Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Year in Review, Part II

Yesterday's really long entry covered a few months of the last year. I promise that the rest of the year will go by more quickly -- as in, a shorter blog entry this time.

I forgot to mention, though, that I wore the La Sportiva Quantums (in half a size larger than usual, as I've discovered that they run small) for most of the Bear 100. Around mile 62, I also changed shoes, opting for the C-Lite -- mostly just for a change of pace for my feet. The Quantums felt great on the trails, as well as on the fire roads that made up parts of the course. After the race, though, they lived on the porch for quite a while -- not only were they caked in mud and dust when they were packed into my suitcase, but in my post-race exhaustion, I seemed to have forgot to do anything to clean them. The benefits, or dangers, of having a screened porch, I guess.

Fall 2012 brought with it the usual rhythms of the semester, as well as one daughter who started kindergarten and another who moved to a new preschool (about which I cannot say enough good things -- check them out here!). Work trips to Austin and Charlottesville allowed me to sneak in runs in new places, with friends old and new...always a treat! And we took the family to London (with a short escape to Paris) for a long Thanksgiving break. The days in Europe were short, but it's always fun to explore the trails in the outer London suburbs (my in-laws live near a piece of the LOOP trail, as I discovered a couple years ago), and to run in Paris (where I had the unexpected and odd experience of being propositioned by a prostitute on the trails of the Bois de Boulogne during a 7am run -- that's a new one!).

Running included a trip to Asheville in early November for the Shut-In Ridge Run, a race I'd heard lots about but had never done. It was rent a house with friends for the weekends, and to get out into the mountains. The race itself was harder than I'd expected it would be -- perhaps not surprising, as my legs were still a bit unhappy after Bear, and as the race is a point to point with a good deal of elevation gain. I went out fairly fast, but then struggled to get into a comfortable rhythm. I had some great distraction between miles 6 and 9, as my former next-door neighbor (I didn't know he was doing the race), who now lives near Asheville, caught up to me and told me all about the family travel adventure that he had planned for the spring (read more here -- wow!). At the mile 9 aid station, I managed a spectacular -- judging by the sound of the thud and the looks on the faces of those around me -- fall, on a mostly flat section of trail, and right in front of the aid station. That took me by surprised and, for the second half of the race, I mostly just struggled to move forward, and looked forward to getting to the Pisgah Inn. Prior to the race, I had suggested to Andy that I might be able to do it in 3:30; my time of 4:09 showed how wrong I was!

The New Year brought with it a trip to Mumbai and Goa, India, for a conference on India and economic globalization. This was my first time to either place, and I was able to get in some runs (although, in Mumbai, following local convention for women by not running in shorts meant nearly roasting in the 80+ degree and humid weather; Goa is more relaxed in terms of norms, and I got to run along the beach as well as up the road to the old fort), as well as to learn quite a bit about some of the political and economic issues that India faces. 

Local industry, in Dharavi, Mumbai

More production -- recycling cooking oil containers -- in Dharavi.

Scenes from Goa, near Fort Aguada.

After India, it was back to start the spring semester, and to co-direct the 8th annual Little River Trail Runs. We had a record number of runners -- 600 -- registered in 2013. Lots of rain and a bit of snow in the week prior to the race made for a wet (and in a few places, underwater) course, but our usual great group of TrailHeads volunteers made for a very successful event. We ultimately donated $8,000 to Little River Regional Park (and we're looking forward to the 2014 race, on January 18).

In terms of running itself, I was happy to try out a La Sportiva shoe that I hadn't used before, the Raptor. This shoe is beefier than the C-Lite, and has a more aggressive tread than the Quantum or the Vertical K (I also did a good deal of running in the Vertical K last summer. A soft midsole made it a nice shoe for the combination trail/road runs that I often did on Orcas Island). The Raptor is a nice shoe for rocky and muddy trails, and I like the fit (somewhat fitted through the arch, like the C-Lite). After doing the Uwharrie Mountain Run 40 miler -- a race that is so special to me -- four times, I decided that my hamstring (which a fall 2012 MRI showed to be improved, if not perfect...but I still had pain) might benefit from instead running the 20 mile distance. This meant not as much mileage in December and January, which fit well with my schedule.

So, in early February, it was off to Uwharrie again. I sneaked away from work on Friday to volunteer in Asheboro, at race HQ, during the day. This was a great experience: our job was to pack the bins for each of the aid stations. I find this sort of organizational project to be a fun mental challenge, and it also was a good reminder of the challenges that this sort of race presents for the RDs and for the volunteers -- many of whom are members of surrounding communities who don't run, but who want to support the event and the trails. Early Saturday morning, I headed back to Troy, NC for the start of the 20 mile race. I was a bit sad not to be running the 40 miler, but there were lots of other TrailHeads on hand, and the idea of not having to turn around and run back was sort of appealing. The race itself included a wrong turn in the first mile (the fast folks at the front went the longest off course; once they doubled back, the rest of us did, too), and my realization that I wasn't moving any faster in the 20 than I had in the 40. I finished in 3:40, in 4th place among women, and with the realization that my hamstring might still need some help (and that I might not have put in enough training, even for the 20 -- good thing I didn't give into the temptation to switch distances and run the 40!).

After Uwharrie, I visited my favorite orthopedist, and I submitted to another round of PRP, and another monthlong break from running. That wasn't so bad -- it was an excuse to sleep in, and to spend more time at home, during a busy part of the semester. And the timing worked out such that, when I made a quick trip to London for a conference in March, I was able to do a couple of runs there -- nothing long, but nice runs along the Thames Path, in Primrose Hill and Regent's Park, and along the Regent's Canal, a place that I had forgotten about as a spot to run, but really enjoyed visiting again. Andy and I also managed to overlap in London for about 36 hours, thanks to help from grandma. We haven't been on our own in London in so many years!
Rainy run along the River Thames.

Primrose Hill path.

Regent's Canal, near Camden Town.

Spring also included a family trip to San Francisco, our attempt to combine the International Studies Association conference with the kids' spring break. My 6 year old, who did a kids' running program in the spring, insisted on tagging along for one of my morning runs. I think we ran for maybe a mile, saw some parks, walked around a bit, stretched at Union Square and got coffee. It was very sweet -- especially when my daughter asked if this was all ok, or "do you need to run by yourself so that you can have alone time, Mom?" She may have figured out this whole running thing of mine. This trip also included time to catch up with a TrailHead friend who's now in San Francisco, as well as a day trip to Muir Woods and Stinson Beach (which left me wishing that I hadn't given up my slot for the Miwok 100k in May, even as I knew I'd never be in shape for that this year).

Other spring news: my edited book, on using interviews in political science research, was published (makes a great gift for the social scientist in your life...). My stepson graduated from high school, and he won a fabulous music scholarship to UNC. And, when the semester and the school year ended, we were lucky to be able to again head to the San Juan Islands -- this time, a week at the Whiteley Center on San Juan Island, and seven weeks on Orcas Island, our new favorite place to be in the summer. More on Orcas next time!


  1. You do more in a day than I accomplish in an entire year! I love how sensitive Ceci is!

  2. Hi Layna! I hope you're enjoying your fall! I was just wondering if you would be willing to answer a question I have about your blog! My name is Heather and if you could email me at Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com that would be great!