Just Tried The Brooks National Park Collection Cascadias

Recently, Brooks Running partnered with REI to celebrate national parks across the U.S. The national parks collection features Brooks Cascadia shoes and Brooks t-shirts highlighting specific national parks – Great Smoky Mountains, Mt. Rainier, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. Brooks is donating 5% of the wholesale cost of each piece in their national parks collection to the National Park Foundation, up to $50,000.

I love Yosemite National Park. Last year, I did the Yosemite Half Marathon! So, bought a pair of Yosemite Cascadias. This is my first pair of Brooks trail shoes (I’m on my third pair of Brooks running shoes). I have worn them several times on walks to break them in… Finally, I did my first trail run in these shoes. While they are comfortable and I didn’t have any issues during my break-in walks, my right sock kept getting unceremoniously pulled down into my shoe. 5 times. 2 within the first half mile. These weren’t new socks or anything like that. Completely annoying. Otherwise, the shoes felt good – not as grippy feeling as my Saucony Peregrine 6’s though.

The Brooks Cascadias have a 10mm heal-to-toe drop, and are made of synthetic mesh. Midsole is EVA and outsole is carbon/blown rubber. These shoes also feature something called a ballistic rock shield. What is it? It’s a thermoplastic sheath used in the forefoot area to disperse the pressure of landing on loose objects. Certainly doesn’t seem to add bulk or weight and will come in handy on my rockier trail runs. Overall, I’d say these are solid trail shoes.

I’m going to try again this weekend to see if this sock issue gets any better. I really like these shoes and this gives me a great opportunity to talk to anyone and everyone about Yosemite National Park – Did I mention that I love it? I might re-lace my shoes to see if that will help. Stopping so many times on a run is frustrating. Anyone out there have a fix for falling socks? If so, please leave a comment. 🙂

Exercise · Interesting

Trail Thoughts – Birds and Rocks

I went on a trail run this morning and saw a very cute bird a lot like this one:

Source: www.kcet.org

It may not be so significant in and of itself, but! Yes, there is a but! This is a bird that used to be considered a Western scrub jay… This year, the American Ornithologists’ Union formally made the distinction between this bird and another that had also been called a Western scrub jay. My pretty blue friend above is the California scrub jay while the “paler, smaller-billed jays in the far eastern reaches of the state are now officially referred to as Woodhouse’s scrub jay.” For more on this, check out this post from KCET. I was actually kind of excited – I think because I really used to like bird watching… Until I ran out of bird watching time. 😉

The other thing that kept me from obsessing over the actual run was thinking about all of the rocks I was artfully dodging. Why? Because not too long ago a friend of mine likened trail running to just running on dirt. Like, you know… Flat, easy dirt. While there are some of those trails around, I’ve been doing trails with rocks like these, along with 700-900 ft elevation gains (and those are the easy trails):

I’m not trying to sound particularly “bad ass” or anything, but I was a little taken aback by my friend’s comments. You have to work hard to earn those gorgeous views! Or, you could just spend a few million dollars and buy a house in the hills – Yes, a few million… This is California after all. Haha! Seriously, though, that was one of the many things that went through my head this morning as I was looking at the hills. Gorgeous, sweeping views of the bay, the mountains… Those people are lucky-ducky to have such great backyards. 🙂 And, they don’t have to drive to get to the trails!

Lots of rocks!

What kinds of things do you think about when you are running? Let me know… And, as always, stay healthy!

Exercise · Interesting

Spiderweb Vortex – Eek!!

This morning, I went on a 4-mile trail run. I took a break from the trail runs while I was trying to get my knee back to normal, so it was really nice to be back out there. I went to Edgewood Park because it’s a pretty quick drive to get there and it’s very pretty. I have only seen one deer there before, but this morning I saw 3… And, the requisite lizards basking in the sun.

Today’s run had me starting on the Sylvan Trail. Not doing Old Stage Road at the start again! (More on that below.) I then took the Serpentine Trail to the Clarkia Trail. I didn’t get to the trailhead, but turned around after 2 miles and returned the way I came.

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 3.42.35 PM
Edgewood Park Map

I’ve posted photos from there before so didn’t really think about taking any this time until I saw this:

Here’s the spiderweb vortex!!

It’s a spiderweb that goes into some kind of crazy spiral vortex that disappears into a hole in the ground. I mean, whoa! So, yes, that’s the photo I took today. Kind of glad I didn’t meet the spider…

Then, I felt like I needed to take a photo of something that wasn’t creepy. To make up for the spiderweb, here are some pretty flowers:

These flowers are prettier than the spiderweb vortex 🙂

Hilly trail runs are nice. A bit more challenging to me than paved trails due to all the rocks and uneven surfaces, but really worth it. I feel like it’s a great workout, plus it’s lovely, plus it’s peaceful. I should really do more hill work and this is a great way to do it – I’ve learned my lesson about starting off on a really steep uphill, though. The one time I did that, it ended up making me feel winded the entire run. So, a more moderate hill is a better choice for me. Still elevates my heart rate, but it doesn’t keep me from enjoying the rest of the run. I’m learning how to make my trail runs more enjoyable and still exploring different trails. Newbie at work! 🙂 Any trail or hill advice? Let me know!

Stay healthy!


Exploring More Trails

I changed up my schedule this weekend and did my trail run on Saturday. I tried a new nature preserve – Pearson-Arastradero Preserve in Palo Alto. It was a very nice run… I veered off of my planned course by accident, but that’s ok. I ended up cutting my run from 6 to 5 miles, but still felt like I got a good workout and I know where I went wrong so I can get it right next time. Great weather and some lovely views. Lately, with all of this trail running, I’ve really been appreciating the beauty of the SF Bay Area. This day was no exception.


Looking out over Hwy280


What I enjoyed most about this trail run was that the hills were nice, rolling inclines rather than last week‘s initial steep climb that kicked my butt. I am still working on my hill stamina, but I think I’ve started working on this early enough to make my October trail half successful. 🙂 While going uphill is never really “easy” for me, this went pretty well. I got to see horses, too, and a lovely little pond.

The pond at Pearson-Arastradero Preserve

On Sunday, we went to Napa for our annual Father’s Day brunch – It’s me, my son, my husband, and both grandpas. Since I didn’t do my trail run yesterday, I did get in an early 4-mile run so was really eager to get my hands on the bacon. We had a lot of fun and I enjoyed the views after brunch. These flowers were in the “backyard” of the restaurant we went to:

Stay healthy!


Ramblings of a Ramshackle Runner

Last Sunday was the day of the Orlando shooting. I went on a run that morning and found myself preoccupied with what had happened. In a way, it was a nice way to reflect and gather my thoughts. But, it was my first 5-mile trail run… On an unfamiliar trail. So, I ended up taking a wrong turn and had to backtrack at one point. The run started off with a very steep hill and that kind of set the tone for the whole way.


For a short while, I was on the road, which was worse because it’s an area with lots and lots and lots of bicyclists. On the plus side, I had a very nice view…


… and my trail shoes finally look like, well, trail shoes. The glossy, fresh-out-of-the-box look is starting to give way to dirt. 🙂


That run kicked my butt and somehow contributed to the loss of my car key. Or maybe it was my preoccupation with Orlando… I put my key in the zip pocket of my running tights. I vividly remember getting the key out and getting in the car to drive home… I know I put all my stuff in the passenger seat next to me. I have no idea what happened to the key after I got home. I have everything else accounted for. SIGH!

This week, I’ve been trying to step up my game because I have a 12k coming up next month. I had actually forgotten about it for a while and had been cruising on “vacation mode.” Then, we were invited to an event on the same day. When I checked the calendar, I was like OOPS! I need to knock it up a notch. Where’s my spice weasel??

Tomorrow, I’ve planned a 6-mile trail run. Again on an unfamiliar trail, but I am putting more effort into my review of the trails and terrain. 🙂 Hopefully, no backtracking tomorrow. I’m only able to do trail runs on the weekend, so I’m really hoping once a week is enough to get me prepared for the Yosemite Half in October. Crossing my fingers.

Stay safe! Stay healthy!


My First Trail Run – Finally!

I feel like I got my Saucony Peregrin trail running shoes a really long time ago… A scheduling problem here and an injury there, and I finally, finally got to take them on my first official trail run yesterday. On Mother’s Day – because that’s what I asked for.

With help like this, how could I refuse? (He’s 3, so it was the thought that counts. 🙂 )

Getting my shoe tied
Getting my shoe tied

I was a little nervous so I took it easy. 3 miles – 1 mile up, 1 mile flat-ISH, and 1 mile down. It was lovely and fun and exhilarating. 

At the start
At the start

The signage was daunting, but the only real wildlife I saw other than birds were to fluffy-tailed bunnies. There were a couple of tree roots that looked suspicious from a distance, but no rattlesnakes. Yay! And, I only came close to losing my balance once. 🙂

 Mountain lions, huh?
Mountain lions, huh?
Wait! What?
Wait! What?

I was impressed with my new trail shoes. They had great grip and felt incredibly light. They were breathable and flexible. The shoe laces are braided, which required me to double knot them so they wouldn’t come untied. That’s a minor issue, though. And, I can’t blame the shoes for almost losing my balance – first lesson learned is that you need to keep an eye on the actual trail. Lots of things to watch out for, so… do watch out for them. Rocks, dips, roots… That kind of thing.

Edgewood Park is lovely.  Once you get up the hill a ways, the views are gorgeous. I am a morning runner, so mornings work for me on many levels. I’d also say mornings are best at this park because it gets a little crowded. My first visit to this park was in the afternoon and the parking lot was full and there were a fair number of people milling about. I am not surprised about that given how nice this park is. We did see some runners that afternoon and it looked frustrating trying to get around all of us lollygaggers.

Rolling hills
Rolling hills

To Trail Run or Not to Trail Run

Trail Running - This is not me! (Courtesy Ultra Running Company)
Trail Running – This is not me! (Courtesy Ultra Running Company)

I’ve been contemplating whether or not I want to do some trail running… Admittedly, I am a little excited about it right now because there is a half marathon later in the year in Yosemite National Park. I love Yosemite! My son (almost 3) has never been there, which means it has been well over three years since my last visit. I think I’m overdue.

I did some light reading on training running and came across a Runner’s World article that scared me off a bit. Trail running is more demanding, slower, and the author recommended trekking poles! Yikes. I’m already slow and I can’t carry poles… For real. That’s like asking Danger-prone Daphne here for a medical emergency…

So, I am asking fellow runners… What do YOU recommend? How differently do you train on trail versus pavement? What trail shoes do you like?

I feel like I have enough time to get in shape by October, that’s when the half marathon is. And, only about half of it is on rough terrain. So they say! 😉

I’ve already looked into renting a house and taking the family for a trip. It’s all very doable and seems fun. It might be nice to do something different!