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

The Boston Marathon Is Not For Sissies (Part 1 Of 2)

I did it! I ran the Boston Marathon on Monday and I’m still feeling a bit of a runner’s high. It was incredibly hard and I almost threw up at the finish line (my body was wiped out), but I want to do it again! (Here’s a shot of me at the finish with my friend Emily—how cool is her t-shirt?) I have been thinking and dreaming about the course and how I will approach it next time. But first, I should tell you how it all went down for me this past weekend.

Saturday April 16, 2011

I managed to snag an invite to the Boston Athletic Association’s Champions Breakfast on Saturday morning (thanks, Adidas!), where I mingled among Boston Marathon greats. I was sitting next to ten-time wheelchair winner Ernst Van Dyke, and I could have lobbed my banana muffin into the lap of Joan Benoit Samuelson with little to no effort. On stage, running legends shared their memories of marathons past and I teared up when they showed a video of Amby Burfoot (1968), Ron Hill (1970), Alvaro Mejia (1971), Bill Rodgers (1975, 1978-80), Jack Fultz (1976), Greg Meyer (1983), Joan Benoit Samuelson (1979, 1983), Lorraine Moller (1984), Geoff Smith (1984-85), Rob de Castella (1986), Uta Pippig (1994-96), and Catherine Ndereba (2000-01, 2004-05) crossing their respective finish lines. It was inspiring to say the least.

From there I went to the expo to pick up my bib number and race packet. I wandered around the booths for a bit, grabbed as many free samples of Odwalla bars and Pom juice that would fit in my purse, and considered buying a t-shirt with “Wicked Fast” printed on the front. (I just love when Bostonians say “wicked.”)

Then I spotted Bart Yasso, chief running officer for Runner’s World (seriously, that’s his job title) and creator of the Yasso 800s workout. I introduced myself and asked him to pose for a photo with me. My heart was racing and my legs turned to jelly—this must be how teenage girls in the 1960s felt when they met Elvis! (Yes, I know how nerdy this sounds.)

After that it was back to my hotel room, where I spread out all of the running clothes I had brought and tried to figure out exactly what to wear for the marathon. I went with the pink top, gray shorts, and black Vitalsox compression socks.

Sunday April 17, 2011

In the morning, I ran two miles for Grete Waitz’s Norwegian organization Aktiv Mot Kreft (Active Against Cancer). Adidas had put together a charity event for the weekend. They set up treadmills in various spots around Boston (City Hall Plaza, Faneuil Park, and at the Hynes Convention Center) and encouraged runners of all abilities to log miles for worthy causes—participants were able to choose from two local Boston programs and Aktiv.

(How cute is the Hippie Headband I’m wearing? My friend Ashley and her mom make and sell them.) For every mile tallied between 8am and midnight, Adidas donated $5 and they gave $10 for the miles logged by night owls between midnight and 7:59am. Running those two miles really helped reduce my anxiety—It was a great way to prove to myself that my legs still worked and that I’d be able to run the marathon. (My contribution felt surreal when I woke up yesterday morning and read the news that Grete Waitz passed away.)

I hung out with my amazing family for the rest of the day. It wasn’t the whole clan, but I had quite the band of cheerleaders: My dad and his wife flew in from Virginia, my uncle Mark came up from Dallas, my Aunt Jill and cousin Kara drove in from Saratoga, NY, and cousins Alex from D.C., Casey and Ian from Brooklyn. We all convened at the home of my cousin Logan, her husband Will, and their ridiculously adorable baby Reid. A big pasta dinner was served—the perfect pre-race fuel, as well as a dozen cupcakes from Sweet bakery with my bib number painted on in red icing. Yum!

I set two alarms (remember that Seinfeld episode when a marathoner accidentally slept too late on Jerry’s couch?), and then I went to bed around 10pm. There wasn’t much sleep to be had; I was too excited about the big event the next morning…

The 115th running of the Boston Marathon!

Tune in tomorrow for my thoughts on actually running the Boston Marathon. To hold you over until then, here’s a sneak peak: runners are cool, hills are hard, and cherry popsicles should always be given out at mile 20.

Originally posted in Running With It on