Tag Archives: Running

Cranmore Mountain Race

Cranmore Mountain Race | happyfitmama.com

“Just think, you could be running a flat 5k right now instead of this!”

At least that’s what I thought she said.  It was hard to hear anything other than pounding of my heartbeat in my ears.  You gotta love spectators who can make you laugh when you are struggling up a 53% incline.

Over the weekend I ran my first race in 10 months.  After all the ankle drama last year, I really had removed myself from wanting to actively train for anything let alone race.  I just wanted to run.

I signed up from the Cranmore Mountain Race with no expectations.  I knew it was a tough race that consisted of grass ski slope, cat track service road and some single track. At 6.2 miles, it had over 2400 ft of elevation loss and gain with each lap.  It’s a two lap race meaning once you ran up and down, you got to repeat it all over again. Fun right?  Oh, I forgot to mention that right before the summit, we run up the Koessler Trail.  It’s a black diamond ski run that’s only 0.2 miles long but has an average grade of 37% and MAX grade of 53%.  That’s more than Loon Mountain or Mount Washington.  Like I said, fun!

This was my first mountain race that had a downhill portion.  With Mount Washington and Loon Mountain, it was all uphill.  Running downhill on trails scares me.  I am ultra conservative on downhills. I don’t like the out of control feeling. I feel like that’s where I’m going to blow out a knee or mess up my ankle again. It’s definitely my weakest spot.

The race started off with a short flat section before taking a sharp right hand turn up a single track glade section that caused a bottle neck and made everyone stop in their tracks. We were back on the ski slope soon enough where the crowd thinned out.  I fell into a rhythm and felt comfortable climbing while still running. Soon enough it was time to power hike.  And power hike is what I did for most of the 1.3 miles up to the summit.  It was hands on knees, eyes locked on the ground ahead of me.  I passed a few people and tried to keep up with a woman just ahead of me.

It flattened out a bit and was runable until I took a left and stared straight up at Koessler Trail.  Black Diamond ski runs are intimidating when you are skiing down it.  Staring up at it as you are about to power hike it (because there’s no way anyone is running up a 37% grade) is equally intimidating. Footing was tough in spots thanks to loose gravel, leaves and trying to heave myself over bigger rocks.

When I got to the summit of Koessler Trail, I was seeing spots.  It was hot, I was thirsty and my heart was pounding.  Thankfully, there was an aid station where I grabbed a cup of water to dump over my head and one to drink.  We looped down a short service road before heading back up before the descent.

Immediately, the group that I had been running with took off down the grassy ski slope.  I tried my best to keep up but was constantly getting passed.  Although I think I did pass a few people.  Woohoo!

Now let me clarify what a grassy ski slope means.  It’s not grass like in your backyard.  It’s almost like running on piles of hay with sticks, holes and rocks pocking up.  Footing is difficult at time especially because you are either running straight down or at an odd angle of running down hill but into the side of the mountain.  My quads were feeling the decline immediately because I can’t get into “falling in control” when I’m all about “don’t break anything!”. Thankfully, the slope sections were broken up with traversing through the woods on single track.  I tried my best to let loose on those sections since that’s what I love. There were some pretty nasty wipe outs from those who were bombing down the hill.  Amazingly, they popped right back up and continued to bomb away.

I finished the 1.1 mile descent in 14:45 to complete the first loop in 45:51.

I looped through the only flat section at the base of the mountain, grabbed some water for my head and to drink and started on lap two.  Immediately, I could tell this lap was going to be a lot slower.  My quads were beat! I fell into a rhythm with a group of running/power hiking (with a lot more hiking than running).  Hitting Koessler Trail for the second time was a lot harder.  I was tired and oh so thirsty.  But I kept up with the group and even managed to laugh at the spectators joke(see above).  I again grabbed a cup of water for my head and to drink.  I stopped to walk and drink and before I knew it I was alone.  Like ALL alone.  The group I had been with bombed down the hill and were gone. There was no one ahead of me and no one behind me.

Was I seriously in last place?

I spent the next 15:40 thinking I was dead last.  During that 15:40 I tried to push it as much as I could.  My legs were toast.  I really wish I had someone to chase at this point.  I do so much better in races when I have someone I can latch onto. I know I slowed down because I was tired but also because it didn’t feel like I was in a race.  And I had to pay attention to where the course was.  I’m more of a follower!

My first wipe out happened on a grassy slope section.  I think I tripped over a root.  Nothing hurt so I popped back up.  At least no one saw me fall since I was all alone!   As I got closer to the base and the finish line, I began to hear music from the band.  Finally, a building appeared with a man on the deck.  That’s when my second wipe out occurred. He shouted out, “Nice job!” as I proceeded to roll my ankle (the left, of course!) in a hole and fall face first on the grassy slope where I ate dirt.  Thanks for the jinx, dude! I started laughing because this stuff can only happen to me.  I popped up and immediately knew my ankle was hurting.  Thankfully, I was able to walk it off in a few steps.  I turned the corner around the building and tried to run it in to the finish as fast as I could hobble.

I finished the second lap in 51:08…over 5 minutes slower than lap one. How ’bout those positive splits?

Finish time: 1:35:58

And I wasn’t in last place.  I was in the middle of the pack…but all alone. Lol!

Despite not being able to go up and down stairs without holding onto a banister for dear life and having a gnarly gash on my shin and knee, I had a great time!  Take aways from the race: I really enjoy the climbing portion of mountain running.  Downhill running on trails is something I definitely need to work on.  But that’s going to have to wait until I can walk normally.

Side note: My friend and coaching client, Kyle, did amazing!  This was her first mountain race and she crushed it.  I’m so excited to see how she does at Mount Washington in a couple of weeks!

Linking up with Coaches Corner and Wild Workout Wednesday.

Last Week’s Workouts

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Last week’s workouts were purposely kept on the easier side because I had a race on Sunday.  Not just any race, a mountain race.  And the first race bib I’ve put on in 10 months.

Monday

4 mile run, avg pace 9:09, 156 ft elev gain

Since it was Memorial Day, everyone was home, it was cloudy and cool, and we were all being lazy, I took the opportunity to do a short 4 miler run.  Kept it easy and enjoyed the alone time.

Tuesday

Morning Yoga Flow @ Bending Bodhi

30 minutes Stepmill

strength training

DB bench press

DB pull over

single leg balance w/ tricep kickback

cable squat and bicep curl

cable reverse lunge with row

rope overhead tricep extension

pull up shrugs

banded pull ups

bench step ups with KB shoulder press

plank ups

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Wednesday

6.2 mile run, 9:28 avg pace, 766 ft elev gain

2 mile warm up, 4 repeats, 2 mile warm home

Kyle and I tackled the big hill today.  I wasn’t feeling super jazzed about the run because my legs were fatigued from lifting yesterday.  I thought for sure our times were going to be slower than previous but Strava let me know that we are trending up in getting to the top quicker.  It never will be easy but we are stronger than when we first started the repeats back March.  Back then, my fastest repeat was 2:18.  Today it was 2:09.  I call that progress!

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Thursday

Morning flow yoga @ Bending Bodhi

One hour trail run, 5.2 miles, 12:09 avg pace, 332 ft elev gain

Lori was in town and wanted to meet up for a run.  She had just run Pineland 50 miler on Sunday so was looking for some easy miles.  We hit the trails for some soft dirt and morning chatter.

Later in the evening I got in some strength training:

bosu burpees

side plank to single leg balance

pendulum lunges

med ball slams

KB single leg deadlift

plank ups on bosu

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Friday

REST DAY!

Saturday

30 minutes Elliptical, 30 minute walk with Cooper, floating on a Unicorn raft

I woke up Saturday morning with itchy eyes and zero motivation to run (actually swim) in the humidity.  Instead I opted for some time on the elliptical followed by an easy walk.  The rest of the day was spent at kid sports and floating on a unicorn raft with a cold beer enjoying the gorgeous day.

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Sunday

Cranmore Mountain Race, 6.2 miles, 1:36:41, 2,380 ft elev gain

Surprise!  I ran a race on Sunday.  The good news: I didn’t break myself (again!).  The bad news: I suck at running downhill. Race recap coming soon!

Last week's workouts | happyfitmama.com

Linking up with Hoho and Wendy for the weekly workout wrap up.

How was your week in workouts?

Four Workouts to Increase Speed

Four Workouts to Increase Your Speed | happyfitmama.com

You want to be a faster runner.

You’ve increased your time running. You’ve increased the distance you are running.

That’s one of the easiest ways to get faster as you build strength and endurance.

But running the same speed for every single run is not doing anything in getting your fix for the need for speed.

To run faster, you need to run faster.

For years, I stuck to the treadmill for speed training. I dialed in the speed and then held on for dear life. But then I fell in love with the track. What used to seem like the most boring thing ever quickly became fun. Or at least fun after I was done with my workout.

Doing speed work on the track upped my running confidence. To hit my prescribed paces, I had to do all the work. I couldn’t allow the treadmill to set the pace. I knew the distance, I didn’t have to worry about having to stop for traffic lights or I didn’t have to worry about climbing a hill to throw my pace off. The track really helped me figure out how to pace myself. Although truthfully, that’s always a work in progress for me. I’m always trying to get rid of my positive splitter status.

I then started to do speed work on the roads to simulate race situations. If I wanted to run faster in a race, I needed to do speed work on the roads. The law of specificity, right?  In a road race situation, it’s highly unlikely that the course will be pancake flat and will be in an oval. If it is, it’s most likely a track. Or a cul-de-sac.

Four Workouts to Increase Your Speed | happyfitmama.com

Bottom line is if you want to get faster, you’ve got to run faster. So do it on the treadmill, the track or on the road – whatever works for you!

If you’ve been consistently running for at least 2-3 months, you can begin to add speedwork to your training.  Just a word of caution, adding too much intensity too quickly, whether it’s hills, Fartleks, intervals or tempos, can increase your risk of injury.  Start off with one workout a week and gradually increase over time.

Speed work taxes your body A LOT. Your body needs time to properly recover from hard workouts. Growth occurs during rest and even easy runs in between hard sessions. You shouldn’t be running back to back hard days.  You want to alternate easy/hard. Elite runners never run “fast” every single run.  Their race pace may be a 5:xx something pace but training runs can have an 8:xx pace.

Keep easy days easy and hard days hard. Remember easy days are vital for improvement!

Here are four workouts to increase speed:

Fartlek

Besides being a really funny Swedish word that makes every giggle, Fartleks are incredibly effective in building speed. And they are one of my favorite workouts. Why do I love them? They are easy to do anywhere. They aren’t as intimidating as run x:xx pace for xx amount of time. It could be as simple as picking up the pace for 30 seconds followed by 2 minutes of easy running and repeating that 5 times.

Four Workouts to Increase Your SPeed | happyfitmama.com

Hills

While training for Mount Washington two years ago, I grew to love hills. Like LOVE them.  Now, rather than avoiding the mega hills in town, I purposely make them a part of my route. I grew to appreciate that they do in fact make you a stronger, faster runner in the long run. The old saying, hills are speed work in disguise, is absolutely true.

Four Workouts to Increase Your Speed | happyfitmama.com

Intervals

Doing short, intense bursts of speed builds up your stamina and endurance. To reduce the chance of injury, if you are a new runner or new to speed training, start with hills and Fartlek training before trying interval work.

Four Workouts to Increase Your Speed | happyfitmama.comTempo

Tempo runs scare the running tights off me more than any other workout. You want me to run that fast for that long?!?! With other speed intervals, it’s always a shorter period of running at a faster speed. But with tempos, it’s faster than easy pace, but not so fast that you are out of breath. More of like a comfortably hard pace that you can maintain for an hour.  Some say it’s close to your 10k pace. If you can talk easily, it’s too slow. If you can’t talk at all, it’s way too fast. It’s meant to help you run faster and harder for longer periods of time by increasing your anaerobic threshold.

Even though tempo runs scare the pants off me, I know that it’s the one workout that I should be doing to give me the biggest reward in gaining speed.

This tempo workout isn’t fancy but gets the job done.

Four Workouts to Increase Your Speed | happyfitmama.comEven if you aren’t training for a specific race or goal time, adding any of these speed workouts to your weekly rotation can help you become a more efficient and stronger runner. Plus, it just makes it fun!

Linking up with Coaches Corner  and Wild Workout Wednesday.

What’s your favorite speed workout?

What’s your least?