Returning to Trail Racing

The first major climb of Trail Series' 7 Hills Run photo credit: Kriosk Photography

The first major climb of Trail Series' 7 Hills Run
photo credit: Kriosk Photography

After nine month absence from participating in trail racing due to injury, I recently made my return during Trail Series: 7 Hills Run. This was my third time running this race and my second time running the middle distance race which this year turned out being 13.3 km with 705m D+ (see the Strava activity I've embedded below). This race proved to be brutal as i expected, as the the climbs can touch 40%+ grades. So perhaps this was not the best of choices for easing back into things but overall I was very happy my result (1:31.49) as I felt in control through out the race. Also this difficulty of race helped me to underline to issues that I need to address.

The easier of these two issues to address is to purchase some new trail running shoes.  I ran this race in my Salomon Speedcross 3's and found that especially on the down hills I suffered a lot. Part of the problem is that when I bought these shoes over two years ago I didn't realize that my feet would swell as much as they do when I run and this combined with the inflexibility of their form makes for a painful combination. Unfortunately, I had just retired my Inov 8 Ultra 290s after nearly 1000km of abuse and have had some durability issues as well with my Hoka Challenger 3 ATRs so  I opted for the Salomons.  This is a problem I can easily address in the coming days before my next race at the Pancharevo Half Marathon ( 21.4 km 700 m D+).

The more difficult issue I have to work towards solving is my poor performance on downhill sections in general. This of course is an issue I know that I have struggled with through out my time trail racing. It was very apparent too me as my quads were tight for the days after this past race. Over the coming months I plan on working towards addressing this issue while I continue to build my base after returning from my injury. It is also a process that I will try to follow relatively closely on this blog. If any one has any tips or experience in becoming a stronger downhill runner I would appreciate any help I can get.  

Me on the final major climb of the 7 Hill's Run which goes up 100 vertical meters in half a kilometer Photo Credit:  Krisok Photography .

Me on the final major climb of the 7 Hill's Run which goes up 100 vertical meters in half a kilometer
Photo Credit: Krisok Photography.

Running with friends

In honor of Bulgarian Liberation day (March 3rd)  and the group i ran with to MT. Polovrak 

In honor of Bulgarian Liberation day (March 3rd)  and the group i ran with to MT. Polovrak 

I consider myself to be a lone runner. Of near 2.000km I ran in 2017 the vast majority of it was on my own. It can be difficult to organize a running partner who has similar skill and goals so for this reason I generally run alone. Although I find myself running alone most of the time, the social aspect of the sport is one thing that continually draws me toward the sport, especially for someone who grew up in a pool. 

It was a chance encounter in March 2015 at the "zsalona" on Cherni Vrah that sparked further interest in the sport. I found myself sitting across the table from a pair of runners. Onewas wearing a Boston Marathon shirt and it turns out we used to live across the street from each other back in Boston. He and his friend suggested that I try to run some of the Trail Series (Bulgarian) races that are held around Sofia every month. My first Trail Series was less than spectacular as it was at the Simeonovo Run 12k, which has arguably one of the steepest climbs I've come across. 

The Trail Series introduced me to the Sofia's running community and the people that inspire me everyday. In the fall of 2015 I moved to Sofia and soon started attending events held by BEGACH, 5km Run (Bulgarian) and Wednesday Night Runs. Recently as I've been getting back into running post injury, I have been running with groups and friends more regularly. I want to work to keep that up in the future and to share more adventures with friends and I urge all other runners out there to do the same!

Rough few days

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The last week has been difficult. I haven’t been able to get out running due to the triple threat of sickness, work and some personal emergencies. On top of this I have been working through some lingering issues with my knee injury which has put me a bit on the back foot. It is always hard for me to stay positive at times like these, especially when I depend on running as an opportunity to clear my mind. These challenges have been compounded by the news that a member of my Bulgarian family has being re-diagnosed with cancer. Over the past eighteen months it has been an up and down ride which we first believed he had conquered almost a year ago. However after a recent seizure we received surprising news that the original diagnosis was flawed. His and his family's battle is a constant reminder to me what is the most important in life and that we should try to live everyday to the fullest, even the hard days. I am not a particularly spiritual person,  but I do believe life's meaning is in the simple pleasures. In my case that is being surrounded by family, friends, food and the occasional run in the mountains.  So when things get tough, remember live simply....