Daily Chatter

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Monday Massanutten Miles

After my amazing pacer agreed to run an extra training run with me the day after her 50k, disaster struck and we had to postpone a day.  Luckily the super secret spy was able to help out so that I could get the training in.
After only a few hours of sleep I found myself arriving uncharacteristically early to our meeting spot.  Although I still didn't look like I was ready to tackle the big climbs to come.  My coffee wouldn't kick in until later.

After we carpooled to our starting spot at Veach Gap we wasted no time hitting the trail and introducing me to a new section of the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 course.  The climb went on and on and on and on.  
Maybe the view was worth it but I still wasn't feeling it.

We indulged in micro-breaks to snap shots of flowers and enjoy the trail.

Even though it rained and drizzled the majority of our run I quickly realized that I had over dressed. 

But thanks to the cooling rains we had enough energy to goof around a bit once we hit the ridge line.

Between the lichen covered forest...

and the amazing rock formations. I was quickly starting to enjoy being back on the trails.
We even indulged in a little goofing off and took photos hiding in trail legend Gary K's spot.  Hopefully he will be hiding there race day and give me a big adrenaline indulging scare.

I felt like I was able to let go of the concern I had been feeling ever since the terrible experience at Bull Run.  I was able to enjoy just being in the woods, taking in whatever crossed our path and being happy to be doing it.

After about 11 miles we hit a short gravel road section.  Diane and I were both fueling and hydrating well with the supplies we were carrying.  We made great time getting through the little rural residential stretch.

We enjoyed a heavier rain while out in the open on the road but were both eager to return to the trails long before we arrived at the yellow blazes.

One of my favorite sections was finally getting to do the climb up Harbron Gap.  This will be somewhere around 55ish miles of the actual race course but today I felt filled with energy and the climb only increased my confidence about being able to tackle it after those long miles. 

The final section was an amazing generally down hill run on zig-zagging trails.  We paused only briefly to snap flower photos and to allow our only trail company of the day, 8 mountain bikers, to pass.  Before I knew it we could see through the trees the parking area where we had meet hours earlier.  I was so grateful for being able to get out and completely change how I am feeling about tackling my first 100 mile race.  Something I knew that I won't have accomplished alone.   

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Take Aim

Being a SAHM now I am lucky enough to spend my days with LBM.  Who is our youngest or little bug man aptly nicknamed for his love of bugs and all things nature.  I am doing my best most days to help prepare him for kindergarten.  Due to that fact this running fitness blog is often filled with photos of bugs, salamanders, rocks and plants that we find on our near daily nature walks as part of our "science" time.  Today when we were checking our container garden on the back deck to see what plants had sprouts, which ones needed watering and what little critter we might find to learn about online; LBM again mentioned the rose.  Which really isn't a rose as I have explained multiple times to him.  It really is a sole tulip that for some reason was planted within a small flowering shrub. 
Today I started to again explain that this flower was a tulip when LBM stopped me.  He started to explain how he could see the pollen and started reciting what we had just watched on an old Magic School Bus episode about pollination.  LBM told me the bees didn't know if it was a rose or a tulip, they didn't care.  He told me that nature sure did make it easy for bees.  Even though they flew around in crazy patterns instead of a straight line, he said that nature marks exactly where they should aim. 
Gee, wouldn't that be great.  If we instinctively knew exactly where to aim?!  If we could know that we would reach the desired outcome if only we hit that mark.  That sure would make life, family, training, everything easier.  The only problem is that unlike bees or nature our paths are not so perfectly aligned.  What works for one person may not work for another even if our starting and ending points are the same.  The journey between them can be quite varied. 
Whether your target is a happy family, a marathon, better health or an Olympic triathlon it doesn't matter what name you give your goals it only matters that you keep your eye on the target and an open mind to a less then straight path to get there. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Let's Make a Deal

Promise kept.  Five days of easy light runs.
As an ultra runner and even before I started ultra distances, I promised.  As the miles grew long or the hills seemed endless I bargained and nearly promised my first born to simply finish the distance.  You have probably had a similar mental conversation during your own races and hard training runs. 
"Legs just get me through this and I promise to..." 
"Come on thighs get me up this hill and I'll never..." 
"Lungs just stop coughing for the next mile and I'll take those vitamins."
"Stay focused brain and I promise to get more sleep...stop stressing..."
I did a lot of internal bargaining during the BRR 50.  But usually once I cross that finish line and I kinda forget about how grateful I am that my body and mind and God got me there.  I don't mean to do it.  I am going to blame it on finish line adrenaline.  I am still grateful it's just the promises that I usually seem to forget. 
But not this time.

I promised to take 5 - 7 days of "rest" runs.  Done.  In the five days following BRR I only ran 20 miles.  All at an easy gentle pace and followed by lots of stretching.  I promised to get more sleep.  Done.  Thanks to the super secret spy I was able to get extra rest for five days after the race.  I promised to walk more.  Done.  Every day since the BRR I have walked.  Some days it is only 30 minutes but every single day I have gotten it done.  I promised to use my non-running time to play with the kids more.  Done.  We have shared walks, water fights, swinging, snuggles and countless nature hikes to find new friends.
Thanks to finally keeping some of those race day promises and holding up my end of all that fatigue-induced bargaining, I finally feel a little bit more like myself.  Thanks in part to some much needed rest but also thanks to doing what I promised myself I would do.  It's theraputic to actually do what I know I needed to do. 


Now I know that my training will ramp back up before that final taper closer to race day. And I know that I will be playing another round or several of Let's Make a Deal during all those miles in May but thanks to some promises kept I will be looking forward to all those miles to come.
What is your craziness promise when you were running playing Let's Make a Deal?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Bull Run Run 50 mile Race Report

It's always interesting when I start to write a race report about a race I have ran before.  The story feels somehow so familiar that finding a new way to share it seems like an effort.  However in this telling of my running of the Bull Run Run 50 miler the effort was in the running.  No.  That's not quite true.  The effort was in the not quitting.  But before I jump to the end, let me tell you a bit more about the beginning.

I made the drive to Clifton, VA to my luxury accommodations.  Unlike last year my late arrival didn't go unnoticed since I woke the one other bunk mate who had been unlucky enough to chose the same side of the cabins as I did.  After a few apologizes I got quickly settled in for the night.  Hopeful that I wouldn't cough all night long I tired to sleep.
As I lay awake waiting for it to not be too early to start moving and wake my bunkmate I wondered about the day that lay ahead.  I knew that my chest was sore and tired from simply trying to breath let alone trying to move sufficient air for carry me over 50 miles.  My thoughts were on the days of the past week and the lack of fueling I had been able to do.  As I began to hear others arriving to set up for the day, I told myself that today would be about simply pushing myself to whatever limit I was able to and that no matter how far I got I would be successful in simply starting.
With few others on site this early I was able to get dressed and ready without having to wait.  I found Anstr, the RD and paid for my room and picked up my bib which was appropriately number 50.  With loads of extra time I gathered up my gear, packed up the car and went about the business of visiting with as many trail brethren as I could to keep the nerves at bay.  There were so many friends there, Carter, Charlie, Katie, Mark, Melissa, Kari, Rande, Alan, Matt, Cherry and more I know I'm forgetting...  I tired to chat with everyone and ended up starting with Charlie and Carter.  But I didn't kind myself about pace after the clock hit 6:30 and we were off I would only see Carter and Charlie for the first four miles when I needed to pull back on my pace.  I had already fallen four times.

Four falls on such nice trails - after all the practice on the rough trails on the MMT course - I knew that my mind and body were going to be in for a day of struggling.  But the course was beautiful and the day was amazing so I simply kept enjoying the trail brethren I found around me and enjoyed the scenery along the way.

The course consists basically of three loops which put runners back at Hemlock three times.  This allows runners to see nearly all the runners on the course at one point or another.  I enjoyed seeing all the runners that I was used to running with.  It was so thrilling to see friends who were having amazing runs on near perfect trail conditions.  It was easy to feed off their energy as we shared cheers for each other in passing.

On my way to Centerville Road and the out-and-back through the blue bells I ran with Melissa who I had shared miles with at the Mega last year.  She had ran 90 miles a mere 2 weeks ago and wanted to hit steady 12 minute miles.  Her drive carried me through a few miles of what was already becoming a warm day. 
Luckily by the second pass to Hemlock I fell into running with a small group of runners and nearly ran the entire second two loops with one runner, Stacey. She wore a bright orange shirt which made an easy target to hold when my mind was so cloudy and my lungs were so tired. To say that I felt good during any of this run might be an exaggeration. I love trail running so much. I wanted to find joy in moving over these trails. I wanted to play over this course knowing it's path was so smooth by comparison to others I had traveled this spring. I found joy and happiness in moments along the trail but mostly I found a desire to simply keep going like I had never found before.

I wasn't the only runner on the trails that was struggling.  Multiple times I would stop and ask the same question, "what can I give you?" Sometimes it was to an unfortunate runner unable to hold anything done.  But luckily I had pepto to offer.  Another time it was to a young lady with a terrible bloody nose.  This time I had a pile of paper towels in with my hydration pack bladder to give.  One runner with a turned ankle only needed a few ibuprofen.  Some how in simply helping others, my own suffering seemed momentarily lifted. 

All thoughts of time had left my mind.  I knew that this run would only be about pushing my limits in a way I hadn't ever done before.  I had run when I wanted to stop before.  Every ultra runner has those moments.  But this run was different.  I can only imagine that I will feel as depleted and completely without anything left to give when I am deep into my 100 mile attempt this May as I was feeling throughout this run.  As we entered the white loop I rolled my Garmin around wrist determined to just finish no matter the time.  Aid station after aid station I tried to drink, grab some salt, ice if they had it and a few calories.  Of course nothing compares to the Popsicles before and after the Do Loop they were almost as sweet as the knowledge that every step was now leading me towards that finish line.

The day couldn't have been much closer to perfect.  The trails were completely amazing.  My trail friends were inspiring and uplifting.  The volunteers were helpful and encouraging.  On a day that started with the hopes of finding a lower number on a clock to prove that I had become stronger, I found it took forgetting the clock was even ticking to find out how very strong this ultra runner has become.

2013 Bull Run Run

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bull Run Run 50 Miler - Goals

Today would usually be the day that I excitedly list out my goals for my Saturday race.  This Saturday will be my third time running the Bull Run Run 50 miler.  Since I have spent the past week sick from some kind of bug I will be aiming for my I Finished goal with an emphasis on the feeling fine part. 
To arrive on time. To start. To finish.
aka: Finish Feeling Fine having Fun
My I CAN goal:
Finish in under 13:00
Yeah, that's the course limit
My I LOVE IT goal:
To beat my PR.
Currently 10:53
My I DREAM IT goal:
Even though I know that over this distance anything can happen I will only be dreaming of feeling good the entire 50 miles.  My dream would be no coughing fits, no upset stomach, no light headedness.  Just one foot in front of the other happily across my third Bull Run Run finish line.
So maybe I can get my I Dream It goal after all. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Chocolate Bunny Training Run

After more than a week has passed my memory of Chocolate Bunny training run condensed into
across the road, don't get hit by a car, up a trail, turn left onto the white trail, jawbone, ridge line, rock, rock, rock, gets really fuzzy....to gravel road...to paved road.  Then an aid station...bird knob...on and on forever.  purple, pink,...done.  But of course a lot more happened than just following the course and that is what follows.

With this training run taking place Easter weekend, the super secret spy took the kids and headed to PA to join family for pre-Easter activities while I got to spend the day gearing up to be running all night.

We met at 6:30 we met along Rt 211 to drop off aid and check in.  My pacer, D had spent the day along the Massanutten course crewing her husband as he put in his miles during the day.  Our group lingered waiting for everyone to arrive before heading across the highway and onto the trails.

 Right from the start D and I fell into running with Mark who would stick with us through the entire run.  Several others,  Larry H and Mark M, would join us through the miles before going off on their own pace.  Running at night after being up all day was really about moving forward with as much urgency at the trail conditions would allow.  I quickly discovered something.  When I run trails at night I know exactly what my form looks like. 
 Elaine Benes dancing.
 It wasn't long after my graceful form discovery that Mark M, who had taken his turn at lead, took a major fall on the rocks hitting his knee and hand but luckily avoiding hitting his head.  After a few moments we were on the move again but Mark would end up calling it a night after helping us fly down the gravel and paved road to the aid station.
However our other Mark hung with us tight all night long.  He was great company and reminded me that I enjoy a lot of trail chatter.  D was not having the best night and had fallen silent but was moving really well and setting a great pace.  Mark and I would fall back chatting maybe a little too much but I was completely enjoying the miles and recognized the end was near far before I was praying for it.  Thanks to D and Mark I figured out a few other things.  1.  I was reminded that I need that trail chatter to really enjoy the miles.  2.  I can quickly go off trail if I'm talking too much.  3.  Having a "target" in front of me to chase really helps me push when the terrain is making me want to slack.  4.  I was also reminded how much fun it is to run with a group.

The run was over much faster than I had expected and a great medal was waiting for us as we finish.  But my night wasn't done yet after lingering with my trail brethren and finally peeling out of my wet gear, I still had the 3 hour drive to PA to join my family.  This was by far the most enjoyable training run and helped me feel a little bit closer to ready to tackle the 103 mountain miles come May 18th at the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100.