Tag Archives: Photography

Mayor of Slackerville

That’s the position that I’m currently running for, or at least acting as though I am. I’ve been majorly slacking on both my running and keeping this blog poppin’! In a confusing twist, I actually do believe my skills may be better utilized if appointed Governor of Rutville, as I am currently in a significant running rut. I have no doubt that it’s just one of those less than fruitful phases during which you simply aren’t feeling it the majority of times you lace up the running kicks, but it’s no fun nonetheless. I’m just hoping I start feeling “it” a bit more before the Cooper River Bridge Run this coming weekend!

In an attempt to somewhat assuage the slacker stench that’s been pervading this blog for a month or so now, here are some of my favorite pics taken during runs over the past few weeks:

Intense cloud/sun action during a run around the neighborhood.
Intense cloud/sun action during a run around the neighborhood.

 

Folly Beach run on a day after the skies cleared and the sun popped out.
Folly Beach run on a day after the skies cleared and the sun popped out.

 

I was really willing the sun to burst through the clouds to provide some warmth during a county park run...
I was really willing the sun to burst through the clouds to provide some warmth during a county park run…

 

Shot of James Island County Park pond during a nice, brisk jaunt.
Shot of James Island County Park pond during a nice, brisk jaunt.

 

I was lucky to catch this epic sunset off the West Ashley Greenway!
I was lucky to catch this epic sunset off the West Ashley Greenway!

 

Alicia asking, "Why you creepin?" with her eyes and glare during a recent run together. Precious.
Alicia asking, “Why you creepin?” with her eyes and glare during a recent run together. Precious.

 So here’s to losing my two election bids and instead getting back to some quality running in the near future! (along with less blog slacking of course…)

Sometimes Even Horseshoe Crabs Need a Hand

(Because they don’t have any…)

Yesterday morning, I went out to the always scenic (and often offering adventure) Folly Beach for my Sunday morning run. I set out aiming for six miles on the beach, and that’s ultimately what I accomplished. It was a beautiful (albeit a bit chilly) morning and I felt good overall despite having run the truly epic Onshore Racing’s You Can’t Run From Love 8K the day prior (race recap coming in a future blog entry when I stop slacking so much…).

Although this weekend run was rather ho-hum overall, it was notable on two counts:

  1. The sky was (for lack of better terminology) poppin’!
  2. I tried to rescue a horseshoe crab.
Look at those popcorn clouds!
Look at those popcorn clouds!
I mostly took pictures while warming up and cooling down, but will admit I stopped to take a couple during the run itself...
I mostly took pictures while warming up and cooling down, but will admit I stopped to take a couple during the run itself…

While the pictures may suggest otherwise, this “run” wasn’t all about being awed by the beauty of the sky.

Right as I was coming up on my three-mile turn around point, I also came across a horseshoe crab lying/resting/dying/drying out/tanning just beyond the shoreline. Now seeing a horseshoe crab stranded on the beach is no longer the sight it once was for this guy given the fact that they are frequently desiccating out on the beach (I’ve actually noticed that there are way more dried out horseshoe crabs out on the beach in the winter months than during the spring/summer months…maybe someone out there knows why this could be?). In fact, this horseshoe crab dude that I speak of was probably the fourth or fifth I had seen on this run alone.

What set this guy apart from the rest, however, was the fact that he did not appear all that dried up…and the fact that he was moving!

Come on, buddy, let down your hard shell guard a bit. I'm just trying to help ya...
Come on, buddy, let down your hard shell guard a bit. I’m just trying to help ya…

Yes, indeed I could clearly see him waving about his rear rudder tail/scorpion stinger appearing death appendage as he laid there helpless on the sand. So I paused my Garmin and took to assessing the situation which involved taking the above picture and admiring his cool barnacle like appearance.

After the in-depth assessment was completed, what ensued was a 10 minute cycle of me picking the big guy up, avoiding his rear tail (yes, I know it won’t kill me but still…), placing him a bit deeper into the water, watching to see if the tide takes him out, and then repeating. It was a delicate dance balancing my desire to save a majestic sea beast and my hope to not get my shoes soaked. Ultimately, the scales tipped further towards the humanitarian side and thus I was able to get him sufficiently far enough off shore that he could “swim” off to his sea home if he wanted to. I watched him for a bit, and he was definitely making movements on his own but I never saw him enter into the true depths of the ocean. After all, I didn’t have all day to watch him…sheesh!

So who knows if I ultimately did a good deed or not. It could be that he was dying and just wanted to be left alone in peace on the shore and instead some jerk in shorts threw him back into the water. It could also be that he was out on the shore to mate (though I don’t believe it’s crab mating season now) and thus I effectively “you know what–it rhymes with rock”-blocked him. Or in the best case scenario, it could be that I truly did save his crabby life.

In any case, I learned from Wikipedia (which contains only factually correct material) afterwards that horseshoe crabs are often used as bait fish for eel but a “permanent moratorium” has been put in effect in SC to restrict this practice. Way to go, South Carolina! Not enough to make up for being part of the Confederacy, but it’s all about baby steps…

Maybe the crab dude was just coming to shore to admire the sky as well?
Maybe the crab dude was just coming to shore to admire the sky as well?

If you somehow read this or have someone read the blog to you, Mr. Horseshoe Crab, please know that I was only trying to do you right.

Unrelated to running and crabs, I was able to close the day out with drinks at Kudu and watching the sunset with Alicia “It’s So Cold Outside” Herklotz. It was a good day overall.

His and Hers Evil Twin Brews at Kudu.
His and Hers Evil Twin Brews at Kudu. 

The sunset as seen from Folly.
The sunset as seen from Folly.

 

Snowpocalypse: The Charleston Edition

Winter Storm Leon made his presence felt here in the Lowcountry as he made a pass through late yesterday afternoon into this morning. On paper, it would look as though he did very little damage (probably less than a 1/4 inch of snow and a bit of ice) but if you watch the news or take a look out your window here in the greater Charleston area, you shall soon realize that good ol’ Leon actually crippled the area.

From the Augusta Chronicle; presumably a cartoon depiction of an actual witnessed event.
From the Augusta Chronicle; presumably a cartoon depiction of an actual witnessed event.

It all started Tuesday morning when numerous businesses, clinics, shoppes, etc were closed down for the afternoon in anticipation of the snow/icepocalypse. Unfortunately, Leon ran a bit behind schedule (caught up in other shenanigans presumably) and did not hit the Charleston area until later Tuesday evening. By that time, a state of emergency had been declared and essentially everything had been prospectively put on ice (yikes, that was bad) in terms of Wednesday operations.

Ultimately, the ice did come overnight on Tuesday and into this morning. In the end, it was clearly a wise decision to shut most everything down for Wednesday given the overall inability of the South to handle any type of adverse winter weather, the numerous bridges in the area (all of which freeze and pose significant hazards), and the countless drivers in the area who have probably never had to navigate anything worse than a rain storm.

Don’t get me wrong here–I am in no way complaining about getting 1.5 snow/ice/precipitation days! I just think it’s amusing how different the South is from the Northeast in terms of handling winter weather.

In any case, the ice has resulted in my largely housebound status for the day. The long johns clad Alicia and I did, however, manage to get the pups out for  a walk around the development this morning (pictures below; the pups treat snow as though it was powder cocaine). I also hope to get out for a quick run around the development shortly, and I’m sure that shall be an adventure given the still significant amount of ice on the roads and walkways…

Charleston on ice.
Charleston on ice. 

 

Snowpocalypse desolation.
Snowpocalypse desolation.

 

It doesn't show up too well here, but this tree was encased in ice.
It doesn’t show up too well here, but this tree was encased in ice.

 

It’s A Long Road Up To Recovery From Here…

Well, for once I’m hoping that Frank Turner (despite all his English boy wisdom) is incorrect and that my post-marathon recovery is swift rather than prolonged…

Regardless, there’s no denying that I am not a superhero and thus this guy’s quads, knees, calves, feet, toes, and spirit all need a bit of recovery time following my first ever full marathon.

For better or for worse (it may very well be that I’m deluding myself), I feel as though I’ve bounced back surprisingly well to this point. The afternoon immediately following the race was clearly a wash. Both my mind and my body were in some strange post-marathon dimension where I wasn’t physically in too much pain but simply felt “off”. I was tired but couldn’t fall asleep. I was excited, but also worn out. I was hungry, but couldn’t stomach much food.

Luckily, that weirdness abated by the next day (although the leg pain did not!). The afternoon following the marathon I took part in a short, easy 2 mile recovery run around our housing development with the lovely Alicia. It took a half mile for my legs to loosen up to the point of actually being able to engage in any sort of movement aside from a geriatric shuffle (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). After my legs broke out of their invisible plaster casings, however, I felt pretty good (not good enough to run any more than an easy two miles, but pretty good nonetheless).

The day after that (two days post-marathon), I ran 3.5 miles out on the beach. Again, I took it easy and though my legs felt heavy, I felt solid overall. In fact, I felt good enough to pick up the pace during the second half of my run to a point that is respectable for this guy.

Then, I took two consecutive days off from running which is something I very rarely do. I took the first day off on purpose, but the second one was not intended. It was simply one of those nights where I wasn’t feeling a run at all. I tricked myself by proposing to my brain the possibility of taking a “short nap” at around 9:30pm and then waking up to go for a short 1 mile jog around the development (after all, it’s just as dark and cold at 10:15pm as it is at 9:30pm, I reasoned with myself). My brain loved the proposal! And subsequently held my body hostage in a sleep state until early the next morning…drats!

I figured I could get by with a couple of days off in a row, though, given the fact that I had just run my first full marathon.

As an aside, earlier in the week a boss of mine at work gave me a hard time about running a marathon in relation to the dangers of long distance running. He cited the studies that point to increased cardiovascular stress and subsequent increased morbidity/mortality of marathoners and ultramarathoners. I countered with the notion that we are “running people” with  a long tradition of such that is still alive in some cultures (ie, the Tarahumara) and that we are most likely capable of much more than we realize. Ultimately, the debate was never truly settled. It is a very interesting topic, however, and one that I think about/fret over from time to time (possibly a future blog topic?). Perhaps luckily (or lazily?), I don’t envision myself transitioning into a regular marathoner or ultra runner.

The icing on the cake came when I asked him that given what we had been discussing, what did he then think about another co-worker of ours who is an Ironman triathlete and regularly competes in triathlons of varying distances. My debate partner simply shook his head,  and said (deadpan): “He is going to die.” He was joking, of course, and the delivery was pretty hilarious.

Dead endurance athletes aside, I picked back up running this afternoon by squeezing in a late run out on the beach. I almost didn’t make the trip out to this sandy haven, but ultimately dragged myself out there to get in a few miles and boy, was I glad that I did! The run wasn’t all that great (tired, heavy legs), but the view was simply jaw dropping. The sky looked to be on fire as it lit up the whole beach on the second leg of my out and back run.

Honestly, the backdrop was downright spectacular and once again made me thankful for the beach running opportunities I have nowadays.

Pre-run views with the Folly fishing pier in the distance
Pre-run views with the Folly fishing pier in the distance
The sky was on fire!
The sky was on fire!

So here’s to more beautiful running views and continued recovery!

 

 

 

 

It’s The Final Countdown!

AKA Sh** is getting real.

Tomorrow I shall be attempting to run and complete my first full marathon at the 2014 edition of the Charleston Marathon (at least it’ll be flat!).

Before we get to my anxiety  thoughts on that, let me rewind a day and mention that I went for my last pre-marathon run yesterday afternoon (two days before race day). The training plan schedule that I’ve been following pretty closely (at least with respect to tempo and long runs, as well as total weekly mileage) called for two days off before running a final 2 mile run today. As I tend to not run the day before a race (I like to keep my legs fresh) but also do not like taking two consecutive days off before a race (I don’t want my legs that fresh), I opted to go out for my last run two days before the big race day.

Thus, I took to the beach late in the afternoon yesterday for an easy, breezy two miler. I felt good and focused on going nice and slow, which made the jaunt peaceful and calm. The upside of running on the beach during the “magic hour” was that it afforded some beautiful (albeit blinding at times!) views.

Mr. Sun, why you be blinding me?!
Mr. Sun, why you be blinding me?!
Always trying to catch the sun and never succeeding...yet!
Always trying to catch the sun and never succeeding…yet!

Back to the lecture at hand (shout out to old school Dre and Snoop…I know you two G’s are following along), I have to admit that I am pretty anxious about the run tomorrow. I generally don’t get too nervous before a race (it’s not like I’m anywhere near an elite runner and am not challenging for any sort of age group (or otherwise) win or placing), but I definitely find myself feeling anxious as I sit here typing away. Part of it has to do with the fact that this is a new distance for me, and a distance that I have never covered before. Yes, I guess the unknown is indeed scary. However, I feel as though most of my uncertainty and unease come from the fact that my last long run was less than stellar.  Had I dominated (or at least survived) that training run, I am pretty sure my head would be in a different place (as would the butterflies in my stomach).

But none of that matters now! The past is the past, right? No need to dwell on that and I should instead focus on the positive and visualize myself crossing the finish line tomorrow so that I can add “marathoner” to my CV. That reminds me that I need to add “blogger” to that as well…

So tonight and tomorrow morning, I’ll carry out my typical pre-race/pre-long run rituals and have faith in the notion that these acts have gotten me this far and thus will help power me through to the finish line tomorrow.

For me, these rituals include constructing and subsequently devouring a home-made pizza this evening along with a couple of beers (as you need those liquid carbs…and some of us need to write blogs incorporating running and craft beers!), getting to bed early (often the hardest part for a perpetual night owl like myself), getting together my race gear tonight so I only need to do a minimal amount of thinking in the AM, eating a bagel with peanut butter in the morning along with only one cup of coffee (below my normal day-to-day intake but I’ve found greater quantities can be hazardous for longer runs), and getting to the race early enough to hit a port-a-potty (hey, you gotta do what you gotta do!).

Perhaps I’ll also watch some sort of inspirational or running themed movie tonight to set the tone. Or maybe I should just watch one of my favorite movies to put my head in a good place? Hmmm…

I’m curious to hear about anyone else’s race eve or race day morning rituals along with any suggestions for a good flick to check out the night before a race. Also, is there anything you do to ease your mind or get yourself focused before a race? I’d love to hear about it!

I shall be calm and serene like the afterglow (maybe that'll be my mantra for tomorrow morning...)
I shall be calm and serene like the afterglow (maybe that’ll be my mantra for tomorrow morning…)

 

Adaptation

As any runner will tell you, adaptability and flexibility (both in the body and the mind) are important qualities to possess. There are times when one needs to adjust plans, strategies, and schedules, and seemingly more often than not these modifications are unexpected or last-minute. Such adaptation may come to play in numerous facets of a runner’s life from training all the way to race day execution.

Sometimes you need to be able to adapt in a big way such as when an injury forces you to take some time off from running. Other times you need to make smaller adaptations such as finding a different time to run when life happens and prevents you from running during your initially targeted time slot.

Still other times you need to be flexible enough to find some other running terrain when your first choice doesn’t pan out. This was the predicament I was faced with yesterday!

Remember when Nicolas Cage actually seemed like he cared?
Remember when Nicolas Cage actually seemed like he cared?

Ok, I know that I wasn’t faced with an end of the world type scenario, but I was still bummed out about the situation and thus I’ll say I employed some serious adaptability! (sorry to you, the reader, for being subjected to the whims of a blogger in such a dramatic mood)

According to my trusty marathon training schedule, I was slated to run 8 miles yesterday in what would be the last taper run before my marathon this coming weekend (how did that happen?). Using my second to none mathematics skilz (hey, I didn’t say anything about spelling prowess), I calculated that a perfect site for my 8 mile jaunt would be the Wannamaker North Trail given that this trail is an 8 mile loop. Perfect!

Well, it would have been perfect aside from the fact that the Wannamaker North Trail has a tendency to be shut down anytime that there is any precipitation more significant than fog (as the trail is primarily used by mountain bikers and thus the county is rightfully cautious so as to avoid significant and possibly irreparable damage secondary to use in adverse weather conditions). Even though it rained fairly heavily on Saturday afternoon and early evening, I somehow deluded myself into believing that the trail would still be open Sunday morning. Further feeding into and solidifying my delusion was the fact that the trail website (which is updated religiously…or so it seems) continued to state that the trail was still open all through Saturday evening.

Thus, upon checking the trail status the next morning (still open!), I headed out to the trailhead. I thought about brining some road shoes along with the trail kicks I was wearing (you know, so as to be prepared in case a trail with a tendency to be closed following rain is actually closed following rain), but then decided I wouldn’t need them (hello, any logic or reasoning anywhere?). Upon driving along the back road leading to the trail, I noticed numerous puddles (an ominous sign for a trail with a nasty tendency to be closed) but continued to keep a positive attitude. However, as you can guess, this positive attitude was very soon crushed by a big ol’ red trail sign reading “Trail Closed”.  It could have just as easily read: “Heart Broken” because that’s how I felt. Wow, this has really taken a dramatic turn…

Not to be deterred, I set out for a greenway type system I had driven by on prior occasions when heading out to the Wannamaker North Trail. After performing some Google Maps recon, I found that this greenway-ish entity was the Crowfield Plantation “leisure trail”. I also found that there is an annual 5k held on this trail of leisure (not relevant to today’s tale, but a fun fact nonetheless).

After getting my bearings and ascertaining where I could link up with the trail system, I headed out to throw down my 8 miles (in trail shoes…which was less than ideal). Footwear aside, this greenway system offered up a nice run with great shade cover, infrequent road crossings, and the occasional rolling, gentle hills. There were a bunch of other runners and cyclists out getting their fitness on, but the greenway never seemed crowded at any point. I also learned that the Crowfield Plantation space is synonymous with a whole bunch of nice houses in different developments and that it contains its own private lake. Now that isn’t too shabby!

Crowfield Lake
Crowfield Lake
Someday I'll Own My Own Lake...
Someday I’ll Own My Own Lake…

What’s the moral of this story? If it even looks like it may rain, the Wannamaker North Trail is going to shut down at least for the next 24 hours.

Oh, and that adaptability is important!

Searching For Some Upness

Well, they most certainly don’t call it the Lowcountry for nothin’! Coastal South Carolina is flat. I’m talking the if you drop a ball, chances are it ain’t rolling anywhere type of flat. That’s how vertically challenged the terrain is here.

Thus, one has to be somewhat creative when seeking out any sort of elevation gains round these parts. They call the hills here “bridges” with the most famous of them in the greater Charleston area being the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. This beauty of a bridge stretches over the Cooper River and links up downtown Charleston with neighboring Mount Pleasant. It is a very popular spot for runners, cyclists, walkers, and even rollerbladers (with the most hardcore ones wearing jean cut-off shorts…obviously). Furthermore, it is the center piece of the uber-popular Cooper River Bridge Run, which I plan on running this coming April along with 39,999 of my closest friends.

Climbing into the clouds...
Climbing into the clouds…

I try to run the Ravenel from time to time, but it can be a bit of a pain driving over to it when in a time crunch. Thus, I occasionally run on a much smaller (and less famous) bridge, the Paul Gelegotis Bridge, which is nearer to my home and thus more convenient. The “PGB” as it’s called around here (nope, that’s a lie), is short but offers a little bit of an elevation gain and is not nearly as crowded as the Ravenel. Chances are you’ll have the PGB all to yourself if running it, and at the very worst will have to share it with a handful (or less) of cyclists and co-runners.

Unsuccessfully attempting to get a few miles in before darkness fell, I headed out to the PGB yesterday evening. I parked in a dirt lot towards the Johns Island end of the bridge where I’ve seen people park before and thus assume it must be legal (air tight logic, right?) and headed off on my run. I had the bridge all to myself in terms of those seeking fitness (probably due to the fact that nightfall was rapidly enveloping the world in darkness), but there was a ton of vehicular traffic. The only reason I mention that tidbit is that it made the initial (and end) portion of the run a bit hairy given the fact that there is maybe a quarter of a mile where you find yourself running on a very thin shoulder or off in the grass before you hit the walkway of the bridge. Furthermore, there’s a turn in the road leading up to the bridge that most certainly will blind drivers coming from the Johns Island end to any runners that may be approaching their way until the very last moment. Note to self: Work on lateral jumping movements in anticipation of running the PGB again in the future…

All in all, I got in a total of 4 miles with a couple of nice views as the sun was going down. Bonus points were earned for not getting hit by a car. Not a bad way to end the week!

View from atop the PGB.
View from atop the PGB.
The sun was lighting up the clouds with some crazy coloring!
The sun was lighting up the clouds with some crazy coloring!

 

 

Beach Running

Yes, you read that post title right. Tonight’s edition of largely pointless and meandering thoughts will indeed be dedicated to running on the beach. And yes, I am posting this in the dead of winter.

Ok, I realize that a more intelligent or macro thinking “blogger” would in all likelihood pen such a themed post in the summer time, or at the very least in the spring when anticipating the arrival of summer (such a post would probably be seen as “timely”). Well, not this guy! I ran on the beach today, and thus the topic is on my mind. Plus as an added bonus, I hope that such a post about running on the beach (which is inherently thought of as a warm weather activity)  can bring some hope and spiritual warmth to any readers that are stuck in more Arctic like conditions currently. Conversely, this post may also fuel hatred and scorn in those readers for yours truly. Let us see, shall we?

While out for my beach run this afternoon, I was thinking about the pros and cons (at least in my mind) of using the sand and the ocean as your running backdrop. As I’ve alluded to in a previous post, I don’t think I allowed myself to enjoy running on either the beach, road, greenways, or really any surface that wasn’t my beloved trails upon first moving to the Lowcountry. Luckily, I’ve gotten less stubborn with time and now definitely enjoy running on the beach when I get the opportunity. Sure, it can get monotonous like any other running route you utilize often (that’s why you have to mix it up!), but I find myself saying to myself more and more while running the beach, “Dude, you are out on a beach. How bad can things be? Seriously. Just get over it”. Such self scolding (or mindfulness to put it in gentler terms) helps me keep things in perspective.

So without further ado, here are my thoughts on beach running broken down into “pros” and “cons” (as one should analyze all aspects of life).

Let’s start with the “pros” as we strive to be optimists here…

Pros:

  1. Excellent for Barefoot Running                                                                                    I know that there are a lot of people out there that barefoot run on all terrains (trails, streets, treadmills, volcanic ash), but I am definitely not one of those people! In fact, I do not do any barefoot running at this point in time. However, after getting a little beach running under my belt and having heard the benefits of barefoot running for years now (and having just finally read “Born to Run” which further touts the benefits), I’m seriously considering working in some barefoot running on the beach once the weather warms up. Now unless you’re running on the Jersey shore and thus may very well risk running over broken glass or used syringes (I can say that since I’m from Jersey!), I can’t think of a better introductory terrain for barefoot running than the beach!
  2.  No Stoplights, No Street Crossings, No Fuss!                                                 Though the beach may offer some other obstacles (as discussed in the Cons section below), it is generally a great spot to get in a run without worrying about needing to stop every 50 yards for traffic or a street crossing. This fact in and of itself  has been a strong motivator for me to hit up the beach on many days!
  3. Decreased Stress on Joints/Utilizing Different Muscles                As one would expect, running on the sand is generally less impactful and punishing than pounding away on the pavement while road running. Concurrently, you are working muscles in the knees, ankles, and feet that you do not typically target while running on other terrains. While both of these facts are most likely good things, one has to always be wary of increasing mileage or pace on a new terrain too quickly or transitioning to training solely on one type of terrain as either can increase your risk of injury (again, mixing up running terrain/routes/habits is good for your body and mind!).
  4. The Scenery                                                                                                                          This is probably the biggest selling point for me. Even on the worst weather day, it is still an amazingly beautiful experience to throw down some miles on the beach. Simply put, nothing compares to running with the ocean as your backdrop and the sunrises and sunsets are all that more crisp and vibrant when seen from the vantage point of a beach run. The only downside to this is you may want to spend more of your time snapping photos than you do running!
You could most certainly do worse with respect to running views!
You could most certainly do worse with respect to running views!

 

The Cons:

  1. Crowds                                                                                                                                        Due to the fact that the beach is so innately and unquestioningly amazing, people tend to flock to it. Crazy, right? Thus, you can sometimes find it difficult to even spot the sand under the throngs of people, let alone run on it. In addition, you may also find yourself dodging run away toddlers, unleashed dogs, frisbees, bocce balls, and drunk undergrads as you weave your way along the beach in a twisted version of “Frogger”. My advice: Hit the beach early or later in the day for your run so as to avoid the masses.
    "Excuse me please, runner coming through..."
    “Excuse me please, runner coming through…”

     

  2. Not Much Variability                                                                                                 There isn’t any elevation gain, pretty much all piers look alike, and the terrain can become monotonous to a degree overall. In the end, beaches are amazing and awesome but kinda look the same after a while. Though it is pretty neat seeing dolphins, crabs, and huge jellyfish during your runs at times…
  3. Gosh Darn Tarnation Overpronation                                                Apparently in contrast to the overall positive benefits beach running can have for your joints and muscles, there are also some papers and studies out there that suggest beach running (especially when barefoot) can increase the odds of overpronation. I’m not a sports med/ortho doc or PT dude, but I’m guessing that such terrain would thus not be ideal for you if you tend to overpronate at baseline. However, I also believe that variability in terms of your training regimen can nullify this risk at least a bit.
  4. A Tale of Two Runs                                                                                                              As I chronicled in a prior post, the wind is a fickle mistress while joining you on beach runs. For half the run, she’s supportive and making you feel invincible, while she berates you and tries to hold you back on the other half of the run. This fact could be flipped into a pro if you like significant resistance training built into half of your run. However, it could also be seen as a significant con when you tend to do as I do and run with the wind for the first half of your run and into the wind for the second half. When will I learn?
Wind or no wind, these views are poppin'!
Wind or no wind, these views are poppin’!

 

Enough random rambling from me, how do you feel about beach running? What have your experiences out there on the sand been like? 

Dirt Is Good For Your Soul

I had my long run scheduled for today, though it was a taper run of 12 miles given the fact that I am now less than two weeks out from running my first ever full marathon (yikes!). Speaking of taper runs, let me just say I am definitely not one of those people who experiences any sort of phenomena even remotely resembling “taper tantrums“.  When I see that both my scheduled weekly mileage and my long run distance for the week are significantly less than the week prior, I breathe a sigh of relief rather than becoming riddled with anxiety or overcome with an irresistible urge to cram in a few more miles. Does that not make me a “real runner”?

Regardless, I had initially planned to complete my 12 miler out on the Wannamaker North Trail. Mother Nature and the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission had different plans for me, however. I checked the trail website last night (as it has a tendency to be shut down when there’s been significant rain in the recent past), and sure enough the trail was closed. Boo! Though as of right now, I see that the trail has re-opened. The Parks Commission probably reopened it as soon as I set off for my back-up running destination this morning. Yup, the whole world is against me. Is that paranoid?

That back-up destination was the West Ashley Greenway. This is a spot that I ran pretty frequently when I first moved to the area roughly seven months ago, and have just re-discovered recently. Essentially, it’s an 8.25 or so mile trail/greenway with one terminus in West Ashley over by the Windermere Shopping Center (where Earth Fare is) and the other end on Johns Island. Strangely, numerous websites list the trail as being 10.5 miles in length, though my own experiences and examination of Google maps leads me to believe that it is indeed only 8.25 miles (unless I’m missing a little over two miles somehow?). Thus, if you were hypothetically planning on running a 19 miler on this greenway, you may end up running along a train track on the Johns Island end of things. Though that is illegal and thus cannot be recommended. Hypothetically.

Back in the day, I essentially abandoned running the greenway due to the fact that the first four miles from the West Ashley end is all paved greenway and at the time the county was doing construction on a good portion of the trail. It was my fear at that time that they were opting to replace all the non-paved trail with new pavement, and that was part of the reason I decided to take my running business elsewhere. “I can run on roads anywhere I want, why would I come to your “greenway” just to do that?!”, I exclaimed to no one in particular.

However, as the fates would have it, the powers that be did not pave the dirt portions of the trail, but rather cleaned the trail up overall and brought in some hard packed dirt to smooth out the trail. Hooray! I discovered all this a few weeks ago when I came out to the greenway to do a long run and mix up my running terrain a bit. I can safely say I was pleasantly surprised. I also learned that the “far” end of the trail (the Johns Island end) offers some great views of waterways, runs along a big ol’ organic farm at one point, and does not have nearly as much stops for street crossings. Plus this end tends to be less crowded (although I fear that may be changing). Needless to say, I now always park and start off from the “awesome” end (read: Johns Island end) of the greenway nowadays.

Intense clouds during the run!
Intense clouds during the run!

Views like the one above made the run much more enjoyable. The clouds were threatening rain for most of my time on the greenway, but luckily they were all just bluffing in the end. As for the run itself, I actually felt pretty solid. Prior to the run and early on during the first couple miles, I think I made the mental mistake of thinking that I could knock out 12 miles easy as though that number of miles was “nothing”. Hey, after all I am running a marathon in a couple of weeks, right?

Well, I learned (or rather re-learned) that thinking in such a way is foolish. I am clearly nowhere near the level of running excellence where 12 miles is something to laugh at. Luckily, I remembered that early enough that I didn’t fall apart or bonk or cry (what?) during the run.  At the end of the run, I was happy with my overall pace and the fact that I felt pretty good all things considered. Could I have run 26.2 miles today if I had to? No, I honestly don’t think that I could, and that’s a semi scary thought with my marathon approaching so quickly. Maybe I’m not supposed to be able to throw down 26.2 right now since I’m just coming off my highest mileage week? Maybe I really could run that distance, and rather it’s just that my mindset was to run 12 today and that’s how my body responded? I don’t know.

Look, it’s the sky and water again!

My doubts and uncertainties aside, I did observe an interesting phenomena out on the greenway today. As a bit of a backdrop, you have to know that I belong to the breed of runner guys (and gals) that will always shoot you a nod or a wave or a smile when I pass you. Why? Well, I guess because I think it’s the polite thing to do and also because I’ve always felt a strong sense of community and camaraderie with fellow runners. Hey, we’re all out here sweating, breathing the same air, and pounding the same pavement, right? Totally, dude…

In any case, as I ran into the more populated and less awesome portion of the greenway (read: the West Ashley side), I noticed that the runners I passed were becoming increasingly antisocial. Either they would fail to make any sort of eye contact (ok, that’s somewhat understandable) or they would blatantly ignore the wave I shot their way (now, that’s not cool!). Were all these other people having the worst day of their collective lives? Did I look like a serial killer? What is the deal here?

Thus, after I made the turn to head back to the awesome end of the trail where my car was parked, I continued to think about anything and everything (as you do on a long run) which appropriately included this blog. At that point in time, I had landed on “Running With Jerks” as an apt title for this entry. However, this title was thrown in the mental trash bin a few miles down the road when the strangest thing happened. Other runners started to wave and smile towards me as I passed them. Some even initiated these basic social gestures before I did. A dog even ran with me for a short bit (after I had chatted with his owner for a second, and thus knew it would be ok). What was happening here? Had I entered a twilight zone of happiness?

I found my answer as I looked towards my feet. I was back on the beautiful, hard pressed dirt and off the unforgiving and punishing blacktop that lines the trail near the non-awesome side.

And thus, I concluded that dirt is good for your soul.

Curious Pete, Unamused Alicia
Curious Pete, Unamused Alicia