Running at Elevation: Santa Fe, My Old Friend

Bonus points to anyone who hears music and can tell me what movie that’s in. I’ll give you a hint, it came out in 1992.

Give up?

Well actually, Santa Fe is my new friend. This is my first time visiting New Mexico. Yes! A new state for me and more progress on my 30 Before 30.

Mr. Huzzah and I are in Santa Fe for a long weekend with 2 of our friends from home. A little post Christmas with the extended family vacation if you will. We have a few must-do activities scheduled, but have a bit of free time to do some exploring.

The scheduled activities:

    Skiing. We are debating between Santa Fe and Taos, or maybe both. We will definitely ski at least one day, if not two.

Since we are also in half marathon training mode, we also have to do a 7 mile long run on Saturday, which will be the longest run I have done since the Hot Chocolate 15K on December 10. 7 miles is a mental challenge for sure. This is made even more daunting by the fact that Santa Fe at altitude!

In case you were wondering, Santa Fe is 7265 feet above sea level. That is 2000 feet higher than “mile high” Denver! Whoa.

I did a little research on preparing for elevation. Here is what I learned:

    Acclimate. If you have a race planned, arrive a day or two beforehand to give your body time to adjust. In fact, if you stay long enough (at least 2 weeks) your body will actually modify it’s production of red blood cells.
    Hydrate. Start drinking more water when arriving at a higher altitude. This helps your body acclimate to the air. My lesson in most things fitness and health related is to drink plenty of water.
    Avoid Alcohol. Alcohol is a respiratory depressant which can further tax your heart and lungs that are already working harder.
    Run by effort. Diminished oxygen at higher altitudes means your body will have to work harder to run at the same pace. This means I’m going to pay attention to my heart rate and breathing and SLOW down. It is just a training run after all.

To learn more, eHow Health has a few good articles on the subject.

QOTD: Have you ever run at altitude? Could you feel a difference?


Cotton = Death: Getting Ready for an Adirondack Adventure

In highschool, I was lucky enough to be able to whitewater kayak every day after school on the Potomac. Our instructor was known for his pithy tips for surviving the outdoor elements; his most famous being the reminder that “COTTON = DEATH”.  In case you didn’t know, cotton is fine warm weather fabric but is dangerous in cooler weather. Cotton soaks up water and then sucks heat from your body. Synthetic fabrics are a much better option as they absorb less water, dry more quickly, and provide some insulation even when wet. Also, you lose a lot of heat through your head, so always bring a hat!

Why am I talking about outdoor gear, you ask? Because I have an outdoor adventure planned!

In late October I am headed to the Adirondacks, birthplace of those awesome wooden chairs! While this will not be a legitimate camping trip with tents and campfires, it will at least involve paddling and hiking. If the weather cooperates, we will canoe Saranac Lake and hike Ampersand Mountain. Darkness comes early to the Adirondacks in late October so we will spend our evenings strolling the streets of the village of Saranac Lake and visiting an establishment or two. We will stay at the Adirondack Motel, which is at the edge of the village on the shore of Lake Flower.

Ampersand Mountain

View from the summit (source:

Ampersand is one of my favorite words and I am thrilled to learn that it names a mountain! The mountain takes its name from nearby Ampersand Creek, which twists and turns like an ampersand. Ampersand Mountain is a popular day hike as it is just three miles to reach the 3352 foot summit. The last mile of the hike ascends 1700 feet.  The summit has a lovely view of the Saranac Lakes and surrounding countryside.

I may be visiting one of my favorite stores, REI, in preparation for this adventure!  I will certainly need a new rain jacket.  I recently gave up my old green Marmot jacket that got me through a rainy semester in Ireland several years ago.  Any recommendations on rain apparel? I’ll post about my purchases and give a post-trip recap complete with pictures.

For those of you who have been to the Saranac Lake region, I’m taking suggestions for must-see places or must-try activities.  This can include favorite restaurants, coffee shops, local brew, old house, whatever.  Please share!

My Fitness Truths!

NOTE: My website has moved.  Click HERE to be transferred. 

These are my personal truths about how I feel about fitness. Some of them I’d happily yell from the rooftops, and a couple are my little secrets.

  1. Running is my medicine.  It allows me to burn off stress and keep my spirits up.  I start to feel really lethargic and out of sorts if I don’t get to run.
  2. I really don’t like resistance training.  I do it because I know it’s good for me, but it’s not my first choice.  Oh, and I need guidance/instruction, otherwise I’ll cut it short.
  3. I’m really thinking about quitting my gym.  I don’t think I get my money’s worth.  I prefer to run outside, and there are so many great exercises you can do at home with minimal equipment! Plus, then I can try some ad hoc classes and not feel guilty.  I think fitness should be convenient and affordable!
  4. Looking good is half the battle. I’m more inclined to workout if I have a cute (but functional) outfit.  I’m embarrassed to say that how the shoe looks sways my purchase.
  5. I don’t want to do a full marathon. 13.1 was more than enough for me.  I think I’ll stick with that, thanks 🙂
  6. I’m scared that pregnancy will take my fitness away from me and I’ll never recover.  I’ll be so sleep deprived and ragged that I’ll never bounce back.  I’m also worried that people will think I’m shallow for being scared about that.  Good thing I have a couple of years to come to terms with this!
  7. I’m intimidated by all the awesome fitness bloggers who seem to run so FAST and for so many miles!  Sometime’s I’m embarrassed by my 9-10 minute miles.
  8. Oh, and my #1 fitness truth?  I NEVER regret a workout 🙂

This post is inspired by Fit Bottomed Girls.  I found the exercise to be very cathartic, and somewhat challenging.  Regular exercise and staying fit are so ingrained in my life that I don’t often stop and think about what fitness means to me.  So thank you for the opportunity!

Please share your reactions below, and check out other FBG’s truths!

5K to 13.1: Autumn Race Planning

St Pauls Church at Jarrow

Fall has always seemed like a time of new beginnings, anticipation, and optimism. Although I no longer get new pencils and spiral bound notebooks, I still get the urge to plan for the upcoming months. The weather is cooling off, the air is fresh, and I want to RUN!

I’ve come up with a preliminary plan of the races I will participate in this winter, building in distance from 5K to half marathon. One race an old standby and the others new experiences!

  1. 10/22/11 Run for Your Lives! – This is not your average 5K; it’s a zombie infested 5K obstacle course! The zombies will do whatever it takes to chase you down and grab your health flags (think flag football). If you lose all your health flags, you die, and the zombies win. We certainly can’t have that happen! Also, I just noticed that a portion of each registration is donated to the American Red Cross. Even better!
  2. 11/24/11 Bethesda YMCA Turkey Chase 10KIt’s always good to get out first think Thanksgiving morning and burn some calories. Gotta earn that pumpkin pie! This will be my 3rd time participating in this race. Now that my husband and I host Thanksgiving, it will likely be the 3rd of many! Can I set a PR?
  3. 12/3/11 Hot Chocolate 15KAny race sponsored by Ghirardelli has got to be good. The race begins and ends in DC’s National Harbor, which is always very festive at wintertime. The post race party has chocolate fondue and hot chocolate! I better register soon to ensure my commemorative windbreaker.
  4. 2/26/12 Disney Princess Half MarathonI’ve already talked about this before, but this race sounds like a blast! It will give me an excuse to go to Florida in the winter, and be my first women’s oriented race. I am so looking forward to earning that commemorative tiara for finishing. I just hope I get to see Chip and Dale. They’re my fave!
Whew! That’s a big list of races. I certainly have my work cut out for me. I love having goals to keep me motivated though. What keeps YOU motivated during the winter?

Shopping at MOM’s and other Sunday Musings

The day started off on a good note with the news that we could pick up our pooch from the hospital! He recovered from a bout of pancreatitis ahead of schedule.  No more acorns for you, buddy!  Apparently acorns are toxic.  Who new?  Cecil will now be sporting a mesh muzzle on his fall walks to prevent him from gobbling up all those acorns that he loves so much.  Hopefully we can prevent any recurrences.  Also learned that Jack Russell Terriers are genetically predisposed to have sensitive digestive systems.  That explains a lot!

Before picking him up, we stopped at MOM’s Organic Market to pick up the week’s groceries.  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned, but MOM”s is my happy place.  We have a Whole Foods two blocks away from our condo, but we are loyal to MOM’s.  MOM’s offers the same quality of organic and local foods at much more affordable prices. Plus, they offer free organic, fair trade coffee for while you shop! Delish.  I actually look forward to our weekly grocery trips!

Top picks from MOM’s this week include:

My agenda for this afternoon is to watch the Redskins game and go our for a pre-dinner run.  Although the game is not off to a wonderful start, I’m optimistic we can get it together.  Check out the pic of us last week at the opening season game vs the Giants on the 10th anniversary of September 11th. That was such an inspiring game to attend.  There was no animosity between fan or players on a day celebrating our nation’s resilience. Plus, the Redskins won 🙂

Opening season Redskins vs. Giants.

I have to admit, Sunday’s are my favorite day of the week.  We try to get all our errands and chores out of the way on Saturday so we can just relax.

UPDATE: The Skins came from behind to win the game!  Totally made my day. The euphoria of being 2-0 carried me through my 3rd day of running in a row.  3.5miles in 34 minutes.  I’ll take it!  Everyone’s a winner today!

Speed Work Saturday!

A track and football field at the stadium at N...

Image via Wikipedia

I had originally planned to do a trail run this morning, but an emergency vet visit threw a wrench in that plan. Good think we took him in, because Cecil ended up having pancreatitis. He’s now on an IV drip and being watched over night. The vet says we caught it really early and it looks like he’ll be home tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed!

Since we were pressed on time, we decided to swap out a longer trail run with speed work. Now I’ll admit, I’m still learning about speed work and make it up as I go along. Here is what today’s workout entailed:

  • 3/4mi jog to a neighborhood school track.
  • 4 laps (1mi) strides. I up my speed to a challenging yet not all-out pace for the straights and jog the curves to recover.
  • 5 x 50m sprints. I’m approximating the distance here. It’s about half of one of the straights. This is a full-out, as fast as you can go sprint. I walk back in between sets to recover.
  • 3/4mi jog back home.

Door to door, this workout took me 34 minutes. Total distance was probably 3 miles or so. I don’t stress about total distance in my speed workouts, but focus on the quality of the intervals. Got to get that heart rate up!

So that was my workout. I try to do speed work once a week to mix things up. I think it’s helpful in pushing the boundaries and increasing my speed.

What about you, do you train for speed? What is your favorite speed workout?