The view from my room at the Karl Schranz Hotel. (Photo: Cara Morgan)
Sparkling snow, pine tree tunnels and glimpses of blue sky awaited me on the Verwall Trail in Sankt Anton am Arlberg, Austria. St. Anton is known around the world for its lively apres ski scene. But I was delighted to discover that the town is home to a large network of walking and cross-country skiing trails that snake through its corner of the Austrian Alps in the state of Tyrol.
I was staying at the Karl Schranz Hotel, a lovely inn owned by the famous Austrian Apline skier. If I’d never heard of Schranz before I reached Austria, townsfolk made certain I left knowing of his World Championship titles. But I’m no Alpine skier. So I was excited to see what else the Austrian Alps had to offer.
But I cursed silently to myself when I discovered that I’d forgotten to pack my Yaktrax, traction devices that slip onto shoes for running on snow and ice. But that wasn’t going to stop me from getting in at least one trail run in this winter wonderland. Luckily, there was a trail close to my hotel.
About a quarter of a mile up a steep road was the beginning of the Verwall Trail that winds through Verwall Valley. I knew I’d found the trailhead when I found this sign: Loipen und Winterwanderwege, which translates ski trails and winter trails.
The trailhead sign. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
The loipen or cross-country ski trails, with their own magnificent entrance, ran beside the walking and running trails. Read the rest of this entry →
But I had yet to decide if I would use the race as a sub-2 hour half-marathon personal record attempt or a training run for a PR attempt later in the spring.
This is how I felt after the Newport Liberty Half Marathon. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
Well, I’ve decided.
While the runs I’ve been doing indicate that I am in or near PR shape, I haven’t put in the mileage I’d like to. Rather than have another crash and burn attempt, like my run at the DirectEdge Newport Liberty Half Marathon in the fall, I’d rather keep training, get my mileage up and use the race as a hilly, long run. Then I’ll target another race in April or early May as my big PR attempt.
1) It took me longer to get over jet lag than I would have liked. It was a 6-hour time difference and took me four full days to adjust to the point where I didn’t want to take a nap every moment of every day. Jerusalem is a 7-hour time difference and I’ll have been there for three days before I toe the line. I don’t want to get my heart set on a PR when my body will likely be dazed and confused. Unfortunately, I’m just one of those people who needs lots of sleep.
This trail through the Apls proved slippery for running without traction. (Photo: RunKarlaRun)
2) I meant to run every day on my trip. I really did. But I forgot to pack my Yaktrax. Crucial mistake. In the Austrian ski town of Sankt Anton am Arlberg, where I spent most of the trip, the roads weren’t even remotely safe for running—no shoulder, no sidewalk, steep inclines covered in ice, blind turns, and ski buses speeding by.
Trails abounded, but they were covered in packed snow and ice. I went for one run on a gorgeous trail intended precisely for walking and running, but it was so icy it took me 80 minutes to cover 4.5 miles. After nearly wiping out three times, I realized baby steps were the only way I’d get through the run.
But I cross-trained galore throwing in curling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, downhill skiing and swimming at my hotel pool.
3) I came home from the trip with a mystery pain under the ball of my left foot. I don’t notice it at all while walking. But it was bad enough that I curtailed my first run at home after just a mile and hopped on the bike instead. I did three more runs of increasing mileage, but still felt the pain lurking, especially on the road more so than the treadmill. I’m guessing I bruised a bone or something. I’ve been babying it in case it’s something more serious. Read the rest of this entry →
I thought this would be the perfect time to share an essay I wrote back in August 2007 called “I’ve Got Peace Like a River.” I was one month into training for my first marathon—the New York City Marathon—and at the end of a religion reporting fellowship. I’d spent the previous eight months immersing myself in the world of belief, traveling to India and across the U.S. to uncover stories of faith.
Near the end of the fellowship, my colleagues and I went on retreat at an Anglican monastery that observes complete silence for 12 hours every day, from 8:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. It was a unique experience to play Scrabble in silence and eat breakfast at communal tables in quietude.
But it gave me a chance for reflection; I think that was the point. In the stillness, I found that running, rowing, and swimming—the exercise of my life—have been the conduits of my own spirituality.
I’ve Got Peace Like a River
A tree on the Hudson River. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
Floating. The sun stares down, turning the inside of my eyelids red. The water feels warm, but a cold current tickles my fingers, rolling over them in tiny waves. My arms above my head, my toes pointed, I stretch as long as I can, tensing all my muscles, then relaxing. Little splashes of water wash over my face as the wake of a boat crosses the river toward me.
I float downstream. I am all alone. Just me and my river.
The Hudson runs past my home in Manhattan. But here, at the Holy Cross Monastery in upstate New York, it’s a retreat. A retreat from my work-a-day world into the inner sanctum of my own being. Read the rest of this entry →
The Jerusalem Marathon and Half Marathon. (Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90-IsrealTourism/Flickr)
In exactly seven weeks from today, I’ll be on the starting line of the Jerusalem Half Marathon as part of a press trip sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism in cooperation with El Al Airlines. Last week, I wrote about how meaningful this race will be for me. Now, it’s time to dive back into my half marathon training plan.
After the Walt Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday, January 11, which marked the end of my 46-day running streak, I took two weeks off from running. My body needed it. I did run once during that time: On Saturday, January 18 to participate in Meg’s Miles, honoring a runner killed by a drunk driver and raising awareness for runner safety.
Come Saturday, January 25, it was time to ease back into training. The Jerusalem Marathon and Half Marathon is an odd duck in the running world in that it’s on a Friday. So my new training schedule is Saturday to Friday, instead of the usual Monday to Sunday. I’ve got an eight-week half marathon training plan mapped out and am happy to say that Week 1 is successfully behind me.
We’re nearly a week into 2014 and my first three races of the year—the Disney Family Fun Run 5K, Walt Disney World 10K and Walt Disney World Half Marathon—are already upon us.
I guess it’s finally time to write down my running goals for 2014.
When I look at them, one thing comes to mind: I’m a Maverick. I want to go faster. In 2013, I made the realization I’m a Speed Demon, not an Endurance Monster. I love speed workouts. I hate long runs. I run a 6:46 mile, but have struggled to break 2 hours in the half-marathon. Speed, not distance, has been good to me. So I’m giving into that for 2014.
But let’s see how I did on my 2013 goals, first.
Running Goals For 2013
1. Get even faster
SUCCESS! I make this goal every year because it works for me. Last year I wrote: “In 2013, I’m going to try to knock out a 5K and 10K PR.” Done and done. I knocked out the following personal records in 2013: Read the rest of this entry →
There was the high of running in Hawai’i and the low of getting sick for my fall marathon. And there was the redemption of a 5K PR after marathon season was over.
If 2013 taught me anything, it’s that you can’t win them all. But you can still have fun trying.
This photo of me with my finisher’s medal at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is proof of that. I was sick, failed to run a marathon personal best like I wanted, but still managed to enjoy the race. My smile says it all.
And you know what? When you give a goal your best and fail, it makes the successes even sweeter. I ran 6 of the 13 races either as fun runs or training runs and I ran 7 of the 13 races as races, pushing with everything I had. I managed to PR at three of them, and scored a few PRs in workouts without even trying, too. I’ll save those for my Goals of 2014 post.
Running through Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. (Photo: Phil Hospod)
Hawai’i Island is the triathlon Mecca of the world. But Hawai’i is also a great running vacation destination, as my husband, Phil, and I learned on a trip there in August, which was sponsored by the Hawai’i Visitors and Convention Bureau. When it comes to running in Hawai’i—whether you’re going there to race, to train or just for fun—there are many iconic, unforgettable places to get in a jog.
I put together a “Running Vacation” guide to Hawai’i, the Big Island in my column at The Washington Times Communities. Here are some highlights and embellishments.
What To Race
Triathlons in Hawai’i
A cyclist on Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway (Photo: Phil Hospod)
To compete in the Ironman World Championship, athletes must earn a spot at a qualifying race, gain entry through a lottery or win a bib at a charitable auction. But that’s not the only triathlon on Hawai’i Island.
The Ironman 70.3 Hawai’i on May 31, 2014 is the only Ironman World Championship qualifier held on the island, with a start and finish on the Kohala Coast.
Or try the Lavaman Triathlon Series with Olympic distance races at Keauhou on November 24, 2013 and Waikoloa on March 30, 2014. And many other triathlon events take place on the island throughout the year.
And Peaman puts on a free series of events throughout the year. There are lots of year-round options for running in Hawai’i.
Where To Run
Views from a run on Ali’i Drive. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)
The most famous spot for running in Hawai’i might be Ali’i Drive. The iconic road is seven-miles long from start to finish with markers every mile. Winding through Kailua-Kona, the oceanfront road features prominently in most races in Kona, including the Ironman World Championship and Kona Marathon.
Phil and I made sure to get in a run along the route while we were staying at the Sheraton Kona, which is perfectly situated and the end of Ali’i Drive. Read the rest of this entry →
This is it. With four weeks down, I’m entering the final stretch of the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak.
So far, my quest to run at least 1 mile every day from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day has been a resounding success.
I had a slight drop-down in mileage this week thanks to holiday festivities, but my Monday to Sunday calendar week was my highest yet at 28.94 miles.
It’s keeping me so motivated that I’m thinking on continuing the streak into 2014.
But one step at a time. I have to get to the finish line of the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak first.
Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak: Week 4
Wednesday, December 18: 3.51 miles
My favorite way to kill time on a treadmill is to push buttons. And a fartlek workout is a perfect workout for button-pushing. So I did 1-minute hard and 1-minute easy for 30 minutes with a little warm-up and cool-down on each side. Read the rest of this entry →
Only I have discovered that 2 miles is the new 1 mile.
Without consciously setting out to do it, I upped my mileage with longer “rest” days. Instead of 1 mile, I decided to get in 20 minutes of easy cardio.
The result? I feel amazing. I honestly can’t believe how well the streak is going and how totally normal running every day feels. I’m over the tiredness I felt in Week 2.
Ask me again in another few weeks, but for now, running and I are besties.
Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak: Week 3
Wednesday, December 11: 2.05 miles
I had some errands to run that were roughly 1 mile away from home. So I ran there. And ran back. Love sneaking in easy miles that way. Plus, in certain neighborhoods and times of day, running is actually faster than the subway, bus, or cabs. Oh, to live in New York City.
Thursday, December 12: 6.25 miles
This was a gentle progression run on the treadmill. I watched TV, instead of listening to music as usual, and the miles just flew by. I could have kept going and going and going. It was my longest and overall fastest run of the week. Some days, you’re just on. Read the rest of this entry →
As tempting as it would be to tackle the marathon or, even more, the Dopey Challenge, I’m “just” going to run every other race that weekend instead. That’s right, I’ll be tackling the Disney Family Fun Run 5K, Walt Disney World 10K and Walt Disney World Half Marathon on three consecutive days. Read the rest of this entry →
It’s alive!!! I’ve made it through two weeks of the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak.
In Week 1 I did 20.15 miles. This week I topped that by 3.56 miles. My plan is to use this streak as a base for some super fast personal record attempts in the Spring.
And it’s all going according to plan, mwah ha ha ha.
I started Week 2 feeling a bit worn down. Wednesday and Thursday took every drop of mental fortitude I had. My body and my mind just didn’t want to run. The bloom and excitement of starting the streak had worn off. I think my body started feeling the effects of running every day. But then I got my groove and finished the week strong.
Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak: Week 2
Wednesday, Dec. 4: 1.00 mile
I was just inexplicably tired. I logged precisely 1-mile with my dog. I mapped it out before hand and stopped the second I crossed the 1-mile mark. Sometimes a girl needs a break.
Thursday, Dec. 5: 5.32 miles
I planned a 5-mile workout. Every ounce of me wanted to quit at 3 miles. I was on the treadmill and I just wasn’t feeling it. The seconds were crawling by. But I made myself finish. Read the rest of this entry →
It was snowing just yesterday, my Christmas tree is lighting up my living room and Christmas is just two weeks away. Wondering what to get for the runner on your list? These are just a few of my favorite things: the best gifts for runners this year.
I get lots of samples from sports companies and buy plenty of gear myself. The products on this list represent my favorite clothes, gadgets and gear currently available from a range of brands. In clothing, I’ve tried the women’s versions, but many come in men’s options too. I’ve indicated which items are available for men or in unisex sizing—a full 30 of them are. And I’ve included the list prices, though you’ll find many items for less than that.
Also, if it’s been in a past gift guide of mine, I didn’t include it here. But many of the products I highlighted in the days of yore are still available. So here are my guides from 2012, 2011, and 2009.
Without further ado, it’s time to get shopping and wish-listing. Here are my favorite running jackets, layers, tights, shorts, tanks, socks, sleeves, sports bras, gadgets, books and more this year. There are nearly 50 items in all.
So far, I’ve been surprised by how easy it’s been. But much of my first week was a “vacation” week, away from my desk and cavorting with family. So it was relatively easy to make time to run every day.
Now that I’m home and back behind the computer, things are getting real. Yesterday, I squeezed in one measly mile on the treadmill sandwiched between work and an evening trip to the grocery store because I had zero, and I mean, zero, zilch, nada food in my kitchen.
I know that not every day is going to be great. Those 1-miles days are essentially my days off. But I was surprised by how laborious that 1-mile felt. Here’s hoping today is better!
Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak Week 1
Wednesday, Nov. 27: 6.50 miles
I started strong one day earlier than the official start on Thanksgiving Day with six miles and six hill repeats thrown in. Bam! It felt amazing.
Thursday, Nov. 28: 2.15 miles
I wanted to run more but this was all I had time for before it was time to start cooking for the big Thanksgiving feast. But I was still riding a high from the day before. Read the rest of this entry →
Ready for the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak. (Photo: Phil Hospod)
As Thanksgiving Day rapidly approaches I’m struggling with an age-old running question: To streak or not to streak? Back in 2011, I participated in the first annual Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak. I ran at least a mile a day from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, logging 100 miles in 40 days during a month when I often sit on my butt. It was an excellent exercise in perseverance that helped me battle the gluttony of the holidays and sluggishness of cold, dark winter days. I didn’t run a fall marathon in 2011, so I was raring to go.
Come 2012, I’d finished the Philadelphia Marathon just four days before Thanksgiving and I didn’t have the running streak in me. I needed a break.
But this year, I’m debating taking the pledge once again. My fall marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, is more than a month behind me and I’m feeling that familiar itch—the itch to train. I loved doing the running streak in 2011. It kept me honest and gave me a great training base for nabbing some personal bests in 2012, which proved to be one of my fastest years on record. Though I bested my 5K and 10K times this year, my half-marathon and marathon PRs from 2012 still stand.
But the Holiday Running Streak is a commitment. I found that squeezing in a mile was sometimes difficult. There were midnight runs, a pre-holiday party run in 3-inch heels, and post-dinner runs with creamed spinach jiggling in my belly. There were sick runs, runs during snowstorms in rural Quebec, and plain, old “I don’t want to” runs.
I’m not the fastest runner and I’m not the slowest, but I am a running nerd. A journalist by trade, I love to research, read, learn and cogitate. So stick with me. Like all good nerds, I’ll do the homework and share it. But the running is up to you!