Running keeps me honest

**talks on 2 phones at the same time**

**talks on 2 phones at the same time**


Checking in here again after a sort of unplanned's been super full lately, and I just didn't have the time/interest/enthusiasm to blog. But I'm here to report that after months of low enthusiasm and motivation for running, I'm feeling the itch to run and TRAIN again.

I've been thinking about how, every year, I go through a period of detraining where I don't run for months and months at a time. I'd probably have faster progress if I didn't do this every year, but man, I always reach a point where I am just done with running. So, with an indifferent shrug re: how this long break will affect my progress, I registered for the Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon on October 18.

At first running a fall half felt like a compromise (halfway between marathon and nothing) but now I'm fired up about it. I have some serious unfinished busness with this distance. Twice now I've set half marathon PRs in the middle of marathons. I still don't have my 1:4x half marathon time, even though I've run it as a 13.1 split mid-marathon. During three separate half marathon cycles, I've gotten injured and had to take over 2 weeks off from training each time (my first half, Hamptons 2012, and also Wisconsin 2013, and City of Oaks 2014). 

I'm not expecting to PR at Bull City given my current fitness, the hilly course, and the fact that it's just 12 weeks away, but it's early enough that if things were going well I could try for a PR at a late fall half. Who knows? I want to see what will happen.

I'm putting together a half marathon training plan based on Runner's World's SmartCoach, which I used for my some of my very first training plans as a beginner. Since I'm starting with nothing, my weekly mileage is starting at 6 miles per week (that's not a typo) and goes up to like, 20. Maybe I will reach 30 if I completely disobey my plan and recommended mileage increase formulas. My first "training run" was yesterday -- 2 miles, and it was tough. Something I love about running: it keeps me honest, it doesn't give me a pass because I "used to" train hard. 

Is anyone else running a half marathon this fall?

Portable summer hydration: A review of the LifeStraw Go

Note: I received a LifeStraw Go for free from Eartheasy, and I let them know I'd try it out and write a review, but I haven't been otherwise compensated for this post. I also haven't been asked to say certain things, or told how to write this. Questions? Just ask -- I want to be maximally transparent about this kind of thing!

A while back I went to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee for a long weekend. One thing to know about hiking in Appalachia: There's water everywhere! I remember hiking in the Catskills and going a whole day or more without seeing any water at all. We definitely don't have that problem here. In the Blue Ridge Mountains where I usually go backpacking, and definitely on this trip in the Smokies, there are often multiple stream and river crossings for even a short hike.

It was hot and the water was a very welcome diversion, even if it was astonishingly cold! We explored waterfalls and people (not me) swam in frigid mountain springs and streams.

We went on some long, looong hikes, including up Chimney Top, which has a bare rock vertical climb to the summit, but 360-degree views one you're up! I have a little bit of a fear of heights and had a few minor panics going up, but nothing a short break and deep breathing couldn't fix.

The only problem was, we hiked for a loong time (5-6 hours) and I downed all the water in my water bottle way too early in our hike. For day hikes, I just never really think to bring a water filter and all that business, so even though we were surrounded my water, I couldn't drink any of it. By the time we got back I was parched and grateful for clean water.

This is why I was totally psyched when Eartheasy reached out to me about trying a new product from LifeStraw, the LifeStraw Go.

The LifeStraw got a ton of coverage when it first came out: I first learned about it a few years ago after traveling to Kenya. Basically, it is a super super super cheap personal water filter. (Water filtration systems are usually around a hundred bucks; the LifeStraw is under $25.) It's basically a straw that filters the water as you drink from it, making potable water from all kinds of distrustful sources, like lakes, ponds, puddles, rainwater, dirty tap water, etc. This is a big deal in the developing world, and also a pretty awesome thing for backpackers, kayakers, hikers, cyclists, etc. And, the company uses a portion of the profits (though I'm not sure how much) to set up water filtration systems in school and communities

The LifeStraw Go is about $10 more than the regular LifeStraw, and it's basically a LifeStraw wrapped in a 23-oz BPA-free water bottle, meaning it's great for when you want to quickly refill water and keep moving. I tested it out on a hot day at the Eno Rock Quarry.

It's pretty simple! If you unscrew the top + LifeStraw, it's just a regular water bottle made of hard, Nalgene-like plastic. Fill it up....

Screw the lid back on...

And drink! The straw filters the water as you drink.

After you get home, just rinse it really well with clean water and let it dry. The filter lasts for about 1000 liters worth of water, 

I was not expecting to be so dazzled by this thing, but it's really empowering to feel like the whole world is your water fountain. It's kind of the way I felt when I first got a Garmin, and I realized I could have track practice anywhere I wanted. 

Thanks to Eartheasy, which is a cool company in its own right -- they're entirely carbon-neutral, and they work with Trees for the Future Foundation to have a tree planted for every order placed.