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What happened to September?

Remember when weekends meant being able to sleep in and have some time to actually relax?

Good times. :)

My “free time” is currently combined with the 45 minutes to an hour I use to get in a workout or go for a run each day….but I shouldn’t complain because I am greeted with views as beautiful as this:

Fall leaves are changing (stronglikemycoffee.com)Is that not the most gorgeous center-divider you’ve ever seen? I swear those leaves are that saturated in real life.  That totally set the mood for my long run Sunday that I tackled by myself in the afternoon with yet another SOLID playlist. Specifically:

{Daughtry’s new single Utopia; Famous by Kelleigh Bannen; Running with the Boys by LIGHTS; How to be a Heartbreaker by Marina and the Diamonds; Superheroes by The Script; Fire by Gavin DeGraw and Surrender by Cash Cash}

It finally feels like fall. Full on chilly air, chai tea, scarves and boots, football games, tailgate parties, roasted acorn squash and yellow leaves FALL. My roommate even brought home a carved pumpkin this past weekend that is currently residing on our kitchen counter. Some people say it’s a bit premature but I say WHO MADE THE RULES.

Now I have a week of autumnal life to catch up on. I definitely won’t admit to the fact that I’m blogging instead of editing the research assignment due tomorrow……  ;)

Remember last semester when I couldn’t stop going to Sedona for solo getaways? It happened again. I don’t think I’ll make a habit of it because I’ve found a few cute and more importantly local places to bring my homework. One of which conveniently includes my dining room. Go figure.

But it was a glorious, sunshine-y, short little reminder that I live in a pretty spectacular place.

Studying in sedona again (stronglikemycoffee.com)I was able to concentrate on GRE and “quantitative reasoning” for about 3 hours before the sunshine and my growling stomach told me it was time to pack it up. I made it home before a massive thunderous storm rolled in for the weekend, which I whole-heartedly welcomed because I think the dark skies and the sound of rain are so comfy and cozy.

Study spot // my happy place (stronglikemycoffee.com)Fortunately our second home football game of the season took place in an INDOOR stadium, so our fans and players didn’t get soaked during their epic WIN in the last quarter. In the last 2 minutes! It was a thrilling game, partly because I got one of the best seats in the house:

Sports marketing intern / home football game in the media box! (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Yep, I was feeling pretty fly sitting up in the media box. Next to me was the Director of Marketing, the Announcer, the Camera/Video Director, and the Digital Media Designer. I got a ton of hands on experience working with the video and advertisement screens. Another day in the life of a new sports marketing intern :)

Tangent –> Anyone else done the new iOS update? I was super excited when I saw the new “HEALTH” app put on the front screen on my phone. But I can’t figure out what to do with it! Am I completely missing something? It seems like it could be a great tool…..help me! :)

Health App (stronglikemycoffee.com)

I’ll wrap up this hodge podge of a recap now as I pour some coffee and join my roommate in our GRE study session. T-17 days til test day! Welcome, October :)

Mt. Humphreys Hike // Senior Year Adventures

Remember my ridiculous mishaps with hiking “Mt. Humphreys” a year ago…?

Well life update: we found the real thing!

Hiking Mt Humphreys Senior Year (stronglikemycoffee.com)

It’s been difficult to find enough time to put together blog posts this past week, with such a busy start to senior year. I swear my to-do list grows faster than I can cross things off!

One MAJOR life event I was able to “cross off” was hiking up Mt. Humphreys this weekend. My university is nestled in the forest in a mountain town, which gives us gorgeous views of the tallest peaks in the state. My cross country teammates and I have been talking about a group hike to the tallest peak in Arizona since freshman year.I absolutely could NOT let graduation come and go before making it to the top of that damn mountain. I look at the thing every single day!

Weather here is completely unpredictable with monsoons, blizzards, wind storms. Labor Day weekend and September weather = prime opportunity.

Humphreys collage

If we rewind 10 hours earlier….

My friends and I had a bit of a *rocky* start to senior year. Not that we aren’t LOVING our new schedules with classes, work, internships and athletics…but I think we were all ready for Country Night at our favorite local bar. We had a blast at the line dancing lessons, but a little liquid courage was helpful. ;) A night with a couple drinks + a 10-mile hike on the agenda the next morning = hydration!!!

Hiking Weekend  Country Night (stronglikemycoffee.com)

The next morning began with coffee, water, and a trip to Sprout’s for hiking sustenance:

  • Clif Mojo Mountain Mix Bar
  • Banana
  • Apple
  • Grapes
  • Raw Almonds
  • Dried Apricots
  • Honey Whole Wheat Pretzels
  • Justin’s Almond Butter Packet
  • Water Bottle x 3

The base of the mountain starts between 8,000-9,000 ft. elevation. The hike climbs to 12,633 ft. and the steep mountain trail is really challenging in the thin air, even for altitude-adjusted cross country runners.

We rallied!

Kerri’s boyfriend Jeff had me anxious from the beginning when he casually mentioned another hiker being bitten by a brown recluse earlier this year. ?!?! If I had known this information prior to driving to the base, I may have reconsidered.

Hiking Mt. Humphreys Senior Year Adventure (stronglikemycoffee.com)Hiking Mt Humphreys steep (stronglikemycoffee.com)Mt. Humphreys View (stronglikemycoffee.com)One thing I wasn’t expecting about this hike: so many ‘false summits’! There were so many points where we all said, “THE HOME STRETCH!” to which an unenthusiastic Jeff replied, “No. It’s not.”

I will say…

Making it to the top was worth it.

Hiking Mt Humphreys View from the Top (stronglikemycoffee.com)Not going to lie, the last hour of the hike up was a STRUGGLE. The trail practically disappeared and we were climbing massive rocks and navigating through slippery gravel. Our calves and butts were burning. The altitude made it noticeably more difficult to breathe. But like anything in life, the experience is more about the people you are with. We were all in such a great mood to be tackling such a big goal, and I’m so happy to have had these three crazies to climb with :)

Hiking Mt. Humphreys // group at summit (stronglikemycoffee.com)

We occupied ourselves on the 5 mile journey back down with impromptu performances of everything from Michael Jackson to Miley Cyrus, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Drake, and everything in between. Our fellow hikers were thoroughly annoyed entertained ;)

No animal sightings either, unless birds count. Fortunately, Brenna served as the”bird expert” for our little group ;) Not sure if her observations were as accurate as they were funny, but I love being among curious people.

If this past 24 hours is any indication of how the rest of senior year will play out…I think it’s gonna be a good one. <3

Humphreys FriendsHAPPY LABOR DAY WEEKEND! 

Altitude Training for Long-Distance Runners

Mountain tops, pine trees, wild flowers, puffy clouds, dirt trails, thin air. Runners dig this stuff ;)

Altitude training is a staple for Olympic and professional-level endurance athletes. (Some even go so far as installing specific chambers for sleeping that simulate altitude conditions…)

Altitude Training for Long Distance Runners (from Stronglikemycoffee.com blog)

I have over three years experience with living and training in high altitude. Actually, the 7,000 ft. elevation and forest trails were one of the main attractions of the collegiate cross country program I selected. For a runner, pine-lined dirt trails are the ultimate training landscape.

Altitude training is an incredible tool for cross country training. The effects of a decreased oxygen supply are immediately noticeable….you will find yourself breathing deeper and your heart beating faster after climbing a flight of stairs. (Now try moving into a top-floor dorm room with no elevator!) Every summer I spend at sea-level, and every August I have to re-adjust all over again.

When I moved back to school on Saturday, I was unsure of how my ‘Sunday Long Run’ would fair….I had 13 miles on the menu. I decided that I would not be concerned with pace. I just hoped I could breathe!

But I did have some snazzy new shoes to motivate me even more ;)

Long Distance Runner on Altitude Trainging // Stronglikemycoffee.com

To be honest, it was one of the BEST long runs of the summer. I didn’t feel the effects of the air until after my run, most likely due to the fact that I was so happy to be running along such a beautiful route in the perfect weather. My happiness converted to adrenaline and I was done with 13 miles in no time! My 7:27 average pace which had me PUMPED! (I will admit that severe fatigue set in a couple hours later…)

Endurance sports are as much mental as they are physical. Something about being outside on a trail, surrounded by massive trees and rows and rows of yellow flowers has a calming power. Of course there are days when I struggle to get through a few miles. But there are also others where the miles fly by with such ease. I full-heartedly believe that having a positive mental state is the most influential aspect to long-distance running. :)

Altitude Training for Runners // Stronglikemycoffee.com

The Science Behind the Strategy:

As elevation increases, the atmosphere has a lower supply of oxygen. When we exercise (particularly cardio exercises) we begin to breathe heavier (duh.) because our body needs to convert oxygen to CO2 at a faster rate to keep up with our activity.

Exercising at altitude decreases the amount of oxygen available in each breath, and over time the body acclimates to these conditions. Your respiratory system becomes more efficient at the O –> CO2 conversion. Therefore, returning to sea-level (more oxygenated air) allows an athlete to perform with more ease or with more speed.

Some Factors to Consider:

  • The air is also typically more dry at altitude. It is easier to become dehydrated. Fuel and water are muy importanto!
  • The sun also seems to be a little harsher. If you’re not a sunscreen queen already, lather up and protect your skin! There are plenty of “Sport” sunscreens on the market that are reportedly sweat-proof.
  •  Mountains and trails mean nature, and nature usually includes creatures… snakes, bugs, foxes, skunks, bears, elk (oh my!). Running on trails is also secluded. If I can’t coordinate with a running buddy, I like to stick to a route that is around a residential area or main road. I carry pepper spray and stay alert!

Altitude Training for Long Distance Runners // Stronglikemycoffee.com

The hype about altitude training is really all it’s cracked up to be. It definitely requires more effort and includes more fatigue in the initial weeks. But after your body begins to acclimate and your breathing is less dramatic, you can see significant improvement in endurance performance from training in elevation.

Plus, it’s just pretty!

*My new apartment isn’t quite ready yet but I can’t wait to share all of my decorative touches with you when it is :) I think this year is going to be the best one yet.*

 

Gotta run!

 

 

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