chords and cadence

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Archive for the category “Bluegrass”

How to Have a Happy Trail Run

Without warning, it hit me: I really, really needed a good nature fix. I was starting to twitch. I needed more than a weekly, leisurely nature walk that didn’t get my heart rate up enough. I need to be out there longer. Sweat. Climb a damn hill with dirt on it. Burn my quads. Do a snot rocket.

The fiance came out with me for a 4.5-mile hike on the Mossy Ridge Trail at Percy Warner park on Sunday after church. Not more than 50 yards on the trail, it gnawed at me: Where have you been? Why not here? for I am nothing if not a girl in her happiest place on Earth on the trails surrounded by tall trees.

Hill Bench in its glory

I like how they put this bench at the top of one hill and the bottom of another. #foresight

As previously posted, running and I recently re-kindled our relationship and that has included small appetizers of trail running on the safe 2.5-mile Warner Woods Trail. I was secretly ashamed of myself that a short run like that would wipe me out like it did, but only because I know how much I used to tear it up. I wanted to run more and get back to what I used to do, but fear and self-doubt was successful at talking me down. You can’t do what you used to do three times a week anymore like it’s nothing! You’re almost 27. That’s considered your late 20s… Remember the creaking you hear in your knees? Better do some downward dogs instead.

I decided I’d had enough of the negative self-talk; it was time to stick it to the man/myself. I decided to pick up where I left off with trail running and allowing myself grace, I went for a long trail run and bucked any comparisons to my previous altitude-trained, 23-year-old self. And while I had an undeniably awesome, transcendent time (per usual) I did forget some crazy essential tips that could’ve made the beforeduring, and after a little more enjoyable.

Here are my tips for a happy trail run.

Before

  1. Load your car with a fresh towel or two, and a bandanna to bring with you as a sweat rag. Sweat pouring into your eyes and stinging them as you try to dominate a hill is just salt on a wound. Preventable!
  2. Drink up well before the run! Seriously, hydration is and will be your best friend. I’m no scientific expert, but drink enough so that your pee is clear. K? I’d like to make note that this is the first time I’ve talked about pee on a running blog. If you’re a runner, you are so impressed with me right now. Bring along water for after your run, an electrolyte drink (I love Nuun when I have it, or zero-calorie Powerade), and snacks in your car for when runger takes over on the drive home.
  3. Wear an article of clothing with a pocket for your car key. Yesterday, in full rookie mode, I wore no-pocket yoga pants and I improvised. MacGyver skills, while impressive, shouldn’t be necessary when we have been blessed by the existence of pocketed active wear.
  4. Naïveté isn’t cute or safe. Map out where you’re going and check the weather so you know what you’re dealing with. Unless you’re adventurous and have your phone with you, are fully prepared for the elements and have a load of time on your hands, knowing where you’re going and in what conditions are a must.  And since this is trail running, if you can check the elevation gain on the trail, DO. IT. unless you like to learn the hard way that a 4-mile route gains 225 ft. in a quarter mile. Hey, depending on your level of masochism, that may be a picnic! It would be for me on a good day!
  5. Sunscreen and bug spray yourself. I totally remembered this yesterday… totally.
  6. Tell someone who loves you that you’re bad ass and going for a trail run. And/or bring your phone. The good and bad of it is: the world is unpredictable and anything can happen. Turn your phone on “Do Not Disturb” if you really wanna feel like you’re unplugging, but still have a safety net.

    There's no place like a trail that smells like Jasmine

    Right here I had to stop and take a picture because I was breathing really hard but also because it smelled overwhelmingly like jasmine and I felt like I was not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

During

  1. Taylor’s Heaven on Earth = trail running with an eclectic mix that puts her back in Colorado. This includes, but is not limited to: Sam Bush, Infamous Stringdusters, Railroad Earth, YMSB, String Cheese Incident, Punch Brothers, Greensky Bluegrass, Grateful Dead. If you want my playlist, I’m happy to oblige. NOW: The important part of this that I MUST stress is keep the volume low enough to communicate with others on the trail. Guys, I was coming up behind this girl yesterday with her Beats By Dre turned up and although I was kindly alerting her that I was coming up on her left in plenty of time, she had NO CLUE I was around until I had to slow down and squeeze by her (and give her the stink  eye, because REALLY?). Not only for your own safety (hi, random attacker!) but also for the courtesy of others – keep your volume down so you can still hear what’s going on around you. Which brings me to my next point…
  2. Be kind and let people know you’re coming up behind them. Call out a little ways out with a friendly “Hey there! On your left!” Don’t whiz past them like they’re in your way – trails are for everyone to enjoy responsibly. Practice the Golden Rule here. Make friends. Be good.
  3. Pick up your feet! Trail running is not without things you will be challenged to negotiate quickly! Get into a zone and pay attention to what’s ahead of you. You will be amazed at how your brain works to anticipate what’s to come and how your body responds. If you find yourself timid to go too fast down a hill littered with roots and rocks, take it slow but prepare yourself for next time by doing some drills: running stairs, high knees, and butt kicks, or lateral exercises like shuffling and grapevine. Strength training helps, too. Now, give me 10 squats!
  4. HILLS – try not to look at what you have ahead of you too much for too long – it will mess with you mentally. Just take one step at a time as you ascend. Yesterday, I was halfway up a hill before I realized I was running up a HUGE one, and guess what? I had enough (mental?) energy to take me to the top! Then, at another hill, I sized it up as I approached it and didn’t make it up without psyching myself out. Trail running is a mental game, like anything else, and there are ways to hack it.
  5. Stop and smell the flowers. Don’t hold yourself to a strict time limit. Allow yourself to stop and soak in the nature and beauty around you. That’s what trail running is about! Recognize you’re blessed enough to be where you are, feel the burn in your lungs and the pulsing of blood in your legs. THIS IS LIFE! THIS IS WHAT IT IS ABOUT! And then keep going.

After

  1. That towel you packed? Sit on it and save your car seats. Wipe the sweat and dirt and mud off ya, if you got so lucky.
  2. Luxuriate with these. Especially if you want anyone to actually come close to you when you get home. Or, any baby wipe will do.
  3. Drink water, eat something. Avoid headaches, literally, and thank your muscles with carbs and protein.
  4. Check for ticks. Lyme disease ain’t no joke.
  5. Foam roll within a couple hours of your run so you’re not out of commission for the next three days with Icy Hot as your main squeeze. Foam rolling can really ruin a DOMS party in your muscles.

I won’t admit to how many of the above I had to re-learn yesterday, which was the real impetus behind this post. But that’s what I get for staying away so long!

Returning to the trails to run them made me feel more than ordinary; I was no longer a boring person with a desk job. I sank into my zone, listened to each and every note in my hippie music and didn’t do a whole lot of thinking otherwise. It was simple: I had a happy trail run, and after reading this if you go out and try it, I really hope you do too.8926bb1859448aa8bd7cdcc00995a5c6

 

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Running on bluegrass, survivng a mid-run bee sting, and R&R: Colorado style

Right now I am sitting in my parents’ living room in Evergreen, Colorado with my feet up and football on tv (Broncos on soon!). The sun is shining the prettiest light on the golden aspen leaves outside, and any hints that it snowed two days ago are long gone.

One week ago I was eating huevos rancheros with extra hot sauce in a sleepy, bluegrass-hungover Raleigh, NC, jonesing to come home to Nashville.

Life has been a bit of a blur lately. I’ll catch you up as to why.

World of Bluegrass Week

Remember that metaphorical marathon which was the subject in my last blog?

Well, I didn’t get a picture with Steve Martin. Nor did I technically meet him, but that’s okay. We sat by each other offstage during Punch Brothers’ set and I’ll take that memory to the bank. I also sat backstage while Tony Rice accepted his Hall of Fame induction, and miraculously got his 20-years-gone voice back. I met Ricky Skaggs, Rhonda Vincent, Noam Pikelny, Fiddle Player of the Year Jason Carter, and THE Del McCoury. I heard amazing music, and got paid for it. THAT was my metaphorical medal that I took back to Nashville. It looks good in my apartment, trust me.1276333_10151733233498759_2074428410_o

SO – World of Bluegrass went as well as we hoped, and then some. We blew away everyone’s expectations of the week, even our own. It was a 100% success.

As for the literal marathon training, I got up at 5:45am five out of seven days to run on the hotel’s fitness center’s treadmill, totaling 26 miles the whole week. I was thankful for the clean and open facilities, but would have loved to run outside. It was just too dark to do that. At the end of each day, I was rendered completely spent after running a business conference, award show, seminars, and putting out fires everywhere in between. Even being so social all the time was draining! By the end of the week, I felt increasingly in need of alone time, and for a good long run outdoors.

Back in Nashville

My first full day back in Nashville, I had the opportunity to seize my nature fix. So I did. For the first time in too long, I started off on the Cane Connector trail at Percy Warner. The weather was perfect; a crisp 72 degrees, with no doubt that fall was starting to make itself comfortable. I listened to the Eddie Vedder Pandora Station (highly recommended) and was feeling refreshed, fast, and blissful with every hill. During a Led Zeppelin song (“Back to California” to be exact) I felt an odd, sharp pain on my left index finger. Still running, I looked down and saw a determined little bee, the source of the sting. At first I didn’t know what to do; I was kind of stunned. I was at least three miles from my car and was worried about the effect the bee sting would have on me since I probably wasn’t hydrated well, and was prone to feeling woozy anyway. I put on my Big Girl Pants and kept running, figuring the adrenaline would ease the pain of the sting. It did, mostly, and I survived the run while still meeting my projected pace. Still waiting on my “I’m Brave!” sticker… should be coming in the mail soon, right guys?

I thoroughly enjoyed back-to-back nights of yoga (inversions, ftw!), and a great 6.5 miler with my East Nasties. Being without World of Bluegrass work responsibilities, I felt like a kid on Summer Vacation with extra time and less stress on my hands, filling it with yoga, running, Girls on the Run, and friends. It was spectacular.

Colorado: Surprise!

If you don’t have a best friend with Buddy Pass privileges, I’d suggest you finding one. Thanks to my best friend with Buddy Pass privileges, I was able to make an impromptu trip back to Colorado just four days after getting back from Raleigh. My parents had plans to go to Vail, invited me to join, and suggested I surprise my sister. Surprising my sister made her cry (in a good way), and I also surprised a good friend from college.

Surprises spice things up for the people you care about in life. Pro tip: Do it as much for you as you do for them. It’s awesome.

Whenever I’ve come home, my version of R&R consists of being even more active and playing outside, and this time was no different.

My mom proved that even though I’m a marathon runner, she can still kick my butt. “Let’s go to Tabata class and stay after for Butts and Guts!” she said. “It’ll be fun!” she said.

My hamstrings, butt, quads, calves, toes and eyelashes can attest that it was very fun. They’re still shaking from having so much fun.

We decided to forego a rest day for a hike in the high country, taking in the awe-inspiring fall colors and taking advantage of the crisp autumnal weather. I’d like to believe I’m much more eloquent through the written word than I am through the spoken one, but even those colors leave me searching for words. It is impossible not to believe, or even entertain the idea, that the leaves changing colors is proof that God exists. If you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by a forest of golden aspen trees with the sun shining through, and snow on the ground, you’re lucky enough.

photo

Today, I took a shake-out run around our neighborhood in the hopes that the lactic acid would get to moving around in my sore lower-half a little more. It felt good, but I noticed the thinner air.

Looking ahead

I head back to Nashville in a few hours and tomorrow resume a normal work week with a normal routine. But I forget what ‘normal’ is.

With less than three weeks to go until 7 Bridges, I’ll start getting into the tapering phase of training, even though ‘training’ has been a relative term this go-around. But I’m not looking behind me in my lost mileage, lost long runs, lost speed workouts. I’m only looking ahead.

Metaphorically speaking

It’s 9:13pm on a Friday.

I’m in my pajamas, glasses, and I’m wearing a green face mask because I’ve been known to live it up on Fridays.

I went to the gym tonight at 7:30, listened to an episode of “This American Life,” and I did the stairmaster. The gym was as empty as you would think at 7:30 on a Friday night, which was nice. More room for lunges.

The socially-conditioned don’t-miss-out-on-anything part of me (that I wish were non-existent) feels like a total loser. But the authentic part of me couldn’t be more relieved to have this kind of night, regardless who may be “TGIF-ing” it up downtown with adult beverages and live music. I need this introverted Friday night in with just my mason jar of ice water, my mint green face mask, and my foam roller. I can’t be bothered. Really…you don’t want to see this face mask. Sometimes you have to get ugly before you can get pretty…

It’s like the night before a marathon for me, except I’ve been training for this marathon since March, and it’s going to last over a week, and I’m getting paid for it, and I might get to meet Steve Martin.

Tomorrow I leave for the World of Bluegrass – part business conference, part artist showcase, part award show, part festival, and wholly a bluegrass mecca. I’m part of a crew of people running the whole shebang. It’s like game time, guys. Starting Line kind of stuff. I’m antsy, waiting for the official to pop the gun.

Only a super dork would compare a work conference to a marathon like this, but I’ve never claimed to be “cool.” The two relate thus: You study and train and lose a little sleep. You re-adjust other aspects of your life to focus in on this one thing that is a little restrictive of your social life and your freedom to get up in the morning without a single task ahead of you. You turn down late nights and late night drinks. You turn into a little bit of a loser (or at least you feel like it). But crossing the finish line, you are overwhelmed with pride and joy, knowing you did your best and feeling like you accomplished something totally monumental and all that turning down and turning in early doesn’t matter anymore. So where I’d usually get a Gatorade and a bagel after crossing the finish line, I’ll probably get something a little less carb-y and hopefully a picture with Steve Martin after this one.

So while there’s that metaphorical marathon, there is another real life marathon I’ve still trained for: Chattanooga 7 Bridges on October 20th.

After lamenting about my fatigue and frustration to anyone who would listen (lookin’ at you, mom and pops!) I was reminded that at the same point in training for my last marathon, I was working from home, not stressed out in the least, and able to really focus on training. Really, I would get to run on my lunch break and take foam roll breaks during the day. It was primo.

This time was a whole different animal that I didn’t wisely take into account before real life marathon training began again (the animal being that metaphorical marathon. confused yet? me too). Hard as it was, I decided to give myself as little of a break as I could get away with. In an attempt to speed up “recovery” or what training I had lost, I kept close track of what I ate, how much, and when in relation to running. I took rest into account as well as the mental fatigue I was feeling from work. It seemed that once I did that, I was starting to run better again. Kick-butt Taylor came back to life, kicking butt again.

It’s not all bagels and Gatorade and pictures with Steve Martin yet, though. The real hurdle next week will be the metaphorical marathon AND training for the real life marathon at the same time. I’ve really adjusted my training expectations and goals to be realistic for my schedule next week and have faith that whatever workouts I do get in will be quality enough. I’m looking forward to finishing the metaphorical marathon, coming back to Nashville with my metaphorical medal (read: picture with Steve Martin, hello you should know that by now) and ready to re-focus on the real life one. Marathon number three in less than eight months.

So, please excuse me, I have some mint green face mask to wash off, some foam to roll and some marathons to run.

It’s game time.

What taper temper?

Marathon number two is in five days, and let me tell you:

This taper ain’t got nothin’ on me.

photo (6)

See?

Happy as ever.

No soreness, no fatigue. Ready to tackle hills, spills, and anything else that may come up.

Looking forward to crossing the finish line for so many who can’t.

Looking forward to going for a little run with 30,000 other runners.

Country Music Marathon: I’m ready for you!

((in the headphones: Chris Thile: ‘Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground’)

 

Celebrating that four letter word

I’m just feeling the love today. 843965_10151444880361469_1030450588_o

Ya dig? Maybe not?

Understandable.

For the past couple years my February 14th focused on red wine, biting cynicism, and scarfing just enough Dove chocolates to sink my single-life-loving battleship.

I wasn’t alone in throwing a pity party because I get by with a little help from my friends; we mocked cutesy couples and lame Zales ads, cheersing our single status while internally lamenting the fact we didn’t have someone who was wining and dining us that night, or next Saturday, or (seemingly) never.

I hopped off the Single Train this year (no doubt I still mock cutesy couples and lame Zales ads) but even so, I decided to embrace love in all aspects of my life. Turns out, there is so much to celebrate:

Running

Music

The great outdoors

Good friends

Sunrises

Hills

Coffee

Pancakes

Inside jokes

Classic rock guitar jams

Fresh snow

Bluegrass

Yoga pants

Muddy trails

Nashville honky tonks

Chocolate + peanut butter

I could go on and on and on because there is an infinite amount in this world to fall in love with.

It counts with anything: inanimate, or full of life. Today is just a good reminder to celebrate all that I love.

…and, I LOVE this video. I get downright giddy. It was one of the happiest nights of my life. Enjoy + cheers!

Rave Run: Percy Warner Trails

I’ve been hankering for some trails lately.picstitch

And some hills and mud, but, duh.

I hate to admit I haven’t hit the trails since being back in Nashville after going home to Colorado (thanks to marathon training!). My legs were all: ‘Hey, this isn’t concrete/flat/stable’, so I guess that means the trails and I need more one-on-one time.

Okay, fine, if I have to!

The deets:

Mileage: 7+ miles. NikeRunning only picked up 6.66, and that was after a 12-minute warm-up.

Tunage: I recently bought Railroad Earth‘s album ‘The Black Bear Sessions.’ Key tracks: ‘Colorado’ (Of course!), ‘Stillwater Getaway,’ and ‘Railroad Earth’ but I recommend the whole thing. I listened to it almost twice through.

Trail: At Percy Warner, the Warner Woods Trail (2.5 miles), plus the Cane Connector Trail (4.5 miles). Hills, tree roots, tree stumps, horizontal trees interrupting the trail, slick rock, ravines, and mud. This baby’s got it all (and my heart).

Time: From car door to car door, it took about 1:25. Granted, I was a little slower because I stopped to catch my breath take pictures, and yes, maybe I slid and fell on my butt a time or two. But hey, not bad for negotiating washed out trails, mud, and misbehaving spandex.

This wasn’t my first rodeo at Percy Warner, but I haven’t officially professed my love for this run yet. I haven’t yet raved about it on the internet.

So, Percy Warner, consider yourself raved about. Congrats! See you soon.

2013: Cheers!

photoAlthough this is my virgin post of 2013 (Happy New Year!) it will not be about my (sure to be insanely original) New Years Resolutions. No sir. You’re welcome. Cheers.

However, I will be mildly self-indulgent and reflect (briefly!) on 2012. And then we’ll really move on. You’re welcome. Cheers.

I finished out 2012 having run over 1,200 miles, four half-marathons, one 10k, at least one mile for 42 days straight, and more hills than you can shake a Garmin at. I ran at 10,000 feet, the desert, and sea level. I ran happy, and I ran sad. I ran in rain, snow, sleet, and heat. Through all this running, I ran into a new passion and I have never been happier in my life. (See what I did there?)

I also did the little thing of packing up my car and moving halfway across the country by myself to the city of my dreams and now I’m living happily ever after frequenting honky tonks and bluegrass jams, but that’s for another blog.

2012 was good to me and I was sorry to see it go. 2013 has got to step it up, big time.

Might I run into Kenny Chesney/Luke Bryan/Keith Urban out in Nashville somewhere?

Might I hit 1500 miles?

Might I not only finish my first marathon, but another one six weeks later?

(I’m gonna say yes to all three of those. Ah, the power of positivity.)

My first marathon (in beautiful Asheville, NC) is in eight weeks, on March 3. As the training mileage increases, so does my excitement, anxiety, and frequency of Icy Hot applications (my apartment smells faintly like the stuff and I am totally okay with it).

The Country Music Marathon and Half in Nashville is April 27th, seven weeks later, and I signed up for 26.2. I figure after a week of recovery, I can jump back into a reasonable training routine and be just as ready. (Anyone else done this? Pointers?)

Besides races and personal goals, I decided to dedicate to giving back this year too. I’m excited to say I have volunteered with Girls on the Run, a non-profit program that gets girls from 3rd through 8th grade active, into running, and promotes healthy living and positive self-esteem. At the end of their 12-week program, they run in a 5K race. I’ll be running with the girls twice a week for practice. I can’t wait to ignite a passion for activity and establish self-esteem and good habits in the hearts of some sweet little girls!

So there you have it. That’s what 2013 looks like for me, although the race entries will hopefully increase. Nothing like smashing goals and setting new ones! How far will you go?

Oh, and I gotta give you some music in this entry. Welcome, The Lone Bellow. Rootsy folk + harmonic vocals + soul. They will blow up in 2013, mark my words. Enjoy!

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