Daily Chatter

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012 Fire on the Mountain Race Report

Sometimes starting at the end helps you remember how much the journey was really worth.  As I sit to gather my thoughts about one of my favorite annual trail events, Fire on the Mountain 50k, I remind myself of that feeling as the last hill was climbed and the end was in sight.  The feeling that all I had to do was keep putting one foot in front of the other and then there was that field that held my third FOTM finish line.
About 9 hours earlier, I had stood on my front porch in the dark to document the beginning of my journey to that finish line.  My departure time ended up being a bit later than I had wanted it to be.  I had spend the day before feeling as though I had a stomach bug that was growing stronger as the evening progressed.  As I drove towards that finish line I realized I might have to stop along the way since my "stomach bug" had not quite left me yet.  Thankfully a text from Alyssa who was also running saying she was already there allowed me to make a couple stops and still arrive in time to pin on my bib.  I kept my tummy issues to myself since I thought I was going to ignore my previously posted "goals" and just run for fun with Alyssa who had just finished a 20 miler the day before. 
We road the bus to the start line.  I like the chance to chat with other runners like Orla; a DM friend who always down plays his amazing running abilities, and a relay runner who was running the first half of the race even though she may have been out partying a bit too much the night before.  

Once we got to the start line everyone headed for a last minute nature call and a few photos from the gorgeous overlook.  The RD introduced Jamie another DM friend who just finished a run across America in 100 days for WW.  FOTM would be his official first race since he epic adventure.  With introductions over the final instructions were red trail, green trail, logging roads, purple trail and we were off. 

First Aid station
Please feel free to read my previous FOTM 2010  FOTM 2011 reports but in all honesty you simply have to run this course to understand it.  And every single time I've run it has been a different experience. 
The race begins with a 1.2 mile run to the trail head over logging roads.  This can be bad if you like me don't pace well or it can be good to help work out those race day nerves since the temptation to go too fast is short lived.  With a quick left turn we were on the single track trail.  The forest floor was heavily carpeted with a beautiful blanket of colored leaves.  That blanket was thicker than in previous years and made each step a part of a fully choreographed dance in which a wrong step could result in painful consequences.  Luckily I avoided any missteps the entire red trail.  Alyssa and I ran, climbed and nearly repelled our way up, along and down the most technical portion of the race. 
Shortly before the aid station I ran into a hometown runner, Darla.  I had just come down another technical decent and had pulled away from Alyssa a little bit.  Darla and I ran for a while catching up.  Darla suggested that I continue on and she would stay with Alyssa since Darla was only out to finish within the time limit and Alyssa had run 20 miles the day before.  We all three ran together for a while before I gradually pulled away and hit the aid station with no one in sight.
I waited a few minutes at the aid station before heading out thinking that they would catch up with me through the low lying Green trail.  This year I ran the entire green trail solo.  I never heard another foot step amongst the leaves.  I completely breathed int the fall air and stopped to watch the leaves spinning as they fell from the trees.  Every creek crossing was mine alone.  I filled my mind with thoughts of all the reasons I run.  The thoughts that carry me when it hurts to go on and reminded myself that the pain of stopping is far, far greater.

another soggy spot on the green trail
Throughout the green trail it was the solitude that carried me and the ever present thought of all those people I draw upon when I am running.  I lifted prayers aloud for the many people I know who face real challenges.  Life and death challenges.  The kind of challenge that makes running 32 miles on a upset stomach look like a walk in the park.  Maybe I spent a bit too much time focusing on them because the green trail would hold one of my only three falls on the day.  Luckily it was into wet soft ground so a bloody cut on my lower leg was the only damage done.

Happy to be headed to the oasis soon

I was still able to force a smile as I left the 13 mile aid station.  The 13 mile aid station (#3) was in a shambles when I got there.  I was not in need of any water with my hydration pack still nearly full but I worried that inexperienced trail runners might not be so lucky.  So I will say to all those reading who are thinking about entering an ultra trail event.  Do your research.  If the website says it has an unmanned aid station, that should be read as "don't count on aid here."   If you are looking for an event that has a string of hot buffets with a little running in between each one, Fire on the Mountain is probably not the ultra event for you.  But if you are looking for a real challenge, a real trail ultra then FOTM is the best one there is.

Aid Station #3

Another thing I realized is that I wasn't really fueling...at all.  While my "stomach" had not required me to answer a nature call, that was probably because I wasn't eating anything.  I thought I could correct this issue at the oasis aid station and still keep my energy up. 
The oasis aid station
I need to pause here and recognize many people.  Every year I return to this race.  In fact I may have been the first person registered every year.  That is just how much I love it.  Not because I do so well but because this race, this course, the people involved are, to me, a direct definition of ultra trail running.  The trails are amazing.  DCNR does an excellent job keeping the trails and roads in excellent shape.  Too many people overlook these natural resources in the backyards.  The RD and a handful of volunteers put on this event, the training runs, the promotion, fund raising, aid stations, volunteer coordination.  The actual work of clearing, marking and cleaning up the trail for the race is all done by a far too limited few.  Of course my thanks must include Sheetz as well.  Their contribution has definitely helped this event grow over the past 3 years.  And this year a warm cup of Sheetz coffee hit the spot after a wet day in the woods.  Saying thank you falls far short of expressing my gratitude. 
I ran into the oasis aid station at 16.5 miles with a female relay runner at 3:42.  Well behind any "race" effort I had every given on this course.  Along the green trail it had started to rain so while at the oasis I rearranged things like my phone which I was stopping to take way too many photos with.  The great volunteers at the aid station immediately offered to help and took my pack to top it off with water.  There was an array of foods at the aid station but I failed to take anything more than some salt and half of a banana.  I waited and cheered a few runners into the aid station thinking that Alyssa and Darla would soon be there.  But finally I started up the logging road.

Still loving it on the logging road
The Logging Road
One of the few training runs I was able to attend included the logging road.  I thought I had a fairly good idea of just how "long" the section felt so I did what any over trained, under rested sick ultra runner would do.  I ran like crazy.  That resulted in me catching up with another runner who was runner his first trail ultra thanks to a friend.  We ran the latter miles of the logging road together.  Amazingly the majority of the conversation that I recall is how many times I said something like, it's not much farther.
So happy to be headed into the bonfire finish
The Purple Trail
First let me apologize to the purple trail.  In the past I may have said I didn't like it much.  However on race day I couldn't have been happier to see it!  I quickly ended up running alone and realized that I was slowing down.  My vison suddenly was blurry,  I was shivering uncontrollably and my head started to spin.  I fell down.  I got up.  I walked.  This was not the race day I had wanted.  I stopped for a while and finally ate about 10 gummies and drank from my pack.  Then I simply started running and walking as much as I could to simply keep moving forward.  I knew the next aid station was coming soon.

Thanks to Sheetz for the support...and hot coffee
Since I wasn't feeling steady on my feet I don't have photos from the purple trail but on a good day it holds some wonderful trail and beautiful scenery.  I paused atop a steep little rise that drops into a encircled area which mountain bikers must love riding through.  I knew I was close to "Champs" aid station.  He was only there the very first year but every time I run this section I think of him.  Remembering how lifted I was when I came along the trail to see a kind faced man rising from his chair to offer me help, pulled me through the desire to just stop.  But stop is what I did when I came to final aid station.  The volunteers there repeatedly asked me if I was okay.  Maybe I looked a little gray or still a bit dizzy headed because they looked a bit concerned.  I lingered and slowly ate half a banana and drank some water.  Finally I took two cookies and started walking down the trail again.  I should have eaten those sooner because as soon as the sugar hit my stomach I felt my energy return.
New friends
I caught up with another runner as we entered a section on the purple trail that was within a gully.  The rocks were bigger and covered with piles of leaves.  We talked a bit as we slowly made our way through the section.  That is when Alyssa caught back up with me.  She was going strong and I am certain she could have finished faster but she hung back as we made our way through the rocks and to a more runnable section. 

First 50k ran sick but done
And then came that final hill, I knew that we had just a little bit more running and we would leave the trees for the final time.  I could hear the cheers of those already finished as that beautiful clearing came into sight.  I tossed my pack as I was handed a piece of fire wood to carry as we ran the final push around the field.  No longer did I care about what the watch on my wrist was going to have to say about the race I had run.  I had pushed through the challenge and used the day God had given me to do something amazing.
So proud of this one

Friday, October 26, 2012

So Her Name is Sandy

I live in a bubble.
A cartoon filled, crayon colored bubble.

Inside my bubble issues like elections, taxes and weather have been replaced with finding stuffed animals, negotiating nap times and making sibling peace treaties.
So I was a bit under concerned when I first notice on FB that the word of the day was WEATHER.  And her name is Sandy.

 Still with only 2 more sleep until Fire on the Mountain.  I doubt I will worry too much.  There will be 31+ miles to run whether that be on dry bright trails frolicking in the sunlight or on muddy slick trails soaking up the rain.  Either way I am beyond eager to get out there and see what the day has to offer.

What's that?  Oh you wanna know about goals?  Lets see:

To arrive on time. To start. To finish.

aka: Finish Feeling Fine having Fun

My I CAN goal:
(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. Even with the questionable weather.  Should being the most important word to notice in that sentence.

My I LOVE IT goal:
To finish within 31 minutes of my course PR.
With a current FOTM PR of 6:32: my I LOVE IT time would be 6:01.
My I DREAM IT goal:
Under 5:59:33 hours. aka a new 50k PR

Honestly I'd love to simply run this course strong.  That would feel like a success especially if the weather is less than great for technical trail running.  This is a tough course at least for me.  I know it fairly well.  I know where the challenges are and sometimes that isn't something that helps me run better.  This will be a race to trust in my conditioning.  A race to see where I am in going into Stone Mill 50 miler.  A race to prove that I can go beyond what I can see.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

900, Story Time and Being a BAMR

 It would be cool if 900 days made me look half this fit!
Today is my 900th day of streak running, our first day at story time and the day I am being featured at Another Mother Runner in their Follow this Mother series.  So it's been a good day so far.
I started my day with trying to get my morning miles in but LBM (Little Bug Man) decided that today he didn't think I should get too much time this morning so I only squeaked in 2 miles before he said, "MOMMY! I want you be done."  I was able to happily stop since those early morning runs are just a bonus when LBM sleeps a bit longer and the super secret spy says he will be home on time today so I can get outside without jogging stroller.  All that made stopping before I even got warmed up pretty painless.  Plus we had story time at the library to look forward to today.
LBM enjoyed the three book stories and then a flannel board story.  We enjoyed craft time and completely over used the glue.
Does everyone else had ladybugs taking over their house?
As if anyone could have missed it today but there could be those who did, guess who is the featured mother runner on Sarah and Dimity's post today?  You know the blog by none other than the authors of Run Like a Mother and Train like a Mother. 
It's me!
Oh yeah, I told you that already.  But in case you missed it, go check it out
I'll be running giddy on the thought of being featured while I get in my evening run tonight.  Those thoughts will sure beat the ones that keep trying to sneak in and cause worry about this Sunday's race.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Cup Runth Over

Yesterday I was talking about my glass being half full...or empty.  Sometimes it just depends on the day or the hour of the day but that was the topic.  So it was a thrill to find out that I...little ole me, is going to be featured on Another Mother Runner in their Follow this Mother post.
How ironic is it that of all days they will be featuring me on my 900th running streak day. 
Just when I was feeling a little down about my conditioning for this Sunday's 50k at Fire on the Mountain I finally get outside in the woods to reconnect with those "at home" feelings.
And I get a wonderful email saying that I will be featured on a blog by the authors behind Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother.  How amazing is that?!  I'm beginning to think that Sunday might just be a great running day for me after all.  With all this positive energy dare I say that that master's title might be mine again. 
Whether or not a title is won come this Sunday I am just giddy to know that a little bit of this obsession crazy love interest I have is helping others know that they can do what they never dared to try before.  Because all those years ago who would have ever thought that this middle Smith girl would ever be able to say, "oh yeah, ultra trail races.  I run those."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Glass Half Full

...or Empty?
Which way do you see it? 

I look at last week's miles and I am kicking myself for not getting my Sunday evening run in. 
Don't worry.  The streak is at day 898.  I ran Sunday morning. 
 How do I know I didn't do it? 
 Well if I had I would have hit my 80+ miles for the week.
Does it matter when it comes to how I'll do/feel in my upcoming races? 
Mostly likely not. But like maybe many of you, I can let the numbers begin to mean more than they actually do.

It won't matter in the middle of my next race if I ran 77 or 82 miles this week but what will matter is whether or not I have conditioned my body enough to be able to handle the challenge.  That conditioning is created in part by "time on my feet" or simply running.  Often running a lot.  But it is also created by strengthening my body and my mind to want to complete the challenge of whatever race I am running. 

With that in mind I have been increasing my weekly mileage to condition my mind and body to be so familiar with a 10 mile run that running 30 or 50 will physically be less demanding.  Those increased weeks have also helped me mentally be able to continue running when, say I have had to run some of those long runs on a less than exciting treadmill. 

But what you might not know is that I have also been doing a bit of cross training.  I know it's a shocker!  I rarely talk about it and I don't log it on Daily Mile.  Mostly because I need to be accountable to myself before I start adding the stress, pressure, responsibility of being accountable to a wider audience.  But it all started with telling myself that every time I run I will cross train immediately after for the same number of minutes as the number of miles I ran.  Make sense?  Say last week when I got in a great 12 mile run on the TM then I hoped off, lifted and did core work for at least 12 minutes.  This morning I got in a quick 4 miles and then came back and did at least 4 minutes of cross training.  When I first started "making" myself do this there were a lot of days when I only did the exact number of minutes I had to but I did them.  Today I was happy to have a little extra workout to look forward to when I had to keep the miles low.  I can't really see a difference in my shape yet but during the Mega I could feel the difference a more powerful upper body created in being able to power up those extreme inclines. 

My glass, whether it's half empty or half full is definitely filled with a sweeter drink with my love of higher miles.  When my schedule or body tell me that I need to step back and lower that mileage, I won't see the glass as emptying only being filled with a different kind of sweetness. 

I raise my glass to 5 more sleeps and some seriously fit looking Fire on the Mountain Trail 50k race photos!

Need a little help seeing your glass as half full?  Don't forget to sign up for the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge.  Make sure to let Amanda at RuntotheFinish know that Shelly sent you!

Monday, October 22, 2012

I Dare You!

Yes it is that time again. 
Time for you to make that feeble attempt to beat me in the HBBC 2012
As you may know I have done fairly well every year.  Mostly because I am
a mileage whore seriously competitive.
But this year could be your chance because now that I am in  my new digs in VA, I may not be able to stick to my usual fall workout schedule.  So far I haven't been doing very well and with a less than reliable treadmill, a often gone hubby and a little guy that sometimes over rules my daily mileage, this could be the year that you put me in my HBBC place. 
Make sure you tell Amanda that I sent you when you sign up.  And even though I'll be out to win it all, I will make sure to encourage you along the way too.  Because it's a lot more fun doing all the right things when you know you are not the only one doing them. 
So whether you sign up to kick my butt or kick your own, click over and register.  Tell Amanda that Shelly at One foot in Front of the Other sent you and get ready to begin for some serious healthy habit come November 19th.
Look out HBBC I'm ready for you!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Surprise Nap and An Evening Run

Yesterday was a GREAT running day.  It was actually a really great day all around. 
After school drop off for S'ghetti Girl, LBM fell back to sleep which meant I got to have a cup of coffee in peace and quiet.  Rare.  Then the super secret spy called and asked if I could drive our other car to the garage and then we'd all go for lunch.  Score.  Lunch out.  So I did what any normal mom would do with an unknown amount of time while a little one naps.  I jumped on my treadmill and watched some Netflix.  For almost 12 miles. 
LBM hadn't slept well the night before so I was glad to have him nap now even though I knew it might he wouldn't take his usual jogging stroller nap.  After get caught up on my show and running in one place, LBM and I met the super secret spy, dropped off the car and headed off for lunch.
We went to a place called Which wich.
It was a decent sandwich.  LBM got a strawberry shake.  It was very strawberry but in a overly sweet kind of very not in a real strawberry flavor way.  So I don't know if it is worth a repeat visit with a Five Guys 12 steps away.
After lunch we barely had time to come home before we had to pick up S'ghetti Girl from school.  A bit of laundry later and the super secret spy was due home.  I already knew the evening plan.  The spy was taking them to the store to run errands so that I could get outside and do whatever I wanted to do for a couple hours.  Gee, wonder what I wanted to do.  Hummm?
An unexpected email from another local runner offered the hope of company on the run however we could quite get our schedules to match up so I was out solo.  As it turned out, I was thrilled to simply be outside with nothing to listen to but my own thoughts.  I didn't have any destination in mind I just started running and ended up running almost 9 more miles and feeling great.
This is why I run.  To stay healthy enough to be able to run 20 miles in my day and still have enough energy to play with my kids when I am done.  It was an amazing day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday's This and That

S'ghetti girl had her first school dance. 
I couldn't get her to stand still long enough to get a clear photo.

We went back to home for our annual Fall Foliage Festival. 
The kids love seeing their favorite magician

Goofing around on a sugar high.

A getting to spend time with the Big Kid.

One thing that wasn't on my side was a lack of sitter-support.  I missed my annual 10k. 
You can read about last year when the super secret spy and I both ran.
2011 Fall Foliage Classic 10k
I also missed a training marathon the weekend prior.  Ugh! 
I need to find more sitters with my Big Kid making a life of his own.

One thing on my (running) side has been the way I've been feeling.  As I slowing increased my mileage I have felt great!  Hitting a high mileage of 75 last week.  With less than 2 weeks before the Fire on the Mountain Trail 50k, I'll focus a bit more on time on my feet as I try to pull back on the miles.  I keep reminding myself that I do have a "big" race coming in a month. 
Stone Mill 50 Miler
Where I will be out to see how I can actually do on their course when it is actually closer to 50 miles. 
With loads of travel between PA and VA, kids to wrangle with the super secret spy often traveling and big races to prepare for I'll have my hands full but somehow I always seem to be able to pull it off.  Well, at least most of it.

Friday, October 5, 2012

How'd September Go?

September 2012

Monthly Miles Ran: 271.8 (Year total: 2555.1 Year average: 9.3/day)
9.1 miles/day ~ 63.4  miles/week
Highest Mileage Week: 9/24- 9/30 (DM Weeks) 67 miles

Rest Days Taken: 0
The Streak: September 30sth was Day # 875 of the streak ~ 7,427.2 miles
Runs ~ ave. 8.5 miles per day/ 59.34miles per week

The Megatransect - Mega X
Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure:
Pear Butter
like sugary sand, yum! 

Non-food Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure:

Taking photos of all the things I see along my way

Clearly an obsession

Which Outfit did I Wear the Most:


I think it's interesting that the last...how many? 
 Check my side bar.
My last bunch of races I have worn this YMX shirt and CEP Compression socks and short tights
...and yet either of them have offered to sponsor me.
What We Are Watching:
With the Kiddos:

Clearly we are watching Adventure Time
If you have not been subject to this cartoon, count yourself lucky.

My Viewing:

On the mill, its Vampire Dairies on Netflix.  loving it!
When I get to control the tv, its Survivor.

Funniest/Best Kid Quote:

"Mom, I did NOT eat the chocolate!"
Current Triumph:
The Mega.  That will carry me for awhile.

Current Goals
To continue to work towards a family schedule.
To be prepared for the MegaTransect.
Current Blessing:
I am thankful for every single day and every person in my life.
Current Excitement:
Getting a PTO started at S'ghetti girl's school.

Fire on the Mountain Trail 50k

Current Concern:
The super secret spy starts a new temporary assignment at work.
Still praying it becomes a permanent position.
Getting the stress LBs off before race season
Still working on this one

How did your September days add up?