purple smoothie

I Have Big Plans

I have big plans…. for an awesome cooking update?! Ummm, no. What can I say? I’ve eaten Jimmy John’s no fewer than 6 times in the past two weeks. I’m in a post-vacation lazy-in-the-kitchen rut. Or maybe it’s a pre-back-to-work cooking-is-too-much-like-work state of avoidance.

At any rate, I do have big plans – for running. This week, I cross into what I consider the official “long run” part of my half marathon training plan. To me, any run longer than 5 miles is not-messing-around, and once you pass the 7 mile mark, it’s official: you’re running long. This week’s schedule has a big ol’ 8 miler at the end.

My big plans involve 2 things: checking out a new trail that appears to have minimal hills and restrooms & water fountains along the way, and adding a running-specific Camelbak to my arsenal of gear.

The trail is the Hawksbill Greenway in Luray, VA. It’s about 45 minutes north of me, but considering how miserable I was last fall running the local hills, I’ll endure the drive. It’s actually quite similar to the drive I used to do in Chicago to get out to the awesome Danada trails in Naperville. It looks like Hawksbill is somewhere between 3-4 miles long and is a combination of a looping trail and an out-and-back. Perfect. I love out-and-backs. The I&M Canal Trail spoiled me so much in that regard.

The Camelbak is an upgrade to the couple Camelbaks I already own. I’m not sure if the Camelbak Marathoner is a new model, or if I just didn’t do my research well enough a few years back when I bought my current model, but one of the most frustrating parts of racing with my standard Camelbak is that I have to unclip it and literally take it off in order to access the storage pouch. When you need to eat some beans or gels during a race, that’s just not acceptable. It really slowed me down and drove me crazy during my last 2 long races, not to mention all of the long training runs leading up to the races. (Honestly, I tended to use it as an excuse to stop and sit down for a minute while taking the pack off to get to my fuel… bad, bad, bad!) The Marathoner is more of a vest than a backpack, with storage on the front straps for easy access to fuel. It’s not cheap at a cool hundo, but I had a $50 gift card to spend (huzzah!).

I’m also going to be trying some new fuel, one that did not exist last fall – Vega Sport Endurance Gel. I was already a fan of Vega Sport; they’ve discontinued the energy drink I used to use as my pre-long-run fuel, but it looks like there’s a new (and much fuller) line of endurance products now. My local Friendly City food co-op had the gels in stock, so I grabbed a couple to try out this week. They’re whole-food gels – plant based and all natural, with no HFCS or maltodextrin. Since I’m a pretty darn slow runner (even slower this time around, as I’m focusing on heart rate training instead of speed), I need to refuel during shorter distances than some runners. This 8-miler is going to take me somewhere around 2 hours, since 6.5 miles took me 1:36 last week. They say you should refuel every 30-45 minutes for workouts lasting more than 75 minutes, and I tend to err on the side of caution these days when it comes to fueling. Bonking is no fun.

So, those are my big plans! I’m going on a big long run. Wish me luck!

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