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Saturday, November 20, 2010

JFK Race Report

Because I was in the 5am start, I had to get up at 2:30 am to leave by 3am. The pre-race meeting was at 4:20am. I was all set until I got turned around on the highway and added 15mins to my travel! The GPS was telling me I was going to be late, so I got behind a trucker and hauled ass. I made it by 4:25, heard the tail end of the meeting and had enough time to change and get to the race start(we had to walk a mile out to the start)

Off we went at exactly 5am, in the DARK. The first 2 miles or so were up about a 5% grade, then we turned in to the Appalacian Trail parking lot. We spent a bit of time on the trail and then came out on another road to continue up the mountain. Lots of walking and chit-chatting at this point. I was happy to be going uphill on the pavement but had I known what I was in for, I would have MUCH preferred it on the down hill. This was the worst of the hills, and we were getting them out of the way in the beginning which was nice. We headed back on to the trails and were assaulted by rocks for the next 8ish miles, oy. It was tough. Between the dark and the rocks, I was having a heck of a time. I was keeping up with the crowd the best I could as I wanted to have the bonus of other people's headlamps to find my way through the dark :) Once the sun came up I could really SEE what I was trying to get over. Talk about ankle turners! There was not a smooth runnable space in site. I moved along at a safe pace, as I did not want to get hurt at this point in the race as i knew it would be much easier terrain once I hit the towpath. The first handler station I did not expect to see my *crew* so I wasn't looking for them. Apparently, they showed up 5 mins after I came through.

A picture of the aid station to prove they had been there... ;)

The last section of the AT was CRAZY! The last mile out to the second crew station was down the side of a cliff with switchbacks that made my head spin. I kept focused on the trail in front of me so I wouldn't look down. Yikes! I was really feeling the downhills and rocks on my quads and was looking forward to NO rocks and flat :) I got to see my crew at the exit of the AT :)

Coming down the last section into the aid station...
Now we were headed on to the C&O towpath, which was essentially flat for the next 20-something miles. I fetl great at this point, about 15 miles in and was ahead of my planned time, but still within the range I wanted to be in. I wanted to finish, and get in at 12 hours. I was on target for that, and I was happy. I ended up finding 2 women to run with for probably 20 miles, on and off. We did the run/walk for a while, but it hurt me too much to stop running :) so I kept running. It was absolutely a perfect day. The weather was great, the canal was nice along side the trail and every aid station had super happy upbeat station workers :) I was happy for the flat, and there were so many runners, you were never alone. Some time along here the 7am 'elite' runners started coming through. They were AMAZING! The winning male came in SUB 6HRS! I cannot even fathom...I had finished the marathon at 6 hours!
I usually smile throughout races...I am so happy to be out running!

I was supposed to meet my brother at the Mile 38 crew station as he was going to run the last 12 miles with me. I got to the station and couldn't find him or my SIL. Turned out, they were sitting further down the trail! Well, I finally found my SIL after waiting around for 5-10 some smoothie and told her I had to go, and once she found him to just have him catch up to me as I wans't moving that fast :) Within the next mile, he caught up and we were on our way. At that point, I was headed for an 11 hour finish, possibly less. I wasn't concerning myself with it as I was just happy to be there, having fun and feeling good. I was starting to feel a twinge in my left ankle, but I really started to feel it once we hit the road...with 8.5 miles to go. The road section was 'supposed' to be, no. It was rolling...VERY rolling. It was a nice country road through farms and nice houses. We were moving along at a decent clip- 12 minute miles according to my OCD brother ;)
Us, coming into the last crew station...
We hit the final crew station and my SIL with her neon pink *Go Julie* sign :) So we got our last fuel (I was on ginger at that point as the quease had finally set in) We had about 4ish miles to go. I was definitely feeling my ankle, so it was tough going down any hills, and I did take a few walk-up-the-hill breaks. My brother started to pick up the pace a little to bring me home, and I was able to keep up...barely, lol ;) We were in town at this point and the end was in sight. The last mile was flat so I could just give whatever I had left to get to the finish...and I did! Somebody 'smoked' me in the shoot but I didn't care. It was great, I had finished ahead of schedule and did the second half faster than the first. I have never done that before, and am happy I did...that is definitely the way to go!

*that time is the 7am starter time, you have to add 2 hrs for us 5am starters :)

A very nice gal at the end took my chip off my sneaker, which was great as I couldn't have untied my shoes if I tried, lol. I got my finisher's medal and got to see my SIL again. They went to feed my brother and I went inside to get warm. We stayed to watch the awards, and I called Dave and the kids to let them know I finished. We headed home after that and I took a MUCH needed shower, had more green smoothie and iced my ankle.
I feel great about this race. I know I could have broken 11 hours had I not waited for my brother, but it doesn't matter. I am so happy I got to run with him, had a good race and felt good throughout. That means more to me than my time. :)

Now, I am dealing with the Ultra-pneumonia and walkin' like a grandma as my ankles no longer flex, lol. But, I need to mend quick as I am running a Turkey Day 5 miler with Jeffrey on thursday! Or, maybe Dave will need to do that one... ;)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dropped Down to 26.2 due to Broken Feet :(


This race, which I was SO excited for, was not what I had hoped it would be.

I have chosen to ignore the slightly nagging isuses I have felt in my feet. Don't know when it started, but its predominantly in my big toe knuckles of both feet, extending up the bone..sometimes I can feel it top AND bottom of the 'knuckle' but anyways...

Spent the night with Trail Pixie so we could get up and go early. Hubby and the kids were going to meet me there later in the morning. We got there early and had plenty of time to chit-chat, and get excited! I was. I have been really looking forward to this race. We headed off a little late into the chilly morning. It was gorgeous out...everything was frosty, and once the sun came up a bit more it was absolutely sparkly! I was jealous of all the people who brought their cameras to catch these great pics.

The trails were, well, REAL trails- hard to see, single track and switch-backs. I was thinking to myself that the last lap was going to be a b*tch as it would be getting dark and it would be a challenge for me to find and stay on the trails, lol. The aid stations were great, and the 7m aid station had a Bluegrass band! It was awesome, and made me think of hubby who would be at the loop start/finish waiting for me. I was feeling great, really great. I was going faster than I expected to, and just 'ran' with it. I never plan times per se, I just run how I feel and I was feeling the pace I was at so I figured I would just go with it until I needed to slow down. Slowing down came in an unexpected way...

By about mile 10-ish, I started to really notice my feet. They hurt. Now, running ultras hurts. It is par for the course. You can't run that distance without pain. It is up to you the runner to decide which pain is *normal* and which is something to pay attention to. This pain was not something I was used to feeling.

Went through the first lap in 2:19 which was great time for me. I said hello to the family and got going quick as it was COLD and the longer I stopped the more chilled I would get. Let hubby know what I would need for the next lap and I was off. By the first aid station(mile 3 of the lap) I knew I was in trouble, but I was still in the 'maybe I can ignore it phase'...yeah, no. I was reduced to a hobble probably somewhere between mile 3 and 7. The pain in my feet was about an 8 out of 10, 10 being childbirth. I could NOT believe it. Every root, rock, stumble...sent shooting pain through my feet. I was having the mental battle at this point- what should I do...could I walk and shuffle and still finish? Should I just drop down to the marathon, so I could still have an official finish instead of a DNF which was a possibility if I tried to continue on and didn't start my last lap by 3:30...

During what would be my last 6 miles, I got to see all my running friends. Honestly, it was awesome. I saw Trail Pixie running strong, Michelle and KZ who looked GREAT and I am sure they finished strong despite their own challenges coming into this race, and Dan, doing his first 50 who looked fantastic...I felt SO proud of them all and I can't wait to hear their reports!!! :)

Honestly soon as I started thinking I was going to stop, the race was over for me. I was defeated, spent most of the last 6m crying like a girl. I was disappointed, angry, hurting, worried that my family would be disappointed...and I just wanted to be done and get off my feet. I had a couple moments as I approached the end where I thought maybe I could go on, but if I got worse, I had a LONG way to get back. So, as I came through the shoot, I told the officials I was dropping to the marathon. They sent me out for the last 1.2 miles, and Jeffrey came out to run the last 1/2-3/4 mile with me. He said to me, "Mommy, why do you keep doing these races when you do so bad?" Well, that's kids for you :)

I finished in 5:35. Amazing, considering what I was dealing with. Could I have done another 25 miles in 6.5 hours? I don't know. It wouldn't have been pretty and probably would have had me doing more damage than good. I changed, had some green smoothie, chit-chatted a bit and left for home. It was what it was.
By the time I got home, I was in so much pain I was really afraid I had done some real damage. I called my Dr. and she said to go to the ER. Off we went. They took xrays, etc. Try explaining to 4 different people at a hospital HOW exactly I came to be in this state. I felt like they were trying to decide if it was xrays or a psych consult that I needed. In the end, there were no stress fractures(which is what we were thinking) or any other injuries that she could see. She didn't know what to tell me, so she said rest and ice and motrin. Duh... ;)

Interestingly, despite going to bed with my feet THROBBING, I woke up this morning with NO PAIN. Well, the usual stiffness/soreness that is to be expected, but my feet are fine, just a barely detectable soreness. Uh....what the heck is up with that? I'm not even going to dwell on it. Plain and simple, yesterday was not my day. I run because I love it. I run with joy. When it isn't fun anymore, I stop. By mile 26 it wasn't fun so I stopped. It is what it is. Sigh.

Every ultra is a learning experience. I learn on physical, emotional and running levels. Something was off yesterday, and as a result I had some issues.
Physically- I need new shoes. The Dr. said something about wearing stiff shoes while my feet were healing, and something clicked. I have been wearing my Addidas trail shoes for a while. Not the trail shoe of choice for, um, anyone. I happen to like them bc they are flexible and sort of chushion-y. I am thinking that maybe that isn't so great. I need a stiffer shoe, and I can always put a gel insert in.
Emotionally-I do really believe in my running philosophy. Run while its fun, and stop when its not. I did just that. Though today I am feeling emotional about it, I *did* finish a trail marathon, which is still quite a feat. It is something to be proud of. I know I can finish 50 miles, as I have. And I will again. :)
Running-Mental 'space' is so important in these kinds of races. You can feel physically fine and your brain can do you in. Your brain can also convince you to do something you physically shouldn't. I like to think I had a balance yesterday of my mind and body deciding together that stopping was best.

So, now I am going to rest. Scarf down some major green smoothies, and some killer salad today...maybe go out and hang with the chickens and plan some bulbs. No running for me until at least the end of the week if I can force myself to wait that long. I really want to be able to do JFK. And finish. So rest is in order, and I will play it by feel.

Congratulations to EVERYONE who got out and ran the Stone Cat 50...the fact that you walked up to the starting line to run is an amazing feat in and of itself. Be proud :)

Stone Cat 50...done baby!

Well, not the 50 but the 26.2 :) and I am a-ok with that.

I was completely unsure what yesterday was going to be. Having not been able to run more than 10 miles in the last 2...3? months I was woefully unprepared to run the 50. Hell, in my book even the marathon was out of my reach. But, I was going to go out and see what I could do. I knew I had all day to do the marathon, hell...I could have done a lap, come in and taken a nap and gone out and finished and still come in before the course closed, lol.

Stayed with the ever-so-lovely Trail Pixie the night before, as has become tradition, so we could stay up too late and talk :) Then, up at the crack of dawn (hell BEFORE dawn!) to head to the course. There, we signed in and had plenty of time to meet up with fellow TUGers and other runner-friends. The race started 15mins. late due to some sort of telephone pole *incident* causing traffic mayhem resulting in people arriving late. We were getting worried about Steve who was not yet there but alas, he did arrive with books in hand. (he's an author, you can buy his book here:
  I am already 2/3 done with it...I stayed up late last night and read 'til my eyes bled...) We all headed to the start and got ready for whatever the day had in store.

I decided to stay with Steve as he is SO damn consistant with his time and I knew if I went out with him I wouldn't go out too fast and would have the best chance of getting the most miles in. Plus, I think I have told him a hundred times I wanted to or would run with him...then didn't. So, it was time to make things right. The first lap was a blast(at least for me, Steve may have wanted to slap me or possibly tell me to STFU but he didn't...'cause he is just a nice guy like that) and went pretty smoothly until I decided to trip over AIR at the end of the first lap, taking the entire weight of my body on my hands. Ow. My lower body was ok so on we went but damn if I couldn't use my right hand for the rest of the day.

We made a sort of quick transition through the start/finish and started out on lap 2. Not too far in, I started to falter a bit. Steve told me "Bitch, you are slowin' me DOWN!" (actually, he very tenatively and politely said "Um, this pace is a little off for me..." but the first comment is far funnier, dontcha think?) To which I replied that he should go on as he was much more likely to finish than I. We wished each other good luck and off he went. I had really enjoyed my miles with him and I was sorry I could not have kept up for longer (I had more stories!!!) Ah, well. Next time :)

I downed an 5 hour energy drink and crossed my fingers that I could at least finish the marathon(which was my secret squirrel goal) Several minutes later, I noticed that mentally clearer than I had been in MONTHS! Seriously though, I would drink one of these daily if they weren't so dagum expensive. I was thinking I could quite possibly finish this...or at least doing 3 laps. Too bad my body wasn't receiving the same message...

I ended up meeting up with a few women, one of which I ran with until the end. She was a LOVELY woman and I really enjoyed my time spent with her. I realized during this lap that I would in fact, at the very least, finish the marathon and I was thrilled. I was so happy to be out on the trails, doing something that I loved, that is such a part of me. I was so thrilled to be able to be out there, shuffling along, in spite of everything else that has been going on with me. I truly was not sure I would be in any shape to run even one lap. So, to be able to run was an emotional ending for me, that's for sure.

But, before I got to the end, I started to notice a few things...little signs my body may not be handling things. Things I wouldn't expect to feel until much later in the day/race. My feet were starting to give me trouble, my legs were getting sore(which is par for the course, but it came much earlier than I expected) and my kidneys hurt. I was warned, that although my kidney function was back to normal after VT and all was good, once you have renal failure you are more suseptable to it. Even though I was/am now super-ocd about my fluids and output, they were still getting 'irritated' and that concerned me as again, that is something that doesn't usually happen until later in the race. But, considering the meds and herbs I am on, my kidneys are already working pretty hard so...though mentally I felt like I could go out for another lap even though there was no way I would finish the 50, I decided to err on the side of caution and just be happy with the marathon.

After I changed into dry clothes (and many layers of them, at that)and made an emotional call to my Hubby letting him know I indeed finish the marathon and talked to my kiddos,  I joined Trail Pixie (who SMOKED my ass as she WALKED most of the marathon...this girl is amazing. She can power walk with passion! Seriously, she is the BOMB!!!) to watch the rest of the race unfold. We had a GREAT time chatting our fool heads off and cheering on everyone coming in. We got to see our peeps go out for their last lap and I watched the clock dutifully so I could officially start to worry, when necessary.(hey, its a mom thing. Its how I roll.) We were ELATED when we got to see each one of our TUGers come in...2 of which completed their first 50 miler!

I have to say, though, waiting for and then seeing some of my friends come in is a very emotional thing. I can't even explain it. I don't know if its because I know them better, know of their challenges, or they just push my emo button but...waiting for KZ and Steve do that to me (though I will say I did get a wee emo over knowing BH Dan finished the marathon after SUCH a hard spring/summer) I get very teary when I see KZ come in. He is a dear friend. I want to say more than that but...he *knows* how I feel. And of the funniest men I know, (though I secretly think he is a teddy bear on the inside :)...I will ask his wife about that someday...)guts it out to the can you NOT get teary over that? I also cannot leave until I know all TUGers have been accounted for.

Then there was a newbie, J who after several attempts finished her first 50. Holy my....I am still teary about it. The look on her face when she finished was priceless. She did a great job and I am so glad we got to see her finish. The very last girl to cross the finish line was there doing her first 50 as well, and EVERY time I saw her all day she had a BEAUTIFUL smile on her face. Everyone that was still there made a human tunnel for her to run through to cros the finish line...the 'tunnel of love' :) How's that to top your emo basket? Yeah. :)

All of that and so much more is why I love this sport. The friends I have made, the time spent on the trails, the support from fellow runners and all the crews and people who come out and volunteer at aid stations cooking and catering to us runnin' is a community like very few others I have had the chance to experience. Amazing.

I can't wait for the next race :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mandatory pre-Stone Cat post.

Hey, everyone else is doing it...and I've always been a follower ;)


Several interesting things to report. Still having good days and not so good days, still struggling emotionally some days with what I wish I COULD do, but I am hanging on even if some days its only by a thread.

Sunday I ran in the Busa Bushwhack, a somewhat challenging rocky, root-y, hilly 10 miler. It was a good test for me to see what I had in me for SC. Each loop in SC is 12.5miles, and rolling. I did ok. Not wonderfully, but ok and I certianly enjoyed myself. It was a beautiful day for a run, the woods were gorgeous and due to my blazing speed I spent much of the race alone. When I finished, I felt weak, but not too bad overall.

So, what does that mean for Stone Cat? Well, I am signed up for the 50 and in my wildest dreams I would love to finish. Chances of that? Eh, I don't know. My brain says no problem, totally possible but my body says "What you smokin' woman?" I think it will very much be a lap by lap kind of day. The 10 miles took alot out of me, I hate to admit. I know that running less (ie 4-5m) is probably more realistic. Even running the 26.2 option will be a challenge, but I may give it a go. The time limit is still the same, I would have 13 hours to finish. I am pretty sure I could crawl and finish the marathon in less than 13 hours, lol. So, that is my goal. If I run the first lap, come in and bundle up and head out to walk the second lap I will get a marathon finishers sweatshirt. Considering the last several months...I'll take it. Besides, this is a huge TUG family reunion day and really...I am actually more excited to see everyone than I am to run... ;)

In other news...I now have to eat shoe.
Remember my tirade about where all the raw vegans went? How they were all eating meat now? Yeah...about that...
I have been looking at my diet. Listening to what I am craving (you crave what you need...)and since it seems like what I *would* have eaten is not working for me and my stomach is not loving it....I looked back to what has worked, what I did before I ran/walked the Relay For Life (when I was first really sick) and I thought, hmmm....something tells me I need to revisit.

When I became a vegetarian, then vegan, part of my reasoning beyond simply not liking meat, was that I felt if I could not kill/prepare an animal, I had no right to eat it. (I am COMPLETELY against hunting, however if one hunts, and then preps their own animal to feed their family out of need I have far more respect than if you are hunting for sport)I always felt I could catch and prep a fish, though I never actually have, if I had to. So, in my vegetarian life, I have consumed some fish. I am allergic to shellfish(plus- bottom feeders, ew) so that is not an option.

I thought about eating cooked vegan, as for whatever reason, my body is really not enjoying raw. I will spare y'all the details, but it isn't working. Even green smoothies aren't working. I can do fruit smoothies but add greens and life is not good. Though, under ideal circumstances(ie better health) I would totally not think twice about doing a fruit based diet. Right now though, where my health is generally NOT good and I have alot of healing to do...I need to make some changes. This was very hard for me to accept as I truly believe in the lifestyle I live, consuming a predominantly raw diet. But now I am eating whatever does not make me want to hurl, and well balanced it is not.

So, cooked veggies, quinoa, barley, and salmon have been added to my diet. I am drinking fruit smoothies still, but to get through this time, I am going to need to make some drastic changes. I am still avoiding most grains, (rice, wheat and corn) but cooking my greens, rustic grains and other non-starchy cooked veggies are the basis of my diet now. And, guess what? I feel better. No intestinal distress. None. My achiness has decreased. I have more energy. Go figure.

I am still struggling with my choice even though clearly it was the right one for me right now. One more lesson in letting go, I guess. I need to do whatever is necessary to heal my body right now. If that means I need to forgo the raw diet for be it. Funny, Dr. Jerkface was right about one thing- I needed to be open minded and look at my diet(though this isn't what he meant, the message was there) So, thank you Dr. Jerkface. You were right about this. I will give you that.

My plan for this week is to get a few runs in, get as much sleep as possible and eat really well. Then Saturday will be what it will be. I will head out with friends, enjoy the trails, and be grateful for the opportunity to be there at all. I know in the grand scheme of things I am so much better off than many Lyme sufferers. I thank Spirit for that every day.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Run Across NH

The report. :) I am anxiously awaiting Sherpa John's report, but here is mine from the last 40-45 miles.

SJ's fiance called me just before 9pm saying they would be at the aid station I was to meet them at in the next 2 hours so I should leave to come. I live about 2 hours from there so I got in my car and headed out. So much for a nap! I had been following his Twitter reports and had a 'feeling' earlier in the day that he might be having a tough time so I decided to meet him/them at mile 79 instead of mile 90 like I had originally planned. As it turns out, I got there at 10:45 and they didn't come in until almost 2am! I got another nap in while waiting (well, until the police woke me up asking me WHY I was hanging out....eeep!) They came in, ate, rested and we were off at 2:43 am. The next 10 miles or so were...interesting! There were 2 other runners, G, L and I along with SJ who was VERY tired at this point. We spent the next 3-4 hours on either side of him keeping him on the road and going forward. Actually, G and I each took a side and held him up while he continued to move forward...and sleep! It was amazing! He was literally sleep running! Out cold, but still moving. Wow!

Once it got light out, he was able to come back around. Anyone who has run at night or a long ultra can surely confirm that the night is the hardest time to run, particularly that 2-5am time. Once the sun comes up/it gets light out, you can rally. And he did. We hit a Dunkin Donuts and used the bathroom, some people ate and off we went. There were some new runners that joined us at that point for a few miles, as well as a young guy wanting to run his first marathon distance. SJ was running more at this point (we pretty much walked through the night- 10 or 15 miles, at a good pace) I had to switch to running movements, however slow, as my walking muscles were yelling at me.

We dropped of the two overnight girls G and L in the next 2 aid stops and ran for a bit until we picked up some new people. SJ was doing great, despite MANY physical things that were bothering him, wow. The weather had been pretty good throughout...until about noon. Prior to this time it had been cool and clear- overnight was chilly but certianly tolerable. By noon it started to rain, and sometime thereafter started to snow/rain. No worries though, at that point it wasn't awful. Well, there were a couple of bridges that made me a little nervous, but that could have been an equilibrium thing...The scenery was beautiful- country roads, ocean views, and downtown Portsmouth was amazing. Well, until we got lost...

Yeah, we got lost. SJ was trying to cut out some miles as he was hurting and he just wanted to get to the coast. So, in an effort to cut out about 4 miles we took a slightly different route...which probably didn't cut out anything at all, lol. But we went through a very nice neighborhood complete with sheep! I bleeted at them...they did not respond. Damn sheep. ;)

Once we found our way, and got to the last aid station I was simply giddy. 2.5 miles to go.We picked up a runner that had dropped earlier, and ran on as a pack of 5. About a mile out, SJ picked up the pace, wanting to sprint to the end. DUDE! This guy just ran 120+ miles and took off SPRINTING! It was all I could do to keep up with him on my sad, swollen stumps! We sprinted in to the Science Center with cheering fans shouting SJ's name. We ran to the beach and let SJ do his thing. He carries a vial of water from the CT river (the point he starts at) to put in the ocean. Very emotional moment for him, I am sure, but for me too. I was in awe of what he just accomplished.

After a few pics, we headed into the science center for a reception and dry clothes. My SIL, BIL and nephew came out to see the finish and drive me back to my car (which was SO awesome!!! Thanks guys!) and see what these crazy runners do :) I changed into dry clothes (no easy task, oy!) and hugged everyone and said my goodbyes. I had 3 hours of driving ahead of me so I couldn't hang out. I knew *coma* would be setting in soon, and I wanted to get home. (I made it home safe and sound, with only minimal hallucinating on the drive...the snow didn't help, lol...)

I have so much respect for SJ. This was a dream he had 2 years ago, and he made it happen. He is the only person to have ever done this. He has now done it twice. It was such an honor to be there and run with, support, and encourage him. Thank you, SJ, for allowing me to be there to witness your dream.

I got home and babbled some stuff to the family before showering and going to bed, where I immediately fell into the post-ultra coma. Woke up this mornin when my kids(who were going to wait no longer for me to get up) came in to wish me a happy b-day :) I feel amazingly good today, considering, I have the usual lower body swelling, but I am only minimally sore. I have the post-run lung *thing* which I like to call 'ultra-pneumonia' and I will spare y'all the deets ;) I expect to be back to running by Wednesday. Today though...minimal movement for sure :) I know I did not drink enough, as it was cool and I wasn't thirsty, plus I had some sort of stomach issue the whole time. Didn't eat much either, butI did ok. I know I need to eat and drink alot during these runs but I was prepared ahead of time which is what I think got me through. I inHALED 2 green smoothies on the drive home, along with a couple apples. Couldn't eat more than that, but I will make up for it today :)

Next up- STONECAT!!! :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

VT50 aka first DNF :(

I'll get to that though.

First off, we went up thursday to try and make a family vacation out of it, as we hadn't been camping for a while. It was beautiful, in typical VT fall style. THe air was clean, and it was quite chilly! We were enjoying this weather knowing there was rain predicted for Sunday...

I was not sleeping well as I typically don't in the camper, but I was making sure to eat and drink enough in preparation for Sunday. Saturday night I was up for the most part, planning my race, thinking about splits, what to wear, etc. We also had the ever-so-lovely Trail Pixie camping with us for the night, which the kids loved :)
Sunday morning I was up at 4:30 am for breakfast, etc which did not go down as my stomach was in knots. I was nervous! Well, nervous and excited. :)

Trail Pixie, who was doing the relay, generously drove me down to the start around 5:15am giving my hubby and kids a few more hours sleep. We met up with some fellow relay-ers, other running friends, etc. I looked for a few kickrunners and 2 other online runners I know but could not find them. We finally headed out into the rain for the start.

It was misting at the start, which doesn't bother me. I really don't mind running in the rain. I was concerned about the trails, as being a back-of-the-pack runner, I get to them after 75% of the runners...and at this race, about 90% of the Mt. Bikers.

Took off and felt great! I went out faster than I knew I should but I was feeling good and figured I would re-evaluate my pace at the first aid station once I got warmed up. I got to the first station(4.2m) in about 45 mins which was a FAST trail pace for me. Felt good and kept going at that pace and hit the next aid station(8.5m). Decided I should probably slow it down a bit as I hit some of the hills and though I know I am a good power-hiker, I didn't want to run out of gas and miss any aid stations. The next station was a crew station(12.3m) and I got to see Dave and the kids. They gave me my green smoothie, and refilled my camelbak. A bunch of I-love-yous and off I went. I was having a blast! I felt great, I was power-hiking up the hills and running down and flats which kept me right on pace. I figured I could easily keep the pace I was at, and get in under the 12 hour cut-off.

The hills...oh, the hills. I love hills, but some were never ending! The farms along the roads were just beautiful, and the leaves looked awesome because they were all wet. I chatted with people along the way, making jokes about the sun, and trying to be supportive. 50 miles is a long way, no matter how you look at it. Even the relay peeps were going at least 12 miles. Got to be supportive :)

Next aid station was the best (19.3m) because for some reason I thought it was only 17 miles! Still feeling good, still coming in with a comfortable leeway for the cut-offs. Somewhere in here I think I wiped my nose on my arm and shut off my Garmin so I really had no way to track where I was at, which sort of sucked...but I'll get to that.

Next 2 aid stations came and went (23.2m and 27.6m) within the cut-offs. It was definitely getting muckier out on the trails, and I was seeing alot of bikers drop out and head back. I was starting to struggle with the mud a little, but still going strong. I am sure I was running faster than I clocked at as for every step forward I took, I ws slipping sideways as well, lol :)

Next station was (31.9m) and my last chance to see my *crew* until the finish. I came in with only 10 mins to spare, and knew I was going to have to work to make the next cut-off. Got another smoothie, a fleece hat, my jacket and took off. The next cut-off seemed to be the tightest one of the race, and would have been fine had I not had the mud to battle. This 5 miles was almost entirely on the trails which was fabulous...except they were single track and switch-backs which meant everyone had gone in the same place an there was no way to get out of the mud. It was VERY slow going, the downhills were crazy, the uphills were 2 steps forward, one step back. I knew this was going to be tough to get to but i just pushed along as hard as I could but I also knew I was going way too slow. The mud was just slowing me down too much, I was falling alot, sliding off the trail and spending a wrong amount of time on my ass... ;0

I heard the horn...but pretended I didn't. I didn't know how far I had to go to the aid station as my Garmin was off...I got to the last hill and the land owner said 'Ya better heurry it up 'cause they're sutting down the aid station' Shit. I went up that mess of rocks and mud as fast as I could, but I knew it was too late. I got there 15 minutes too late. (I miscalculated before, I thought it was 9 mins...)I was SO upset. Even worse, I KNEW I could have made the last 2 stations within the cut-off. Even if I missed the 12 hour finish, I could have FINISHED. Balls.

Had to wait for this VERY nice girl to come pick me and another DNF biker . We got back to the lodge and the family was nowhere to be found as they did not expect me yet. I finally found them and as soon as I saw Dave, I started crying like a girl. I was so disappointed. Course Dave, being the rockstar he is, said to me 'You are a winner in *my* book'. Love.This.Man.

Came back to the campsite and took the longest hot shower I could. Then I got under some blankets and ATE! Spent a quiet evening with the best crew ever.

This morning I feel pretty good. My feet hurt the most, they are swollen and OUCH! :) My quads, etc feel pretty darn good considering.

What I learned:
-warm coke/gingerale, though not raw and probably not vegan is AWESOME with bananas.
-I am faster than I think I am :)
-Even if it rains, I will do fine at JFK in Nov. :)
-I really, really REALLY love running.
-I need to learn how to run in the mud. There must be a method. Anyone care to share? ;)

I still feel sad this morning, but overall the race was AWESOME and I will definitely be back.

Next up....Maybe the Stone Cat 50? I have a couple short races on the horizon, then there is the JFK50!

For now, I need to go help pack up so we can go home. I feel a long, hot bath calling my name!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

VT part 3...What The Heck.

Well, this has been quite the rollercoaster of an event. My recovery was NOT going as I had hoped. I figured I would feel better each day, and with rest, rehydration and eating everything that was not nailed down I would be all set. This was not the case. Though I was rehydrating and resting(as if I had a choice) I still couldn't eat much and was feeling worse by the day. Add to that the increasing heart palpitations and nasty headache...a call to my Dr. had me headed back to the ER.

Lucky for me, my old and most wonderful and awesome Dr who now works in the ER was there. Since she knows me, I knew I would be in good hands. I was hooked up to and EKG, given another liter of fluids and other good stuff, and had a bunch of bloodwork done. She checked everything, including my thyroid which she said could have been completely thrown out of whack(more than normal, lol) which could also account for my symptoms. The good news? EVERYTHING came back normal, even my kidney function test. The Rhabdo completely resolved itself, and everything else was ok. NICE!!! So, what was going on? She said that basically even though I had run 50 miles in the past and recovered fine, I had never put my body through THIS much stress. Between that and then my body working so hard to recover, I was not feeling good. Plus, I had not been eating to help rebuild what I had destroyed. So, after my *cocktail* of goodness I got to go home. I still had a raging headache and felt like crap but was grateful to be going home to sleep in my own bed.

This morning I woke up....and felt 100% BETTER!!!! Whatever was in that IV bag plus another good night's sleep did the trick! WOOHOO!!! Not that I am headed out for a run or anything, lol, but I am SO happy to feel like myself again. I have no soreness in my legs at this point at all, which is also a bonus. I will honor the week off of running then s..l..o..w..l..y start to get back into it.

I have learned a whole bunch more about myself, my body and what it can handle. Though I do not EVER want to experience this again, I am amazed and thrilled that my body was strong enough to bounce back so quickly(though not without help). Now I know the signs, and what is obviously NOT going to work for me and I can run smarter in the future.

Running Ultras is all about testing the limits...seeing how much you can do. I know there are plenty of ultrarunners out there who will finish a race at all costs, run through things they shouldn't, etc but that is not me. I will take this lesson and knowledge and file it away. No race is worth permanent damage to my body, and nothing is worth me not being able to run at all. I will take this and run smarter next time, for sure.

Of course there will be a next time... :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

VT Part 2...Processing

When one undertakes an event like, oh, say running 100 miles...there is alot to process.

The Ultra running community is mostly  an amazing bunch of people. (ya know, there is always *one* in every crowd but for the most part...) They are a smart, kind, nature loving bunch. It is no easy feat to go out and run 50 or 100 miles. If it was, everybody would be doing it. There is alot of planning, learning about your body, we all become 'weekend scientists' trying to determine the perfect balance of electrolytes, fluids, and food that will get us from mile 1 to mile 50 or 100. Not to knock shorter distances, but there is not much thought or planning needed to go out and run a 5 or 10 mile run. Even up to a marathon, you *could* go into it without a whole lot of planning and still get through it(though I wouldn't recommend it, lol) But to run farther than becomes both mental and physical. Your body is not designed to run 50+ miles. Physiologically, its just not what we are designed to do. This is why when you talk to any ultra runner they will say the race is half physical half mental because at some point it truly becomes mind over matter. With that being said though, you also need to be able to decide when to cry Uncle.

The *never try anything new on race day* rule is even more important for those going ultra distances. You can end your race in the first 10 miles. It is almost a science, really. EVERYTHING has to line up in order to finish a race of this magnitude. If one thing goes awry...even something like a blister, if not dealt with, can end a race for some. Some things are par for the course. It will hurt. When it starts hurting is different for everyone, but you will not walk(or hobble) away without some discomfort. You will get tired. Unless you are part of the very small elite field, it will take you somewhere between 9-12+ hourd to run 50 miles and 20-30 hours or more to run 100. That is a looooong time to be moving. Some people have stomach issues, which usually pass, and if not sometimes you can run with it, sometimes you can't. Either way, you have to be prepared to deal with that having back-up foods/drinks, ginger, etc. Stomach issues can end a race.

Training for these races is all over the map. There are runners who will put in 100-200 miles a week. Some say you need to be around 100 a week to do Ultras. Some say you can get by on mush less, as its the long runs and recovery(rest) that is important. No 2 training plans are alike amongst ultra runners. Every Ultra runner has a different training philosophy and does what works for them. It is very personal, and not at all cookie-cutter. To train for a 10k or marathon, the training is fairly cut and dry. Tempo runs, speed work, long run, day off. Everybody does the same thing. This is so different as you are training your body to run differently. You run slower, further, you need to learn to burn fuel differently, rest more, learn to walk and hike efficiently. It sounds like alot, but if you ask any ultra runner and they will tell you it is the love of running, and running far that keeps them in the sport. It is hard, it tests you mentally and physically, it is filled with ups and downs and it is incredibly rewarding to see how much you can physically do. It isn't for everyone, and there are lots of people who think its dangerous, foolish, and wonder why anyone would want to do such a thing. All I can say is that this probably isn't for you then :) I think every ultra runner takes races very seriously, and understands that there are serious risks involved.

When I started the race Saturday morning I felt great. I had everything planned out, with back up plans as well. I knew what I needed to do, and when I needed to do it. I stuck to that plan as long as I could. I did everything right, knowing that the heat would probably be my biggest enemy with my extreme sweating. I knew staying on top of my fluids would be key. As I was running through the first miles it truly dawned on me that 100 miles is something that I would assume unless you have completed it, is just something that is hard to wrap your brain around. I still couldn't and I was out there trying to do it. 50 miles I have always *got* as I know I can do it haing done it, and I could wrap my brain around getting up in the morning, running all day and at the end of the day I would be done, having gone 50 miles. But to run for 24-30 is a lot. :)

I felt I was as prepared as I could be when I started the race. Could I have trained more? Sure, I could have trained more, differently, etc. But I also have a life and children and a husband and I cannot ignore(nor do I want to) the rest of my life. There is life outside of running and that life is just as important to me! So I will stick to my 50-60 mile weeks, thanks :) The other very cool thing, in my mind, about Ultras is that regardless of your running 'status', of how many miles you've logged, of how prepared you are(within reason, of course) when we all step up to the starting line, we are equal. The best of the best can be hit by stomach issues that end their race early. It may not happen as often (as they are not out there for as long) but it does. No one is infallable. That is oddly comforting to me :)

So...looking back...Best we can figure based on my start weight and when they weighed me in the hospital I lost between 10-12 pounds of fluid from sweating. I don't know if I could have stayed ahead of that, and once nothing would go in...It is very possible I would have not made it past the first weigh in, which had always been a concern. I was and am ok with that. I have always maintained that it isn't worth risking my health or life to run a race. This race was extreme. It was well into the 90's with significant humidity and though there was a breeze and shade in placed, the effort involved in moving up those VT hills...had the temp been in the low 80's with no humidity it would have been a vastly different race for me, as well as many others. For perspective, close to 50% of both the 100 milers and 100k racers dropped out of the race, numerous people were taken to the hospital and there was a whole lot of puking going on out there. That is pretty unusual for that race, which has a higher finish rate that that normally. The course was certianly very runnable, and though it was difficult and VERY hilly(hello, VT!) it was not something that was impossible. I had to re-evaluate my 'goals' several times out there and my motto has always been go until you aren't having fun any more then stop. I had hoped to make it to 10 Bear(47 miles) when I knew things were going down hill, as the fun was definitely gone. Should I have stopped sooner? Probably. But, I still had a sliver of hope that things would come around, that I could find something to eat, that I could get fluids in...but it was not to be. I knew by 35 miles my race was done and just had to get to 10 Bear where my crew was.

Heat and me...I need to re-evaluate things. I need to find out WHY I am sweating more than the average stuck pig on a Texas highway :) and see if it is something I can deal with. Otherwise running summer Ultras is simply out for me. I do not EVER want to go through this again. I do not have these issues during fall maybe my race season will be shorter than most :)

Will I try a 100 miler again? I would never say never, but it is not on the horizon right now. It has only been a year since I started running Ultras and I still have alot of miles to get under my belt. I am definitely a newbie and still have a lot to learn. This was an amazing experience, and I am glad I gave it a shot. I think for the forseeable future, I am going to stick to 50 milers as I know I can safely do them. So...looking ahead, after I recover of course ;) I am shooting for the VT50 at the end of September and Stone Cat in November. They are both doable races in much cooler weather.

Now...back to my scheduled program of rest and fluids... :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

VT 100...DNF. Which, in my case stands for Did Nothing Fatal.

I will preface this by saying I truly believe I was ready for this race. By that I mean I trained, trained in the heat, worked on my *mental game* and was very much ready to toe the line with every intention of finishing one way or another.

Often times life has other plans

I made it about 45 miles. Then I was taken away in an ambulance.

It was quite warm, and very humid...but I was prepared for that. After we got to VT and set up I went and did my medical check. Said hi to a few people and came back to start eating and hydrating. My pacer had arrived, various other friends started showing up and all was good. My drop bags were set, my pack was packed and I really felt good about the race. Slept pretty good considering my excitement and the heat and woke up right before my alarm went off at 3am. Got dressed and ate and headed out to the starting line where Chariots of Fire was playing...:) It was very cool to see everyone making there way to the start. I found my bud Kevin, and saw Steve and met a new running bud and we headed to the start. After a quick hug for my pacer with the promise to see him in a few hours we were off.

Kev and I had talked of running together for the forseeable future and that was good for me. I have a tendancy to go out fast and I really wanted to run conservatively and he is very good at pacing. We did get off to what felt to me as a great pace- we could converse easily, and it was great. I had in my head that I needed to drink between 1 and 1.5 water bottles per hour, plus take my S!Caps 1 per hour(1 per 30 mins when it got hotter) and eat something every hour. For the first 5 hours that worked out pretty well. Came through the first station my crew would be at and got my green smoothie(YUM) sock change, watermelon, new bottles and off we went. Somewhere within the next few miles something shifted and I did not feel as great as I did. I was internally monitoring, while mentally playing the Ultra games of how far can we go...but also realizing that I would possily have to readjust my expectations of what the day was going to be.  I am usually ok with that as you simply never know what is going to happen in an ultra race. There are just SO many variables inolved that you can do all the planning in the world but come race day...

Somewhere at the marathon point the nausea set in. I wasn't worried at that point as I know most ultra runners feel nausea and/or puke at some point in there career...some during every race!Usually it passes which is what I expected/hoped for. Shortly before this we got to run through our first aid station that had run out of water. This was not cool. On a day like that, not haing water with the next aid 5 miles away could be the end of someone's race(and was for several people, I found out after) Luckily I had enough with me for Kev and I, and we took our chances on this cute little water spiggoty thing in the woods shortly thereafter that looked like good enough drinking water to me! Plus it was COLD!!! Still feeling the nausea, I tried ginger, which did not work...and somewhere in the next mile or so the puking began. Generally, I am not a huge puker. It usually reduces me to tears, but I was keeping it together...Kev had gone ahead shortly thereafter to the next aid station to let his crew know I may need a little help. His crew was great enough to assist me, and off we went.  I had not had anything to eat since mile 21 and was now having increasd difficulty getting anything past my gag reflex. I was getting sips down but was VERY nauseaus and  dry heaving.

I am not sure where, but after some point I encouraged Kev to go on. I knew at this point I was not going to recover any time soon, and possibly not at all...but I still had a sliver of hope that I could rally, start drinking and eating again and make it further. I figured making it to 100 was not going to happen, but I wanted to make it as far as I could. I hoped to get to the next crew station my family would be at, which was the first weigh in check. I was fairly certian I would not pass as I was sweating SO profusely and now was not able to replace it.

The next 10-12 miles was a death march. I had 2 very nice men at different points walking with me to make sure I was ok, which I very much appreciated. One man was not even in the race, he was looking for someone else but when he saw me he stayed with me instead. The next man was going to drop in the near future and I actually encouraged him to try to make it to 10 Bear and we could drive him back to the finish. I had to sit/lay down several times, and there were 2 times I remember almost passing out, and several more dry-heave sessions, and NOTHING would go in. I just kept telling myself I had to get to my family...

Somwhere about 2 miles out, before the last big climb into the aid station, the race Marshall came by and offered me a ride to the station. He called ahead to the med team. My race was done.

I was immediately put in the back of the ambulance where they could not get a blood pressure and my oxygen level was 82(not good). They had me lay down and were able to get a pressure, and a pulse. I was still not able to get anything in by mouth and they decided that I needed to get to the hospital. In the mean time, they started an iv and put me on oxygen and under a wool blanket as by then I was shivering uncontrolably.

The Dr in the ER was fantastic...actually everyone there was. Not one person was negative about me doing the race, or that I did something wrong.

Basically, I was severely dehydrated, my kidneys had stopped functioning and I had a condition called Rhabdomyolysis*.  In addition, my potasium level was very high, which resulted in me being hooked up to a heart monitor and pretty much sealed my fate of spending the night in the hospital. (Well, that and the fact I hadn't gone to the bathroom in 12+ hours) High potassium can cause a heart attack. Had I been at all thinking clearly, all of this would have scared the shit out of me. But I wasn't...

6 liters of fluid, anti-nausea meds and some sort of kidney cocktail plus a night of being monitored later...I felt better. Not 100% but certianly better than I did and my blood tests came back ok with the exception of my kidney function which will take some days to resolve itself...I have to have another kidney funtion text in a week. I knew I was recovered as I was suddenly STARVING, which is always a good sign. :)

We headed back to the race site to finish packing up and for an emotional reunion with my running friends. I was SOOOO happy to hear that Kev and Steve finished under the cut-off! I was watching the hours in the ER, thinking about where they might be on the course, praying they would make it and I am so glad they did. I was truly happy to see them, to know THEY were ok and get to congratulate Kev in person. We had a great 30 miles together and I am so glad I had that part of the experience with him :)

Long drive home, a shower and I am back to horizontal :) Swelling has set in and I am on strict orders to drink as much water as humanly possible to flush out my kidneys. Plus...I am tired.

There is so much more to process, so much more to say but for now this is it. :)

Huge, awesome congratulations to Kev, Steve, Streph, was a hell of a day. You guys stuck it out and made it through. Rock stars...all of ya :)

*If you want to read about rhabdomyolysis:

For my own FYI- Hyperkalemia

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mt. Greylock Half Marathon

AKA 13.5 miles of hell.
I have only done one other trail half marathon and I thought it was pretty tough. I loved it, but it was definitely a challenge...enough so that I had to go back and do it again another year, lol. Back to Mt Greylock...

It was cool and cloudy at the start which was nice, though it was definitely humid. I decied to carry my camelbak with me, which was a REALLY good idea, I found out later. The race was basically uphill for the first 3+ miles, then a gradual (and somethimes not so gradual) downhill from the top. I love hills, so I did my usual go-out-too-hard on the hills thing, which I paid for later. It was a TOUGH climb. Hand over hand in a few places. Once we got to the top, the view was amazing, despite the fog/clouds. Heading down...oy. My knees and quads did NOT love the relentless down hill. I was praying for uphill! Add to that, the course overall was as follows- when I wasn't running down a river, I was running up one. When not running in a river, I was in several inches of shoe-sucking-off mud. When I escaped those challenges, albeit briefly, I was running over pointy rocks. There was not a flat surface to be found until the last 2-3 miles. By the time I had been running about 2 hours(no idea how far I was) I was crashing HARD. I wanted to be picked up and carried home. Not likely, but MAN I was really hoping for it. Then, I remembered I had a banana in my pack! JOY! I ate it and started to feel the life coming back into me. I was able to run slowly along form that point on. I am not a run-with-reckless-abandon-on-the-trail kinda gal, so the technical difficulty of this trail was a challenge. I had told hubby I would be in around 3hrs, but it wasn't looking good. Once I hit the 5k race part of the trail I started to crank, as I was hoping to beat 3.5 hours. It felt good to be able to really RUN at this point even though my knees were screaming. Came in at 3:32:23. Not amazing by any stretch of the imagination, but I was happy and really, overall I had a blast. :)

I grabbed my green smoothie and imediately went and sat in the frigid river to simulate an ice bath. It hurt like a mofo, but I knew it would do wonders for my recovery. Plus we had a 2hr drive home... Sure enough, when we got home, my legs felt great, just a little tired. I did find that despite drinking almost 2l, I lost 5lbs- not good, and could be why I was tanking in the middle. I really need to think about salt replacement or something too as my legs cramped up MAJORLY in the car. Today is a well deserved day off AND a massage this evening!!! I can't wait!

Also, my oldest son ran his first trail 5k yesterday! He came in 2nd in the Under 12 agegroup, and mid pack overall. He did great! His time was 30 mins and change, which is amazing as we thought he would be closer to 35-38mins. He has officially been bitten by the racing bug, he had a blast and can't wait for his next race. We are doing a race on the 4th of July, and there is a 5m option that he wants to do! I told him I would run with him and get him to the finish, though I am pretty sure he will smoke me. I am all about slow and steady :)

Next major race will be my 12 hour race in July. Hoping to get some good long runs in by then, as I am shooting for 50miles!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Marathon DONE!

I did not sleep well at all on saturday night, which had me a little concerned but I figured adrenalin and the crowd would get me going...but dayum, it was hard to get up when my alarm went off! It was actually COLDER for the start of the marathon, if you can believe it! It was 26.2 degrees at the start of the marathon. Funny stuff! We did the same early morning shiver and huddle to stay warm while we waited for the start. People were bundled up in blankets, trash bags, and parkas! Instead of seeing alot of costumes, it was more how creatively you could wear your trash bag and mylar from the day before, lol. I think the marathon was a much bigger deal than the half, as there were more fireworks at the start ;)

I got to chat with a few people around me, and met a couple great people. One guy was doing this marathon as his first, and on his year anniversary of starting his weight loss journey. He lost 65 lbs (and looked great!) Another girl (with whom I ran for about 7 or 8 miles) was an adventure racer and I coninced her to come to the dark side and try ultras ;) She and I ran together for the first 7 miles or so, and I am sure the fact I was careful of my pace because of her being with me, helped me do well overall.

The sun came out which helped tremendously. There was a 'breeze' but the sun made me think I was warmer, lol. I felt great at the half marathon mark, and was picking up the pace by mile 18. I really went out looking at this race as a training run and I just wanted to have fun. I ended up feeling really good and as soon as I left my running partner I had to hold myself back a bit, as to not crash later in the race. There was definitely more entertainment since it wasn't raining/sleeting which was awesome, and we go to run through ALL the parks which was really cool. They had a bunch of DJ's out on the course being goofballs which was also a bast.

Had a few emo moments again, just the magnatude of the race was again, overwhelming...and passing many people who I knew would not finish...but had the courage to start. The military people who were on the course, (I stopped to thank them) and a few families running together for another family member than had

The finish line was very cool, and unfortunately the family did not see me finish. I was early so I don't think they were looking for me yet. I gave them a time to meet me at the family reunion tent, so we hooked up there. It was an amazing time and I am glad I was part of it. Don't know if I would do it again...but I might! I really had a good time and Disney does a pretty good job at organizing these races.

So, these are my official stats:
Half Marathon:
time- 2:24:49
I was 6520 out of 17,099 finishers
2689 out of 9673 women
563 out of 1789 35-39yo women

Full Marathon
time- 4:50:04
6593 out of 16,883 finishers
2320 out of 8182 women
469 out of 1516 35-39yo women

There were over 25,000 runners at the full marathon start and only 16,883 finished. That's alot of DNF's! I think there are alot of people who enter who really probably shouldn't. With other options like the half and 5k one doen't HAVE to do the marathon. That just seems like a high DNF rate to me. There were ALOT of walkers, and Team in Training coaches on the course(who have to pay for an entry even though many of them will not, nor do they plan to, finish) Walkers were definitely an obstacle, and I'd much rather run 26 miles than walk so I give them alot of credit but I don't know how many of them were ale to walk 26 miles in less than 7 hours. Lots of run/walkers too, who I am sure made it.

Oh, and a WooHoo for my kiddos too...My oldest did the 5k, and Lilly and Max ran the Mickey Mile (together, as she would not leave was SO cute I cried) I am so proud of them! They got medals too :)

The other very cool thing is everyone wears their medals after the race as they go around the parks and so there is a whole lot of congratulating, etc going on. THAT was really cool. I have never experienced that in the road running community, but the genuine support and happiness surrounding this event was really fantastic.  I would honestly recommend that if road running is your thing, and even if it isn't and you can run this distance, you come down and do this once. It is and was definitely worth it. :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Disney Half Marathon...DONE :)

And by done, I mean done in the snow, sleet and rain. Yep, snow in Florida. Who knew? It was mostly in the sky but hell, I did not come to FL to run in the snow! :)

Up at 3am to make it to the bus by 4am, which *they* said you had to do. No problem, as I would have been up anyways. When I left my room I was thinking..."20's...not bad for a run!" as I am used to much colder. Oh, how silly I was...:) I had my pilfered trash bag for extra warmpth, and my coffee, bananas and on the bus I went. We had to sit in be expected for a race with over 20,000 people running in it.Got to te start, stood in an INCREDIBLY long porta-john line and huddled next to a spot light that was giving off minimal heat. The crowd was unbelievable. I have never been at a race this huge in my life. I think the biggest race I have ever done was a thousand or 2...MAYBE. This was just...unbelievable. The constant wave of people EVERYWHERE was mind-blowing!

Sometime around 5am they had us walking like a herd of cattle over to the starting line, which took 15  minutes, I bet. Then you had to get into your corral (I was in the LAST one as I didn't give them a time I'd finish in, ugh) and we waited there for a good half an hour until it was time for my 'wave' to start. They had these HUGE tv screens on the bridges over us so you could watch the start of the waves before you, which was awesome.  I think my wave went off at 6:10, but I walked a while before I actually crossed the timing pad so I don't know when I officially started, but it was probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 6:20am.

The race itself. Well, for the first 3 or 4 miles I basically ran on the grass to avoid all the walkers, and slower runners. I don't know what was going on but there were a rediculous amount of people walking at mile 2-4. I know some people do the run/walk thing even on roads, and I hit every one :) It was hard to find my pace with all the stopping and starting everyone did, plus the random stopping for pics in the middle of the road. The snow turned to sleet, and it started to get light out. Running though the Magic Kingdom was the BEST! Man, what a blast that was! Everything was lit up and they even had some rides running!

After the Kingdom, it was back out on the roads. I will say, the support and aid stations were fantastic, the crowd was amazing, and I continued to be super impressed. The weather ALONE would have kept people away, you would think. But not here :)

At about mile 10 you head up over a bridge and you can see the THOUSANDS of runners behind you...seriously, for as far as you can see, it is just a wall of people. It was very emotional and overwhelming for me at that point, and races usually don't do that to me. I know there were A LOT of people out there running for Team in Training, and other charities and for other people and it was powerful. Coming down and back into Epcot, knowing there is less than 3 miles to go is a rush. The crowds were crazy, there is music, and you pass around this one loop that lets you look at the other runners...another emotional moment knowing so many have a story about why they are here. The looks on people's faces was so great. On to the finish...WOOT! :)

I think I finished in about 2:20 or 2:30 depending on how they time it. I tried to run in the grass anywhere i could to preserve my legs and feet as the pavement down here is not what my body is used to( I am always sore when I run in FL...their asphalt is very rocky...) but I'd be lyin' if I said my legs felt good. I got my medal and my mylar blanket and we headed straight for the bus. We had to wait for a bus for a good half an hour (not fun with 3 VERY cold and wet kids!) and a hot shower NEVER felt as good as it did when I came back! :)

Inhaled some salad and fruit, and slept for an hour and now I am waiting for the family to come back from who-knows-where :) so we can hit Downtown Disney.

Tomorrow...the MARATHON! It will be slightly warmer and SUNNY!!! WOOHOO!