April has been one of the most hectic, stressful, most beautiful, wonderful, and amazing months of the year. April for me has brought high mileage leading up to my 1st ultra in the beginning of May, new adventures with friends, and new beginnings as my internship concluded. In one word, April has been crazy.
Through all the chaos though, April has made me a stronger runner and a more mindful individual. I’ve come to appreciate the people who make me who I am today and who I want to continue to spend time with in the future. These are the people that understand my stressors, who can relate to my own little mind games, and who can push me to become the best possible person I can be. And I am forever grateful for these people.
These note-worthy runs are runs that has left an imprint on my mind and will come creeping into my mind during the rough parts of my upcoming ultras. I will have to remind myself of these runs to fight through the pain in order to get one step closer to that finish line:
April 1st – This was a night run that I did with Angela. We had gotten back from a long second day representing SparklySoul at the Hot Chocolate Philly 15k expo. Meteorologists had warned people of potential thunderstorms but we needed to get a run in. So we started on our run at around 8:30 PM with thunder booming in the distance. We wanted to run at least 5 miles but ended up only doing 3 at tempo pace because the storm was moving faster than we were. Although we ran negative splits during this run, we were literally sprinting around Angela’s block at sub-7:30 pace trying to avoid bolts of lightening. In a nutshell, this was a fun and comical start to April.
April 3rd – This was my first run ever at a place in Delaware called White Clay. I was accompanied by my best trail running buddy, Josh, who runs this trail system at least twice a week. He knew the trails inside and out, and could probably run the trails with his eyes closed. Sundays are typically our long run days so we aimed to do at least 16 miles. This day was also extremely windy with wind gusts approaching 50 MPH (another comical start to April, right?). We ended up doing 18 miles, averaging 10:15 pace. Considering the rolling hills, the weather conditions, and my 1st time ever running on these trails, I was quite pleased. It was a great run with great company!
April 10th – Josh and I went back to White Clay and the weather was much better than the week before! I started liking White Clay more and more this second time because the trails are slow, rolling hills instead of the steep inclines like Brandywine. We ran 16 miles, averaging 10:09 pace. This day we also planned to meet up with my parents and mountain bike at Brandywine. I’m not nearly as strong on two wheels as I am on two feet, but I was rather impressed by how I managed to pedal up the steep sections and maneuver the downhills. Our group mountain bike ride ended up being 12 miles. Josh and I had ran 16 miles, then biked 12, so we rewarded ourselves with a pizza. This was an awesome day!
April 13th – Every week in April I’ve tried to incorporate at least one longer run. Today’s run was an easy 10 miles. I was feeling anxious to run fast and had every intention of making this 10 mile run a progression run. But due to the warmer temps, my four-legged running buddy, Gwin, couldn’t maintain a fast pace for the first 6.2 miles. After I dropped her off, I set a new goal to run at least one of the next 4 miles under 8 minutes. Turns out, all four miles were sub-8 (7:50, 7:33, 7:33, 7:38). This run left me feeling more confident than ever. I was so shocked to see consecutive 7:33s on my watch – especially for miles 8 and 9. I was hitting my stride and my ultra was in a little over a month!
April 15th – A few weeks before, I had signed up for a 1-mile fun race hosted by a nearby running club I am a part of. The mile race was on the track with a laid-back group of runners. I was nervous though because I hadn’t ran a race since my marathon in November and I didn’t particularly like running fast (especially an all out sprint for one mile). I was nervous all day but luckily when I got to the race, Angela calmed my nerves during our warm-up and I was surrounded by people I knew and felt comfortable around. My parents, granny, and Josh were the only 4 spectators and everyone else there was in the race. I ended up running a 6:24 which I am extremely happy with. I was the 2nd overall female (Angela won! – read about it here!) and 6th place overall. Considering I haven’t ran a race in 6 months, haven’t done any speed workouts in about 7 months, and have been training specifically for this ultra, I was more than thrilled by my time. It hurt but it was a lot of fun and I’m glad that I did it!
April 17th – Another long run Sunday with Josh! We opted to go to Batsto in the Pine Barrens for a nice soft and flat 20 mile run. I felt awesome during this run and ended up pushing the pace for the 2nd half of the run. We averaged 9:40 pace which I am more than pleased with. This was an absolutely beautiful and warm day! Another great run with great company! I was loving everything about ultra training on this day!
April 21st – This was yet another 20 mile run because Hyner weekend was coming up and I had to re-organize my normal weekly training schedule. I opted to do my long run on a Thursday. I ran consistent 9 minute miles for the first 11.6 miles and then Angela tagged along for the last 8.4 miles in which we started averaging closer to 8:45 pace. This was an awesome training run that left me feeling extremely confident in my training thus far. I was excited to be accompanied by Angela for the last 8 miles – she kept my focus away from any fatigue I may have been feeling which I greatly appreciated. 20 miles, averaging 9:00/mile.
April 23rd – aka #Hyner weekend. I travelled up to Hyner, PA to cheer on my dad and some fellow trail friends during their respective 25k or 50ks. I was told to go to the top of Hyner View to cheer everyone on which included traversing up the infamous Humble Hill. I left the starting area at 7 AM, one hour before starting time, in order to give myself time to get to the top which was 3.5 miles up a mountain. Turns out, I needed that full hour to get to the top. It took me 57 minutes to get to the top. My elevation gain read a little over 1500 feet. This race was going to be no joke for these guys and I felt lucky that I wasn’t torturing myself on the course that day. I waited at the top to see all the guys come through with my cowbell in hand! I traversed down another trail called Huff’s Run Trail to get back to the bottom of the mountain – another 3.5 miles with 1500 feet of descent again. I liked the descent way better than I liked ascending. I tacked on another 2.5 miles at the end of my run to reach my goal mileage for the day of 20 miles. The rest of my day was spent cheering on Josh, Aaron, Chad, and my dad as they finished their races. Our night was spent celebrating with some drinks, good food, and a bonfire. And we ended the night stargazing into the crystal clear sky surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges. This was just an all-around great day – I love spending time with trail runners!
Although there is still a week left in April, I felt due for a blog post updating on my ultra training. This blog post has allowed me to reflect on the great runs of April that have left me feeling stronger and more confident on the trails. I’m happy with how my training has been going and I am looking forward to one last week of quality training before I start tapering for my ultra!