Daily Chatter

Friday, June 29, 2012

Four 4 Friday - What I've Learn in VA

In Virginia it really doesn't seem to matter what time of day or how many miles, my legs and every other spot on my body will appear to be melting after 10 minutes of running.  I also learned that sweating your weight in presprition does not equate to weighing nothing.  It can however result in wanting to passout if I don't jump in the pool fast enough.

For a while my hubbs worked in pest elimination.  Part of his job requirement was taking courses about various pests and elimination practices.  It may have been his requirement but I actually did them.  Okay we were young and dating and I was a pushover...
I do now enjoy a little extra usually useless knowledge thanks to those hours of courses. 
I found it helpful when I discovered that our new home in VA has an over abundance of assassins.  Fairly certain my little insect squatters are wheel bugs.  Their bite is very painful. 
If you are unfortunately enough to get bitten, a little Chlorox will help stop the stinging.

Since being in Va I have learned that my kids find fruit much more interesting if they get to pick it off a tree...or the ground....themselves.

Unlike previously thought, I not only like but I LOVE air conditioning!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Peaks and Valleys

Yesterday's One Word Wednesday was JOY.

Today I am feeling more JOY as I focus on some exciting things coming up.
Amanda at Run to the Finish is hosting another great challenge; the July Abs Challenge.  I hopeful that I can use this as part of a spring board to get my fitness routine back on track. 
Yes, I run everyday however running alone does not make a body fit enough to handle the challenges I want to handle.

Speaking of challenges one of the next ones penned in for the fall is the Megatransect.
Looks like a lot of fun, huh?

I only wish this event was sooner because I think it would have been great training for a race that I probably won't get to do this fall The Ring.  This event seems to be a bit of an ultra runner's cult kinds thing.  There are requirements for getting in.  I'm not sure that I will be able to meet those requirements by race day.  But the seed has planted it's self in my brain, that desire to risk pushing myself beyond is back and I am now filled with JOY again. 

JOY at the thought of risking failing by trying something I haven't yet done. 
Even if I have to beg a race director or two.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Little Late Gardening

With wrapping up daily life in PA, I missed out planting a spring garden in VA.  I do however have my veggies in my "pot" garden on the deck.  I worked in a few extra pots to plant some late flowers and replant some herbs. 
In a old parsley pot I found a swallowtail caterpillar.  It was a great opportunity to talk with the kids about how life changes and through those changes often we find new, more beautiful ways to live our lives.  Yeah, I'm clever like that.  Using our surroundings to teach lessons, making those moments count and reassuring the kids that life, no matter what form it takes, will be an amazing positive adventure.  I think the kids bought it.  And it made me feel better about things too.

We planted a lot of pots and planters while that little caterpillar munched on parsley.  Now, just like our newly evolving life, I can't wait to see what grows!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Reasons Why I Run Every Day

This weekend was filled with lots of reasons why I need to run every day.

I blame it on Pinterest but this yummy sinful dish wasn't even on my radar until I looked at Pinterest.  And then all the sudden, I couldn't think of anything better to serve as a snack for S'ghetti girl's sleep over. 

Blame Pinterest again for this one.  Crack Potatoes.  Yes, they are call Crack because they are a bit addictive.  I have to admit I altered the extremely rich recipe a bit but it was still run inducing yummy!

Over indulging in food aside, there was the extended sleep over.  It's always nice to have extra playmates for the kids to spend time with however that added personality can sometimes up the need a run gauge a notch or two.

Lastly, Day #777 was Sunday. 
That was a great reason to get out for a celebratory run with LBM.  We enjoyed running 7.77 miles to mark the day.  Afterward I noticed that all the extra sweating from the heat had left a mark on me.

Friday, June 22, 2012

All Kinds of Busy

I only have a minute to share a few great things from my day so far.  After my morning run which was again a major sweat-fest, I did something a little out of character for me.

I painted my finger nails.  Now I remember why I don't do this very often.  It takes a long time and then I don't want to do anything that might mess then up.  Well that will last until we jump in the pool.  At least they will look nice for our Friday Family Date Night tonight.  Like the rest of the country we are going to see Brave.  The kids have been dying to see it!  And it was great ammunition to get them to be active and behave today. 

Like when I said we were going to a walk to get a little exercise.  S'ghetti girl actually ran!  She was just eager to have you workout over and hit the pool but she did leave LBM and I in the dust. 

But in our defense I was getting in a little backpacking practice with my wiggle little 30 pound pack.  I should be in great shape to hike Old Rag again soon!

Where is your favorite hiking spot?  with the kids or without?
Do you "do" your nails?
Do you bribe your kids to keep them active?

Get out and LOVE the weekend.  It's going to be a great one!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

All Kinds of Wet

Thinking back to Massanutten and my worries that if I got in I might have an issue with the heat, now seem hilarious to me.  It amuses me that I thought it would be hot in early May.  I don't think I knew what hot was until I tried running in Virgina at 4 in the afternoon yesterday. 

I felt after a measly run of 4 miles that my entire body had melted.  Without much cover on the route I choose and no breeze at all, I ended my brief run soaked from heat to toe.  In time I assume I will get used to the temperatures and find a better schedule to fit in my outside miles but until there I am sure I will be spending me days soaking wet...

one way or another.

How early do you get up to get your miles in before the heat?
Or do you suck it up and run outside regardless?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ultra Running: The Prerequisite for Oral Surgery

I had elective oral surgery.  Isn't that an oxymoron?  If it isn't it should be.  Regardless my morning consisted of pushing myself to face a few fears and overcome some more discomfort.  My oral surgeon also happens to be an athlete.  He is into running and cycling but recently added some serious hiking to his resume so we often chat about, what else, running.  And the lengths we go to to push ourselves beyond what we saw as our limits.  But in doing so we often find that we have just made ourselves uncomfortable.

It seems a lot of the things I am choosing to do lately are making me uncomfortable.  From my recent attempt to stretch the limits in my ultra mileage to moving from a home I've had my entire life, things lately have felt uncomfortable.  A little like the first mile after a creek crossing when you've gotten little bits of sediment in your shoes.  It doesn't quite hurt, you just know something is not right.

What I am excited for are the days to come.  Those days that will feel like those miles when you've finally gotten the sediment worked out and your feet are cool for the creek.  I look forward to a routine to appear in our days.  I'm eager to build some relationships in the locala running group.  I'm happy the kids will have the whole summer to explore their new surrounds. 

And because I don't want to get too used to being uncomfortable, I think its time for a little white pain pill and more fun in the pool.  See, a routine is already forming.

Monday, June 18, 2012

2 weeks or 132.4 miles

It's been two weeks of summer vacation. It's been two weeks since I punched a time clock.  It's been two weeks of doing what ever we want.


We have spent a lot of time at the pool playing with family and friends.

When we weren't pool side, we were busy attempting to begin process Big Move.  Having never moved before I did not realize several things.  First just how much stuff I have that I never move or use at all.  And just how attached I can get about all the unused stuff. 

It's going to take a lot of running to offset the stress of going through, getting rid and relocating a lifetime of stuff.  I think I am off to a healthy run to pack ratio so far!

Any helpful hints on how to make the move less stressful?
Do you organize it all as you move or once you are relocated?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

L.O. & Ts

If I think my shoes are getting close to needed replaced, replace them before the next big race.

I should be a Body Glide test subject because I am the chafing queen!

When I have dropped shoes I should run through a few creeks even when there is a bridge.

I should never use gear that I haven't tested well.


A 100 oz CamelBak loaded with gear weighs A LOT.

I can make really great friends with a person after spending 50 miles with them.

The distance to step off the trail in the event of a nature call is directly dependant on the urgency of said nature call.

A course that is too dry will result in blisters.


I think the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail has some of the most beautiful rock formations I have ever seen.

I think point to point races are the hardest to run.

I think I am even stronger than I thought I was.

I think crossing the finish line at Laurel next year will be the sweetest satisfaction!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Laurel Highlands Ultra 70.5 - Race Report

2012 Laurel Highlands Ultra 70.5


My adventure began at 3 o'clock Saturday morning.  I had everything packed and ready so that my hubbs and I could get out the door as quickly as possible.  As much as I like trying to include my family in my ultra adventures, my experiences so far have typically been smoother and more successful when I go solo.  This time our plans changed three times in the days prior to the race which added to the stress of tackling so many limits in one event.  Regardless of the stress, we reached Ohiopyle in plenty of time to check in, grab a bite to eat and meet a few fellow runners. 

With a 5:30 a.m. race start I didn't get to enjoy the view of the river before the race start.  I spent my last stationary moments chatting with runners and getting words of encouragement from my husband.  Before I realized it, the pack of runners was moving and off I ran into the hardest adventure I have yet endured.

Thanks Glenn for reminding me to stop and catch a photo!

Knowing that this race would present the longest stretches between aid stations of any race I have yet run, I had packed on my 100oz Camelbak.  In hindsight, this would become one of many factors that played into how my adventure would unfold.  Breaking all runners logic, this would be the first long run I had ever carried it and the only time with so much gear packed.  When I ran much faster than a quick jog, the pack shifted on my shoulders.  I was also unable to retrieve much of anything while running.  That fact was first realized when I tried to catch a photo of this amazing view early in the race. 

I ran this race wanting to take another step towards longer ultra events.  Fate did not allow me into Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 this year so it took little encouragement for me to shift my plans and jump into Laurel Highlands with little regard for the details.  Details like elevation profiles.  And that would come into play over the first 11 miles of the race. 

It felt as though I was climbing nearly the entire time before the first aid station at mile 11.  The level of technical difficulty on a trail is very subjective.  As one's fitness level and experience grows stronger words like runnable apply more often.  Even though I have been running ultras for a while now I felt a bit under conditioned early in the race.  The majority of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is for just that, hiking.  Running is reserved for a minority of sections.  Over 70 miles of climbs, descents, rocks, rocks, rocks, roots, squeezes, and did I mention rocks; the ability to suffer well begins to decline.

Even as the trail was taking a toll on my body it was also giving a bounty of inspiration in the beautiful views.  Although I was feeling my effort early in the race, I was still enjoying the trails and the fellow runners who I shared them with. 

As the day brightened and the forest reveled it's self, it was easy to only think about the steps I was taking at the moment and set aside any thoughts of the hours and challenges to come.  Within the first four miles I found myself running without the runner ahead of me in sight.  I could see several runners behind me and could hear their conversations but enjoyed the solitude of the distances when the only footfalls were my own. 

Solo miles are also nice for those moments when stress, effort and just bad timing collide and you find yourself in need of a substantial tree.  As luck would have it the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is very nature call friendly.  The unfortunate cumulative effect of needing to find a welcoming tree far enough off the trail for repeated nature calls is you slide farther and farther back in the pack and closer and closer to cut off times.

 As I emerged from a length visit with a particularly accommodating tree, I saw Diane run past.  I hurried to catch her as we had just met that morning after chatting on line about the race.  She had mentioned that she felt she would be "chasing cut offs" when we talked online (for the record, she ran to a comfortable finish time in a 70.5 mile event after starting ultra running this year!  Congrats Diane!).  When I caught up to her and check our time we were pacing for a 20-21 hour finish but it was much too early to know how things would go.  We chatted and shared several miles.


As I ran into the first aid station with Diane, I was happily greeted by Kim who was spending the weekend enjoying the trails and volunteering. Kim had repeatedly provided me with great advice any time I had a question on a particular race with your lengthy ultra running experience.  She had asked if I had any requests for something special to be available at the time I thought, 'it would "only" be mile 11 what could I possibly need so early', so I only mentioned ginger ale.  In the end it was Kim's presence at that aid station that helped the most.  Since I was dealing with stomach issues since the early miles without Kim's encouragement I would have skipped eating anything.  Instead when Diane encouraged me to leave the aid station, I stayed and ate some banana pieces and pb&J.  Of course it was all washed down with some stomach settling ginger ale.
Thanks Kim!


Leaving the first aid station I knew that it was nearly 8 miles to the next aid station.  That distance seemed more manageable.  So with my stomach now settled and armed with the information that this next section would be more runnable, I set off. 

Aid station 2 brought more of the same, bananas, pb&j, some salt, baby potato and top off my pack.  Between station 2 and 3 lay another 6.7 miles.  Between 3 and 4 another 6.3 miles.  At 32.3 miles and getting close to 10 hours on my feet, I was already looking forward to my drop bag at mile 46+ at the 6th aid station.  But that wouldn't come for another 14 miles.

Along the way between all these pauses at aid stations I did see some wonderful things.  It is amazing how uplifting it is to see an unexpected friendly face.  I was happily surprised by friends, Troy and his daughter Nicole out on the trail.  They both got a big sweaty hug and I was refreshed by the mear exchange of a few words.  After joking that I expected them to rest up and meet me at the last aid station to pace me in, I had to keep moving forward.

Due to my delays early in the race I was quickly chasing aid station cut offs.  My garmin had died at just over 13 hours and while it wasn't tracking 100% it was an easier way to check pace instead of doing the math off my regular watch and the concrete mile markers.  I didn't see them all and in fact, completely forgot to take a photo of one but they were an amazing thing later in the race.  The uplifting feeling of seeing them and looking forward to the next one. 

As our little group of runners; Leonard, Minnie, Sharon and myself entered the 6th aid station we only had about 6 minutes until the cut off.  We each had planned to at least partially change clothes and shoes.  I know that the volunteers have given of their entire day.  Their work is the reason why we all can safely do these things.  But this was the first time I was running at the back of the pack and have never had the volunteers telling me I had to leave.  I pulled all the gear out that I could quickly think I wanted and offered to set my things up the trail and change "out" of the aid station.  The volunteers brought me pbjs and filled my pack for me.  I know they were only trying to adhere to the rules but in hindsight I should have skipped the shoe change and spent with little time I had eating.  After hustling out of the aid station way under fueled, we continued on our way together. 

Backtracking a little bit here but I have to mention a few more amazing sights along the way.  One of the few times we were out in the open, we were running through Seven Springs Resort.  We ran around a lake and then down and under ski lifts.  Given the need to run quickly when the terrain allowed, I didn't get a photo from the slopes or of the snake that I almost stepped on but both added to a running experience filled with firsts.

Another first was finding a milebox as we can up yet another climb.  Of course, we spared a moment to each sign it.

I was surprised to see that no other runner from the race had signed it.  I already look forward to going back next year and seeing if I can find my first entry.

We now had 11 miles before the 57ish mile aid station.  It would get dark before we got there and we were all wanting to keep our pace quicker before it got dark.  We took turns taking lead and allowing everyone else to simply follow.  It is remarkable how much energy you can save by simply following and not having to watch for the blazed trail markers. 

Along this section before it got dark I found a walking stick.  Someone had left it propped up again a tree at the bottom of a climb.  Odd.  But it turned out to be a lifesaver.  Maybe a slight overstatement but I will be getting hiking poles soon!
At the 7th aid station I questioned if I should continue.  Sharon and I had been sharing fluid because the volunteer had not filled Sharon's pack and it was completely empty.  We only had about 3 minutes to cut off at this aid station.  They filled my pack and I took a cup of soup which helped me realize that I was completely under fueling.  But we pushed on with 5 miles to the next station.

The issues. 
My feet. 
 The Laurel Highlands trail did not provide many opportunities to cool my feet.  I wish I had stepped into the few creeks that had running water in them to simply cool my feet.  Even though I had changed my shoes, I was attempting to suffer well through several issues.  My feet had given me another first.  Blisters on the soles of my feet.  Rarely do I ever get blisters anywhere but I have never gotten them on the bottom of my feet.  Every step was a concentration in foot placement to avoid hitting them on any rocks I might have to step on. 

At one of my many nature calls I realized that I was chafing on the inside of my right leg. Although I had noticed it was hurting and I had used wipes to attempt to remove some salt build up, since I was unable to change my shorts at my drop bag the chafing was deep enough that my leg was now covered in blood and was swollen. I tried to adjust my CEP short tights to keep the seam from doing any further damage but I knew there was little hope of that.

The dark.
Surprisingly the dark was less of an issue than I thought it would be. However it did reduce our pace to a level that we were stressing over making the finish within the time limit. I am so thankful that Sharon was running with me. The hours of night trail running at Laurel have helped me overcome a lot of fears I had about my ability to handle this added element.

Over the 5 miles many things happened.  I saw Sharon someone who I hadn't even known before this race, push herself to a point where she was literally walking off trail and falling asleep on her feet.  I knew that my discomfort from what I thought was just chafing had reached a point where it had become pain.  I was worried that pain meant I had hurt myself on one of the many trip and stumbles along the trail.  I wasn't feeling tired but knew that Sharon was.  She was not eating so I gave her my GU Roctane thinking it might help her make the cutoff. 

The Sweeper.
I should remember his name but I was simply functioning on moving forward at this point.  His added conversation was welcome but it couldn't keep my mind from questioning if I was making a good decision and each step was telling me something was wrong.

As we entered the 8th aid station at mile 62.5, after a mile on a rocky jeep trail, the sweeper asked me how I was doing and I replied, "terrible."  He told me I was supposed to lie.  I knew that if I had to talk too much the tears would come.  Because I knew that with only 8ish miles to go I was going to do what I had never done before.

There were tears as the amazing aid station workers helped me work out getting my hubbs to the remote place I was.  I gave Sharon the walking stick that had worn three holes in my hand over the miles I had carried it.  I felt she could make the cutoff without me because in my exhausted mind I was holding her back.  But the biggest factor was I simply didn't feel that those extra 8 miles would mean any more to me than the almost 63 that I had already endured.

It was a day of many firsts, some more positive than others but all of it has helped get me to a place that is closer to where I want to be.  A place where I can push myself even if sometimes I get pushed back.  I will never get pushed down.

Thanks to all the volunteers, DCNR, my friends ( new and old) on the trail, the race directors and my husband for making this race one I will be eager to return to next year.