How To Be Sexy on a Mud Run.

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Simple answer: you don’t.

If looking good is of concern, don’t go near the brown stuff.

There is something sexy though about a man covered in mud pounding the trail ahead of you, just as tired and sweaty as you are. There is something sexy about getting dirty and being proud of it. There is something sexy about running across that finish line brown when you started out black, utterly exhausted. Is it graceful? No, not at all. Mud runs are like a slip and slide. Especially when the mud goes from an inch deep to mid-calf without a moment’s notice. Grace is not the point.

The point is to channel that inner five year old by stomping and splashing your way along the muddy trail. The point is to smile even when you’re sliding two feet backwards with every step you take up a hill (scrambling like spiderwoman! …or so I was told.) The point is to enjoy every moment of nature’s obstacles.

That was the Hagg Lake 25k on February 16th. 15.5 miles of rolling hills, mud, trail, streams, wind and rain. By far my favorite race I’ve ever accomplished. For so many reasons; the mud, the trail, the challenge, the people. Trail runners are a very amiable group of people, and I had some great chats with others throughout the race. We all looked out for one another, especially when we’d venture down a mud slide. It goes without saying that most people took a spill at least once. Or maybe I’m just hoping that I wasn’t the only one who needed to bathe in the lake afterwards…

To give you an idea of how phenomenally awesome this course was. Check out this video (Thank you, Jason!):

There were multiple times throughout this course that I wanted to look behind me. Whether it was to see if I was impeding a faster runner on the single track trail or to give me that little boost to see that others were behind me, I’m not entirely sure. Either way, I felt it an important metaphor to life. It never failed that every single time I tried to look back, I would tumble and fall. I’d catch my foot wrong in the mud, and down I’d go. My focus had to stay on the course in front of me, and not on any person, place or thing behind me.

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Post-race was celebrated with the obligatory cupcakes. Triple chocolate this time with a salted caramel buttercream frosting. Gluten free, as always. And pretty damn delicious.

While we’re on the subject of food. The aid stations on this course were spectacular! They were filled with happy volunteers and the perfect ultra fare: PB&J’s, fig newtons, pretzels, bananas, oranges, trail mix, and my personal favorite, gummy bears! There was, of course, the usual Gu gels, electrolyte beverages and such. But those gummy bears made my heart (and belly) happy. At one of the aid stations, I popped a few in my mouth, placed a few in my gloves that I’d removed, and grabbed a few to keep in hand. Less than 10 minutes later and I took a nice little spill…and lost my gummy bears. Sigh. I forgot about the gummy bears in my glove until I did laundry a couple days later. Oops. Such a sticky mess.

One thing I will say. I knew this run was going to be in less than stellar weather. Which is why I hardly expected to have any of my friends come and support me. Rain and wind is not something I want to make friends stand in for hours while I splashed through mud puddles. Imagine my surprise then, when I rounded the last corner (read: slopped my way through the mud) to cross the finish line and saw this lovely lady and this amazing sign:

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I’m fairly certain I cried. Proper grammar on that sign and everything (She knows the way to my heart.) Two other friends were there with her. Their presence at the finish line meant everything to me. You, you are amazing!

I didn’t listen to music on this run. I’ve not really been putting in the earbuds on the trails lately. Instead, I occupy myself with random thoughts, random songs and singing loudly in hopes that no one hears. This song was one that kept coming up again and again. I wonder why!

Here’s just a little showcase of mud post-race. Mud where it didn’t belong and booty booty booty booty, rockin’ everywhere.

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I really should have jumped in the lake to rinse off. Instead, this is what I had to contend with when I arrived home:

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My apologies to my roommate, because I’m fairly certain it took a week to change my shower from brown back to white. But, I think he is used to this sight by now as it isn’t a rarity to see me walk in the door covered in mud from the knees down and a giant grin on my face.

That’s how I walked in the door yesterday, after a 16 mile run in Forest Park. Content heart, happy face, and a hungry belly. 33 days until the Whidbey Island Marathon and I’m beginning to feel a little better prepared. Asthma be damned.

The take away is this: to be sexy on a mud run, one must get dirty and love it. Embrace the falls and pick oneself back up. Don’t look back. Look forward to the gummy bears, chats with fellow runners, and surprises at the finish line.

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And On To The Next One

Happy 2013 all!

Instead of donning 5-inch stilettos and a little black dress for the holiday, Lexi and I ran into the New Year. We put on spandex, running shoes, and many layers to bust out a 5k at the stroke of midnight.

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It was -1 C and freezing. We didn’t have cupcakes at the finish line for this race (we’re not in-training yet!), so we pretended.

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For all intents and purposes, this was a fun run. We didn’t care about time or pace. Besides, I’d just consumed a rather large bowl of pho prior to beginning the race. real smart.

But it is never a pleasant sight when your run is rudely interrupted by a train. Yes, a train.

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I am fairly certain we stood there for 3 or 4 minutes. So much for a new PR.
That aside, the run was completed with smiles and frozen fingers. Oh, and despite the lack of cuppycakes, there was beer and many other goodies to feast upon. And heat lamps. God bless heat lamps.

After the half marathon, I had every intention of slowing down. You know, resting that blasted hip of mine…I think I took a week off, maybe even 8 days. But really, how can one resist trail runs on the Oregon coast?

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Case in point. You don’t see that on a treadmill.
Or this:

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Knee-deep puddles, mud, rain and wind.

Love. I’m in love with trail running. I’m in love with the feeling of every foot beat on the ground. I’m in love with finding new running partners and inspiring others to dig out their running shoes, reach into their soul for that inner badass that is dying to run a half-marathon. I’m in love with setting goals and reaching them.

Which brings me to my next point. It is a new year. And, I’m not in to New Year’s resolutions. Because, honestly, I cannot ever stick to them. But. I’ve made it a goal to run another half-marathon. As has Lexi. And a couple of our aforementioned awesome friends will be training with us, if we can keep them motivated. Cupcakes, guys, come on!

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The Inaugural Hop Hop Half is March 24th. That is exactly 11 weeks from now. The perfect amount of time for a training program.

We will be sporting bunny ears and a bunny tail. And giant smiles. With cupcakes at the finish. Of course.

I hope to be a bit more diligent about keeping all ya’ll informed as to my training and such this time around. School tends to get in the way of my best intentions, it seems.

20130106-234608.jpgThis week, I managed 3 short runs. Around a 5k for each, at an easy pace. No treadmill running for this girl!

My cross training this week? Cross country skiing! This photo is the Swampy Shelter on Mt. Bachelor’s 8 mile Swampy Loop trail. This hut was a welcome sight halfway through our trek. I was in Bend visiting a few friends. One of which is an avid skier and led us on quite the trail.

Yes, everyone. Cross country skiing can be difficult. Especially when you fall 8,264 times in one day. And are afraid of going downhill and ending up in a pretzeled mess at the bottom. Like me.

That being said, after the skiing adventure, we rewarded ourselves with…CUPCAKES! Is it acceptable that I skied for cupcakes this week instead of run?

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11 weeks to go. A sore hip and a burning desire. Cake. Cupcakes, that is. I’ve been reading this book, Born To Run. It is hopeless. Running is an addiction, and this book is a fuel to my fire. It is un-put-down-able. I have fallen asleep the last two nights while reading it into the wee hours of the morning. More on that next time though. I’d like to write about it once I’ve finished it. All I have to say is, maybe an ultra-marathon isn’t totally out of my reach…

One more thing before I go. An explanation of my last blog post title, “Pants Dance.” Up until the half-marathon, I hated running in pants. They were uncomfortable, they got in the way, they rubbed my thighs weird. I still dislike running in pants. But I’ve realized that they serve a purpose. That purpose is to keep you warm when it’s cold. And wet. So, I decided to embrace them for the half. I chose a lovely shade of red, don’t you think? At the start line, as I was fumbling with my phone to set up Nike+ and Spotify, I was doing a bit of a dance…The pants dance. It may become a start line ritual. Who knows.

And one last photo. This is Detroit Lake (The same place Lexi and I did our mud run in October) today on my way home from Bend. Just a little bragging. I am so damn thankful to call Oregon my home. The PNW is amazing.

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My Best Friends.

 

This weekend was a bit intense. In a good way.

Trail running is amazing. And. I am immensely thankful for being introduced to it. Puddle jumping and getting muddy while running? Count this girl in! I, however, have a lovely left shin that is none too happy with my running more than 20 miles in three days’ time. (Perhaps I’m a glutton for punishment?)

Friday, I discovered an extension to an existing park trail near my house. Not entirely sure of how far I wanted to run that day, I went at a leisurely 9:15/mile pace. Unfortunately for my olfactory glands though, I had to cross paths with a main road and fast food restaurants. My nose engulfed in diesel exhaust fumes and the overwhelming smell of grease, I unfortunately lost my lunch. I could not get home fast enough to brush my teeth. Friday’s run totaled 5.05 miles at an average pace of 9:13/mile. My small mishap aside.

Saturday, I acquired myself a badass running partner (I love you, Lexi! You’re a badass running partner too. I’m sorry our schedules haven’t been able to mesh. Sad face.). He was so kind as to even map out our run in Forest Park (the white squiggly line):

It looks like a pretty little run, doesn’t it? All squiggly and so much green surroudning. 7.92 miles. I glanced briefly at it before putting on my running shoes. Yes, that’s quite a distance, but I’m ready to kick this trails rear end. -Hey, guess what? It was all uphill. Did I mention this running partner of mine is a sadist and a marathon runner? This route didn’t even phase him. By Firelane 2 at the end (by far the most loathsome hill in existence), I was dying. My legs were about to fall off, my lungs were collapsing in on themselves and all I could think about was how splendid a cupcake would be right about then…

But I survived. And then did it again on Sunday. (Who am I?!)

Sunday’s run took us to Silver Falls State Park. We did the Trail of Ten Falls and the Rim Trail.

This trail map is mediocre at best. Sorry, everyone.

I cannot even come close to describing the beauty of Oregon forests in the autumn.

 

 

The weather couldn’t have been better either. A perfect 20 degrees C. According to the interwebs, the trail is 8.7 miles long. I tried using my Nike Running app on my phone with just the GPS, as there was not any cell reception. It tried to tell me that I ran something like 14 miles with an average of a 6:46/mile. I’m a rockstar, but I’m no Steve Prefontaine. Come on, now.

I will admit, I wasn’t the most dedicated runner on Sunday. There were many photo ops along the way that could not be ignored. That’s my defense. Many miles and a steak dinner later, I was exhausted from my weekend but unwilling to admit it.

This brings me to Monday.

I have 3 new best friends.

Compression socks. Ice. Ibuprofen.
There’s not much else to say.

Both my left shin and hip are a little unhappy at the moment. I took today off and did some low-impact strength training. All for the love of running, right? Or maybe it’s love of cupcakes…