Pregnancy Update: Weeks 14, 15, 16 and 17

I had big plans on catching up and doing weekly updates. Ah! Not happening. I am not starting my 5th month and barely starting my 2nd trimester updates. Oh well. Life matters more than blogging sometimes.

Week 14:

Symptoms: Some ligament pains as things are stretching and adapting to the growing uterus. Sometimes when running, sometimes randomly.

The Belly: Definitely feeling things changing. There is a tiny bulge showing which has nothing to do with bloating. Yeah!

Mood: Other than my fall scare last week, I’m in a pretty good mood. I feel very excited from sharing the news officially on and offline. Officially starting the 2nd trimester. This is exciting because it’s supposed to be the “honeymoon stage” of pregnancy but also because at this point the risks of miscarriage are way way lower.

Workout: So much for the easier running last week. I suddenly find that I need more time to warm up. I have to walk as a warm-up too now, sometimes it also takes me up to 10 minutes into the run to fall into the groove of it. I’m taking walking breaks when needed, especially with the sciatica acting up. However fueling has been helping. I learned my lesson and I now have a small snack even before my short runs. It makes a difference.

Sunday: 3.1 mi @8:38 pace, road +prenatal yoga
Tuesday: 3.1 mi @9:42pace, road
Wednesday: 5.5 @9:45 pace, road
Thursday: 3.1 @9:40 pace, road
Total: 14.8 mi

Week 15:

Symptoms: I’m pretty sure I’ve felt the first flutters. Amusingly two hours after seeing the mid-wife who said most first time Moms don’t feel anything until 18 weeks. Baby doesn’t like to be told there is a normal time line 🙂 I was sitting down when I felt this little flutter. It took me a second but I was like, “wait, this was not digestion! Hi Baby!!!”. Very excited to feel it, and felt it again the very next day. 🙂

Medical: Midwife appointment. Hubby got to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time, his comment was “wow it’s fast”. Uterus is measuring a week ahead.

Weight gain: 4 pounds since the beginning of pregnancy.

Mood: Right after we took the picture above I was about to head out when the neighbor called us. There was a black bear on his deck! Crazy. A little scared at the idea to run into it.

Thrilled to feel the baby move and happy to be doing well. Hubby dealing with a lot of stress at work and taking some time off. Not good for him but I get to spend more time with him and he was able to come to the appointment.

Workout:  I realized I had somewhat skipped on of the training weeks and now had to pick between 11mi or 12mi. I went for a run in Bent Creek which turned out to be 11 miles with some good hills. It was a really good run which gave me back the confidence I needed to run the Half Marathon. My evening run in the park did not go so well. I had to cut it short due to a nasty side stitch and stomach cramps which I blame on the food I ate for lunch. The sciatica has been manageable thankfully.

Sunday: 4.25 mi @8:50 pace, road +pre-natal yoga.
Tuesday: 11.37 mi @11:03 pace, trail/dirt road
Thursday: 3.67 @10:21 pace, road
Saturday: 6.05 @9:33 pace, road
Total: 25.34mi

Week 16:

Symptoms: There are days when I don’t feel the baby still, but it’s getting more regular. On Saturday, we were at a Music Festival, Steve Martin came on stage and the baby gave a kick. It was unmistakable, not a flutter but a little kick. I had my hand on my belly and I felt it against my hand. Love it! Hubby can’t feel it yet.

The Belly: It popped! The difference between week 15 and 16 is crazy to me. Lil’One must have had a growth spurts this week or something. I cracked up after we came back from a Music Festival, here I was about to jump in the shower when my husband walked in and exclaimed “Hey Preggers!” I guess it’s now obvious.

Mood: Yeah for kicks and flutters! However I fell (again!) while running. I burned/cut my hand on the pavement (note: it took a long time to heal that one). It made me feel like a complete idiot more than anything else.

Workout: So as I mentioned, I fell on Monday. I was reaching a curve and heard a car behind me, I could tell they were about to turn too. It distracted me enough that I clipped the sidewalk and with my newly popped belly I couldn’t catch myself. The knee, elbow, hand and water bottle took the fall. It wasn’t as hard of a fall as when I fell in the forest, but it was painful because of the pavement (pine needles are much kinder on your skin I tell you!). It  sucks because I was actually having a really good run. I still finished it but it wasn’t the same with stinging wounds. This has made me rethink where I run in a serious manner. I can not risk putting myself into such situations again. Running on the roads is now going to be off limits unless I run in the nearby neighborhood avoiding roads with more traffic. My goal is now to stick to the park and the trails where I honestly feel a lot safer.

On the yeah side, I ran the Asheville Citizen Times Half-Marathon and I did way better than what I had expected. I was so proud of myself for finishing it.

Monday: 3.1 mi @9:07 pace, road
Wednesday: 5.74 @9:20 pace, road
Saturday: 13.1 @9.23 pace, road, Citizen-Times Half Marathon (technically 17 weeks)
Total: 21.94mi

Week 17:

Symptoms: The pressure in the lower belly is increasing, especially when I run. It means more pee breaks and sometimes walking breaks to let it relax. It mostly feel like it’s due to the weight of the belly and sometimes odd baby positions. Kicks are more regular, almost daily now already. Hubby felt the baby for the first time this week! It was priceless to see his face, that moment of realization that he had felt Our child move!

The belly: is growing. My manager took a look at me the other day and realized she had less time than she thought to get me into maternity clothes…

Mood: A little emotional. A year ago I was dealing with what turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy and unexplained bleeding. Yet this I crossed the same finish line of the Half Marathon with a healthy baby who kicked hard on the anniversary of my trip to the ER that my husband felt it. Overall I fell incredibly thankful in this journey, knowing where I am now.

Workout:  Easy week after the half-marathon. My body needed some time to recover. I”ve decided that I’m done with the double digits. No more long races until this Little One is here in person. I did have a great run in the forest without even a break needed. It felt quite wonderful. We went on a hiking/camping trip in the forest. Got lost a little but still had a lot of fun. However sleeping on a blow up camping mattress is not all that fun when you’re not supposed to lay on your back anymore. I woke up far too often.

Sunday: Prenatal yoga
Monday: 3.66mi @9.27 pace, road
Wednesday: 5.64mi @10:13 pace, trail
Thursday: 2mi hiking
Friday: 5.4mi hiking

Total: 9.3mi ran,  16.7 with hiking


Bikers, Learn the Trails Etiquette

I run a lot in Bent Creek. It’s a really fun piece of the woods with multiple users. I know some people go horseback ridding, although I yet have to come across a horse on the trails, there are tons of mountain bikers, runners and hikers. With multi-usage comes a strong need to respect trail etiquette. There is of course the basic courtesy which states that Bikers should yield to all, and runners should yield to horses.

Now let’s be honest, when you’re hiking and you hear a bike, common sense makes you get the hell away from their path to avoid any point of impact. When hiking I go by safety first rather than who should yield to me.

However when I’m running it’s a little different, I sometimes go faster than bikes (uphill) or at a pace and place that might make it difficult to be passed. When I’m running I also don’t want to stop unless I absolutely have to. And this is where trail etiquette and courtesy come in.

When I come upon hikers, I announce myself. Trail etiquette to me means:

1)announcing yourself (to avoid scaring people preferably)

2)stating which side you will pass people from “Passing to your left”

3)If on a bike it should also include a)”Runner’s up” to warn your friends and b) “x more coming” to let you know how many more are coming up if there are.

Pretty basic and logic right? So allow me to rant when we ran today and had a bunch of idiots on their bikes coming up behind us on the trail. At no point did they announce themselves. The path was wide so we were kind and stayed to the right. When they started passing us I said loudly “Passing to our left I guess?” One of the guys answered “Yeah”. They came from behind us and I could tell there were a few of us so I felt I had to ask “How many more coming?”. Mr. Smartass on his bike said “10!”, and the guy right after him said “more like 5”. Mmh great guys, now we don’t know, so much safer.

When people don’t follow trail etiquette, do you keep quiet or do you feel like educating them?


Graveyard Fields and Skinny Dip Falls

I’ve been enjoying just running for fun a lot. With no set mileage to do on set days it has opened up more opportunities to go where we feel like with my husband and just enjoy the trails. That day it was hot down in Asheville so we headed up the Parkway. Our first thought was to park at Graveyard Fields, run and then drive back to Skinny Dip Falls for a swim. Ultimately we decided to make things more fun by leaving the car at the Looking Glass Overlook, at Mile Market 417. We took the connector to the Mountain to Sea Trail but then took a left on the first trail. It’s an unnamed trail going through tall grasses. It crossed the parkway and followed it all the way to the Graveyard Fields parking lot. We hiked that section as a way to warm up.

Once at Graveyard Fields itself, we waited until we crossed the creek to start running and headed towards the Upper Fall. We didn’t always follow the official trail because there are unfortunately a lot of unofficial ones that take you around to crossing the creek and more. But it was fun. Once we reached the main trail again we started going the wrong way but thankfully realized it quickly enough to turn around. All around us Catawba Rhododendrons were in full bloom, it was beautiful.

We started walking as we got close to the Upper Fall. The trail was becoming technical and wet and this was no time to twist an ankle. A big group of teenage girls greeted us at the bottom of the Falls but thankfully they were on their way out. We took some time to enjoy the beauty of the place and then took the (unofficial) trail to the top of the fall.

The view from the top was simply amazing. We chilled there for a while, soaking in the views. I was hot enough from our run that I had ditched my shirt and gone for the minimal running look. We hiked back down and started running again.

Remember that group of teenagers? Well they didn’t seem to know trail etiquette much. I always announce myself when I’m coming up on people. The first 4 girls were great and let us pass. The rest of the group? Not so much, I ended up yelling three times before they realized we were upon them. Even the group leader apologized. Thankfully it went well and I guess it was a good learning opportunity for them.

We continued down the trail, but instead of heading for the Lower Fall, we took the connecting trail to the Ridge Trail. This meant a good uphill and switchbacks but also less people on the trail.

Once again we took a wrong turn. Going South on the MST instead of North. Thankfully I hiked that section last fall and realized our mistake pretty quickly so we didn’t go too far. The MST from Graveyard Fields to Skinny Dip Fall is mostly downhill. Half of it is in the thick rhododendrons bushes, the other half in the trees. So there is good shade the entire way. The trail is pretty smooth and non technical.

We finally reached Skinny Dip Falls after what we estimated to be about 6 miles. The water there is always cold and it was only in the mid-60’s outside. However, after our run we could not resist it and jumped in with our running clothes. Was it cold? Yes. Did we stay long in the water? Absolutely not. But it did feel amazing and by the time we walked the last 1/4 mile or so to the car we had already warmed back up anyway.

This was definitely a fun hike/run day and a great way to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors with my husband.

Do you ever go for a random run on the trails or do you prefer to stick to familiar grounds?

Finding My Joy on the Trails

The longest run I’ve done since the marathon was the Biltmore Kiwanis 15k. I’ve struggled with IT Band issues a few weeks after the marathon and just had to take it easy. At the same time last year I was already training for the Asheville Half Marathon. At this point I yet have to sign up for the race, let alone train for it.

Once I started feeling better, I decided to follow the Runner’s World Running Streak challenge. The goal was to run at least a mile daily until July 4th. Well let’s be honest, I’m out. I did not run yesterday because I just felt too tired and just wanted to chill. Even one mile did not appeal to me. But that challenge was enough in the first two weeks to give me back some good training free running joy. I ran every day with a minimum goal of a mile, not caring how far I would go. Getting to run daily also allowed me to take some slower days where I could follow my husband at a slower pace instead of torturing him at mine.

This resulted in some beautiful trail runs that we shared together. One of those was an easy 2ish miles run right in the Craggy Gardens area. Another one at Graveyard Field which I’ll need to share with more details.

While I love training for a race, there is something so incredibly satisfying in running just for fun, on trails, with my husband. To share the love of the outdoors together is something I look forward to do more in the coming months. Last week I was running with a grin glued to my face the entire time. The freedom of the trail, of not having to plan for a specific length, to just go for fun, stop if we feel like it, run like rabbits and jump in cold water at the end. This is why I run, for that feeling, not for a medal at the end, but for the moments shared and experienced.

PS: I am looking forward to doing a few longer runs again, now that my legs feel back to normal.


12th Dupont State Forest 12k

Last year this race was my first trail race. The conditions were afterward deemed as hypothermia inducing. It rained and with temperature in the low 40’s I was shivering within minutes of finishing the race. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to race it again.

Truth is I really wanted to run the Dupont State Forest Half Marathon this year, but it’s the same day as the Marathon. So not an option unfortunately. I also signed up for the 12k because my husband was supposed to run it with me. But he backed out because he didn’t have enough time to train. I’m so glad I did. I had a blast.

No I didn't just wake up.

This spring has been unseasonably warm, so while there were risks of rain, I knew that at least I wouldn’t freeze. We got to Guion Farm with dark clouds above us and a light rain which turned into a downpour just before the race. I waited in the car until it eased off to go pick up my race bib and shirt.  I warmed up and hid in the bushes to pee (no patience to wait at the porta potties) But as the minutes went by the dark clouds moved and more and more blue sky came. Right before the start of the race all the runners clapped as the sun made it through. We didn’t see an other drop of rain for the rest of the race! Yeah!

Race starts as the last clouds go away

235 runners were here this year. That’s more than last year. We tried to listen to the speech but I frankly couldn’t hear a thing. The race finally started in the brilliant sun and puddles. Oh yes because puddles there were. At least I learned something from last year: fear no muddy water! Last year I remember being careful in the beginning, avoiding the water. However by the end it was running anyway and I did not care where my feet landed. So I took that approach right from the beginning. Probably a good thing because less than a mile into the race, still in the middle of the pack and with no visibility my foot landed in a giant one. I also felt some good splashes coming from my fellow runners. This would not be a clean race and I was okay with that.

I settled into my pace and slowly started passing some people. Uphills are really becoming my strength and that’s when I passed the most. One strong female passed me though, I never saw her again. I made small goals throughout the race to reach some runners ahead. The double-track were easy, the single-track required a little more energy but were also fun.

In the last mile.

I left my bottle in the car so I was glad to swallow a little water at the one water station. It wasn’t much because I have never practiced drinking while running but it was good enough. Over the last few miles a guy used me as his pacer. I could hear him breathe right behind me. As we hit the downhill, I turned back and joked that I was starting to feel like I was being followed. He answered that he was trying to keep up. Yeah right, he passed me right after that and finished a few minutes ahead of me! Who was keeping up with who?

The last person I passed was a FiveFinger dude who had run really strong until there. However I don’t think he expected the last hill. Last year that hill kicked my butt. I was not going to let that happen this year and just went for it. The guy told me to go get my medal. I laughed, thinking there were plenty of girls ahead of me and told him that I didn’t know if I would get one but it didn’t matter because I was running my own race.

Coming upon the finish

I came up to the finish line. I was a little disappointed to see it was just passed the hour mark. Somehow I had decided it would be great to finish under an hour. Not sure why I picked that, I wasn’t even really trying for it as hard as I could. But whatever I still finished in 1:00:58. That’s an 8:10 pace over 7.4 miles on trail. So my disappointment didn’t last long, I still beat last year’s time by almost 10 minutes! Can’t say I didn’t progress in a year 🙂

What's with the legs? And the dude in front of my time but well that's ok.

I am kind of surprised looking at the picture. I usually don’t lift my feet that much of the ground. Or at least I thought so. I may need to watch my form on the trails a little more. Unless it had to do with lifting my feet from the mud…

Mud? What mud?

It turns out that I had double reasons to be happy. All the girls in front of me, mostly Jus’Running girls actually, well they were not my age. Because I managed to get 1st place of my age group. No medals, but even better, I got a pair of running socks. I also love this year’s shirt although it’s as usual WAY too big for me. Women sizes wouldn’t hurt… In any case I quickly changed after the race and waited for the awards.

Yes I'm a goof.

 The first guy finished 44:05!!! The first female in 53:55.

My stats:

55/235 runners
9th/111 female

Gear: Saucony Xodus 2.0, Lululemon skirt, Brooks shirt.

PS: Can you spot me in a picture from a fellow local runner? Hint: it was after I changed clothes.

Tough 18

My training plan called for an 18 miler this week. Due to working 3rd shift I had to work thins around and make it happen this Wednesday. I’m working 3rd shift tonight, and the next night followed by a weird turn around. There is no way I could have run this on Saturday. I plan to sleep in and maybe to my tempo then.

I’ve been dreading this one a little bit. It sounded scary. 18 miles, really? Sure there is still 8 miles to go to get to marathon distance, but still.
I woke up at 10:30, had a bagel with almond butter and honey. Unfortunately I was out of bananas so I had a glass of chia seeds (aka frog eggs in my head) with a splash of lemon juice and agave syrup.
I started running around noon, it was already 68F outside.

Now let me say it now, I picked a tough run. I knew it, it was on purpose. After all the Blue Ridge Marathon is tough. Not only is it a marathon (duh!) but it’s hilly, as in you climb 1200 feet in the first 7 miles. Not only that but there is a 500 feet climb starting at mile 17 too. So I picked a loop called Squirrel Loop: 17 miles, 810f of elevation change (that does not show in any way how much uphill and downhill are involved) and rated 18 out of 20 on the difficulty level. Yes please, call me nuts right now. Should I also say that I’m on the first day of my cycle? (Women will understand that one).

So tough it was. The first 5 miles are a straight uphill on forest road with the 810f climb on forest road. Then it’s downhill for about 2 miles. The first 8 miles or so I had cramps/side stitches on both sides, I though it might be what I ate at first, but now I think it may have more to do with my cycle. Anyhow, either I tuned it off or it went away by Mile 8ish. I took a break, texted my husband that I was about halfway. I couldn’t bear the though to tun the first crazy uphill of Sidehill trail, so I walked it. I ran on the trail all the way to Bent Creek Rd, then back uphill on South Ridge Forest Rd. I can’t say this is my favorite. It shouldn’t be called South Ridge but the Southern Roller Coaster. Seriously that’s all it does for miles.

Past the Apex I started wanting to walk. I took a mini break at some point and could tell my legs were hurting. But I kept on going, I told myself to walk when I would reach the uphill of Hardtime connector. It took some willpower! I alternated water with GU Brew and GU Roctane throughout my run. But by the end of the run, maybe around mile 13 or 14, all I could think about was the cold Emergen-C water waiting in the car. I swear that water is the only reason I finish running!

I finally reach Hardtime FR and the blissful downhill. Of course I had to add a loop around the lake otherwise the run would have been short a mile. It was tough. I just wanted to be done. I did walk the steep uphill of Hardtime connector but then ran all the way back to the car where I texted my husband that I was done, I walked to the bathroom. I could still pee but not much, I knew I was borderline dehydrated. I grabbed my cool drink and then jogged/walked to the creek were I proceeded to cool off as much of my legs as I could without getting my clothes wet. Heaven!

Now long runs recoveries call for eating within the first 30mns. I couldn’t. Just the thought of swallowing food made me feel sick. So I drank. I seriously thought that I might feel sick from all the fluids I swallowed. It turns out that I needed that water bad enough that it caused not problem whatsoever.

Once home I had a ripe pear straight out of the fridge. It suddenly tasted like the best thing in the world: sweet,juicy and cold. I did manage to eat a mini luna bar and helped myself to an other glass of chia/lemon/agave to replenish by body and provide some proteins. My next recovery choice was to set myself up for a nap on the deck, bliss! Once I woke up I stretched with the foam roller and told my husband he was in charge of dinner.

And now I need to have dinner and work third shift. I wish I could go to bed instead!

Two Furry Bodyguards

I went on a nice long run yesterday. Week 10 of my training plan called for 14 miles. I wanted to do something different, more trails than the 13 miles of dirt road from last week. Something a little more challenging. If I am to run the Blue Ridge Marathon, I want to prepare my body and stamina for the several up and downs of the course.
So I tried a loop called Crazy Eight, and because the original loop is 12.82 mi I added extra to it meet my mileage goal. Since I didn’t read things right, I ended up running 14.76mi. In turn it made it my longest run time wise (2 hours and 26mns).

Crazy Eight goes up for 800 feet on a forest road, then down 400 on single track and back up 700 feet on a trail that is listed as “extreme” in my trail book. But here’s the thing, while I had to walk at one point, it actually didn’t feel so bad. I think part of it as to do with my furry bodyguards.

You see I don’t own any pets, nor have any plans to. I find dogs often annoying, I can’t stand their barking and the fact that a giant Pyrenees tried to bite me once doesn’t help. I can’t have cats because I’m allergic. So you’re not going to find me on a trail with any animal. Heck when I ran two weeks ago, someone’s dogs were running near me, playing with each other and almost made me trip.

But when I reached the bottom of Green’s Lick I met two little fellows. Two dogs without a collar. They didn’t bark, but one made some “give me your attention” yaps. I thought their owner was nearby and didn’t pay much attention, I knew I was getting into this 2 miles of hard uphills. The dogs started following me. Again I thought they were on their way to meet their owner. Well, not so much. I only met one biker on the way up and he didn’t seem to know the dogs any more than I did.

The dogs were well behaved, they only hit my legs twice during the entire 2 miles. At times they stayed behind me, at times one lead the trail. They stopped a few times to drink at the creeks, but they stayed close. I have to say, it made me feel safe. I was on a new trail and it was nice to have them with me. Not only that but I think it encouraged me to keep on going, their happy energy was communicative. Sometimes I felt as I was cheering them up and sometimes they were. As I hit the downhill they kept on following me.
I met a biker on a break at a crossroad, he commented on how happy the dogs seemed to be. I said yes and laughed adding I didn’t even knew them. At that point the dogs decided the biker was more interesting and we parted ways.

I don’t know if those two little fellows were lost or just enjoying the freedom of the trails. But I sure enjoyed their company. For a while I could understand why people enjoy having a dog with them on their run.

Do you run with a pet?

The Difference Between 6 months and 50 Degrees

Friday I ran 13.35 miles. My training called for a 13 mile long run. I’m now hitting the Half Marathon distance with longer runs to go 14, 16, 18 and 20 are looming in the distance. Scary. But I’m not there yet Right now I can bask in the thought that I ran an other Half Marathon distance.

I picked the same loop that I did for my 13 mile training run last summer. A non technical all Forest Road run called Hardtime/S. Ridge Loop. It may be non technical but it’s not flat. Well the first two miles are fairly flat then it’s all uphill for a mile and a half, a little downhill followed by a roller coaster of up and down that takes you all the way up to 2860 feet at mile 9. After that it’s a good downhill and then a flat/downhill back to the car.

My watch says the difference between 6 month ago and this week was 4 minutes. Well good. But to me the difference was more physical. I don’t think it’s all fitness. There is definitely something to account for on temperature, last summer’s temperature hit above 80 pretty much every day, which meant I was sweating a lot more. When I look at my log I started getting pains in my leg on the last three miles. This time? Nothing. Maybe just a twinge right around 1h50mns, and that was that. Temperatures were in the 30’s the whole time.

I also fueled differently: A GU last summer and an entire bottle of water. Gu Brew the entire run this time but I only drank half of my bottle.

I come a long way from my first 6 miler when I spent the rest of the day as a couch potato. Friday, I ran 13 miles in the morning, made lunch, helped my husband and his friend build our deck, saw some wood, made dinner and was ready for bed only around 10:30pm. No matter what the reason is, it’s nice to see progress.

Is That a Bear or a Dog Print?

I sometimes get asked if I’m not scared to go alone on the trails. Truth is I’m not. I usually go in areas used by hikers and bikers and I feel safe surrounded by them. Oh sure there could always be some crazy dude jumping on me, but I feel that the chances of that happening are about as high around my house. Heck I’ve never ran upon a shady business in the woods. Unlike last night when I ran with my running group, a buddy and I did the longer loop and I’m pretty much sure we came upon the end of a drug transaction in a darker street. It was really weird. There is two things I’m afraid of on the trails however: bears and snakes.

Last time I went on a long run, it rained the day before. So when I came upon what seemed like a large print on the ground, I froze. Bear or dog? Bear of dog? That little mantra came through my head. The print seemed fresh and I had no interest in following a bear, especially while running.

You see I’ve been in front of a bear before, during our trip to Alaska. And the things I learned were: don’t stay there but don’t run either. Running makes you look like a prey. Not a position you want to be into. And sure it’s winter and most people will say that bears hibernate. I’ll have to disagree on that one. If they’ve found that the Pyrenees brown bear come out in the snow, I’m pretty sure black bears are not sleeping everyday during and unseasonably warm winter.

It turns out the print I saw, while large is most likely a dog. The palm section is not big enough to be a bear as can be seen compared to a bear print I took a picture of last November.

January 2012-Likely a dog print

November 2011- Bear print

So what do you do if you have a bear encounter. Well the first thing would actually be to prevent it:

  • Stay aware of your surroundings. Don’t look just 3 feet in front of you. You don’t want to look up to see a bear snout in front of your face.
  • Make noise while running: clapping, chanting, etc. I have done that when I ended up running in far darker conditions that expected. It also had the benefits of cheering me up. But it’s not always doable when running uphill. I try to cough loudly when in doubt to announce myself.
  • Run with a group. [fail]

If you come upon a bear, well there are all sorts of positions on the subject. According to the Ultimate Guide to Trail Running by Adam Chase and Nancy Hobbs one should:

    • Be aggressive if it’s a black bear: stand still, pick up a rock and prepare to fight. Err I’m not fighting a 300 pound furry ball. It’s about 3 times my weight!
    • Be calm if it’s a brown or grizzly bear: don’t make eye contact, speak softly, walk backwards, put calmly a jacket on the ground to distract the bear and in last resort play dead protecting your neck with your hands curled in a fetal position

I was always told to make yourself tall (mother nature made me 5’1 that’s going to be tough) and do noises. I know the most dangerous encounters are a bear with cubs, and it’s best to stay clear of them.

When we came upon the black bear in Alaska, it checked us out. It never stood up but we could tell it was smelling us. I’m pretty sure we did one of the no-no which was looking it in the eye. But we turned around and slowly walked away while talking to each other. While the bear followed it was on its way to somewhere else and took at some point and to our great relief a different path.

The print encounter, while a dog’s made me realize that I’m pretty foolish with only a cell phone with me. I think I’m going to get a whistle to make noise and be able to direct help my way if anything was to happen, I also need to get a Road ID in case I am not responding and got forbid someone needs to call my husband.

What are your bear encounter rules? Do you carry bear spray on the trails? Did you come upon one, what did you do?

Failing to Fuel

MST Folk Art Center-Cravens Gap

Winter view from Lunch Rock on the Mountain to Sea Trail

Ten days ago was one of my worst run ever. Sure I was a little ambitious, picking a 10.22 mile run which went way uphill (1000 feet) but I could have done it. My  biggest mistake was not eating enough and not taking something with me.

You see I’ve done long runs of 9-10 miles where I don’t need anything, so I completely underestimate what this one would do to my body. All I had before I left home was a Cliff gel. One. That’s it.
I’m an idiot.

The run started fine. My goal was to do the Out and Back from the Folk Art Center to Cravens Gap following the Mountain to Sea Trail. It starts flat, then a light uphill, followed by somewhat flattish, a good uphill (which I stupidly thought would be the worst one, Ah!), then the trail follows the crest so it’s a little easier, and suddenly you hit this steep section. It was relentless and I walked most of it.You think you’re almost done, but then the trail goes downhill (which you know will be uphill on the way back) and then it goes on and on and on until you reach a crossing of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The uphill took a lot of my energy out. I think if I had taken some energy gels with me and had proper food prior to running it would have been hard but doable. Instead I started stopping a lot on the last 2 miles, checking the directions I had recorded on my phone, thinking the BRP would be right there. Well not so much. It took me  a whole hour to do 5.11 miles. I took a break at the gap and texted my husband so he wouldn’t be worried that the run was taking me longer than planned. But the rest was not enough, I needed energy and didn’t have anything to fuel because I left it all in the car.

I have to admit that the whole way back was a daze. I was low on energy and I knew it. I was only focused on returning to the car and eating the Larabar I had in my purse. I was worried about the risk of fainting but thankfully that did not happen. I did however walk in section I would normally run without any problem. I did stop. But I knew I was somewhat ok since I could still talk to the people I met on the trail.

Back at the car I chewed the Larabar slowly and processed to drink even more water. That was my second mistake. I think so much water on an empty stomach and a tired body did not go too well. Not to mention the smoothie I drank on top of that for fast refueling. I ended up feeling nauseous for the next three hours and so low on energy too.

So lesson learned, next time I go on a long hard run I need to have a running snack with banana and more and pack things with me. Better to have it and not need it.

Have you ever gone really low on energy during a run? What was your solution?