Daily Chatter

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What I Love/What I'd Love to Love Wednesday

What I Love and
What I'd Love to Love Wednesday

Through daily life it is often the little things that make each day special.  With that in mind, today I wanted to share with you a few things that I have been using/enjoying lately. 

A product thumbnail of  Crocband™ Lined
My Crocs

After so many miles on my feet nothing beats slipping on these shoes.  My toes are often tender after ultra length events and the roomy toe box allows me to give my tootsies all the room they need.  I also like the feeling of walking barefoot.  I wear these around the house after running and I haven't had any problems with my feet or calves cramping after hard runs.  Could there be a connection?  I don't know for sure but the soles of my feet haven't felt better!

The Walking Dead Season 1 Episode Gallery

When my oldest attempted to get my interested in this series I said No Thanks!  However, when I was stuck on the treadmill Again with nothing to watch he talked me into giving it another chance.  10 miles later I was hooked.  Granted I could do without the graphicness of the show, the story line is reminiscent of Lost with wonderfully well rounded characters and an engrossing story line.
Today is day # 570 of my running streak and with this series to watch, I think tonight's going to be a long one!

Using Leftovers

One quick and super easy way to get a few more servings of veggies in your diet is to use those left over veggies from dinner in your breakfast or lunch.  As a full time working married single parenting mom, my time is at a premium so packing for the day's work is often something that doesn't get done.  That usually means I won't be eating since I work straight through without a break.  But if I plan ahead it doesn't have to.
A trick I have found that is super fast is to use my leftover veggies in my breakfast meal.  Whether I add them to my eggs or eat them in a wrap.  If I made extra the night before I will add the reheated veggies to my salad at lunch time.  I love how the warm and cold veggies mix in interesting textures.  Its a quick extra serving or two of veggies that might have gone to waste. 

Run:Your Heart Out Skirt

Running Skirts

Okay so I was the one that was so keen on my Running Skirts skirts at first.  They didn't stay up but I did keep trying them and found that I really like them for shorter runs.  I even wore one for the Fire on the Mountain 50k.  I had pinned it to my tights to keep it from slipping. 
But this little one is on my

What I'd LOVE to Love List!

Run:Your Heart Out Skirt

Do you see that little cord?  I think it could be the answer to my skirt slipping problems!  The only issue is the price of this little beauty.
Another thing holding me back are some of the negative comments about it's fit. 
So do you have this sweetheart of a running skirt?
What do you think of it?  Is it worth the investment?

Do you like zombie movies?  Or watching movies while you run?

Do you now think I'm a geek for loving my crocs?

How are you doing getting those HBBC points?

What have you been Loving lately?

What's on your Love to Love It List?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Conflicting Goals ~ HBBC Week One

This year's installment of the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge could not have started on a better day for me,
November 19th.
Remember that was the fabulous Stone Mill 50 Miler
which turned into 55 miler

Are you sick to death of these photos yet?
So I started the challenge off with a weeks worth of points!
Although my diet left a little to be desired that day.
(There is a suggestion for the aid stations, more fruits and veggies.  )
I did eat about 2 and a half bananas that day.

The down side of the HBBC for me is that I want to rack up points even though I know that I need to have at least two weeks of lower mileage so that I can start adding Intensity back into my workout routine along with my running.

Conflicting Goals. 
 That should be my middle name.
I got a email from a friend today.
He is offering to crew me in an early spring 100.
Yes.  I just typed
One Zero Zero.
For a split second I thought he was on crack and then I jumped to the website and started thinking how could I make this work.  Emailing other friends for their opinions.  Contemplating which 100 I could do.
Do I have brain damage?

While you all contemplate my sanity, let's look back at yesterday's 21 Facts.  Not surprisingly the first to get the answer right was Marlene. 
She knows me so well!

My mom did dress my sister and I alike however I did not like dressing like my older sister.  Today I'd feel differently due to her sense of style.  I wish she's show up each morning and pick out clothes for me.  Because if left up to me, it's tees and capris every day! When I'm not in running clothes, that is.

Glad to see that so many of you guessed correctly.

HBBC Weekly Points
11/19 ~ 55 mile run = 55 pts 
11/20 ~ 2 mile run + F/V = 3 pts
11/21 ~ 5 mile run + F/V = 6 pts
11/22 ~ 8 mile run + F/V = 9 pts
11/23 ~ 8 mile run + F/V = 9 pts
11/24 ~ 2 mile run + F/V = 3 pts
11/25 ~ 8 mile run + F/V = 9 pts
Week One 94 pts

I doubt I'll see those numbers again but it sure was fun!

How are you doing with the HBBC?  Getting in those F/V?

Do you allow yourself multiple goals at one time?
How do you deal with conflicts between them?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Shelly Tells a Lie

Marlene at Mission to a(nother) Marathon tagged me to share 21 bits of fabulous facts about me.  I thought it might be fun to share 21 fabulous facts but have one fact be a fib. 
You know kinda life Penn and Teller Tell a Lie

Did you see that show yet? 
So I'll give you 21 tidbits and see who can be the first one to let me know which one is the fib.  There could be a little holiday reward for the first correct response.

1.  I really don't like my name, Shelly.  It rhymes with words that kids in grade school used in a mean way.  Like Shelly Jelly, Shelly Belly.  All of those things made me think I was fat even though I wasn't.  Right up until I was born I was to be Samantha.  I would have liked that better.

2.  Although I call them silly names here, my children's real names spell my daddy's name.  And my name and my husband's name begin to spell his last name.

3.  At the Tough Mudder I broke my tailbone.  It hurt like crazy bad!  It was the second time I broke my tail bone.

4.  As a child I had to endure quite of bit of humiliation due to my mother being a beautician.  There were days spent with tape in my hair, multiple perms resulting in tears before school.  Maybe that's why I just let my hair grow and then donate it.

5.  A big item on my life list is to through hike/fast pack that Appalachian Trail.

6.  I have run 13 road marathon with a goal of going sub 3:30.  The closest I have ever gotten is 3:36.  As much as I wanted to hit the goal the lure of the trails pulled me in a different direction.  Although I wonder if I could make that goal now I rarely regret the decision to leave the road in pursuit of a different kind of running.

7.  I am the middle child in a family of three girls.  Middle child syndrome exists.

8.  My grandmother used to make brown sugar frosting.  I loved it.  As an adult, I would make the frosting and not have a cake to put it on.

9.  We watch a lot of animated shows.  Having kids that span two decades helps to get the cartoon theme alive.  But to be honest, I'm only using the kids as an excuse to get to watch them. 

10.  I will routinely flip the toilet paper around if it was hung the wrong way.   Regardless of whose house I am in.  Right way:  paper over the top.

11.    I don't like "doing" my hair.  It seems like such a waste of time to me.  I usually think if I run in the morning and wash it and do it only to run again after work, way bother?  Luckily I have crazy curly hair and can usually just wash and go.  Until it is long enough to donate to someone who actually needs it.  I bet my hair is so happy to go to someone who actually with do something with it!

12.  When I am traveling by car, I do not like to stop.  I will stop for gas only if unavoidable but forget needing a potty break when traveling with me.  I want to get there and be done with the drive.  The only exception is if part of the trip is the area we are driving through.  If taking in the scenery or local attractions is part of the plan, plan to be late because I will want to stop for everything!

13.  I used to be in love with Prince.  As in the artist formerly known as.

14.  I love to cook and bake.  If I could do it all day long I think it could become a close second to my love of running.

15.  As a cheerleader in high school I was hit in a sideline tackle.  15 minutes of fame?  For years after they would show the video, yes they caught it on video, to the new players.  A kinda don't let this happen to you video about the play.  I think they should have been showing the new cheerleaders.

16.  My hometown is where I have called home my entire life.  My two sisters and I all live within a mile as the crow flies from the home we were raising in.  It truly is one of the greatest places on earth.

17.  My toes routinely suffer from lack of complete toenails. 

18.  My older sister and I are less than 2 years apart.  My mother used to dress us alike in little dresses and outfits.  I loved the attention!

19.  Being able to "suck it up" is something I pride myself in.  That is probably why ultras hold such an interest for me.  But it goes beyond running into my daily life and how I choose to do things.  That my three kids, all born without the assistance of medical intervention.  And I used to brag about it.

20.  I feel the most at peace when I am running through trees.

21.   I don't believe this life is the only one.

That's it. 
Can you figure out which one might be not quite right?
Comment with your guess.

I think everyone has been tagged with this 21 Fun Facts but if you haven't and you want to share consider yourself tagged and link back so I can be sure to share in your 21 Fun Facts.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I give you permission

Recently I had the opportunity to be part of a study aimed at finding out why women do Ultras and the challenges them face. 
 I have Barefoot Angie Bee to thank for being able to take part in the study. 
The interview lasted about an hour.  I was asked a bit about myself and how I got into running.  To be honest I felt a bit like who was I to be giving my two cents until the interviewer asked me how many ultras I have done in the past two years and I said about 10.  When she responded with "Wow!" I realized I was doing it again.  I was doing what many people do.  I was down playing what I have accomplished because I keep comparing it to what others have done. 
Our conversation continued and I hope that what I was able to offer through my experiences will help in some way.  But as many conversations hindsight is always slightly more clear.  Her final question was,
If I could say something to encourage a woman who was contemplating running her first ultra, what would I say?
Although I had talked about this challenge earlier in my interview, I wish I had answered that final question more simply with this:
I give you permission.

Why would I need to given anyone other than my own children permission to do anything?  Well, I shouldn't but that's often the problem.  Many women feel that they don't have permission to use the time in their days for themselves.  Women feel that family comes first

  Family First Subway Art  Large Wall Hanging Wood Sign
People paint it on signs and hang it in their homes.
Not that family is anything other than a top priority but women often forget that we need feed our own needs to be able to meet the needs of those we love.

I no longer feel guilty about taking a few weekends a year to enjoy races and I don't feel guilty about the time I spend running to be prepared for those races.  Having given that small percentage of my day to myself, I know that I am made a better person for everyone in my life.

I gave myself permission.
And in doing so I gave my family a much better version of me.

What finally made you give yourself permission?
What would you say to someone who is just starting out and feeling guilty?
Considering an Ultra?  What do you feel is your biggest hurtle?  How can I help you overcome it?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stone Mill 50 Miler Race Report

When you pray for strength, does God give you strength or the opportunity to be strong?

What follows is my 2011 Stone Mill 50 Mile Race Report
actually more like 55 miles
subtitled:  My Opportunity

The Stone Mill 50 Miler was held November 19, 2011 with packet pickup the day prior at Fleet Feet in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  Luckily my super secret spy husband was able to pick up my packet and catch up with old friends in the area while the kids and I made the drive to Maryland Friday evening.  With the 6 a.m start and a cold morning forecast, I was happy to save a few extra minutes of standing in the cold since the Watkins Mills High School would not be open at the start of the race.

After a minor potential issue with my car worked out, the kids and I enjoyed an uneventful drive to our hotel.  We stayed at the SpringHills Suites and for as much as I saw of it, the hotel seemed very nice.  As soon as we arrived I staged my gear and prepared for a quick exit in the morning.

No night before photo.  My nerves must have been on edge!

Waking up was easy as in I wasn't asleep much and hard due to knowing that I and 342 other adventurous souls signed up to enjoy a day on the Seneca Greenway and Muddy Branch trails for a predicted 51.5 miles most likely beginning and ending for me in the dark.  The super secret spy and I drove separately so that I would have my car there after the race to be able to get my gear in the event that I finish much sooner than predicted but as with all trail ultra events you just never know how the day will go. 

DISCLAIMER:   Since I suffer from trail brain and generally lack the ability to string my race day memories together my observations may at times be out of order.

I'm the dork in green socks (center) stopping to see my hubbs (far right).

Once there I quickly checked in and started looking for Alyssa at Chocolate is MY LIFE who was also running.  Since it was seriously dark and freezing cold, I wasn't able to find her in the little amount of time I gave myself by showing up so close to the start time.  I barely had a chance to smooch the super secret spy before we were running around the school to spread out the pack a bit before a slippery slide down a steep hill to the trail head. 


If I knew we all looked this cool I would have enjoyed it more!

Once we entered the trails the idea of pace or passing was completely gone.  My sole concern was to not fall on my (fill in the blank) from all the frozen leaves, rocks, roots, general forest topography.  The darkness did have a benefit for the first few miles in that I wasn't able to go too fast which was a recurring issue thorough out the day.  Odd how going too fast can end up making you go too slow.  With no recollection of how it happened the first few miles had passed and the sun was coming up.  We crossed an open area and I got to momentarily see an amazing sunrise.

CEP Compression should sooo sponsor me!

The course consisted of a 44.5ish mile loop and a 9ish mile out and back following the Seneca Creek and Muddy BranchTrails.  I realize that math doesn't add up for a 50 mile race.  Trail math rarely does.  But we will get to that later, just like they saved that reality for late in the race on race day.
The loop was a nice mix of beautiful open spaces and single track trails on mostly rolling hills.  Largely runnable.  While that should be a plus it turned into a minus for me on Saturday.  I was loving the course and feeling really strong the first hour of daylight.  Running much too fast most of the time. 
Did I not see my own shirt?  I wore it to remind myself to slow down.
I was also afraid to eat or drink anything after all the FOTM nature calls.  However after about an hour thirty I took my first GU.  And shortly thereafter started looking for trees to get to know.

Notice I just came up a hill...running.

Even with the need to stop three times in the first 18 miles of the race, I was still enjoying the run and the surroundings.  I fell in with and away from multiple groups of runners but I spent the majority of my run alone.  That results in a lot of time to think.  A lot of time to look around.  A lot of time to listen.
For me ultra running is a mind set that goes beyond simply running distances over a marathon.  Ultra running is about a connection with myself and with nature, a reflection of how very dependant I am on these simple things around me and how much my life is benefited by simply taking time to appreciate the sound that my feet make on the fallen leaves, the smell of the forest on a cool morning, the chance to see the sun rise and the frost melt as I focus on nothing other than my own forward movement.  The ability to do this thing is not based solely on hours spent training, it stems from something inside each of us that carries us through and allow us to enjoy what others find difficult or seemly impossible.  I am endless grateful that I am among those lucky few who get to do this.

Obviously, I like to talk to photographers.


The Stone Mill course had a few creek crossings and loads of opportunities to get your feet wet and muddy.  With the temperatures starting the day in the 30s the water was brisk but the chance to cool my feet was very welcomed.   Several creek crossings came early in the race with other spread through the distance making drop bags helpful if you don't like to spend the day in wet shoes however thanks to layout of the course most everyone finished the day with wet feet.

One major highlight of this race was being able to meet some great DailyMile friends who are so encouraging and supportive.  One of them, Larry was helping at aid station mile 13 and mile 39.  It was so great to see his smiling face offering to help as I neared.  As much as some runners rely on aid stations for fuel or hydration, I rely on them for interaction and encouragement.  As the miles get higher it's often easy to forget to thank those people who gave their day - a long and cold one - to make it possible for me and all my fellow runners to enjoy a day on the trails.  Thank you!
At the pennylock aid station which was listed as about mile 20 (my garmin about mile 23) there were port-a-potties.  I wasted considerable time there.  But once I finally convinced myself that I was going to keep moving forward until I ran out of energy from not being able to fuel properly, I drank a little water and walked slowly as I ate a 1/4 of a glazed and pumpkin doughnut.  Best.doughnuts.EVER!  I enjoyed checking out the lock system while my stomach decided if it was going to keep the food I put in it.  In fact a volunteer asked if I was going to attempt some sort of biathlon by swimming across the lock.  Luckily taking my time at this aid station helped to settle my stomach and once I walked over the bridge to the canal I started running again and the sugar hit! 
Too tired to drink and keep my eyes open at the same time?!

Before I tell you how much the tow path sucked let me tell you another positive. 
Another bright spot was the treats.  I don't usually plan on really using the aid stations for much more that topping my hydration pack once or twice but I did indulge in a few things after my planned GUs were not working for me.  There were the usual things like cookies of all kinds, chips, potatoes, pretzels, M&Ms, candies, water, soda, sportdrinks and then there were those extra special aid station offerings of homemade brownies and rice krispies, soup, Krispy Kreme glazed and pumpkin doughnuts, grilled cheese sandwiches, roast beef or pork and random booze.  Over the course of the race I had about 2 bananas, a 1/4 of a pbj, 1/4 of a grilled cheese, 3 pringles, 1 baby potato, a piece of glazed doughnut, a piece of the best pumpkin Krispy Kreme doughnut in the world, 1/4 of fig bar, several cups of gingerale, and the best cup of broth ever!

Now on the tow path I again struggled with running too fast and then too slow.  I couldn't find a comfortable pace.  Thoughts of the JFK runners having to endure the pebbly surface over a longer distance kept entering my mind.  I wondered how Kara was doing and knew she would be finishing her first 50 Miler in the daylight.  I played leap frogged several female runners.  One of them, Marty I had met before through mutual friends and know the level of runner she is.  I had been playing leap frog with them all day which I knew meant I was struggling with finding a steady comfortable pace.  We chatted briefly and I did the unthinkable, I ran ahead of them knowing that I should have stayed and paced closer with them to help keep my desire to run faster at bay.  Unfortunately the uncomfortable tow path pebbles encouraged me to run faster to get off of them more quickly.
 After about 3 or so mile on the tow path we hit the Stone Mill which was really cool.  It was at this point for me that we started running the course for Seneca Greenway Trail 50k backwards.  As I don't remember courses exactly, it may not have followed perfectly but I loved recognizing where I was after the Stone Mill.  I enjoyed taking a few minutes to check the old building out as I passed them and thinking of the people who had been there from the past.  I also remembered that this portion of the course held a 50k PR for me and I tried to used those happy thoughts to pull my fatigued body through the next section.

I need to learn to follow!

Through this section I had been running off and on with two men, Todd and Wikipedia.  Okay, so I didn't get the younger guy's name but he seemed to know a little bit about everything.  As we lost Todd (there I go running too fast again), Wiki and I ran together for many miles while he entertained me with his knowledge of complex mathmatical equation and the differences between Karate and Taekwondo.  As we came into the Rte 28 aid station, there was a sign indicating where we were to go back onto the trail.  It read, "21 miles to go."  This sign concreted my feeling that this course was not just the emailed 51.5 miles long but significantly longer as my Garmin readed nearly 34 miles already.  That thought didn't sit well with me as I struggled to push past this aid station. 

Where were the photographers later in the race?

After leaving the aid station again without being able to eat anything, I hadn't made it very far until nature wouldn't simply leave a message.  I was running alone and thankfully the area allowed lots of natural cover.  Hopefully the wildlife in the area won't start tracking me from all the "marking" I did of their forested home.  Why share all these nature call moments with you?  Because this report is as much for me as it is for others thinking about doing Stone Mill next year.  I want to be able to look back and learn from what I did in 2011 so I can improve my performance in 2012 because believe me, I'll be back!

aka Trail Math
Between the Route 28 aid station and the out and back things get kinda fuzzy.  I ran and ran.  I wanted to stop.  Often.  But I kept running, as loosely as running is defined at this point but I was feeling stronger after what would be the final issue with my "stomach."  Now I simply had to put in some miles and not DNF when I got to the aid station close to the start.  Yeah, that's right.  The course not only ran long it also took us right by the start/finish line in a true test of our will to finish after having run over 44 miles and be within earshot of the finishing line cheers.
Let's talk for a minute about trail math. 
It's not like that math you were taught in school when 1 + 1 = 2 always and forever, amen.  It's more of a loosely defined math.  A math where a cheerful, wanting to be helpful and encouraging aid station volunteer tells a drained, crazed looking, salt covered runner that they are at mile XYZ and they only had X miles to get to the next aid station at Y miles.  They don't do it to be mean.  They do it out of a need to keep us moving.  Sometimes they are simply pawns in the RD's ultra game and they have been given bad information to spoon to the crazed salted covered runners.  We can't blame them.  It's trail math where a 44.5ish mile loop added to a 9ish mile out and back equal 1 loosely defined utterly amazing opportunity to push myself beyond what I thought I'd asked for 55 miler.
A simple 9ish mile out and back is what we were told.  I hit this stretch running loosely with a few other runners, all guys.  As I ran along the trail I knew that given my pace I would be very lucky to be out of the trail before the sunset.  That fact alone should have helped my pace but it only caused the return on my stomach issues.  The mind is a powerful thing!  Although I hadn't eaten anything more than a quarter banana, I had been taking small sips of gatoraid.  I wasn't going to let myself stop no matter what.  We hit an aid station and were told 3.5 more miles.  Questions where passed around by others about the inconsistent numbers but I had already resigned myself to the fact that the course was going to be much longer than we were told.  The aid station workers told us all those encouraging things that they say and said there would be one more aid station at which we'd get to turn around.  I was off again.
The return runners were passing as they headed towards the finish. 
This was bothersome. 
I was constantly getting off the trail to let them pass and they were never taking the "side step."  This was slowing me much more than I wanted but it was a fact that someone had to get over and this was the course I had to run. 
Suck it, buttercup! 
The up side to having runners coming from the turn-around was that they did say what lovely things were in store for me and my fellow runners.  The best was a big creek crossing!  Now did I really make you understand how cool I think it is to run through creeks?  I didn't?  Well, it is.  Earlier in the race there was a family on the trail and I actually bragged to their little girl that I got to play in the creek that she was walking along.  What?  Was that mean?  I offered to carry her across but she wasn't interested. 
Anyway back to the big creek.  Oh how I wish there had been a race photographer there.  It was beautiful.  There was a sissy line to got across if you thought walking on scum covered rocks was a good idea.  It isn't by the way, as demonstrated by the lady who tried it and put her behind in the water.  I slipped down the muddy creek bank and charged across soaking myself up to my thighs. 
Awesome!  And to think I was going to get to do this again...in the dark!
I ran.  I chatted with two guys.  I made it to the last big aid station.  And boy it was a nice one.  If only they had placed this one sooner.  With my issues from earlier I was concerned about eating anything but checked out the offerings.  There was a beautiful dog there too.  Not to eat, just sitting there.  Like a good girl, I asked permission before interacting with the dog.  I was given permission and quickly almost got my face bite off!  Good thing my reflexes weren't too dulled.
After the adrenaline shot from the doggie incident I decided to risk drinking some broth.  I didn't care at this point if my "stomach" was asking me to stop because I wasn't listening. 
Should.have.done.that.sooner!  I was instantly energized!

The return trip took forever.  There were still runners coming at us and the going was miserably slow.  I still loved the creek crossing even in the fading light and wished that the volunteers there had been taking photos. 
It was in this section that I finally got to "meet" Alyssa.  She nearly scared the pee out of me!  A string of headlamps came at us and I looked to the right to avoid blinding them when I hear this voice yell, Shelly it's Alyssa!  Shortest bloggy meet up EVER.  I wanted so badly to stop and hug her and congratulate her for doing it but I knew that stopping was probably a really bad idea. 
After my brief meet up with Alyssa, I felt a surge of energy and lost one of the guys running with me as he tired and needed to walk.  The remaining guy, I think his name was Michael, stayed with me even though he wanted to walk at one point and I asked him to continue pushing.  I love how through these races everyone is given the opportunity to help and to be helped.  We ran together closely as his headlamp was awesome compared to mine.  Finally we were at the road crossing for the school and I was dancing waiting for cars to pass. (yeah, that wasn't nice to have to stop)  I was so excited to see that finish line...until I did.  The finish line sat atop that same slippery leaf covered straight up hill
and to the RIGHT, personal joke about me wasting almost a minute before crossing the actual finish line, duh
but I charged for it anyway and finally I was done.
Stone Mill 55 Miler
12:38:42 offical time
12:37:09 garmin time

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Super Human Abilities

I know you are waiting on that Stone Mill 50 Miler race report and it is coming. 
In the meantime, marvel at my super human abilites.

which do not include dressing like an adult  for work...or ironing clothes.

Feel free to be impressed!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Trail Math: The Numbers Don't Always Add Up

Stone Mill 50 Miler
make that almost 55 miler
No.  I didn't get lost. 
The RD just really wanted us to get our money's worth.
Full report up tomorrow.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I think about numbers

As a runner I enjoy numbers.  I enjoy seeing them pile up as in the almost 4500 miles I have ran during my 558 days of streaking.  I also like seeing them go down as in the count down of miles I'll be doing while running my 50 this Saturday. 
I also enjoy the way numbers work together.

Take my Fire on the Mountain 50k bib.

Little did I know as I wrote on my bib before that race that the odd 7 in the middle was predicting my finishing time.  I like to write encouraging things on my bibs.  For the FOTM I used the number 2 to write things like 2 have fun, 2 get a PR, 2 get stronger.  I used the number 4 to write things like, 4 better health, 4 ME, 4 my sanity.  But that 7 simply didn't offer anything and so I didn't add anything around him. 
Yes the number 7 is male, in case you didn't know.
In hindsight, that 7 was telling me about how my race would eventually go.
As in a 7 hour finishing time.
For the Stone Mill 50 Miler
and yes, I have to add the 50 Miler every time
my bib number is 49
I've already thought of things I will write around that nice number 4. 
But feel free to offer suggestions.
I've been having a freaktasticly wonderful running week even though it was a taper week, so that little innocent 9 got the Optimistic Shelly thinking and thinking. 
To the point that I've actually spoke the thought out loud,
What if that little innocent 9 was trying to tell me something?
Could it be?
Wouldn't it just be giddy inducingly amazing if my finish time at the
Stone Mill 50 Miler
started with a 9!
Since I know that my mind will carry me much farther in this race then my legs ever will, I will be entertaining that idea clear through the finish line.

S'ghetti Girl will not be a photographer when she grows up
Am I Going Too Fast??

but wearing this to remember that Goal # 1 is to finish.

Safe running and racing this weekend to every one who is blessed enough to be doing it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

3TT ~ Other's Goals, Real Goals, Dreamland Goals

Alyssa at chocolate is my life is also running Stone Mill on Saturday.  She posted about her "non-goals" for her first 50 Miler.  I think enjoying the experience is a great way to head into the challenging task of running 50 miles.  Hop over and wish  her...not good luck because luck has nothing to do with it...but maybe a strong mind and unfailing legs!
Another friend, Kara at It's a dog lick baby world has spent the summer and fall preparing for her first 50 mile adventure.  If you haven't been lucky enough to already follow her please click over there and send her some well wishes as she takes on the mighty JFK 50 Miler this Saturday!
She posted some to me aggressive goals.  Goals I feel certain her training and the course will carry her to hit.  I have been giving my Stone Mill goals A LOT of thought.  Although I hadn't planned on setting any public goals with all the question marks surrounding this race day, I decided that nothing ventured is nothing gain. 

So here for better or worse are my Stone Mill 50 Miler
REAL Goals:
To arrive on time. To start.
To finish.  To finish feeling fine.  To finish feeling fine having fun!
My I CAN goal:
The race has a 12 hour cut off.  I feel baring any issues that would
result in my legs being removed from my body
force me to DNF 
I can finish this course within that time frame.
My I LOVE IT goal:
A new distance PR. I have run some of these trails during the Seneca Greenway 50k this spring.  I set my 50k trail PR on that section of trail.  Setting a new PR shouldn't be completely outside the realm of possibility.  Anything under 11:08:59 would do it.

My I DREAM IT goal:
10 hours and anything
Seriously with my lack of 50k+/- length training runs, the healing tailbone, the cold that won't quit and now sick kids too, if the course and day give me 10:59:59 I would be giddy with happiness.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Mishmash

This weekend I did all the right things...

I ate too much icing.

I played with fire.

We threw ball...in the house. 

We played outside in our pjs.

I tried to sweat my cold out.

And then Monday morning came when I read this G.
G posted about her experience at the Richmond Marathon this weekend.
I won't be a spoiler so click over there and read it first.

After I read it all I could think was (in an "it's all about me" way) what if I can not kick this cold/flu bug and end up in the middle of "you-have-to-walk-out-because-they-can't-come-in-a-get-you-ville" at mile 20, 32 or 44 and pass out


That can't possibly happen, right?  I mean how long can a cold last.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Hard Day's Night

For all who serve, for all who support, for all who work so that I am free to do the things I love; Thank you!
For my dearly missed Daddy, my husband, my BILs, my FIL, my friends and their families;
We appreciate your service!

LBM starting his day the right way

This week has been full of hard day's nights.  Sore legs, sick kids, twisted need to run and sick me all culminated last night at 3 o'clock in the morning in a sweaty shivering heap on the bathroom floor. 
I had a lot of time to think about things.

I thought about how after putting in my fastest two 50ks in the spring, I am still recovering from putting in my second slowest 50k last weekend.  Knowing the Stone Mill start line continues to plod ever closer, I thought about how nervous I am about my ability to even make it to the start line due to how beat down I felt in the days after Fire on the Mountain.  And then I remembered looking at my blog and noticing the photos from some previous races.  Go ahead take a look.  While you are looking notice the caption under the photo for the Skyline Challenge.  I'll wait.
Glad you're back.
Did you see it?  Yeah.  I put "Best Trail Race Ever!"
Even though I got lost repeatedly, it was raining, muddy, rocky, mountainous, flat out kick-you-in-the-a## hard!
But if asked I would have said that the Fire on the Mountain was my favorite.
Then I realized that I thought the two hardest races I have ever ran are the best races I've ever ran.
Even though they now hold my two slowest times.

As I lay on the bathroom floor worrying about how this illness would effect my performance at Stone Mill in 8 more sleeps, I realized that it does not matter.  It does not matter as long as I am defining performance as my ability to enjoy the adventure and beauty of 50 miles in the woods. 

I giggled to myself in the wee hours of the morning while huddled on that bathroom floor wandering the trails of my mind as I thought how a simple mom of three will go from this sickly mess in the elapsed time of 7 days to being a blissful force moving through the woods...
for 50 miles. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Three Things Thursday

Three Reasons Why I love
even though it felt like it handed me my tush this year

I can sleep in my own bed, get ready in my own bathroom and still make it to the race on time!

I get to take my kids to race packet pickup and enjoy creating some great memories by having them share in my racing adventure.

I get to run here.  Breathtaking!

Today is day # 550 and in NINE more sleeps I'll be running the Stone Mill 50 miler.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fire on the Mountain Trail 50k ~ Race Report

What ended with a final push along the tree line around a random open field, carrying a piece of wood to add to the fire began actually a week earlier.  October 30th was to be the morning of the 2011 Fire on the Mountain Trail 50k and 2 person Relay however, winter decided to show it's self with a little more force than is typical of a late October day.  With heavy snow piling up the decision was made to postpone the event by one week. 

This decision had multiple consequences for me and my race day experience.  Having been ready to run the 50k on the 30th, I struggled with handling the postponement correctly.  But I don't want to tell you how the race ended before telling you how it went.

Thanks to the new November 6th race day I was blessed with an additional hour of sleep the night before the race.  I had no trouble getting up in the morning and easily got ready, kissed the kids goodbye and slipped out the door after final instructions to the oldest who would be in charge for the day since the postponement meant the super secret spy couldn't be home to support me in the race or bring the kids to the finish line.

Having gotten my race packet the day before I knew I didn't have to rush my drive or stress about being late.  (Which is one of the big pre-race worries).  I arrived at the finish area in plenty of time to double check my gear for the day and visit the port-a-potties in lieu of the woods, that would come later.

I had made the decision the night prior to not drop a bag.  With Stone Miler 50 miler a mere 2 weeks after FOTM I felt certain that I would probably not be racing this event.  I had packed 5 Gus in my hydration pack so I would not have to rely on aid stations and of course with me there is always the possibility that I could get lost.  This year however that would not be the case.

As the skies started to lighten the buses arrived and we all got on board.  I was fortunate enough to sit with some local running friends, Darla, Joel and Michelle.

Joel:  veteran distance runner. 
Darla:  been running and supporting distance events for at least a year now.  She was back to FOTM to get some satisfaction after seriously twisting her ankle last year in the first two miles.  She gutted it out to the finish last year HERE and I hoped she would enjoy the course a bit more this time around.
Michelle:  new to distance running and trail racing.  She was hoping to finish with nothing left in the tank.
Our ride was filled with chatter bouncing from one subject; nature calls in the woods, to another; every one's expectations for the day. 

With all the chatter our ride seemed like a brief one and we were all too quickly out of the warm bus and back into the cold morning air.  Thanks again to the time change we did enjoy getting to see the view at the start line a Point Lookout near Little Orleans.  he view was amazing.

Photo credit:  Bill Fallier
After final instructions which basically were; red trail, green trail, logging roads, purple trail we were sent running up a forest gravel road for about 1.2 miles.  Even though our pre-race topics had included starting out too fast, I still did it.  I allowed myself to be pulled along with other runners who I knew were stronger and in better condition for this race than myself.  But with no protest from my broken tail bone I ignored my own mental chatter and raced to the single track.  I mean it was only a mile.  Or was it mile 55? 

Red Trail aka the Wet Goat Trail

Honestly if I were in the kind of shape I should be the Red trail is mostly what I love about trail racing.  The only problem is the Red Trail has it all to the extreme.  It has narrow basically non-existent trail.  This time of year it is leaf, branch and down tree covered testing your trail following abilities to the max!  DCNR does have excellent trail markings on all the trails along this course so even with the cover a runner familiar with following trail markings can find their way. 
The Red Trail has climbs and descents.  Did I say descents?  More like suicidal drops into nothingness.  It has tiny narrow edges of cliffs to run along and climb down only to find yourself tip-toeing in front of a partially frozen water fall.  Typically I would have been in ultra runner's heaven. 
But along with my feeling of being over-trained, one of the biggest issues early in the race was my fear of falling.  Well, I was mostly afraid of the impact from falling if I were to fall on my tail bone.  So that meant I couldn't even slide down the steepest descents on my backside.  I knew it was holding me up when Joe another veteran ultra running passed me.  It was pretty early in the race and honestly I was surprised to realize that I was holding back that much on the descents.  Not that Joe isn't typically a stronger runner than I am, but he is also running Stone Mill in two weeks so I knew he probably wouldn't be running with everything he had.
I had managed to navigate some of the steep early descents without falling only to finally be brought down by my numb feet, a stubborn root and frozen laces. 
Luckily I fell straight forward when the root that grabbed my lace wouldn't let go when my foot refused to stop.  After allowing a few runners to slip by me I had to stop and undo the frozen laces and re-lace the shoe.  This might have been the beginning of a mental downward spiral for me.

When Nature Calls

In a race this long I sometimes have to stop for a nature call.  Not always.  But it happens.  FOTM 2011 it happened three times.  After the snagged lace fall, the GU I had taken after about an hour of running choose to no longer want to be with me.  I investigated the largest tree I could find.  I wish I could say I felt better but I did not.  Buck Up!  I told myself and headed back out. 
That cycle repeated it's self minus the face plant after I attempted to take a second GU around 2 hours in.  And a final time just barely off the trail late in the race.
I share this to help myself remember not only the wonderful things about ultra running but the reality of my experience at this event this year. 
Maybe my candor will help other runners when planning their own 50k adventures.   
 The trees in the Green Ridge State forest are going to give me a reputation seeing how I visited so many in the same day!

The Green Trail

The Green Trail was really more of the Red trail with less severe descents but lots of continued water. I usually enjoy creek crossing and these were some great ones. Nothing much over knee deep and rocky bottomed creeks with very little silt to quickly become sand paper once inside your shoes. If I had to say the best section this year's race, it would be this section. Simply because I still had enough energy to be enjoying the challenges as they presented themselves.

Somewhere along late into the Green trail I did something I rarely ever do. So to do it in a race situation was a little bit of a learning experience.  I was not able to hold anything in so my fueling and hydration was completely off. My energy was tanking and my tail bone was screaming at me. That's when I saw a bright yellow shirt behind me. It was Michelle. I already realized that today, this course, my physical condition was not going to allow me to PR this distance and probably not allow me to PR this course. I slowed and waited for Michelle. She had started with Darla and Joel so I asked where she had lost them and we chatted for a while. The simple act of thinking about someone else was enough to help me over my mental block and I was determined to help Michelle at least to the oasis aid station and in helping her, she helped me.

We cheered each time we crossed another creek. We chatted when we could. We were silent when we needed. We were running near a group of other runners. One female runner wearing purple was ahead of us. I told Michelle how I struggled with "letting" her be ahead of us with more than half a race to go I was still hoping that I would get over my fueling issues and be able to make better time on the second half. Purple girl and I traded places multiple times until finally Michelle and I passed her when I remember to follow the trail and not those ahead of me. We would not see her again until the final miles.

The Aid Stations
I didn't stop at most of the stations. I didn't visit the little DNR building to duck behind this year. I only topped off my hydration pack at the oasis aid station and took four chips for salt only to discard them shortly after. With the GI issues I was having I didn't have to rely on the aid stations for fueling because I simply wasn't able to put anything in me. I did however benefit from the cheerful young men manning several of them. It was great to see their smiling faces and joke with them repeatedly after having seen them at an earlier station. The quick exchanges were a mental boost.

The Logging Roads: The "Fast" Section
Having ran this race last year and been lucky enough to have joined in two of the training runs, I was looking forward to my twice practiced second half of the course. I was still thinking I could pull this race together for...for what? Some kind of magical number that would make all the effort seem more sane?! Whatever it was I thought I could find, I didn't. I found something a little different. I found a few 7ish minute miles on that logging road only to have my tail bone scream me to a dead crawl on the hills and be forced to walk backwards.

Under the right conditions those logging roads can easily be a boast to a FOTM runner's overall pace. This year I ran a stupid. I ran injured. I ran over-trained. I ran under fueled. But I did remind myself that I was still enjoying being out in some of the most beautiful areas I've been lucky enough to see. I was still sharing my love of this sometimes brutal always challenging sport of ultra running with a new friend.

The Purple Trail: The Mountain Bike Trail
I was so happy to be back into the woods again.  Back onto single track trails.  The sounds of the forest.  The smells.  The thought that I might see a friendly face at the sixth aid station got me going each time I wanted to stop.  Michelle hung in with me the whole way.  As we had the majority of our run together, we took turns pushing each other.  Often silently or some times not so silently thanking God for carrying us through such an amazing experience. 
Last year I remember not loving the mountain bike trail section but this year having practiced it twice, I loved it. 

Where's Champ?

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I was using the memory of a really great guy to pull me through this final section.  Last year I ran the majority of this race solo.  I usually prefer to run alone.  I find my own trail, set my own pace, push myself.  The memory from last year of coming upon the 6th aid station while praying aloud and finding Champ rising from his chair to greet me, lifted my spirits like a answered prayer. 
So this year, I was eager to see him again.  So eager that I allowed my attention to wane and I hit the ground.  Hard!  Michelle helped me up and I didn't even admit why I fell.  But Champ wasn't there.  It was a little like a secret rendezvous that only I knew about.  Even though he wasn't there the fall had helped to get me moving a little more quickly because now I just wanted to be done.

One Last Push

With a few miles to go and newly creek dampened feet, we began to hear shots off in the distance.  I think it made both Michelle and I quicken our pace.  Well, the shots and the knowledge that we soon would be done.  We navigated another small stream and when I glanced back to check on Michelle's progress, I saw a purple shirt.  Now I wish I could say that the old road runner in me was completely gone but she's not.  Even exhausted, injured and dehydrated I simply couldn't imagine allowing one more person to pass me.  It wasn't that runner.  She was a great runner.  Purple shirt was running a smarter race than I had run.  She had saved something for a final push and I didn't think I had...little did I know.
The one thing I did have going for me
aside from a huge blessing from God to never want to give up
was those training runs.  I could remember the end of this course very well, which isn't always the case with
short-term memory loss Shelly.
I knew just how many more hills we had.  I knew that just when you think you are done, you are not.  I had practiced that feeling of coming through those trees and seeing that finish line only to have to push up another grade, around the tree line and into the finish.  And that's what I did.  I told Michelle we needed to finish strong.  Michelle said, let's finish this.  And we were off. 
I could smell the bon fire and hear all the earlier finishers.  I grabbed a piece of wood and tucked it in my arm as I raced around the tree line feeling like a female Scott Jurek.

It no longer matter what the clock said.  The only thing that mattered was once again I was given an opportunity to allow God to use me in an amazing way.  My name won't go down in print as the winner of the race so you might think that my experience serves as little more than an self fulfilling afternoon.  But I would argue that if someone like me can do this, if I can use the gifts God has given me, just imagine what you can do.

Huge Thanks to all the volunteers, the RD, the trail markers, the grill master, DCNR and Sheetz for putting on one of the best trail 50ks.  All your efforts are noticed and appreciated!