Come To Boston With Us

Featured

Jannine Myers

Meet NPR’s Justine Kenin, Eyder Peralta and Wright Bryan; with a vision in mind of sharing what it takes to not only train for a marathon, but train for one of the most prestigious marathons of all, they have created a project called Running Toward Boylston: 8 Runners Take On The 2014 Boston Marathon. As one of the eight runners profiled in this project, I invite you to join us on our journey, and experience Boston with us. The introduction below, by Justine, Eyder, and Wright, explains in more detail what the project will entail. I hope you’ll come to Boston with us! You can do so by following us here.

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On April 21, all eyes will be on Boston as runners stream down Boylston Street to the finish line of the greatest marathon of them all. On everyone’s mind will be the day one year earlier when bombs exploded in this very stretch, bringing one of America’s great cities to a standstill as it frantically searched for the people behind the attacks.

But what does it take to get there? What does it take to run 26.2 miles, to reach the Boston finish line? That’s what we’re going to find out over the next 11 weeks as we follow along with eight runners training for the 2014 Boston Marathon. They’ll each be posting here every week, sharing their stories, strategies and experiences. It’s a journey that you won’t want to miss.

At the end, the events of 2013 will be on everyone’s mind. But the reality of Boston, as it has always been, is that it’s a race against time and pain and an unforgiving course. It’s a story of triumph over adversity. And it will be no different in 2014 as the #NPR8 cross the finish line on Boylston Street, each achieving their own personal measure of success.

(Photo: NPR’s Justine Kenin, Eyder Peralta and Wright Bryan. Credit: Kainaz Amaria.)

Out Of Office – Back In Two Weeks

We're outta here

……for a couple of weeks anyway. We’re on our way to Boston!!!

We’ll be back with more posts for you when we return, but until then, please check out our fundraiser challenge and consider donating to a really great cause – thank you!

http://www.runbostonforwilson.myevent.com/

 

Life is like a bowl of oishii Cherries…

“Where are ALL the cherries?!”

Corinne shared with me her son’s question, above and I had to stop and think on it. Every year here in Japan we celebrate sakura blossoms starting down here in the south and slowly moving up as the temperatures rise. Unlike the cherries we see from Washington state, I had never eaten or bought a bunch of Japanese cherries. And when the American cherries do hit the commissary at a staggering $8 a pound or so, I close my eyes and take a breath and buy two bags. We go home and celebrate our small fruit happiness for the moment.

Last week, we were running along the trail that a few of us WOOT’rs run regularly at lunchtime, near Foster. This time, there was an older Okinawan farmer out under the cherry trees, looking up, and picking something. It didn’t register at first but as we approached, he offered us to share in his find, sakuranbo or cherries. Aha!! Mystery solved. We picked our cherry from where he pointed and all shared a cherry together. They are small and a little tart and only seem to be around a week or so, like the blossom itself.

Look closely, they're there!

Look closely, they’re there!

A little research shows that although the fruit is edible, the trees we see in bloom each spring are bred for the blossom, not the fruit.

Which leads me to another thought, introducing cherry juice to your running diet. There has been a little buzz for a few years on the benefits of cherry juice and long distance running.

NIH published a study based on the premise that tart cherries may reduce muscle damage and pain during strenuous exercise. They used tart cherry juice and a placebo to test on runners during a long distance relay race.

The conclusion was drinking tart cherry juice, starting a week before the race, and during the event, can minimize the post-run pain (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20459662). And who doesn’t want less pain!

Although we can’t make our magic tart cherry elixir from our beautiful sakura trees all over the trails and island, we can give it a go with the good ole’ American version. The commissary does sell the frozen cherries for smoothies and off and on, sells tart cherry juice. Share with us if you agree with the buzz!

Water, Water, Everywhere…

Recently, the humidity started to pick back up with the changing of the Okinawa seasons (yes, we really do have winter, don’t we?!). Ariana asked about how much water to drink on runs so I grabbed the topic and here we are.

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From the time that I began running here I have played around with how much to drink while running. I can tell you concretely that the amount of water to drink depends.

Factors to consider:

  1. how far you are running
  2. how fast you are running
  3. what time of day you are running
  4. what you are training for
  5. what season it is

and now, a little more detail:

1) How far you are running will affect how much you need. If you are out for an easy 3-4 miler, most likely you won’t need water. This is not as true at noon in the middle of the Okinawan summer (see points 3 and 5) or if you are out for a 20+ miler (point 4).

2) Running fast may require more water as you sweat more and breath out stronger, which is another way of losing water (but not as much as sweating).

3) Running at 5 AM or at 3 PM effects how hot it is, and what else you have done during the day. In the early morning, I often go right out the door, after rolling out of bed and drinking a glass of water. When I run later in the day, I have eaten breakfast and lunch (and let’s be honest, a few snacks), and drank a few cups of Joe. Things you do during the waking hours like going to the bathroom, use your body’s water supply, lowering what is available for your body to use during those later hour runs.

4) Running long requires you drink something and I love water as a fluid replacement. There is nothing more delicious than an ice cold bottle of water after 20 miles. But there is a balance that you have to strike here due to the danger of drinking too much water. A dangerous possibility exists for long distance runners called dilutional hyponatremia, when too much water is drank and the body cannot re-balance the amount of fluid to electrolyte ratio required.

5) Seasons here on Okinawa range from 50′s windy and chilly to low 90′s and 90% humidity. The amount of water you need, during summer is much greater.

I have tried Dean Karnazes advice on sipping every 15 minutes with a camelbak, and found myself looking for the nearest tree to squat behind too often. I tried following what my dad did during the war: get a canteen and drink it gone, hike a long way, get the next canteen and drink it gone. The stress of running in the summer was too great to work well for me on that one.

One of the running coaches I follow, Matt Fitzgerald, recommends drinking on thirst, instead of on a set amount or time-based.

...research has consistently shown that runners perform no worse and have no greater risk for heat illness when they simply drink according to their thirst, even though this typically results in only 65-70 percent replacement of sweat losses. While it is important to drink as often and as much as your thirst dictates during races, it’s a bad idea to drink more.
 http://running.competitor.com/2014/01/nutrition/thirsty-avoid-these-6-hydration-mistakes-on-race-day_42976/

Following this method has worked well for me. And like all things in running, you have to do what works best for you. Share your method and any feedback is appreciated~!

References used were: livestrong.com, webmd.com, running.competitor.com and wikipedia.com

Guest blogger: A Weight Loss Journey by Renee Azios

This week, we’ve asked Renee to share her weight loss journey. She is a regular runner with Stroller Warriors and can find her out with us on trail, whenever she can.
I’ve never been a blogger. Frankly, I have trouble even keeping a journal. I usually keep my thoughts to myself or bounce them off friends and family, but don’t usually utilize a social platform; so this is a first for me. I hope that this “article” isn’t misinterpreted.
reneee
Many people, women, have asked about my weight loss journey. I get a lot of shocked faces. When I was a child, I was never really “skinny.” I had the ever-so-lovely baby chunkiness. In high school I had to take a summer school P.E. course and that was where I had my first noticeable weight change. I went from baby fat to a lean figure. In college as a Freshman, everyone warns you about the weight gain; the Freshman 15. Well, between alcohol and Whataburger, it was more of a Freshman 30. I returned home and my mom helped me get back into shape using power walking and diet change. Every time that I moved away from home I dramatically gained weight. Before I knew it, I was 22 years old, just given birth to my son Declan, and was 210 lbs. I didn’t exercise, I ate what I wanted, I drank heavily, and through the years as I saw myself getting bigger I kept telling myself that “I’m OK with it,” though I was really suffering incredible depression and self-loathing. I could no longer enjoy things in my daily life that I once took for granted. Any shopping excursion always ended in tears because nothing looked good. I can’t even describe how much I hated summer, because of bathing suits, and dresses, and fun clothes that I couldn’t wear; but I didn’t stop. I would go back and forth and say that “I’m OK,” when I really hated myself for letting it get that bad.
In 2005 I met my husband online. I was a single mom and looking for someone that could help me kind of cope with things. He was a single dad. This man was 6’1”, lean, and poster boy Marine physique. Through our dating, engagement, and marriage, he loved me for who I was inside. He would never tell me that I was ugly or fat or hurt my feelings, but I would feel ashamed for him to be with me; that he deserved someone better looking. I was always the person that tore me down the most psychologically and emotionally. I literally beat myself up in my head and heart.
In 2010, our daughter was born. In the months that followed I opened up to my mother, who has always supported me in any endeavor, about finally admitting out loud that I was done being heavy. I wanted to be me again. I wasn’t this person who the world saw, but under all of that. There are some dates that you will always remember; June 7, 2011 is the day that I began my transformation. I didn’t do this alone. My mother’s friend had told her what a huge success the HCG Diet had been for her (google HCG diet for more info on webmd). When you’re 187.6 pounds and desperate, you’ll try anything. When I received my drops, mom and I went over the plan. I voiced concerns about how would I have time to schedule what to eat when I’m so busy with two kids; “I’ll map out your schedule,” she said. We went over it with David, my husband, so that he understood what I could eat and what I couldn’t eat. That man never complained once, even when it meant that it was easier for me to not cook certain things for him as well. The first week I lost 5” off my waist. The program said that exercise wasn’t needed, but I said what’s the harm. Mom had told me about Insanity. I bought it and when I tried it at 185 pounds I almost blew out my knee. I was so discouraged until she reminded me about how I lost weight by power walking. I power walked, pushing Danai Monday through Saturday for about 6-7 miles and continued with the HCG Diet.
When I had dropped down to around 145-150 pounds, I was finally able to do Insanity. I switched it up and did Insanity every morning Monday through Friday, and would continue the same mileage walking on Saturdays. By the time Halloween and Marine Corps Ball came around, I had accomplished my goal weigh of 130. People didn’t recognize me.
It takes a lot for me to admit my fears to others. I have a huge fear of getting heavy again. This has led to a fear of food. I eat healthy foods. When it comes time to enjoy a cupcake, a donut, cake, fries; the little indulgences are my struggle. I don’t drink much alcohol because in my head it’s empty calories for me to burn. I weigh myself every day. If I don’t weigh every morning then I wonder what it was all day. My fear of getting big really keeps me restricted on a lot of foods, but I honestly really try to eat more foods that are outside my “box” now. I’m much happier with my body now than before when I was severely overweight, but it has come with some baggage, that I’ve mentioned above.
I’m not a perfect person, and I’ve never thought of myself as an inspiration to others, but I wanted to share this story. Being here in Okinawa had really helped me to fortify this healthy lifestyle not only for myself, but for my children. Between Stroller Warriors and WOOT, you ladies keep me so much more positive and let me enjoy fitness even more. It’s nice to not be the only one into fitness. I couldn’t have done this without the help of my husband and family. My daughter Danai mimics yoga and truly loves running, even at age 3. She gets upset when we don’t run or when we miss yoga class. My 8 year old Declan loves his yoga class and loves running little 5Ks with us. We are now a family that’s geared toward fitness and health.

Teff – A Tiny Grain That Packs A Punch

Seems like every week there is another food item being touted as the new “superfood” to try; the latest one that caught my attention was the tiny grain grown in Ethiopia, used to make injera (sourdough flatbread); it’s called teff.

Some of the benefits of teff, according to various websites, include:

  • high amounts of protein, calcium, manganese, phosphorous, aluminum, iron, copper, baruim, and vitamin C
  • great for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, since it’s gluten free
  • may help to control blood sugar levels
  • high in fiber
  • low in fat
  • may help to lower blood pressure
  • a very versatile grain that can be eaten whole, boiled, steamed or baked

The only cons, as far as I can see, is that it isn’t a cheap grain to buy, and the taste and texture of it might not appeal to everyone. I have tried only the whole grain form so far, which I have used to make a chocolate pudding (recipe follows), as well as a breakfast porridge. If you buy teff in flour form,  you can find several baking recipes online.

I really enjoyed the chocolate teff pudding and teff porridge, but keep in mind that I also like foods that a lot of people don’t! The taste and texture is “interesting,” which is why I suspect that it won’t appeal to everyone (and I’m sure my photo below won’t help much in promoting it, ha ha), but before you rule it out completely, I encourage you to give it a try.

Teff Chocolate Pudding

P1050075

Ingredients

2 cups water; 1/2 cup teff whole grain; 1 banana; 1/3 cup coconut milk; 3 tbsps each of molasses and cocoa (I used cacao powder); 2 tsps vanilla extract; 1/2 tsp ground ginger; 1/4 tsp ground cloves; and a pinch of salt.

[Modifications I made in my second batch, which I preferred: instead of coconut milk, I used 1 packet Nata De Coco (Japanese product - see picture below); agave instead of molasses; omitted the spices; topped with walnuts and shredded coconut]

P1050076

Directions

Bring water and teff grain to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed. Place in a blender with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Chill for 2 hours. Top with chopped hazelnuts and shredded coconut, if desired. Serves 4.

Recipe source: Runner World magazine – Feb 2014 issue

Timing your Pace and Pacing your Time

If you’ve done any shopping for running watches, you may have been overwhelmed with the choices out there today. Options, complexity, color, oh my!

Some of the options you may be interested in:

  • GPS
  • Advanced workouts such as intervals
  • Calories burned
  • Strap for heart rate monitoring

Here are some of the watches I have tried:

Nike+ SportWatch GPS. A few of us have tried this watch and liked it but one huge problem is they don’t last long in the Oki humidity. We have gone through two and at the cost of around $250, it was getting kinda crazy. The GPS was accurate, easy-to-read display and comfy but if the watch gets any minor damage, the humidity gets in and the display does not work. And workouts have to be configured on software loaded on your computer, not from the device directly.

Garmin Forerunner series. I love this series and many of us have had the same love of the Forerunners. There are multiple models out there and I have the 405, with a touch bezel. Lots of folks hate this one as the sweat and touch bezel can be frustrating. Just. Work. Dangit!

Some of the features I love are the capability to set easy intervals, time or distance, on the watch directly. No software needed, unlike the Nike+ above. I also like the ability to see the elevation gain on our trail runs and the auto pause when you stop moving.

The Garmin Forerunner has a USB antenna or a USB connector that you can use to capture any running data you want. It takes time and patience to work through the website sometimes, and you have to have an account AND remember your password. If you like details, and precision on your run data, this is a great choice. The Forerunner series goes from the basic 10 model for around $130 up to the 610 series (and on up) for a few hundred more. Optional heart rate monitor, too. Here is my 405 on the top and the 10 on the bottom:

Garmin Forerunner 405 with bezel

Garmin Forerunner 405 with bezel

Garmin Forerunner 10

Garmin Forerunner 10

There is a simpler GPS watch out too by Timex, New Balance, Soleus, and a few brands. They are have the same GPS insides, just different outsides. That is why they are all priced about the same, too, around $100. This GPS watch is for the runner who wants to hit the Go button and start running. Like most GPS’s, they remember the satellite locations and should pick them up quicker the next time. This low end version records distance, speed and how long you been out runnin’. And that is about it.

Timex GPS marathon

Timex GPS marathon

Your training style will help you determine what kind of watch you will love. Got a running watch you use and recommend? Please share!

Running Mommas – We Love You!

Anna Boom

Our blog is about running, right? So I’ll get to it after I set up the scene.

First, a little background on the path where we are going. My kids go to Japanese school and if you’re familiar with their system, there are lots of great aspects: group thinking, healthy lunches, very active non-OSHA type play time. There are also parts of the system that drive me a little nutso; the biggest one being ceremonies.

I am not a ceremony-recital-type of mom. I respect those of you who are and see why you take pride in your child’s accomplishments. For some weird reason, this is rarely me and I wonder how much comes from the school ceremonies we’ve been forced to attend since the kids were 1 or 2 years old.

Starting in the early morning, you get your kid ready for an all day affair. Then take kid to Event. Then meet family and friends somewhere, hopefully before Event begins. Then sit and wait. Kid pops across the stage or field for 30 seconds and done. Now wait for Event to finish. And wait. And keep on waiting. Okay, nope not yet, principal has a speech. And almost there…and done. Your day is gone, you are pooped, kids are exhausted and you did not get your run in, yet.

Most moms and wives have been in the same situation, conflicting family schedules. As running moms, we can get a little more obsessed than the average Mama Bear on our running schedules, especially with a goal in sight and training plan in hand.

And such an Event and Goal recently collided in my life: Ellie’s waiwaihapyo-kai and 1th Kunigami Trail race. Same day, same time, two impossibly far locations. I went back and forth over skipping my race to go to Ellie’s Event (like a look-at-all-we’ve-learned deal, as each class stands on stage and repeats letters, or English phrases) or skipping Event to race.

You can guess which I chose.

And then I had to tell the Japanese administration, Ellie wouldn’t be attending:

(loosely translated)

JA–Oh, that’s too bad. No one misses an Event. No one. Skips. An Event. No. One.

Me—yes. I know. It is really too bad.

JA—why are you skipping Event that no one ever skips? Nobody has ever missed this Event.

Me—um. Gulp. I am running a race.

JA—judgmental gasp in horror at my lack of parenting.

Guilt hung in the air above me during that conversation. I could see it hovering, a dark, gray cloud full of judgment…what kind of Mother are you? Running over your child’s Event?!

I let it hang there. It eventually dissipated as I stuck to our decision, and did not let guilt persuade me to back down.

Let me add that I spoke to Ellie and asked her which she preferred to do. She chose the race without hesitation. And we had a most excellent time!

All mothers face this moment, maybe not so dramatic as Race vs. Event but still those days when you are gone for hours, finishing up your long run. Or your marathon. Or half-marathon. Or a great trail run. Your children will be fine, better than fine, as they see their Mom doing something she loves, that keeps her fit and healthy and sane. Our children are the center of our Universe most of the time; it’s okay for you to run away and come back happier and sweatier sometimes.

Enjoy your run!!

l undou

 

Almond Citrus “Recoverite” Cookies

I love to bake, and I especially love creating my own baked goods using ingredients that I have on hand. My latest creation is what I am calling my new Almond Citrus Recoverite Cookies. Not sure yet what rating they’ll get from my family, but I think they’re delicious – slightly crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside – just how I like them!

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Ingredients

1 cup almond flour; 1/2 cup gluten free All-Purpose baking flour; 1/2 cup Hammer (Citrus flavored) Recoverite; 1/2 cup Envirokidz Chocolate Koala Crisp cereal; 1 tsp baking powder; 1/2 tsp baking soda; 1/2 tsp cinnamon; pinch of sea salt; 1/4 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut; 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots; 1/2 cup chopped cashew nuts; 1 beaten egg; 1/4 cup coconut oil; 1/4 cup New Zealand Manuka honey (any honey will do)

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a baking tray.

Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Melt the coconut oil and honey over a low heat, then let it cool a little before adding to the dry ingredients. Stir just a little, and then add the beaten egg. Mix all together to form a dough (add more almond flour if the dough is too wet and sticky). Make small balls out of the dough and place on the baking tray; use a fork to slightly flatten the balls. Bake for approximately 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool, and enjoy!

The Quick and DIRTY of Trail Shoes

By Beth Greer

Photo source: Runnersworld.com

Photo source: Runnersworld.com

With the sheer amount of trail running shoes available, where does one even start?! Hybrid?! Rock plate?! Lug?! Gortex?! While my trail shoe collection rivals my boot collection (I do love me some boots), I don’t claim to be an expert. The following is merely a guide to familiarize the intrigued reader with the world of trail shoes.

The most important thing for me is comfort. As many of us know, time on the trails is generally longer than time on the road…cough, cough…3 hours to do 12 miles in the Kunigami Trail Race…cough, cough! You may spend tons of quality time with your shoes, getting dirty with them, bounding off rocks with them, splooshing through puddles, streams, and small lakes with them, tripping over roots with them, slogging through scifi quality mud with them.

Starting from the ground up, treads vary among shoes for traction against different types of surfaces. Lugs are little bits of the sole that stick out. Shoes with lugs spread farther apart are better suited for sandy soil and sloughing off thick mud… thus preventing the shoes from being caked in 12lbs of mud. Some outsoles are made of materials that are “sticky”/grippy rather than “solely” (pun intended) relying on tread pattern.

The midsole of trail shoes typically include a rock plate. Even though I have countless pairs of trail shoes and know better, the words “rock plate” still conjures up a picture of a rigid, leaden metal plate running the length of the shoe. I assure you that it is not. It is a thin bit of flexible material placed in key locations in order to provide additional protection from rocks and other hard pointy things on the trail. Bruised feet are no fun!

The uppers are generally more durable than those on road shoes because of the abuse they endure, but they are still quite breathable. On that note, there are trail shoes with Gortex uppers. They will keep your feet warm (or sweltering in a climate like Okinawa’s) and dry. Dry, unless you cross a river or fall unceremoniously into an ankle or knee deep puddle. Then the shoes will promptly fill with water and refuse to drain.

The general types of trail shoes are:

1. Hybrids:

- Perfect for beginning trail runners and casual WOOTers

- They are a melding of road shoe qualities with trail shoe qualities

- Tread is usually less aggressive which could lead to more slippage and less protection against rocks and such

2. Conventional:

- Perfect for trail runners of all levels

- A traditional trail shoe with more aggressive tread, rock plates, and durable uppers.

- Can be less flexible than road shoes

3. Minimalist:

- Perfect for minimalist runners

- Some still contain a rock plate for added protection without sacrificing minimalist qualities

4. Hoka One One (pronounced o-nay o-nay)…because these shoes are in a category of their own!

- Perfect for trail crazies

- They have about 15 inches of foam in the soles and look more ridiculous than the Sketchers Shape ups. Ok, 15in is a bit of an exaggeration. The sole has some noticeable squish, which is easy on the joints and feet especially over ludicrous distances. Depending on the model, they only have 4-6mm offset from heel to toe. And while the outsole may not look like much, it is very grippy.

- Ok, yes, I am now shamelessly promoting my current favorite shoes! I assure you, they are legitimate running shoes.

Some of the popular brands are Salomon, Montrail, Innov-8, Mizuno, Saucony, Merrell, Altra, Brooks, Asics. The exchanges, NEOS, Sports Depo and Xebio all have very limited supplies of trail shoes. But there are plenty of online running and outdoors stores with great return policies. And don’t forget about zappos.

I hope that this has made selecting a trail running shoe clear as mud (pun intended, again! I am on a roll!!).

 

Introducing GOT (Girls On Trail) Run!

Anna Boom

WOOT started a new group, Girls on Trail Run! Very excited to start this adventure and it came from the idea of introducing our daughters to what we love to do every Saturday; get out, breathe fresh air, and enjoy our friends’ company while getting a few miles in.

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For our first GoT Run!, on February 15th, we met at our regular parking place, Yuimaru in Yomitan. We went over the course description, had a short game of tag, and headed out. We kept it relaxed and unstructured to see how the younger girls would do. One of the new runner issues we tried to address was pacing. But explaining that to a group of super excited young kids did not work as well as hoped. Instead of starting easy, the little ones started by racing each other to the head of the pack. After about a block, the girls started to fall back a little. We encouraged them to try and keep an even pace, to breathe and try talking to their friends. At the first mile, we started singing, Roar, to encourage the aerobic pace.

The trail we took was marked out earlier on our WOOT run, in half kilometer increments with the final marker at the two kilometer point. We stopped at that point and went through some dynamic stretches. We also did introductions again and headed back the way we ran out.

Here are the 4 runs we planned:
Run 1: Meet at Yuimaru at 8:45 am. Introductions, describing the run, breaking into smaller groups based on age/pace. Run 1.25 miles out on farm roads, run back to Yuimaru parking lot. Be done around 9:30 for stretching and parent pick up.
Run 2: Meet at Zakimi castle parking lot (front side) at 8:45. Talk, and run around castle, down trail, to wooden walkway, down to second trail by stream and back up.
Run 3: Meet at Paint ball entrance at 8:45. Talk about course, run Top o the world to big rock and back up, along the fence line trail back to the start.
Run 4: Final run is Spider up to the top and back down. Meet at Spider entrance (gate guard hut) at 8:45. Talk about the course, run up to LZ, stretch wait for others. Continue to the Japanese sign and turn around.
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In the end, we ran about 2.75 miles on trail, sang a song, tripped and fell a few times and recovered, picked lots of flowers, picked up a stick or two, and had fun together.
We had a great turnout for the first Girls on Trail Run! camp and even had some cross country runners come out to help lead (thanks Sam and Dominique!). It was great to have them mentor.
If you are looking to introduce your daughter to running trail, come out and join us for a Saturday morning of fun on trail with other moms and daughters. Women on Okinawa Trail and Girls on Trail Run, rule!!