Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Stone Mill 50 Miler

As time moved forward I became confident that 50 miles, although always an insanely long way to run, was now a doable task. Having finished my first 100 miler after so many months of racing and training and then even at my lowest low throughout the month of October, I was still moving- injury-free in fact. So I had no doubt that Stone Mill may not be the "best" idea for my recovery process- that's still occurring, but I would without question make it to the finish line. With the accompanying humor of how much I struggled or should I say, forcefully recovered through the month of October I was fairly certain that running 50 miles would knock be back into complete burn out... but as most runners tend to do... I had already made up mind to run. But I would be smart, I would throttle back and move cautiously, being aware of my pains and fatigue level and rest when I needed to.

Race day arrived, 3:15am wake-up call. Leaving the house with enough time to make it the starting line for 5am to check-in and giving me an hour to fuss about in the "much warmer than outside air" car with my clothing, shoes, compression, electrolyte tablets and the blanket I was so closely attached to that cold morning. It was roughly 28 degrees outside... perhaps, I honestly didn't look, but it felt like 28degrees as the gathering runners in the area creating puffs of oral percipitation as they walked/ talked/ moved about....all staying warm in their own fashion.

5:55am, standing about 30ft up the hill from the starting line with my support crew... huddling close to keep my heat (steal some of his) for as long as I could... and then it was Go time. With the words, "Don't Race" newly imprinted on my mind by the voice of my crew I headed off and quickly lost body heat. As we wrapped around the school (the first 1/2 mi or so of the race) I felt my temperature plummet, so naturally my pace increased... Come on Body Heat!!

Headed out in the wooded trail, headlamps bouncing I was struggling in the cold, my toes didn't even exist any longer... in no time I tripped not once but two spills in the first 3 miles. I felt like an idiot... I knew I was running too fast for the conditions on the ground, in the dark, with my numbed feet and cold joints, but I was already convincing myself that this was a comfortable pace. Finally the sun broke and headlamps were dropped off before heading down the road and jumping back onto the trail.

The sun didn't make much heat yet, but I had high hopes as continued along at my truly stupid 7:40 pace. I attempted to slow up and I think that I did, enough, but I was running with a couple of guys from NJ who made it quite clear I was on pace for 7hr 30min finish....at the Slowest... I laughed, I knew I couldn't hold this pace, there was truly no way that I intended to hurt as much as running at this pace would feel come mile 30+.

I was fairly exhausted by 16miles or something like that. I didn't know where I was much at all, I never asked the milage and I just zoomed through each aid station, with mind set on getting to Mile 25, the AS where Q.H. would be. I was looking forward to seeing a friendly face, and checking off half the run. As it was I had the pleasure of seeing G.T. and B.S. out cheering on the course and that also brightened the run significantly.

 The temperature was climbing, although my legs were still cold enough that my joints were aching, my feet were comfortable, and my upper body, now overheating. I felt the fatigue hit my legs and I dosed with Endurolytes and in no time was back on track. I wondered, as this started to occurr before the 20mile mark, how long this pattern would last. The fact that fatigue was setting in that soon, that I was utilizing my electrolytes that quickly, I was worried. This was in fact going to hurt as much as I feared it would.....

After passing mile 25 the course takes you on part of the C&O canal, which was gorgeous, absolutely breathtaking, and I kept making myself look around and notice the colors and the smell of the leaves because the recorded message at this time between the "stop" and the "go" parts oof my mind was "Walk, this hurts! No, this is flat, DON'T do it, just keep moving, just jog, one step at a time"... after a mile of fighting my own mind I was annoyed, my concentration on the pain was growing stronger than my ability to observe, but soon enough the course took us back in the hills and trails. Anything was better than monotonous pouding.

Somewhere around here, I was very aware of the fact that I was undereating, my stomach had actually hurt quite badly when I awoke that morning and so I was fairly cautious, but I just honestly wasnt getting hungry. I did use a "GU" at some point, which I despise, and just top it off an old filling had just been repaired the day prior and the sugary goo just stung as it glued itself between my molars. The icey air as I inhaled caused that sensitive tooth sting with every breath. "Oh great" I thought, "Maybe this will distract me from the other pains." It didn't really help, but at least I was being somewhat positive. Anyway the caffeine boost and the glucose helped and again I was rolling along.

As I approached mile 35 I was well aware that this is usually about the point in the race where I collapse- mentally. My legs keep going, but everything in my head shuts down. So I spent the entirety of the morning preparing myself for this section. Luckily I took off from the mile 35 AS with a couple other runners, after eating grilled cheese for the first time during a run (liekly the last time too...just not for me). The two guys I was with were one of NJ guys who had gotten lost, and another VA runner I've seen at a couple races- this was his first 50 mile run (and he killed it by the way!)... and he just hung with me. I could tell he had so much more in his legs, but when I asked if he wanted to go with NJ he said "No, I dont have anything left, just going to hang on for the next 15 miles."

Trotting along together, I was doing well, the company helped significantly, I managed to fall twice more, as I almost always seem to when there's anyone around. Not one fall for 30 miles while I ran alone.... but oh well. He took a fall too, we laughed it off and kept going. Soon enough though I was dragging. As I went through the causes, I realized I needed more salt... and oh yea... not racing... so maybe I want a nice little walk break and moment to collect myself. So I let VA go and I stood there getting my endurolytes out and walked as I hydrated. I was so uncomfortably warm. I debated going through the struggle of getting my bottom layer off and wrapping that around my waste and leaving the jacket on, but it all seemed like a waste of effort and time. If I wasn't running, I wasn't warm enough.... if I was running, I was too warm. So I kept my outfit the same, as I prefer to be overly warm than cold, but this meant I would need to drink more and work harder to keep my heart rate and fatigue under control to conserve energy.

By 42miles I didn't care, I wanted that jacket OFF... I struggled from there to mile 48, going through phases of walking and recovering and jogging- barely keeping 10min pace or so... I was doing pretty terribly for me... but I also was fully aware of my ability level at the moment and was thrilled that the pain was still comprehensible and although literally tired, like sleepy and hot as heck, I was Almost done. So walking into mile 48 AS I tore that damn jacket off and grabbed more liquid and a boiled potato with salt and took off.

About 300yrs down the trail I realized I hadn't even thanked my support/ crew who was volunteering at the mile 48AS for the support and taking my sweaty stinky jacket, apparently I was more tired and more focused on being done than I thought, nonetheless the lack of gratitude bothered me and I planned to remedy that in about two miles. And Then Opps... one more fall... a good one too. I was experiencing "finish-line stress" <= I just made that up... but its that internal anxiety and anger that builds when you no longer want to go on, simply because you're so close to the end that you know you HAVE to (and no one likes to do anything they HAVE to do....I can't really explain it better, but I think that makes sense, somewhat. Anyway I just wanted to stop moving, without my jacket I was already getting cold, which added to the frustration, but overall my attitude was good. I was doing much better than I'd predicted.

And then there it was the hill to the finish line, a steep 100meter climb... in front of 30+ spectators....How humiliating... and to make it worse the announcer cheering for "Meghan".... which I would NEVER write on a race entry, specifically so that would never happen. But it did, and I had to suck up the fact that I was being cheered for with my full legal name as I almost literally crawled up this hill to the finish line. It wasn't So bad.

As I crossed the line 8hr 16min later I was done, and happy about it. However, my timing chip was gone, apparently it fell off during that last fall. Opps again! (someone later found it :) ).

Considering the past months this was a glorious finish, even if it wasn't my best run by far, it was a decent time and another 1st place female finish, and probably the best attitude I've had throughout a 50 miler yet... So naturally I was thrilled.

Post-race, I removed my shoe to find some awful sharp pain in my foot... My first injury... Xray showed no break, so intution says Im good to run. The pain is still present 6 miles into my runs (10days later), but its slowly improving and my mileage is climbing.

The plan for now is to maintain 50-60 mile weeks with biking, yoga, and swimming to supplement my recovery. The running miles will have to include some speed work to push my legs back into motion. But my hopes are that come February 2nd, when I land myself at Rocky Raccoon 100 miler I feel strong enough to run greater than 75% of the race... which would be a HUGE improvement from BEAR and a very different level of struggle. But my success now will only be possible if I properly train, and care for my body and my mind. Last year was intense and this year will be intense as well, I wouldnt have it any other way, but my hope is that the knowledge and experience from last year will help me to slow down more, enjoy the runs and just let my ultra-running develop on its own, I want many more years of this <3

Much Thanks and Congratulations to the other runners and to the RD for a great event! Thank you to all volunteers, especially my support! As usual, I couldn't have done with without you all.

Next race... kinda unstructured pending not feeling like crud most days running, lol.....but I'll be around ;).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


So since The Bear it would seem I have disappeared off the map. I wish I could tell you I was recovering justifiably from my mountainous struggle out in Utah, but instead, the story is much more long winded and much more confusing. I haven't written as much as I should because I wonder where to start, but its now or never.

So, the story really begins when I moved to Baltimore and slowly regained my ability run, and my teaching certification for yoga, a new apartment, a new car, a new job and I think the point is, I basically got a fresh start here in Bmore! So then I taught some yoga, I started the job, and I never stopped running- clearly.

 Running and Yoga are my equal passions, they balance out the give and take in my life on so many levels. One cannot exist without the other. This point is essential in this story because as time went on and my running mileage rose, my yoga efforts declined. It was experimental in part and my hypothesis was painfully correct. For me, not nescessarily for everyone, but for me, the two exist in my world symbiotically and one cannot survive without the other. Without yoga my running is obsessive and addictive and my joints and muscles ache continuously; Without running, well... I don't actually know, I just LOVE to run because I do.

The thing that began to create a problem, was my job. I am unhappy at my job, despite the wonderful hours, benefits and vacations I am sorely unsatisfied on a personal level. I always desire growth, efficiency and utilization of my skills. I want to expand my knowledge and use it toward good things. Vague, I know, but thats as far as I've gotten in the lucid "what I Want in my life" department.

So here we are months later, a year and half since my move, one year into my career. And in the last 12 months:

-I have run 7 marathons; 3 x 50Ks; 1x100K; 1 x 12hr; 1 x 100mi  races and set 2 Female course records, with a few fantastic finishes;

-I have taught yoga classes and quit teaching yoga classes;

-I have worked side by side with some of the most outstanding people I've ever met with The 6th Branch, Come Home Baltimore, Veteran Artist Project, countless other groups that have extended my knowledge in many areas and given me countless friends and contacts and last, but my no means least, running with McVet Back On My Feet team regularly;

-I got back into swimming, bought a bicycle and did one 30mile ride outside thus far...

So, what have I done for career development? That I dont know, I actually took a break from writing this entry to review for ACLS/ BLS and it was painful to see how much I've truly forgotten and also intriguing to see the weird things impinged in my memory.

Well, from here, I feel I should truly begin a book.  From here.... sigh, the words don't come naturally. I want to leave this job and never ever return, that's ideal. I want to walk away from my safe career and expand in the areas of running, biomechanics, running effeciency and nutrition. I want to coach runners and volunteer more. I want to get back to teaching yoga.

All these WANTS... how could I be so greedy, was the basic emotional drama I continue to sell myself on for monthes. But its become more than clear to me, that I don't need to feel badly about anything. I'm not giving anything up, I'm just taking the time to gain more.

Anyways, you can imagine, the girl you freaks out before each race... freaking out about potentially Giving up, with my own free will, a medical career in our current economy. I was certain I was crazy, and so I made myself so. I began having regular panic attacks, scared those I loved, worried my friends and selfishly wasted endless amounts of time doing literally nothing but worrying myself sick.

Meanwhile as this progressed I ran The Bear... two weeks later I ran Baltimore MArathon and earned myself a new PR @ 3:17 and then only two more weeks later I shuffled through the finish line in support of Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness in a painful 3:39.... and decided i really needed to chill out. I ran that race on almost no sleep after having a "freak out" the night before over nothing at all to be honest, but it didn't seem to matter, I just kept digging into those Ol' Grooves of addiction and self deprivation as I cut myself down and tried to push the weight I was forcing on myself onto anyone who cared to try and help.

Anyway, I wasn't much for writing and even this is a severly shorten summation of crazy tough few months for me.

But I'm back in control, and living my life as I feel is ethically and morally proper for Just me, by no one elses rules and regulations (I mean I guess besides the legal stuff... I wouldn't mind driving faster and not stopping so much, and definetly would love to disregard all parking signs and park where there is space- just saying.....).

Anyway, chin is up, sneakers are on, yoga mat is rolled out and I am ready... or willing enough to see what happens from trial and error.

Up Next: Stone Mill 50 mile run Nov. 17th!... Goal is to finish with a good attitude (smiling) and injury free....

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bear 100

The time wouldn't pass any faster, 3:37am and my alarm was set for 4:30am. I wanted to get up but I knew I would be up for much longer than usual so I maintained that I should continue to lie still for as long as possible. Finally rising, I packed up my tent and what-nots that I'd brought out with me to "camp" and headed back to the car to eat my banana and peanut butter. I got myself as prepared as I could, made my last minute phone calls and then in no time at all was at the start line for my first 100 miler. I didn't even hear a "GO" but everyone started running, it was 6:00AM in Logan , Utah. The sky was still black, the temperature was around 40 and dry. The first mile was on pavement and slowly entered the first ascent, which would bring us from Gibbons Park (the Start) to mile 10.52 at Logan Peak, the first Aid Station, just nearing the peak of our first full climb at 8800' a 4000' climb from the start. The climb did seem quite endless as the miles were surely passing the steady jog turned to a steady hike, but in the darkness prior to dawn the time was of no concern to anyone. As the sun rose and the headlamps turned off we began the decline to AS #2 at 19.66 miles, Leatham Hollow. The descent was beautiful with scenery I've only found in National Geographic prior to this trip. Sadly, by now I was well aware that mentally I wasn't in this run at all. I tried my best to drown out my thoughts with the surrounding beauty but the invasive patterns of "this was a BAD idea" continued to feed  into my psyche.

As I passed through the second AS meeting Collin and stuffing my pockets with caloric nourishment. I had my water bottle filled and I just wanted to keep moving, I was afraid of quitting on myself if I spent too much time in one place. Importantly, I arrived here at about 3hr 45min into the race, much too quickly! A short climb to AS#3 Richards Hollow, where I disposed of the wrappers from my last couple snacks and again replenished my pockets with goodies from my drop bag. And then climbing once again heading for Cowley Canyon at 29.98 miles. This section was the beginning of an ugly 40miles for me.

It had been mentioned that it would be hot, so even though I felt tcomfortable I was now concerned that I was wrong about myself and I would in fact dehydrate or overheat, my muscles felt fine, but suddenly there was growing twinge in my hip that seemed to stab me with pain on each downhill step. So now I was walking the uphills and limping the downhills, I didn't feel effecient and to add to the taxing thoughts about 8 runners plodded past me in this section as I realized that barely past 1/4 of the way I was already falling apart. I was losing my drive to continue. I'd decided I would just quit, I didn't want to be there, I wanted to go home, back to Baltimore, back to being a normal runner, maybe a marathon once in a while but otherwise just not chose to do such "stupid" things as fly to somewhere I know absolutely no one and attempt to cover 100 miles in the Rocy Mountains. Yes, there was something wrong with me... I was sure everyone was right.

Around this time I arrived to AS#4, where my crew was suppose to be, I needed mental support, they were nowhere. I fell into routine and drank water as the AS volunteers re-filled my bottle. I was scavenging for food at the table since I had no drop- bag here as I expected my crew. I was livid, and then to make matters worse a voice telling me I needed to more water, more water, that "Collin said you've never run this far before, what you do now will matter at mile 80" In my pleasant mood I scoffed at the helpfullness and nearly laughed, I honestly believed I wouldn't see mile 80, so what difference would it make. I procalimed out loud how mentally out of it was, and took some tylenol, the helpful man just suggested I kept running, and so I did.

The run to AS#5 Right-hand fork mile 36.92 was a stretch of the race that fed into my weaknesses. I was now getting warm, maybe everyone was right, I would overheat, I would fail. This section was nearly all downhill and my hip was now nearing immobile, or so it felt. A good number of runners ran past me at 3 times my pace. I was ready to give it all up by the time arrived to see Collin and Matt. I was annoyed, they weren't suppose to be there, I had my drop bag, they were an AS behind and I felt totally off track. Then Collin proclaimed he was running with me because I wasn't carrying enough water. The last thing I wanted was a pacer, but even worse, a mule, I wouldn't use his water, and I didn't. I knew having someone with me would only give me someone to complain too, but Collin wouldn't listen to me and insisted. I ate more than I could and drank another liter of water before leaving the AS. From AS #5 to AS #6 Temple Fork 45.15 I was livid. I hated having someone uninvited taking part in my run. I knew what I was doing, and I was busy trying to convince myself to quit, I didn't need someone telling me how I needed to be positive. To me, that was like saying, all you have to do is walk a tight rope across the Grand Canyon balancing a ball on your nose- Yea.... ridiculous. I had no intention of being positive, especially not with someone univitedly breathing down my back, even if the intent was out of caring and helpfullness, I was SO not myself. So, needless to say, I was a whiny, bitchy mess almost the whole way to Temple Fork. Where I gladly left Collin and took on the next section to mile 51.84 Tony Grove AS#7. 

Well, prior to leaving Temple Fork, I tried to get some salt and was given Endurolytes which contain electrolytes, other than a large portion of salt which depending on depletion... anyway I need more salt than most people as I run Low to start with. So It wasn't the best way to start off, but in my mind, I was already going to fail, so what did it really matter.

I had a good stretch as this section was mostly an uphill climb, my hip intact enough and talked with a few other runners which boosted my mood.

By the time I reached Tony Grove my muscles felt awful, I was tired. But now I had decided I need to make atleast 100K (62miles) to make the trip worth my time. Collin and Matt were here too, which was also unplanned, they said they wouldn't be there and I had already planned my stop, but that was thrown to the wind. Instead I was force fed and gratefully accepted a long sleeve shirt. The following section was the most intense of the entire race from me, 9.6 miles of easily runnable beautiful single track trail running over hills and following the river.

I tried to raise my spirits, my hip was getting less intense, but now my stomach was aching, I was bloated, over-full and starting to have some mild kidney pain. I started to really break down, wimpering with frustration. Again many runners began to pass me. I was slowed to a walk. I was still moving but I felt defeated. Even if I would make it to mile 61.48 AS#8, there was no way I had 39 more miles left in me, not like this. I was running out of hope, the very last thing that was keeping me moving. The runners passing me tried to give me support. A pacer actually came back and told me they'd have a pacer for me at Franklin Basin 61.48, I was so elated I tried even harder to run... and then other runners from earlier passed me and I tried to go with them, but I just fell back and finally just let myself walk. My stomach started to return to normal, my kidneys were functioning again. The moon was now bright and the sun was sinking. I didn't want to turn my headlamp until I truly had too, I waited until I could no longer see the ground clearly. Just about the time the sun had sunken below the horizon and I suddenly felt the drive to move faster. I broke into a jog and found myself trotting along quite well. My stomach was cooperating and I was doing alright. And then it was Night.

Upon arrival to the AS#8, I announced that someone had a pacer for me, and within a minute thats when I met Rachel, who may very well have been my gaurdian angel. I grabbed whatever else I needed and Rachel and I headed off to take on the next two segments, 14.9 miles, together. Trodding along, I apologized for my pace unnecessarily and mentioned my goal of 4mph, so Rachel helped keep me on track. We talked about running, about my life, surprisingly to her, but even to me, I was hiking up these mountains and maintaining conversation (in hindsight these climbs were at less altitude than the earlier climb that certainly took my breath away and threw off mmy electrolytic balance.) Anyways, I was moving well, even running the last 2 miles into AS#9 Logan River 69.54. Rachel had never really paced before and accepted my guidance on what I needed. She had the tylenol and the tums, the salty chips all set and my drop bag. And again we continued onward to AS#10 Beaver Lodge.

Upon arrival to AS#10 75.82 miles, I was refreshed. the miles with Rachel had made this seem do-able. I was now confident in my pace and in my own intuitive senses about my body in terms of food, electrolytes, water, and core temperature. I was ready to continue on. I ate and changed into a warmer jacket and then stood in the doorway of the lodge waiting for Collin to finish tying his shoes so we can head out. Within 30 seconds we were out the door, and within another 60 min we were wandering aimlessly looking for the next marker. Once we found it, my pacer took off. I found myself chasing him for miles and miles on end. I wasn't setting this pace, which felt wrong, and felt like I was pushing too hard, especially since this next climb took me to 8500' which was enough to make me breathe heavy and lose the ability to eat. I was growing more and more frustrated but was determined to keep pace, I was now marching through my last marathon of the day I had no intention of whining or stopping.

Making it to mile 81.12 AS#11, I hardly recall, I know I had some chicken noodle soup and some more tums as my stomach was starting to feel a bit raw from the lactic acid and the decreased consumption as my hunger continued to wane. Luckily for me Collin had stopped trying to force feed me and everything had settled to rather pleasant section. After a quick battery change in my headlamp we took off to a rather chilly, but beautiful and runnable section of the course. A walk/ run was maintained but the cold and the pain made it hard for me to push for longer than a minute or so at a time, but I kept my pace and felt strong. And then climbed a short steep climb and steep descent to AS#12 mile 85.25. Matt was waiting for us there.

Again I had some soup and some egg noodles. I remember looking at all the sweets they had and wishing I craved them even a little.  I dont remember much else at this AS, so I guess we moved on pretty quickly. I know I desperately wanted to get the final long climb out of the way as it would peak higher than 8800' and I knew between the fact that it was the middle of the night, I wasn't eating quite enough, and I had alread run 85 miles, this climb was going to be hard on me. But we climbed and climbed, somewhere arounf 8300' I began to feel my chest tighening, my heart ached once in a while, my throat was sore and I was now having small coughing fits. I was certainly not acclimating within the time period of this run, not that I expected to, but it would have been nice, right?  Anyway despite my growing amounts of whining I kept moving. Around mile 90 I hit a break point. Around this time as well Collin alerted me to the fact that he had decided to bail on the last section of the race. I would be without a pacer for the final 7+ miles. I was again personally annoyed, but also understanding of his injury, although I couldnt see how all the running we werent doing could have hurt him, we literally ran 1-2 miles of the last 15 miles, but an injury is an injury and it was my race... pacer or not, of course now,  I would finish.

A staggering step brought me down and I decided to let it take me all the way down, I sat down, Collin turned around and said, "Come on, you've got this" and instead of accepting it as support, it was the final straw in that moment, I needed a moment, back to MY race... and so I responded with some rather unkind words that expressed my need to quit for minute and take in some calories... so I did that. And then I got back up and kept going.

Upon arriving at AS#13 mile 92.2 Ranger Dip, I was frozen, and anxious to head off for the final stretch. Taking in a little more broth I grabbed some Hot Hands which Matt helped me get open. And I was off. I hadnt really realized I had one more climb, but I did, less than a mile, very steep to the peak of the race 9040'. And this hill was like a line of walls with plateaus between them. Staggering 40 ft to the top and then walking a few steps, and doing it again, losing moments upon moments for 10 seond breaks just to let your heart keep up. And then finally it was over... almost completely all downhill from here.

And down it went. I ran a lot, but found my footing wasn't great and backed down to a strong controlled power walk. Despite my efforts to keep control, gravity often brought me back into a run. I fell once, then twice, then a third time in the same 2 miles of dusty gravel. Nothing to speak of, just clouds of dust. And down and down and down, it seemed it would never end, and just when you thought it might one last small uphill, which was sort of a relief... and then down some more and then around and this long dirt road that seemed utterly endless. Finally, though the dirt ended and the pavement led you to the last and final left hand turn before crossing the street and finishing at Bear Lake.

Crossing the finish line I was slightly dilirious. I was a bit confused that so many people were around and then I remember this was not just a small fat ass race, but Bear 100, a well known, well attended ONE HUNDRED mile race... in UTAH no less.... A felt accomplished, for the first time in my running career or any of my hobbies or careers. With a time of 25:06:30, placing me 5th Female and 23rd overall, I was totally satisfied. So my attitude wasnt great, and I walked a lot of runnable ground; I learned a lot about trusting myself and about who I trust myself with. I am very lucky and very very grateful to those who made this race what it was, from the RD, the AS volunteers, Sada, Rachel, Sara (6th female who's pacers saved my race), Mike and Susan, Mark and of course my crew Matt and Collin; And a WHOLE bunch of other runners out there who were an on-going inspiration to me; And many other behind the scenes people who I wouldn't now where to begin....

So despite one hell of a struggle I fininshed this race feeling stronger than ever, and although it does seem a little off, even to me, I am already excited to begin my preparations for my next 100 mile run... but for now I am taking a rest from running .... at least until Baltimore Running Festival!!

In the Mean time; Pre: 100miles

Between CMMM and Bear 100 a lot happened, even thought maybe not too much running....

My first 100 miler, the culminating endpoint to my First Ultra-marathoning season. Every run, every post, every thing I've given of myself for athletic purpose was spent with the intention of successfully completing my first 100 mile run within the year. And now I have.

As many of you know, I race a lot, more than most runners or ultra-runners, though I rarely "race" at maximal effort, utilizing these races as training runs. Nonetheless there are limits, temporarily of course. Limits can be met and pushed but with very little doubt in my mind I was overtrained for the last 2 to 3 months pre: Bear 100, give or take as my training varied from rest to training to race to rest and so on.  But by the beginning of September, my drive to run, to train had begun to decrease, conveniently I was also beginning my taper so I hoped it would balance out.

The first week of September I was prepped for my first triathalon in D.C, Nations TRI.... needless to say, as there was no posting about this accomplishment, it failed, or rather it never even began. Too much stress involved in a sport that I lack so much information and skill. And as it turned out I was left to figure it out alone. The frustration and the flat tire culminated in my having a very pleasant panic attack and crying to friends on the phone as drove home from the check-in to the race feeling very defeated. I'd never failed to do well, but this was even worse, I failed to even begin. And the worst part of it all, I was more upset that I wasn't upset.

So I got past this little bump in the road but continued for whatever reason to experience a great deal of stress. Being 25 and confused about your life, your career and your entire "self" is Not so profound, Im sure nearly everyone can relate, nonetheless at given moments here and there it can seem like a massive problem.  And so, I took on the beginnings of re-designing my future. Many discussions, ideas, emails all flying about my little universe.  So I wasn't coping with everything as well I'd like to.

Then it was Off to Ohio for The Air Force marathon with Frank. The trip was short and pleasant. Getting my friend to his first 4hr marathon goal was wonderful, except I honestly spent a riduculous portion of the 26.2 miles in my head thinking "oh no, my feet hurt, my knees ache, I can't possibly run 100 miles" and "Wow, this course is not that exciting to me, and I really wouldnt mind if I wasn't running right now." Perhaps needless to say, this is not my normal attitude Re: running any distance.

Now I was beginnining to freak out with only 2 weeks to go I had no more time contemplate my training. It was done, it was time to really taper, cut milage and try to relax and mentally prepare.

I celebrated my 26th birthday @ work by getting my required flu shot the day prior and after work during a very delicious dinner with friends I suddenly felt quite sick, viral... a slight fever, burning eyes, heavy fatigue, headache, slight nausea and sore throat. I thought it would pass over night like most of my "colds" do  but instead the migraine-like symptoms continued for the following 5 days. Between the race nearing and feeling awful I wasn't myself and feared everyone could tell.

Everyone I spoke to, said it was alright and to be expected before a race such as Bear 100, but my inability to cope with my anxiety was an embarrassment to me which of course only created more anxiety... Yes, I have a few things to work on. Anyway I think I worried a few people, drove a couple nuts, but for the most part I was comoforted by a great deal of love and support that I only hope I can return.

So I was clamer, I knew what, when and where I was going, just not HOW to run 100 miles, but that was TBD. So after a nice run with Back on my Feet and gift of some amazing muffins I was on my way to Salt Lake City Utah where I would meet Collin and finish my preparation for Bear 100.

Upon arrival to SLC, after some time @ the University of Utah where Collin had a class he needed to attend, we drove up to Brighton Ski area and went for short 4-5mi jog/ hike to let me see how 10,000' felt. And it felt like death. My lungs burning, my heart throbbing, my throat sore from sucking wind , but my legs still moving steadily @ just about 4mph. It was do-able... and my race only peaked at 9, 040' so nothing to worry about right? Except maybe that I could notice the struggling effort begin somewhere around 8,200'. Well, I could only do my best, and the only goal was to finish.

Thursday before the race, we attended the race meeting, check-in and I ate a bagel with peanut butter and an apple for dinner ( A LOT of peanut butter ;) ). And then we proceeded to set up camp and after final preparations for myself,  and my crew, I was in bed by 8pm.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cheat Mountain Moonlight Madness 8/24/12

 You might think that after the race the start point would be more clear, however starting a race at 9pm changes everything. I did not simply wake up race day or travel the day prior and run a normal race. Every aspect of this run was different.

CMMM was my 2nd official 50mile race, although I had completeed my first 100K and first 12Hr run in between, the strategy for this run was different. The course was a long steady climb from roughly 2miles in through 16miles in and then some single track trail segments that had a couple of nasty climbs but nothing killer and then looping around the mountain and heading back down the mountain with significant net loss for 16 miles on gravel road. I had actually researched the course. This is something I rarely do, I mean often skim it, I do take a peek at the elevation map, just to get a rough idea, but this time was different. Dave decided he was going to come "crew" me. I was surprised and ecstatic, not too many people would be up for supporting a crazy person on a 50 mile run through the night in the middle of west VA about 4.5 hrs from home. So needless to say, perhaps, I had to study the course to figure out where my "crew" could be. There were only 2 aid stations accesible to crew 4/6 (you go through the Aid Station twice) or 5. Your drop bag would also be allowed only at 4/6.

 I was delighted to have company on the trip to the race, it relieved a great deal of the stress, I'd never been so aware of the inner discomfort as usually there is isn't so much time between waking up and running. But on this particular day I woke up at my usual 4:45ish and headed to Back on My Feet to walk 2 miles. I had a wonderful walk with awesome company. From there I headed to the grocery store for some travel  and caffeine supplies... I knew quite well how much caffeine I used to use to pull all- nighters but I had certainly never attempted to run through an all-nighter. So I went overboard, which in the end was perfect. Following this errand I met Elizabeth for coffee and we both chatted about ....everything, until we both had to go. I actually had nothing to do, except freak out about my upcoming race, but you'd be surprised how much time and effort that can take. So I drove up to Timonium and walked around some stores before really taking notice of the nervous energy. I got back to my apartment and got a few last minute things done.

Before I had any more of chance to get worked up or overly excited I was surprised with a gift. The context is irrelevant to the story but it certainly took the edge off the race. I got my last few pieces together and we were on the road. I let Dave drive the last 100miles so I could have my chance to be anxious and think. It seemed like I might get cold through the night, I didn't know how my feet would hold up, I had no idea if nutritionally I was balanced...( I'd never eaten all day before a run, I mean at  least not a run longer than 25 miles.) But here goes...

I did my race prep, with company, which was amusing, only a small colleciton of ppl have seen my race prep which is the same for any race 1500m- 100K... its all mental and doesnt help my running in the least, but it makes me effectively waste the last 30 min prior to race time feeling focused and alert.

Upon 4 minutes to start time the RD ran out of announcements, he became aware of an American flag and suggested the singing the of the national anthem. A confused chatter broke into song with in the minute and a group of about 90 runners and some spectators broke into song. It was the most touching start to race I've experienced. As it is with ultras and most endurance athletic events you share something with everyone else out on the course, aid station volunteers, families and runners that can't be found else where. Singing together in the dark below the Start Line was a cohesive symbol that would remain in my heart and mind. And then we were off.... and OH man... we were OFF.... like 7 min pace flying down the paved road, looking to hold onto who I could at my pace so I'd have company for this very long night ahead.

The climb begins and I catch up with a runner, Trevor, this was his first 50miler. He hadn't studied the course was not aware of the climb ahead. We chatted for a few before I fell back to my personal steady uphill pace.  At first I was worried it was much too slow, but behind me I watched another runner slow to a hike and although my pace was slow, it felt effortless. 5ish miles into the course the first 6 of us pass by AS 1 thanking the volunteers but continuing without even slowing a step. From this AS onward would be a long steady climb and so we climbed. Continuing at my pace I caught up to Trevor, he aknowledged my earlier warning about the hill, we chatted a minute or two and he fell back. I continued on at my pace hoping the best for his first 50miler, that he'd make it, and have fun... at least enough fun to do another one ;).  The climb seemed somewhat endless but I knew the next aid station was at mile 12.9 roughly a quarter of the way through the run, so I was looking forward to getting there. The ascent continued. I caught up to the next runner in front of me and we talked for quite a while before he admittedly wasn't feeling to well and fell back a little.

At AS2 it seemed as though they were unprepared for runners. But I didn't really mind, it was just nice to have people out on the course and willing to assist us.  I had 3 fig newtons, a common race food I'd never used before, but after the climb we'd done, I thought it'd be a good idea to take in a little something. A volunteer assisted me in changing the batteries on my headlamp, which was nearly dead- something I had planned for, but didn't expect to occurr so soon. But I was off and running within 3 minutes.  The trail began.

At first I found it entertaining to run the trail, I had to slow to a trot to watch my footing and path itself but I was moving nicely, and still quite effortlessly, I was happy. In no time at all I began to hit the patches of mud, sinking shoes. My sockless feet now feeling the wet grit every time I stepped and pressed into the ground. I wondered how many miles I had until blisters began to form. Then though, there were numerous stream crossings where the mud was shifted if not washed away and the grittiness was lessened until the next mud pit. I was enjoying myself. I took one hard fall, realizing as I got up the difference in my perspective in the dark. Almost everytime I trip in daylight I see and process my surroundings fast enough to respond appropriately, but in the dark..... what surroundings? My brain went from running to falling and all the time between the standing and the ground the mind is "lost." But as usual I just got back up and kept going. I was tripping  a lot but I was still moving steadily, thoroughly impressed by the surroundings and mentally taking note that I should come back and run these trails in daylight.

Anyways, trotting along, falling a couple more times and then I was back on the road headed into AS3 which was lit with glowing latterns for 1/2mi leading up and upon arrival they had a wonderful selection of treats, of which I only had boiled potatos rolled around in salt, but I was grateful and made sure they knew it. Again I was in and out without much struggle. The second patch in the woods was nice, the path was great, I was still tripping but feeling strong. The mental reminder that I'd see Dave at AS4 was a constant motivator. So I rolled through, the miles starting to feel longer and longer. Somewhere in this section I heard the distinct "roar/ sound" (im not sure what the reference word is) of a mountain lion. Being practical, I was scared to death... so naturally I tried to convince myself I had heard someone's dogs.... that my mind was skewing it into something more. I knew it was getting very late but I told myself that maybe it was only 10ish and someone's dogs were still out. I also came to terms with the very real fact that if a mountain lion for whatever reason decided I did make a nice 4th meal... it really didnt matter what I did. So I came back to my reality and just kept running, sincerely hoping that if he chose to attack any runner, that it wasn't me. Selfish and awful to admit perhaps... but I kinda like my life and I guess being human and all I'm bound to be a bit selfish from time to time.

AS4, everything was a vivid blur, I need my food, and more caffeine. I didn't see Dave so I went for my drop bag, found what I needed, prepped my drink and I was off after one last glance around the fire. About 300yards up from the AS Dave was headed from my car to the fire, it was obvious to me, yet totally unconcerning that he'd had a struggle getting there. I honestly don't remember thinking much of anything, I was just thrilled to see him and told him I'd be back to AS6 (10miles later) in about 2 hours. And I was off again, 1 mile of road before headed back into the woods. This particular 4.4 mi stretch of the course seemed to eat away at me. The trail was suddenly turning into torture, my ankles ached, the arch of my right foot was spasming, the wet grit was simply annoying. By now I had tripped and taken 20 "almost falls" each of which caused a spasmodic reaction from head to toe; tearing at my right hamstring, the tendons around my knees and ankles, my core , my neck and my shoulder-which habitually I throw my right arm out for balance, mildly straining the muscles. So I went from joyful to, "ok, this is enough"... too bad it was the middle of a race ;)... AS5.

I filled my water bottle and asked how much trail was left. I got an answer but actually struggled to listen, I had 1.4 miles on the road before re-entering the woods, presumably for 5 miles... I mentally tried to prepare as I held steady on the gentle uphill road passing under my feet. Upon entering the woods I had passed a runner, and then within 1/2 of a mile two runners went flying by, they were eventually #3 and #4. I was impressed, they'd come from nowhere and were bounding down the trail, and I was beginning to flail. I started to become angry with each trip as the pain would scale from 3 to 9 and slowly back down sending your whole body into the awareness that it's "messing up".... Directing my feet with mental effort and trying to keep my eyes focused I was beginning to feel like I was on some pretty great hallucinegenic drugs. I was amused and still pleased with my running, but I was ready to..... and there was the road- already??? I felt lost but the markers continued for nearly 2miles, once again uphill, leading me back to AS6 where Dave was waiting with everything I asked for. He helped me get my shoes off as the mud had made the laces difficult to undo, and because I knew there'd be mud I had them tied them tighter than usual so I couldn't push them off.  I put on compression sleeves and dry socks and my Brooks Cascadia for a little extra cushion for the 16miles of road pounding. And a couple boiled potatos later I was off and determined. I was now focused on finishing as Soon as I could. I was mentally done.

The Road went on and on, the unchanging surface and gradually increasing fatigue, boredom and pain were wearing me down. The sound track I had in my mind was now a jumble of words to different tunes that all sounded the same. I was sinking hard and fast and when I started to free fall, I saw AS7. Sooner than I'd expected, a wonderful surprise. It wasn't a cure-all. I didnt know what to eat, I wasn't hungry but there was now a 7.2 mile stretch to go to AS8, calories and lytes/ liquid were a necessity. So I restocked my fluids and had 2 fun size baby ruth bars and was back on the road... "after that 7.2 was over it was the home stretch" I kept telling myself, so I wasn't going to waste any more time.

Again, the road went on and on. There was seemingly a LOT of uphill which meant that the first many miles of the race had actually had quite a few mini descents that were hardly noticed. My mind was slipping, I tried to track the distance I'd covered, tried to lie to myself, reason with my mind. I knew I was moving well and so I tried to encourage myself, as I was in fact very proud of my current pace, but I was losing the battle. In no time it seemed, my mind was spinning with lonliness, pain, utter misery. I could remember feeling like this before on a hot desert road in Nevada months ago... only there I was walking, this time I was runnning. I tried to pull myself out of the low, but I just kept sinking. Suddenly I not only wanted to stop, I wanted to quit running ultras... thiswas stupid? I hated being alone on this dark road for this lon....In this much pain? Who gives a hoot if I'm winning, or that Im in 5th place....this Sucks! and my mind kept going around and around.... however my legs kept running one step after another. I kept fighting, reiterating over and over positive quotes, reminders that of course I would DO it, because I was already Doing it. That I have dealt with much worse in my life and that I would certainly take this suffering over another day wrapped in the the hell that was my eating disordered life, that I was grateful for my abilities and my health, how blessed I am to have the friends everywhere and Dave here to support me on these crazy adventures.

But still I became desperate, I let a loud cry which was then met with my own breath being cut short, I was all but bawling (still running)... I didn't care that I was building up lactic acid by not breathing properly, somehow letting the mental anguish be real made it something I could manage. I couldn't beat it so I just kept whining and wimpering, there wasnt anyone near me to hear... except for maybe a a few deer or a mountain lion laughing at how ridiculous I must have looked.

When I finally did come to AS8 (a million and a half years later.... or so it seemed) in my mind I wanted to ask to them to hug me and tell me everything was going to be ok. When they asked how I was, the answer came out fluid and rational, "My body is ok, my mind is emotioanlly falling apart" there was no dramatic sympathy in their eyes... the kind that feeds the sadness, just simply the aknowledgement that I had 5.7 miles left to complete 50 miles of running and finish 5th place overall and 1st female. Upon hearing this, I had one blubbering choke and my eyes filled with tears as I realized how "off" my emotions were, "I should be happy, but 5.7 miles....???" I questioned the volunteers....and a tin of homemade cookies was in front of me. I orginally said no to the cookies, but they were offered with love and encouragment something I needed more than anything at the moment.... so I took one and without question I turned and started running again within 10 staggered steps.

The final stretch: Well, there was no more wimpering, the cookie was awesome, I made it almost 3 miles of that 5.7 without finding desperation sinking in, and then I hit the pavement, I still had no idea where I was but I was getting close, I tried to run faster. Time went endlessly, running watchless in the night made it hard to determine anything, and soon worry of misdirection set in, but then there it was the "Finish" just across a large field. Someone had noticed I missed the final turn and shouted, no idea what they shouted, but since I had seen the flags- just not the turn, as soon as I heard them  I quickly darted back to find the opening from road to field and headed to the finish. Where Adam, the RD met me and Congratulated me on my 1st place female finish and new course record, 8:16. I was pleased to say the least.

At this point I looked around and Dave was no where to  be seen, I didn't see my car either, so I was concerned, for him and for my car. After 20 minutes or so had passed, the RD and other volunteers and the previous finishers were becoming concerned too, I now had someone's sweatshirt and a big blanket wrapped around me. I decided to walk around a bit in the dark and upon circling around the trailer, there was my car with Dave sleeping inside. I was relieved and questioned whether or not to wake him up, since he had been up practically all night running around on my behalf, but I really wanted dry clothes and a hot shower, so I knocked. The following moments were rather amusing, to say the least .... but in the end I got my hot shower, a foot and calf massage, a 45min nap, a hot coffee  and a hot meal surrounded my by lots of amazing people.

This was a very well put on event. The course was well marked, 100% runnable (though I did hike up two hills in the forest), well maintained trail and great Aid Station volunteers.  I am so thankful for every person who sacrificed their sleep, for those of who ran and completed the 50 miles of running and for those who dealt with the just stress over someone else running 50 miles. All are extraordinary and make the experience as special as it is. I am now 5 weeks out from first 100 miler in Utah, The Bear, and I am scared beyond belief ;). But everyone who knows me and has seen me run seems pretty confident so, I'll do my best to taper well and prep mentally and .... I guess we'll see how it goes.

A few Other events to occurr between now and then if all goes smoothly <3.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Half-Wit Half 8/12/12

Now to do something stupid once.... we all do that right?... but to do it again....takes a special kind of idiot, a half-wit perhaps. ;)

And so the decision was set. After my experience in 2011 - my first trail half marathon ever;  I was destroyed by the difficulty, spending the evening following the race in mild lactic acidosis and even though I placed second female was totally spent fininishing in 1:59:some secs.  And yet I knew I'd be back.

One year later, coming from 13.1- a seemly a very long distance to suddently a normal daily run and actually qualifying the race mentally as a race of speed as opposed to endurance.... well a LOT has changed as anyone who has been reading is well aware.  I debated even doing this race as the travel to and fro are more than the time spent running which under normal circumstances disqualifies the race from my calendar for financial purposes as well as just a way for me to weed through my "I wanna do that ONE"'s. Anyway I got someone to agree to come and so I signed up. Skipping ahead... I've a had a few rough weeks, edging near 6weeks I'd say of some terrible leg turnover and burn out (to be expected with my race schedule and build up in the past 8 months) But very few (except those close enough to listen to my unceasing whining) would know it. I've pushed through and foward. Leading up to this weekend I would have run my very first 80 mile training week and this race would push me (after a cool down jog) to two weeks consecutively topping off at 83miles.

So to get through the pre-race babble, I ran 3 x days of 15miles each in a row this last week a new achievement for me. By Friday, my legs seemed adjusted to running... so much so that tacking on 5 extra miles that day - post-nap and pre- second nap was very do-able. And then the weekend was off and going. Some 7 hours later I was in Lynchburg VA sleeping in the back of an SUV trying to neither scratch my skin off from the poison ivy that literally felt as though it was bubbling on my skin or break down in a puddle of tears as I fought through the frustration that I was not sleeping, not resting and horrifically desperate to stop itching.

At 6AM I felt blessed to had survived the night and grateful to no longer have to try to rest.... the itching seems to be much less when you're not sitting still. And the day began, as I got to witness two awesome runners take on their first half marathon on a seemingly cool but very humid August morning. The course brought them down a very green lush bike path and then up and around a very hilly loop x 2 and then back in. I ran a very relaxed 6-7 miles cheering for runners as they passed, unfortunately missing both Dave and Hunter at the intersection both times. So I made sure to be at the finish line. Anyway both runners made their goals and had a great experience but I wouldn't even begin to tell their stories.

So we're on the road again, headed back to Baltimore in time to help out Back on My Feet's "The Sneaks come out at Night" race event, arriving just a few minutes later than the start, roughly 90 minutes later than would have been ideal. So dirty, unshowered and thoroughly exhausted... the cheering continued and what an experience!

As a runner its become a real blessing to be on the other side, to be able to comfort or provide in any way, you never know what any one else is feeling but having experienced  many many feelings out on the course you know they're giving everything on so many levels, Truly Awesome. Anyway somewhere mid cheering I lost it... suddenly I felt like I couldnt stand up much longer, my legs were weak, my body tired and my eyes seemingly gaining in weight.  But after this would be dinner, shower and sleep.... right?.....Well, here's the thing about social events.... they always go differently than the listed times...

... So then I'm up in Hampden- which totally elated me since I'd never been there before... but still even the elation was mixed with growing internal pressure to find a bed, but also to get myself ready for my race. I'd gotten everything together and been there for everyone else, I'd assumed I'd have time for myself, but it was after 9pm already (aka about an hour past my pre-race bed time) and I hadnt even eaten yet (about 3 hours after my pre-race last meal time)....the panic grew and increasingly I felt my mood heading due South and everyone I was around was high and climbing (or so it seemed from my perspective). Then to top it off, my friend who'd agreed to run this race with me, bailed last minute. Sink and Anchor.

I stepped out of the picture for a minute going for a short walk to try and collect myself. I was basically sitting on someone randoms door step wimpering.... pretty awesome. I didn't know if it was even worth the drive to this damn race now... after a year of wanting to do it, and talking it up, and getting excited.... it suddenly seemed stupid.... but part of me knew.... it wouldnt truly be half-wit half if I did it all "right" anyway... so since I was already off track I should just go with it. (But Um... try telling that to my Anxious heart.....no connection- utter panic.... very frustrating). Anyway... I ate... a sub, pizza, 1/2 a beer and cried for 30 minutes and bitched about my inevitable future failure for about 2 hrs, nealry scoffing at those wishing me luck (which I whole-heartedly apologize for, because if it weren't for that luck I'd never made it past mile 3).... and found bed around 11:30pm and slept like a ROCK.

5AM and Up again... on the road by 6AM coffee and food being taken in. As ready as I could be, feeling..... well at least a LOT better than the night before. Upon arrival I met up with Robert and Cathy, Rob and Megan  and we played catch up and chit chatted about the race a bit. As usual Robert had a plan, Rob was going to take it easy today... and I was just hoping I had it in me to suffer through this one, I had a feeling it was going to hurt.

Downing a 1/2 a red bull, a tactic I'd not used since high school 5ks, I edged the starting line, near the front... the course leads into a single track much faster than the time it takes to weave through runners. The Half Wit OAth was taken and we were off, much much faster than would ever be a good idea.

I felt my heart rate climbing but decided to go with it. Judging from my endurance level, even if I hurt everywhere I still had enough in me to get this done. So I stuck to the plan and headed for first female- my way.... which means never assuming you've got the race- so basically racing yourself allt he way to the end.... anybody can have a good day, anybody can have a bad day... I was having a bad day. By about 1.5 miles in I took note of my very high heart rate, my pace wasnt nearly hard enough that my body should be burning through oxygen that fast.... but I literally refused to drop my leg speed. I was hurting.

The First hill came and I was beat. I was hiking, disappointed in myself I remained as effecient as possible. I passed someone trying to keep jogging up and he collapsed into a hike as well. We ran together for about the next 2 miles with him nipping at my heals- the perfect motivaitonal source, and then the down hill cliff. If you look  over the edge of well groomed trail you often see drop offs that look like  a "bad idea" to fall down.... the Half-wit Course takes you down it... GOAL: STAY on your feet, because if you don't.... you'll be at the bottom with a lot more cuts and bruises than you planned on today. You slam from tree to tree and do your best. Then weaving up and down, up and down on a little bmx type moutain bike trail and then taking a sharp left to nowhere following the markers through the pathless forest floor. Here I took the next two male runners, As they carefull looked for foot placement and avoided tree branches and things that hurt to run into, through and jump over as I carelessly took the most direct path no matter what was in my way. Within moments of passing yet one more  male I realized just how much energy It had cost be to be jumping and diving and sprinting through the forest, I really wanted to stop.

6.8 miles you loop around a field and then instantly head about 128 stair steps... about here quitting seemed almost logical except that obviously I'd made it last year... in fact last year this was the place I passed the first woman only to have her take me on the very long hill, which until the day prior to the race I was sure I could run up. Sadly, come time to run the hill the fatigue in my legs was greater than any driving force I had internally- I peaked ahead of me and saw the next runner near the top and peaked behind me and saw nothing, I hiked, even then it was hardly bearable but the mental push remained... all the dopey quotes about pushing through came to mind and at last the hill peaked. I was wasted.... then I remembered I had my emergency GU with me So despite not being a huge fan I took in 100 calories of sugar with some caffeine and within 5 minutes had a second wind. I knew I'd hit atleast 2 more lows so I started to prepare myself while I was high, pushing harder since the trail was quite runnable. The downhill sections were techinical, and with my overall fatigue increasingly difficult but I was determined to keep, if not,  pick up the pace and onward I went.

After what seemed like much longer than it should have been I hit the 10ish mile mark where I could hear Cathy's cowbell and then quickly rounded the corner to see her and Dave and suddenly it was a picture moment.... I tried to force some sort of "Oh yea this is fun" but Im pretty sure it was obvious I wasn't totally thrilled with my race experience. I knew from this point though it was basically done.... into the woods, past the alternative beverages through the prickers winding over rocks and then up the hill, down the hill weaving back around weaving in and out of runners moving the opposite direction on the single track path and then back past the alternative beverage station for 12.6 miles.... and from there haul a** to the last 200 yrds which with the exception of the last 50yrds you're nearly forced to climb using all limbs.

Somewhere in the woods I'd tracked the next female and knew I was safe in my position but by now my attention had been on the male runner ahead of me that I'd been slowly but surely gaining on, I was now at his heals, he prompted me to pass and I insisted we bring the race in togther... I like a good sprint in the last 50 yrs ;)... since I'm not sprinter its always an interesting challenge, but he fell back in the last .25 of the race and nearly falling over the gaurd rail crossing the road and climbing the hill I crossed the finish line in 1:50:17; 14th place overall, 1st female, cutting 9.5 minutes off my 2011 time.... I took a shower and then drank some beer and ate too much candy and hang out with some awesome people.

So go figure... after doing it all wrong and griping the whole way, I still had enough mental fortitude to drag through and make it look like it wasn't the worst race of my life. Proud? Well.... sort of.... Happy and satisfied- most definetly. All in All pretty much the best weekend ever, I mean I got to share in three different running events surrounded by a lot of other "Half Wit's" and some smarter supporters of us Crazy ppl. So a big thank you to any and all who played a part, thats including every runner at each of the three events.... you all made it worth while when I doubted it all. 

Next year.... will be.... next year, who knows, but hopefully I'll run it again. Such a great course, well worth the travel and the exhaustion!!

Cheat Mountain Moonlight Madness 50miler August 24!!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Running with the Devil 12 Hour Mountain Creek NJ 7/21/12

I have never felt as over-trained and mentally and physically wasted prior to an event. I tapered hard last week realizing that with the mileage I've been achieving weekly, with my level of experience I really hadn't scheduled enough recovery time. Despite my dropping swimming and backing off the biking I dropped my milage from 75 miles to 65 miles the week of the yogathon. And then proceeded to run roughly 20miles race week. I felt- improved, but still generally fatigued with mild pain still pervasive in my daily life.... not quite as recovered as I'd have liked. Not to mention the worst- most humiliating part of being over-trained.... when the run- isn't fun. So I gave myself an out- as I always do, it was ok if i failed, since I might. I'd toe the line at this race... ALL week prior to it I deliberated this decision, whether this was a good idea... Even after the fact, I don't know yet.

So there I was at 5:30 in the morning pinning my "374" to my shorts. The 5k course was designed to literally run through the upper level of the ski lodge, for a wonderful aid station and "docking area." 6am we were off. I knew right away I was going "TOO fast"... I am always presumably going too fast. but it felt good, I mean for an 1100 foot climb to start the first mile or so off it felt ok. I was pacing with the leaders, which naturally freaked me out. I always presume they're right when I share my experience level and I believe as  much as they secretly hope, that I will bonk. But we lapped and lapped. The day was rather insignificant for the first few laps. I think perhaps it was lap 4 where I took the lead. Maybe I should back up and explain this course.

You start in the lodge, you run out to the base of ski slope and climb up... and then up some more.. and then up some more followed by a short trail decline which opens into a flat-ish section leading to THE CLIMB... which goes up, takes a sharp right turn and goes straight up what looks like a black diamond... so for 3/4 of mile you just climb, and climb before hitting a short plateau and climbing just a little bit more and then rounding that peak you enter the woods for some techinical trail slightly elevating but gently rolling hills leading you once again to a climb that has a very short but ridiculously steep wall that leads into a long but do-able climb to the summit before you begin to descend the 1100 feet of climb in the remaining mile and some tenths mostly straight down, with the steepest decent brining you back to the lodge to checkpoint and food, water, restrooms.

So we're looping the loops, round and round... at 9am the 3hr and 6hr runners began their journey, it was nice to have SO many people out there, always ppl to exchange pleasantries with to share in one anothers efforts and boost each other's morale on the climbs. The weather was out of this world for Late July climbing slowly into late morning and not really getting hot until after 12pm, but the sun did break through the misty clouds opening up the surrounding skies for some magnificent views at the top of the climbs.

Anyway, my race...its mostly a blur, but I know at loop 4 I was convinicing myself to make 5 in effort to complete 10 (31miles or a 50K) before allowing myself to quit. And then on 5 I was tricking myself into thinking I could do 6. On 6 I was sure there was no way I could do 10. This was only 6 after all, thats 4 more... which is less than I'd done, but could I keep facing that middle climb? I wasn't sure. Each time you look up from the sharp right turn near the base of the longest climb you see 4 or 5 huge snow machines with their yellow pads wrapped around the base and the large fans turning only gently in the breeze. The mountain looks steep, but small, short, climbable, bearable.... and then you begin to climb... the pain begins in the back of your calves, but you ignore it, one step after another right? The pain then deepens, you desperately negotiate a rhythm with your mind and nervous system to keep lifting the foot and pressing down in the same rhythm to keep moving at all. And then the grade worsens ... only 1/3 of the way up you glance up and start looking for tricks. Smaller steps maybe? Bigger slower steps maybe? side ways? backwards? but after you've tried all of these and even take a 3 second breather you realize there is not an escape from the pain... the only way out is through. Because when you reach the summit of this mountain you get a break- a cool shady trail with changing elevation and technical rocks  to loosen your legs back up before the next climb, which is painful but you always know its the last one before you get to go down and "Check" one more lap off... so you really just need to make it up this one climb.

The downhill is steep, all morning it was also wet from the dew and some rain from the night before... it takes every muscle in your legs, abdomen, back, and arms to keep upright and not let gravity consume you... which actually seems tempting beceause if you did fall... you'd make it quite a ways down without any effort at all. 

Loop 8 was significant only because after 8 loops on the same course I found a hole and stepped right in it losing my right leg up the knee, calmly and totally not thrown off at all I said out loud to literally No one, "oh, there's a hole there, how about that." Also on this lap I decided that my new flaring tendonitis in my right foot was bad enough that it was time for a shoe change so I did that between 8 and 9.

Loop 9 was slightly more significant since it was the changing moment in my race. I felt "good" considering I had 28miles under me already....I was moving very consistently, my rests had been consistent and my pace was steady, always running the runnable and climbing at my stready hiking pace that I tell myself I would hike anything (the fact that I was running in between was insignificant during the hiking/ climbing phase). I had decided I wouldn't stop between 9 and 10, I'd literally just drink 6 oz of heed and head back out, I'd take a 20 min breather after I'd finished the 50k to decide what the rest of the day would be.

Honestly, by this point I was trying to slow down my loops, I was so terrified of the idea of doing 15 or more loops, which time wise i was on track for that I actually tried to slow down. I thought 12 sounded great, but I was coming through 9 at 6 hrs.... which means I had 6 hrs left.... quitting seemed logical, but 10 was a necessity. I would make 10 then decide. Decision made. And then Slam, my toe caught, my palms slammed into the sharp stonse of the one section of gravel/dirt road and I turned my fall into a forward roll and was up and running without losing a single moment... only now I had a peice of skin dangling from a bloody splotch on both palms. I blotted the blood on my shirt and 1st decided to ignore it and then 2nd decided I couldn't ignore it, I had to take care of this now or risk dealing with a lot more pain later and even possibly infection. I was suddenly overwhelmed that I was actually going to have to waste time on this, and pasrtially that it would hurt more later. Passing through checkpoint I darted to the bathroom, soap and water, I scrubbed aggressivley to get the dirt out figuring at least for now I had so much adrenaline from the fall that the pain was nealry non-existant. Now that it was clean... keep the skin? Lose the skin? S*** I thought.... I need to cut it.. I ran out of the bathroom in search of scissors. Within only a few minutes I had gone from calm and steady to freaking out girl from some minor cuts... and then wrapped up by some helping hands I was calm again, but thrown off. I wasted Much more time than I thought suitable but let it go. I wondered if Tony (the eventual winner) had passed me out while I was coping with my pathetic excuse for an injury.... I was off.

Lap 10. 50K complete. The bandages from the prior lap where falling off in my sweat, (sexy I know) so in my rest period I grabbed my duct taper which eventually some one found me the medical tape and wrapped me up as best the could with that. I headed out to the deck collapsed onto my back and put my feet up on a chair. It was wonderful.

It may have been prior to this, but this is where I remember Tony's dad taking on a significant role in my race outcome. He managed to check in on me at every loop, just simply asking how I was doing, but it made all the difference to being utterly alone at this race. He kept my spirits up with his kindness and his passion for his sons accomplishments. A deep gratitude was enough to head out for lap 11. Which I grabbed my ipod for... I havent used my ipod in a race in years and couldnt imagine drowning out the afternoon buzz of the insects in the hot sun, but I did. I found some pleasure in it and kept a great pace, and felt quite well. As I finished 11, I didnt know what to do, it was only 2pm, I still had SO much time, and mentally didn't want to do much more of this. I started to fade, but was determined to keep going. Lap 12, ipod still going, was excrutitating. The climb cost me, I felt defeated- not that I hadn't over and over and over again... but this time I was getting emotional... a sign of menally losing touch with the run.... ughh. I was done. I would just finish this loop. When I crossed check point this time, I almost collapsed into a flood of tears, even though physically I was only beginning to feel the pain I was use to feeling much sooner in my long races. I was done. F this stupid course, I'm done. And then I wasn't done, how could I be?.... I dropped the ipod, it wasn't me to be using it and it wasn't the least bit easier. Lap 13 literally trying to go as slow as I possibly could to eat up more time, so I could have an excuse to do less overall.

This time I was really done. I wasnt going back out. And then... some other 12 hr females headed out for another loop, their last loop.... they've been going as long as I had, if they had more, I had more....so I went out again. Lap 14... bringing me in at 4:45pm-ish... 15 min until we could do 1/2 mi loops. The catch with half mile loops is they are half of the worst climb up in length/ grade and then the worst climb down- then repeat at will. I made 3 short loops snagging myself 44.9 miles. I have never in my entire running career rounded up, but when I  came through checkpoint after my 3rd short loop, I took my shoes off. There wasnt even the consideration. Anyone normal would say 44.9 is the same at 45miles.... and So I quit with 30 min on the clock.  I know I didnt actually run 45 and it'll eat at me until I fix it next yr or at another race of equal hell-like proportion of challenge mentally and physically.

So the day was complete with a few guys looping through till 5:58pm. I was dissappointed in myself, but I gave it my best. I would have pd someone $100 dollars to bet me a beer I couldn't run one more lap and convinced me to get my shoes back on, since a silly bet would have been enough. I was physically fatigued, but not finished... But Many more races in my future (I do hope) and great lessons learned.

Overall, A great day, A challenging course, great runners, great support and a very well organized event.  A big thank you to Rick (RD), his family, Jenn, and Tony's father, Dave and Lisa.... not to mention Morgan and Allisons' texts to lighten the load on my mind. And without a doubt all the other runner's out there. I Might have quit at 10:30am, maybe at noon, or 2pm.... I dont know, but I know I'm grateful for the support.

And a huge congrats to the other runners who took on this challenge, it was a pleasure meeting new people and can't wait to see ya'll out there at other runs!

Half-wit Half in 2 weeks!!! So Psyched!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Yoga is Love is Running 7/14/12

Life takes you on some interesting rides. You can never really be sure when the moment you've reached the true peak or true valley  until you start flailing down at what seems to be an ever increasing speed, your heart racing, your arms flying- wishing for anything to hold on to that might slow you down, and then before you know it a calming plateau sweeps you into upward motion again.

The inhale and the exhale of life.

From warrior one as your lungs fill and arms lift, weight shifting into your legs.... to warrior two as you exhale and your arms, your heart, your hips open- still remaining soundly balanced in body and in mind... and PAUSE.

The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind. I couldn't find enough calm to actually sit myself down and write. Since Mason Dixon I had my predicted withdrawl symptoms from the high provoked by running long distances. I knew it would come, as I've dealt with my "baggage" enough to know its weight and how heavy it can be. I was ready this time, after my 50miler emotionally kicked my butt for 4 weeks, I expected this would be an interesting experience.

I rode the high for 48hrs and then hit the peak and found myself flying down hard and fast. I reached out right away as I knew the very feelings and drama associated with my mood. I stabalized at a low, the support I'd gained was keeping my head above water. Somewhere in here..... the weight of everything outside myself became extreme. There was a holiday.

Holidays mean obligations, places to be, things to do outside the regular comfort of your day to day to stress.... in fact, for most, even a day "OFF." Unfortunately I am skilled at turning restfullness into stressfullness. And I proceeded to overbook my day, cancelling my original plans to meet up with VHTRC for their July 4th run and instead planning a Very early long run on my own (which quickly involved others- thank you to Dave and Keith for the companionship) so that I could meet more obligations and see more people since you only get 1 day off and I love so many people.... It was actually a great day, but certainly not relaxing. Furthermore I was still not recovered from MDLD. My 27mile trail(ish) run was long, hard, and my joints ached.... Enjoying the parade and my friends after took actual effort, though they were ALL awesome and I am very grateful to have been invited to so many places (of which I only actually made it to one....I was in bed before the fireworks went off).

The week moved forward.... the drama came and crashed into my low and I fell to a lower low. I began to shut down, my closest friends had walls thrown up between them and I as I failed to see hope in wearing them down with my irrational sadness.

Despite the awareness, and reason, I could not seem to win the battle. And now it was Vacation... with mom and dad. This is not the place I would share the drama and the stress that followed but it made the rest of my life before the vacation seem quite peaceful. A lesson in the "grass is greener" category... possibly more importantly, a lesson in "You can't fix anyone but yourself" and I had found out, I've done a darn good job of fixing myself.... So I left "vacation" early and proceeded to release the stress from the past 2 weeks in one utterly sickening theatrical evening which I was blessed enough to share with friends who love me enough to forgive me for the performance. And this was ROCK BOTTOM... I took myself there, I forced myself to a turn around because I didn't know how else to start getting back up.....(clearly I still need some work on coping skills.... but one step at a time).

So Garden State Yoga, the studio that offered me the building itself, the community and the teachers, and the educaiton that helped me turn my life from Zero to Hero....haha not really, but it seemed great to write ;). But I did successfully find inner peace and self love and stopped utilizing my eating disorder to deal with my life, which in turn allowed me to function much more highly and to enjoy or, oh dear, even LOVE the things I was already doing... like running. Without yoga there is no Running. The gratitude toward my teachers is deeper than any child to their mother. And here we were, prepping for 12Hours of yoga with those I love to do something good for many who need love. And what a perfect way to climb up from rock bottom.

I managed to ....(as if I did anything) You ALL made me able to reach my necessary goal of $250 (raising $335) within 72 hrs after I agreed to tack on some miles... a marathon as ti turned out 26.2 miles to my yogathon, many many thanks <3.

This came with great fear, this little run/ yoga DAY. For the first time since I began training for ultras, my body and mind was screaming Fatigue. I needed rest. Vacation was hopeful of this, but was an epic failure in that departmnet. So taking on the challenge I'd set for myself.... well, it didnt matter when I remembered that it wasn't about msyelf.....so It worked out... the run was acheiveable one step at time....and the yoga....

12 hrs of gorgeous yogis and yoginis practicing their hearts and souls out on the mat, experiencing different styles of teaching, diffferent teachers and different perspectives. There are hardly words to wrap up the day except Love. The room was filled with a sense of giving, and we all gave everything we had. No one in that room left less than exhuasted mentally, physically and emotionally. Props to Garden state yoga for the amazingly well run first event, raising over $30,000 for Urban Zen, Kula for Karma, and Off the Mat into the World!

Needless to say the day, thought long and challenging, brought everything in my life back into perspective. The reasons I do... everything that I do... and the gratitude I have for having found a way of living, of thinking, that is without judgement, fear or anger that allows you to move through life with natrual ebs and flows of your own breath, your own path. Inhaling every taste of life- taking in ALL that YOU need and exhaling what you don't, letting go of the pressure, the standards and the expectations....Coming back to a place of Wholeness and Health.

And Now somewhere in the middle of a climb I am, as we all are, looking for balance.... a way to stay free flowing. In less than a week I have my 12hr Running with Devil Event in Vernon NJ. I have not yet decided to what level I will push myself this time, but my body gets to choose this battle, not my mind. So I will go and I will toe the start line and I will run until its no longer sensible and then.... I guess we'll find out ;). But I run for fun, because I find nothing when I run.... it is not a means to an end.... it simply is Love. Love is Running and Yoga is Love and None could exist in my world without the other. Sending out some of the excessive "good stuff" from my wonderful weekend to you, because you can never really have too much Love in your life.

Thank you All again, especially Allison and Melissa (my teammates) for a wonderful, revitalizing experience that will help many many others who you many never meet or ever see, but You helped change their lives.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mason Dixon Longest Day Challenge 100k- Part 2

5:34am: Go time! We all started trotting off up the road with an awareness not to miss the 1st turn, as the 3:36 group had. Four guys took off, I made sure I was moving well but relaxed- it was the start of a long day. Weaving in and around following the trail I hung with Steve who knew the trail well. He'd not yet ever made the challenge parameters and wanted to make it this year. I hung with him, but he stopped to relieve himself and I kept going.

Only a mile in and I was already alone, oh dear. I paused and grabbed my Map #1. It was actually very helpful and I held it in hand as I kept moving on the trail. The trail opens to the road where 3 full sized trees were down and the lines also down a very different type of treacherous running.  The road followed every curve on the map and then there was a left turn...somewhere... I saw the 4 guys that has taken off flying wandering around at the first available left turn, clearly that wasn't the right way. First mistake bypassed as I kept going and found the light blue Mason Dixon trail sign on the post at the next left. I shouted for the others and kept moving. I looked for blue and paused until I saw it at each turn. The number of trees down across the path in the section was crazy. It looked like someone had bulldozed the path. By 5 miles in I was soaked head to toe from the damp trees and grass, and covered in spider webs and already showing some decent scratches from the slippery branches climbing through the downed trees.

Still moving well, I was now hanging with the fourth guy who had missed the challenge parameters by 2-3 minutes 2 years prior, Thomas. He was determined... he said he needed to make sure he ran the runnable areas.. and this line stuck in my head... if thats what it took, I would do that. One misguided step after another we were often lost for a few moments but would pick up the trail again. Soon enough we caught up the the other guys, Bill, Nate and Keith. The trail was in fields and then back in the woods, the climbs were steep, hardly runnable but mostly short, so once you were close to the peak you kick back into the run. Conserving energy and moving smart.

I was now running just behind the top 3 guys and I was determined not to lose them as any mistakes made would be by them and I could take my time to look for the blue markers. This plan worked very well as I made every turn. Just about this time, after another wrong turn for Keith, I caught up to him again and we chatted as we trotted by the 2am starters and missed a turn, luckily only by about 100yards since Bill and Nate called to us. Bill and Nate had a crew following them around the course but each time they stopped I'd catch them again and Keith was headed far ahead of everyone and continued to make wrong turns costing him miles and time. The four us ran "together" off and on for miles. Through the field of prickers and then the field of Nettles. Our legs burned and stung and ached from the climbing.

At mile 15 I found Dave D. who apologized unnecessarily for his imperfect efforts to pace me... but I was just appreciative he'd come all the way up there and left me a cooler of ice and water bottle at mile 25.  I told him he should still go for a run, the trail was gorgeous and thanked him again.

Mile 25, I fueled up. And asked Hunt (RD) if my camelbak could come along as my drop bags would. I hadn't trained with it enough and my shoulders were already beginning to cramp. So I chose to take off with my 20oz handheld alone for the next 13 miles. Hunt warned me this wouldn't be enough, but I had no choice, I couldn't keep moving with the bag. I drank conservatively.

For a lot of this section I ran with Keith, Bill and Nate had fallen back a bit.  I took a hard fall which only really annoyed me because I was now covered in dirt. Not long enough later I took another fall slamming my left shoulder into the ground for the second time. It ached and bothered me, but I was unconcerned, but new I had to drop pace and get better control of my running. I dropped to a walk, shook off the trauma of hitting the dirt, and started back at my own pace. Keith was gaining distance quick, but I wasn't concerned. I felt ok about following the trail, I just had to stay smart.

And with 6 miles left till the next check point I was running short on water... It was only by chance I passed someone offering cold water to the runners... Just a nice person helping out...Man, did I get lucky and I knew it. I re-filled and took off for a lot of hot sunny hilly miles on the pavement.

My body temperature was cool enough, not overheating, but losing liquid fast and consistently thirsty. I was still being conservative as clearly this STILL was NOT enough. I knew Henry and Mimi had left water at the mile 32 spot which was coming up. So I chugged half a liter there and re-filled my bottle again. Which safely got me to Mile 38 checkpoint.

At mile 38 Hunt told me I'd still be close to the cut off at my current pace. I overall felt Great. My legs still felt mostly fresh, I was a little too warm, but manageable. I took in about 400 calories at this aid station and took off again. Figuring this section would be key. I felt good and I knew the last 12 miles would be Rough.. so if I could Move hard now, I could save up the time. So I did.

I moved hard where I could, I drank water and "borrowed" from Nate and Bill's crew for an extra bottle. I felt pretty good, just starting to feel a little worn. I had one more fall. I had just crossed the creek smoothly, shoes dry effortlessly when Whamp! My face was in the dirt before I knew what happened. A branch had punctured into my shoe taking me down. That was third hit on my shoulder, my shoe was ruined and my face was scratched. Ugh! I thought, I was literally just disgusted, I went back the creek and washing my hands off and kept running. I made a sharp right as my eye had caught a turn I was concerned Keith would have missed but he was no where to be seen. In no time I was hitting spider webs, I was the first person running here, Keith had definitely missed the turn. I missed the next one and lost 10 minutes wandering around but found it and was grateful I'd taken the time without wasting much energy.

Mile 46, what a sight... just as I was running short on liquid 4 miles too soon at the heat of the day Cathy, Robert and Rob were there. We filled my bottle and off I went. I took the trail and met up with Robert and Rob to run about 1/2 mile later. It was nice to have the company. They were bouncing along fresh and I was dropping off pace and they were pushing me. It hurt but I was glad. We got off course almost immediately. I was happy to have company and stopped paying attention pushing up a hill I would have walked had I been alone. Robert needed some info about trail markers, as he hadn't run much trail, but we were back on course within 5 min.

We got lost once more and Keith had caught up with us. I'd been wondering when he'd be back. He had probably run an extra 2 miles at the one turn he'd missed. We got back on track here and headed to mile 50 check point.

Hunt was surprised to see me, I was about 45-50 min ahead of his prediction. I joked with him, "You said I was close, and I knew I wouldn't be making up much time in the last 12 miles." He smiled and told me I'd be finished by 6:30pm... I said... "Maybe, we'll see... still shooting for 8:30" It was about 2:40pm at this time and the last 12 miles was predicted 4-5 hours. It was going to be hard.

It started off as nice running, better than a lot of the conditions all day. And then the trail abruptly ended at huge downed tree. It was difficult to guess but we climbed up the hill on the other side of the creek, No BLUE anywhere!! We spent 10 minutes wandering before committing the unmarked trail with down trees on the corner- where any markings may have been. About 300 yrds later the first blue mark!!! So exciting. My pacers caught up to me. (It was a hard concept for me, to not wait for ppl running with me.... but I was the one trying to finish... so It seemed like a good idea not to wait, still felt wrong).

The Last 8 miles... Wholly Mother of Mountain. The trail climbed endlessly... only it was worse than that, you'd peak and begin to descend and then climb endlessly again. Again, again, again. I thought it'd never end and although I knew better my mind was beginning to break down. Climbing up using hands feet and whole body effort at times, I  knew once we got down to the bottom there was only one more climb... but this climb kept going. My pacers were wearing thin. Robert was moving strong, Rob was growing weary with the climbs after a hilly race early in the day. But it was good pacing with him behind me. At times I was brought to a momentary standstill to let my heart rate drop a little and the burn to lessen just enough to regain mental fortitude. If ever questioned "you ok" the answer was and would always be a strong YES, there was no question I was getting up this hill.... but I was getting bitter and angry as I felt the weakness in my mind growing as the pain exacerbated. My words had harsh edge to them and I felt awful that I wasn't being nicer, but I just hoped that Rob/Robert understood that it wasn't them and just the immense effort I was putting out that was costing me my usual kind tone.

Finally headed down, the down was treacherous switchbacks with loose stone, it was fun, but a struggle. At the bottom,  Nate and Bills crew saved us all let us re-fill water once more at mile 60- since we had all run out.

A couple hundred yards later I saw Keith again, he was running the wrong way on a confusing section I'd gotten some info on from Henry the night before.  I told him to "Stop running up the hill... go back down.. I'll show where to go."

He exclaimed that I was wrong and he'd tried this already. I ignored his comments as he was also truly angry about the being lost part of this run. He was tired and mentally wasted as well. But I knew he'd follow so I just kept moving. My pacers hung back with Keith and they all followed me. I just moved... this cliff needed climbing....now. It was the only thing between me and rest... I climbed hard. I was angry internally, the pain was immense the spider webs... well I was done picking them off, I had just over a mile or just under a mile, who knew, but I couldn't pick them off or wipe them off before another was strung across my face, arms, legs... I just let the strings stick. Just wiped for actual spiders. I climbed and climbed, this was the same as the last, some descent granting hope and then smashing the hope with another steep climb. And then the descent started.

This was insane, the descent meant climbing up (yes up to go down) over rigid boulders, I almost laughed from the crest of this hill, sharp downhills on both sides and I was moving between... crawling between boulders thinking to myself "who decided, when the Mason Dixon trail was created that this was an intelligent way to travel through this section?" I was Done, And the descent continued, My left foot slipped off the edge of the trail... I caught myself from one hell of a fall and slowed down even more. I couldn't afford to break now. Or rather I was unwilling to literally fall down the sharply descending hill of rocks and trees.

The Road!!! Halleluia! I saw Cathy, she asked where Robert and Rob were I said they were with Keith and she offered to run in with me the last 5 min stretch, I said Yes, that would be great!  And 300 yrs from the end there was Henry who had dropped at mile 50....And then it was done. I collapsed into a hug with Henry and then the green grass covered embankment outside Shanks Mare Store was a wonderful place to more properly collapse. 6:30pm on the dot... go figure. Hunt was right! 12hrs and 56 minutes later, a new female record set and the first female to actually complete the challenge parameters. Very Amazed and happy. I got very lucky a lot, I have no idea how, but I'm grateful.

Keith and my pacers made it in. People arrived, And we had a pleasant gathering. Bill made it in and then closing in on sunset Tom made it with 20 minutes to spare and then Nate came in 14hrs 49 minutes.
Finishing in roughly 16hrs came Will, and Brigitte who I didnt't really meet unfortunatly made it in at 20:42 minutes.

(Congrats to All finishers, and heck- to All Starters! Way to go!! Recover quickly and I hope to see you soon!)

 In no time it seemed I was on my way home. I met so many wonderful people. Mimi had dropped so I didn't even see her again. I drove Henry back to his car and topped a wonderful day with an Ensure. The gratitude is endless, but the longer my runs are, the more ppl there are to thank. If you so much as "liked" a comment about the race on facebook or offered a helping hand or friendly text or gave me a ride or gave me water or .... endless.. Well Thank You... you  made this a Totally Awesome Experience!!

Recovery and prep work NJ Trail "Running with the Devil 12 hr run"  July 21st!!!