Friday, September 26, 2014

Getting Out What You Put In

As a socially shy, somewhat introverted person, I find embarking on a new endeavor extremely intimidating, especially on my own. I will be the first to admit I am terrible at meeting new people and introducing myself. For a long time, I've struggled with just wanting to fit in and be accepted, worried that I'll do or say the wrong thing. It's an insecurity thing...but I'm recognizing it and while it's not going to go away overnight, I've gotten better about being more confident in myself and trying to let go of so much of my worry over what other people think.

(What is this, Friday Confessionals?)

Anyway, that's just a bit of background of me that is relevant to the topic at hand, which is getting started in a new sport/activity/venture/whatnot. Ahem.

So this past Wednesday, I participated in my first group trail run, organized and hosted by the same folks (Aravaipa Running) that put on the 7k I did, and next month's runs I'm signed up for. It's a weekly "open run" that invites people of all levels to come and run for an hour -- distance varies on experience level, and the location rotates weekly. This week, the run happened to be fairly close to me -- about as close as any real trails are -- so that took away my "don't want to drive the distance" excuse. So I signed up.

Read the first paragraph of this blog entry, and you can probably figure out my train of thought. "Oh, what am I doing? I'm going to be the slowest, most pathetic person there. I'm going to be surrounded by a whole bunch of experienced people who are way fitter and faster, and I'm going to hold the group up, and why am I doing this???" Staying anonymous and in the shadows would be easier -- who actually holds people to Facebook RSVPs anyway? -- so as a way to hold myself accountable, I posted a "Newbie Alert!" message on the Facebook group, letting people know that I'm slower than a herd of turtles in peanut butter, brand-new to this trail running thing, and rather nervous about my first group run.

If I go on the offense with advanced notice of all the things I'm going to do wrong, at least they have a heads up, right?

Responses I got were all positive and encouraging. The "Fun" Group -- what would otherwise be called the "slow" or "beginner" group, but they put a positive spin on it -- was touted as the place to be, so I headed out the door Wednesday evening, still nervous, but also excited. I'm not much of a groupie...but left to my own devices, I am a complete social hermit, and also a somewhat lazy runner, so I figured the motivation of going to new trails and staying with a group will be good training for me and my future running plans, and it'll also help me be more social and interact with people in a positive, fun environment.

By the time I got to the trailhead, there were a dozen cars there, and people starting to cluster together. Running shoes, GPS watches, hydration packs...yup, I'm in the right place. I used the few minutes that it took to park and get my stuff (headlamp, water, phone) to gather my wits, scope out the setting, and start making my way over to the group.

This is the hardest part for me. I'm not good at initiating, and the socially insecure part of me wants to huddle back and be a wallflower, and wait for someone to notice me. I think, if my expectation had been having the red carpet rolled out for me just because I was a new face that showed up, I would have been sorely disappointed. Groups like these probably get new faces showing up every week -- and many that probably never return. In a brand-new environment like this, people don't know that I am shy and reserved. They're not mind-readers -- to them, someone that isn't initiating or making an effort to be a part of the group may be stand-offish, or giving the impression they don't care to be a part of what is going on.

You get out what you put in. For me, at least, this means having to make that first move, which is, at the very least, intimidating. (Apparently this is also Psych Eval Friday.) As I approached the group, I had scouted around for what looked like a friendly face and found one. Maybe it was a case of two newbies gravitating towards each other, but after I introduced myself, she also said it was her first time running with the group.

She was very nice -- a recent college grad who had just moved here from the east coast, looking for the social aspect of running and meeting people in a new area -- and we spent some time chatting. More people started showing up, then the run leader came over to meet the new faces. He welcomed both of us, then gave a brief rundown of the distances/approximate speeds each group was planning to do. Funny enough, where we had clustered was right where the Fun Group was gathering, so that was a chance to meet the woman who would be leading the fun group, and start talking with a few other people who were gathering around.

The run itself was a blast. As advertised, the Fun Group was exactly that -- fun, energetic, encouraging. I was not the slowest one there, and even if I had wouldn't have mattered. No judgment on anyone or anyone's pace --- just enthusiasm for the fact that we were out there. Even a missed turn at a 'Y' in the trail that netted some of us a slightly longer reading on our GPS was met with a laugh and cheers of "Bonus miles!"

After the run, a group invasion of a nearby restaurant is held and all who can make it are welcome. I figured that would be a good way to further participate in a group setting, and food/drink tends to be a good icebreaker. It was a ton of fun -- I sat with Sabrina, who had led the Fun Group run, and chatted with her quite a bit. I felt very welcome and included, to the point where I have decided that I will be doing the group runs weekly, even if I have to drive a bit. (If people from Phoenix could drive out to Mesa, I can do the's only once a week. And with luck, maybe I'll find someone in the group who lives near me who might be willing to carpool.)

(A funny aside: When I completed the 50 at Man Against Horse in 2009, I sort of bemoaned the fact that the first place runner had finished like three hours ahead of me. [Even taking into account the almost two hours of mandatory horse hold times and no mandatory hold times for runners, that's still over an hour faster than Mimi's four hooves traversed the course.] Turns out that first place winner was Jamil, the group run leader and one of the Aravaipa Race Directors. Small world.)

photo snagged from the Aravaipa Group Trail Run
Facebook page...dusk on Wednesday night's run

Reflecting on this got me thinking back to the last time I was embarking on a new endeavor: My first AERC ride. I had come out of the NATRC world, so at least had the "distance riding" experience...but there's not a ton of crossover between the two organizations here in the southwest, so knew no one going into endurance. Going into NATRC, I had ridden on my dad's coattails of meeting people -- he's a naturally social extrovert who can talk to anyone, so I sort of hung back, messed with my pony, and let him break the ice.

My first AERC ride, it was me and the pony. Dad drove/crewed...but it was just me and the little white mare traipsing around camp, checking and vetting in, and on the trail. It was my show, so to speak, and it was on me to step up and say "Hi, I'm new here."

The first person I met at my first AERC ride (Man Against Horse 2005) was someone I still ride with today -- Lancette. She was a friendly, welcoming smile as she pointed out a good place to park and the general lay of the land, and again the next morning as she passed me just a couple miles into the ride, making sure I was doing okay. To this day, she is still a friendly, welcoming smile who is now loaning me horses, making sure I'm still able to get some good saddle time and trail miles in, and someone I consider a good friend.

I don't know if I've just been extraordinarily lucky to have had such positive introductions to breaking into new settings? I know I'm grateful that is has been so positive and welcoming...but I also don't think it just happened that way. For me, at least, I feel like I was proactive in setting myself up for success...

  • Embrace the newbie status. I am an endless researcher and information gatherer. When I go into something, you can almost guarantee I've spent countless hours on the internet, scouring resources and finding out ahead of time as much as I can about what I'm getting into. But once I'm there, I am the newbie who knows nothing. The best knowledge and experience comes from doing, so until I've actually done something, I'm going to keep my mouth shut, no matter how much research I've done and how much I think I know, and learn from those around me who have done.
  • Low expectations (of yourself). I came into endurance with years of riding experience on my side...but the ability to execute a perfect equitation pattern doesn't mean jack-all when your pony has just run through a prickly pear and is spinning circles around you as you try to remove the needles...
    • I figured we could finish our first 25...and that was my only goal. Just finish in time and both of us in one piece. (Surprise, that ended up being the fastest I've done that particular ride.)
    • My realistic goal for the 7k was just to finish and not break myself.
  • Low expectations (of others). I don't mean that in the harsh, cynical way of "If you expect nothing from people, you'll never be disappointed." What I mean by that is I don't expect to be treated "special" just because I'm new. Basic courtesies are appreciated, and anything beyond that is bonus points.
    • What got me thinking about this specifically is the topic of discussion that comes up on endurance newbies "not feeling welcome." Playing devil's advocate for the side of the experienced people: New people come into a sport or activity all the time that don't stick with it. It is draining and disheartening on the experienced people to invest in someone who may or may not be committed to the sport.
      • People have been friendly and welcoming to me in NATRC, and endurance, and trail running. But in both NATRC and endurance, I noticed a shift in people's attitudes after a season or two -- I had put enough time and rides in to prove myself, that I was dedicated and I was serious, so now it was "safer" to put some of their mental time and energy into me.
      • I am fully anticipating the same thing happening with the trail running. Right now, I am a neon green newbie with nothing other than my word to say "I'm serious about this." Actions really do speak louder than words, so I know it will take showing up at practice runs, putting in the training time, and toeing the start line of races to prove this isn't just a passing whim.
    • Time and place. In a competitive race/ride setting, there is a lot going on. Very experienced people often have a lot going on with preparation, or are mentally keyed in to their own prep, so use discretion about when to ask a thousand and one questions. I know  people personally who are as nice as can be outside of a ride setting, but get very intense on ride day - it's nothing personal, they just may not be the best person to consult as an on-site mentor. Same with management -- on event day, they are juggling more balls in the air than they can count, and probably half a dozen crises on top of that.
      • If you're very fortunate, you will have a mentor that has taken you under their wing and will advise you along the way. If not, try to research and find things out ahead of time. Some rides are now offering a "new riders briefing" that follows after the standard ride briefing, as a way for new riders to ask any questions that weren't covered in the regular briefing.
        • Here's something I noticed...blogs and bloggers are a good way to get information. Most of us bloggers write down our ride stories because we like relating our experience and are probably willing to talk about it. Question? Search out ride stories on a particular ride and post a comment. While I am in no way an official mentor, I am always happy to answer any questions I can that people post or email relating to endurance, a particular ride, trails, hoof boots, or whatnot. (See my little "Ask me about Endurance Riding" graphic on the sidebar?)
  • If you're like me, and your default setting is "social wallflower": Take the first step. (Again, this is the hardest one for me!) Don't assume people will know you're shy -- maybe they are, too. Or they just figure you're not interested in talking to people. Specialized settings -- like ridecamp or a trail run -- that cater to a specific activity are my favorite settings, because it tends to provide an automatic icebreaker of subject matter to talk about and get a conversation going.
Well, that went way longer than planned...and deeper into my own personal psyche than I usually provide on here. Doing more running is giving me a lot of think time, which in turn tends to result in blog posts...which I hope provide at least some food for thought somewhere along the way. The fine print disclaimer on all of this, of course, is that it has just been my own personal experiences...Your Mileage May Vary. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

riding and running crossover

My Google calendar is starting to look very interesting -- and colorful. Potential endurance rides (if I can bum a horse) are marked in teal. Trail races are marked in lime green. Work stuff in orange, any other personal stuff in purple.

Of course a lot of those teal and lime green marks are splashed across the same date. Of course. OTOH, having trail runs on my calendar keeps me from doing too much teeth gnashing during yet another "off" cycle of my on-again, off-again endurance riding career. And I have to say, I'm really enjoying diving into the deep end of my new-found trail running pursuit.

Coming into endurance, I only experienced the mental uncertainties and frustrations of embarking on a new horse endeavor. I wasn't a new horse person, and I always had my riding and horse handling skills to fall back on and validate me. I know that if I had been new to horses and taking up distance riding at the same time, it would have been that much more difficult, frustrating, and intimidating.

Enter trail running. Running -- on a regular basis -- is definitely new to me. I'm participating in my first organized group trail run tonight -- and I'm definitely nervous. I already posted on the Facebook group a "newbie alert" and the responses I've gotten have been very welcoming, but I can't help but worry that I'll be the slowest or worst runner there. I know we all have to start somewhere, but being in this position is giving me even more empathy for the new, green endurance riders just starting out.

Regular running may be a new thing for me, but there are definitely elements of trail -- and ultimately ultra -- running that I believe will crossover nicely with things I've learned from endurance riding.

-- Mental discipline. This is is high on the list. You don't get through any kind of endurance sport without it. Riding back-of-the-pack has taught me the value in pacing, controlling race brain, and not going out too fast. The longer the distance, the more time you have.

  • One of the reasons I'm looking forward to moving up in running distance is the idea of more time. I'm doing this for enjoyment, so I want to be able to pause and take in the scenery, or taking a photo. It also allows a pack of runners to spread out and have alone time -- my only complaint about the 7k was it was too short in that I never got that space bubble, and needed to keep moving lest I get passed by all the people I just passed on the uphill.

-- Body awareness. I've learned, through saddle time, how to identify what to push through, discomfort-wise, and what means "stop now before you break yourself." Running will be a different set of muscles, joints, and aches, but the theory remains the same.

-- Food/drink tolerances. I've learned what I do and don't like when my body is working hard.

  • I hate Honey Stinger gels, but love the lemon-lime chews. 
  • GU Chomps are my least favorite chews -- hardest for me to chew, and have some weird aftertastes. 
  • Gels are okay as a last resort, but I do best with real food. 
  • I'd rather have meat and cheese slices than a whole sandwich. 
  • Powerade is better than Gatorade, and both need to be cut with water. 
  • Succeed Amino and Clip2 are my favorite sports drinks out there. 
  • Succeed S!Caps are my favorite electrolytes.
  • Eating too heavy of a meal too soon before an activity isn't good -- but once I'm doing that activity, food is good.
  • Too much sugary stuff doesn't help me. Real food.
  • Chocolate tends to make me queasy.
  • Ginger settles my stomach.
-- Gear similarities.
  • Kerrits IceFil shirts make great running shirts. And tech race shirts likewise will be good riding shirts.
  • I suspect, come winter, my riding tights will double as running tights...just ignore the knee patches. (The same can't be said for running tights -- they all have inner seams.)
  • My current trail running shoes are also really good for riding. Ultimately, I don't know if I will end up still using them as exclusive run shoes as I increase the miles...but it's nice to know they'll work "well enough" to be a crossover ride and run shoe so that I can comfortably get off and run with the horse. (I can't run in Ariat Terrains.)
  • I'm just as fussy about carrying stuff for running as I am my packs on my saddle. (I'm a complete PITA about this.) I have a water pack, a waist pack, and a handheld...I suspect, like with my saddle, I will use multiple configurations for different purposes.
    • For LDs, I can get away with large front packs and boot bags. 50s, I have to either add a pommel pack or add a personal water pack.
    • Running, my plan is:
      • Handheld for runs that are 1-hour long or less, and when I'm running alone. When I run with Artemis, I need to carry water for her as well, plus I need my hands to hold her leash.
      • Hydration pack for longer runs or runs with Artemis. I can fit a 50-70oz bladder, plus two 10-oz bottles in my running pack.
      • Waist pack for walks only. Pressure on my abdomen over an extended period of time while jogging tends to give me cramps and/or GI tract complaints. The most I can comfortably carry is a tiny waist pack with my phone/keys.
  • Outdoor/camping gear -- tent, sleeping bag, everything-under-the-sun-should-I-need-to-camp.
  • Already have a stack of good sports bras.
  • Already well acquainted with foul weather and gear that works (or doesn't).
  • Already know merino wool socks are my best option. (And have a number of pairs.)
I'm eager to pick the brains of people much more experienced than I am...I have some race goals in the back of my mind of races/distances I would like to aim for and find out if that's just way too ambitious, or just crazy-but-doable.

It might be on my own two feet rather than four hooves, but at least I've found a way to get out there on the trail.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Blog Hop: Why Did You Start?

Mel linked to an article of "Why the Heck Some Good Runners Started Running in the First Place". I won't spoil it, but it's a good read -- and some of the reasons are definitely not what you would expect!

The blog hop question is simple: Why did you start riding and/or running in the first place?

Riding: I think horses have always been in my blood, plain and simple. My great-grandfather was an officer in the Polish cavalry, so blame a throwback in genetics. I have photos of me in a baby stroller, no more than a year old, staring fixedly at the ponies in the corral at the petting zoo. Forget the goats, the sheep, the chickens. I wanted the ponies. (Not that I remember this.)

And when I was young, I went through a litany of activities, like all young girls do, trying to find their place. My parents only stipulation was that I do one activity at a time, and that if I decided I didn't like something, I had to at least finish out the season/lesson course/whatever measure of timing is used to determine little kids' activities. Ballet, gymnastics, t-ball, Girl Scouts...and horseback riding.

Throw enough mud at a wall and something eventually sticks...horses stuck. I honestly don't know why. I had such a rough start to the whole horse experience that I probably should have been scared off of them for life. I guess if something's meant to be, that's the way it goes.

Running: I've dabbled in running off and on for years, usually forced through gym class requirements, and occasionally a wild hair when I would get tired of my pony being fitter than me. This time around, I was initially motivated by getting Artemis. Once she hit 6 months old back in the spring, I knew I needed to start doing more than just walks to burn off some of her energy -- I only have so much time to be out walking before I have to be back home for work, so a 10-mile walk in the morning wasn't going to happen. Since she was still young, we started off very slow, very short distances...but it was more intensity than just walking. As she got older, and fitter, we increased distance. And because I was giving her such a slow legging up, I wasn't subjecting myself to my usual over-ambitious, under-conditioned running attempts that made it so miserable in the past.

I hit the running path hard at the beginning of the summer after the break-up of what I thought had been a good, pretty serious relationship. Perhaps a questionable motivation...but I discovered how much of an escape running is for me. It's something that is between me, my body, and the ground. I can control what happens, insomuch as anything in life can be controlled. My success is tied in to me and whatever effort I put into it, with some pretty direct and immediate feedback. It's head-space time for me, whether it's to think, or try to clear my head.

Horses are my passion, but I'm liking how well running (especially trail running) seems like it'll be able to co-exist with it.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Javelina Jangover 7k

Disclaimer: Please consult with your financial information provider about whether your wallet is healthy enough to engage in another competitive activity. ;)

Cat's out of the bag: I've officially taken up trail running. I did my first-ever trail race on Saturday night, the Aravaipa Running Javelina Jangover 7k.

It was awesome.

Some history:

I started incorporating some running into my daily walk routine back in the spring, once Artemis hit about 6 months old. Upping the intensity by upping the pace helped get rid of some of her excess energy, while still keeping the time I was spending to a reasonable level. We started off very slow, keeping in mind she was still young, and only ran on dirt or grass surfaces. And when I say slow, I mean slow. Like, 1/4 mile of a 3-mile session would have been spent jogging, the rest walking.

In June, we did our first actual training walk/run on trails...Artemis took to it and behaved much better than she does on normal walks, and I found it much easier and more enjoyable to run the desert trails versus slogging out the miles on the flat canal paths around the house.

We've spent the summer doing our daily walks of 3-4 miles, and a couple times a week, we add some running to that. I'm not a good consistent runner -- I can go, at most, about 3/4 of a mile before I need a walk break -- but I do lots of short runs interspersed with walk sections, and go up and down "hills" at the water retention basin of the local park. Not ideal...but when your closest real trails are 30 minutes make do with what you have. I've also been trying to do an actual trail hike once a week as well.

And that's about as scientific as I get. I don't wear a GPS, I don't track speed, distance, or time, I don't keep logs or records. Worst Runner Ever, I know. But I started this just for fun. I've never been a great runner -- too slow, can't sustain it, not built for it, have broken myself in the past when I've tried -- but despite all of that, there's a part of me that actually enjoys it. I like the runner's high, but it also fulfills some of my control-freak needs: when everything else is going wrong, this is one of the few things I can directly control (as much as anything can be controlled) in that I'm not relying on another person, or a sound horse, or anything other than access to some decent running area and a body that doesn't fail me.

And it turns out I'm actually semi-competent at trail running. I finally figured out, after Saturday night, that I'm trying to set too fast a pace on the flat stuff, and I can't sustain it. (Mostly because it's flat and boring and I just want to be done.) But trail running was something else. The variance of terrain kept my speed to a slow jog, and I was able to maintain it for all but a 1/2-mile uphill climb section of the race. This is unheard of for me.

The days leading up to the race had been calling for rain...and race management said, "bring jackets." Hmmm. My first trail run, possibly in the rain...and did I mention it was a night run? I have The Best Ideas Ever. The one thing I had going for me was it was at McDowell Mountain Park, and the trail was one I have ridden on many times, so I knew it well.

start/finish line at the Pemberton staging area

Driving up to the park, I was chased by storm clouds, and I watched lightning striking in the distance. Upon arriving at the staging area, a quick Facebook update was made, just so everyone could be informed of my Best Idea Ever:

"This may be a Very Bad Idea. Definitely getting
wet tonight. Lightning already striking in the
distance and part of the course is on a ridgeline.
Race strategy: try to run near someone who is
taller than me so they get struck by lightning first."

The 7 k started at 8:30, with the longer distances of 75k, 50k, and 25k starting earlier. I had gotten there about 6:30, knowing that parking was going to be interesting and wanting to get my race packet before the skies opened up.

Got my number bib and participant shirt (just like endurance, I do this for the t-shirt), then hung out around the starting area for a bit, getting a feel for things. I also succumbed to a Good Deal on a really nice new headlamp (Black Diamond Spot) that is much brighter than my old one. Old one is great for riding in that it has one switch and two modes, red or white, and is about as idiot-proof as a headlamp can possibly be. This one is much fancier, with six different light options...but I will keep the old one as the riding headlamp and the new one as the running headlamp.

run swag

And then it started raining. I retreated back to the suburban to shelter for a bit and recharge my phone (wanted to actually GPS what I was doing for once), visited the facilities one last time, and by the time I headed over to the start area 15 minutes before the start time, it had stopped raining.

I have a strong competitive streak that tends to surface in these sort of situations, such as an en masse race start...but I also knew that would be the fastest way to wear myself out. So I stuck to the last third of the pack and headed out at a reasonable jog pace. A lot of the trail is single track or wide single track, especially the first mile, so it was fairly easy for people to spread out and pass when needed.

My main goals were to finish without embarrassing myself (I figured maybe an hour and half realistically...maybe an hour if the stars aligned and I discovered my Inner Runner), try not to wipe out on the rocks/downhill, and to avoid breaking myself.

As I mentioned earlier, the varied terrain made it easy for me to keep the pace reasonable, and I just chugged along at a little jog. I knew where the trail went, but being dark, I didn't have a sense of the surrounding and scenery that I usually use to figure out exactly where I'm at. So it was a shock when I hit the one uphill climb of the race, at just over a mile in. I couldn't believe I had jogged the whole section non-stop, and wasn't doing my usual "gasping-for-breath" routine.

I power-walked up the half-mile climb...very rocky singletrack that just sort of climbs and climbs. And I passed several people on the way up. I may not be a fast runner, but I have an excellent powerwalk, and I hadn't burned myself up in the first mile. At the top of the climb was the bench that Mimi always spooks at...the trail levels off and smooths out (a bit), so I picked up a jog again. It goes along the top of a ridgeline, fairly level (a few sections maybe 30-40 feet long that were inclines that I power-walked), then drops down on this awesomely fun, zippy downhill section.

I motored the downhill -- was super pleased with how controlled the descent was, but I still kept running. Even though it was dark, and rocky, and this was the part I was most likely to wipe out, I wasn't thinking about that -- I was having fun!!!

Then the trail hit the flat, and the turn back to the finish. I had a brief thought of, "Oh, I remember how far this intersection actually is..." and kind of wanted to walk...but then the competitiveness did me a favor. I had been pacing a couple of people along the ridge and down, and I didn't want the one in front to get away from me, or the one behind to pass me. I accessed -- I still felt good, physically, was still breathing evenly, and nothing was sore. So, mental wall it was. Alright, then...keep running it is.

And I kept going. I passed a couple more people on the flat (and got passed by a couple others, but...*shrug*), even bumped up my pace a tiny bit in the last half mile or so...and then I was done, with an official finish time of 57:38.

57:38. My secret, not-going-to-tell-anyone, wildest goal was an hour.

In reality, I know this is still So Slow. But in my own little world, which up until now has been populated with the overwhelming belief that I Am Not A Runner, this is a Major Victory. I proved to myself that I could do it...and more importantly, it was fun!!! It wasn't getting out there and slogging out the miles for the sake of Proving Who Knows What to Who Knows Who, but it was finding an activity that I enjoy, that makes me feel good, that boosts my self-confidence, and has the bonus points of being something that, if done right, will continue to improve my health, fitness, and well-being (physically and mentally...running is almost as good of mental therapy for me as riding, and in some ways better when it's horses causing mental angst).

finisher award (mason jar, Hammer recovery
drink, and bottle opener)
A quick breakdown analysis of what worked and what didn't...

My Gear: I wore a simple pair of New Balance running shorts that I've had forever that have never done me wrong, one of my Kerrits Ice-Fil tank tops, a Buff headband, Panache sports bra (one of the few I can actually run in), SmartWool socks, and my ancient Vasque trail runners (complete with split in the shoes are on their way after a discussion with running buddies impressed upon me the importance of Having Good Shoes). Nothing rubbed, nothing chafed, no blisters. We'll see what happens when I start upping the distance.

Food: I ate dinner late afternoon, and next time, I will probably try eating a larger meal in the middle of the day and snacking before the race. The first mile or so, I felt like my digestive system was contemplating a minor never followed through on the threat, but this is a whole new world for me.

Post-race, I hit the aid station for some snacks, then got a wood-fired pizza for some real food.

Overall: I was really thrilled with how good I felt afterwards. Maybe I could have gone faster...but one of my goals was "don't break myself" so I'd rather be a little slower and not in pain. Had a few sore muscles the day after -- outside of my upper quads, just below the hips, and the outside of my left knee. Don't know if that's from the hills, or needing new shoes, or what. Something to explore...or experienced running friends, please chime in your two cents! Felt good enough to do a couple-mile walk with the dog yesterday, and this morning, we ran around in the rain down at our little neighborhood park.

I'm really excited about how this will cross over for endurance, and being able to competently get off and jog alongside the horse during rides.

Off to sign up for next month's race!