Monday, March 26, 2012

NJ Ultrafest 2012- 50K

Well, where to start this story. I guess starting around Wednesday I was totally wiped out, but naturally as I always do, I pushed through my workouts and got everything in. I even managed to run with the MCVET Back on My Feet crew and meet some awesome people. By the end of that day I was thinking how much i wanted to up my race to the 50mile run, however, rationally this was not the best plan. Thursday was crazy, I don't remember much of the day but again I hung out with some awesome ppl and stayed up much later that my 48Hr pre-race sleep schedule should allow. By 5am on Friday I was UP and OUT to teach yoga, and then another angel fell into my lap, so I spent 45 min driving her around Baltimore bringing her back to her hotel. I barely had enough time to squeeze in my swim (where another great friend stopped me and gave me some great news- TBD) and then stop to grab fuel for my race. I got home with 35 min to pack for the night and the run and shower.

By 10:30 Frank and I were on the road to NJ. I, felt like death, I continually began to nod off, but was always interrupted by friendly conversation and out of respect and gratitude that I was NOT driving I thought I ought to stay awake. So i did. About 4 hours later we arrived at the Augusta, NJ fairgrounds for check-in/ packet pick up.

 Meeting Jim, ML and her husband we hung out and chatted for a while, checked in to meet Rick, the race director- first impression "What a jerk"... im NOT allowed to fold my bib down?!?! WTF??... but the smarter side of me was thinking, "eh, it's his gig, he put a lot of effort into this, I guess i can deal." After hanging out in the warmth of the Sun for another 45 min, off to the hotel we went. Ahhhh- bed?? Oh wait, its only 5:30... 6pm came, I felt mildly ill, weak and exhausted, presumably feverish, but knew it was important to get one more full meal in. Dinner at the Hampton Diner it was. In my less than 100% health, i wanted nothing to eat, so I got the usual- greek salad with a side of lots of bread. I ate till I was utterly bored with it and then forced a bit more in. Back at the hotel... i was in bed by 7:30, out cold by 8pm (apparently snoring- how embarrassing!!!).

Race Morning- took in more calories than usual- around 600 and then my typical coffee. Surprising to me, I felt pretty good, nothing like i had the night prior. I immediately decided to see what I COULD do. I mean, it was ultra-fest and I was running the 5K of the ultra world, a "dinky" 50 kilometers... so I had half another bar 30min pre race and an Emergen-C and just like that we were off and running. Within the first 200yrds of the race, we'd gone the wrong way and although warned fully by Rick, how STUPID it is to follow the person in front of you, we ALL did just that. So at 1.2 mi in... Rick comes running and screaming at us 50K runners to STOP STOP STOP... not something you hear often in a running race...but we Did HALT and make a 180 hooking us directly into the 10mi loop (adding .2 or so to our overall distance- negligible in my personal opinion).

I was moving fast, or felt fast, pacing with a guy who told me he was a marathon runner who agreed to a canyon run 44mi long who figured he ought to try to up the distance... he eventually took OFF... part of me thinking, cool! and part of me thinking, "no way he's gonna hold that pace."(But I wasn't even sure I could hold MY pace- who was I to judge someone else's race).

By the end of the first loop, it was nice, warm and sunny. the top 2 guys and the marathoner all gaining distance ahead of me, which was of little concern to me, since 1) personal best was all I was going for and 2) the idea of being 1st female was fun enough, i kept an eye out and made an effort to continue to gain distance ahead of the 2nd female. I dropped my long sleeve shirt and gloves at my drop bag and grabbed a Greens bar, and spent the next mile eating 300kcal, already feeling better.

The entire second loop was great, I felt strong, steady, pain free, the breeze kept the sweat drying on us runners so no one was dripping- nice to not be wearing wet clothing. The sun was shining  and overall the runners from 100mi and below looked strong. Circling along seeing the same faces, wishing one another all the best, having full understanding of how different each persons goal was today. I was grateful for every kind comment and every smile. I ran into Frank for the first and second times during this loop, low-5s as we crossed paths.

During this loop I'd somehow managed to bypass the three men in front of me and was now knowingly leading the 50K race. 21 miles down in 2:45min...I was confused, and now getting nervous as the pain began to build that I wouldnt be able to maintain. My hopes were the same: that i had created enough distance between me and female #2 that even when i did, and i expected to, burnout... i'd still walk/ crawl my way through the finish line and maybe hold onto 1st female.

Well, the whole loop hurt, I tried to stomach another bar, half way through i wrapped it up, stuck in my sports bra with the intent to try again in a few, nausea/ the literal "not want to eat" associated with pushing yourself too hard was setting in. I knew I was slowly unraveling around 24 miles, I hit the edge of my comfort zone. My left leg was heavy and then... the magic came. One the top guys I had passed was 2 mi behind me at the loop water station, he took his own time to fill my water bottle... a very very little thing, but the kindness made it all worth it. I felt completely refreshed for the next 15 min. Then the pain settled back in, mentally I knew I had roughly an hour, 6 x 10min sections... I can always run just one more mile, just 10 more mins.

Headed to the last 5K of the course I crossed Frank again, and for the first and only time our low 5 was right on, the resounding 'Smack' recognizing one anothers pain and effort gave me enough to make it my next checkpoint- the beach ball... at mile 4 and 8ish of the loop there was this beachball stuck in the mud, that for some reason signified playfulness and joy and every time I saw it I was revived. This time as well.

I was now oscillating between confidence and crumbling with every 100 yards under feet. Moving through the OMG, can I make this? to the Duh, of course you can... coming back to my sources of strength and motivation: The 6th Branch, Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness, My Catonsville runners, The ppl that inspire me and support me: Friends/ family and the people I have lost through great suffering (Nicole, John and others less personally known).... and all the people out there who have brought my life to where it is today. For All of that, Relentless Forward Progress (RFP)- ONE MORE STEP... always just one more was continually possible.

Then there it was, the end of the trail, 1 mile-ish to go... I ran into Zsuzsanna, another new running acquaintance running the 100mi, a couple loving words later I was headed up hill (the only hill in the loop)... and OMG, new muscles (aka not the exact same pounding my legs had been taking the last 8 miles of flatness) ... i took off, and carried it in. 4hr 9 min 6 seconds I had actually placed 1st. Kinda Cool, I thought.

More awesome ppl, high fives, and some food later. The day was at its end for me, and soon enough Frank too. Wishing I could stay and support the 100milers through the night, Frank shuffled me into the car as he has family to attend to back in MD... so back on the road we went.

RACE Highlights:
1) Beach ball!!
2) The woman that totally fell on her face, got up and kept going- she's awesome!!
3) one of the marathon girls had a Killer smile, that just made you feel so damn good to see someone that happy.
4) the marathoner I raced with for the first few miles, he made it! In a good deal of pain I'd say from the facial expressions we shared in the final loop, but he made it!
5) The Greens bar was amazing, best mid race meal I've had thus far.
6) Hammer's HEED being at each stop was great, but the ice cold Poland Spring water stop was like heaven!
7) oh yea, the turning around in the first mile... seeing that angry, yet clearly big hearted race director running and yelling like a bad comedy show... PRICELESS!
8) the compliments post race felt pretty good... as one the volunteers attempted to talk me into running 20 more miles for the 50mile race.
9) Frank finishing, and proclaiming how hard it was (even though he did fantastic!)
10) The Weather- yay SUN! Post race sweet potatoes and oh yea: post -race Sam Adams Alpine spring ;)...

4 weeks to Labor of Love 50 Miler!!

1 week to Cherry Blossom 10miler!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rock And Roll Washington D.C: 3/17/12

So, this was an unexpected addition to my racing season. Although I had already convinced myself that it was the perfect way to get my 26 miles in, I was not registered as Rock n Roll marathon series races tend to run a bit pricy than my running budget allows. Nonetheless with 4 ppl in my running family headed down for the race, I HAD to be there anyway. Then almost like a crazy gift from .... whichever version of god you'd like.... A friend called to ask me if I'd like to take someone's bib for the half-marathon. Naturally- Hell YES!... So I was put in touch with Michele <= nicest person I've never yet met... and she sent me everything I needed.
I transferred the race to the marathon distance for a small fee and then BAM.. there we go, I was In. Training run scheduled. Also- btw- it was St. Patty's Day.... so I splurged (with the $ I didnt spend on the race to buy some green

Friday Pre-Race: s/p 22.5 mi run thursday night... taught some yoga that AM and just kept going all day... not enough nutrition in... and felt rather fatigued going off 3.5 hours of sleep. Already I was laughing at how I had commented the evening before on my Run that I've never had a bad race day (with the exception of some college 5Ks). Friday ended with a movie: "Wanderlust" which was quite amusing and then off to bed for 11:30... little later than I was hoping.

Saturday 4:20am.. woke up 10 min before my prepped and walked out mind set on coffee and chewing gum, 7-11 stop and then off to catonsville to meet up with Linda, Gina, Everette and Frank for an exciting day of running!

Arrived- parked- sat around... the usual... and then good lucks and what not as I left my half marathoners and ran off to find the 3:30 pace group, with a few newer friends, Dave, Mike, Mosi all running as pacers, to run a nice long training run.

So we started running, so far so good.... I think around 4 miles the fatigue of the last 48 hrs pre-race set in, I was running tired, and hungry. My breakfast was not enough... I was already running out of glucose... So around 5 mi I had my first GU, the earliest I've ever used fuel, especially on a training run.... but my mind was set, I'd hold steady as long as I could. Looking down at my wrist to be reminded often of my Sanskrit motivational quote which reminds of those who are truly faced with the task of survival was a continuous positive reminder to Keep Moving, at any pace, because certainly, it is possible to do so.

Ran with a couple other ppl shooting for 3:30 pace... around 10 mi i felt pretty good once we got into the rolling hills and just with my internal eb and flow of pacing. I had no watch on so I'd stick to instinct as much as possible. I lost track of my newest running friend :(.

By 13.1, my body felt like i was around 18 mi... which I've felt enough now to know that even though it didnt feel good, I was ok to keep rolling. Also around here was when I finally caved and took a pit stop.... by the time I'd gotten back out and running the 3:30 group i was 45 secs ahead of, was now 20 seconds ahead of me. I didn't wanna burn myself by playing catch up too hard so I caught up over the next 3/4 of a mile. The little extra push was tough, I figured I'd play it safe and ride along with the group at 8min miles but once i got there, it felt unnatural to cut my stride, so I rolled passed them again. Sadly around 16 mi another pit stop ate about 60-90 seconds off the clock. Once again I was back with pace group and once again I kept rolling.

The heat of the day was upon us, the course had opened up to a much more planer course... in other words... long mostly flat stretches in direct sun... I was thrilled to be seeing the sun, but knew it was draining me. I'd had another GU a few miles back, but I was again running low, making it on the 25kcal of gatorade I was getting down at the water stations (thank god for the nasty stuff- sorry if you like gatorade... between gatorade and GU by the end of every race my mouth feels like I gorged on straight sugar packets ...YUCK!)

Anyway, I was still chugging along, I knew my pace was falling off a little, I was short on energy, water and totally unprepared for the suns impact. By 23mi I was counting down minutes. Knowing I had the Pacers less than a minute behind me was the best support system I've ever run with... well, kind of the only support I've ever Run with. I knew if I couldn't hold it up where I was and had to fall back, they'd keep me going with them. So I fought, as I always do to keep myself strong enough that I wouldn't actually need to use the there was only a 5K left... I could suck up just about anything for 3.1 miles... right?

Around 25 miles, my feet started to hurt... which is actually amazing since I expected them both to be killing me by 16... so I didn't read into it much. Mile 26... 1.2 to go.... pace group is probably 20 seconds behind... Only goal was to not get "caught"... i picked up the pace as much as I was able... until the last stretch which- go figure was uphill,  and then fell into the "well, just hang on, slow and steady" mantra and bam finish line, goal complete with "I dare you to move" being played by Switchfoot- Live. Medal, food, music... Sunlight.

I'd done it, stuck to the goal... nutritionally I was *$@('d but I'd fix that over the next 24-48 H and heal up just fine.

Race Highlights:
1) Sunshiny Day!! Can't beat it!
2) Music literally every mile... saves you from the 3-6 note repetitive song playing over n over in your head And offers a cadence to keep pace to.
3) The number of ppl commenting on the pacers tutu's, the number of ppl commenting on the hat the guy next to me for miles 14-19 was wearing which by the way- i never even saw directly and can't even tell you why it was cool...
4) the band member dressed as a panda... not sure why this was better to me than the Elvis dude, but maybe I just like panda's more, anyway it lifted my mood.
5) Dave's shirt post race with blood stains over both nipples and his exclamation that it didn't really hurt (just grateful I don't have to know what that feels like)
6) Great Support from Friends  and getting to spend the day with Frank, Ev, G, Liddy couldn't be beat by much of anything... <3

And Yesterday I completed a rather tough week of training with a very pleasurable 10 mi run, 1.5 mi swim and 30 mi bike ride, most of which was great because of the getting to share it with Jim, Frank and Marc.

5 weeks till Labor of Love 50 Miler.

1 week to NJ trail 50K !!!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Seneca Creek Greenway 50K

So the last week of training was different from all the others thus far. Instead of putting in steady daily mileage I went for it and did a 20+ mileage day, knowing I had a 40 mile run on Saturday. And the easy days would give me my 75 miles.  By the end of my run on Tuesday, ending up around 21.25 miles, my ankles and feet were aching, which believe it or not I have Never felt before. Nonetheless I wasn't very concerned knowing I had three days to fully recover.....skipping over the carb loading, the biking, the swims and the yoga and we'll jump into Friday- pre-race prep. Only a couple things to note here, but they must be acknowledged.

Pre-Race Friday: ME- scared/ excited, anxious, feeling still under the weather although I have never progressed to any sort of symptomatic illness.... trying to pack for my 6 mi prerace, the race depending on condition the clothing changes, the caloric consumption and liquid/ e'lytes changes.... I may have kind FREAKED out. :) Like I usually do.. And most likely will continue to do (since it always works out well- I have lots of positive reinforcement. Anyway, I posted my most authentic cry for support and received enough support to cover every mile.

My heart was so touched by the kind words and thoughts shared. I want everyone to know how grateful I am that you are there to remind me that I am in fact strong-willed and quite able. Thank You!!

So Saturday... raining but 48.... 48... thats it VERY different from 36... I was THRILLED!!! So after getting slightly lost I parked and ran my 5 mi warm up, then proceeded to change- by which time the rain ceased- EVEN bettah!!! ;).

So i checked into the race, had half a double shot- which is like a single shot ;)... and headed out for 1 more mile and then met up with everyone at the starting area. 

REady-set-go: And from there It was mud-ridden slip and slide for the first 4 mi, at which point someone at a road crossing yelled, "watch out- that next section is muddy" We all laughed, thinking, it's already muddy dude.... onward we romped... and yes, the mud got more intense... each step was a battle for balance and to gain even minimal distance as your foot slid back (the opposite way of the finish-line!). The hills were small, the water was cold, but nice as rinsed off the shoes and kept my aching feet at bay.

Miles passed, and annoyingly I'd decided to wear my GPS, since its my longest training run, but this kept the ongoing calculations of the fact that I was 6mi deeper into this, and I was beginning to fatigue at my 20mi mark... 14 miles into the 34 miles stretch... only 20 more to go.... But other than my mind playing with me, I was having a BLast, the trail was consistently windy, unsteady, a constant challenge. Plus, not gonna lie, being one of the top women is always nice cuz nearly every guy you pass offers a tini-tiny confidence boost (thanks to the mothers born in the 50's who rave about equality... love you mom)... Means little, but there is a bow of respect from the male runners that is very kind and is certainly not- yet in my experience- present with other female runners- So thank You Guys, lol.

Anyway, One step at time, mileage ticked off, I only fell on my face once, took enough time to check my hand for blood.... (there was none) and kept moving.... no new pains developed post fall, so assumed through my head to toe assessment that I always take intermittently that I was still A-OK to keep pushing, so naturally- I did.

Around 23 mi- by my watch (so 29 miles) I was tired... felt better than I did in my first 50K muscularly, but the fatigue was actually greater. My hip flexors were screaming from playing slip n slide although for now the running was nearly slip-free. A few miles to go, and that changed.... the mud was Ridiculous in the last 2-3 miles of our adventure. The hills were slightly more extreme, but most of us walked 'em anyway- (ouch- to say the least). Anyway, as it always does, the finish line came, 4:58, jogging through with Dave for a the end of a great race. 2nd Female, only about 5 minutes behind #1... (just happened to be a lot closer than the 32min I was behind #1 out in Cali :) ). 

Pre-Race Facebook support!
The first river crossing- I love natural obstacle courses!
The weather was great- dry, cool, and sunny post-race!
Meeting new running friends, and having running partners for 75% of a long training run... not to mention I just like meeting people- they're awesome.
Windy trails are fun! elevations changes are great too- even though they don't always feel like it.
The people cheering- I never realized before how much I LOVE cow bells !!
The support/ volunteers- I didn't get lost- always a plus!
Free food during/ after the race!
The picnic was great- met even more ppl, got BS about running for 3 hours+.. Great Times!
Coming in 2nd Female... was a very unexpected treat, very grateful.

7 weeks Till 50MILES!
Thanks Again everyone for making it seem do-able- You're all an inspiration to me every day!! <3