Sunday, 30 June 2013

Weekly Round up

Tuesday 3 miles- check
Wednesday 5 miles with hills- check
Thursday 3 miles-check
Saturday 10 miles- check
Today cross-training (yoga)- check

Busy week or what!

Running this week had been a bit of a mixed bag. I'm finding the shorter runs for the most part easy but for the first time I was properly worn out at the end of my long run.

Thursday was really hot, which I can deal with, but also super humid; it felt like breathing through a thick cloth. I was soo hot and sweaty by the end of the run I took a little dip in the river. Puppy thought about joining me but this part was pretty deep. While he might dip his paws in he isn't quite ready for his first full swim.

This week for my long run I equaled my longest ever distance, 10 miles. The last time I ran that far was for a race in Dublin, the one that screwed my IT band up.
I headed out the door with no idea of where I was going to run. A snap decision later and I was off to a section of the riverwalk this side of Columbia. The road there is moderately hilly. So I figured a hilly run there, a nice flat section at the riverwalk and a hilly run back would make for a nice workout. 

I ran the 5k up to the park easy enough only stopping for traffic lights. A urgent pit stop left me thankful I'd incorporated the park (and its restrooms, TMI I know) into my route.

 Feeling better I ran alongside the canal on a nice flat paved pathway. I was completely tuned out most of the time thinking of random things, when I looked up and realized I was about a foot away from stepping on a large snake. I jumped, screamed like a girl, the snake reared back to bite; I maneuvered mid-air (a feat only possible with fear) and ran off like a maniac. Don't worry it was only a water snake, it's orange underbelly let me googleify (aka identify by google) easily. Non-venomous but I'm sure a bite or two would have still hurt like hell. Sorry but I wasn't stopping to take any pictures.

After that I finished my riverwalk section and headed home. I took a packet of Lemon and Lime flavored Sports beans after an hour with lots of water. Before that I was drinking my usual Ultima drink. Heading back having done 7 out of 10 of the miles my legs were quite heavy and the last mile they were absolutely beat. It's the first time in a long time that it was actual physical fatigue that took over and not just my head being a lazy git.

Guys read no further:
I'm pretty sure this can be blamed on a lovely monthly visitor which arrived about 2 hours before my run. How on earth do professional athletes race on those days. Besides tiredness,my back felt like it'd been beaten into submission. Lets hoping race weekend does not coincide with this curse. 

Sorry my posts have been a bit few and far between this week. Puppy decided that laptop cables are lovely to chew on. I had a little netbook which has now been replaced with an iPad. I love it 10 times more but typing is a bit slower until I get a keyboard. 
I'm now chilling out, well as much as you can around a puppy that requires constant watching. I did a yoga class earlier while the rain beat down outside. A nice relaxing end to the weekend.

 Hope everyone is ready for the 4th of July, looking forward to my second one in the US. I've signed up for a 4 mile race (Born in the USA) that morning, wish me luck!!

In store next week:
Tuesday       3 miles
Wednesday  5 miles
Thursday      3 miles
Saturday       7 miles (2nd step back week yay)
Sunday         Cross-train

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Mid-week Hills!

My mid-week runs are starting to get longer. 5 miles tonight. Due to run 21 miles in total this week, gulp! Tonight I decided to just randomly run, incorporating some streets I knew had a few long hills.

 I want to build hills into my longer runs to get used to running them while fatigued. I also want to run them continuously, catching my breath on the run rather than having a nice walking break after a big effort. Easier said than done.
I'm getting better, hills don't kill me quite as badly they did but they still kick my ass. I really have to work on my form for hill running. I think my current hill running can only be described as granny style; hunched over and wheezing. Instead I should have a straight back, with my head up and light strides. Something to aspire to and remind myself of as I hit a hill!

I found tonight's run hard for the first 3 miles as I constantly had a stitch. I ate too close to running and had too much protein with dinner. It's a fine balance for me, I can't run in the evening having not eaten since lunch time. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not my best self while hungry, so I usually eat as soon as I get home. That was late today as the puppy was in 'daycare' at his wonderful vet. 

I hit my best times mid run and held them until the last mile..must finish harder. My fastest mile was 8:32 mins, slowest 9:30, average 9:15. Not exactly Olympic standard but really good considering I felt like crap. Before you say I lie my Nike+ app is in km and it won't let me change it. I wish I was running 6:13 min miles, lol.
It's always nice to come home to my best supporter.....I always get a huge reaction to finishing my runs.
Where were you Mom?

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

It's all in your head!

Tonight I ran with a workmate and fledgling runner. She is embarking on a half- marathon training program.
She's so worried about being able to run the distances needed. She came out tonight and ran 3 miles with me, a distance she was convinced was beyond her. Granted she was more tired than me by the end but she wasn't dying. All she needed was someone to give her a little push and a distraction.

So turn of that voice in your head and run. We can do it!

Nice surprises

I came home the other day to this
My housemate and best human athletic supporter made me an awesome chart to log all my runs. How  can I forget to run with that on my kitchen wall. If you want to make one of your own, head over to her blog ( she's the arts and crafts one in this duo)

Thanks M you're the best :)

Monday, 24 June 2013

New toy!

I finally broke down and ordered myself a foam roller. My friend had one of these babies, which I tried out and thought was really good. 
I'm doing pretty good on the soreness scales but you know what they say prevention is the best medicine.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

A heavy heart!

Today I was gearing up for my long run and feeling quite intimidated at the idea of running 9 miles. I set myself up with some new socks (from target). My belt, one 8oz water, one Ultima Replenisher (Lemonade Flavor), and finally I get to try out my Jelly Belly Sports Beans (delicious). 

Knowing I was pushing it time wise, before darkness set in, I headed out the door.
Now for the sad part....
My neighbor was outside calling frantically for her dog. I was gonna go back and ask her about it but I'd heard her having a huge fight that morning with the guys that lived with her...I didn't want her to think I was nosy!  I set off resolving to keep an eye out for the dog. I didn't get very far before I heard her wailing. I looked back and she had opened up her truck. Straight away my heart sank, I knew what happened. The door of the truck had been opened all morning and into the afternoon. At some stage the dog had got in and not seeing him someone had closed the door. The poor thing was dead from heat exposure. I went back and checked him and tried to console her but there was nothing I could do or say, her baby had died. RIP Blue.

I've been reading Scott Jureks book, Eat and Run:My Unlikely Journey to Ultra-marathon Greatness, for inspirationHe talks about state of mind while running, especially a singleminded focus. Today my singlemindedness wasn't focused on my run, all of my thoughts were with that poor woman and her dog. Selfishly I also thought, frequently, how glad I was that it wasn't my little man in a car dead. So please please watch your dogs, especially when it's so hot, even thinking they are safe in the garden isn't enough sometimes!
I ran a couple of miles to the river walk, ran it to the end and then back towards the start on a parallel street. Ran this loop twice and headed towards home. By the time I got to 4 miles my knee started acting up, grr! But today I embraced the pain, better a bit of physical pain than pure heartbreak. Sweated literally buckets, thank goodness for electrolytes, see sweat drop below. 
Everything else felt really good, I guess my training is paying off and the drink and beans combo is working out so far. I got home with a mile and a half to go. I kept looping the block around my house until I was done, in the dark.

I still feel a bit down but nothing can be done :(

Thursday, 20 June 2013

All sorts of weird stretches

My iliotibial band is acting up again. I'm getting that horrible pain on the outside of my left knee. I'm sitting here aware of my knee (what a weird statement) when I shouldn't be.
I'm not gonna go to much into detail about this cause I'm not a physio. There is a lot of debate as to wether stretching can work on something like the IT band but I find thats what work the best for me. So for any other suffers here some youtube videos I found to stretch out the IT band

 and to strengthen the gluteus medius, the muscle who's weakness is thought to contribute to ITBS.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Half-marathon plans

Sooo in a little impulsive fit I signed up for a half-marathon. Its called Run with a Hero. I'm due to run one on the 21st of July for my training.
 This one is on the 20th . 
Honestly this race will either be brilliant or a disaster it really depends on how quickly they pull it together, not too much info available yet other than the course. I was originally planning to just go up to Asheville and run the planned half-marathon course there, to let me see what to expect for the marathon. Maybe for one of my later long runs I'll do that but I decided if I'm gonna run 13.1 miles for the first time in my life, I might as well get a medal for it. Plus it's for a good cause. Registration done... Hotel booked. Now onward with training.

This week: Week 4
Today         3 miles
Tomorrow   4 miles
Thursday     3 miles
Saturday      9 miles
Sunday        Cross train 

Waiting for some thunderstorms to clear before heading out. I'd rather not be electrocuted, thank you!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

A typical Saturday-Week 3 roundup

As usual this weekend seems to have flown by! The older I get the faster time in general goes...and the grey hairs multiply magically. Saturdays have a general order. Up at 7, puppy out and played with for a while. Weight Watchers and then out for breakfast. 
This week I finally bit the bullet and set my WW goal weight... Which I've already been at in the last few months. I was originally going to try for a lower weight but I'm just not getting there. Now I just have to get back to goal weight, 4.6 lbs to go. This has given me more incentive to watch what I eat closely. Instead of just relying on running to burn off any extras, I now have to hold myself accountable. I'm also trying to think of food more in terms of fuel, pure sugar is not gonna be enough to keep me going throughout the week. So any extras earned by running must be healthy foods. The extra 40ish dollars a month saved by getting a lifetime membership is also an incentive, especially if I can put it towards building a new wardrobe for what I hope will be a nice runners body by September.
After brekkie and a stop at a few shops (aka stores) I came home to wage battle with our badly overgrown lawn, lots of rain in the last week. Believe me when I say it put up a good fight. I was soaked in sweat by the time I was done...a few choice words may have been muttered throughout. Must not procrastinate on grass cutting. 
Then a nap, yes I said a nap, before run time. I stuck to the usual park for my run, a nice 5 miler. This week the long run was shorter as Hal Hidgon's program does step back weeks. These slightly easier weeks are designed to let your body recover before the next step up in mileage. The step back in miles was greatly appreciated. I finished 5 miles comfortably enough doing just under 10 minute miles. My knee hurt again this week towards the end of the run...but nowhere near as bad as previous weeks. Obviously, I still need to invest more time into stretching, particularly my IT band, but its getting better. I stretched out after my run and listened to some country music for a while as there was a band playing at the riverfront, who can complain when your two best friends are patiently waiting for you :)

I think I've been on a bit of a downer this week so on a positive note.... I'm really grateful for not only being able to run but the fact that its getting me outside so much. There are so many things I wouldn't have seen if I wasn't out and about on a run. For example I saw loads of fireflies the other night as it got dark, so pretty. I'm also slowly tanning, my legs are no longer glow in the dark white, all pluses. I'm sure I'll complain my way through my training, that's just me, but have no doubt I appreciate the fact that I have the ability, lifestyle, family and good friends to let me do this. 
Chilling out now with a sleeping puppy as I write this, before I go for an hour of yoga and then a swim to round of this weeks training. 

Yankz Sure Laces- Shoe Makeover

My sad old NB trainers could definitely do with a bit of jazzing up. They are on their last legs but I decided to go ahead and get a pair of new laces since I can't seem to tie regular ones. 
I got a pair of blue ones in a effort to not clash horrifically with my shoes. 

One Amazon purchase ($7.50) and a couple of days later, I had these bad boys, Yankz Sure Laces.

Thank goodness they came with instructions 
It was a bit fiddly to get the adjustments just right but I think I did it. My shoes now slide comfortably on and off my feet but still feel secure when on there :) 
Hmmm next pair of trainers will have to be blue....

Friday, 14 June 2013

Running short on sleep

You always read how if you run more you need to sleep more. I was never fully convinced of this. Sleep better yes, more maybe?
I am now fully convinced. I'm 3 weeks into my marathon training and I'm struggling a bit. Not with the miles but with everything else. I'm so tried I can't concentrate on anything.

Today is partially my own fault, I didn't run last night due to plans and storms. Instead I had a LARGE amount of wine at a friends housewarming. Bad move... my punishment is to sweat it out. But the rest of the week that's all on the running. I've been doing it in the evening and then ending up staying up late(ish) to feel like I have a life.

My goal for the next week is to manage my time better. Run in the mornings and go to bed earlier. This weekend I'll train as usual while trying to regroup with everything; food, cleaning and work...basically all the stuff I've let slide this week. 

My Thursday 3 mile run was completed tonight at a nice leisurely pace. It felt good, my legs are a little tight but nothing a good yoga session won't sort out. It's a bit weird to think of a 3 mile run as a quick jaunt in the this the start of a crazy marathon mentality? I was joined by my puppy for the last few hundred meters before we finished his walk....he is eventually (in a year or so, when he's fully grown) gonna be a running buddy for me!!!! 

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Sweet Victory

Four miles tonight and I did my fastest 5k in over a year. All I needed was some motivation  in the form of the park closing at nine. I'm still ridiculously slow but if I can consistently get back to that on shorter runs I can improve my times! It's the little victories that keep me going!!

URL change

So I've noticed a lot of the time my blog is not very searchable as my URL and name don't really match.

To change that the new URL is

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Heat & Hill Repeats

For me there is just something about working up a good sweat, you can't beat that feeling of having worked hard. Three miles were done in well over 30 degree heat this evening. I made sure to pre-hydrate with lots of water and brought along my usual belt with drinks for the run. I was lucky enough to have a run buddy this of my work mates and a recent 1st time marathoner.

We headed to a nearby neighborhood for some good hills. 60 seconds of hard running up and a nice jog back down. Probably not the most intense workout I've ever done, but if it prepares my legs for the pounding up and down hills I'll be doing all summer it can only be a good thing. I did find running up tiring (well duh) but on a positive note I recovered my breath and my heart rate dropped quickly afterwards ....guess my fitness levels are going up after all. I'm gonna try incorporate one hill session per week in some form or another.
Doesn't look like a hill..but it is!

One downside to all this running is that my hair is now a permanent frizzy mess. Normally I'm quite vain about my hair, despite not being the most girly of girls, but the idea of straightening it every single morning has me reaching for a hair band more often than not. Not noticing any improvement in my body so far, I guess I'll have to rely on the big hair to make me look smaller. Define increase in appetite tho...MUST NOT GIVE IN and eat everything in sight.

On the cards this week:
3 miles today---check
4 miles tomorrow
3 miles Thursday
5 miles Saturday (yay step-back week)

Future goal: There are some re-ah-eally steep hills on side streets near USC in Columbia around 500-800m long...if you live here you probably know the ones I'm talking about. I wanna be able to run start to finish up one comfortably at a run...not a walk, or a crawl..a run! Booyah!

Monday, 10 June 2013

Plans--Sports Beans

So as I might have mentioned before I like the idea of bringing a sugar/carb-free electrolyte drink running with me even on short runs, since I run in 25-35˚C heat and sweat a lot. As gross as it sounds, when you can feel a crust of salt on your face I think thats when you know these drinks are necessary. However, where does that leave you in terms of carbohydrates, so vital to fueling a run, especially on longer runs.

A bit of science (well I am a scientist): From my work on muscle aging during my Ph.D I had to learn a good bit about the metabolic system and in particular in relation to muscles. Our muscles make up most of our tissue mass and are also one of the biggest users and generators of energy.
Several forms of energy storage or use occur in the muscles: 
  • We have our blood-glucose, often the first to be used. 
  • We have glycogen stores that are broken down in our liver and circulated through the bloodstream to were the energy is most needed. 
  • Creatine and proteins associated with it stores and or releases energy as a sort of backup system within the muscles. 
  • Then we have fat stores which break down slower but we can train our bodies to be more efficient at this. 

Basically what most of this involves is the movement of a bunch of phosphate molecules from one protein to another to generate energy. When your body no longer has enough energy to use, thats when we run into trouble (excuse the pun!). 
So really all those energy supplements, fat burners etc. that are on the market, manipulate (or are supposed to) the energy systems within the body.

I really don't like taking any more supplements than I have to and for me the proof is always in the pudding (or this case performance). Anything that makes me feel weird is having too much of an affect for my liking. 

Generally I stick to electrolytes, post-workout protein...if I felt I worked out hard, and now some carbs for during a run. To me all of these make sense and don't interfere with the above systems in any crazy way or too directly. They don't supply anything that you wouldn't get by just eating salt/carb/protein rich foods...they're just more concentrated. 
Any reading I've done suggests that carbs just aren't necessary for any workouts less than one hour and sometimes even longer. Obviously for running a marathon you will need to keep your carb levels topped up to try minimise the impact of running out of energy stores, the point at which the dreaded wall comes into play, but for regular runs waiting until over an hour might make sense.

Instead of gels, which I hate, I'm going to run with Jelly Belly Sports Beans. They are cheap and come in a bunch of different flavors and are chewable. They supply carbs, electrolytes and some vitamins. They say to take one packet 30 minutes before activity and then take as necessary throughout exercise. They supply around 200 calories per pack and are flavored with fruit juices. To note (to help me remember too), you need to take these with water..electrolyte drink+electrolyte in the beans=too much electrolyte. I'm gonna experiment with these as my longer runs are getting past the one hour mark now. So for any runs 1 hour+ I'll see how these go. Will report back if I feel a difference or if they don't work out.

p.s feel free to contradict or add to anything I've said...I'm learning all of the time, this is all just my personal opinion 

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Week 2 Long Run and a Creepy Park

So with my mad skin calming back down, I was determined to get my long run done hell or high water.  I spent most of the day avoiding it by going shopping, having lunch etc. Once evening rolled around I knew there was no getting out of it.
Trying to go different places to do a long run without driving too far has left me scratching my head at times, especially on weekends when I'm not leaving Columbia. Yesterday I decided on Saluda Shoals Park. This park runs along a portion of the Saluda River in Irmo, I'd been to the conference centre before but never actually got to see any of the park.
NOT impressed, the person at the gate taking the parking fee was so rude and gave me no information, he didn't even offer a map! Driving around a one way system like a loon I finally found somewhere to stop. None of the trails were marked (paved or unpaved) but thanks to the wonders of an online map and gps, I found my way to what was on the map as the Greenway Trail. This looked pretty long so I thought I'd give it a go. Turns out it was less than 3 miles long so I ended up going to the end and back twice.
The trail ran along the river and there where areas where you could walk in towards the river and have a seat..being a good little runner I didn't do this so I ended up running on a paved trail that could have been just about anywhere.
The trail was also eerily empty, most of the parks in Columbia are full of people at the weekend. I probably met about 5 people in the hour and twenty minutes I was running. The only places that were busy were one or two grill areas (with loud music) and the water park (which looked like loads of fun). I also seen some people with kayaks so it seems like this is the place to go if you wanna paddle down the river, have kids or wanna party outdoors.
Regardless of being slightly creeped out, especially once the fog started rolling in, I struggled on. I was doing nicely until I hit about 4 miles. My right knee seized and brought me to an involuntary halt a few times. I stretched, I massaged my leg and eventually just had to grit my teeth and get on with it if I wanted to finish the run.
I had to use some serious ninja mind tricks on can walk when you run another 500m, now 1000m, on and on until eventually it loosened back up by itself. Until that happend I might as well have been climbing Mount Everest. I think I averaged around 2 mins a mile slower for the next two miles because of it and it was fairly sore for the rest of the run.
Another almost serpent sighting..someone hustled a rat snake off the trail about 30 sec before I got to that part, whew!
 I did it tho I finished it, long run number two done!! I'm hoping these steroids that I'm taking, for the allergic reaction I had earlier this week, will take down an inflammation in my knee too. I'm not sure thats such good thinking but if I have to take them anyhow...they might as well work on everything.
I drove the 20 minutes home and treated myself to a large ON Chocolate Flavored Protein Shake and an ice pack to help with recovery.

**I know I said at one point I want to make more vegan choices and I already am but I have a ton of this stuff to use up...I think it'd be more of a crime to just throw it in the bin now that I've bought it. When this carton is done I'll look into vegan alternatives such as Vega**

After finishing the shake we went to Gervais and Vine for some tasty tapas..huge portions I was stuffed! Promptly fell asleep on the couch about 15 minutes after getting home, I am getting old :)

Full agenda for today. Finally finally my last paper from my old job in Ireland was accepted for publication in a scientific journal. These papers will keep my career going so its super important. Today I have to do some corrections to the manuscript before it'll be ready to be sent back to the publishers. Yay...or not so yay, I don't really wanna work on it, blog = excellent procrastination. I also have some cross-training to do today. My knee is still kinda stiff so I was thinking a swim and some yoga if I can fit it all in as well as all the usual weekend errands!
Hope you are having a good weekend.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Who likes short shorts, my addiction to running gear

Its been quite the transition to switch from 3/4 or full length running tights to shorts...and by shorts I mean short shorts. Its taken a very large effort to push aside any thought of what anyone might think of my legs. I'm constantly bruised, covered in insect bites (which are huge since I'm allergic to them), I have stretch marks from loosing weight, I don't think they are very slim....this list could go on forever. 
But who cares, who actually gets to look at my legs for that long when I run. No one and if they look that hard they are pretty sleazy. The weather here necessitates them and I'll never have nice tanned legs if I don't take the plunge at some stage and step into some shorts.  So screw it I'll wear short shorts!!!

This is not helping my addiction to buying sports gear however. Its simply added another item for me to buy. I went to Dicks and bought quite a few pairs last week. As you can see I have enough gear to cover a Queen sized bed. 

A lot of these are some t-shirts I've gotten for races I've run. I plan to try hold onto all of them I can even when they've been worn out as a reminder that I've achieved things before that I didn't think possible. I've included a pic of some of my essentials. A ifitness belt (with slots to hold bottles), an ipod shuffle, Garmin watch and sunglasses of course (in my case prescription).

I also found these awesome little t-shirt scrunchies to hold up the sleeves of my old t-shirts which will stop me getting a farmers tan as we'd say in Ireland (tan lines). 

For a lot of my runs I also take my phone for safety..sometimes instead of my garmin and shuffle as I have a ton of run tracking apps on there. At the moment I'm going with Nike+ which is easy to use. Hopefully at some stage it'll stop being about the gear and I'll eventually just look like a runner!

7 mile run later today....update later!

Friday, 7 June 2013

If only my legs reacted as fast as my immune system!

Grr sometimes I think my body hates me. Its the second week of my marathon training and I've missed 2 out of 3 workouts so far this week. I got up really early on Tuesday, did the 3 mile run for that day getting a thumbs up along the way from some random stranger.

I rocked a presentation at work and was sitting down relaxing and playing with the puppy that evening when I noticed a rash on my legs. I looked further and it was literally all over my body from the knees as far my neck and shoulders. I might have freaked slightly but my roommate thought it might be heat rash so I popped an anti-histamine (don't worry with my insect allergy I keep a good supply) and took a cool bath.
The next morning it was worst despite the a/c being on full blast all night. I showed a workmate the next day, as they were more used to living in hot weather than I or my roommate. Low and behold, she said "we have to get you to a doctor". It turns out I was having a huge allergic flare up to something. I still haven't figure out what started it. Thank god for the super expensive health insurance work makes me get..I feel so sorry for the people who can't get basic medical treatment because it costs so much here.

I can run with this but I've elected not to for the last two days because the medication the doctor put me on (steroids and 2 different antihistamines) have left me like a space cadet. I'm pretty sure its because one of the antihistamines as it prescribed as a sedative...even writing this is requiring some fierce concentration. Not really compatible with running on roads where you have to watch out for crazy drivers. Plus I'd feel really bad out running when I can't even pull it together enough to go to work (I work in a lab being there in any way out of it would be asking for trouble).
I also now have to carry an inhaler everywhere with me (even tho I don't have asthma) as the doc is worried I'll get exercise induced asthma from running when my immune system is on such high alert.

I can't figure out if the doc was over reacting or if its really that serious...but I've had anaphylactic shock  before years ago and I'm not quite down for the miserableness of that, so I'm taking it easy. The rash flare up is taking it sweet time to go down..its all still there but less angry looking. Now that I'm not so scared, I'm angry about not running.

I am however determined to do my long run..I don't think overall I'll suffer for missing two days out of training but the long run might be a different story. I think I'll get up early first thing in the morning before I take any pills do it, then take the pills and relax for the rest of the day. So yes I'm going slightly crazy.......I just want to train!!!

Sorry for being so whiney but I'll be tougher once I'm better, promise :) BTW I always thought that injections in the butt wouldn't hurt so much, with all the padding...but they really do!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Table Rock State Park..between a rock and a hard place!

 I'm continuing to slowly explore South Carolina, camping at different parks to see what different parts of the state has to offer. Now I just have to incorporate marathon training into these adventures into the unknown.
So the three musketeers (myself, my roommate and my puppy) left Columbia on Friday afternoon having hastily packed the car with food, camping equipment and running gear. Quite an achievement considering how small my car is. We headed North-West towards Table Rock State Park in upstate South Carolina. Named after Table Rock Mountain this park sits on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
We arrived quite late but it was still bright enough to enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way there and to get our tent up. *The campsite was nice but the showering facilities left a lot to be desired especially compared to recent trips to other state parks.* Our nearest neighbors  were a bunch of girl scouts (or something of that nature), at this stage I thought the weekend was ruined. I mean no offense to girl scouts etc but I didn't want to listen to fifteen+ 8-10 yr olds scream/sing/bang on drums. Lucky enough they were kept in line by their leaders and were in bed pretty early.
S'mores were had

I still haven't got used to tent camping never having done it regularly before so I didn't sleep the best and of course the puppy wanted out at 4 in the morning. Rather than dread my long run all day and possibly flake out due to tiredness from the days activities I diligently started running at around 7:40 am. I finished some time after 9 am, I think I did 6 miles but it could be a bit more (or a hell of a lot more) since the GPS signal was non-existent for a good portion of my run. I just kept running until Nike+ app showed 6 miles on the screen.

I decided like a fool that it'd be a shame to run on the road when I'm in such a beautiful setting so I picked what was marked as an easy trail and headed off. The Carrick Creek Trail is 1.6 miles long and a lot of it is alongside waterfalls. Very scenic. Parts of it were too steep or too dangerous to run so I walked those portions (hey the long run is supposed to be slow and steady right!). Having not done a lot of trail running before, I now realize, this is perhaps something not to dive headfirst into. It takes a hell of a lot more concentration and uses sets of muscles road running doesn't (my ankles can attest to this).

Most of the way through the Carrick Creek Trail and I was finally getting the hang of this trail running. Its easy....BAM, I start daydreaming on a straight stretch and fall. How I tripped I don't know but I fell hard. Glasses off the face, sore hands and iphone on the edge of a steep drop off. Not good. When I came to my senses and had a quick look around to make sure nobody had seen me, I slowly and carefully rescued my phone. Further on a nice clear river was useful for an impromptu wash. Hoping my already bad knee was ok after a hard knock I heading onwards.
Lookin good!
Funnily I actually felt better after my fall, because I expected the run to be awful and something horrible had happened I felt like I could just get on with it. I finished the Carrick Creek Trail and also did a nice trail around the lake in the park. I ran around enjoying the view and headed back to camp. I think I did ok considering all the walking and the fact that it was on trails, the only thing that I wasn't happy with was my performance on hills. To me that is seriously scary because I'm heading towards a marathon in the freakin mountains. From now on I ONLY run hills...well I'll try for mostly hills.

I got back to camp, showered, had breakfast and hiked Carrick Creek Trail again with the other two. Everyone meeting us kept saying watch out for snakes..'I just seen two Copperheads just off the trail'. I was petrified for me and the dog....and to think I had happily run along these trails this morning not even considering that there might be snakes (stupid I know, but we don't have snakes in Ireland except in the zoo). That took most of the enjoyment out of it and my nerves were frayed by the end. We continued on anyhow to Caesar's Head State Park a few miles down the road. We hiked a nice easy trail to a overlook of Raven Cliff Falls and also saw a nice overlook of Table Rock Mountain near the visitor center. This time we did see snakes but harmless ones thank goodness. The views were spectacular and I felt much more relaxed when I realized we weren't going to die any minute.
Puppy Loving

Raven Cliff Falls

Sunday started off rainy, so after a lazy morning of reading we headed back to Columbia. Once the car was unpacked and everything cleaned, I headed to the outdoor pool for some cross-training. I even wore a bikini swimsuit...something I've never been brave enough to do before. With sore muscles and joints the low impact swimming was very welcome. This was my first time in an outdoor pool and I really loved it, I think I'll try do this at least once a helps that I can sneak in some post work-out sunbathing into the deal.

So that was pretty much my weekend. I hope yours was good and you got to spend some time in the great outdoors.