Planes, Training, and Automobiles

The last month or so has been crazy! I’ve been traveling all over and getting in lots of fabulous fall races. As my whirlwind month winds down, I’m reflecting on the good, the bad, and the training.

It all started the last week in September with the back-to-back races. On Saturday, I ran the West Hartford Relay. The West Hartford Relay is a local event that lets teams of runners run through the pretty neighborhoods is West Hartford. Never one to pass up an opportunity to run and hang out with my running friends, I happily joined team Lululemon Athletica. We had a great time and enjoyed some lovely fall weather. Sunday was the Rock N Roll Providence Half Marathon. I had a great time, got a shiny new PR, and enjoyed Providence. This was the race I had planned as my peak race, so I was thrilled to know that my training was successful. My race went well and I felt fit and strong throughout the race.

The very next weekend I paced the Wineglass Half Marathon in upstate New York. I had an amazing time, met fun new running friends, and drove 12 hours in a 2-day period. I tried Air BnB for the first time (cool, I recommend it), and even ran in an impromptu local 5k.

Columbus Day weekend in Connecticut means Hartford Marathon. Cementing my crazy-lady status with non-running friends, I changed my registration at the expo from half marathon to marathon (!).

Marathon upgrade

I made the change for lots of reasons. Mostly, I just wanted to run the marathon. I had been considering it since I decided to train with a friend running it as her first marathon. I went through the 16/17 mile run with her in my prep for Providence and felt fit. I knew that I could finish the marathon and, in a fit of impulse, signed up for it. I had so much fun that I was probably bordering on manic. I was the runner no one wants to be with at mile 20 (“we’re running a marathon – how amazing is that?!!?!?!?!?!?”). Everything I said and did had lots of extra exclamation points. I joyfully trotted across the finish line and felt so amazing I annoyed those around me (“aren’t marathons amazing!!”) for days to come.

Hartford Marathon 2013 finish

The next week it was off to Portland, Oregon for a work trip. Portland was lovely and a true running city, so I got in lots of miles and some good recovery/training for my next events.

After a few days at home, it was off to Florida for mom’s first half marathon – an adventure and a great experience. I ran a few miles, but mostly walked with mom. I enjoy every moment we spend exercising together and considered all the miles of walking great time on my feet training. I made it home in time to celebrate Halloween and worked on getting organized again.

Halloween dog costume

Last weekend, I ran the Commercial Services by Glass America Half Marathon put on by my friend at Ocean State Multisport. It was my first real fall race, with temperatures in the low 40s and a steady, chilling mist. Having just returned from Florida, I was frozen throughout the race. It was a the first hint that my racing season might be coming to a close. That motivated me to enjoy the race and the New England scenery. As usual, the event was well organized, and carefully planned. The course wound through neighborhoods and farmland, over bridges, and past fields cleared for winter. Gary and his team always do a great job – the volunteers are plentiful and friendly and the race course is well marked and nicely planned. Local police drive the route repeatedly, keeping motorists attentive. I struggled in the race, but had fun and was fairly pleased with my finish. Gary greeted finishers with pizza, fruit, and Kind bars (my favorite!).

For those of you keeping track that’s 7 races in 5 weeks. I admit it, it’s crazy. There’s just one more to go. When I get back from this work trip (yes, I’m on a plane as I write this), I will run the Harrisburg Marathon to close my season. It’s been a great season, but I think I’m ready for some rest, time at home, and a return to normal training.

Happy Holidays!

Dr Rachel Runs has been on hiatus for the last several days to celebrate the holiday season. I hope that each of you have enjoyed a happy holiday time with friends and family.   I hope that you’ve squeezed in some time for fitness with friends and family. Whether it’s a run, a hike, yoga in the park, or just chasing after the little ones, the holidays are a perfect time for fitness.

It’s been a nice, but busy, end of the semester and start of the holiday season for me. For college professors, the real panic of the end of the semester starts after Thanksgiving and the work load increases until the semester ends. This year, our program had the exciting bonus of an end-of-semester visit from audits from our national accrediting body. Life was all about work for a few weeks. Horrible. Luckily, I made it through that with my sanity (at least mostly) intact. I’m so thankful for the end of the semester and the freedom that brings.

My leg has continued to heal and I’ve increased my runs accordingly.  I even managed to squeeze in a 20-mile run just in the nick of time. I’m training for the Disney Marathon (yay!) and had built into my schedule several extra weeks, just in case a winter storm thwarted my running. I was so thankful to have a few extra weeks when injury struck. Somehow, I managed to get back on track and get my 20-miler in just three days later than scheduled. It was a little slower and more painful than I had hoped, but I made it.

20 miles!

It was a huge relief to get in my 20 mile run. I am feeling much more confident about the Disney Marathon. This week, I resumed running normally. It feels amazing. Running normally meant a Sunday trail run, and wonderful runs with friends on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Christmas Eve brought sunny skies and excellent weather. Several friends and I met to run on a paved trail with lovely views of the local reservoir.


Christmas Day, I gathered with friends for a gorgeous, snowy run on a private trail. I brought Lucy, the running dog, and she was delighted to run with her doggy friends. It was a perfect run and made my holiday special.

I have been enjoying time off, time for running, and time with friends. I hope that you’ve been doing the same.

Lucy Goes on a Group Run

Today Lucy the Running Dog went on her very first group run. Having engaged in a rigorous training program, she was fit enough for my usual Tuesday 4-5 mile group run. The real question was how she might respond to running with other people on a new trail. We learned a few things.

First, I learned that Lucy does not like running on rocks. Part of the trail we ran today has large, moss-covered rocks that stick up in slippery, sharp rock fields. This worries Lucy. She tries to avoid the rocks, often dragging me along with her. After slipping and sliding down the first rocky decline, we took the other hills a bit slower. He confidence grew a bit as we went on, but she seemed a bit uncertain as she scrambled here and there.

Lucy really seems to enjoy running on flat, smooth, cross country-type trails. She likes running right by my side and does not like single track. She can’t seem to figure out how to run behind me on the single track and when she’s in front she can’t maintain a steady speed. I am always worried I might kick her or step on her foot, so she’ll need to work on her comfort with single track.

Lucy likes her new running friends. Just like people, Lucy likes running with a group. She had fun with her new friends and, I think, liked showing off for them. She finished just over 5 miles, her longest run to date. She’s spent most of the rest of the day asleep on her favorite chair. She stretches occasionally (must keep those hamstrings loose) but has generally been asleep. You know it’s been a good run when a nap is required.

I’m sure once she wakes up, she will be ready for her next run.

Giveaway Results

In other news, the winners from my WarmFX giveaway have been selected. Thanks to a random number generator, the following people are the luck winners: Emily, Patty, Sarah, and Deerae. Congratulations, ladies!

Lucy Gets Serious about Running

Lucy, my running dog, having finally figured out the fine art of running on a leash, is getting serious about her running career. What are the first signs that one’s dog is getting serious about running, you might ask. It’s simple.

  1. Lucy has running gear. Being a supportive running mom, I got Lucy her first piece of running gear. She is now the proud owner of a SPI Leash. She loves it. It’s a hands-free belt/leash with attached SPI Belt pocket. Loyal readers will know how much I love my SPI Belt, so I got the leash for Lucy. Now, she’s looking into acquiring a reflective running vest for twilight runs.
  2. Lucy has a training plan. On her first successful leash running effort, Lucy hit the wall around 2 miles. I realized that she might need to work on her fitness if she’s really going to enjoy running. Twice a week I run with other dogs and dog parents on trails. Our trails have streams and ponds, and trees and interesting things to smell. I think Lucy would love to run with some running friends. In order for her to join us, she has to be able to run at least 4 miles. It’s time for a training plan. Following the adage of not increasing ones mileage by more than 10%, Lucy will need a few weeks’ training time to get to 4+ miles. She’s on a strict training plan of regular miles to get in shape.
  3. Lucy is working hard on her rest days and cross training. Normally an active dog, Lucy seems to be taking her rest seriously. She’s cross training by digging in the yard and chasing her doggie sisters. It seems she has all the elements of a balanced training plan.

Next, Lucy will have to sign up for a race. After all, serious runners have goals.

Lucy, My (now) Running Dog

Lucy, my non running dog, is, as of today, my running dog. As I mentioned, I have been working with Lucy for years to understand the fundamental workings of the leash. In the last year, I have been working with her on running so that one day she could be my running companion. Today is that day.

Today’s weather was completely gorgeous and I was determined to run. I’ve run most of my recent runs in the rain, or in the cloudy, dreary, wet weather. Today was perfect running weather, 70 and sunny. I wanted to run on the trails near my house, but I’m never a fan of running in the woods alone. I decided to give Lucy a chance. If she weren’t behaving properly I would just bring her home. At first, I was worried. Lucy went crazy at the sight of her harness and leash and flopped around like a fish as soon as I had her hooked up. After a minute or two, she settled into a nice trot right by my side. And she stayed that way (!) for the next two miles. I couldn’t believe it. Turns out my natural consequence method of dog training (letting her get hit by my bike tire) worked. She stayed by my side, running my pace, for most of the run. She seemed to be enjoying herself up until the time she pooped out. Right around two mile she stopped. Poor Lucy looked like she needed some Gu. She hit the wall. Still a mile from home, we trudged back at a run barely above walking speed. Despite this, Lucy and I had our first real run  – the first run in which she ran with me, as my running dog. I hope there are many more to come.

Lucy, My Non-Running Dog

I love animals and I love my rescued pets. There’s just one problem – Lucy, my non-running dog. Lucy is a great dog. She’s funny, loyal, and very sweet. She has lots of energy, loves to run, and would make a great running companion. The problem is that she doesn’t seem to understand the concept of a leash. At all.

Lucy is a bit of a mutt. She’s part something that herds, part something small and fluffy, and part something very long legged. We adopted her about 6 years ago and until her new life with us, she had likely never been on a leash. At first, she reacted to the leash with confusion, then with abject terror upon finding out that this strange thing was connected to her. For months, she trashed around on the leash, pulling in all directions, trying to get away from her rope-like captor. After a while, she seemed to get the hang of leash walking around the yard and was ready to graduate to longer leash walks.

She loves being outside and going on walks, but she really struggled with understanding that she was connected to her human via the leash. She wanted to go the opposite direction I did, or didn’t follow when I turned. And, being a strong and fast dog, these little disagreements usually resulted in sore arms, rope burns on my hands, and a bit less hairy Lucy. We tried harnesses and easy walker collars and all kinds of trainer-suggested rigs to convince her to walk with us. Nothing seemed to help but repetition. We persisted and she finally learned to walk on a leash – at least most of the time.

For some unknown reason, Lucy still can’t figure out how to run on the leash. She can’t figure out that this new activity is like walking, only faster. Every time I try to run with her I end up with a sore arm, rope burns on my hand, and a shortened run. She regresses to her old self, pulling, thrashing, and generally being a nuisance. Her worst habit is crossing in front of me while I’m running – she has tripped me many times and is lucky I haven’t stomped too hard on her feet. She seems to really love the idea of running and I want to enjoy runs with her. I’ll keep trying – you never know -the 7th year might be the year she gets it and becomes my faithful running companion. So, for you folks who run with your dogs – what strategies worked for you?