all! I was laughing so hard though because it’s difficult to get any speed and I had to concentrate to keep my breathing steady. My travel mates thought we were nuts, but cheered us on regardless.

I’m lucky to have such a fantastic group of trekking companions. We’re a motley crew of Australians, Irish, Brits, Japanese, and Americans with lots of stories and laughs to share. They make the 6+ hour hikes feel like a walk in the park. We’re polite, happy, and get along now, but there is the potential for us to go “Real World” on each other as the pressures of the climb increase.

Five more days (and 1924 meters up) to Everest Base Camp!

 

Pre-Flight Entertainment: Run While You Can Documentary

T-1.5 hours until I leave for the airport. I’m packed. I’m full of sushi (probably won’t see that for the next 6 weeks!). And I’m killing time watching this film trailer. Hello, motivation!

I’ll be wearing my trail running shoes on the plane tonight, which means they’ll be on my feet when I arrive in Nepal on Friday morning. (Yep, it takes a day and a half to get there.)… After watching Sam Fox try to break the speed record for running the Pacific Crest Trail to raise awareness and money for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (in honor of his mother who suffers from the disease), I’m temtped to run portions of the trail on my Himalayan trek. I’ll let you know how that goes.

In the meantime, you can go out and do great things on your run today! “You don’t have to be given an opportunity, you just have to believe you’re capable of something, and then go after it and give it a try,” says Fox. Find out more about his journey at runwhileyoucanfilm.com.

What inspires you to run? 

The Adventure Begins—Tomorrow!

This seemingly-ordinary bottle has a filter inside that removes viruses, bacteria, and cysts from water.

I’ve been hunting and gathering all the necessary items to pack for my Himalayan Adventure for the past few weeks. And I’ve learned a very valuable piece of information. After reading reviews, talking to pros, and finally purchasing a technical piece of equipment—say, a water purification system—stop researching. I made the mistake of continuing to peruse websites only to decide the one I bought is sub-par. (I’m sure it would have been fine. But I’ve convinced myself otherwise.) So earlier today I scrambled to get to an outdoor store to buy a different one. This all-in-one, squeeze-it-till-your-hands-cramp Katadyn MyBottle Purifier will be joining me as I trek to Mt. Everest and the Annapurna Circuit. It’s compact, comes in a pretty blue hue, and makes safe drinking water. Done.

Waiting to be packed—my living room needs a Hazard sign!

Now the feat of fitting everything into one large backpack is upon me. There’s a 22-pound weight limit on my luggage (set by Intrepid Travel, not me), which has forced me to get creative with my wardrobe. I’m bringing two pairs of neutral pants and six brightly colored tops that can be mixed, matched, and layered. Believe it or not, I can make 30 outfits with those pieces. (My time spent working at a fashion magazine has paid off!)

I’m a little less organized in the toiletries department. All those tiny travel size bottles add up! But knowing I’ve got my hydration and clothing needs covered gives me a little bit of breathing room. No sense is sweating the small stuff, right?

Do you second guess what you’ve packed, too? Have you ever relied on a weight limit to keep your baggage to a minimum? 

Big News: I Canceled My Entry In The New York City Marathon

Bigger news: I applied for a visa to Nepal. Even bigger news: I’m going to Mt. Everest.

I’m not going all the way to the top—my nose is too cute to risk losing to frostbite, but I will be embarking on a 37-day trek to Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit in one month (from yesterday). I have a lot to do between now and then: Organize my gear, break in some hiking boots (I’ve already gotten some funny looks while walking the dog in them), buy a headlamp, figure out if I need a new waterproof jacket, read a guide book or two… I’m excited! And I’m looking forward to sharing my adventure here with you, blogging as often as I can from the trails.

In the meantime, Grete’s Great Gallop half marathon is this weekend. Even though I’m no longer using this race as a marathon tune-up, I’m planning to run strong. I fell off the workout wagon last week because of a chest cold, but I’m feeling better now and I think I can still aim to do well—and hopefully PR—this Saturday.

Are you running a fall marathon? Have you ever been to the Himalaya?

(Fun fact: There is no such thing as Himalayas. The correct term is Himalaya, which means “the abode of snow.”)

Trail Running: Between A Walk And A Hard Pace

I recently put my new Brooks Cascadia 6 trail shoes to the test on a segment of the Appalachian Trail in Bear Mountain, NY, and I’ve got to say, I’m in love. The way the treads grip the ground makes me feel like I can fly down a path without tripping. Still, even with the “right” shoes your next spill is only a loose rock away. Here’s what I learned to help prevent falling when you’re running in the woods:

Look out Your foot tends to land in the spot your eyes are focusing on, so be aware of uneven areas and gnarly roots that might trip you up. When you want to view the scenery, stop and take a break.

Use your arms Hold them out and slightly away from your body for balance. And take advantage of trees (like I’m doing in this photo), when going down rocky sections.

Slow down Even ultra-marathoners will admit to walking super-steep uphill sections and treacherous slopes. In fact, seven-time winner of the Western States Endurance Run Scott Jurek once told Runner’s World speed isn’t all that important to his sport: “Experienced trail runners cover about six miles an hour.” (For comparison, pros tend to run the same distance in road races in just under 30 minutes.)

Buddy up Bring a friend with you when you hit the trails. Not only is it more fun to share the adventure, it’s safer too since there will be someone to run ahead and get help if you become seriously injured.

Have you ever fallen on a trail? Got any advice for staying up right? 

Originally posted in Running With It on Shape.com.

I’m Blazing Some Trails

It’s a little tough to find trails here in NYC. But if you look hard enough, nestled in between skyscrapers and through streets, you’ll find them. A good place to start your trek: Central Park.

I’ve been hitting up the bridal path lately—it’s basically three sections of conjoined paths that wind around the park. (It’s flatter, wider, and a lot less rocky than the single track in this photo.) If you’re lucky, you’ll see a horse, but mostly you’ll find runners like me who want to get off the pavement for a bit.  I’m having such a great time playing in the dirt, checking out flowering trees, listening for birds, that I signed up for a 10K trail race in June. It’s part of The North Face Endurance Challenge race series, which kicks off this weekend in Bear Mountain, NY.

I’m so excited about training for it! I’ve been mapping out new routes in the park (to prevent boredom from going the same way all the time) and researching trails outside of the city, accessible by public transportation (hooray for small carbon footprints!). I’m also looking into trail shoes. Because a girl’s gotta have the perfect footwear for every occasion, right?

Do you ever run off road? Got any advice on trail shoes?

Originally posted in Running With It on Shape.com.