Week 5: “He looks like an angry softball trying to get out of a coin purse.”

First thing’s first. Meet my new best friend.

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Apparently the only way I can get myself to do anything worthwhile is via random ass challenges, so I’ve started a gallon challenge. No, not that gallon challenge. (My cross country team would do a gallon challenge during preseason every year. I never participated because milk is super nast, but I got to see a lot of my friends vomiting uncontrollably into a river.)

I have to drink a gallon of water every day. For a long time, I was great about staying ultrahydrated, but I’ve fallen off the water wagon pretty hard lately. Drinking water is a lot of work, and I would like to just use an IV instead. I’ve actually heard that EMTs will hook themselves up to an IV when they’re severely hungover, those lucky bastards. Anyways, I digress.

It’s been pretty easy to finish a gallon a day so far. I just pretend that jug is my child and it will die if I don’t drink all of it. And I don’t even like children. Easy peasy. I now pee like I’m pregnant too.

Tuesday: 5 mile trail run

Thursday: 2 mile walk

Friday: 7 mile trail run

—–

Weekly total: 14 miles

TOTAL total: 75 miles

Didn’t quite hit my mileage this week. I meant to hike on Sunday, but I really needed to cross train, and you’ll have to read the rest of the post to find out why. Also, was spending a lot of time with my other best (liquid) friend this week.

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So, the run on Tuesday was the most incredibly awful shitty disgusting run I’ve done in recent memory. I actually thought I might die.

I checked out Sharp’s Ridge Trail. It’s not actually part of the Knoxville Greenways system, but I found it on the greenway map. The trail is about 1.25 miles long, a nice dirt singletrack in a densely wooded area. Really pretty. The trail also has some short but fun ups and downs. I think what I’ve been running lately is too boring (i.e., flat). IMG_3048

The trail is unique because it’s on a random ridge in the middle of an urban area, but if you ignore the subtle sounds of interstate traffic, you would think you’re in the middle of nowhere due to how dense the vegetation is. I only saw a single other person in the park, some friendly old dude with binocs. This is fuckin rare for Knoxville, as most of the trails are crawling with people doing shit. I appreciated it greatly because it meant no one was there to see me suffering and probs looking like trash.

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I ran Sharp’s Ridge four times to get out 5 miles, and felt like death after the first half mile. This was mostly due to allergies, which I’ve never had to deal with before, but I basically had a cold and my body felt like shit. I was also a little dehydrated due to Cinco de Drinko activities the night before (see my solution to that problem above). The cherry on top was that it was VERY hot and VERY humid. It took a lot of willpower to not quit when I got back to my car after 2.5 miles.

I stopped paying attention to my form because I was so exhausted  and miserable and started feeling some soreness in my shins during the third traverse. My running form has been a years-long project and I’ve pretty much gotten to the point where I don’t have to think too hard to maintain it. Or so I thought. My knees were cracking a lot more the next couple of days than they had been recently, causing me to have some spastic freakout moments about my knees getting injured again. Ugh. #firstworldproblems

I wanted to do a longer run later in the week in preparation for the Panther Creek 5 miler next weekend (more on that in the next post) and planned out what I thought was 7 miles in the Ross Marble Quarry area south of Ijams Nature Center. Starting from the parking lot by the quarry, I intended to do the south loop section in the park (Ross Marble and Burnett Ridge trails) and then do Flow out and back.

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Source

I’ve done a longer run on the greenway in that area with some friends who were training for a marathon before, but have heard good things about the trails and have never checked them out before. The trails were really nice, very well maintained and in a pretty, forested area. Like Sharp’s Ridge, there were a lot more ups and downs than I’ve been doing recently, but had that rollercoaster feel even more so, and I loved it.

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This is the latest installment in a project called Shit Found in The Woods, which was started on my first solo backpacking trip three or four years ago in Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky.

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While I was really nervous about this run the night before because of the consequences of the Sharp’s Ridge Trail run, it actually went extremely well. I felt light on my feet the entire time and was just flowing along the trails. It was cooler than it’s been because of clouds from an impending storm, though still humid enough that I was drenched in sweat by the end.

I did unfortunately start feeling some pressure in my left knee after I’d finished the south loop portion, but because I’m a stubborn asshole like most runners, decided to try to do the Flow section as planned. Obviously, my knee didn’t get any better as I ran more, so I ended up not finishing that trail. I think I did 0.75 miles-ish of it.

From what I can tell using the magic of the internet, I ran somewhere between 6 and 8 miles that day, but I don’t know for sure. I should probably start a “Kristina needs a Garmin” fund, or just stop being so damn frugal and fork over the cash. My lame ass excuse is that I’m a poor graduate student.

In summary, my knees were acting up this week and that freaks me out. They’ve been cracking and they were pretty sore after sitting in a car for four hours on Saturday. My knees are just delicate snowflakes, though, and sometimes they have to remind me they’re there. I need to better about cross training; the more I run, the more I should cross train, but it tends to go the other way. Also, while I thought yoga would be a sufficient replacement for strength exercises, I did some hip work yesterday and discovered that my hips were not as strong as I thought. Fail.

Sorry for all the words in this post. My body misbehaving makes me a little word vomit-y. As part of my apology, have this picture of a cat.

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