Run from Hell: South-of-the-River edition

Rogue has a long tradition of torture via a route called Run from Hell that pretty much hits the worst hills in Northwest Austin. And occasionally we run at River Place, which is more of the same.

Well today, J was in town for work, staying in a super-hilly area. She had an early morning meeting, so we got an even earlier start–at 5:30 we ran up and down (and up and down) the neighborhood roads for four miles.

I took a picture of the route from the top of one of the hills, but it really doesn’t do the thing justice. How about the elevation map instead?


Pretty much tells you everything you need to know about that.

She was a beast and ran 95% of it. I ran… more than I walked. And we finished strong, mostly because the last .25 was downhill, but whatever. My quads were SO tired!

The hotel had left out small towels and an ice bucket of water bottles for returning runners–clearly we did not have an original idea–which was a nice way to end the run. That, and sitting down. 😉


Armadillo by morning

Every once in a while, we take a field trip for our Saturday long run. This week, it was to Georgetown’s San Gabriel Park. Which required significantly more driving than my usual six-minute Saturday morning trip. Instead of waking up at 5 A.M., I had to get up at 4:30 and drive about 25ish miles (about 30 minutes on the toll road with a 75 MPH speed limit…) to get to the park for our 5:30 start.

The route began in the park, on a slightly uneven gravel trail–even with a headlamp I was kind of worried about twisting an ankle in the dark–but maybe a half-mile in, it switched to a paved sidewalk. Although streetlamp-type lights lit up the trail periodically, at times it was really dark. And after the first water stop, my friends got ahead of me–it was so creepy I might as well have spotted monsters under the bed. I had a light and my headphones were turned off, but every little noise made me jumpy. And me without my monster spray.

The trail forked in a couple of places, and some of the turns made me question my map-reading skills. It was still dark, but every once in a while, through the trees I could see a neon-colored shirt up ahead, so I was able to stay on-track.

Somewhere around three miles–it was still dark out–an animal surprised me on the trail ahead. As I got closer, I could tell it was an armadillo who clearly hadn’t seen me yet. Once it detected my presence, it shot off across the grass. I had no idea armadillos could move that fast!

Just past the armadillo crossing was the second water stop–followed by a giant hill leading into a neighborhood. And at the top? More incline. It was like half a mile of steady rise. I was already tired and this did not help. But I figured as long as I could see the others ahead, I wouldn’t get (too) lost. Because the map wasn’t helping me at all. Turn after turn through the neighborhood I followed the neon shirts, and I couldn’t figure out how they knew to make those turns–my map didn’t have those directions.


I reached a dead-end and could not tell which way I was supposed to go–no neon shirts either way. But then a returning runner appeared from the left and answered that question. Finally at the five-mile point, I arrived at the third water stop and some friendly faces. I drank some water and Gatorade, then took out my map to figure out how the hell I was supposed to remember the route back. Turns out, I had to, you know, turn the page over. Brilliant.

On the way back, I ran through stood under someone’s sprinkler, and I walked a bit while I tried to figure out why my podcast wouldn’t play. Of course this was the moment my coach and a bunch of other gazelle-like runners came up behind me. Damn.

I gave up on fixing the first podcast and selected a different one, then picked up my pace. In fact, the rest of the way back I pushed myself, and it turns out my last three miles were my fastest. Even though my legs were tired, it was hot and humid, and I hadn’t run this far since my half-marathon in June. It was barely a respectable pace, but it was faster than the first seven miles.

Back at the park, a cheering squad (i.e. my friends) greeted me, which was exciting. Eventually I cooled off, changed into a clean shirt, and we all went to breakfast. Tacos and coffee for the win!

And no more armadillos.

Today is not my day

And tomorrow isn’t looking good either.

I got to bed late last night, then the phone rang at 2:20 A.M.. The Caller ID said “CODERED ALERT” which for some reason (probably because it was 2:20 in the morning) I did not take seriously–it looked like something robocallers use to get you to answer the phone. I suppose I would have answered if the Caller ID had stated it was from the city police, but I let it go to voicemail. When I woke up for my 5:30 workout, I saw they’d left a message alerting us that “officers are in the area investigating a robbery” and they’d have a helicopter helping with a search. Whoops. But they were long gone by the time I pulled out of my driveway and headed to meet my asscrack-of-dawn workout group.

The class, as usual, was difficult and exhausting–I think my legs were still tired from Sunday’s intense workout and Monday’s run. But that’s okay, I didn’t mind the work. Afterward, though, as we were getting ready to hit the trail for our three-mile run, my stomach lurched and I started to feel a little funky. I sat down on the floor for a minute, trying to regroup, and that’s when I noticed my pants now sported a hole in an inconvenient location. Super.

I pulled my shirt down to cover the hole, took some Advil and half an Immodium, and we walked over to the trail. My legs were so tired, I could hardly lift them to run. S told some stories from her recent trip–thank goodness for the distraction. But just short of a mile, both my hip and a little spot near my knee started hurting and it gave me the excuse I was looking for to walk a bit.

Annnnnd we pretty much walked the rest of the way to three miles.

today tomorrow

Tomorrow’s workout is on the surface of the sun on the track–between the heat and lack of shade, my general exhaustion, and now anxiety about re-injuring my leg, I’m not excited about running tomorrow. Everyone else in my group makes it look easy even when it’s hot, and I’m struggling.

Maybe I’ll feel better after a pity party a good night’s sleep. Maybe not.

Were you born on the sun?

It’s not just Wednesday workouts  that are tough during the summer.

What’s the weather like out there?

It’s hot, damn hot.

Thursdays at 6 P.M., it’s still almost 100*. The mile “warmup” run (along a busy road with no shade) just to get to the workout meeting place might as well take place in front of a hair dryer. Or an industrial-sized convection oven. Fortunately the workout had some built-in rests so I could cool down a little between reps. We ran at 5K pace around a neighborhood block that was just over a quarter-mile, allowing us to stop for water and iced towels after each loop, then walk/jog a short distance before repeating the lap.

About half of it was shaded, and one guy had turned on a sprinkler. He invited us not only to run through it, but stop for beers too. I only took him up on the sprinkler part.


I ran six repeats at a pace I was pretty pleased with; with the warmup and cool-down (also a misnomer) out and back from Rogue, I only ended up with 4.5 miles, but I felt like I’d run twice that. And the sting site on my leg had flared back up and was an angry red blotch the size of my hand. Before I went to bed I put some Benadryl gel on it and took an oral Benadryl as well.

Fridays are usually rest days, but I had to get up early to supervise as B checked in online for a Southwest flight–can’t snooze on that one! Since I was up, I did a short pilates core workout. Later that day, I attended the memorial service for a former student who was tragically murdered overseas. I taught him a decade ago, but once they’re my kids, they’re always my kids. On a positive note, I caught up with some of his classmates and was gratified to learn about their now-adult lives–college graduations, impressive career prospects, and other successes. But it was emotionally draining–and it wasn’t easy following that up by dropping my kid off at a friend’s house for a weeklong trip out of state either–so I didn’t get to bed until late Friday night.

Which made my 5:00 A.M. alarm very unpleasant.

But I got up and dragged myself over to Rogue in the dark. I’ve reduced my long-run mileage a bit for the summer, so I was only running eight miles. Two friends who were running ten invited me to join them on the way out. They’re both faster than I am, so I felt bad that I was slowing them down, but it was nice to have the company.

By the halfway point, when I said goodbye to my friends, I was ready to be done–which is never a good sign. There was no breeze, and the humidity made it feel like a tropical swamp. But I slogged along, walking some, and finished most of it before the sun got too high overhead. But still, the last mile was even more unpleasantly warm. And the blotch on my leg had gotten darker, parts of it looking almost bruised. One of my friends, a nurse, urged me to keep an eye on it and if it started hurting or I had any other unusual symptoms to get it checked out.

I won a raffle prize at Rogue, which was exciting. But I was so sapped–emotionally and physically–I didn’t even go out for coffee afterward. I went home and crashed on the couch with a movie. I planned to pick up some dinner at my favorite noodle place, but then a thunderstorm rolled in and I had no desire to leave the house. So I cobbled together a sad dinner and decided to go to bed early.

I started to wonder if I was having some kind of reaction to the topical Bendadryl I’d been using, so I swabbed the whole area with alcohol and left it alone, although I took another oral dose of Benadryl. Then I crashed for the next 12 hours. And when I woke up, I noticed the angry redness had all but disappeared, leaving just a small pinkish spot where the skin felt a little bumpy. Not sure there’s a cause-and-effect here, or if it were clearing up anyway, but either way it looks a whole lot better today.

I slept so late, there was no way to get in even a short recovery run this morning. I think I’ll stick with an indoor core workout today. ‘Cause it’s hot. Damn hot.


What kind of indoor (non-treadmill) workouts do you do? I’m a fan of Fitness Blender–I just stream it from my laptop to my TV.

Ever been stung by a bee? Assuming you’re not allergic, how long did it take for the reaction to go away?


I love summer–I have a long break from school, I don’t have to guess at weather-appropriate clothing, and there’s no worry that I’ll be too cold. But summer running is tough.

I’ve decided that I’m struggling with my evening runs not because of some lingering jet lag, or because I spent two weeks in a cooler climate. No, I think it’s because it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been part of a summer training group that meets at 6:00 P.M., which is practically the hottest part of the day this time of year in Austin.

The past two summers, I focused on strength and cross-training with a weekly early-morning Fit to Run class on Wednesdays. We usually got in a couple of miles afterwards, at 6:30 A.M., and we ran after Monday evening core classes too. Plus our usual Saturday morning mileage beginning at 5:30 A.M.. But my evening runs were on my own, and I usually didn’t start until at least 7:30 or 8:00 at night, after temperatures dropped below 97.

Since last summer, though, I moved from a race-specific training program to a year-round ongoing one. And instead of swapping programs for the summer, I just added the Wednesday F2R class to the mix. Which is why I still find myself meeting up with my training group on Thursday evenings much earlier than I’d normally set out to run.


Last night, the first mile wasn’t too bad. But it went downhill from there.

Our coach had brought a cooler of iced towels, and after every mile loop I stopped and held ice/ice water to my head and the back of my neck. Each time it took forever for me to cool down enough to go back out again. The middle two miles were supposed to be at half-marathon pace, and I think I missed that by at least a minute per mile. Even though we ran the semi-shady trail around the park rather than on the track, and even though there was something of a breeze, it was brutal. I ran five miles with another mile or so of cool-down walking, but it felt like I’d done double that.

I don’t expect things to get any easier for a while, either. August is typically hotter than July, so all I can really do is suck it up and do the best I can. At least I’m not training for anything specific for a while.

But on the plus side, I can sleep late, then enjoy my recovery on my couch or at lunch with a friend. I love that part of summer!


My husband always says there’s a difference between a vacation and a trip. A vacation is relaxing. After a trip done right, you need a vacation to recover.

And that’s where I am right now.

My first two attempts at running since I returned from Ireland were … less than stellar. Thursday’s four miles (including one mile of hills) sounds more impressive than it actually was, considering the amount of walking I did. Then Saturday’s 8.25-miler was not a whole lot better, just longer. Even starting at 5:30 didn’t help much:


Both days my quads hurt. Not the same lead-leg, heavy feeling I’d dealt with a few weeks ago, and not injury pain. Soreness, I guess? But it had been a week since I’d run, and I had a difficult time attributing it to climbing Skellig Michael or hiking the Cliffs of Moher, as it had been days since those adventures as well.

Finally I considered the possibility that I’d gotten lazy about hydration after my half-marathon. Not that I was dehydrated–it was more than adequate for even Ireland’s “heat wave” temperatures in the high 70s, but not for the 100+ I returned to.

I’d also forgotten to take my vitamins about half the days we were gone. So Saturday I dropped a Nuun tablet into my lime water, downed my vitamins, and spent the day on the couch, reading and sipping water.

My sleep has been screwed up too. Since we got back, I’ve been unable to stay up until even 10:00, and I wake between 3:00 and 5:30. Saturday morning my alarm was set for 4:45 but I’d been awake for more than an hour by then. So I’m sure that didn’t help either. Saturday night I fell asleep about 9:30 (someone told me it takes one day per hour of time difference to recover from jet lag–I’ve been home for three days, so I guess I’m halfway there) and woke up about 7. Progress.

This morning I decided to catch up on the Fit to Run homework workouts I’d missed while I was gone. But first, I went out for a short run–still warm, still humid, but this time I had no quad soreness at all. This tells me (obviously) I’d done something that helped improve my situation. Or several somethings.

So I know it’s a terrible fate, but I’m going to try sitting on my couch, reading a book and drinking electrolytes again this afternoon. You know, to make sure the results are legit. 😉

Hell, thy name is hill repeats …

… fewer than 24 hours after returning home from a two-week international trip.

We had the choice of a 1.5-mile warmup, or 2.5 miles. Um, that was a no-brainer, considering the workout was mile hill repeats. It was 96* with a heat index of something like 104*, and the first mile, there was zero shade unless you count running under the highwary overpass.


From Hyperbole and a Half

An occasional breeze appeared, but even then it just felt like someone had a hair dryer pointed at me. It was so uncomfortable, our coach said to think about how many repeats we planned to do, then reduce that by one.

I won’t lie–I walked some of the warmup. Then at the bottom of the hill, I waited, gulping water, as long as I possibly could get away with before starting the first hill run attempt. A half-mile isn’t usually a big deal, but a half-mile UPHILL is something else.

I walked some of it going up, ran almost all of the return, and declared myself done. My quads hurt (residual soreness from Skellig Michael and the Cliffs of Moher?) and I suddenly felt really, really tired. It seemed kind of wimpy, but the others reminded me that I’d not even been home a full day, and most folks wouldn’t have come out at all.

Last time I came home from Europe, it took two weeks for the effects of jet lag to disappear completely. This time, whether I recover more quickly or not I’m just focusing on getting back into my usual routine–which means running at 5:30 Saturday morning. Six miles? Eight miles? I guess I’ll see how I feel when I get out there.