A belated 50 Miler Training – Preseason Week 1 Recap

Hey just two days left to enter my giveaway for a free race for two! Check out my Commitment Day 5K Giveaway.

This week I decided to work on raising my mileage.  Unlike marathon training where I go for speed, my focus is time and miles.  More time on my legs, more miles, getting comfortable with a mental state of mind when I’m not running at my fastest.  For a type A personality whose always racing to reach her goal, pacing myself towards a 50 miler won’t be easy.  I burn out at races because as soon as I start I want to go at my fastest, which as anyone that reads enough running advice and articles, knows is not the best strategy for long distance.  I may get away with it at half marathons and to some degree at a marathon, but this stubbornness to go all out until I burn out won’t fly for 50 miles.

I decided my “official” training will start January 1st because with holidays and my own laziness I know it will take me a few weeks before I get used to doing double-digit runs on both days of the weekend and basing my runs on time vs. miles.  I’ll start my recap in reverse because all the action happens on the weekend and the rest of the week is just filler and fluff.  So here you go, the bad, the good and the boring.

Sunday – 6.5 Miles 52 minutes – Home Treadmill
It wasn’t exhaustion that kept me from running but pure procrastination until I ran out of time and had to get ready for a party instead of running.  By the time I was like o wait, maybe I should stop watching Vampire Diaries and go run, I had about an hour of free time so I banged this out because I figured better than nothing.

Saturday – 16 Miles – 3 hrs 15 minutes – 8 miles trail, 8 Miles road
If you want a real humbling experience, run the Skyline trail (hardest trail in the Middlesex Fells) with a bunch of guys training for 100 milers.  Yup, I joined the TARC group of ultrarunners in one of their billion mile loops they did that day in the fells and I got my butt handed to me literally twice as I tumbled and fell.  I did get a killer bruise to show off as well.  Did I mention I have a huge, like paralyzing fear of running downhill on trails, or going downhill on mountains.  The trail itself is probably around moderate level for hiking difficultly but the steep downhill parts paralyzed.  I did get a little better and more comfortable as I ran but definitely have a long way to go.  8 miles took me 2 hrs 10 minutes for a humbling 16:15 pace.  I ran 2 road miles to get to the trail and then 6 road miles afterwards to try to regain my confidence.  Those 8 road miles were about an 1 hr 5 minutes.

As NYC kid, I used to consider Prospect Park to be the wild terrain   Needless to say trails and trail running is not natural to me.  Hopefully TARC kids will let me tag along again in the coming weeks.  My 50 miler on my easier and flatter terrain but training on the skyline trail with people who are much faster and better than me will force me to get more confident and braver on the downhill slopes as I struggle to try to keep up.  I need to get more confident in my footing and conquer my fear of the downhill.

Friday – Rest! 

Thursday – 7 miles – 57 Minutes – Work TM Incline 2

Wednesday – 6.1 miles – 53 Minutes – Work TM Incline 3

Tuesday – 10 miles – 57 Minutes – Work TM Incline 2
Alternated between 7.3 and 7.5 MPH

Monday – 8 miles – 1hr 11 Minutes – Work TM Incline 2 & 3

Total Miles 53.6 Miles

So I wanted to get to 60 miles but my own laziness got the best of me.  Good thing this week was just a preseason training week ;).

That One Time I Lived in a Cave

Adventures in Spain – 2 Days in Granada

When I told my mom that I was renting apartments through AirBnB on our visit in Spain I don’t think she knew what she was getting into.  The last thing she expected was two nights in a cave in Granada.  Yup a cave, furnished but still a cave.

The photo makes it look cozy but it lies because sleeping in a cave, although warm and toasty, is still a cave.

Our cave like all the others was in Sacromonte  a neighborhood in Granada that was about 15 minutes away from city plaza. What it lacked in modern conveniences and other nuisance such as barking dogs, it made up with a view.

The towers of the Alhambra at night.  I’ll have a whole post devoted to our visit eventually =).

Our train ride to Granada was probably one of my favorite during the trip.  We passed mountains and valleys and as sleep deprived as I was I kept staring out my window wide awake.

I could tell that my mom and Tony felt the same way as each of us took up our aisle so we could get the window view.

After a short introduction to our cave, we decided to venture out for food and a little exploring

Immediately we passed by this garden and amazing fruit trees

I believe those were Loquats.

With a long list of things to do, we kept on walking down the steep hills as I begged my feet to not trip me.  I have a long history of being clumsy.

We walked through El Albayzín, a neighborhood that retains the narrow winding streets of its Medieval Moorish past. It is filled with shops of trinkets and scarves and full of delicious North Africa eateries.  There were also Arab bath houses but I think the few we passed were closed on Mondays so we missed out on that part.

By the time we got to finding a place for lunch it was around 4 PM and like the rest of Spain, our options became limited with many restaurants closing down for the break before dinner.  We settled on a tourist friendly place of being large, moderately overpriced for the quality of food but still open past 4PM.

Tony got himself a meat platter with ribs.  I guess he wanted something a little more American?

I got a paella like rice dish that was delicious.  It would have been better if snails were not included and I didn’t have to pull them out as I crunched on one or two.  Oops guess I missed that part of the description.

And a potato quiche to keep things boring.

Granada has been settled by Arabs, Jews, Christians  Gypsies and anyone else so the architecture and beauty of the streets are unlike any other city in Spain.

Granada Cathedral

Plaza de Isabella Católica

The front of Granada Cathedral

The mountains surrounding Granada create a much colder climate at night then we were used to while in Seville.  Solution?  Warm up with some hot chocolate and churros (a Spanish donut).

A Jew Puts Up the Christmas Tree & Lights

Hey, enter my 5K giveaway for registration for TWO in any city near you!

I have a love hate relationship with December.  On the bright side with holiday parties, pot lucks, and cookie swaps I get to see so many of my friends that I don’t see nearly often enough. And often times I get to dress up and glam up, something I never get to do in my own laziness and daily life.  On the downside, this all takes time and takes away from my nap time and TV time haha.   I did miss being around my family for Hanukkah and mostly just the latkas.  It’s never the same when you have to make it yourself, or maybe I’m just lazy.  Luckily, I’ll be visiting my parents this weekend and my grandma promised to make me some even though Hanukkah is over!

Anyways, a short recap of the holiday cheer!

We put up our tree all 8 feet of it and Jack wasted no time climbing up inside of it.  #catproblems.  Fact, this was the first time I decorated a tree and aside from the fact that all this crap is quite pricey, it was kinda fun and now I have this pretty thing to look at.  Yea i know our star looks a little drunk, we’re working on it.

If I was into mailing holiday cards, this would be mine.  Sorry people with kids, my cat is way cuter!

I wish I took a better photo but my friends decorated their TV for the coolest fireplace I’ve seen.  I love it!

I’ll have a second post recapping my running for the week but I wanted an excuse to post more photos of handsome Jack.

Commitment Day Race Registration Giveaway

I know I’ve been talking more about traveling than running lately, but I promise running is still on my mind and I have been keeping up with my miles as I know the months coming up to my 50 miler will be here in a flash.  In the mean time I have a giveaway with not one but TWO free race registrations to make up for all the travel photos I’ve been making you put up with (and no I’m not done, I have a ton more.)

On January 1 2013, thousands upon thousands of people across the nation will run simultaneous 5Ks as a symbol of their commitment to a healthy way of life. Will you be one of them?

Commitment Day
Source

I know that if you read my blog you’re most likely already a runner and you eat 5Ks before your healthy oatmeal flex-seed breakfast; however, we all have friends, and family that we wish to motivate.  Commitment Day is a “day for action, not apathy,” so inspire those around you by example and get your loved ones involved.

The Commitment Day 5k is a 3.1 mile run/walk/stroll taken place on January 1st, 2013 in over 30 cities for all ages! Kids under 18 are free and is a great way to welcome in the new year with your family.  Registration is $39 and entry includes a Commitment Day T-shirt and a 2013 hardcover journal to keep track and progress of your best year yet ;). You can save $10 by liking the Commitment Day Facebook page or get a free registration by entering my giveaway below.

Below is a list of participating cities

Atlanta, GA
Austin, TX
Chicago, IL
Cincinnati, OH
Cleveland, OH
Columbus, OH
Dallas, TX
Denver, CO
Detroit, MI
Houston, TX
Indianapolis, IN
Kansas City, MO
Las Vegas, NV
Los Angeles, CA
Memphis, TN
Miami, FL
Minneapolis, MN
New Orleans, LA
New York, NY
Omaha, NE
Philadelphia, PA
Phoenix, AZ
Raleigh Durham, NC
Salt Lake City, UT
San Antonio, TX
Seattle, WA
St. Louis, MO
Tulsa, OK
Washington, DC

How to enter the giveaway

  • Leave a comment telling me how you’re committed towards health in 2013
Bonus entries
  • Follow me on Twitter and Tweet something like “I just entered @RunTomunch #giveaway to win a Commitment Day 5K Race Registration! http://bit.ly/QX0IvF  #mycommitment” 
  • Subscribe and Follow my blog via email

This giveaway will close Thursday, December 20, 2012.  Winners will be announced Friday, December 21, 2012.  I was not compensated for this post, and all opinions are my own.

Glacier Hiking In Iceland

Over 11% of Iceland is covered in glaciers. What exactly is a glacier?  “A slowly moving mass or river of ice formed by the accumulation and compaction of snow on mountains or near the poles.” So basically it has to be moving, otherwise it’s just an ice field which I heard are more prevalent in Canada.

Another fun fact… Iceland has no mountains, just valleys carved out by glaciers and volcanoes.  The biggest glacier is Vatnajökull; however, that was on the other side of the country so we didn’t get to see it.  =(.  However, only two hours from Reykjavík you find the Eyjafjallajökull massif (6th largest glacier), and just a little further east the Sólheimajökull glacier, a tongue extends down from its mother glacier, Mýrdalsjökull, Iceland’s fourth largest.  This is also the same area that caused all traffic control disruptions and chaos due to volcanic ash.  The icecap of Mýrdalsjökull is an active cranky volcano called Katla that tends to erupt whenever nearby siblings erupt.  Volcanologists are continuing to monitor Katla, aware that any eruption from Katla following an eruption from Eyjafjallajökull has historically occurred within months of the latter and she is way overdue.  How scary!

What I think we hiked was the Sólheimajökull glacier and the dark dirt you use is actually volcanic ash.  However, our guide told us that due to recent rainstorms what we were seeing is the cleanest this glacier has been in decades.

Iceland Glacier Hike

We started by learning how to put on crampons and getting an ice axe.  We learned how to walk with crampons, like a cowboy of course.  And as you can tell in the photo I am literally wearing everything I brought with me because I heard these hikes are cold and windy and cold.  
Iceland Glacier Hike 2

We started by hiking up the glacier, where I started to get terribly over heated.  Of course with my luck the one day I was dressed in preparation it was relatively warm and sunny!

Iceland Glacier Hike 3

Our hike group was relatively huge with over 20 people so there was a lot of waiting and chilling involved.

Iceland Glacier Hike 4

We learned to avoid walking on any snow because what lies beneath might be….

Iceland Glacier Hike 5

well deep deep hole.

Iceland Glacier Hike 6In some places where the snow melted, you could see what fate could await you.

Iceland Glacier Hike 7

Iceland Glacier Hike 8

Then we did some more walking with our overly large group.

Iceland Glacier Hike 9

Glacier water is some of the freshest and tastiest you could drink.  Tony and I both took a taste, although I think he’s also secretly practicing his downward dog.

Iceland Glacier Hike 10

Then there was more waiting and slow slow walking so I amused myself with some modeling

Iceland Glacier Hike 11

Then the more interesting part of the hike started up.  We walked into one of the glacier’s crevices   I have a short attention span of an adrenaline junky so just standing was making me impatient.

Iceland Glacier Hike 12

Which was followed by a crawl into a glacier cave

Iceland Glacier Hike 13

Good thing Tony and I are small because that cave had a lot of small and tight places we crawled through.

Iceland Glacier Hike 14

I looked pretty happy in this photo right?  Yea that was before Tony pushed me into the puddle in front of me.  As I mentioned before we had a large group and I had 5 people in front and like 10 people behind me blocking my exit which suddenly made me claustrophobic and I had to get out

IMG_7997

One of the many beautiful views I had in the glacier.  The blue tint of the ice is more visible in the winter than summer I think due to the cold.

Iceland Glacier Hike 15

Me looking slightly less excited after taking a swim in the ice cave pool.  Also walking like a cowboy isn’t pleasant when you’ve been wanting to pee for the past 4 hours.  If only us ladies had it as easy as men.

Our hike was with Iceland Mountain Guides and I’m not sure if I would recommend them.  The guides were wonderful but what our hike lacked was actual hiking.  I would have liked if our 4 hours included some more walking around instead of standing.  I’m not sure if it was because our group was so huge (20 people of various age and fitness level is a lot) or the short hours of sunlight but I feel like I could have handled something more challenging.  To be fair, the hike was marked as easy and I’m not sure if anything more challenging is available during the winter and within proximity to Reykjavik.

None the less when asked what my favorite part of Iceland was,  I would say the glacier hike.  Despite the lack of a challenge, there is something beautiful and amazing about being on a glacier covered in volcanic ash surrounded by valleys and snow-capped volcanoes.

Getting Fancy in London

So part of the reason we got to visit Iceland was because we were on our way to London for Tony’s company holiday party.  So we got to get all dressy.  I even had a power converter that almost worked with my hair-straighter (it got half warm). I also wore a pair of shoes that weren’t for running (that might have made me slightly cranky several hours later.)

The party was at the Caledonian, a party club for Scots.  It started with cocktail hour.

The first course was a tomato, basil and cheddar tart

Followed by a surprise that is haggis… what is haggis?

Yup… still want to see more?

Something like that of course requires a pallet cleanser

And then of course the main courses!

Fowl for him and salmon with seafood risotto for her

And as stuffed as I was, there’s always room for dessert.

After all the food, there was lots of traditional (Scottish?) dancing.

Ever been to a unique traditional dinner?

Ever try haggis?

Iceland Golden Circle – Thingvellir National Park, Haukadalur Valley and Gullfoss

Our second day in Iceland was cold of course but worse of all wet and winds at over 30 MPH at the less windy areas.  Needless to say a glacier hike was out of the question.  Instead we opted to drive around the “Golden Circle” a popular loop from Reykjavik of at least 300 KM.  A good amount of driving, especially on potentially icy roads

Pretty and Icy as we went up and down the mountains.  It pretty much snowed until the white cloud turned suddenly into pitch dark.  I squirmed a little as my limited knowledge of weather made me think we were in some kinda eye of a storm. Surely Iceland would warn us if a tornado was coming…

Our first stop was Þingvellir (Thingvellir in English) National park.  I mentioned how the Iceland people were the first to have a parliament in the world in 930 before it was all trendy and such.  Vikings held annual parliament meetings around a rock formation to amend laws and create new ones as the valley made for some great acoustics

Þingvellir is one of only TWO places in the entire world where you can see two of the earth’s tectonic plates meeting above the earth’s surface (the other is in Africa). The North American and Eurasian plates jut up out of the ground here in Þingvellir, moving apart roughly 2 cm per year. Although I’m not too sure at which point this rift was at as we didn’t hike for very long and reading the posts were extra seconds in the wind I wanted to avoid.  It was freezing rain  with various patches of black ice on the trail at that point so we didn’t hike too long around the trail.  If I ever get a chance to come back to Iceland is less severe weather I would do a few longer trails Þingvellir national park.  Even in crappy weather it was really beautiful.

Just because Iceland had a parliament doesn’t mean it was all peace on earth and goodwill towards all… You can guess what happened if you were naughty.  Thieves were flogged, guilty men were beheaded or hanged, sinful women were executed by drowning in the waterfall above, outlaws were banished, religious appointments were made, marriages were arranged, contracts were negotiated, old feuds were settled, matters of honour were decided by duels, and distant news were exchanged.  Society as we know it was being introduced.

The next stop many kilometers away (or so it felt as we took our time driving in our crappy 2WD) was Haukadalur Valley and the geysers! Interesting Wikifact, the word geyser comes from Geysir, the name of an erupting spring at Haukadalur,Iceland, which is where we were. That name, in turn, comes from the Icelandic verb geysa, “to gush.”

The wind and rain seemed to calm down so I had time to read some of the fun facts tables.  Guess where the biggest geyser is?  USA!  USA!

Strokkur is actually the highlight of the valley with explosions every 5-10 minutes.  I had trouble getting a photo so we tried to take a video.  Fast forward to 1;25 or so for the actually eruption.


Weird face much?

Next we stopped by Geyser which is the biggest one in the valley.  It’s been chilling, and taking a break since 2000.  It has a habit of mostly erupting after earthquakes but I still felt a littler nervous that it was going to erupt in my face.

An earthquake in 2000 revived the geyser and it reached 122 meters for two days.  thus becoming one of the highest known geysers in history. Initially eruptions were taking place on average eight times a day. By July 2003 this activity had again decreased to around three times per day. Currently, it’s been inactive for a while but I was still a little nervous.

The next stop was Iceland’s most famous waterfall Gullfoss!  Trying to get a peek or a photo of this site was a workout of its own.

I don’t know how strong the winds were to be exact but I know they were strong enough to shake our car as we were trying to park.  

After almost being blown off a cliff, I needed some chocolate therapy.  Luckily the shop selling crazy expensive furs and sheep hats also had a cafe for some hot chocolate.  

As we drove back in darkness we tried to look for some northern lights but all we saw were the eerie yellow glow of nearby towns.

We decided to take a break from the horse and whales for dinner and go with something familiar when we got back to Reykjavik.  Hot dogs!
Bæjarins beztu pylsur has been in business since 1937 and the name literally translates to the Best Hotdogs in Town!  A combination of beef, pork and lamb and a regular part of what seemed to be the Icelandic diet.  Every convenience store, kiosk, gas station, roadside stop, and eatery of any kind carries them.
We ordered two hot dogs “eina með öllu.”  A hot dog cost us a little over $2 and included ketchup, sweet mustard, fried onion, raw onion and remoulade, a mayonnaise-based sauce with sweet relish. There is an option to order one “Clinton style” with just spicy mustard.