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 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!!!

Mason Dixon Longest Day 100k Challenge - Part1

I learned about the MDLD run on the VA Happy Trail Run Club events calendar and thought it sounded like a great idea. When I read about it sounded even better- it was not a race it was free crazy challenge, that didn't seem that impossible to me so without hesitation I emailed the Race Director (RD) to see if he could squeeze me in. Luckily some space had opened up and I was in. Oh NO!.. What had I gotten myself into???

So instead of researching the run, I put it on the calendar and ignored it. Until the Friday before, I finally read the race details, checked out the maps and decided I might be totally in over my head. Less than 10% of starters make the goal to finish the run starting at sunrise by sunset granting you roughly 15hrs and some extra few minutes depending. Less than 25% generally finish at all. The field is small, 20 starters. The Course... was HARD... had to be right? For the numbers to be like that? The race postings included horror tales of being lost for miles, poison ivy and endless issues with the challenge that made this CRaZY difficult. So as per my usual, I started to FREAK out.... I was going to fail... so I  came to terms with myself. If I did make- it would be wonderful, if I completed the challenge it would be Epic for me and if I failed.. well fine, at least I'd get a great long run out of the deal.

So I started talking and picked up some runners and support crew. And then I spent the Entire week Being more nervous about excepting help than I was about my running. Robert who came out to pace me is a STRONG runner, but I Know how he feels about trail, and when he agreed to complete the last 16 mi with me I was concerned. I debated telling him not to come out. His wife Cathy would Crew us and then Rob S. came out to after running Druid Hills 10k that morning for a few more hills than he anticipated. David D. was going to pace me from 13ish-25 but had difficulty with finding a way to coordinate the car/ bike/ run to make this possible alone. On the back burners I had David P; Cate for crew and a few others who kindly offered to give up their Saturdays for my crazy dreams and endeavors. And then there were other issues, getting back from Finish to start. Drop bags. Hydration. Poison Ivy. Calories in vs. Calories out. Foot care. Which Shoes? What pace? How to to not get lost? All of these thoughts consumed the prior week.

Everything was coming together, I just had to let go and let it be (I'm not very good at that). Thursday night before the run I had dinner with M and with a simple gift and some written words, my friend made it possible for me to relax into my own thoughts about the weekend ahead.

Friday I was ok, but internally jittery. I was So excited, some nervousness but mostly just so excited, I had no idea how to deal.  So I had lunch with Dave L. and got to talk out some of it with a good friend, so that helped. Finally I headed up to Havre de Grace to meet Mimi who when I finally got in touch with handed the phone to Henry who let me know they were 25 miles up the course. Now, I had never met either of these people, and only knew I had arranged and confirmed just the nught before that I would meet Mimi at the campsite. I was frustrated that I'd been left behind, but I just went with it  and began the 50+ mile drive north to Shanks Mare store - the finish line to Meet up with the two, and I would leave my car at the top so I could eventually get home. When I arrived no one was there. I was beginning to feel somewhat betrayed. I did my best to keep composure and not overreact after all I am actually quite practiced in forgiving ppl even when they don't deserve it. But then ... they showed.

Mimi apologized intently explaining how things got switched and changed around and without needing anything more she was totally forgiven. It took me a little longer to understand and clear up Henry's part in the whole thing, but in no time I could see his excitement for the event and I could more than understand getting swept into the plans. Forgiveness granted.   On the ride back down, we stopped for dinner, and missed the apparent "tornado-type" storm that had passed through Susquehanna State Park and the surrounding town. So we had to navigate around the downed trees and downed power lines to get back to camp where Mimi helped me throw my tent up in the rain. And in no time I was tucked into my sleeping bag.

3:15am: I couldn't take it any longer, I had to know the time, So I switched on my cell and then proceeded to switch it back off and tell myself to sleep for one more hour (trying to conserve . Within 20 min- it was failing so I got up. Figuring Mimi who was planning for the 3:36am start would be up by now, this way I could see her off.

The night prior Mimi and I ended up in conversation about some of her adventures. This woman from TN who came all the way up for this crazy run, was well beyond tough. She has swum numerous rivers around the world. With the support of her daughter and few kayakers and the people around the rivers. She went into some details about being in countries of war/ political issues where people would come together to help her and her daughter, offering food, shelter and care without even speaking the same language. How we are all first and foremost human and then whatever else they were labeled with. The stories were amazing, I felt blessed for having met Mimi and I told her so... and unfortunately at 9pm we knew the clock was ticking and much needed to be done before the morning came, it was not time for this.

So it was approaching 4am, Mimi was just leaving for her nautical start in honor of her son who is in the Navy. That morning while prepping I asked Mimi exactly how one swims 981 miles over 57 days in a river- I mean what about rapids and the rocks??  I was in Awe... she was almost confused by the question... "you just get in and extend your body.... just flow with the water, you stroke when you can and you listen, the rocks on the bottom make a tinkling sound as the water pulls and as the water speed picks up the tinkling speeds up... it's a magnificent sound... and in the rapids you once again just extend your body and you just let go, the water takes the path of least resistance and you just have to trust you will too."

Now for this was like every lesson I've taken form yoga personified in a human being. I couldn't even imagine, I am so bad at just "letting go" I believe I would be impaled by rocks.... perhaps this a deeper lesson.... So between Following my "Dream"s as my new charm on my necklace states (Thank you M) and letting go, I suddenly felt very whole and prepared for this day.

Henry was now up beginning his ridiculous caffeine spree with 1 can monster and 1 can starbucks/ ensure combo. We were as ready as we could be when.... 4 headlamps come bouncing up past Henry's car... its the Trail Dawgs- the one's that started at 3:36 and have run the trail least once... they were lost by atleast a mile basically setting them behind the 5:34 start group by the time they got back on track. Henry and I laughed as we had no idea really what we'd gotten into... but if ppl who the course were lost in the 1st mile... it was going to be one hell of a day. Off we headed to the start to mingle with the other 5:34am starters. Pictures and welcomes. A last minute entry, a friend I'd made a week prior Keith showed up ready to run. So there we were 5:33am.

Monday, June 18, 2012

B-10 B2B 10k

It's been roughly one year since I moved to Baltimore. The first social thing I did after moving to Baltimore in 2011 was run the Baltimore 10-miler, I figured I'd meet some other runners. Knowing me I actually almost presumed I wouldn't since I rarely start up conversations. But I did, I met Frank, Everette, Jeanette, Serge and Lucia who kicked off a year of amazing changes and running. Frank and I, along with his daughter ran the Father's day 10K put on by Annapolis Striders on the B&A. It was my first introduction to back to back racing- and realizing that the limitations we conjure are quite false.

So naturally when entry opened for 2012 Frank and I scrambled in ASAP. I had some pipe dreams in the months leading up to this race that I could break 70min. But as the day neared that seemed illogical, I mean I never train faster than 7:50 on a really good day. Granted my mileage from last June has tripled along with new sports like biking and swimming thrown into run/ yoga routine. But I was capping my week at 77 miles and my legs weren't quite fresh. I also felt some strange twinges from my hamstring all week and thought it'd be better to stick to a more suitable ultra-runners pace... 8-9 min miles... and just hunker through for fun.

So race day!... Best day Ever.... I almost cant even explain, between Dave doing his first 10miler and the Back on my Feet crew there and supporting, and my catonsville family there (somewhere although i couldnt find them)... I was just happy to be a part of it all. Just to feel the difference in where I was from last year.

I watmed up roughly 5 miles and then joined the BOMF crowd for our prayer/ cheer circle up, then Dave and I got into the starting pack around the 1:55 pace group... which- no offense in the least to those running that pace.... but that is not a smart place for someone planning 1:15- 1:20 to start... it means dogding people and tripping over people while rudely cutting them off, apologizing a lot as you bounce your way from side to side to side trying to get up your own running pace. But I wasnt concerned... we were chip timed- (for non-runners- this means it doesnt techincally matter where you start- the clock starts for you when your body crosses the start line and the same for the finishing aspect). So we got moving.... eventually int he 4th wave.. placing me starting 4min+ behind everyone and then playing dodge the runners for the first 4 miles... or until about 1/4 of the way around Lake Montebello... And to be honest, even once I was in the clear, I kept the mindset that I had to "get up to speed" so that I'd keep moving at a "HARD" pace... but not a painful pace- because thats no fun for me.

At 4.5 mi I found Frank... I sprinted up to him, said Hey!, I've been looking for you all day!! - fist punch- and I kept movin at the same pace. Mile 5-6 uphill I passed Dave P and hardly even noticed- I was focused on not dropping pace since I still felt good- which was a surprise to me.

Anyway, to be honest the rest was a blur, just running, ticking off miles and then I saw Greg more lovingly referred to as "Road Runner"  and has was slowing up a bit up the hill, I tried ot catch him as soon as possible and see if he'd come with me- we were just a mile away from the fininsh and once we crested that hill the climbs were over anyway. But he didn't come and I picked up pace even more figuring I was still feeling too good for this scene in a race I should probably move my a**, (thats slightly overstated- I hurt like heck at this point... I mean for me- I was movin'... but I did feel I had more and thought it was as good a time as any to use it). So I circled passed the BOMF "cheerleaders" and did the little loop they created this year.... around a cemetery... what a "joyful" way to end the race.... I mean I got the point they wanted to make the last mile a good cheering zone kind of thing- but it was honestly hideous and slightly morbid.... I would request another hill climb over ending the race in that fashion- just my opinion. Anyway kicked in 1:14 something or other,.... figuring I may have actually made my goal (which I later found out I did) 69:31 without a watch and starting from the back... I was quite pleased.

The rest of the day was great! hanging out with Dave S and Rob and Dave L (congrats on an awesome 1st 10 mile run!) and Frank, Everette, Serge and Jeanette and her step daughter who was getting married that evening- (congrats!! if you ever find your way to this silly blog <3). Cancelled the rest of my workouts do to an awesome migraine. And went to bed at 9pm-ish...

Sunday- Happy Father's Day to all Fathers!!- got up went to robinson rd severna park high, signed up for the 10k and warmed up 2.5 mi, run harder than I planned and ended up running 42:40-ish... which was fine... nothing amazing...but met a couple new ppl to stay in contact with. Not long after Frank, Everette and I were back in Catonsville with Franks sons and we all had breakfast only for his wife and daughter to show up and create a wonderful experience (for me anyway- since they're one of my many adopted families :)!)....

Two hours later I somehow ended up on a 25 mi bike ride (i think my legs were moving but it was rather slow)... I got my first flat and therefore my first lesson on changing a bicycle tire... seems easy enough... and then I bonked- never had that happen before... atleast not that bad... but I still made the climb home to FRanks place where we fixed me up with some salad and cheetos and lots of water. 

Such a great Weekend- too many people to thank and mention and (apaprently I have TOO many friends named Dave... seriously I have 6... that I talk to regularly and they all RUN....CRAZY!)....So thank you Back on My Feet (everyone!) and everyone else.... and yea you too.... Thanks ;p

Good to Go for Mason Dixon Longest Day Challenge 100k trail run on 6/23/12!!! XOXO

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Litchfield Hills Road Race 6/10/12

I was going to attempt to lump three races from my two weeks together. But well, in all honesty, I needed something to do besides stare at the computer screen. So this should be breif since the race was breif.

Friday I made it home after helping out at Operation Oliver for a few hours taking out some trees for an upcoming community proj (projects within projects :) ).... as my arms were fatgiuing from hand sawing trees I was wondering how this working out as my REST day... but at least I was only walking carrying tree peices not running miles and miles- right ? But anyway I left there early enough to clear NYC before traffic hour - which mostly worked- still caught the beginning of it... but what can you do. Home by 5ish and starving. I dont even remember most of the night, but it was restful.

Saturday I woke up on time 5:10am... despite the fact I'd been up to almost 11PM- much too late for me....and saw my parents off to work before heading to White Memorials nature boardwalk- my #1 recovery long run location. So gorgeous. Ran about 8mi before Amy joined be for 5, then we stood and talked for almost an hour and I then I finished up with 4 more miles... giving me 17 easy miles....

I was so so glad to catch up with Amy, we'd been trying for months and i loved having company on the run... however my stomach empty from miles 5+ was not happy with the long break and then starting up again without further nutrition besides "smart water"... smart water for a stupid girl who brought her water bottle out of the house on her way out- but never filled it out ... (i did consider going back- but.... didnt...womp womp).

Anyway I spent the rest of the day so tired I literally spent 3 hrs rolling around trying to comfy in my car and then a park, and then my car again.... but as the migraine began to reach unbearable it was now almost time to be social! My car instead of home- guess that would help..... I live in the middle of nowhere by about 20 min.... so i knew that after my errands when i started feeling- BAD- that if i went home I'd not come back out to town to see the friends I wanted to later... so i forced myself to stay out....

Anyway I caught up with Lisa and then met up with Alisha for dinner and after a this 1st glass of water at the restaurant - i felt magnificently better- it was quite odd.... its not like i hadnt tried a glas of water about 8 times since the run.... but I guess I finally began to re-balance and had a wonderful time chatting and enjoying a very good dinner at "@ the corner" in Litchfield where my old friend from childhood gymnastics was actually our waitress.... So nice to be home <3. Small town cozy.

Anyway- got home caught up with mom, showed her pictures from facebook of my races- and crashed- even later!!! But still woke up at 5:14... go figure... i laid there a lot longer sunday though :). Eventually I got up and made some cookies, wasted some time... a 1pm race is so late you never know what to do with the first half the day so i went for a slow 2.5 mile run (working my week to 70 miles by the time I finished the race).

My brother and sis-in-law got to our home and then we headed to town for the Race. Met up with Liz, Dave and the family as per LHRR usual- check in- port-o-pot line- warm up jog- start line- national anthem.... Canon BOOM.... and we're off. 

I didnt start with fresh legs which was fine... my head was still heavy and achy and my stomach was at 70% comfy, but I thought I'd follow the plan- go out hard and see what happens- NOT my usual plan at all- but I also almost never run anything this short anymore so I thought I'd see what happend with an achievable goal of sub 50 (old PR of 51:??).

So I ran fast for me... sub 6:30 (huge downhill)- 6:30- .... missed my 5k PR by 5 seconds running past 3.1 in 19:40 (my PR is 19:36) So that felt good.. and i still felt fine and still assumed I'd die so was actually trying to hold back a bit... since it was a lil over 90 and very humid and the clouds were just breaking.

I kept expecting to get tired enough ti drop pace, but everytime it hurt it'd pass and I actually started to pass people between miles 5-6 which may have been stupid with the hill...sorry THE HILL- GALLOWS Lane... at the 6mi mark.... but i figured its just a .25 mi hill and its gonna suck whether or not im  very tired or VERY tired.... so oh well... and then there it was... fear struck... i knew this would hurt... but my brother was there. And apparently 2 other friends (amy and cait) and some others who knew me. I didnt even look up, just kept my head down, my arms swinging and my feet moving.... - Now I LOVE hills- but getting up one at sub 7 pace... not really my thing....maybe someday it will be... we- me and the pack of 5 guys I'd picked up crested the hill as we turned the corner to the final .75 mi straight and gradually inclined stretch of the race... to be honest they were in my way, but I was hurting enough i figured it'd kill me enough to pass them, that they'd just repass me, so i hovered trying not to take their shoes off their heals....

Within a few hundred yards they final noticed a chick was pushing them and three of them picked up the pace and one hugged close and one dropped back... the long stretch finally hit the point of seeming endless. My stomach was a wreck.... I was so nauseated... but logically assumed the chance of me getting sick betrween now and the finish was highly unlikely...and not until you turn the last corner for 0.1 mi downhill fininsh do you totally HATE that you always do this race. It's downhill... but its like no relief and the longest couple hundred yards ever in the direct sun.. and then Poof.. all done. 48:27.... improving my over 3minutes... i was happy... and highly uncomfortable for about 3 min. Then I saw friends Lauren and Brian and forgot I'd run a race except that I was standing around in a sports bra soaked from sweat/ pouring water on myself at every water stop.

All in all... including a post race family picnic back home- it was a great day... oh yea- the migraine returned for the entire 5.5 hr drive home... luckily it wasnt bad in the dark quiet car... but at the one rest stop... with the noise, lights, movement- i questioned whether I was safe to be driving... but Im still here- and so is everyone else i shared the road with <3.

Looking forward to Baltimore 10miler saturday 6/16 and the Father's day 10k 6/17.....

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Next Up: InSaNITy Sets in....

We're in June.. .I've now had enough time to recover fully from my 1st full season of building up my mileage and experimenting with running a few ultras. And, in short- I'm SOLD..... I want nothing more than to be an active part of the ultra running community. I want the lifestyle that lets me train for maximal physical, mental and spiritual endurance. I want to be able to continue to share my growth as a person as well as a runner in hopes that  my selfish lifestyle inspires others to follow their true passion.... hopefully eventually finding a balance between the selfish hours I spend working on myself and the good I can bring to the world.... not sure how to get to that point, but just stating that I hope I never lose the want to be a do-gooder. :).
To do this... means it will take an even greater time commitment to the sport, and even less time given to things I'm not fully utilizing or are not directly benefiting myself or my community. The Focus must narrow. Sacrifice comes.

I can't express the inner turmoil that begins to build when I picture my ideal weekend runs, setting out early to find a trail head and begin my run by 4:45/5am heading out into resolute areas of trees, rocks, water, and hills (Lots of Hills :) ).....covering miles takign the time to document the moments that are priceless, taking the time to eat or walk or whatever only to eventually find my way back to my car or bike in the mid-afternoon and taking myself to the nearest lake with a swimming area large enough worth lapping a few times and then heading back home for a fantastic shower and restorative yoga practice before getting a little overly dressed up to meet some friends or someday a significant other dinner and a beer and heading to bed at 10pm so that I can wake up for equally wonderful though shorter day outside.

But I've got to be kidding myself.... theres no way I can maintain the relationships I have while building more and never being around.... I feel totally disconnected and yet more connected than ever. My guess is that this is not profoundly unique and that any time you "take the road less travelled" there are many many moments of "Maybe the highway was a better choice...."  But I'm making my decision.

 A great teacher during my undergrad years took me, shaky with anxiety about my decision to change my major (after the entireRoanoke college athletic training department made exceptions for and aided me in joinging their program despite being over a full semester behind) into his office and said, "Meg, I've got this great rule for myself and I think you should consider trying it: Make a decision, and do it before 10am. This way you can't spend the whole day worrying about its possible consequences." The point being of course: every choice in life has consequences, some will hurt others or upset others- but you must decide for yourself where you are going. None of those people will live your life for you; And therefore just Decide and Do. The energy spent worrying isn't helping anyone. If those effected chose to be hurt/ upset by your decisions, then whether or not you agonized over it will mean very little to them. So thats it, I am chosing to be an ultra-runner. Not a marathoner, not a 5k sprinter... I will likely never see a 5K under 18 minutes in my life (unless my goals change drastically)...and this is ok with me.... as long as I can leave home in the morning with a credit card, water, and flash light- running and get home with all of my joints intact and a smile on my face.

There is a lot of work ahead of me, but I've already proven to myself I can and will do it. But there are no could end in an instant.... and I guess I fear if I let anyone down on my way...then when/if I fall I'll be left stranded. I've been told more than once this is NOT the case, but trust is hard for me.... how can Anyone claim anything about he future? No one can claim at any present moment how they will think or feel or Act in the future moments. But this a risk we face in Every relationship, in every contract we sign or in every promise we make to ourselves and others.

I'm not sure where this is going but I feel in my heart that writing is the best way for me to express myself and to sort through my thoughts. I guess in some strange way I'm writing this as an apology.

An Apology to my friends that wonder where I've gone, and wish that I was less passionate just once in a while so I would make a little more time and effort to see them, or maybe at least just find some other hobby to talk about.

 And its  an apology to my parents who I am apparently worrying sick with my night time runs and ever increasing dreams of leaving the country more often for Very Long runs with great risks (in their eyes). I'm not doing it to scare or worry anyone, I really do take the risk into account and listen to everyone's advice- I end up following my heart because every time I have thus far, I have been happy and overjoyed to find where it has taken me.

Also An apology to my Eating Disorder, because despite My Inner Sickness's voice attempting to guide me be back to a self that works to please others and fit in with everyone she thinks is "normal" and "perfect" I have chosen to blatantly turn my back on her- I quit on my Eating Disorder 2.5 years ago and she reminds me often how angry and hurt she STILL is. Everyday I cope with this anger- it is an odd internal imbalance- I truly feel some internal anger with myself. Its as if being who I am Happiest being is failed to "suffer enough." How dare I be happy... positive, loving, joyful..... but I AM.....and my scars from the 19yr battle are not only internal, they are external and apparent to the world..... as long as I can see those scars.... I know better than to ever be tempted by those lies. Yes- this is WHY I have it tattooed on my ankle- the same place I tie my running shoes.... and  my left ankle, because as a child I loved that in sports utilizing the legs (gymastics primarily) I was a lefty- which I was dopey enough to feel special about. And just like most human beings.... despite the fact that I am not truly all that special- I Like to Feel Special :).

This is also an apology to the many organizations I feel I should be doing more to help via my talents or ability to promote.... but now is not the time..... And maybe I'm painfully wrong somehow and I will look back to regret not giving more of my time to building my relations with present options....but I truly feel I'm not done exploring enough to make any commitments to anyone who'd need to depend on me for any extended period of time.

So I'm deeply deeply Sorry that there isn't enough time for me to do Everything in my heart that I wish I could, but for now.... I'm training; I'm running when the sun rises and often when the sun sets, and when Im not running, I am swimming, biking or practicing yoga or just plain resting. Please ... Join me.... for any of it, for all of it.... its a long road and I invite anyone to come out to share even just a few "miles" of it with me.
I can only pray that the time I commit to a passion so solitary in and of itself  will in time build itself to be something greater than it seems, but without truly committing to it... I will never know, and THAT is a risk I'm not really willing to take.

But Hell... things change.... maybe that 17min 5k sounds good... I'll let you know tomorrow ;). Afterall I'm human... and better yet- I'm female which by the old standards grants me the right to change my mind as often as I'd like. Just Kidding.

Up Coming Races in the works:

Mason Dixon Longest Day 100k- uncomfirmed;
Bear Brook 53.4mi Race- pending commitment from my mother (she wants to be there- strange for me- but Awesome!!)
Catocin 50K- pending me mailing the application :/
Heritage rail trail 50k
Cheat Mountain 50miler
Air force Marathon
And beyond that-pending my decision to commit to my first 100 miler (late sept/ Oct)
Marine Corps Marathong with Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness- a memorial run <3

Thanks, as always, to everyone who loves me despite my insanity.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Volunteering @ Old Dominion 100 mile Cross Country Run 6/1-6/3

Another experience with a 100mile race under my belt and now the inspiration, motivation and anticipation of my first 100 mile run is building exponentially!

I agreed to volunteering this event prior to sleeping after my last 36hr haul when I volunteered at MMT 100miler... perhaps it was a lapse in judgement... nonetheless I planned everything else around it and made it into a weekend. And in hindsight- this was a great decision.

I made it a point to Visit my friend Liz in Berryville VA after literally having driven by her house on the way to/ from MMT. We didnt have much time together due to the logistics of my weekend and her work schedule but we got a very pleaseant 4ish mile run in through her town, and I got see the pool she gaurds/ teaches lessons at every summer. I started Friday feeling ridiculously ill, in fact worse than I remember feeling in a long time. My stomach ached in a whole new way, so instead of training I slept until I had to leave. So when I made it through this run without getting sick or feeling any worse, I was relieved.

After our run, I changed and tried to wash up as best I could since I knew it'd be a while till my next shower. And then I headed the 45mi or so down to Woodstock VA. During this drive T-storm #2 began (I had driven through one earlier in the day as well)... it was pouring as I pulled into the parking lot at Shenandoah County Fairgrounds.... I wasn't too surprised. It would make sense the rain would be at its hardest at the same moment I should be getting out of the car, so I hesitated about 5 minutes and then set out for the door into the main building.

Upon arrival, another runner volunteering for the weekend,  Charles was there to great me/ holding the door open. I found David and soon met Collin- who I'd agreed to being a safety runner for through the 75-87 mile portion of the course. In no time I'd met the RD Ray and his wife Kelly and another runner. The next couple hours of prep for the following day passed quickly with lots of talk about running. We all (4 total) headed to bed on the cement floor of the fairgrounds building around 9pm. (With the weather just starting to subside- tents didnt sound too fun.) I don't really know if I really fell asleep at any point, but I assumed the broken sleep was better than nothing, so I kept trying all night.

3am or so, I honestly didn't have the time on me, nor did I think knowing the time would help me in anyway we were up and at 'em. I was meeting runners I've met before and new ones I hadn't as I was watching the preparations for the long day ahead.

After a short prayer the runners were off circling around the fairgrounds as us spectators watched their headlamps bouncing around in the distance. They circled back around passing us, David was already upfront in the pack top 3 runners.

Charles and I took our time getting to the first aid station where we needed to bring Collin's race things for Chris- his crew driving from Atlanta overnight who was running a little behind and would meet us. We went for a 40min run snagging a short but pleasant 3.7mile-ish run. We hung out there for a bit and I met the female winner to-be's crew members, a group it was a pleasure running into over the course of the next 24+ hours. they were energetic throughout and in great spirits. (mentally noted for qualities I'd hope my crew would have when I eventually am in need of one.) Well... my energy didnt last long, we stopped back at the fairgrounds, and I pulled out my sleeping bag and curled up on the cement floor again and was OUT for a good hour. Then I read a bit as waited patiently for Charles to wake up from his nap.

We Drove up 81N to The Cedar Creek Battlefield visitor center and then followed a portion of the tour route before heading to McAllister's Deli (a sandwich chain I'd never heard of but that brought great excitement to Charles). We ate a good and fulfilling lunch (it was in fact a pretty great place, somewhere I would stop again) and then headed to Shenandoah National Park to get to the visitor center for yet another stamp to add to Charles' Passport of state parks. We were both low on energy and concerned for time since our aid station at mile 75 of the ongoing race back in Woodstock was opening at 2:30pm. So we spent a few minutes enjoying the views and the information at the visitor center. My attempt at the Appalacian Trail became a constant thought process as skimmed through national park trail maps and photo books-  a very long term goal of sorts.

We headed to Elizabeth's Furnace, the Aid station location, were we met Dave who was in charge of the aid station. I prepped all of my things to run since at this time, I had no idea when or what to expect. In no time it seemed, the first runner was coming through, jogging in some mildly apparent discomfort as slowed to walk as he approached gripping his stomach in complaint of nausea. He took minimal nutrition and his crew aided him and his safety runner had already been ready to go. And within only a couple of minutes Olivier (first time 100 mile runner) was off to fininsh and win the OD100. Not far behind was David looking mostly comfortable, except of course as usual astonishing everyone with the blood streaks down his shirt from each nipple. The other aid stations volunteers offered bandaids or vaseline or anything..... and as usual any aid was denied. Gatorade topped off and some coke downed and David was off as well working diligently to narrow the gap with Oliver and eventually finishing in second place. The third runner was also not far back and moved quickly through the aid station.

Groups of crew member came and went as runners came and went. It was a great experience seeing the runners each with there own formula for survival. Chris eventually arrived and let me know to be expecting Collin around 8/8:30pm which eased my nerves since I had better idea of how everything was going for Collin, and in terms of what I could do to be helpful while volunteering.

Collin did come in around 8:30pm looking much better than I'd been warned he may be after the crew members and Chris had seen him last around mile 65. After few mintutes- dosing with chococlate milk, lactaid, S-caps and what not we were onto the course, which as expected was mostly a hike. In a 100 mile race its much more likely you will make it to the finish if you learn to let the trails decide your next move. In other words.. if your running pace up a mountain isnt much faster than your hiking pace but it uses more energy... its probably not the best way to approach the course... if  running the steep techinical downhill risks breaking your ankle or other serious injury, then its probably not worth the risk.... each runner has to decide this for themselves based on their race and their training and how they feel in that moment. As a safety runner... my only job is to make sure my runner is, as stated "safe" which to me means mentally supported by companionship and physically supported by being able to see and hear another human moving at the pace they are... not racing them just being- keeping the subconcious focused on moving forward and distracting the conscious mind as much as possible away from the broken records of how fatigued or painful the runner may think they feel. The body can handle much much much more. So moving at 3.5 mph (estimated) uphill and 4-4.5mph downhill I was quite impressed that Collin was maintaining full conversation. I was more than certain he actually had enough to run most of this section, but he was be cautious which seemed to have been a good decision in the end.

 The temperature after sunset began to rapidly decline. As we reached the Veech east aid station I was thrilled to see a fire place. Spending a brief period here warming up, and fueling up we were off down the road for the last major (2nd to last) climb of the run. The climb up the hill was long and steady, I couldn't have imagined how different the climb would have felt if I'd had 83 miles on my legs already. These last 3 miles or so passed quickly for me, as the techincal trail cleared to a nice soft trail and into the Veech west aid station. I was freezing by this point, lost feeling in both hands and couple of toes (my normal), and lost focus when I saw Chris there to aid Collin and went in search of my bag with warmer clothing. Sadly, Charles had brought everything but that bag since I didn't even expect him to be at this aid station yet, I hadnt mentioned the bag, my mistake. So I found my car and headed back to elizabeth's furnace and as quickly as possible found my bag and put on my sweats. Thanking everyone and saying goodnight since Elizabeth's furnace was officially closed at 12am and it was now 12:20am.

Back at Veech West I cozied up around the fire with other crew ppl/ volunteers. Runners came through slowly shedding their safety runners- some joining us by the fire and others headed back to a place to sleep. Around 2 am One of the female runners parents (who were her crew) were beginning to get rather concerned. Another runner's wife was also starting to get antsy. I however was now warm, half sleepy and wanted to run, so I took off backtracking on the trail to see who or if i could see any runners on their way. I went a good mile up and found the female runner with her safety runner, cold but moving well. I never did find the other runner, but decided to head back down, at least I could share that she was on her way, and I was now quite warm and very excited as I nearly sprinted down the trail with my headlamp, just seeing how it was to be moving quickly on trail at night, an experiment of sorts (to which the results concluded I would be running this course next year- if all goes well). Back at the Aid station I remembered the constant talk of ticks, and since I now had sweats on instead my shorts I thought I should take a look.... Right ankle #1 tick... looking hungry (EWWW) got him off of me and tried to stay calm since I was around ppl, and becoming hysterical would just look on the inside of my pants was tick #2... and #3..... Interally I was freaking out (if one of these suckers gets me, I may never run again- was the only thought)... I double, triple and quadruple checked my pants, ankles and even inside my shoes for anything else... I found nothing but proceeded to check for the next 10 hours randomyl fearing I missed one that would crawl up my pants and find its way to some horrible locaiton where I wouldnt see or notice until it was too late. (Yes I have a bit of phobia).

Anyway I was tired, I decided it was now or never for the 30min drive back to the fairgrounds, so Off i went. I grabbed my sleeping bag and found the cement floor near one of the finishers, Dan. We talked for a long time, and then i attempted to sleep, failed we talked some more, another attempt was made- and it was breifly successful, totalling about 40min of rest. I just laid there trying to keep warm, and again Dan and I were talking again. It was time for coffee, this sleep thing is a waste of effort.

Im not really sure how the next few hours passed, there were many different ppl and faces and names exchanged, for which I remember 50% at least, and so many stories and experiences from the race.

Breakfast and awards were at 9am. So we all (with the exception of David btw who left right after his 100 mile race to get to Bel Air MD for his 17yr streak running a 5K) had a good meal and from 39th place (out 60 who signed up and 55 who started) up through 1st place we watched/ listened to the 100 miler champs who had successfully conquered their minds and had trained their bodies well enough to survive the challenge. For many at OD this was their first 100 mile run, and for many others is was one of many. The speaches from the runners were heartfelt and warm. It was a fantastic experience to be able to share with so many wonderful people.

And then the weekend went on.... but there wasn't really anything else about running.... so I'll end this tale here.

Great Big Thank You to David for the heads up to help out at OD100, to Collin for giving me an excuse to run some of the course/ and keeping me awake on the drive home, to Charles for taking me on the exploration of Northern VA State Parks adventure and running with me, and driving me (and the coffee :)), and to Dan for the Coffee and the company in the AM hours, and.....Dave for the Aid station, and Kelly, Ray, Kim.... the list is sort of endless, but I'm just grateful- so Thank you!

Heading to CT for Litchfield Hills Road Race next weekend 6/10/12. Should be a quicky :).