It’s a bird eat bird world + Dynamic Warm-ups

I drove to one of my normal routes for yesterday’s run and had to fight the urge to throw the towel in. I had plenty of energy, but everything felt stale.

And then I saw this.

turkey vulture

That would be a turkey vulture taking a break from its afternoon meal. How crazy/awesome is it that I happened to be in the right place at the right time?!

I get that this might be disturbing to some, and sorry if I’ve offended you, but I am a biology geek to the extreme! Anytime I see nature in action I find it fascinating. Turkey vultures and I go way back. In college, I conducted a research project that involved positioning decaying meat in the wild to see how turkey vultures located their food and how accurate they were. Turns out turkey vultures are one of the few types of vultures that can use smell to find their next meal (Note: my research was in no way affiliated with National Geographic…only in my dreams!).

I digress. After seeing this turkey vulture so close and getting to watch it do its thing, I got all geeked out and excited. Suddenly I was all about exploring, wandering off the beaten path so to speak, and I ended up having a fantastic and scenic run.

off the beaten pathup hillview from the tophappy memarinaback to the bottom

I’ve never been big on warming up before runs, but I’ve been working on it the past couple weeks. This article about dynamic warm-ups showed up in my inbox one morning, followed not too much later by this blog post. If Hungry Runner Girl is doing it, it has to be legit right?! I’m a fan of trying out anything that makes me as fast as Meb:

  • Gets my heart going
  • Opens up my joints
  • Gets my key running muscles firing (glutes especially!)
  • Tells my mind that it’s time to get down to business
  • Helps me be a stronger runner

I did a little research and came up with a routine that takes me about ten to fifteen minutes to complete…not too long that it’s tedious, and not so short that it doesn’t accomplish anything.

dynamic warm-up

A typical run before dynamic warm ups:

pre dynamic warm up

A typical run after dynamic warm-ups:

after dynamic warms

The thing to focus on here is the first mile pace. Granted, my general sense of pace has improved as has my overall fitness. But, knowing that I was using my first mile as a warm-up in past runs gave me an excuse to run them anywhere in the 12-13 pace range, so that’s what I did.

Also, pre-dynamic warm-up, my legs usually felt like lead for the first half mile or more. Lead legs are much rarer these days. Going through the dynamic warm-up really makes my legs feel springier and more responsive. Maybe it’s mental, but whatever it is, I’ll take it.

Here are the resources I used to put together my routine. The first video is from Hungry Runner Girl’s post:

Let me know if you try the warm-up routine!

Always, Sierra

Do you warm-up before runs? What’s your routine?

Do you like seeing nature in action?

What gets your inner geek going?

 

53 bug bites and an itch ain’t one

Considering I’ve been resisting the itch non-stop for five days, that title is about as catchy as I can get. We spent the Fourth in our new favorite camping spot near South Lake Tahoe, only this time the mosquitoes (and flies and yellow jackets and wasps and bees) were out with a vengeance.

bug bites galore7 bites on my right ankle alone! One of them with a nice little white bump growing on it, and all of them painful as heck with hiking boots on. (Sidenote: I really have to take a non-cankle like picture of my feet one of these days.) Word on the street is that mosquitoes find some people more attractive than others and it’s the women doing all the blood-shedding. Now on my to-do list: researching wild plants to reduce the insane desire to scratch my skin off itch.

Bugs and bites be damned, we still had a grand ole time. There was some off-roading.

20130707_111613 20130707_111405Exploring a new to us spot, Indian Valley in the Tamarack Lakes Recreation Area.

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P1000749 P1000443 P1000481 P1000464We ate like royalty (spanish rice, fajitas, chicken quesadillas, steak and asparagus and beans oh my!) but I was on vacation from everything including excessive picture-taking. Had a sad panda moment when we learned no campfires allowed for the whole weekend. That meant no campfire cones and no hobo packs, but we survived and didn’t lose any bits or pieces to frostbite. I even turned the leftover hobo pack ingredients into some tasty fajitas our first night back (marinade needs a little perfecting before I post the recipe).

steak fajitas

 

Thanks again to B and J for coming out and spending the weekend with us, and one more Happy Birthday to J!

Always, Sierra

How was your Fourth?

Do mosquitoes eat you alive too?

Any tips to make delicious fajitas?

 

Weekly Workout Recap and How About Those June Goals?

I was hoping to wake up early this morning (6:30) for a trail run to beat the heat that’s struck California in the past few days but that didn’t happen. Instead, I moseyed out of the house around 9, and the weather was already brutal.

heat

I know, I know, I’m a wimp, but it was in the 80s by the time I finished! I debated about skipping the run, but knowing I had a draft of my first weekly workout recap waiting for me pushed me to stick it out. Accountability? Thank you blog!

I headed to Crockett Hills Regional Park. It seems to be one of the more unpopular regional parks in the East Bay (you mean you don’t like refinery views and the sound of traffic when you run?), but it’s got a lot of gently rolling hills which make for good training.

Crockett Hills Regional ParkCrockett hills trailCrockett Hills trailCrockett hills trailCrockett Hills trailCrockett Hills trail

It also has a special place in my heart because it’s the first place I had a Shut Up + Run moment. TMI?

What I had planned on being a trail run ended up being a hike/trail run combo because of the heat. That’s okay with me though. When things get warmer than what I’m acclimated to, I switch to running on effort instead of running for pace. Mostly because I like to avoid things like chills, dizziness and fainting.

The smartest decision I made was wearing my Brooks D’Light Mesh Tank. I was worried that it was too thin when I first got it but today it really helped to keep me cool. I know your day wasn’t complete until you saw my fancy hair and flared nostrils.

trail run

Even though it wasn’t the run I had planned, any run is good in my book. Here’s what my week looked like.

Monday: 1 mile warm-up on the treadmill (5.5 mph @ 2% incline) and 45 min strength

Tuesday: 3.55 miles street running, 11:21 average pace

Wednesday: Unexpected rest

Thursday: 3.93 miles street running, 12:54 average pace and an exercise in getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. It was so freaking hot!hot

Friday: 35 min strength

Saturday: rest

Sunday: 3.22 mile trail run/hike

Total Mileage: 11.7

Overall: The past 2-3 weeks were scaled back in terms of mileage due to travel and general life busyness. I’m working on building my mileage back up, so I’m good with these numbers. Especially since two of the runs were in weather  hotter than I’m used to running in. It’s the summer, time to suck it up and acclimate!

And what about those June goals? How’d I do?

June Goals

  • Set a PR in See Jane Run 5K – Accomplished!
  • Find a one piece bathing suit so I can start swimming laps again – not accomplished but really I’m fine with that. Rocking a few new two pieces though!
  • Try to get a little ahead of the game with my blogging content – not really accomplished. I was hoping to generate content a little more ahead of the game than the day of, but time crunchiness hasn’t allowed that to happen…yet!
  • Experiment with 2-3 new recipes (probably some type of vegetable/bean/grain salads) in prep of July camping trip – I’m calling this one done! I’ll be making them this week and telling you all about them soon enough.
  • “Break in” my new hiking boots (I’ve taken them out once and they’re so comfy I don’t think they’ll need much breaking in!) – My hiking boots have been lonely and neglected. Moving this one to July.
  • Stay active on my girls trip to Mexico – Accomplished!
  • Volunteer at the Special Olympics – Accomplished, post coming soon!

Always, Sierra

Are you facing the heat where you live too?

What did your weekly workouts look like?

Do you set monthly goals? Yearly? Not a believer in setting goals?

Memorial Day Weekend: Camping in Tahoe

The mountains are calling and I must go.    – John Muir

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Camp was established.

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Fishing commenced.

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Some were released.

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Some were eated.

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Nature was enjoyed.

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P1000472The nights were chilly, the days sunny and brisk. Cell phones were turned off, emails, blogs, and social networks forgotten. There were quiet moments alone basking in the sun, and shared moments of joy over fish caught and full moons. Captain Crunch was consumed and tasted of childhood, fresh trout were consumed and tasted of clean wildness. Carving moments of bliss out of busy schedules is what life is all about.

Always, Sierra

How was your Memorial Day?

What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?

When’s the last time you went camping? Where’d you go?

 

Hiking Angel Island State Park

One of the advantages of having a birthday awesome friends is being able to persuade them to do crazy things like wake up at 8:00 am on a Saturday, take an hour-long ferry ride and go on a 5+ mile hike just for fun.

Angel Island group pic

{at the end of the day}

We stuck mostly to the primary trail on Angel Island, a 5 mile Perimeter Road that loops around the entire island. From the Perimeter Road, there are lots of side excursions and secondary trails, including some that will lead you to the top of the island, Mt. Livermore.

angel island map

{source}

Our first order of business was an impromptu photo shoot.

angel island

{borrowed from Y}

Angel Island is sometimes called the Ellis Island of the West. In the early 1900s it was used as a processing center for immigrants coming to the United States, primarily from China. The immigration station has been turned into a museum, and tours are available to detail the experiences of the immigrants.

Immigration Station

The museum is about a mile from the ferry docking area. As you continue farther along the Perimeter Road, there’s no shortage of views…

angel island

views

…or spooky ruins. Could you imagine camping here?! It’s got B-horror movie set written all over it!

ruins

Halfway through our hike, it was time to refuel. White wine and salsa verde Doritos, because we’re classy like that.

picnic

There’s a cantina and a cafe on the island for lunch offerings, but there are so many awesome picnic opportunities on the island, it’s worth it to pack in your own food and drinks.

Refueled and ready to go, we found a nice little beach that we had all to ourselves.

beach

Going off the main path to explore all the nooks and crannies Angel Island has to offer is a must, but be prepared for inclines and stairs of doom to get back to the main trail. Buns of steel!

stair masters

If you do eat at one of the places by the ferry dock, it’ll be overpriced and nothing to write home about. The quinoa salad at the cafe was a win, especially with chicken added to it.

lunch

A couple of ice cold beers later, and we were ready to sail off into the sunset.

ferry

RouteWhen you get off the ferry, you’ll see a sign for the Northridge Trail, and 140 lovely, steep steps. Take these steps (and feel the burn) until you get to the second paved road with signs for the Perimeter Road.  You can go left or right around the Perimeter Road, or follow signs leading to Mt. Livermore. If you choose not to go up to Mt. Livermore at this point, there are trails further down the Perimeter Road that will also take you to the top. The summit of Mt. Livermore is at 788 feet.

Details: The Perimeter Road is a paved, easy, 5 mile loop with a few gently rolling hills. If you plan on going up to Mt. Livermore, or connecting some of the inside trails to the Perimeter Road for a longer hike, difficulty will become moderate to hard.

Rules: Bikes are allowed on the paved Perimeter Road, but not on other trails.

Tips: Angel Island is only accessible by ferry or private boat. If you’re vacationing in the San Francisco Bay area, taking a day trip to explore Angel Island is a great way to add an active day to your vacation. If you’re not up for a hike, there are other options including bike rentals, segway tours, and tram rides. The island is mostly direct exposure, so sun screen is a must and hats/sunglasses are a good idea. We had gorgeous weather, but it’s easy to see how a windy day could be miserable. Be sure to bring layersThere’s a ton of history on Angel Island, so check out the state park website to figure out what spots you want to explore in-depth.

A shout out to my peoples for being up for an adventure and making my birthday unforgettable! Happy hiking!

Always, Sierra

fun times

{borrowed from J}