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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thoughts on running and autoimmune *stuff*...

Several days out from Stone Cat and I have many thoughts. Though this won't surprise ANYONE who knows me, lol, as I typically like to beat a dead horse LONG after its dead...

This was an interesting race. I feel like I *should* have done better, and maybe I could have had I not made the clothing/supplement mistakes I had made...maybe not. I am not disappointed with my run AT ALL. I am really happy that I did not quit(though in the moment, not so much, lol) and that I reminded myself of just how much I can do. Having had the experience of not being able to run when I was sick, and thinking I might never run again....makes me TRULY appreciate every run I do :) I simply LOVE to run, and am so grateful I still can.

While out there, though, I did think about all the races I ran and how it seemed like every other race was great, then every other race was not so great. That should tell me something, eh? I was doing a race almost every 2 weeks from June(May?) until now. I know some people can race like that but me...I really shouldn't. Mentally I want to, but I think I am physically taking a HUGE risk.

I have said to friends numerous times that I need to be so careful. My health has been great lately sans a few issues and I really don't want to risk losing that. The LDN has truly been a miracle drug for me and though I know it doesn't work for everyone with Chronic Lyme (and I SO wish it did!) I am definitely one of the lucky ones. In general, I am running the best/longest I have since starting ultras and I am so incredibly grateful for that. The few issues I am having I know are partly due to my body continuing to adjust to the LDN and my immune system trying to right itself. My last thyroid test showed NO signs of Hashimoto's, which is something else LDN helps and was amazing considering how crazy high my numbers used to be! This also tells me that my body is no longer going all sorts of nutty on itself. Well, at least somewhat..

I still seem to have trouble with stomach issues/digestion/food allergies which seem to be at an all time high right now. I noticed after SC that I just could. not. eat. Normally I will eat anything not nailed down, to make up for all the calories burned during the run. It is very hard for me to consume enough calories DURING the run as my digestion sucks to begin with, add running 50 miles to that...yeah, no. I seem to be able to manage on liquid calories, and then eat my weight in al things food the next day. This was rough. I was reacting to everything I ate...even things I don't react to.  Not good.

The LDN works in phases, it seems (and so says the info on it) and this means that even though I have been on it for almost a year, I am still experiencing different affects from it. I notice that during pms I am having an immune response of some kind that feels like a relapse coming on, but only lasts about 3 days or so. Odd. I have NO seasonal allergies whatsoever, which is very cool, but the food allergies and chemical sensitivities are a PITA. Hopefully that will shift, but hard to say...I will probably get retested in Dec. when I see my immunologist the fabulous Dr. Made-Of-Win.

The tricky part of all of this is until my labs show I am over a certian number, I can't say I am *safely* well. We are getting the number we are watching that needs to be at least over 100(normal people are over 200, I was 19 when we started) and I am at 60 last check. I will be checked again in Dec and cross my fingers. It feels a wee bit like Russian Rouette and so far I have won but... you never know. Until I am in the safe zone, anything can happen. I am trying to be good but I am so NOT good at taking things easy... :) I am trying to be concious of it though...Should I take more days off? Probably. Should I taper, do less races, etc, etc? Eh, who knows. I do feel like I probably did too many based on my performance this year, not based on how I feel as I seem to recover very well. Next year though, I do plan on doing less.

I am already pretty much sure that trying for 100m in 2012 is off the table. Until I am SURE I am in the *safe zone* it is simply too big a risk, especially after what happened last time, which I am sure was part of what sent me into my last relapse. Instead, I am going to do some pacing, maybe a couple choice 50m races and then Fat-Asses and timed runs where I can simply get out and do what I for a long time with some of the greatest people I know. :) I also would like to do more cross training, biking specifically, and some swimming as I am going to be doing an epic swim with a good friend of mine :)

I also need to get out on the trails more. Now that I have found the trails by my house I need to spend more time on them. I know my lack of trail training slows me down. Once or twice a month just ain't cuttin' it :) Trails are a different beast, requiring different muscles and focus...something I haven't done much of in a while...its been a LONG time since I used to run trails daily...I miss that.

Sigh. All in all, it is what it is, I suppose...time to head out for a run. :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A twofer :)

Since I am the epitome of a slacker blogger, yer gettin' 2 race reports and various brain dumpings today :).

First off- my 40m Bday run.
I have a great 8m loop that I run which is mostly roads but I love it. I used this as the base of my *course* for the run as I could use my house as the aid station. The first loop I added to making it 12.5miles then it was 2 8m loops followed by another 11.5m loop which included 4m on Mt. Wachusett.

The first loop was great, tried to take it easy as I really wanted to run as much of this as I could, as a training run for Stone Cat. My friends Michelle, Dave and Mark came out to run with me and we all did this loop together. Mark actually came out early and got in 16m before we started as he couldn't stay all day. We were not super quick through the aid stations, but we didn't dally too much. My Hubby had set up a plan whereby he had a box for me to open after each lap, which was very cool :) My first lap was a John Deere winter hat(we love John Deere's here)

Mark left us, and we headed out on our second loop. It was a perfect day, the weather was great- sunny with a breeze, in the 50's. We were jabbering so much the miles passed pretty quickly! We finished up loop 2 and Michelle opted out of loop 3 as her tootsies were aching from all the pavement, but she was going to rejoin us for loop 4. Loop 2 left me with a gift of a John Deere steering wheel cover:) Somewhere in here my friend Pranee came out with her adorable baby to run/walk a loop. I was so happy to see her! Dave and I headed out for loop 3 and got in our own groove with tunes, and conversation. At the end of loop 3 Michelle was waiting for us ready to go. I got my 3rd box which was a massage gift certificate! :) We also found out Pranee got lost and was WAY far away, so Hubby was sent off to find her. Loop 4 was different as we were going to head to Mt Wachusett and summit. Also, Jeffrey was going to join us when we hit the woods for the last 8m.

The last loop was the best, imo. Though we were tired, and the mountain was SO crowded(like, panic attack crowded) we got it done. Jeffrey had a great time with Michelle talking her ear off, and Dave and I brought up the rear. We got back home, having run about 8:30 for the whole thing and I felt really good. My final gift was a CAR! My Hubby found me a 240 Volvo wagon, which I LOVE in this awesome yellow color :) Also, Dave had completed his FIRST Ultra distance ever which was very cool :) (Oh, and we found Pranee btw, and she was tired and sore but happy)

All in all, it was a sucessful run, and a good day spent with great people.

Stone Cat 50m
I headed into this race feeling pretty good. I even took *2* days off this week! I had planned to do the first half in 5-5:30 and the second half in 6hrs...I really wanted to come in under 12 hours. Ya know how that goes... :) Friday my stomach was all out of sorts which I was hoping would rectify before Saturday. Other than that I felt like I was ready to go.

It was going to be chilly to start, I knew that much but I had anticipated it warming up some and didn't want to overdress with my sweatiness and all...that was mistake number one. I should have worn pants of some sort for the first lap (or the whole thing) I also wore my Mafates, which are waterproof. That means NO DRAINAGE. Oy. Mistake number 2. I did not have my SCaps, and had to rely on Enduroytes which I thought would be fine since it was cold but should have known better as they really don't work for I was nauseous pretty much from hour 2 on...So, it was not setting up to be a good day.

Lap one I ran most of with Michelle, or at least had her in my sight. Once we went through the water at mile 3.75 (a .2m stretch of sometimes calf deep FRIGID water that was unavoidable) I realised my errors at this point. My feet were now soaked and stayed that way for 8.5 more miles, I was so cold I was shivering, and I could barely speak. This my friends, is not a good thing, contrary to what my Hubby might say. I was not sure what was going to happen at this point as since I could no longer feel my feet I was not clearing any obstacles aka kicking every gawd-forsaken root and rock in my path. Though I couldn't feel that either, it would trip me up and I knew that jamming my already arthritic feet was my undoing at my first attempt at SC. First lap done in 2:35ish.

Lap two was better. Before I headed out I ate some ginger to quell the nausea I was plagued with(already, grrr) put on some clothes, wool socks and my other sneakers, my Stinsons. I also donned a pair of fleece socks as gloves and a winter hat. This all made a HUGE difference. Though my second lap was slower, the water section still sucked, BUT my shoes drained and my feet dried and thawed some. However, I was now walking the hills as I felt kind of junky. I was contemplating the effect of how many races I had done in the last few months(probably too many), my training(not enough time on trails), and my rookie mistakes(I know better) that were culminating in me wondering if in fact I could finish this thing. I gave myself a good smack-down, reminding myself I still had plenty of time, my family was coming all the way out here to watch me FINISH, not DNF, and THE JACKET. Could I really let another year go by without getting the Jacket? Especially when it was the best one they have had to date? Oh, HELL no.Lap 2 done in 2:50.

Lap 3 was when the wheels were really starting to come off. The nausea I had been battling all day was preventing me from consuming enough calories and the lack of proper electrolytes made my legs crampy. My feet were gettng cold again and the water section was really painful this time through. Then I fell. I caught my foot on a rock(again) and went head-long into a cold, deep mud puddle. My calves imediately cramped and I was stuck. I could not move, or get up and I was I waited for the cramps to subside and off I went. Cold and wet, yet again. But now the added bonus of being covered with mud. Hey, if you are clean you didn't have fun, right? ;) Somewhere after this, I think at the next aid station, my friend Steve caught up with me and we spent the next section running together. He was not having the best day either, so we had time to chat about too many races, our aches and pains, and what we would do if we didn't make the cut-off, which we were dangerously close to. We did the whole *I don't care* BS but I think on some level we probably both did, though it wouldn't have hit us until today. Steve motored on in the last mile and I simply hung on. I was pretty sure I was done since I *thought* the cut-off was 3 or 3:15pm and I was not going to make either time. In THAT moment, I really did not care bc I was in so much pain. Hubby met me about .5m out and said I had 20 mins to finish and I could make it. I told him I didn't care, I didn't want to go on, to which he responded I should just get there and then decide, as Steve was waiting for me. Ugh :) He waited. Lap 3 2:55ish.

Lap 4. Another 10mins in the aid station to grab pants, gloves, more ginger, and to say hi to the kiddos and the 50m winner(who, not only kicked butt on the course, he STAYED and volunteered after! He is made of awesome sauce for sure)off we went. But, not before we dragged along another gal who *thought* she was done :) We figured we would stick together and get through the loop...somehow. It was going to be tough as Steve and I were definitely hurting and our new friend Marilyn had her fair share of mishaps throughout the day, a stellar bunch we were not, lol. I will say despite the agony, that farking water, my frozen nubs, and my emo moments during the last 5m, the loop was actually pretty fun. We chatted most of the way, Steve had us *shuffling* whenever he could motivate us, as did Marilyn(I was never in that motivating role, mind and despite being PUSHED through aid stations(literally, someone was PUSHING Steve! We were last...)We met up with the actual last person through the cut-off who caught up with us and eventually passed us. He hung with us for a while and pulled us along with his rather zippy hike pace which was great.

That last 5m was rough. We made it to the last aid station before dark but we knew we would be running in the dark. I don't mind starting a race in the dark, bc I know it WILL get light. But to still be running when it gets dark really messes with my head. I had to ask for mileage updates from Steve to keep myself in check, as I knew I had come that far, I only had 3, 2, 1 more mile to go. We aso had this REALLY nice biker/sweeper guy follow us in. He was very nice, and encouraged us the whole way. He kept his distance most of the way but caught up with us the last mile or 2 and kept us company. Somewhere in the last mile or 2 our friend Marilyn got her last burst of mojo and off she went! She did great and was running SANS headlamp! Steve and I were greeted by my kiddos and Trooper Dave at the back of the field(the home stretch) which was lit up with flares, and we got the traditional Person Tunnel reserved for the last runner(s) to finish. It was pretty cool. Trooper Dave, Michelle, Rob(who finished his FIRST 50!) and my family were all there and it was awesome to see them. I got hugs from Michelle, who made me cry a good cry and I GOT THE JACKET! I thanked Steve...whom I didn't like very much for part of that last lap :) but honestly, I never would have gone out for that last lap without him. Lap 4 done in 3:40ish.

All in all, it was a good day. Despite all the mistakes, it is a cool course, I got to see so many of my Ultra peeps and let me tell you what a great group of peope they all are. I have met some truly fantastic people I am proud to call friend through this sport. I was also reminded what can happen if I don't plan well. Despite that, I did finish which reminds me just how much I CAN do, if I push outside my comfort zone and go with it. I always think this course is an *easy* 50 but really, it isn't that easy. There are no HUGE hills, but it is significantly rolling, and technical. 

I did ok with hydration, probably should have drank more but with the nausea I had trouble. Was down some in the wt. dept but no more than is normal for me, and will be made up today between drinking and eating. My legs feel pretty good(thank you Hokas!) but my feet/toes ankles are absolutely trashed. Trying to walk is comedic. Unfortunately, I am not sure I will bounce back in a day or so as per usual, it could be a few days before I can run again...we will see how it goes. A hot bath and a massage may do the trick! :) Sleeping last night was a trip, as my body didn't realize it was done and I kept twitching and *tripping* in my sleep.

The Jacket...she is mine. :)

Next up? Possibly Nougat 100k...though I am leaning more towards 50k(hell, 25k anyone?) which I am sure will change as soon as the memory of this pain fades and the crazy slips back in :) I have thought about spacing out my races more though, as I am not sure 2 races a month for months on end is the best choice but that is just about what I was doing. Its a bit rough on the old body and I am certianly pushing my luck with my health. Time to have a *down season* and scale back and relax some...maybe pick a few key races for next year and do more Fat Asses and/or timed events where there is less pressure to chase cut-offs and its more about getting out there and running really far with friends. :) Sounds good to me. :)

Monday, September 26, 2011


I really didn't want to do this race. My training has been great, I have been feeling great, everything is, well...great. :) But, my mind...not so much. I just didn't have it in me. I knew this ahead of time, and add to this my youngest was telling me not to go as I am in the driveway ready to leave, and my daughter calling me that night to tell me things were 'terrible and she missed me very much and wanted me to come home'...yeah. No excitement there. Normally I am really excited before a race, and even these distances are not for the faint hearted. You never know what can happen come race day, and no matter how much you train and prepare there are always things outside your control that can happen. I think that is part of the lure for me, the adventure. Or, your brain can just say ''

I got to VT around 2pm, checked in and headed to the campground. I sleep in my car so there was no set up needed. I ate my lunch/dinner and I decided to try and nap since I knew I wouldn't sleep well that night. Plus, I had some time before my friend Steve would arrive. Once he got there we hung out and chatted for a while which actually lifted my spirits a bit...he even tried to build us a fire...which failed miserably, lol. Not for lack of trying, he got some bad wood and with how wet it had been in VT the last week, there was no way he could have gotten it going without girl-scout juice and a torch! Went to bed around 9pm and set my alarm...which is so funny as I always am awake before it rings. :)

I was up and ready by 4:30 as was Steve so we headed up to the race knowing parking would be unreal...with 500 mountain bikers and 300 runners and their cars, it can get a bit hairy. We hung out and did the pre-race thing, met up with other runners, etc...its so funny that I travel almost 2 hours away and will see runners that live in my town or the next town over whom I NEVER see locally, lol.

It was VERY humid, and though it wasn't overly warm at that point, the humidity was definitely going to be a factor. I knew that there had been some changes to the course as it changes a little bit each year, but there were extra changes this year due to the hurricane. The start of the race was different, and I thought I was going to have 4m of easy road running to get into my groove and bank some time...which did not happen. I started slow, which was ok, but never was able to find a groove where I could pick up the pace, which got me in the end as I never got faster, only slower.

During the first miles I had sort of contemplated doing the 50k, as I knew(or thought, anyways) that we had the option of turning off somewhere in the 7-8m range to follow the 50k course. I *thought* I knew where the spot was but when we passed it there was not marked by mile 10 I figured I was stuck in the 50m. My plan then was to simply run until I timed out...whenever that was. I was trying to do the math in my head but...I suck at math. :)

I passed through the 12.5m aid station and saw Leah, aka part of Team Roberts. She was doing the relay and came out of the aid station close behind me so I waited and we ran together. Well, ran until The Hill. Holy hills! That is one long stretch of hill out of that aid station! The view was wonderful but WOW. It was this hill that was my mental undoing. I *would* have liked to run that hill, as insane as it was, but I just didn't have it. We walked and talked and it was great, but inside I was junk. By the time we got to the climbing to the 19/20m aid station I was pretty much toast. The rest of Team Roberts caught up with us, as well as Steve but I had nothing left to even try to keep up. I wish I had tried though, as I may have been closer to the cutoffs and possibly done the whole 50...or not...

Coming down off that hill was misery.  There is NO lack of hills in VT. I had underestimated the amount of hills, or forgotten, or due to re-routing there was more...reguardless, I was expecting to be able to run more flats to even out the damage, but really you were either hiking up a hill or running down which totally trashes your quads.(and knees, oy)I didn't have any motrin until my drop bag at mile 31, which was proving to be a mistake. Somewhere in the next mile or 2 I had decided that I was going to run to 31 and call it a 50k and be done. I knew Leah was tagging her Dad there for the relay so I could bum a ride off her and not have to wait for the van. Once I made that decision(and got some mortin at the next aid station) I started to actually enjoy myself. I was back enough in the pack that I was alone for most of the time, sans meeting some other local runners(local as in MA...SO funny! Very nice gals doing their first 50m races, and both finished!) I plugged along and actually did a fair amount of running in this next 10 miles or so. As I approached the 31mile mark, I did contemplate continuing...but knowing that it wasn't going to get easier, the climbs were going to get downright brutal, coupled with the fact that I had VERY little cushion at this point meant I would be chasing the clock which is a sucky feeling...I was ok with my decision to be done. I felt ok, (though I was juuuust shy of the quease setting in...) I *could* have gone on, but I didn't.

It wasn't a horrible day. It was a good training run, good hours on the feet and legs, and once the sun came out it was SO beautiful! I very much enjoyed the leaves and colors, all the farms, mountains and views... fall in New England! (well, maybe with a little less heat...)

I feel like I did well hydration wise, I never felt overly thirsty and I never got *sloshy* though I did lose WAY more wt. than I am comfortable with. I did not feel like I had, but EEEP! It was close to 10lbs. I did not eat much at all during the race itself, knowing that with the humidity I would undoubtedly be super nauseous if I ate, so I stuck to fruit, and coke, figuring I was getting fluids as well. I drank about 2 20oz bottles every 60-90mins but I was indeed DRENCHED most of the day. I never felt dehydrated though...I may just need to accept this as how my body deals with running Ultras. Since I don't really have any plans of doing a 100 in the near future, I don't have to worry about the weigh-ins just yet :).

Once I finished and got back to the start I showered and headed back to the race to watch people finish. It was great to see some of these people, the *back-of-the-pack* runners who were really gutting it out to get done, I was getting very emotional for some! Seeing parents come in with their kids waiting for them put me right at the edge a few times...missing my kids and family. I realized JUST how much I did miss them and wish they could be there too...

Got to see Steve and Josh finish(Team Roberts) as well as the two local gals I met up with along the way. It was great to see them finish! Said my goodbyes and hit the road...and was home to kiss my kids goodnight :) AND sleep in my own bed, which was especially nice, though my legs kept thinking I was still running and tripping over things, lol. was what it was. I had deticated my race to my friend Emily, who is going through a major health challenge right now, and I thought about her often. Said quite a few prayers for her and knowing how strong she is, helped me get as far as I did when really, I was ready to be done about 5 miles in. So, thanks Em :)

I am thinking alot about these races I do, and where I want to go with running in the future. The more races I do, the more I realize I just like to RUN. Far. I don't care about my time, I never have. Just the fact I can do this, is pretty awesome to me. I will say these big races have lost all appeal to me. Yes, its cool to get the tshirts and the aid stations are huge and there are always people around but...I am very much leaning towards simpy sticking to the small, local stuff...the TARC races, Stone Cat, Peak(though not local, it is one of my favorites and I hope to bring the whole family next year) I actually LIKE being alone during the race, getting in or out of my own head. Yes it is nice to run with people and chat sometimes, but when there are THAT many people in a race, there isn't much opportunity for alone time :)

I realize after going to most of my races alone this year how much I miss not having my family there. Its one thing when I go for the day and am leaving my house and coming back to it that night, its another thing to be gone for the weekend. So, I am very much hoping that Hubby can come to Stone Cat with the kids. I think it would make a world of difference :) I also think that is part of why next year I may stick to the local races, where I can leave and come home all in one day. They are smaller, cheaper, and the family COULD come out if they wanted to. I know it isn't real exciting, but the kids love to work at the aid stations and its nice to look forward to seeing them. I think in a longer race, if that day ever comes that may be a disadvantage but for 50's its just fine :)

I was supposed to do a BDay run but...I am thinking I am going to bail on my own run. I just can't get it together between now and then. So, I am hoping to jump in with someone doing the RANH, and let that be my 40 for 40 run :) Then I will gear up for SC, hopefully ending the season with a bang!

For now...I am going to go sit on my porch and watch my chickens with my feet up. Seems I now have snauseges for toes... :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

TARC 12 hour Race Report

Why, yes...yes I did do a race 2 weeks after my last one. :)
Poor planning on my part but I signed up for this one months ago and then I HAD to do the Race Around the Lake...ah, well. I felt great going in to this race, I felt great after the last race despite the HELL that was the humid and rain that night so I figured all was right in the world :) I tried to take it easy these 2 weeks but...ah, me and tapering/resting are not friends, lol.

The weather eading up to this race was fantastic. Cool and dry...I figured race day would be perfect. I did not mind the weather though it did feel a bit humid, there was plenty of tree coverage which kept the sun off of us all day. This was the first time for this race on this course and I will say I believe it went off without a hitch. The course was well marked (*I* did not get lost! Only once did I get a little confused) the aid station was VERY well stocked, there was never any lack for water...a big one for me. The volunteers were fantastic and supportive ALL day. It was absoutely a race I would do again. The course itself was a great 6.5m loop with varied terrain, hills and just enough technical *stuff* for me. I ended up doing 43.2 miles in 11:32 as I did the half lap option at the end, plus the mile *short-cut* back to the start/finish. Even though it wasn't the mileage I wanted, I had a great day. It was so fantastic to be out there running miles and miles in the woods with a cool bunch of people.

It was great to see the TUGers out there representin' as well as meeting a few new friends and reconnecting with others. I had all intentions of doing 50 miles but my legs weren't having it. I could not keep my legs under me! I fell twice in the first lap, and several times during the second...I was doing fairy well pace-wise, and thought I could have easily kept it up except for the fact that until I slowed down, I continued to fall! So, I slowed down, and called it good training and time on my feet :) It was great though as it gave me the opportunity to run with some people I wouldn't have otherwise, and got to spend several laps with Brenda M. which was awesome. She had decided to take it easy and enjoy the day as well...otherwise I couldn't have kept up with her!

I wasn't able to eat all that much during the race per usual, but I did drink plenty and was only down 5lbs when I got home which was great. That is easy enough to put back with a good meal and a liter or 2 of fluid. I feel like I am getting MUCH better with that piece, which in turn makes my runs better, and recovery quicker. And speaking of recovery....I could have run YESTERDAY. Seriously, I had NO leg fatigue whatsoever. I had some slight soreness in my legs but honestly, my ARMS hurt more from all the falls I took and trying to lessen my impact with the earth, lol. Course my knee hurts too from ripping it open twice more but that's just par for the course. I don't know if I have EVER done a race where I didn't fall at least once. Actually, I don't think I have ever been on the trail and not fallen...doh! Also, I cannot say enough about the Hokas! They are absolutey the best and once again saved my feet and legs during another race. I think I like the Bondi's better than the Mafate's...I'll have to see what I think of the stinsons when I try them. :)

One thing I did realize from this race is that I REALLY need to get on the trails more. I just don't put in the time training on trails I should. I live 2 miles from a trail head at Mt Wachusett, and there is another trail  to ??? a mile away...and I don't run there, why exactly? Yeah, my new goal leading up to VT50 is to get out on the trails at least twice a week. I know I could do better time-wise if I ran trails more and *practiced* the footing, etc. VT50 is tough for me with the tight cut-offs and if it rains I will be almost destined for a DNF...once the bikes muck up the trail it becomes damn near impossible to get anywhere. If it is dry, I do think I have a decent shot at finishing as long as I get some trail time in between now and then. I have been diligently following a strength training program since June, increasing my overall mileage, and getting my hydration issues under control so not much is standing in my way except whatever race day holds! My health has been holding steady which has been fantastic and aside from the insomnia and food allergy craziness I feel SO much better than I ever have. I have my 6mo appt. with my immunologist next week and I am  excited to see him! I am sure he will run labs but I expect that everything will actually look good and he will be quite happy. I really believe as long as I stay on the LDN things will continue to be ok. Someday I hope to be able to go off it but I know from reading that most people can't...and honestly, I am ok with that. I wouldn't trade feeling this good for anything! I am SO incredibly grateful for this health!

So, I took Sunday AND today off! It is torrentially raining here and I did feel a little out-of-gas last night so I figured sleep and rest might not be a bad thing and Monday is normally a rest day for me I am. :) I expect I will be back at it tomorrow morning, rain or shine...VT50 will be here before I know it!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

How's about a little race report? :)

Ah, yes. The Race Around the Lake. Did I mention I never wanted to do this race again after my innagural time? No? Gee, it must have slipped my mind...

I was certianly well trained heading in, and I even *gasp* tapered...sorta. But when the race began, it all went to shit.

My eldest boy-child came along to be my crew, and we left early to avoid all the predicted traffic. We avoided it, thankfully and got a prime parking spot on the water at the start/finish. My *neighbor* was an ultra-dude there with his daughter so our kids became buddies for the duration. He was there to attempt the 24hr, having done many a 100 miler. The kids went off to volunteer, and we did our pre-race thing.

I had been hydrating, had a snack,changed and waited for the race to begin. It was pretty humid, but I was hopeful as there was plenty of cloud coverage. It never did more than sprinkle pre race, and I wasn't really worried about the rain, more the humidity.

We had our pre-race meeting where the possibility of having to stop the race due to lightning was discussed...seriously? It was bc of the silly marathoners, I am sure. When have you ever known an Ultra to be stopped due to to ANY sort of weather unless it is catastrophic? What's a little lightning? The one and only Wapak I ever did started with lightning striking all around about unsettling...but I digress. Wait, one more thing...Marathoners. A very different breed from Ultrarunners. I am generalizing but MOST marathoners are awfully...well, they aren't like ultrarunners. The liter on the course? ALL came during the marathon. The ultra group put their cups AND trash in the MANY trash cans around the course. The Marathoners put their gu and cup trash, oh, wherever. Really? Because the extra drag from carrying that gu rapper to the nearest can would totally kill your PR...Ugh.

OK, moving on. The 3 races all start together and we do this little jaunt out-and-back to get our marathon piece in as we all get a marathon split.  I had intended on doing one of 3 things: beating the record of 61 miles(which this year would have been 62m) winning the woman's race, and/or beating my last time on the course which was 53 miles in 11:30. This is the ONLY ultra I ever have a shot at placing in, so I try to :) As soon as we started running, I thought I may have to re-evaluate as it was farking HUMID as hell.

During my first lap, I tripped and fell on a dirt path section, skidding to a stop and tearing up my knee, leg and 2 fingers. Srsly? If this is any indication of things to come, I thought, I am screwed.  As I ran to the aid station, gushing blood from my knee, I thought gee...can't imagine what people must be thinking of my sad state...

My first split was a bit sower than I anticipated and honestly I did not feel great. However, I didn't think much of it as I know it takes me a bit to warm up. Except by mile 18, I was ready to quit. This sucked. I was sweating SO profusely, it was making me nervous. I was drinking a bottle every lap AND drinking water at each aid station, taking salt every hour, and after 3 hours I could no longer eat, and I hadn't eaten much thus far. I started to walk. I was not pleased. I think I would have walked off the course at this point if my friend and fellow TUGger wasn't coming out at midnight to run with me. So, I kept plugging along. I decided to try a 5 hour energy drink and a sock and shoe change as at this point I had been running in the rain as well as my crazy-ass sweating. I was having some concerns, as I flashed back to the debacle of VT100 last year, as my sweating/lack of eating was eerily familiar. I was NOT going to do anything stupid. I knew I was overheating big time and I couldn't figure out why. So I would run a bit, and walk until I cooled off.

The race course was a sad state of things. LOTS of walking MUCH earlier than I would have expected, and had seen previously when I did this race. Lots of puking as well. That is NEVER a good sign. People were really suffering in the heat. Stomach issues in varying degrees were the norm and I handed out quite a bit of ginger as well as taking it myself. Go figure...they had HEED as the alternate drink to water...Someday RD's will get that there aren't many people that can drink that stuff. I heard quite a few people saying they were fine until they drank the Heed...Hmmm...

Right on time, my friend Bill showed up and I told him my tale of woe. I apoligized that we wouldn't be doing much, and he was a gentleman about it. I figured I would get in 50k and quit. That was a good training run and I would be ok with that. I was not down with suffering all night. Then, they put up a leaderboard. After a few laps, my name appeared on it in second place. I told Bill now I HAD to keep running! There was enough of a buffer between the 3 places that as long as I kept moving, I figured I could at least stay in second pace. So, off we went.

I was drinking water, Coke and taking salt and ginger. That was all I could get in. I just hoped it was enough. We ran most of every lap, sans a few that I had to wait for my stomach to not completely revolt. Bill was an AWESOME walker, and did not let me dip below 15min/miles when we walked and when we ran he went out ahead so I had to chase him a bit which was perfect. We chatted and I got more miles in with him than alone and he is the sole reason I not only finished but got second place.

When I hit my 15th lap, I knew it would be my last. I probably could have gone out for one more, but I was D.O.N.E. and I knew that the 3rd place gal could not catch up no matter what. My feet were complete prunes from being wet for 11 hours, I was chaffed EVERYWHERE from being wet for so long and my stomach had done enough sloshing, thanks. I got changed and tried to drink...not the best idea. The nausea did not leave me for a very long time...ugh.

The RD handed out our awards, a cool plaque and a North Face gift card for $50! :) The 3rd place girl was someone I wanted to smack, as she was all butt-hurt when we finished bc she thought she didn't place. She was bitching about it and generally being very unsportsmanly. I had congratulated her TWICE on her mileage (41 miles, which is pretty darn good!) she ignored me. I thought in my head, if you are pissed you didn't place, you should have run faster and done more laps. Regardless, she was 2 laps behind me and 4 laps behind the winner and based on previous yearsfinishing times and miles, she wouldn't have even been in the top ten. THEN, she ended up getting 3rd anyways! AND she told the RD, when he gave her her award, that she was pissed and wasn't going to do the race again until she found out she placed. REALLY???? Wow. I guess I simply have a different mindset. Unless you are in that SMALL minority of elite ultra-runners, you aren't going to place. Its just not going to happen. So...why not simply run for the fun of it, try to improve for yourself and be happy with your accomplishments? 41 miles is a distance most people can't run, don't want to run and she did. Be happy about that! Oy. The thing that made this incident less annoying to me was the fact that the winning 12hr male was SUPER nice, very cool, and just a generally awesome guy. He was one of my ginger recipiants and thanked me after the race as it really helped him to keep going, which I was so glad about as he won :) He is a newer up-and-coming local ultra runner so I was glad to meet him and see that he was as cool as he was :)...especially after pouty woman was all, well, pouty.

So, NOW I am saying NO EFFING WAY to this race ever again. I really am not a fan of loop courses with loops that short. The lack of any sort of elevation stinks, and it just isn't for me despite the fact I don't mind running on the roads. I do think its a great run for someone trying an ultra for the first time as it is definitely very do-able and a good confidence builder. There were at least 2 people there who had done their first ultras and it was awesome to see them finish! :)

I said good-bye to my neighbor and wished him well as he had 11 more hours to go. We headed home and I proceeded to be a sloth for the rest of the day. I tried to start eating and drinking by the afternoon and it was going well so I figured whatever was up with my stomach had righted itself. My weight was pretty good despite my profuse sweating, which was awesome! I was definitely concerned about it, but even though I felt like crap, the salt/fluids I was taking in was enough to keep my weight from dropping outside of an acceptable range. Its good to be getting a handle on this whole hydrating thing FINALLY! :)

Today, I agreed to move furniture. Uh...yeah. What was I thinking? After which, I will begin the process of eating everything that isn't nailed down, my usual post-ultra tradition :) Then hopefully tonight I will be taking a long, hot bath. Or not...chaffing + water = screaming. ;)

Monday, June 6, 2011

How 'bout a race report? :)

Peak 53. Wow.

I went into this race undertrained. I didn't think of it that way, but really I have only been running regularly again since March and this last month has been the first real *training* month I have had in a long time. It was really important to me to FINISH this race...I have not been able to complete an Ultra since last May. I did the Peak 50k, after having dropped down to it from the 53 mile. Looking back, it is when I started my slow decline in health. I was able to hang on until the fall, but when I really think honestly about it, VT 100 should have never even been on my radar, and I was not able to finish any other Ultras thereafter. We won't discuss what last winter was like...needless to say, I was feeling really depressed and worried that my short-lived Ultra career was over. This LDN that I am on has saved my life. I know I m not *cured* but my body is working again and it has given me my life back. And, it has given me my running back.

On to Peak... :)

I had a healthy amount of fear of this race, for good reason. There is a bit of elevation, to say the least, and it is supposed to be one of the hardest 50+ mile races on the east coast, if not THE hardest. I was prepared as best I could have been, given the time I spent preparing :).

I slept over in my car at the start of the race and awoke to CHILLY temps. It was not supposed to get above 70 degrees for the day, plus the tree coverage, made for perfect weather for me to attempt this race.
We went off at 6am and my intention was to run a 14ish hour race, given what I knew about the terrain, and the dreaded Bloodroot loop. I wanted to bank time knowing that Bloodroot would eat up a huge chunk of my day.

I felt great, settled into a good pace running whenever I could and hiking the hills. My poles were THE best investment and worth carrying as they helped tremendously. We came to the first chin-scraping climb that basically ended the race for me last year. It is somewhere in the first 5ish miles(I think) and I headed into it nice and slow. I came out of that feeling great. I hit the first of 3 stops at our major aid station and was feeling wonderful! I headed out on a 6m loop that would bring me back to the same aid station and I have to say this was one of my favorite sections of the race. I met a new running friend and we spent some enjoyable time on this loop chatting and passing the miles.

At mile 18 and the aid station, I met up with KZ which was a pleasant and welcomed surprise as I didn't expect to run with him at all. We got to head out to the *dreaded* Bloodroot together and actually ran the rest of the race together as well, which was totally the best (for me, though he may have regreted his decision when I hit my breaking point...but I digress)Off we went.

Bloodroot was what I feared the most. As it turned out, the nettles and other prickery-type brush had not had a chance to grow, so there wasn't much at all! The climbs though...holy moly. I love hills, I love to climb and actually enjoyed Bloodroot for the most part. The climbs were relentless though, and if you weren't in the right headspace, it could do you in for sure. That loop is a bit of a mind f*ck too as it is labeled as 19 miles but it turns out to be more, and the aid isn't EXACTLY where you expect it to be( isn't exacty the most accessable place, lol) I ran out of water once and food once which was a bit sketchy as I started to get weak but we made it out of the loop and to aid at 37(or 41) miles just in time. It took us 7 hours to get through 19(or 23) miles. That is a long time. We weren't strolling in the park either, we were moving at the best clip we could, given the terrain. We were the last runners at that point.

Off we went for what I figured were about 15 more miles. Food helped and we were able to run(or fast shuffle, in my case) for a bit. I forgot my poles at the aid station which I soon regreted as we got to another insane cimb. It wasn't too long though, and sticks found along the way helped.

I don't remember a WHOLE ot of the remaining miles. I know once we got to the final 6-7 miles I had reached my emotional limit. I had spent some time really thinking about the race, knowing I was going to finish, how important that was to me after being so sick for the winter...I went from not being abe to get off the couch to running one of the hardest 50's...I was overwhelmed. I usually start thinking about my kids around this time, which always makes me emotional...then we hit the top of the mountain....Last year when I hit that point I cried. You come out into this clearing, surrounded by mountains and nature and it is so unbeievaby beautiful...I sob. Well, this year was no different. Somewhere around this time I also let KZ know I was done. D.O.N.E. I wanted to finish, I wanted to be done and I was toast.

And, it was getting dark.

I do not have the best headlamp, and I am a little iffy about night running in the woods(which I am DEFINITEY going to practice before pacing at VT!) so not only was I tired at that point but I was not in the best headspace to deal with the night running. Not being able to see where I was, I had no way to know when we hit the final switchbacks. I simply followed KZ's feet. We ran when we could, shuffled when we couldn't and finally hit the last bridge...and I knew we were almost home. Overwhemed again, I got teary as I was going to finish! For real! We heard everyone yelling for us and around the bend, up the last hill...and we were done!

I was DFL, in 16:28. Not a stellar time, by any stretch, but it was never about the time for me. It was about the finish. And I finished.

It is still sinking in. :)

I have to say, I really don't know if I would have finished without KZ with me. We have run together at races before and we have the awesome ability to run long amounts of time together. I don't know if I can say that about anyone else, but we can do it. We intuitively know when to talk, when to shut up, when to lead and when to follow. We space ourselves apart a bit when we need to get in our own heads, and we can be there when we need to encourage. I only hope I can and do help him as much as he helps me. I know he got how much this meant to me, how important this race was and I am so glad I got to conquere this with him :) Love ya, Dude :)

Aside from some stiffness in my legs, overall I feel great. I love my Hokas, they were so totally fantastic to run in, I felt NONE of the normal leg pain and fatigue I would have expected under those circumstances. I think I didn't lube my feet enough and shoud have changed socks once and didn't which lead to the horrid blisters I have on my right foot. It is also rediculously swollen and painful. My overall fluid retention is pretty normal, and I think its because I have been now drinking during long runs(race) to thirst instead of worrying about drinking too much. My weight was pretty good once I finally checked it, and switching back to Scaps worked wonders on my elecrtolyte stability. I probably should have had a few more things to eat but I managed.

Overall, I could not have asked for a better experience. I am totally happy with what I did and feel so great about any upcoming races I plan to do, having conquered this beast. :)

Congrats to all my other running buds who kicked ass on this course this weekend...Loni and Josh you guys rocked it, and Christine....3rd are IT! :) Michelle is was awesome to see you out there, especially at 37 when a friendly face made a HUGE difference :)

Now...back to eating anything that isn't nailed down... :)

Oh, and Lyme Disease? You can kiss my ass. :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1-1-11 Frosty First Frozen Fat Ass 50k...or something like that :)

Well, the Frosty went off without a hitch :) We all (all 4 of us) headed out at midnight for out 4 loops. I had driven the course earlier in the day so I knew what to expect and what to warn people of. The 'snow sections' were not bad at all, and made for an interesting distraction. The weather was as perfect as a night in January could be with mostly clear skies and temps in the high 30's. We had set up an aid station in the garage with the usual Ultra fare, plus some veggie stew.  As we were gearing up to head out, a last minute entry arrived which was very cool (and became even more cool one I realized just how speedy our new pal Mark was, as he would have been slowed down painfully if he had to stay with KZ and I) We (or maybe it was just KZ and I) were lamenting how we didn't know WHO the rocket scientist was that thought it would be a good idea to run at midnight was, but we were darn near ready to beat her about the head...then go to bed ;) But, being the crazies we are, ended up going out and running instead.

We all headed out on our first lap together so everyone could learn the course. Despite a headwind that lasted about a mile (then smacked you for the last .5 of each loop) it was great. After the first loop, the 2 speedier dudes took off never to be seen again until they almost lapped us at the end :)

I felt great for the first loop and a half, after which my knees really started to swear at me in several languages. KZ was kind enough to share his motrin with me at the halfway point making the next 2 laps much more plesant knee-wise. But...then my stomach decided to revolt. Ugh! It was an odd revolt though, one I had not experienced before and I wasn't sure WTF was going on, but it pretty much rendered me unable to eat much of anything at a time it would have been helpful to do so. Switching to plain water and trying to eat ginger periodically helped some, but it was an uncomfortable lump of miles there...

I was in good company, I will say. As always, KZ and I have the established understanding after havig run many a mile together whereby we can spend time chatting, waxing philosophic and being silent very comfortably with each other. This is an important skill set in Ultras, particularly if you are going to spend MANY hours together as you definitely go many places during these types of runs. Its cool to be able to do that along side a friend. I don't know many other people I could run with for that long :)

We zipped through the aid station for the last time as I warned KZ that I was not dilly-dallying as I just wanted to get this done. I kew it would be light soon and though I was looking forward to the sunrise, I was also starting to feel the fact we had been up all night. Towards the last few miles, I had to keep telling myself why it would NOT be wise to *just close my eyes for a couple minutes*...I also thought my kidneys were doing bad things but later realized that it was just muscle soreness in my back (you were right, K)

Though I ended up running slower than I anticipated, it was overall a great run and a great time had! I had anticipated doing somewhere in the vicintity of 6:30 and it ended up being something in the neighborhood of 7:40ish which I am hoping means I will recover quicker as I didn't really overdo it. Other than some expected stiffness, post-coma-nap I am feeling pretty good. The speedy dudes finished in the neighborhood of 5:45ish and almost lapped us as we were heading out for our final lap as they were sprinting to the finish(yes, they were indeed sprinting after running 32 miles...) Bottom line, I do believe a good time was had by all and by golly I actually fiished an Ultra I set out to do. I started 2011 with an Ultra, and I am pretty darn happy about that. :) I am thinking ahead to next NYE and doing the Frosty again...I am thinking a trail version :)

Thanks to KZ, Mark and Jeff for coming out and gettin' your run on with me and a big congrats going out to Mark for completing hin first Ultra distance race! You are going to be a force to be recconed with, methinks :)