Daily Chatter

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

L.O. & Ts

My take aways from the 2012 HAT Run 50k


When will I learn that there isn't enough Glide on the planet to keep me from chafing in the middle left part of my back. 

I can talk fairly non-stop for about 5 hours if someone is willing to listen. 
Probably even if there isn't anyone around to listen, too.

Salt via olives works wonders for me.

I can run up hills even if those around me want to walk.

I want to always be the lead runner.  (see observation below)


Chafing can happen any where.  It does not care if it gets, let's say, personal.

Trail running is like crack to me.  But crack that makes me giddy and cheerful not willing to steal to get more of it or forget about personal hygiene.  Although while trail running I do stop caring if I am fifthly and stink.  Maybe trail running is even more like crack than I thought. 

On the trails runners often do whatever the "lead" runner does, i.e., walk a hill, charge a creek, go around mud.

It is super fun to have a fellow runner tell you mid-race that they love your blog.  Thanks to those reading that shared (put up with my chatter) the trails with me at the HAT!


Eavesdropping on other runners early in the race would have lead me to believe that I was running with a field of super stars.  I think I zoned out for a couple miles simply listening to three male runners play a game of one up with each other. 

I think I'm due for a non-muddy ultra soon.  That 50 miler in two weeks would be nice.

Getting my gear ready sooner might eliminate some of my stress. 

Running in the rain and mud is badass!  Too bad the photographer didn't brave the weather to get those amazing photos of me smiling through it all.

If I could, I'd run the HAT course every.single.year!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 HAT Run 50k ~ Race Report

When last you visited...
The spy and I had just arrived at our hotel at 1 a.m. 
It's going to be an interesting race was my final thoughts before falling to sleep.

After an inadequate night of sleep, I was happy I greeted the morning eager to race.  Quickly I got ready and we headed to the Steppingstone Museum and the start line.   I stuck to my plan of limiting my race morning fuel intake and only had a few bites of plain bagel, a little honey and a few sips of grape G2.  While we drove the weather that had been deteriorating completely dissolved into a downpour.   What had been ideal trail conditions were quickly being replaced with the makings for yet another shoe-sucking mudfest.

Packet pickup was a breeze as usual.  I got my bag and bib and headed back to the truck to grab my drop bag and wait until final instructions.  With the rain diminishing slightly we made our way to the pavilion.  I dropped my bag and huddled with the spy to keep warm. 

The course consisted of a short 4ish mile loop and then two just shy of 14 mile loops.  Although the start was in an open field we were quickly on a short paved road section before looping through open fields, returning the the start pavilion aid station and entering the trails over sections of trail that would be crossed three times.  By 900 feet.  Which means a fair amount of mud.  We would return through the start pavilion aid station again for each of the identical longer loops. 
The running surface consisted of open fields, a brief paved road section, single trails, a roughly 1.5 mile paved section with hills and rollers throughout.  For me it would be the last 5 miles on each of the two big loops that would prove the most challenging.

After the final instructions I found myself again gathered in a field with 450 other runners but this time we were standing in the rain.

After what I can only imagine were words of encouragement or an invitation to sanely decide to stay put, we were sent on our way through the wet grass and into the gray day.

I had placed myself rather close to the front.  Well, honestly since the "front" was a wide expanse of field, I was at the front.  Sorry to all the fasty-fast runners who don't like when middle-of-the-packers do that.  I didn't allow myself to be a road block to anyone though.  There was plenty of road for passing at the very start.  I didn't want to get too far back and then have to deal with lots of passing when we hit the trails which I remembered to be rather technical in the very beginning of the course. 
My plan paid off well.  I ran strong paces those first few miles without going out too fast.  I finished the first mini loop in around 36 minutes.  At what I thought was between 4 - 5 miles I was happy with my pace and effort that early in the race.  I did not stop at the pavilion aid station but ran straight through. 

The big loops had their highlights.  The trails are a challenging series of hills and near constant rollers broken up with open fields and a short 1.5 mile section of paved road.  During the first loop I ran mostly by myself using the chatter of those I fell in with to distract me from the effort of those early miles.  Although there was plenty of mud the conditions were not as bad as they would become during the second loop.  The creek crossings were a refreshing sight. 
Since I was running with the main goal of training for the Massanutten Mountain 100, I decided that I was going to run a little differently at this race.  I wanted to run on constant effort instead of looking at my Garmin and attempting to average a certain pace.  I knew that this tactic might result in me having a finishing time that was outside the goals I had set but I felt that I needed to see under these harder conditions if I could force myself to keep pushing on perceived effort alone.  As I hit the "upper" picnic area aid station for the first time I got to see Jennifer who was volunteering for the day.  I had met Jennifer during the HAT Run in 2011 when she went on the beat in by 3 minutes in her first 50k ever!  I paused briefly to say hello but was quickly on my way.  I knew the speedy road section was coming.
For fueling I was sipping on grape G2 and gummies.  Yep, little kid gummies again.  Thanks to the bladder issues with the camelbak I was using a new bladder that I had never tried.  It kinda sucked.  I could only get tiny sips out at a time and I had to step off the trail early in the race after a clip broke due to the large hose and readjust everything.  But I was making due and with everything in it's place I reached the road section and flew.  I clock a 7:40-something on this section.  Yeah, I'm smart like that.  What middle-of-the-packer runs a 7:40-something during a 50k? 
This year, that's be me.
As a result of my brilliance I did stop at the lower picnic aid station when I got there.  I joked around with the volunteers about how the runners should have to limbo under the hitching post as we approach the aid station.  I salted up on olives, grabbed some ginger ale every ultra should have it and took 2 fig cookies for the next 5 miles of hills and mud.  After thanking the awesome volunteers I headed back into the woods.
The next five miles were challenging.  The hills seem steeper, longer, constant and often accompanied with thick mud.  My effort remained but I know my paces fell.  I think somewhere in the first big loop final five I found another runner.  Joel. 

Joel is from New York.  He is a talker.  If I haven't mentioned it before and very few have run with me, I should say that at the start of a race I mostly like to be quiet and be left alone.  I focus on finding a groove and getting stuck in it. 
But somewhere along the miles I get giddy.  I get into that Oh-my-gosh-I'm-busting-with-happiness-irate-those-around-me-sickeningly-cheerful mode.  I had already been driving others crazy from about the first road section with my chatter and cheerfulness but when I came upon Joel he didn't fall back or speed away, he joined in the chatter.  Let me tell you we had a blast!  I really can't say what we talked about but it was fairly non-stop and cheerfully irritating to those runners who's scales of running joy and running misery had tipped in an unfavorable direction.
We ran the entire second loop within ear shot of each other.  I lead mostly and again loved every creek crossing, splashed in every mud puddle and mockingly rejoiced at every hill.  I cheered as we entered the upper picnic area aid station and reported my tally for trash picked up on the course. 
I still don't know who won that little contest, Joel? 
I flew down the road section at a little over an 8 minute mile this time losing Joel for a short while.  The lower aid station was a welcomed refueling spot.  This time I indulged in more olives, a few hot french fries come on it's HAT you gotta eat the fries!, ginger ale and 2 fig cookies for the hills.  As I left the aid station Joel had caught up with me.  A fellow New Yorker, Charles had caught up with him and joined us for the remainder of the race.
For the second time these last five miles took their toll on my average pace even though my effort remained constant.  Quickly dubbed the pink energizer bunny by my running mates because I didn't want to be reduced to walking hills, I lead the way.  I would pull ahead of my running mates and grow quiet by myself for a distance.  It was in those moments that I gave thanks for being so blessed to be doing this thing that fills me with such joy.  So much joy that the discomfort it creates in my physical body is outweighed to such a degree that I can continue on for miles and miles with a smile on my face.
The rain had been falling off and on throughout the day and a lite sprinkle had resumed as we climbed the final hill to that old stone wall that marked the end of our trails and the last open fields before the finish line.  Joel and I cheered and yelled as we raced across the now muddy fields towards the finish line.  As we crossed a road to the final field we were greeted by a honking horn from the super secret spy who was just driving  back into the park.  Fueled by knowing that my husband was watching I pushed up the last hill.
And we crossed the finish line together, new friends.
Charles would finish a mere 30 seconds behind us.

2012 HAT Run 50k ~ Day # 685
7/49 AG ~ 179/391

Many thanks to the race directors who greeted us at the finish; the volunteers who put up with my crazy cheerfulness; the family and friends of all the runners who cheered all day for the strangers who ran by and to my wonderful husband for being there in the rain and mud while I played like a child.

The HAT Run 50k - The Night Before

Since the super secret spy celebrated his birthday last week, we had planned an evening away without the kids to celebrate. Foolishly we hadn't taken the day off work but were planning on meeting after work to avoid using a vacation day unnecessarily. Little did I know the fun that would transpire.
After my work day I picked up the kids from the sitter and got them dinner. Their evening plans were to attend a sleep over at the sitter's house with a dozen of their friends but the drop off time wasn't until 8 p.m. Thanks to Grammy B, the kids would enjoy some time with her so that I could start the drive to meet the super secret spy half way to our hotel. However a phone call from him let me know that he was running late. Really late. Knowing that we were trying to spend some time together without the kids I didn't offer to just go to the race solo and instead said I would delay my departure and pick up a new tube being cheap and not just buying new bladder for my camelbak. 
What would this be? Mistake #1? and 2?
I arrived at our meeting place early so I started to put my camelbak together. After struggling for about 30 minutes in my car to get the quick connect adaptors off I realize there was a police officer sitting in his car behind me watching. Weird. I guess I wasn't a threat because once I realized he was watching me and made him aware that I saw him, he promptly left.
Feeling non-threatening and successful for having gotten my camelbak ready for use, I filled it up only to realize that I couldn't find it's cap. Make this mistake #3. Are you seeing a pattern? The spy arrives. As it is already 10:30 we quickly drive to get a new bladder that will work for my camelbak. We load his things into my car and we are off towards the hotel.
Within minutes and sensor light comes on inside my car. This has been the one issue with my wonderful 160,000+ mile car. It is usually a light that we can not ignore without serious driving difficultly. So we turned around and drove back to get the super secret spy's truck. 
Planning to take my car; mistake #4.
Finally we arrive at our hotel at 1 a.m
It's going to be an interesting race was my final thoughts before falling to sleep.
...to be continued...

Friday, March 23, 2012

2012 HAT Run 50k Goals

My 2011 running of The HAT Run was such a positive experience I am not only eager to have another 50k to run but this one in particular is one I have looked forward to.  This race is to be a training run a fact best illustrated by the 50 miles I have already run since Monday however the trail conditions are to be amazing and I can't help but think that if I am having a perfect running day that I might just better my course time.  Well, it could happen.

As always the biggest goal is to run in such a way that I am able to run every day it is mostly with that goal in mind that I set and publicly announce my 2012 HAT Run goals.

To arrive on time. To start. To finish.
aka: Finish Feeling Fine having Fun
Okay I have been here before so even though I am geographically challenged (I am. I have a card. It's a club.) my car's GPS is not but the super secret spy is coming too so who knows what might happen. 
Another speeding ticket? Maybe.

My I CAN goal:
Finish in under 7:00 
I say this because barring an injury or major GI issues this course should allow even my tired legs to do that.  Should being the most important word to notice in that sentence.

My I LOVE IT goal:
To finish within 31 minutes of my PR.
With a current PR of 5:59:33 my I LOVE IT time would be 6:30.

My I DREAM IT goal:
Under 6 hours. aka a new 50k PR

 We had a loss locally of a wonderful man only 40 years old.  He was a husband and father of three girls.  He was active and involved in kids sports and the community.  He passing was sudden and unexpected.  In light of this reminder I will take all the positive experience I can from this race and it's runners and volunteers no matter how my body chooses to perform on Saturday.  I will not forget to share those tree sheltered miles with prayers for those who can not be out there with me.  I ask as you run or play or love your family this weekend, you purposefully pause for a moment to acknowledge the gift, the blessing, of being able to do it. 

Saturday I will run because I can and remember those who can't.
I know that on any given day I just don't know what I am capable of until I amaze myself doing it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Heat and it's playmate Humidity

Today is day # 681
50 days to my 2 year run-erversary!

The weather on my end of the East coast has been Ah-mazing!

When my family is in Virginia my runs already have to be worked in around the Heat.  The Heat is an issue that I usually don't have to start factoring in for at least another month.  Even back in PA I am wearing shorts and tees on every run and I finish my run a dripping mess.

The Heat.  It begins to take on it's own persona as it becomes yet another factor to be weighed when planning my days. 
It's a welcomed friend in the mornings when I can grab and tee shirt and shorts and run out the door.  There is no need to make certain that my base layers was washed or my tights can be found, I can get up early and hit the road.
The Heat has a less friendly side as the day goes on.  What started as an easy run can quickly become an event in planning as the mercury climbs.  Thoughts of distance, duration, hydration and protection all have to be handled before I step out the door once the Heat begins sharing the day with it's playmate, Humidity.  They can be a bully of a combination.  Afternoon runs have to be pushed to later in the day or inside once those two team up. 

Although I've been lured out on more miles thanks to the mostly friendly side of the Heat , I know that come this Saturday at The HAT Run,
read about my 2011 Running of the HAT Run HERE
I might have to deal with his friend Humidity too.  And I'll be ready!

But no matter what the weather brings this weekend I am eager to have another race to help me get one step closer to that A goal this year;

It's only Tuesday. 
Are you already looking forward to the weekend too?
What are your big plans?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Last night I posted this workout to Daily Mile which auto-feed to facebook.  I know my settings allow this to happen but sometimes I forget my "audience" is completely different between the two social medias.  After changing "the plan" to account for my tired legs which left me feeling a bit defeated, I received this comment about my run.

I took offense to it. 
I didn't have two extra hours in my day.  I chose to use two of the hours in my day for fitness/good health.  Was that wrong?  Were they somehow allotted to something else?  Like maybe the laundry?  Or playing with my kids?  Or cleaning out my car?  Those are all things I need to do.  Was it "extra" to give myself two hours of my day?

Let's see how my Sunday hours were spent.
Times as an approximation.
I woke up around 6-6:30 a.m. when the super secret spy had to slip off to work.
Tried to keep S'ghetti girl and her sleep over friend quite so that LBM could sleep in.  I spent some of this time looking up recipes for breakfast and lunch.  I spent some of it shushing the girls to be quiet.  I spent some of this time clenaing the cat box.  I spent some sipping coffee on the deck in the fog.  I guess that time was for me.  But it only worked until about 7:30.
7:30 cuddle with LBM
7:40 LBM off to terrorize his sister and friend
7:41 in kitchen, cooking breakfast while LBM ran back and forth between me and his sister
8:00 while upstairs dealing with a sibling squabble, gathered laundry to start wash
8:15 found laundry in dryer, started to fold
8:30 realized I had been in the middle of breakfast, went back to kitchen
8:31 - 9:00 cooked, wash dishes
9:01 went to find kids, discovered (their) mess in living room, started cleaning it up
9:15  realized their breakfast was getting cold, went back to finding kids
9:20 found kids outside, got them in to wash up for breakfast
9:25 finally kids eat breakfast (no I didn't eat.  I didn't want any breakfast.  I cooked for them)
(sausage in pancakes on sticks with warm syrup, hashbrowns, fruit, cereal, milk and juice)
10:00 - 10:10 kids finish up and leave table, yell at kids to come back and clear table and clean up
10:15 - 10:25 wash more dishes, clean kitchen
10:30 S'ghetti girls' sleep over friend's gram there for pickup, girls beg for more time, talk sleep over friend's gram into a little more time
10:45 look up recipe for whipped cream icing, the super secret spy's favorite.
11:00  remember that I have to get the laundry done before we leave for PA, back up stairs
11:15 flip-flopped laundry, notice kid's bathroom is a wreck start cleaning it, LBM back and forth with complaints of non-inclusion in the playing fun
11:30 back down stairs, txt from the super secret spy about when he'll be home for lunch, more cooking, icing cake
12:15 super secret spy home, gather kids, sing happy birthday, lunch, cake and ice cream
12:45 have the kids gather S'ghetti girl's sleep over friend's things and we take her home
1:00  back up stairs, finish laundry, fold more, pack, load car, up the stairs, down the stairs 15x
1:30 final check of the house, bathroom visits, and on the road
because I want to drive 3 and a half hours
after gas stop, food stop we are finally back in PA
5:00 LBM fell asleep on the drive, unload car, unpack
5:20  LBM awake but grouchy, cuddle him on the couch while S'ghetti girl shows me her latest duct tape creations
6:00 clothes changed, movie set, snack for kids, kids playing, on the treadmill
2 hours and 22 minutes later
I had watched Vampire Diaries, negotiated sibling quarrels, retrieved unreachable toys, hugged upset little bug men, oohed and ahhhed over 3 new duct tape creations and traveled in one place for 16.5 miles.
8:23 peeled out of soaking wet running clothes and took a super fast shower
8:30  kid time: talked with the oldest and his girlfriend, played and read with LBM and
S'ghetti girl, helped the two little ones get ready for bed
9:40 S'ghetti girl in bed, LBM and I hang out and go through mail from the weekend, I try to cuddle/read/play quietly in his room to get him to go to sleep
in his own bed
but give in.
10:30ish LBM and I go to bed
10:45 finally get LBM to lay still and be quiet.
10:46 sleep

Was that 2 hours extra?
Did I somehow not give enough time to everyone else in my life?
Why do I feel guilty over that 2 hours simply because of that comment?
Should I stop feeding DailyMile entries to Facebook?
Am I just being too sensitive?
Maybe I'm still just a little tired.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Return of Biking Sherpa, tired legs and amazing runs

Today is day # 677

I've had the best week of runs.  I don't know what has been different but every single run this week I have wanted to keep running.  Thursday evening I was so pumped from my run, the kids and I went to the church paved parking lot to ride and stayed until well after it got dark.  It was still warm and humid at 8 o'clock.

Last night I had the much-absent Biking Sherpa with me. 
I know.  I know.  You wanted her photos.  Not mine
We flew through our usual loop.
That is when it hit me.  My legs are tired.
Like, really tired.  Totally.
I grew up in the 80s it haunts me some times.

I knew Biking Sherpa was pushing me to keep a fast pace but my legs were tired enough that I actually complained about how tired they were.  I didn't stop mind you, I just mouthed off about how tired I was.  But with Biking Sherpa three are always such good stories that I fight to keep up with her little biking behind.

We talked college classes, interesting guys, family matters, dents in cars, creepy guys, law enforcement and burial arrangments.  We covered it all.

Our miles flew and we finished in record time
6.5 in 47:27
With all the happy adrenaline flowing I hopped on the treadmill for a slow 2.5 to get my vampire fix.
I am addicted to Vampire Diaries.
It wasn't long after I finally sat down for the evening that those tired legs found me again.  They woke up with me this morning too.  I talked them into my morning miles and they felt great again...
until I got to the big girl job and sat down for an hour.  The tired legs came back.

So I looked at my running history.
I don't really like to say training because that implies work.  It's all fun to me.
I don't know why my legs are so tired. 
I have been doing a great job of taking a "rest-ish" day and keeping my paces slower these in-between training race weeks.  The "plan" was for 20/10 this weekend but with another 50k in a week I'm thinking a plan adjustment is in order.  Between Biking Sherpa and the Vampire Diaries addiction, I know I could suck it up and do the miles but I think the body is saying I need a step back.  Swapping some of my weekend running miles for hiking miles sounds like just the right kind of break I need.  How better to celebrate St. Patrick's Day than surrounded by a green forest?!

Are you listening to your body or do you let "The Plan" rule?
How will you celebrate St. Patty's Day? 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cove Creek Farm ~ Memories

This post has little to do with running but everything to do with the person I am.

Memories are like fingerprints. Tiny bits of information that are so unique no two people actually share ones that are perfectly the same. While some may enjoy a cinematic ability to stroll through their lives and revisit the days in their past, others struggle to bring into focus the aged Polaroid-like snapshots hiding in our minds. Unfortunately my memories are the latter but the the memories I can bring into focus often contain moments of growing up on my grandfather's farm.

With the help of photographs I can find those memories that have become blurry in my mind.  I can clearly see the hay elevator sitting in front of the haymow doors.  I can hear the hum of the tractors as they bring in wagons of hay.  I can remember the smells in the air.  I can see my grandfather as sweat drips from his forehead.

As I look at photos I can remember days spent in the barn hiding away from chores.  Sitting in the grain stores painting with water colors stolen from my older sister.  I can remember hushed conversations with girl friends and stolen kisses with boyfriends.  I can remember my grandparent's voices as I remember my grandmother calling me in for lunch and my grandfather scolding me when he caught me building another fort in the barn.
But most importantly I can envision things that I never got to see. I can imagine how my great-grandfather worked along side my grandfather in this barn. The thought that their very hands touched the same doors as I did. Knowing that although I never knew my mother as a child, I have shared the same playground with her in growing up in this barn makes me feel as though I am somehow closer to her. Thinking that she might have stolen kisses in this barn from my father when they were dating makes me grieve even more for the loss of this place and the moments that it held

Even in the loss of a piece of my history, I am beyond grateful for every moment I was blessed to live within it.  I remind myself that it is only in the looking back that we can clearly see how to move forward.  So I will share my fleeting memories with my family and friends to help a small piece of my past to live on in each of them.  Then soon there will be so many people holding those fragmented bits of family history that it will never be forgotten. 

Cove Creek Farm
Doris June Barrack Diehl and Max Robert Diehl

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Your Daily Pie

No I don't feel guilty. 
Not even a tiny bit.
well okay, maybe some days I will admit to feeling guilty....a little.
I have been asked, emailed, texted and questioned about all the time I spend running.
There are only so many hours in a day.
The pie can only be cut into so many pieces

It takes patience to handle situations like this one.  The one of many times LBM melted down while grocery shopping.

It takes a great deal of love to embrace the passions of my super secret spy. 
Like really expensive electric cars that are not even being made yet.

It takes a bit of energy to hold photos shoots to capture that just right picture day photo when S'ghetti girl thinks she has just nailed her outfit.

It takes creativity to come up with ideas to entertain and education my little tribe.

All of those things and more I get from that tiny slice of my daily pie called
Today is day # 674

What gets the biggest slice of your daily pie?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Moving Sunshine

Family fun in the woods

Daylight saving time.  Many wonder why it is still observed.  The state of Indiana seems to be permanently trapped in a debate over what time it is.  With the impending repayment of all those sun-filled moments due this past Saturday night my family made certain that we filled the 1639 minutes that made up our weekend with all the family fun we could.

S'ghetti girl was on the look out for quartz rocks.

Saturday didn't dawn quite as warm as we had hoped so our plans to climb Old Rag were derailed in favor of a closer to home adventure.  We headed to Preddy Creek Park.  This park has a nice little trail system which is very kid friendly.  I was able to get in some trail miles and then meet up with the family as the explored the area.  It was a great way to get the whole family outside.

Back at the house there were a few chores waiting for us but with everyone helping out the work went quickly and no one complained.  The super secret spy had gotten a half dozen magnolia trees that needed planted.  It was a nice start to the small forest I want to create.

Although we had to give back that hour of moments this weekend we didn't feel short changed at all.  It doesn't have to be about how much time you spend together.  It should be about how you fill those moments that really counts. 

And a rich indulgent brownie at the end of a great day doesn't hurt either.

Friday, March 9, 2012

L. O. & T.s

Day # 670
What running the Seneca Greenway Trail 50k showed me:

I learned that more than any other running goal, I want to be like this man

Oldest finisher at Seneca!
I learned that when traveling with the super secret spy, I should always drive.
I learned that mud isn't stronger than me even if its a foot deep.
I learned again that my mind is 1000% stronger than my body will ever be.
I learned that when I run with others I really never stop talking.
I learned that just when I think I've ran my favorite course I run another favorite course.

I noticed that I end up running alone because I never stop talking.
I noticed that I can ignore that fact that some runners don't like cheerfulness after 15 miles of mud.
I noticed that some runners care waaay too much about getting to the finish line quickly.
I noticed that no matter how many times you say thank you, people still like to hear it.

I wonder how many runners missed the after picnic because they didn't know where it was this year?
I wonder if I could have run a faster race if I had gotten there sooner?
I think my kids will look back on the day mommy ran for 7 hours and then went to see The Lorax

 before even getting a shower and know how much I love them.
I  still wonder if my family knows how much ultra running is a part of who I am?
I think I am beginning to feel like 31+ miles isn't really that long.
I wonder how I'll survive waiting until March 24th for my next race?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Seneca Creek Greenway Trail 50k ~ Race Report

LBM, super secret spy and me at the start
The morning dawned following a night of heavy rain and thunderstorms leaving little doubt that today was going to be an exercise in determination.  I struggled with the race morning doubts and nervousness as I went quietly about my usual pre-race routine and was quickly ready to head towards the finish line to drop off my car and join the super secret spy and LBM for the drive to the start line. 
The trip to the finish area was uneventful except for the speed trap that put a bit of a damper on the morning.  Being a slower driver hopefully I will remember to lead the way next year.  We parked my car and picked up one of the runners waiting for the buses to the start line. It seems that one of the scheduled buses broke down and they were running a bit behind.  This helped us as we were running a little late thanks to some bad directions. 

Why is it that races are often easier when you travel alone?
My first running in 2010 with family  ~ click HERE
My second PR setting run in 2011 without family ~ click HERE
I may need to post on the differences I've experienced when racing with my family there verses racing solo.  It could be interesting.

Volunteers rock!
Thankfully we came across these amazing volunteers who gave us great directions to the start area.  We were quickly at the start area and dropped off our papers and $20.00.  I was handed a recycled bib number and I headed towards the start "line" to get kisses from the family.

Larry H went on to find a trail running zen late in the race

I saw Larry H from DM who I had run some of the Hashawha Hills 50k with last weekend. It was nice to get to introduce my family to him. We chatted briefly and then our RD, Ed Schultze was going over last second info and ready, set, go we were off.
Jazz hands

I need to take a moment and thank Ed for all his hard work over the years.  This will be his last year as RD for the SCG Trail Marathon and 50k.  That makes me sad.  I've done this event for 3 years.  It was my first 50k and over all it has always been one of my favorites even though it has remained one of the most unpredictable courses.  Ed has unknowingly given me very high standards for what I expect out of a trail ultra.  And while I am sure that the incoming RD Harvey Sugar will keep those standards high in his attempt to fill those shoes, I hope that the down-to-earth natural feel of this event isn't lost. 
So thank you Ed for wearing some really big shoes and for giving graciously of your time and talents to make this event the birth place of my ultra trail running love.

More awesome volunteers cheering us on

Since I am sharing Thank yous, have I said it already? 
This would not be possible for me to be doing this slightly crazy, unbelievably amazing thing that I am beyond blessed to do if it were not for the selfless gift of time, energy and talents an army of volunteers provide. They go above and beyond as they stand out in all sorts of weather. They smile, laugh and never tell me how bad I look or smell. They show me the way when my brain stops working and tell me I can do it when that is exactly what I need to hear.
Thank you for all you do!

jumping off the far bank.  Splash!

This year the trails at Seneca could be easily described in two words; water and mud.  While many would say that it wasn't that bad, I would disagree.  The only race that reveled the mud level was a section at the Bull Run Run 50 last spring.  I can and do train in all kinds of conditions.  I run in rain, wind, cold, heat.  I run over fields, road, trails, streams.  But rarely do I train at length to run in mud.  It is this fact that would most shape the outcome of my day.

Only sissies try and cross on rocks.

The course only contains about a mile of park road with the reminder being trails and open fields broken up by the repeated water crossings.  These are all elements I love so the majority of the race I ran with a smile plastered across my face.

This really is the MOST fun ever!

Although I was enjoying the race I quickly realized that due to our later than usual arrival at the start area, I was much farther back in the pack than I wanted to be.  The going was very slow in the first many few miles with passing nearly impossible at the level of risk I was running.  I simply wasn't going to break my ankle running wide of the trail to get around other runners when they did not heed my repeated "on your left" request to pass.  So I stayed fairly steady and ended up running the majority of this race with Larry H.  I resigned myself to running a training run and letting go of any dreams of a race PR.

I think I ran half the race with my eyes closed.

 This course was changed this year and lengthened.  That fact made it easier for me to attempt to be smart and focus on training for that
A race
and remembering that I had already put in a "race" effort only a week ago.  Attempting to gauge my progress more on perceived effort I only looked at my garmin to mark the passing of a mile here and there.  I had eaten a tablespoon or so of honey before the race start.  I was carrying gummies the kiddie kind again and Gus in my camelbak which was filled with watered down orange G2.  Although I was not planning on using the Gu unless I hit a wall between aid stations.  I did stop at aid stations during this race unlike last weekend.  Over the course of the race I had a section of banana, 4 peanut M&Ms, 2 pretzels, 2 pieces of potato with salt, 1 1/2 ginger snap cookies, some soda and water.  Since I didn't have any nature call issues or energy dips along the way, I am beginning to think that eating less might work better for me at this distance.  With one more 50k in a few weeks I will get another opportunity to test that theory.

I'm not the only smiling runner out there

The skies were beginning to clear and the miles were flying by.  Before I knew it I was at the lake loop.  After a brief stop to grab 4 M&Ms I headed out to circle the lake in what I thought would be another mud-fest however I was pleasantly surprised when the loop ended up being much drier than I had thought.  This section went very quickly for me and I was happy to see the passing of mile 18 as I headed back into the woods and knew that I was over half way done.

I love doing this!

My legs were getting tired from all the extra work that the mud asked of them but I was feeling strong.  However somewhere before the Route 28 aid station Larry H slipped beyond my sight.  I knew he had gotten a second wind that I was just not feeling.  I saw him leave the aid station as I topped the hill but I knew there was no way that I even wanted to attempt to run any race but my own.  I didn't want to completely lose sight of why I was out here.  Of course I needed to be doing this to help prepare for the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 but I was really out here because I simply love doing this.  I love running through the woods, over these trails, through the mud and into the creek.   
Eyes closed again
I ran alone for a few miles.  At first I was enjoying pushing my body through the amazing scenery.  But as I prayed over my list of friends and family my mind started to struggle.  With each hill that awoke the soreness growing in my hamstrings and gluts, the doubts spiraled out of control.  Luckily I had caught up to a small group of runners.  I was tempted to continue on my own pace and pass them but I decided to turned my attention of them in hopes of losing myself in the joy of trail running again. 

Thanks John for getting me looking just about as tired as I was.  Don't I ever shut up?!

Amongst others, I ran with Cathy Blessing and Mike Bur. These two wonderful runners have ran during every single Seneca. That's 9 years without fail. This year they were doing the marathon distance and simply enjoying the muddy adventure. Their chatter and stories helped me get past my own mental fuzziness and focus on the proper things. I started feeling that joy again.  We entered the Berryville Road aid station together but I was once again eager to keep moving.  After a brief chat with John; a super volunteer that has been at Seneca each year I have run it and who is skilled at getting runners looking like rock stars exhausted insane people, I took off. 

Running into the finish

Those last few miles went by so quickly.  I was loving every step and even the mud didn't seem to bother me as much.  I was lost in the sights, smells and memories I have from these trails.  I remembered my first Seneca when I bushwhacked the last trail section.  I remembered how thrilled I was last year when I enjoyed such a fast run on the course.  I remembered how my daughter had run into the finish with me during my first ultra and I wondered if she would be there again waiting for me and I ran faster.

Celebrating with the kiddos

And then I was heading towards the finish.  My family was screaming.  My friends were cheering.  I was thinking,  "How can I be done already?"  It had been a roller coaster of mental challenges but I had stayed strong and proven again that on any given day I can amaze myself.
Third Seneca Creek Greenway Trail 50k ~ 6:57:33

Friday, March 2, 2012

Apples to Apples

You most likely have heard the expression, apples to apples.

The expression not the card game.

It's an expression used to describe comparing like things.
As I prepare for tomorrow's race, the Seneca Greenway Trail 50k, I have to remind myself that I need to compare apples to apples.  But in ultra trail running a sport filled with far more lemons, mangoes and star fruits than apples, accurate comparisons are hard to come by. 

While I am not interested in comparing the actual events against one another I am interested in being able to compare my preformance from one event to another.  That will not be easy after last Saturday's amazing running at the Hashawha Hills Trail Run 50k.
oh you missed it, read about it HERE

So how can I possibly set any type of goals to help stay focused as I wait out the final hours?
Let's look at some facts.

This course previously held my 50k PR - 2011 6:06
I just ran a new 50k PR last weekend.
I have already ran 45 miles this week.
This is to be a training run.
The forecast is for rain, rain and maybe a few thunderstorms.
I am training for a 100 mile race.  This is not the A race.

All of those facts lead me to think I should simply run this for "time on my feet."
But let's look at some other facts.

This course held my 50k PR last year Shouldn't I be faster this year?
I just ran a new 50k PR last weekend.  So is it all downhill for the rest of the year?
I have already ran 45 miles this week.  Last week I ran that much too.
This is to be a training run.  Does training have to mean slow?
The forecast is for rain, rain and maybe a few thunderstorms.  One of my favorite 50ks was held in the rain.
I am training for a 100 mile race.  This is not the A race.  But what if I don't get in to that A race?

It is the day before the run and as you can see it will be anyone's guess as to how the day plays out.  I'd love to say that I will be shooting to better my 6:06 course PR from last year.  I'd love to say I've learned a few things and I'll be running strong and steady for a solid training run that doesn't involve any bloody knees.  I'd love to say I know what my "plan" is but I don't.  I do know that after Ed Schultze our race director says, "Ready.  Set. Go"  I'll start putting one foot in front of the other and I won't stop until I cross that finish line.  I am certain that by the time I get there, I will have figured it all out.