First Training Week of the New Year

The new year is an opportunity for a fresh start and often, some awesome running. This year has been different. The problems of 2018 have dragged on and are greatly affecting every aspect of my life  including my running. In the new year, I should have felt that extra push to train and make 2019 the best, but with only one week in, it’s been hard and messy.

My husband works for a nonprofit that receives funding from the National Science Foundation. With the current government shutdown, we don’t know when his paycheck is going to dry up. We are heading towards uncharted territory and I have never been one to do well with that. Since his insurance is cheaper and better, we are both on his company’s plan making our healthcare one of the many things up in the air right now. And it seems like there is no end in site.

It’s hard to run and exercise when you are exhausted from the stress of a difficult situation such as this. I find myself moving slower, wanting to stay in, and generally allowing any excuse to be the one that has me skip a run. I am no stranger to anxiety and I need running for this very reason, but it is often the first thing to go when my life gets turned upside down.

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Beautiful snow on Monday’s run

This was my training last week:

Monday: 9.1 miles along BST trail in snow (~1800 feet of gain)

Tuesday: 6.5 miles up Grandeur Peak (~2500 feet of gain)

Wednesday: 7 miles up Millcreek Road (~1200 feet of gain) + Climbing

Thursday: OFF

Friday: OFF (Should have run)

Saturday: 12.5 miles on Park City trails (~1300 feet of gain) + Climbing

Sunday: Hiking and sledding for 4-6ish miles

Total Mileage: ~38 Miles and ~7500 feet of gain

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Frosted hair on Wednesday’s run

Overall, I feel deflated this week and I’m hoping for some good news in the next few days with regards to Frank’s job. Sydney (my cat) has been having some health issues but recently seems to have made a few big steps in the right direction. I’m glad to at least have that partially resolved.

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Park City sure is beautiful

My next two races coming up are Running Up for Air (RUFA) 24 hour and Zion 100. I feel like I’m not in the best of shape at the moment, but I’ll get back there, certainly by Zion. RUFA might be a bit of a slog which I’m prepared for. Since it will be mostly walking, I imagine it will be more of a mental battle than a physical one.

My goals for next week are to drink more water (I’m terrible at that) and do some more fast running. I need to feel my legs move.

Training Next Week:

Monday: 10-12 on road + climbing

Tuesday: 10 miles on hilly trail

Wednesday: 16 miles LSD on trail

Thursday: Climbing

Friday: Run/hike up steep terrain

Saturday: 6 miles road + Hiking

Sunday: 6-8 miles + Climbing

Thanks to HoHo Runs and Taking the Long Way Home for hosting the Weekly Wrap Linkup!

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How has your new year been?

 

A Look Back at 2018

Happy New Year Everyone!

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We all looked so cute for New Years Eve!

It’s the first day of 2019 and I’ve been logging the miles! It was a cold day out in the mountains, but I got my first peak of the year! As I leap into 2019, I wanted to look back at what I liked most about 2018. Here’s a quick look at my year.

Best Race: Squaw Peak 50

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Squaw peak is probably my favorite race I’ve ever run. It’s beautiful, wildly challenging, and you still get a full night of sleep (unlike Javelina Jundred). I also really enjoyed the 50 mile distance. The race itself was particularly well put on and the course was perfect. Although it does give over 10,000 feet of gain, it has a very high finishing rate and I attribute that to the awesome aide stations and volunteers.  And although I did lose a few toenails in the weeks following, the race gave me the confidence needed to finish my 100-miler in October.

Best Run: Kings Peak in August

At 13,527 feet, Kings Peak sits as Utah’s crown. It’s a fantastic 28 mile trail through woods, alpine tundra, and skree fields. I met up with the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers to run it on a crisp and cool day in early August. I went alone and wasn’t entirely sure that I should go, but once I got out on the trail, I met people at my pace and stuck with them. It was a wonderful day. The route took me about 8 hours, which is a moderate pace and never felt too difficult (except at the end while I was struggling over loose rock). I did have many fantastic runs throughout the year, but this one certainly stood above the rest.

Favorite Trail: Pfeifferhorn Peak via Red Pine Lake

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Red Pine Lake Trail as the fog rolled in

I had seen Pfeifferhorn from afar many times, but this summer was the first time I climbed it. It was a foggy day, unusual for Utah, but the conditions made the trail so much better. At the top, the fog cleared and we were able to see the Wasatch and the Salt Lake Valley. It was a beautiful route and a beautiful day. This is a trail that I’ll definitely do again this summer.

Most Used Gear: Salomon Pack

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Me in my trusty Salomon pack

I went through multiple pairs of shoes, many different socks, and even switched out my spikes and trekking poles. The one piece of gear that remained constant was my Salomon Skin pack. It never chaffed, never bounced too much or hurt my shoulders. Basically it did everything it needed to do.

Most Used Running Fuel: Run Gum

As anyone who knows me will know, I am a caffeine addict. I love coffee and tea. Unfortunately on a run, it’s not always so easy to get an extra boost when you need it most. While I was training for Javelina, I was looking for ways to take caffeine during the night, but not hurt my stomach. The Wasatch Running Company suggested Run Gum and I loved it! It comes in three different flavors, all of which are great. The little bit of sugar helps too and gives me something to look forward to when the miles get long. At Javelina, I never really felt sleepy and I largely attribute that to Run Gum.

Favorite Cross Training: Climbing

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Unless you consider hiking as cross training (my physical therapist does not), I have never really been very good about doing other things besides running. I manage an okay yoga practice, but when the miles get high, my yoga practice tends to suffer. This year I really tried to remain consistent at some sort of cross training and found that climbing really works. It keeps me strong and mildly flexible and helps a lot with the mentality it takes to finish long ultras. I’m still a considerably better runner than I am a climber, but I’ve had a ton of fun going out and sending some routes.

Total Mileage: 2,040 miles

Total Vertical Gain: 285,098 feet

What are some of your favorites from 2018?

Friday Five 2.0: 5 Favorite Trails to Run in the Winter

Today is Friday and I figured I’d give the Friday Five 2.0 Linkup a try. I’ll go ahead and tell you my five favorite trails to run in the winter. Thanks to Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for hosting the linkup.

Bonneville Shoreline Trail – As many miles or vert as I want

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View from the top of Wire Peak accessed by the Bonneville Shoreline Trail

This is my go-to trail that’s closest to my house and is probably where I get most of my weekly mileage. I can get in about any kind of run here. Mt Wire is along the trail if I want to cover a lot of vertical gain and plenty of miles in case I need a long run. The trail remains low enough throughout most of it to avoid snow and ice, even after the worst of storms. If it’s too snowy for the Bonneville Shoreline, it’s probably too snowy for any trail in the Wasatch.

Grandeur Peak Loop – 10 miles and 3200 feet of gain

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Beautiful views of the valley from the top of Grandeur Peak

The Grandeur loop climbs 3000 feet from a parking lot in the valley and comes back down the Church Fork trail in Mill Creek. If you run down the trail to Wasatch Blvd, you can loop the trail around back to the car. It’s only 10 miles, but it’s long and exhausting. It’s a really great loop if you need a challenging trail and a big climb. It can be done in almost any weather, although I would not want to take it on during a very bad storm.

Little Black Mountain – 8-9 miles and 2000 feet of gain

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View from the top of Little Black

Little Black rises up above the northern end of Salt Lake City. It’s not the biggest mountain, but when the temperatures drop, it’s a fun one to run. Normally in the spring and fall, I like to run it as a 14 mile loop, but in the winter, I run Little Black as an out and back to the peak. The trail can get a little icy at the top, and if it does, I’ll stop just short of the summit. It’s a great view of the Valley but is a gentle enough trail to allow for a fair amount of running both up and down the mountain.

Heughs Canyon Trail – 4.5 miles and 700 feet of gain

Heughs Canyon is great for a short easy day. The trail starts at the same trailhead as Mt. Olympus, but once Mt. Olympus really starts to climb, the trail splits off and levels a bit as it approaches the canyon and a waterfall. The trail is great in the winter except for the very end where it can get icy. Otherwise, the trail is fun, gives some pretty great views and is almost always fantastic regardless of the weather.

Pipeline Trail – Any Mileage up to 18 and little vert

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Every step leads to bigger and better views throughout the Pipeline Trail

The Pipeline is the flattest trail in the Wasatch. It starts in Millcreek Canyon and can be used to get to either Mt. Aire or to the Church Fork Trail up Grandeur Peak. The trail gives some great views of the canyon and can be used to get any mileage up to about 18 (unless you climb a mountain, where you could get much more mileage). Since the trail is so flat, there is almost no weather that will make this trail too snowy.

If you are ever in Salt Lake City or live in the area, check out some of these trails! Each offers awesome views and challenges, but are safe and fun for the crazy winter months. Thanks again to Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for hosting the linkup.


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What are your favorite trails around you? Where do you go when the weather gets bad?

Running in the San Rafael Swell: The Wedge Route

The state of Utah has the highest population per capita of ultrarunners in the country. It’s no surprise why, since many of the best long routes are right in our backyard. We are within driving distance to some of the most well-known ones, including the Trans-Zion trail, Rim-to-Rim of the Grand Canyon, and of course the Wasatch and Bear 100 routes. This weekend I completed an equally awesome one, although much lesser known, The Wedge. It’s a 21-mile loop along a giant canyon called the Little Grand Canyon. But don’t let the name fool you, it’s not very little at all.

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It’s not quite the right time of year for the route, and it had about 3 inches of snow throughout making it a little more of an adventure. The Wedge is only about 2 hours and 45 minutes outside of Salt Lake City in an area of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land called the San Rafael Swell. The Swell is more well known for climbing and canyoneering, although it does have a fair amount of awesome running routes.

Trail Stats

Total Mileage: 21 Miles

Vertical Gain: 900 Feet

Time: 3-5 Hours depending on pace and picture taking

Permits or Fees: None

I got a late start, heading out around 10:30 am. It was very cold (17 degrees) and I reluctantly got out of my car to head out on the trail. I knew with the snow the route would take a little longer than usual. I started at the Wedge Overlook (between campsites 9 and 10) and took the road about 5 miles out to the other side of the Wedge. From here, I just winded my way back to my car at the overlook.

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A fair amount of snow for the desert

Normally, the route is pretty easy with only about 1000 feet of elevation gain throughout, but with snow and icy conditions, it was a little tougher than usual. The route is on a well traveled mountain bike trail, so if you’re ever out there be sure to stay on the lookout for them. I took about 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the entire thing, but I did stop to take a lot of pictures.

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Big jaw-dropping views at every turn

It was a pretty awesome day on a pretty awesome route. I’m hoping to get back out here when the weather is a little warmer. The best time of year for this run is in the spring or fall when the snow is gone, but the desert hasn’t gotten too hot. If you’re ever in the area, I’d highly suggest making a short trip out to this gem. There are many variations of the route to either lengthen or shorten the run.

Squaw 50 Vlog Recap

Better late than never, right?

Sorry about my lateness! I made a vlog talking about the Squaw 50. Check it out and hear about running a 50-miler for the first time. It was a great race and I am so glad that I did it. Honestly, I am not-so-secretly planning my return next year. 🙂

Click “like” and Subscribe for more updates as I trail for the Javelina Jundred.

We are being robbed

There are many things that I absolutely love about living in Utah. Having the opportunity to run in the Wasatch is not lost on me at all. And to top it off, after living here for about a year now (that was fast), I have made some good friends that make Utah a fun place to be.

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Despite loving my home, sometimes it can be hard to live in a state with such blatant disregard for environmental conservation. I feel like I am constantly protesting some legislature and I am always getting emails from the Sierra Club about new problems. It’s depressing.  Even though this has little to do with running, I still think you should know what the Utah (and national) government has in store for this place. Keep in mind, this doesn’t just affect me. Much of the land in Utah is federal and protected by either the National Park Service or the Bureau of Land Management. This land is your land too.

The Fight for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments

National Monuments, much like National Parks, are managed by the Department of the Interior. Often National Parks start out as National Monuments, which generally have more minimal management and staff and less stringent rules about what can be done within the area. While a National Park may not allow grazing or hunting, often times National Monuments do. New National Monuments can be made through the Antiquities Act (started by Theodore Roosevelt) that allows a sitting president to declare federal land a new monument without the approval of congress. Many of our past presidents have done this, including Barack Obama, who declared the controversial Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah.

Utah has the Mighty Five National Parks (Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches) but also seven National Monuments and two National Recreation Areas, all of which are managed by the Department of the Interior. The National Parks alone amount for an estimated $1.7 billion in the state of Utah. We are a state that specializes in outdoor recreation and ecotourism.

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Despite the obvious economic benefit of Utah’s parks, the state and the federal government are fighting to reduce two of our largest National Monuments. On December 4, President Trump rescinded 85% of Bears Ears National Monument and over 50% of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in a proclamation that undid years of environmental progress. It is currently being fought in a legal battle between the Federal Government versus Patagonia (the retailer), REI, and the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (Hopi, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Navajo Nation, and Zuni Tribes). As of last week, leases for drilling became available for land within the previous boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase.

This fight should be important to us all. The federal government and the state of Utah stole land from every American and have shown no respect or regards for the wants and needs of Native peoples. Even if you have no plans to ever visit these places, this land has been taken time and time again from Natives, despite the many archeological sites within the monuments of ancient pueblans and tribes. When left without management from the Department of the Interior, Bears Ears National Monument is subjected to grave robbing of native sites, and now is open for drilling.

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Frank and I went to Bears Ears a few months back. What we found is hard to put into words. We went on hikes with towering cliffs, upon which were small shelters high up where I imagined no human could get to. Everywhere we went went we found the remnants of ancient cultures. It was a silent place, but it was as if we could still hear the people who once walked this land.

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I’ve also been to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, which is covered with slots so tiny, we could barely fit. These places are unique and special and worth preserving. Each of these photos were taking within the bounds of these precious monuments and these scenes are not hard to find, you just need to go for a walk (or a run).

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So, here I ask for help. Contact your local legislators about this and tell them that you do not support Trump’s overreach on our lands. Donate to the Native American Rights Fund. Donate to the Sierra Club. They are making a huge difference in this fight. This is not my fight or Utah’s fight. This is everyone’s fight.

I’m Becoming a Mountain Runner!

It’s not every week that you have a really great training week, so when you do, you can’t take it for granted. This week was certainly a special one. I managed 56 miles of running/hiking and about 10,000 feet of vertical gain. I did every mile on trail and either in the Wasatch or at Antelope Island (a local state park out in the middle of the Great Salt Lake). My legs are exhausted, but in tact and I am thrilled with my progress.

Monday: Off – Chilled out. Watched The West by Ken Burns with Frank after work. 

Tuesday: 7.2 miles with over 2500 feet of vert

This was a fun run up a mountain north of town called Wire. My friend and I tackled it as fast as we could (it took us like 48 minutes to get to the top). It’s a brutal climb straight up about 1.8 miles to the top. Then you get to the best part, the gradual downhill that starts by climbing along a ridge and finally a single track path back to the car. It was a fun night!

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Awesome ridges! 

Wednesday: 13.2 miles with about 1400 feet of vert

I didn’t have time to get my long run done over the weekend, so I hit up Mill Creek Canyon after work. I took it slow and meant to only do 11 miles, but after some poor running math, I ended up doing a little over 12. I tacked some on at the end since I was so close to the half marathon mark.

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My mountains are so pretty!

Thursday: Off – More Ken Burns… Frank and I are an exciting bunch. 

Friday: 7 miles with 800 feet of vert

Frank and I decided to camp out at Antelope Island State Park. I love running out there since the trails are much more gradual and runable than most of the Wasatch. Frank came with me on his mountain bike and took some rad shots of me running as the sun was setting.

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Oh and there we bison too…

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Saturday: 15.7 (running and hiking) with 2000 feet of gain

I ran in the early morning about 6 miles on the Island again. I took it fast and hard and it felt great to really get my legs moving. Afterwards, I hiked with Frank and a few friends to Elephant Head. Basically, it was a perfect day.

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Sunday: 13.8 (running and hiking) with 2900 feet of vert

I got out early on the Pipeline Trail with my friend. We took it slow, since my legs basically felt like jello. Afterwards, Frank and I hiked into an icy canyon and turned back after 5ish miles. Then we watched more Ken Burns documentaries.

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Elly gets real comfortable when we watch movies.

This is the best week of running that I’ve had in a long time. I’m feeling tired, but strong and uninjured. I’m incredibly thrilled that I was able to take this kind of load and it gave me a lot of courage going into the next few months of training for Squaw 50. Mileage is usually not the problem for me, but maintaining that kind of vertical gain is ridiculously hard. But after this, I feel like I can really cut it as an ultra runner out here in Utah. Next week I am backing off considerably and taking it pretty easy. Recovery week, here I come!

Training and Mountains to Climb

I had a really good week of training! I hit about 6000 feet of vert over 40 miles of running and 8 miles of cross country skiing. It felt good and it was awesome to get out and ski a bit. Despite the rather mild winter we’ve been having, it was a really great time!

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Skiing in the Uinta Mountains

I am not a particularly good skier, and spent a substantial amount of time on my butt. Most of the first 4 miles were uphill, which meant the 4 miles back were all downhill. I took a few good falls (by a few, I mean like 10), but check out this video of me really owning that downhill!

I got a long run in of just 12 miles. I am still working up to the longer mileages for this training cycle. The real problem I am facing is that in order to get the vertical gain I need, I have to run on trails. And that just takes so much longer. While heading up some of the bigger peaks around here, I end up hitting 25-30 minute miles. It’s just impossible to get really long runs in like that. I may have to start doing the longer days on road.

This week my goal is to hit 10,000 feet of vertical gain. In order to get that done, today I went up Mt Wire, a rather knarly peak on the north side of town.

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Mountain running is tiring business.

It was definitely a difficult trek. I clocked over 2000 feet of gain in the first 1.8 miles of the run. It was hard and my calves burned, but the view at the top was certainly worth it.

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My playground!

From the peak, my friend, Dan, and I ran along the ridge to another peak called Red Butte. I always struggle with ridges and I get pretty scared on the thinner ones. We took it slow and steady.

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Ridge running along Red Butte

As we were coming down, we got some cool sunset views. When it comes to scenery, Utah doesn’t disappoint.

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Beautiful sunsets

So far so good for the week.

Also, I am officially signed up for Squaw 50-miler, which has 14000 feet of gain, so I better get to it! I am certainly getting nervous about this race. Luckily I still have over 5 months of training to go. I’m really not sure what to expect or how to train for it. Honestly, my main goal is to just get to the start line with no injuries.

Oh and here’s a selfie with Elly!

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We love each other.

Have you ever hiked/ran up a mountain? Do you like trail running or road running (I love both)?

A skipped run but a good night

Tuesdays are usually a pretty good day for me to get a good run on trails in. I start work at 6:00 am, so I get out of the clinic pretty early. Generally, I like to hit the trail right after work, but this week I was just too exhausted. The toll of waking up at 4:30 am and upping my mileage is catching up with me. I decided to head home to eat and found myself falling asleep on the couch. I was sore and just not really feeling it, so I decided to just skip my run.

I’ve always been a bit of an injury prone runner, so I try to listen to my body and stop before injury starts. When I’m tired or overworked, I don’t get too bent out of shape over skipping a run here or there. Although today made sense for a nice run in the mountains, it simply was not the right thing for my body. If I lack the motivation to get out the door, I try to take that as a sign that maybe I’m a little overtrained or that I need a rest day. Today was definitely one of those days.

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Elly and I had some much needed cuddle time.

Instead, Frank and I used our new projector to watch Planet Earth II. We don’t have a TV and have always walked movies on the computer. However, we thought it would be nice to get a projector and watch movies and shows on the wall. Turns out it works great! Even Elly found watching movies on the big screen to be quite an improvement.

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Elly is very interested in the animals of the jungles of Brazil.

Frank and I are pretty big nerds about our TV watching. We’re in the middle of The West by Ken Burns right now. It’s a series of documentaries about American colonization and immigration to the west. It’s a pretty slow show, but I’m always excited to hear about Utah and how Salt Lake City came to be. So far Brigham Young and his followers have only been mentioned once, but I expect that there will be a whole episode about the Mormon pioneers. Utah has a rather fascinating (and brutal) history.

After watching Netflix on our new projector, I did some photo editing and read a bit before heading to bed. I’ve been in the middle of a book about the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park. It’s a fascinating story of management and biology and I feel like I’ve gotten a much better appreciation for the hard work the Department of the Interior has put into keeping our parks as pristine as possible. If you’re interested here is the link to the book. And yes, I am very obsessed with National Parks and the West.

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I took this shot last weekend just after a storm passed through the mountains.

Despite a skipped workout, I still had a good night. I have 8 miles on trail up for tomorrow and hopefully my legs will be feeling much more up for the job.

Do you ever skip workouts/runs because you are tired or overtrained? What shows and books are you into right now? Have you ever sat through a Ken Burns documentary? 

Weekly Training Update: Jan. 15-21

Hey there!

Last week was a little crazy. I went running in shorts on day, got snowed in the next, and ran in a winter wonderland the following day. It was certainly a week of extremes. I started the week with a small cold that kept my running easy and chill. Due to my sickness and the weather, I ran a little less than I would have liked.

Instead of going through every single run, I’ll just write about the week overall. I managed to get on the trails a few times and got 3,196 feet of elevation gain. Most of that was two runs where I ran on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST), one of my favorites in town.

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I get some of the best views of the valley on the BST.

Unfortunately, I really wasn’t feeling good until around Friday. Most of my miles included lots of snot and I spent the whole week exhausted. I am, however, pretty happy that I got it done. I did get some extra rest on Saturday. It snowed most of the day and I didn’t really want to take on the storm. Instead, I went for my long run on Sunday in some beautiful conditions and also did a few rounds on a local cross country ski course. I’m definitely feeling pretty sore today.

Highlight of the week: My long run on Sunday following a rather epic snowstorm. I went 12 miles on some of the paved bike trails. The mountain trails looked pretty bad, so I figured I’d try and hit some of the hillier spots in town. It was absolutely beautiful and couldn’t have been a better time to be out.

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It was a rather beautiful day.

Total Mileage: 35.5

Total Vertical Gain: 3,196

I ran less than I had intended to, but overall, I had a good week. I’m also feeling a lot better, which will hopefully set me up for some much better training this week. I am hoping to run at least 40 miles and get at least 5,000 feet of gain. Should be doable.

How was your training? Did you get any snow?