Friday, March 1, 2013

A Taste of Spring...

Less than 4 weeks to go now until my next 50k and I'm officially looking to become BFF's with the mountains. That is, I'm ditching the road runner mindset for a while and will be spending some quality time kicking up leaves, climbing mountains and maybe taking a few tumbles along the way. 

This past Sunday, the weather was too beautiful to pass up a long trail run. Needless to say, after one warm and beautiful afternoon spent in the mountains I am officially burnt out of winter and ready to move on. Anyways, Jordan and I decided to take advantage of one of our favorite hiking spots, McAfee's Knob, but this time in a new light. Neither of us have run up the trail, nor beyond. For this particular run, we started at the bottom of the McAfee's Knob trail head (at route 311), ran to the top then across the mountain ridge just past Tinker Cliff's and back. The total run was roughly 20 miles with 5,400 feet of elevation gain and loss each!

The initial climb (4 miles) was rough but I took to it much better than expected and certainly better than I have in the past. It took me approximately 52 minutes. After a few obligatory pictures of the always breathtaking view, we made our way down the other side of the mountain to Tinker Cliff's. During this section (~6 miles) I was feeling good but then hit a rough spot where I became quite grumpy. My right ankle was twisting all over the place and starting to be painful with weight bearing. Turns out I just need to learn how to tie my shoes tighter :) I also became vividly aware that I didn't get in my normal dose of caffeine that morning (but a caffeinated gel did the trick :) 

McAfee's Knob: The view is definitely worth the effort.

Rolling hills as we ran along the ridge line.
Snack break at the 1/2 way mark: Homemade energy balls. 
The hubby
During the 2nd half of the run I really started to feel strong. For this run, I decided to experiment with all-natural, homemade fuel and I think it did the trick! I felt as if I had plenty of energy to take the climbs in stride. Throughout the second half of the run, I enjoyed the rest of my homemade energy balls, energy gel concoction and sipped on some cheribundi cherry juice:

Quinoa Energy Balls (adapted from the Lean Green Bean recipe)
& Sweet Potato-Banana Energy Gel
Tart cherry juice with some extra electrolytes
I love cheribundi and will be taking some time to review their product line soon! 

After making it back to the summit of McAfee's Knob for the second time, we gathered for a group picture and then made our way down the mountain:

These guys make us look short! ha

The final section was definitely my favorite: 4 miles of downhill, mostly not too technical. What's not to love?  Here's the total elevation profile of the run, minus about 1 mile where I forgot to restart my watch. Can you spot the cliff I jumped off? haha.

I'm very happy with how this run went. Not because of the time or distance, but more so because I enjoyed just about the entire thing. At no point was I dreading the miles in front of me! I'm also happy with how the homemade nutrition went. I've been trying to make this transition for a while now and the timing seems right. I know the gels will not sustain me as well for the longer races, and it certainly was much more pleasurable better consuming real (delicious) food!

Have you experimented with real foods during long runs? How did it go?


  1. What's the 'energy gel concoction?' :-)

  2. sweet potato, banana, agave nectar, chia seeds, lemon... I will be posting a recipe soon :)

  3. Wow, that's an awesome run. I mostly stick with cliff shot blocks during my long runs. It took me awhile to find something that would sit in my stomach without causing me probles. Since these work, I haven't messed with it much. However, I did have one long run where I forgot to bring any nutrition so I grabbed the only thing I could find from the local pharmacy on the way to the trail: mixed berry skittles. Not sure that counts as "real food" haha, but it actually worked well for me (except the skittles froze during the run and were very difficult to chew).

  4. Meagan, I love cliff shot bloks! That being said, I carried some as "insurance" and had trouble eating them. Too tough and chewy for me to eat while breathing hard. I energy balls were softer and much easier going down... With the skittles, at a certain point anything is better than nothing!!


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