Daily Chatter

Friday, April 29, 2011

Time to Notice

I enjoy the awareness that running in my rural setting gives me.  Due to spending so much time following a few routes day in and day out, I have a lot of time to notice things other people pass by.
I often talk about all the wonderful wildlife I encounter now for some of the goodies that help fuel some of the running.
Each season brings me fresh offerings!
Right now I am enjoying asparagus and morel mushrooms.
I'm looking forward to all the berries that will soon be added to my fuel plan.

Nature is the very best grocery store.

What goodies are you enjoying from nature's grocery store?
I was caught off guard by a car, one of few on my road. 
Day # 354 p.m. 6.5 miles

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Three Things Thursday ~ The 'Weather' Edition

LBM might be following in Daddy's footsteps.  Not the running around in his underwear and rubber boots part although men do seem to like to sit around in their underwear.  But last night as LBM was heavily engrossed in using his little "knife" aka piece of wood to trim all the dandelions growing in and around the driveway, I could figure out whether that shows he will be like Daddy and get a horticultural degree or be a tree hugger like Mommy.

Day # 353 ~ 6.5 p.m. miles

I don't let the weather stand in my way of getting outside last night.  I had looked into the face of that storm and I was not afraid!  The forecast called for severe thunderstorms, strong winds and damaging hail to start around 7 p.m.  I was a window and grabbed my shoes.  I finished my 6.5 loop and was glad I had risked getting out.  Not a threatening cloud in the sky...until later.

Did you know there is a USRSA (The United States Running Streak Association)?  It is a National organization full of other insane dedicated runners who have been running every day for at least one year, some of them have registered streaks of over 40 years.  I suddenly don't seem so extreme, do I? 
Whether or not I continue my daily running streak after completing my 365 days is yet to be seen but I hope that I have shown others that a commitment to purposefully moving your body every day is something every person can do.  Whether your a full-time working mom or a busy over-burdened dad or a young person who thinks they always have tomorrow to care about their health today is the day to start the habit of good health.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Racing the storm

I watched out the window all day at work.  I saw the sun shining.  I saw the birds busy at the nests.  I saw the breeze blowing the blossoming trees.  It was wonderful to think that spring was finally here to stay.

Until 4:50.

That is when I remember that spring equals thunder storms because it began to down pour.  I thought all hopes of getting outside for a run where lost.

But just as quickly as it had begun the rain stopped.  The skies brightened.  I knew there was a window of opportunity.  I quickly picked up the kiddos and headed home.  We briefly paused to move a gorgeous orange box turtle off the road. 

Army Son was thankfully home and willing to help. 
I quickly changed my clothes and headed out the door. 

After a mile and a half I saw the second turtle of the season was one of the two giant snapping turtle who I have seen each year at the bend in the creek.  He was swimming in the water that had ponded in the field.  I'll look forward to more encounters as the days pass.

I cruised along enjoying the breeze and didn't notice the dark clouds filling the cove from the south until I was nearly half way around my egg shaped looped course.  I watched over my shoulder as the dark clouds hugged the far ridge line and quickly over took me.  Luckily my route took me back across the cove and back along the opposite ridge line.  I made it home in time to watch the dark clouds begin to spill across the cove and tumble over the mountains near my house.  S'ghetti girl and I stood on the porch and watched as the lightening lit the darkening skies knowing I had raced and beaten the storm.
This time.

Day # 352 ~ 6.5 evening run

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Race Goals ~ Catch Me If You Can Trail 10 miler

Day # 352 ~ Monday's unexpected p.m. run ~ 6.5 sweaty miles
3.5 a.m miles also sweaty

I have another race this coming Saturday.

I will be defending my Master's title at the Catch Me If You Can trail 10 miler.  Last year this race was difficult to fit in with a soccer game scheduled later in the morning and again this year it will be a logistics nightmare.  Thankfully Army Son will be home to make sure the kiddos get to the game on time but I will have to run fast to make it there myself!

In setting my goals for this race I'd love to say that I am going to play it safe BUT I'd rather have attempted to reach my goals and fallen short than to used excuses to not have tried.  So I will set aside the fact that my legs are almost 2900 miles tired.  And I'll over look that my hamstrings are still remembering those wonderfully challenging trails during that 50 miler.  And I'll also pretend that I haven't gained about 10 pounds that I was looking for. 
I will instead set it all out there and go for a repeat win!

My I FINISHED goal: To arrive on time. To start. To finish.
aka: Finish Feeling Fine having Fun

This race is close enough that I can drive there the morning of so this goals should be in the bag!
My I CAN goal: Finish in 1:34 ~ last year's time.

My I LOVE IT goal: To finish and retain my Master's Winner Title.
regardless of finishing time.

My I DREAM IT goal: Under 1:30.

So there they are.  Goals.  Things to reach for but not to be defined by.  I am the total of all my experiences not just the latest experience.  So "win" or "lose" I will have another opportunity to enjoy the trails and the challenge they bring.  I look forward to seeing what I am capable of doing on day # 356. 
Will 356 days of running have made me stronger? 
No matter the time on that clock, 356 days will have made me stronger.  Stronger in my physical attempts to challenge myself and stronger emotionally to handle when my attempts fall short.

On any given day you just don't know what you are capable of until you amaze yourself doing it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

a little bit tired...

This morning I woke up a little bit tired.

I thought a quick run along the creek would pep me up after all of this...

Crazy cousins

Wiffle ball play offs...

Olympic tramopline tryouts...

World record bubble blowing sessions...

...where's my Army Son helper?  You might ask...

Easter livingroom devastation...

Easter gift assembly...

Easter morning paparazzi detail...

times two!

super early Easter morning breakfast...

Saturday afternoon egg hunts...

aka, how fast can you chase after your little one

Pushing LBM LightYear because he can only go backwards...

Friday egg coloring...

aka I'll be eating hard boiled eggs for a week.
At least that will save me some work because I am tired but after my run just not quite as much!

Busy long weekends are the BEST!

How did you spend yours?

Friday, April 22, 2011

How does 3000 sound?

I realized something during my run last night.
The realization was that I only have 17 days to hit my 365th day of running.
Since I love to obsess about track my numbers I quickly used my running software total up my streaking miles.

Which means if I can average 7.2 miles a day I could hit

3000 miles
by day #365.

What a blessing to have been able to do this all these days!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

3 Things Thursday

Day 346 ~ Third Run of the Day

Yesterday must have felt like Thursday because I went for 3 runs.  My morning wake up 3 miles, 2.5 miles on the treadmill and then 6.5 outside in the gale force winds.  It was during that third run that I crossed over 1000 miles for 2011.  I think it's time for a new pair of shoes!

I have been stuck in that "What's Next" zone since floating back down to reality now that my A goal for 2011 was accomplished.  You know that little 50 miler that I ran.  Sorry but I will be talking about it until I do my next one.  Since my B goal for this year is to increase my overall conditioning and reshape a body that needs to do more for me, I am still working out an achievable schedule to allow for family, work, running and cross training.  While I have BIG plans coming that require a new level of fitness, I still have the need to get back out there in the woods and maybe chip away at a few more course PRs so I have already registered for the Fire on the Mountain Trail 50k October 30th.  Yeah, I was the first to register. 
Does that mean I should train to be the first to finish it?

Besides running three times yesterday the day also marked the start of a new running "season." 
It was the Return of the Biking Sherpa!
Oh how I have missed her company on the roads.
If I could just get her on the trails too!
She never lets me slack.  She is always good for a great story or three.
She helps those miles fly by and never breaks a sweat.
Thanks Biking Sherpa for a very challenging windy run last night
and for the many more to come!

The Return of Biking Sherpa

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Purposeful Way

The other night I was finally updating my mileage info in my sidebar.  LBM came over and pointed at the header photo.  See it up there. 
He said, "Me in the joggy."  
I was prepared with an encouraging speech about how much fun he had in the jogger and how he needs to get back into the jogging stroller habit so mommy can run outside more often but he didn't give me the chance. 
He looked my right in the eye and said, "Mommy please let me out.  I run."

What made me think about that this morning?  It was waking up to the nice realization that I had inspired someone.  Specially, Jennifer at Decaf, please.  Her post was entitled "How does a running streak begin?" may seem to some to really be about believing in yourself.   But I think it's about coming to a realization. 
A Truth, if you will.

It's the Truth that our bodies were made to be used.  In the effort of challenging ourselves we are not wearing ourselves out instead we are refining the person we are into the person we were meant to be.  With a limited number of days to have at my disposal, I am committed to moving in a purposeful way every day to improve myself physically and mentally.  To some this might sound crazy.  To think that our bodies don't need a "day off."  Insanity, some say!  I disagree. 

This is a realization that many runners/athletes come to.  The realization that recovery does not have to mean not moving in a purposeful way.  It does not have to mean sitting on the couch that day.  Recovery simply means doing something different that day or for a few days.  It can mean moving in a purposeful way at a comfortable pace.  It can mean working more on your mind while you give your body an lighter activity for the day.
Some people get this Truth sooner than others.  LBM seems to be the child for me who gets it.  He wants to move every day, purposefully.  He seems unhappy if he hasn't run around our house or the yard until he nearly sometimes really falls over.  And while I am joyful in the completion of each and every goal I have set to challenge myself, I am ever more elated when I see those around me come to this same realization. 
Each day is an opportunity.  Each day is a chance to look beyond where your eyes have last seen.  Each day is a moment in which you could amaze yourself.  And you never know who might be watching.
Go out and inspire someone through your own insanity and move yourself on purpose, every day.

Monday, April 18, 2011

What Every One is Talking About

Day # 344 ~ could my hair get any curlier? Ugh!

This morning everyone's mind is on one thing...


well sorta.

I don't really care so much about BOSTON as I am thinking of all the great runners I know who are running today in BOSTON.
At this point so a finishing and some still have a bit to go but I know that each will have an amazing story to share.  I am so eager to hear how their journey's went.
As for me I am still living in my lastest amazement as I am sure I'll will do until my next adventure where ever and what ever it might be. 

Off to watch those runners bring in it in BOSTON!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Bull Run Run 50 Race Report

2011 Bull Run Run 50 Mile Trail Race Report

Often times the logistics of simply getting to the race helps distract from race day nerves.  That was definitely the case for the 19th running of the Bull Run Run Trail 50 miler on Saturday.  I had done my usual triple checking driving directions, double checking packing lists, arranging and rearranging bags to be packed in the car only to forget S'ghetti Girl's bag Friday morning.  Since we were not leaving until after school and work, we simply slipped home to gather the suitcase and attend to a few other chores while we were briefly there.  After a quick confirmation call with Hubbs that we were on our way and he would be meeting us, we headed out.

S'ghetti Girl loving our hotel room

Once at our hotel the younger kids and I waited for Hubbs to arrive.  The plan was for him to take LBM so that I could get my geared laid out and get some shut eye.  What is that they say about the best laid plans?
S'ghetti Girl and I ended up pool side for a while.  That was fine with me.  We had a nice hotel we might as well enjoy it.  Hubbs took LBM to the airport to pick up Army Son who was flying home from AZ. 
It was a lot to pack into any evening!
I won't bore you with the reunion details right now you are here to read about the race.
At some point I slept, a little.
But mostly just waited for it to be time to get up.

Hubbs and I at the dark start line
Thanks Matt!

Hubbs followed me to the start and helped me get my bib since we didn't get into town in time to pick it up the night before.  I was very glad he came along since there was a long line of traffic as they were dealing with parking due to the heavy rains the day and evening before.  The upside was we were parked very close to the race start!
Hubb's friend Matt came to see me off too.  It was a big surprise!  He is an avid runner (half marathons) but had never really heard of ultra trail running before.  The atmosphere had him ready to sign up! 
Ultra runners are just the nicest people.

Finally signs of dawn

After a little chat with Hubbs and Matt it was a quick potty visit before joining the start line, in the dark.  Hubbs wanted me to start at the front but I knew that we only had a short loop before entering the single track and I didn't want the elites to get irritated with middle of the pack me.  Later I would wish I had started a bit closer to the front since I fell into running with groups that ran a slower pace than I was comfortable with.  Every ultra I do is a learning experience.

An opportunity to wash our shoes and feet
aka creek crossing

The race started at Hemlock Regional Park at 6:30 sharp.  Runner completed a short loop around the parking area to spread out the field before entering the single track trails.  Runners would pass through the Hemlock aid station once again after completing the upstream portion of the double out-and-back style course.  The first aid station on the upstream side would be a Centerville Road at about 7.2 miles.

Why are creek crossings followed by little hills?

To say the first "leg" of the course was wet would be an understatement.  The stepping stones at the creek crossings did keep you from getting your entire leg wet but there were no dry feet on Saturday.  As I learned in the last two 50ks this year, Seneca and The HAT Run I don't mind wet feet at all.  In fact, I rather enjoy cooling my feet during long runs. 

A runnable relatively dry section

The course was a beautiful combination of single track trails, creek crossings, a few open fields, a very brief gravel road, and rocky sections.  I don't listen to music while I run and I couldn't help but wonder if those who do know the beautiful that they were missing out on. 
It was obvious that many volunteers had taken time away from their lives to maintain the trails I was so lucky to be running on.  Even early in the race, the efforts of those people were not lost on me. 
I didn't have too much trouble finding a pace that felt right for me.  I remembered what previous ultras had taught me, that I need to keep my own pace; pass runners when their pace feels too slow or let them pass when their pace feels too fast. 
As I climbed the hill to the first aid station I felt great and took nothing. It was nice to have a fellow ultra runner there, Kari who had been sidelined by an illness (but she be doing the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 for something like the 5th time in May!). Seeing her cheerful happy face was a boost.
She was full of so much confidence in me that I believed it too.  Thanks Kari!

The mud

And then the fun began by the name of a 3.5 mile turn around section full of mud.  I thought that I loved to run in mud.  I thought that.  I am honest enough to say that I didn't know what 344 pairs of feet could do to puddles of mud.  I didn't know that mud could get that deep or eat shoes.  My usual praying for others honestly became praying for a dry path.  I wished for cleats more than once.  I was not watching my Garmin (won't wear it again in the woods ever) at this point but I felt like I was not making very good time.  I was either slipping more than running or bush whacking to avoid the mud which didn't work.  There were wooden slat bridges to cross that were caked with mud from the other runners.  One of which was about 5 feet over a creek, seriously slanted and missing one board.  There were awesome volunteers at this bridge trying to sweep off some of the mud build up and make sure people used caution by offering us chocolates! 
One runner did fall in so I heard.

Another time to cross the creek...more mud

I saw the elites come back from the turn around.  Over this distance the out and backs are more of a blessing than a curse.  I love to see how the leaders runners are doing.  I love to watch their form and see the expression on their faces. 

Theme for the race:  MUD

I saw Annette Bednosky.  She would go on to set a new record and win the women's division.  Even in the mud where I was struggling, she ran joyfully.  I wish I could have taken a photo to share but the look on her face was one of giddiness.  Like a child getting away with something really fun behind their mother's back.  She appeared to be in runner's heaven.  I hope someday I get strong enough to find my way there too.

But there were blue bells too

Even though I might not have been in runner's heaven and I was loosing a lot of time I was enjoying the scenery.  I am so glad it wasn't cut from the course due to water.  I really enjoyed the challenge.  And the blue bells, although not a plentiful as some years, were amazing to see amongst all that brown.

A beautiful distraction

After the turnaround I headed back through the mud to the Centreville Road aid station.  I was greeted with a great surprise.  Hubbs had happened upon it after having breakfast with Matt and was waiting there to greet me!  After the struggles of the mud and the slow pace it was a needed lift.  I got my pack topped off and asked Hubbs to grab my other shoes so that I could change shoes once I got back to the Hemlock aid station.  Getting rid of five pounds of mud would be a welcomed relief.  I lost a bit of time at this stop working out the next meet up.  Next aid station Hemlock ~ 5 miles.

Glad to see that at least I was smiling

Along this five mile stretch I caught back up with a runner who had run the Skyline Challenge last July, Jennifer.  She had tweaked her ankle in all the mud and had slowed her pace but was determined to finish.  We ran together for a while and talked about a safe way to tackle the down hills. 
She did finish, bum ankle and all.  Congrats Jennifer!  
But remembering that I had to listen to my own body, I picked it back up and in no time I was back at Hemlock aid station to the cheers of Hubbs ready to help me. 
I can't thanks Hubbs enough for giving up his plans for the day to be there for me. 

I quickly switched only my shoes.  I kept my wet socks thinking that dry socks on wet feet would be a blister waiting to happened.  I drank a half cup of soda, ate one perigee and one baby potato with salt.  At about 16.6 miles I was still feeling great and following a plan to fuel (mostly) by myself, taking a GU about every hour  and drinking from my pack but the extra goodies helped warm my stomach for the moment.   

Crossing under the only road (above) the course
The next aid station Bull Run Marina was in about 4.5 miles.   Along this stretch I fell into running with two guys.  We chatted a little bit.  "Outlaw" had decided or been talked into running a 50 miler with his friend Mr. 44 after having only run half marathons.  It was Outlaw's birthday.  He turned 30.  Happy Birthday.  What a  insane great gift to give himself!  At the Bull Run Marina I grabbed pretzels and was gone.

Still all smiles

About five miles to Wolf Run Shoals aid Station.  Having left Mr. 44 and Outlaw at the aid station I was surprised when they caught back up to me.  They explained that they were feasting at each aid station for as long as the wanted and then running to the next aid station without much regard for the accumulating 50 mile distance and it was working.  They were having a blast! 

Great aid station ~ Toy Story Themed

The Wolf Run Shoals was themed this year with Toy Story.  They are also famous for their ice cream treats!  I ate a half dozen green olives feeling brave enough to risk the effects on my stomach and headed out.

It's Buzz LightYear!

Buzz LightYear makes a mean PB&J!

Two words on aid stations. 
The volunteers.
For running we had a near perfect weather day.  For standing around in the damp forest the conditions were less than comfortable.  Every single volunteer had a smile on their face.  I was asked if I could be helped multiple times at every aid station.  And even though I am sure that they encountered a few runners that were grumpy as the miles got long, none of these wonderful folks looked the least bit frustrated.
Thanks, falls short of my appreciation.  I know that I could not have done this amazing thing without many many people giving so freely of the time and energy. 

The food.
There was candy, you name it.  There was chips, pretzels, hummus, cookies of all kinds, pies, fresh made burgers, quesadias, olives, pickles, baby potatoes, perigees, hot pizza, fruit you name it, water, sodas, Gatorade and more.
I know I didn't name it all.  It was amazing!
FYI:  I ate, one baby potato with salt, one perigee, three baby pretzels, 3 chocolate chip cookies, one pretzel rod, half a dozen green olives, one baby gherkin, a dozen pringles, half a slice of the worlds best pizza ever, and three bites of apple pie.  No wonder racing doesn't cause weight loss.

I'm smiling on the Do Loop

The next aid station would be at the start of the White Loop around 28 miles.  I don't remember much about this part of the section getting to the Do Loop at about mile 32.  I was feeling good and moving well.  Once at the Do Loop aid station I realize I was about to go farther than I had ever run.  I still had a ways to go on "time on my feet running" but distance wise I was about to step over my 32 mile limit. 

Let the mental games begin.

But only on the outside
The Do Loop was a 3.5 mile loop billed as a "lollipop on a stick," in that you ran out the "stick" and around the "lollipop" and back in the stick.  I envisioned a lollipop.  It was the most cattiwampus lollipop in the history of lollipops!  It was up and down and up and down and around and out and around and out.  This loop wasn't even a distant cousin to a circle, maybe a circle on crack. 

One of two old cars on the Do Loop

There are two old cars along this "lollipop" and I told myself , as the reality of breaking through another barrier began to hit hard, that I would stop at the Rambler and take photos.  That carried me through to the "back side" of the lollipop. 
This is where I thought that ultra running is a lot like child birth.  There were moments of joy and exhaustion but after it's over the difficult, the painful moments are so quickly forgotten. 
I thanked God that I was out there loving every exhilarating painful moment of it!
As I was taking photos and counting my blessings, Mr. 44 and the Outlaw caught up with me and then it was Game On again. 
I wasn't going to let them get too far away.

I "really didn't Like" the Do Loop
this is where I hit farther than I had every gone before!

Back out at the Do Loop aid station aka the best pizza ever station (shy of 36 miles) I risked eating a half slice of pizza.  It was still hot.  God Bless volunteers!  I topped off my pack and started running.  Next aid station at Fountainhead was only 2.5 miles away. 
When I was preparing for this race I thought that the aid stations were really close together and wondered why.  I don't wonder that any more.  Over this terrain and distance the simple interaction with those volunteers really does work wonders for carrying you through the difficult part of an ultra event.  Many runners tend to run with others but I am certain there any many who like me find that they usually end up running solo and rely on the aid stations for that mental boost.

That little speck at the top...yeah, a person.

I passed Fountainhead aid station.  Then 2 miles later the Wolf Run Shoals aid station at about 40 miles.  I quickly thanked Buzz, Woody and the crew, grabbed a half cup of water and headed out determined to do the next 5 miles under an hour.  
One good thing and also one bad thing about being me is my memory.  It's bad.  Really bad.  I can remember the course in bits but I am unable to string them all together.  So when running a out and back type course over this much time, I forget exactly where the more difficult terrain was.  I only knew that if I had any "race" in me that day it would be in the last 10 miles.  So I ran, no walking, no hiking, no wussing out and surprised myself by having it to give.  I repeatedly said to the runners I would pass, "I'm just going to slog by you, maybe?".  Only to have them tell me I wasn't slogging, I was running.  My paces were much faster then I thought I would have left. 
I arrived feeling very strong at the Marina aid station in less 50 minutes.  I was elated!  If I could hold onto a decent pace I might be able to hit around a 10: 45 finishing range.  Honestly amazing myself! 
But I still had 5.5 miles (yeah the course is 50.5 miles).

One of the last remaining downhills getting "close" to the finish

I left the Marina aid staton after 3 bites of celebratory pie.  I ran.  The course went on and on.  I wanted to walk the hills but I ran until....
yeah, doesn't it always happen.  I talked to a guy who I was passing.  He was wanting to walk and was okay with whatever the clock said when he got to the finish.
I wish I had seen it because that was his race, nothing wrong with his plan but it wasn't mine.  He just talked and I let him.  I let him set the pace for way tooo long.  I finally got a word in and at the next hill took off.  Whew!  I wish I could say I didn't do that again but I did.  Another guy, another story he wanted to share.  A major boulder rocky section.  All RED FLAGS.  But I am the one who allow my time goal to come and go. 
But now that I have had time to reflect.  I don't regret those pace slowing conversations so much.  They helped me enjoy those last few miles a little more.  Maybe I got to help those two guys go a little faster than they would have.  For better or worse, my choices were part of me looking out at the things I have done and believing that I could handle whatever lay out there just beyond where my eyes could see.

First 50 miler ~ The Bull Run Run Trail Race

Not too muddy for 50 miles
Holding my cell phone - telling the world, I CAN!