Weekly Running Log Rundown

Sunday: I had planned on doing an evening run when I returned from our camping trip, but I ended up slipping in some water that had dripped on our hardwood, falling and hitting my head hard on the wall. My first concussion. I spent the night resting and confused.

Monday: I felt better this morning so went for my morning run down by the river. Happy I did, as always.

Tuesday: Getting a little sad to be leaving Boise–it is such a nice place to run and explore, but also excited for our ever changing life. I always like to spend time on these trails before we ship out.

Wednesday: Running against the wind. It added to the challenge.

Thursday: A run down by the Boise River had my heart aching with the thought of leaving. No doubt I am excited to run down by the river in Sarajevo though. I felt strong and happy to move my legs before a long, long 24 hour flight back home.

A metaphor for our life?

Friday: We woke up super early to catch our flight, so I couldn’t run. 😦

Saturday: The flight took 23 hours so was forced to take another day off. On the bright side, we made it back to Sarajevo

Happy running and stay rad!

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Chris Bell: Thoughts from an Ultra Runner

Bangkok Runners is this amazing and welcoming running group—that is how I was introduced to Chris. On the weekends, runners would meet to run in the Khao Mai Keow jungle, located outside of Pattaya, Thailand. He rarely missed. Sometimes even when I had made no plans of a group trail blaze, I would bump into Chris in the jungle. There is nothing like running among venomous snakes in the hot and humid jungle that solidifies a bond. It takes a certain kind of person to actively pursue those types of runs.
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At the start of the Ultra Trail Unseen Koh Chang race. One of the toughest races I have done. Chris, in the center, did the 66k.
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This is how I remember Chris. Cleaning house with all his winning.
Chris Bell has competitively run countless races. He has moved from Thailand and is now in the United Kingdom, continuing his impressive running stats. I shot him some questions to hear his perspective on running.
How long have you been running? I started running towards the end of 2011 when I was living in Bangkok. I hadn’t been very active for a few years, and felt that my health was suffering. I had never been a runner before this, as I always found myself out of breath and exhausted within a couple of minutes, and that wasn’t much fun. I figured that because it was so difficult, it would be a great way of getting my fitness and health back on track. With the high temperature and humidity in Thailand, I decided to start out by running inside an air conditioned room on a treadmill. It took a while, but eventually I felt my fitness and endurance improving, and progressed to running outside. Running outside was much more fun than running on a treadmill, and I found myself more motivated able to run for longer and longer distances. In June 2012, I ran my first race. It was the Phuket Half Marathon in the south of Thailand. In training I had only managed to run up to 16km, so I was very nervous about being able to complete the 21.1km. Fortunately, the fantastic atmosphere and adrenaline rush of race day made all the difference, and I was able to make it to the finish in a time of 1hr, 52min. It was one of the proudest moments of my life to have completed a half marathon, knowing that running even 100m was almost an impossibility about 8 months before. I was hooked.
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Phuket Half Marathon
What is the longest distance you have run? Over the years I’ve upped the distance on the races I’ve entered. One of the biggest milestones was my first marathon in Bangkok in November of 2013. It was extremely tough, but after completing a race of this distance, I genuinely believed that any distance was possible with sufficient training, motivation, dedication, and a fair amount of stubbornness. After the marathon, it wasn’t much of a jump to do a 50km ultra-marathon, although since it was a trail race, it took a lot longer to complete than a marathon. 7 hours and 6 min to be precise. That’s a long time to be on your feet in the sun, but it gave me the confidence to go on to even longer challenges. My next major milestone was 100km at the North Face 100 Thailand in January 2016. It was a long and very hot race, but it felt incredible to cross the finish line. After a few more 100km races, I took on my biggest challenge to date – a 100 mile trail race in Sherwood Forest, England in September 2017. Despite a few issues during the race, my stubbornness helped me to make it to the finish in 17 hours 46 minutes, and take the overall win. It feels amazing to think that 6 years before I couldn’t run 100 metres without being completely out of breath, and 128 races and a lot of training later, I was able to win a 100 mile race. It just shows what we can accomplish if we put our minds to it.
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Hip flask trophy for his first place 100 mile finish!
How does one train for races that last through the night? I haven’t really given much thought to training for races that last through the night. I suppose it’s just the same as any long race – you just need to focus on keeping moving forward. As long as you keep yourself fed and hydrated and keep going, you’ll make it through to the morning. If you keep upping your distance, over time you become used to running while exhausted, and that prepares you for long races in the dark.
Trail or road? Why? For me, trail is far more enjoyable than road. The variety of surface, the challenging climbs and descents, and the amazing scenery of trail running makes it much more fun than running on flat roads. Every runner should try trail running. 
What has been your favorite race so far? My favourite race so far is a difficult one. There have been so many great ones that it’s almost impossible to choose. Transylvania 100k is up there due to the amazing scenery and the difficulty of the course and conditions. The London Marathon was a special race due to the great support from the crowds and the fact that I’d watched it on tv many times when I was growing up, and never thought that I’d be out there running it myself. If I had to choose one race though, it has to be the Ocean to Ocean relay race in Thailand in 2014. This was a 120km road race that started on the west coast of Thailand (the Indian Ocean side), and ended on the East coast (the Pacific Ocean side). What made this race so unforgettable for me was the people that took part in the race with me. The 8 of us knew each other slightly before travelling down together, but by then end of the event we were all great friends who would go on to share many other great adventures together. Running can be a very solitary sport sometimes. A lot of people train on their own, and end up racing alone, even when surrounded by many other runners. I would highly recommend that people try a team relay event if they get the chance. It’s really nice to be able to share the race experience so closely with others, and this can bring a bond and friendship between you that lasts long after the event has ended.
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Thailand’s Ocean to Ocean crew.
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Post London Marathon beer and medal.
As a fellow traveling runner, what are some travel races you would suggest others to venture to and take on? Although I have completed a lot of races, I’ve not done that many in different countries. Having been based in Thailand for almost 12 years, I’ve done a lot of races there. After relocating back to the UK, I’ve started to tick off a few of the races over here too. Other than that I’ve only done a marathon in Tenerife and the Transylvania 100k in Romania. In my limited experience, I’d have to recommend the Transylania trail race to any experienced trail runners out there. It’s not one to be taken lightly though, and is a serious challenge no matter which of the different race distances you decide to tackle. Although I haven’t done much in the way of long distance travelling to races, it’s something that I hope to increase in the future. It’s a great way to see new countries, and have a fantastic race experience at the same time.
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Transylvania 100k
What is a race you would like to forget? If I had to choose a race to forget it has to be the Bangkok Marathon. Amazingly, I did this event twice. The first time was my first ever marathon, so I guess it holds a special place in my memory. However, the course itself was awful. The route went along an elevated 3-lane expressway in a straight line for 13 miles, did a u-turn and then came back the same way. It started at 2am, so everything was dark and the only thing you could see was the white lines on the road and the concrete barriers at the road sides. There was no support, and nothing to take your mind off the long straight road ahead. Mentally, it was extremely tough as it felt like you were not making any forward progress. It stands out above all other races I’ve done as the most boring and tedious race out there. I still don’t really know why I signed up a 2nd time, but I regretted it for pretty much the whole way around and vowed not to sign up a third time.
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Bangkok Marathon–the race to forget.
You are about to leave for a fell race. Could you explain the history of fell races? Fell running is a traditionally British sport, and is sometimes referred to an hill running or mountain running. A fell is classed as a hilly or mountainous area that is usually barren. It is often very rocky and may or may not have clearly defined trails. What makes fell running stand out from trail running is the focus on steep, technical climbs and descents, and the need for navigation skills. Fell races often don’t have a clearly defined route, but instead give out the co-ordinates of a number of different locations that must be passed. It is up to each runner to decide which route to take. You may choose to follow small trails that are easy to follow but can be long and windy, or go the direct route straight up near vertical ascents over even more technical terrain. The best fell runners know the local terrain like the back of their hand, and are strong on the climbs and fearless on the descents.
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What are your thoughts on doing this race? It is an intense and exciting form of racing that requires a lot of concentration, fitness, and a touch of madness. I’m always excited and a bit nervous when I head out to fell races as I know that in order to do well you have to push yourself to the limit on the climbs and take big risks on the downhills. I always get a big rush of adrenaline, and a feeling of relief when I get to the finish in one piece.
The classic running question–why do you run? Why do I run? I started running purely for health and fitness, as I mentioned earlier. However, I found that after a short while I began to love it. The feeling of freedom running through forests and jungles, over hills and mountains and along rivers and coastlines under your own power is something that always fills me with joy and makes me feel alive. Knowing that I am getting such a lift whilst also doing a lot to improve my health and energy levels is a huge bonus. I’ve also found myself making some great and long-lasting friendships with people from all around the world through running. No matter the background of the runner, we all share a common bond when we run, and this brings everyone together. Running is fundamentally such a simple thing, but it has the power to change lives. I encourage everyone to get out there and give it a try.
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Idaho Hiking: Deep Lake and Lake Rock Lake

McCall, Idaho

Moving Mountains

With our little tribe, we did our annual camping trip with my dad and his wife. It is a highlight of our summer each year. We loaded up our Trail Blazer with all the gear and made the three hour drive to the middle of Idaho. McCall, Idaho is a good meeting point for us because it is half way for both sides. My sister and her family also live there, so they usually join us for a little bit.

After unloading and setting up camp, we fatted out most of the day. In the morning, we were ready to find some places to hike. My dad knows Idaho like the back of his hand, spending every waking moment seemingly hiking all over the state. Side note–he has been to over 400 alpine lakes in Idaho…since he started counting 15 years ago. Along with all that knowledge of the land, comes maps for every area. He busted out his trusty dusty map and found around 10 options or so for our day hike. Looking at the map, it was a little unclear the distances to each lake, but we chose Deep Lake after some discussion about elevation gain vs. distance and availability of road and trail access. Keep in mind we have littles in tow—a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old.

Checking out the view–sadly, there was a fire here in the early 90s and it is still recovering.
Pumped and ready. He knows that Poppy hikes include better bribes than Mom and Dad offer.

We headed to the trail head of Deep Lake and were prepared for what we thought would be a 3 mile hike in.

Trail running.

It was a fairly steep ascent into Deep Lake, but ended up being much shorter than we anticipated. It was about 1.5 miles into the lake. I am fairly certain my husband just considered it good luck and that would be that.

My dad busted out his trusty dusty map again and we found some back up lakes. We looked a few to try and find, but had not settled on anything solid. After spending a little time running around the lake, we started our hike back to the trailhead.

The crew.
Getting some loving.
Leading the way.

Lady H hiked 1.5 miles back with a little help from her brother. Watch below.

Lady H is already a little trail runner. When she wasn’t climbing over logs and rocks, she was bombing those little legs down the dirt.

Don’t forget to hydrate, my friends.

After stopping and talking to some people we met on the trail and getting some sound advice, we decided to try to find Lake Rock Lake.

Yes, that is the name.

We drove down some more dirt roads and landed back on the main road. We pulled off the side where we thought the trail might start. We started hiking and realized it would be a solid amount of bushwhacking and crossing creeks, sans trail. We turned around and kept driving…about 50 feet down the road. Nailed it. We found the trailhead and started some serious elevation gain.

My little forest troll.
Natural born hiker.

It was this little lady’s nap time–she needs to be going at a certain pace to get into the groove of Manduca sleeping. This meant I had to head straight up hill and a fair pace, leaving behind the group.

She did get a solid nap in, even if it did fall a little short of her normal time frame.

I found huckleberries!
Improvise.

Once Lady H had fallen asleep, I picked some huckleberries and waited for the rest of the crew. Not being in constant motion did end up waking her up, but she was happy enough as long as I made goofy selfie faces.

Mr. G, Mountain Man
Forever wild, this one.
Covered in dirt and happy as can be.

After carrying 32 pounds of toddler up 1,600 feet of elevation gain in 2 miles, I was pretty stoked to see water.

Not a bad view, and as my son said, “This was totally worth it!”

And just like that, back out.

Going down was much easier. I also made my husband wear the 2-year-old.

We got some pretty nice tans.

After we got back to camp, we sat around and drank some cold much-earned beers. Few things taste as good as a cold beer after hiking all day.

The next day, we soaked in the hot springs at Burgdorf. So good.

Weekly Running Log Rundown

From small injuries, to running with my kids, to hiking the mountains of Idaho, it has been a varied and interesting week in my running life.

Sunday: I wanted to run hills today but my knee had other plans. Flat path it is. It is much better after foam rolling though.

Monday: When the husband is away, we will still find a way to run. Proud of my son for doing 10k on his bike and saying it was easy.

Tuesday: Running with my loves. Can’t believe my little man can do 10k on his bike two days in a row.

Wednesday: I hit the trails today because I was sans children. Slow and easy on the dirt.

Thursday: Enjoying my last runs around Boise. So safe. So clean. Paths meant for running and biking. I will miss this.

Friday: Grateful that the smoke has started to clear a bit. Headed out camping tonight and needed to still get my run in before leaving.

Saturday: Two hikes in one day. We hiked into Deep Lake, not realizing it was a shorter trek, so went hunting for another lake, Lake Rock Lake. Not a bad way to spend your day off of running.

Happy running and stay rad!

Departures and Arrivals: Another Year Abroad

Most people consider January 1st the New Year, but teachers think in academic years. The first day of school is our first day of the year. The two month summer is a sort of reprieve from time itself. As we head into another year, we get ready for it in expat fashion. Two fifty pound bags per family member, car seats, baby backpack carriers, and lists of all kinds all over the place. Lists of American items not to forget, lists of teaching beginning-of-year ideas, lists of logistics.

In preparation and throughout the year, I think about what the family needs for the following year, ordering enough on Amazon to warrant buying some of their stock shares. As a result, as soon as I get “home” I start packing. First order of business, books. It is hard to get good English books abroad, so I order them as I learn of books that I need. I end up with a surplus no doubt, but the book lover in me anticipates coming home to a giant stack of beautiful books. Next and with slightly less excitement, I pack over-the-counter medicines and vitamins, seasonal clothes, makeups, lotions, health foods, three pairs of running shoes, birthday and Christmas gifts. All of this adds up pretty quickly in weight. I have been nearly packed for our departure since we arrived. 

This will be our 11th year teaching overseas, 12th year teaching. No matter the year, I still sit on a mixture of nervous and excited. It is a similar feeling I have before a race. It is because I care so much about the outcome.

Living overseas has taught me to be more flexible and open-minded. One must roll with the punches, choose your stresses, and be open to learning from another culture. I have intentionally and unintentionally adopted parts of every country I have lived in and even some from places I have visited. There is this sort of internal filter that keeps the things I respect about my culture and replace other parts with philosophy’s from another. I changed a lot after Thailand. There was plenty to learn in the land of smiles–mi pen lai, ka (no problem, a favorite and deeply ingrained saying in Thailand). I see this happening rather seamlessly with my children, too. Personally, it has made me a better teacher, parent, person. I don’t have plans of stopping working in foreign lands any time soon. I am looking forward to another year stretching myself outside of my comfort zone.

Before children, my husband and I lived in New Zealand and Kazakhstan. We moved to Thailand and there started our family. Last year, when we moved to Bosnian and Herzegovina, it was the first time we had moved as a family. New job, new country, new caregiver for my daughter, new teachers for my son, new house. As you would imagine, it was stressful. I am looking forward to having some familiarity going back to Sarajevo this year. However, we do this for newness and there is still plenty that will feel novel and exciting to the human experience. I have my list of places to explore in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those lists. They are everywhere. 

So, we are on our final goodbyes. We used to do them as one big hurrah, but now we like to make it more personal, saying goodbye one by one. We have said goodbye to some good friends that have a son the same age as ours. We have said good by to my in-laws. We have said goodbye to my aunt, uncle, cousins. We have seen fellow international teachers that do the same thing we do, most likely seeing them abroad this coming year, so it is a quasi-goodbye. We are getting ready to go camping this weekend with my dad, his wife, and my sister and her family. That will be goodbye until next year. I can feel it, the wheels will be picking up soon for another year abroad. 

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Happy travels and stay rad, my friends.

Run For Your Life 10k

Boise, Idaho

10k

Race Report

The same week as my race, my mother and mother-in-law had surprised me with a spa day so I could get a deep tissue massage to work out some of the knots that have been hanging around for too long. My massage lady nailed those knots, but it left me seriously wondering if I would be able to run again, much less race on Saturday. It seemed like she had brought back my plantar fasciitis full force and added a knee issue to boot that was nonexistent prior to the massage. I did some self-medicating, I went to the doctor, foam-rolled, iced, rested, and elevated. I had all but written off showing up to the race. I almost didn’t even get the race packet, but the runner in me wouldn’t cave. By Saturday, all of that pain was gone and I was in better shape than when I went in, so all’s well that ends well.

To add insult to injury, I spent the night before the race at a concert, carb-loading via red wine where I had one drink too many. I did not reap the benefits.

It was a good show though.

I did manage to make it to the race, where I had the usual and awesome support of my family. See below my pom-pomed son.

So, once I got myself there, I drank the coffee and ate the bananas they had set out for us. This was rough on the stomach, but ultimately I had consume calories and caffeine or I wouldn’t be racing.

After I got my bib, I looked around and realized it was going to be a pretty tiny race. Most people had signed up for the half marathon or the 5k. I had decided to do the 10k to try to get a specific time, which I knew between the injury prone week leading up to it and the wine carbs, I was going to fall short of my goal. I figured getting myself there and doing the race at this point was sufficient.

 

They did a countdown, and we were off. I pretty much stayed at a 5:10 (per kilometer) pace. I felt much better once I started running, but I certainly was not running at peak performance. There were two or three times I had to check to make sure I was on the right course, but it was pretty well marked. The greenbelt system in Boise just has a lot of path and the course did have quite places to turn around, so at times that made it a little confusing. I carried the map with me and worked it out. That didn’t help my time though.

I came across the finish line about 5-10 minutes behind what I had planned months ago, but that is okay. 10k is not my racing distance. I may look for another one to test out how or if I can improve, but I am still focused on the half and full marathons. I did manage to come in first woman overall, and second runner overall, but again, it was a small race.

I was impressed with the race organization. I knew it was going to be a bit of a mom and pop show, but they had a great swag bag, cool tech shirt, coffee and scones for pre-race goods. The race used timing chips, they had plenty of volunteers, music to start us off. The awards were also pretty sweet-better than most races, really.

Happy running!

Weekly Running Log Rundown

The week didn’t start off that great in the injury sector. It has ended much better than it started.

 

Sunday: Took the day after the marathon off to recover. My recovery time has been much shorter in recent years.

Monday: I went slow and easy. B joined me on his bike. It was good to get some good quality time in with my son. He is a good conversationalist.

Tuesday: Felt pretty good considering my legs are still a bit wobbly from Saturday’s race.

Wednesday: Taking it easy but definitely should not have run on this foot. I went to get a deep tissue massage yesterday. My plantar fasciitis is back now. This sucks. Also, California and Oregon are on fire– the smoke has traveled to Idaho making outside sports a little bit less fun.

Thursday: My foot is starting to get back to normal, but it is still hurting and not even close to 100%. The elevation felt good tho.

Friday: This is not my week. My PF seems to have improved but now my knee hurts from that same deep tissue massage.

Saturday: I wrapped my knee yesterday and in the morning, foam rolled, and crossed my fingers. It worked. My knee had no issues and I managed to complete my race as first place woman, second place overall runner.

While that massage caused some serious issues in the short-term, I think my PF may be completely gone now. Things are on the up and up.

Happy running and stay rad!