Monday, May 21, 2012

Capon Valley 50K-5/19/12

Run Capon 50K
The Very first ultra I ever signed up for was Run Capon 50K. Back in November of 2011 I dreamt of simply completing a 50k. Due to my run ins with injury and failure in the past and some obscure idea that 2 marathons/ yr was plenty for the human body to handle, I decided that the middle of May would be the perfect time for my first 50K race.
Well clearly things changed. I was offered many other chances to test myself and with growing success I continued. My 50miler in NV was a peak- a struggle, a true challenge on all levels and a clear look at what I am working with- personally…. What tools I have without fully committing myself to anything that might put me in over my head.  If it had not been for The 6th Branch and letting my “thing” be something to help Operation Oliver I cannot guarantee that I would have succeeded as I did. Nevertheless, after the 50miler… my focus was dead set on my chosen race. Run Capon- a trail race in Yellow Spring W. VA with water crossings, hills, technical footing and GREEN everywhere. I was more excited than I’d admit to anyone… but I think as it got closer, it became clear. I was yearning to run… and because of the races I’ve done well at already I had an absurd amount of comfort and serenity.
I drove out Friday night with a borrowed 1-person tent and my new sleeping bag and all my running gear in the car. Upon arrival to Ruritan camp grounds the start/ finish of the race, I popped my tent together and arranged my bedding and then went to check in for the race. I tried to appear social, but as usual I conveyed more of an independent vibe. I can tell when this is the vibe I’m giving off, it’s hard for me to fake it, and in new settings with ppl I don’t know, who I don’t know or how to feel about,  I move in a particular way, fumble with anxiety and lay things down in a way that makes me seem content on my own, as I basically am at this point. So after a few minutes of ease dropping a couple conversations and finding no particular friendly opening I headed back to my car and arranged my gear for the next morning and then proceeded into my tent at 8pm to read until I became sleepy. The ppl in the next couple tents beside me started up in conversation, and strangely enough I found some vague sense of confidence and stuck my head of my tent and as uninvited as it may have been interrupted my way into the conversation. I have never done that before…but it seemed to go smoothly, I ended up talking with my new friends until it was dark and chilly. Sleep came easily as Fridays are particularly long days for me.
9hrs later my 1st alarm went off, and I was NOT ready to move, pitch black and icy damp air awaited outside… but I ALWAYS drink 1 L of water 3 hrs before my race… if it was sooner to the start… well athletic details…. I risk changes in my electrolytes and body system that I do NOT want to deal with during a race. Yes, it was for fun, but I had every intention of doing my best and taking pit stops was not in the plans. So up I got myself to eat my 200kcal breakfast #1 and drink my water. I then grabbed my race outfit and climbed back in my sleeping bag and proceeded to waste a stupid amount of energy getting fully undressed and redressed inside the sleeping bag in the pitch black. I took me almost 15 minutes. But- I was warm.
Nearing 6 now, the sun was brightening the sky, I dug through my car for some change to get a cup of coffee and proceeded to head inside for that. As I walked I had breakfast #2 another 200kcal.
Everyone was kind, the bathroom line talks are always great. The newbie’s, the ones that have run this every year and so on.  And I waited till 5min to start to head outside- to keep my body heat in check. In no time, 6:59…. And Go!
We headed up the road, I was telling myself to hold back a little I didn’t need to push the pack now… I just needed to be past anyone that might be in my way on a single track trail. On the first hill I took the last woman in sight- who was an experienced looking runner with a strong uphill pace. I was intimidated and inspired but then got out of my head and checked my body… it was back to my race. I was here to run some miles on a beautiful trail, just out to enjoy the day, and hopefully feel well enough to push myself.
The trail was gorgeous in fact I couldn’t stop smiling. The creek crossings in the first hour were nothing to get wet over, you just hop from rock to rock and pray for secure footing. I was thrilled to get to play a bit, it’d been months since I challenged my footing like this at a pace like this. I began to get concerned that I wasn’t recovered enough, that I really might bonk for the first time. I kept asking myself if I should pull back more, but I was comfortable.
 I ran with a couple guys for the next few miles, they kept me on this comfortable pace. I ended up being able to take the hills just slightly harder both up and down and sooner than I would have liked I left my new friends behind as headed off track about 50yards downhill  and then back uphill and back on track…(which was conveniently also the time I passed the 1st female who Id some how missed at the start of the race.) Again though, that early into an ultra or heck… any run longer than a 5k, I wouldn’t put a claim on a position…. You never know what can happen, and I certainly wasn’t taking it easy, there was a very good chance I went out too hard. But, I always go out like this and have always succeeded….thus far, so I went along with it. And in no time I was running alone again. 150yrds behind the next two guys. 
Besides pushing myself and enjoying the trail I was trying to watch my footing and the trail markers… gazing up the tree branches in the distance makes not tripping a bit of a challenge. So I made it a short term goal to keep these guys in sight. I didn’t think I’d ever catch them, but as long as I didn’t lose them, I wouldn’t be alone to get totally lost.
After the water station was a ridiculous climb… utterly unrunnable- clambering for footing about to use my hands as the ground was about a foot from my face – or so it felt. Anyway by the time we got up that, I caught those guys. One of them fell back, I was very surprised. The other I ran with for almost 20 miles. His pacing was great, we took turns in the lead.  We actually never spoke except for both times I fell he asked if I was all right. The first fall, I kept my feet on the ground the whole time, only staggering for about 4 smalls steps. The second however I actually took flight falling onto my left shoulder and rolling over back up onto my feet- like a ninja- it was so COOL, haha…. But all I thought after, besides the “man, I can’t believe that wasn’t on tape”… was what an epic waste of energy that was. The lactic acid burnt throughout my body and then there it was, the stubbed toe… just as raw as any other time you stub your toe only I was still running on it. I don’t know about you but when I hit my toe I feel the need to look to make sure its still in one piece. Well, I was in the middle of the race, so I wondered if this would change my race, would a blister form, would the pain get worse? In no time at all I’d moved on… it was just my toe, who really cares… and the pain subsided.
At the aid station I took in my greens bar 300kcal and kept running. I used my endurolytes as needed. The next aid station I switched to Gatorade/ water mix and kept running. I was proud to be cutting down time at the aid stations. In my past races I took my time, but today I wanted to see what I could do with just a little more focused effort. After the next aid station and one more greens bar I was still feeling good. I had literally no idea where in the run I was. I thought I felt too good to be where the time would have put me. So assumed I was moving slower than I thought, I mean I was walking the major the climbs… So 5:30 is ok… I mean I did have the lead right now… so it can’t be that bad, maybe the course if just harder than I thought.
I tried to guess the mileage from the aid stations but I didn’t read the race details that thoroughly so I had no idea, (race details make me nervous- and I prefer to just run… and not over plan my race) I wasn’t even sure where I’d put my drop bags since I hadn’t planned for drop bags in a 50k. But with option there, and my love for carrying as little as possible… I left drop bags at 3 of the 5 places.
Anyway, the race was a blur of uphill’s, downhill’s, fields, trees, green, rocky ,shady sunny day…. I felt good, very clear headed, pain free and as of the last hill I lost my running buddy and passed one other guy. I was actually confused by how well I was doing.
Suddenly I was at the 1&6 aid station… which meant I had a 5k left…. WOW… that’s it… and I feel this good? I grabbed some watermelon- managed to inhale a chunk up into my sinuses. But having relaxed into my position in the lead I wasted more time than I should have already so as soon as my bottle was back in my hand I took off down the road. I kept trying to clear my sinuses since I was lucky enough to be alone. Nothing I could do seemed to help me clear the watermelon. Once I was back onto the trail the watermelon was less of a concern than my footing and now my legs were aching… nothing compared to how they felt in Nevada so I mostly ignored it, but I was intent on holding my current pace. I mean , I wasn’t “in it to win it”… but how pissed would I be if I let it all go in the last couple miles and lost the position…. Could I really hold a “race” in the last mile…. I’d rather not find out.. so I kept steady. Everything moved so fast… it wasn’t till I was coming through the finish line that I realized how totally fine I felt. What a fantastic run, was all I thought. I had place 1st female and 3rd overall in 4hrs 30min (and some seconds). A proud finish for sure.
In the coming hours I met many many people and received more attention than I’m used to. I put myself out there and represented myself as best I could. I had my first “interview” (link below)…. It seemed silly but I have to admit I loved it. I loved being recognized for doing well, because for once in my life, I actually would agree (although I still think I need to do a lot more hill work and build up my ankles some more, and could increase the strength endurance a bit more and overall endurance- could still gain more) I did my best and I did well. Did I mention what a beautiful day it was!!! I didn’t want to leave the race, but the long drive, the warm sun and the coming fatigue would only grow worse. So I packed up-said my goodbyes and headed home.

Now, there’s a lot on my mind. Whats’s next for me- in my career? My running?... my life?
I have some short races coming up and a couple weeks off before those… I have potential… but enough? It doesn’t really matter to me, I have found something that makes me happy to be me and that gives me enough self confidence to take risks and make formal decisions about my life, my friends, my intentions. So as long as Im happy, having fun and nourishing my life and that of those around me… My life will take me where I belong.
Thank you to many who took part in no small way this past weekend. Much Love and Gratitude for you all.
Up Next: Volunteering at Old Dominion 100miler- June 2nd
                 Litchfield Hills Road Race- June 10th
                Baltimore 10-miler – June 16th
                 Annapolis striders Fathers Day 10K-June 17th

Monday, May 14, 2012

Love Affair on Massanutten Mountain Trails

The title just draws you in... sounds exciting like maybe this time she'll talk about something other than running....

So last week I was still "down"... I was happy, rested, running...but still not totally myself. Some guidance suggested I seek becoming more involved with running, as if giving it 75% of not-working life just wasn't quite enough to keep me happy due to some social issues with being human and what not. So after realizing how right this was... I decided that I would go to MMT 100 mile trail run on Saturday evening to volunteer and hopefully pace a runner so that I could 1) pace someone who could use support 2) learn a thing or two from the people I idolize (anyone who is willing to put themselves in and through hell for a good challenege)  3) to check out the course and get in a great trail run. oh and 4) see how running on no sleep through the night felt. Not to mention I knew at least one of the runners personally and a couple others by name.

So I ended up getting to mile 87.9 "picnic area" Aid Station #14 around 7:30PM, parking my car and then getting acquainted with the other volunteers. Time was moving at 3 x normal speed, before I knew it darkness had settled and the top runners were passing through. Unbelievable- these guys look like they'd done only a warm up jog and were now just getting ready to start the race. Hardly a trace of fatigue worn on their face or body despite how they may have felt internally. The top female came through also looking fresh, the only sign of a tough run was the longer hair made the sweat from the near 90degree temps early that day visible. She was smiling up a storm for every photo opp. An hour or so, maybe more, though it felt like mere minutes sitting by the campfire talking about running with crew members hanging around for short periods until their runner would check in- and out of the aid station and they'd move out to meet them at the next, David came through. I was already aware of his placement and pace from the other volunteers who kept an eye on the web postings. I knew he was having a good day, so he wouldnt need nor would he want a pacer. He would finish the race with time to spare to make his goal, but still I asked to be sure. He said he was good and off he went. (He finished in 23:32- goal well completed :)). I knew I should sleep for a few hours and pick up a runner later, but I wanted to hit the course so badly, sleep was not an option. Again time passed quickly. Runners in/ runners out. Steve came in around 2:30AM on Sunday, No green dot on his Race number... and no pacer in sight... this meant he wasn't taking part in the Solo race but was clearly doing this on his own- no crew- no pacer....but he looked mentally tired, so I asked if he'd like some company. His eyes actually brightened up a bit.

Off down the dark single track techinical trail we jogged. for the first hour we chatted and kept pushing. The ups and downs were mild but continuous, nothing flat. I was trying to watch my own footing and watch for the flourscent markers to keep my runner on track. I missed one. Damn! I thought and I sprinted back to find the course, luckily Steve and another runner who'd missed the turn had only gone about 2 minutes in the wrong direction. Back on course- the trail began to ascend, gradually, but at 90miles into a run, it doesnt matter much.... up hurts and up steeper hurts more. I felt empathy for the runners as my legs were nearly fresh and I sprung from rock to rock. I was noticably tired though not from running. I tripped often. I am a  Strong trail runner because of good proprioception (from years of gymnastics) and strong ankles- but I felt like an amateur in my trail shoes. I've never run trails with anything that clunky before (minimalist on every surface)... I wasn't able to blame it only on being tired, the shoes, the lack of experience with a headlamp... I wasn't sure which or if all made the difference but I was struggling more often than I'd like to admit to keep my footing stable. I must have turned my ankles 5 times each- i mean enough to take most ppl down.... but I was intent... I'd not fall, or draw of my runner's attention toward my experience, I was meant to be support, to minimalize the anxiety of the mind as it screams louder and louder "STOP running you idiot and go to sleep... NO one is around, just REST, you can't take ONE more step, STOP trying!" (or atleast this is what my mind yells under such conditions -20+ hours into a run on significant hiking trails... (not that I'd honestly even know... yet)).

My runner was getting desperate. The climbing was a continual frustration, "I'm so sick of climbing" he would say as he pushed onward and the downhills were continually painfully as your feet fall over and over again on fatigued muscles, jolting the body with X times your body weight over and over and over.

At the next aid station somewhere around 4:45am I made sure my runner got everything he wanted to eat/ drink. I almost forgot that despite the temperature and pace, I was doing significant work and should eat too. Despite my sickening sweet tooth during my day to day life, on the trail I hate the thought of sugar, some chex mix and a couple tortilla chips were perfect. My runner was up on his feet again, I asked him if he was ready, "ready to go to bed" he replied; I smiled and said, "Nah You look ready to RUN... lets move." (Never let an endurance athlete rest too long - many exceptions to this rule, but generally, if the mind settles into the rest, its a lot of effort and sometimes nearly impossible to get moving again.)

As we headed upward, knowing this would be the last BIG climb, I tried to think of supportive commentary. Unfortunatly I've never had much support out the course of almost any races since college 5/6K races, I love cowbells when I'm out running more than any spoken words. For me, hearing that I still look strong, helps me the most, because when my mind is fatiguing and my body hurts, I start to feel like Im collapsing inward. If it doesn't look that way to anyone else- then it's just in my head, which means I've got A LOT more to give... So I fed him what I could honestly; Telling him thjat he was holding a great cadence and to just keep up that rhythm, he looked strong enough to climb this mountain 3 times over. Besides that, we ran/ hiked up and up. I remembered for the 1st time in years a high school running shirt which we had chosen to quote the movie "The Matrix": "There is No Spoon" to which we used to say upon running up hills.... the idea being of course that the limits we set are soley in perception of the mind.... aka... if you shut up the mind... the body can in fact handle that climb many times over. So I shared this little story as we began to descend at about 5:20am. The rest of the race, although 3+ miles over the 100mile marker, would be essentially negative gain... so downhill/ flat. Once out of the woods dawn was well upon us, the pace picked up. My runner asked me, as he had a few other times throughout... how far till... (this time "till the finish") do ya think?." Having never been here before and I had basically no idea as our pace varied from 8 min/mile pace to 22min/ mile pace... so What would I want to hear?....5k... so 5k it was... thats what I said we had left, even though I was pretty sure it was closer to 4.5 miles...3.1 sounded much more doable. We Took OFF... bounding down the road at my comfortable run pace, roughly 7:55 per mile.... I was totally inspired... how does any one do that after 101miles of running.... but he just kept running. After running this pace for about 22 min, he began to falter a little, but only two 15 second walk breaks were needed to get him rolling again. The last rolling hill was less than a mile from the finish... but I wouldnt have known that for sure, but we got up that. Zipping through a stretch of woods and across one of two bridges, the sound of the finish was audible and the yellow markings appeared, I patted my runner on the shoulder and said, "Thats all You... take it home." And he ran to a 26:43 Finish.

I was embarrassed by how sleepy I was, The runners all were so elated (though many at this time that I'm talking about and or with had slept for an hour or two and showered) and talkative and I was barely awake at 7am...I ate some breakfast and Listened as intently as I was able to David talking about his run and the course and his pre-race stressors. By 8am I was freezing. I was provided a warm-up suit that combined with a cup of hot coffee made the lack of sleep and the chill much easier to manage without complaint, which among this crowd I felt as if, unless i started to have a serious medical issue, nothing I could think to whine about could compare to what they had just endured.

I took part briefly in a few conversations but felt too sleepy to really be attentive enough to socialize. Around 10am David drove me back to my Aid station (10mi), for which I am extraordinarily grateful for... I figured before he'd offered that I'd have 10 more miles on my own to it was a pleasant surprise. Though I still feel midly guilty for taking a finisher away from the finishers crowd for an out and back drive of 20miles on a dirt road after running for 24 hrs... :/... But Thank You again!

Of course when I got back there was only 5 more runners that needed to come through before the 11am cut off, 2 made it... 3 did not. Everyone cleaned up so fast, I didnt feel all that helpful. I think I mostly helped by eating - so there was less to clean up :). Only a few minutes later another volunteer, Charlie, said he was headed out for a run. The early morning grey clouds had broken to a gorgeous sunny day, and everything was so green. So naturally I told my sleepy mind to shut up... since I almost never had the chance to be out on a trail.... and I wanted to see more of the course. Off we went for another 90+ mintues of running.  It was an amazingly beautiful out and back that wrapped up the weekend in a cozy blanket made of moments only found by few but sought by many for the beauty, the joy, the purity and the wisdom.

Needless to say, I'm in love with trail running- I feel re-connected via my mind, my body, my soul and my existence ... all energy channels re-opened and flowing. I know, to many, sometimes to myself, this sounds hokey.... but I have no other words to describe it... So I borrow these and try to share my joy with you. <3

Run Capon 50K next Saturday 5/19/12, aka TRAIL RUN <3

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pittsburgh Marathon 5/6/12

Somtimes an "ultra" marathon is quite literal- like literally running 50 miles, but sometimes it has almost nothing to do with miles you cover on your feet but more the taxing on your mind. My trip out to Pittsburgh, PA was an "ultra" race even though I only ran 26.2 miles.

Since my NV expedition and the completion of my first 50 miler ultra I have been "recovering"- running about 35-45 miles/ week, biking 50miles, swimming 3 miles and yoga 4-6 days a week, however I also added in some new weight training to see if I could start to balance out the ridiculous inconsistency between my L and R leg muscles. Although extraordinarily fatigued and dragging a bit through work, and my diet getting tossed to S*%*... I was able to keep training. I'm not quite as dumb as I act however and presumed that running a marathon 2 weeks s/p 50miles wasn't really the most ideal plan for a good recovery. But I had paid already, had a place to sleep there and Megabus could get me there from D.C. in 6 hrs for 44 dollars round trip.

So I prepared as best as I could, slept and ate and what not. It'd be fine... a smooth transition back into long distance, or so I hoped.

So physically I consider myself 85% recovered: the weird pains in my foot/ ankle continue but are NOT getting worse, so as far as I can judge- Im fine to continue. My cardio endurance is stronger than ever, but my quads/ hams hit fatigue around 11 miles. I'd have to throttle back, take this 26.2 easy and just let my body heal... this was the plan anyway.

Mentally, I was all messed up. Running is just running to many, a form of exercise, perhaps a form of torture. A fewer number find the joy in it. An even fewer number persue this joy. And even fewer than that persue this joy at all costs- driven by something, that cannot be explained by psychology as anything less than obsessive or addicted, but I'd like to hope its the drive to explore.... much like any other research on the human body. But when you have this Drive... it seperates you from many of our human 'pleasures.' Suddenly you feel like you're in a class all of your own and you either intimidate or bore others. Or perhaps its a disconnect from lack of understanding. But as runner- you bond with runners or endurance junkies with the same goals and intentions. You get ripped away from the bar scenes, the house parties, the restaurant meals and television shows your friends enjoy and seem to expect you to, at very least know what they are talking about. But slowly, but surely, you have no idea... the TV hasnt been on in a week or two, you're pulled from parties and meals by your need to maintain health and efficiency in order to keep going.

My 50miler was more taxing than I'd imagined- not physically... in fact physically I was less ravaged that I expected... but mentally/ emotionally I was raw. I have "I want my mommy" syndrome (or im calling it such- because that how it feels). I suddenly have this incestant need for hugs and human compassion that I've honestly never dealt with before. The first friday after my run I had the chance to see an enitre group of people I adore and felt safe with all of whom offered up hugs at no cost. Glorious, I thought....yes, I actually believed that this would "cure" my new syndrome. But it only lasted a short period. I had gained a new awareness of my own weaknesses and I want the feelings to go away, because they are unpleasant... but finding I need to feel my way through this or possibly re-evaluate my life to somehow meet this new need atop meeting the others is somewhat overwhelming to me. So naturally- I ignored the issue and continued onward.

Friday- pre PITT... I sort of overbooked my day, nothing out of the usual, except my mentality was ... "weak." "I want my mommy syndrome" was taking over my attitude and my perspective. I even called my mommy (haha) who was too busy to deal with my drama at the time. I drudged through the day hanging somewhere between myself and my 5yr old lonliness. Around 6pm the steady flow of the busy day came to a HALT. I didn't know what to do, and instead of remaining calm... although thinking calmly, I proceeded to cry. Long story short- my syndrome was not cured by this release- another hope/ belief I had.

Sat- pre PITT... Ok cab is here at 4:32am.. perfect... got to BmorePenn at 4:54 for $20... plenty of time to buy my tickets for the 5:23 train.... WRONG... despite my preparing I'd read online incorrectly- the first train out would leave at 6:10 (getting me to D.C. 13 min after my bus would leave). I remained calm, and discussed this with the information guy... who proceeded to pleasantly tell me, "I have no idea what you can do... a taxi but it'd be a lot of money (short pause) dont you have a friend or a boyfriend... you Must have a boyfriend who could drive you..., I mean I would drive you....." I turned toward the door as his somewhat sweet and somehow gut tearing words created a flood of tears.

I had messed up.... I wasn't sure if by not having asked for help sooner and not utilizing the friends I do have, or not having enough friends, or by not having a boyfriend- as stupid as that seemed.... but I was now standing alone in the dark in Baltimore shaking with anger and crying out my frustration figuring since there was NO ONE to hear me/ judge me I might as well. Long story short....a $100 dollar cab ride, gifted to me by a very kind cabbie.... we got me to Union station and onto my bus... where I slept and sobbed like shiftwork until about 10am... arriving in Pittsburgh at 12:00 and hitting up the Health and fitness EXPO - A giant running fair with free food samples and cool stuff I won't pay for :)- most importantly running ppl to talk to!

Then Anthony picked me up and we headed back to his place where we relaxed all day till dinner time @ 7pm a sufficient pub/ restaurant with Bobbie and her family. I was in bed by 9:30... and by now was so emotionally drained and just grateful to have a bed to sleep in. I decided while placing my things for the morning, that despite the internal pull to race and mental pull to rest... I would in fact forget about racing the course and just RUN... go strictly off feeling mile by mile, step by step.

Marathon time!  Still on empty emotionally, it seemed everything "touching" made me well up with tears.... I really had no idea what gave me the idea that I could run... but here I was... jogging through the starting line, I even decided to start my watch last minute- as if the time might matter somehow.The crowd was pleasant, thick but mobile at all times clearing plenty by mile 3 to run whereever on the road you'd like. The Cheering squads surrounding the course and music were loud and enthusiatic- all very uplifting. I was warm by mile 3 and removed my long sleeve shirt which would now work as a paper towel/ sweat rag for the remainder of the run. Miles ticked by uneventfully with runs over the various bridges; up and down, up and down, I was having fun, but holding back, I could already feel the fatigue....Miles 10-13 were excrutiating for me, My legs were tired, not painful, just heavy, and my mind was weak. The idea of stopping with the half-marathoners seemed so enticing... and then the back-lash of my own mind , "How could you think like that? You want to be ultra-runner and you can't stomach a lil 26 mi training run? Some runner you are..." <=My mind can be very cruel....

Anyway sometime after mile 14 after talking myself down enough to feel like absolute garbage another female and I took turns running in front of and behind one another. I couldn't tell if she was being competitive.... i purposefully tried not to be... she would surge up the hills that I would hold steady on and I would take the down hills stronger and our flat pace seemed pretty much in check... somewhere around 17 miles... we must have done this about 5 times now, and one time she gained a few hundred yrds on me while i gnawed on a power bar chunk from the volunteers. And then it hit me, that she WAS racing, which of course meant - generally in the psyche of a runner you can only come back after being beaten so many times before you let it rest... and one runner or the other moves on alone. So my competitve nature kicked in- just a little ...and took it a little bit harder, I never saw her again, and even kept looking back. I mean having someone to pace with makes it easier.... and as the miles continue and the Spring sunshine keeps pouring down on the open road... the distraction would have been welcomed, but oh well, it was a nice boost for my ego.

The next few miles were a blur of restablishing myself as a runner- I could feel my gait falling apart and I'd pull it back together. I new I was holding back, but I certainly wasn't having the relaxing run I was "suppose" to... so running with poor form was the key to getting hurt- so I focused harder to maintina alignment and control of my footing and my legs during the ariel phase of my gait ( a common place to lose focus and strain joints and tendons). I kept checking in with my body... my legs were tired, but no pain to be found anywhere... in fact my stride was perfectly rhythmic and cheering ppl on the sideline even commented on it. I felt good, like a training run... but more thirsty :) as I was adjusting the the warmer weather.

Miles 20-26.2 took a bit more coaxing... reminding myself of my longer runs where'd Id felt much much worse.... and then at 22... there is was: the massive downhill I'd been told about... just over 1/2 mi of downhill... which is painful that many miles in, the pounding is jarring and your muscles start screaming... but hell, gravity is doing a lot of the work... and you can turn your 7:50 pace into a 6:20 pace like nothin'... so I did as suggested and took it all the way through the downhill and once it leveled off the pain set in... just over 5K to go. I thought back to the last painful 5K of my 50 miler and decided to run faster.... cuz comparitvely... I felt fresh!

As I presumed the last little bit was uphill... race directors love that... me, i think it's sort of cruel... but whatever... you run the course right? so I surged up and kicked in strong, but certainly not sprinting... after all its a marathon.... whats a few seconds in a training run, but 3:25:16 ticking....even though I knew my chip time was 2min faster I didnt want to see the 3:26 pop up... so I finished sometime before that occurred. Still feeling good.... tighter than I'd expected in my hip flexors... but otherwise good to run more... grabbed my medal and photo, a banana, one bite of a bagel and three bottles of water.\I grabbed my things from bag-check and did my usual post long run yoga routine and got all the kinks out.

I jogged around the city finding a set location Anthony could come get me as he had to dodge all the road blocks... got home rinsed off and grabbed some grub... portabello panini with a side salad and Founder's Pal Ale.... I was Very happy. Finished up there and I was transported back downtown and found my bus stop with 45 min to spare so I stopped into "Sharper Egde" and had beer #2... Paulaner Hefeweizen (my absolute favorite) and had a nice chat with another runner who resides in P-burgh.

LOOONG bus trip back with a V8 and bag of beef jerky (not much real food at the rest stop... so i went for veggies protein and iron- better than the combo's that seemed enticing.

 I was so unbelieavbly grateful to have Dave there to pick me up... I wanted to be home so badly. And soon enough I was, the Race was over...amen.

Overall... Strange, gut wrenching mind twisting weekend, with a rather awesome long run and some great friends to help hold the edges together for me. PA is check! some 40 other states to go... haha.

2 weeks till Run Capon 50K<= TRAILS!!!!! SO EXCITED!<3