Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pursuit of Happiness: my experience at the Thomas Jefferson 100k

 I knew for 2014, I needed a different game plan. While I was intent on leaving an extremely disappointing year in the rear view, I knew I needed to glean from all the lessons I learned and not replicate mistakes I had made in order for this year to be better, in everyway. 

First, before any type of training commenced, I did some  deep soul searching regarding WHO I am/ who I am not--what I am about, WHY I feel compelled to do what I do, and also what is important to me/ what's not important. Then I compiled a list of goals for the year. I wanted clear concise written goals for me to set out and obtain. 

    THEN I trained differently. I started implementing morning runs. That was a challenge for me because I hadn't really taken the time for morning runs really ever. but it was a necessity due to my super tight schedule. I would get up at 5- be out the door in 10 min- run for an hour,  with my headlamp in the cold and darkness- shower, get kids up and ready for school, work, run again, take kids with me to the YMCA for kids gym while I did a 6pm yoga class.  I learned to love it. I trained diligently. When it snowed, I ran in snow shoes, 

and rode my surly pugsly to cross train.
 I REALLY started hitting the weight room. No more light weight, high reps- going through the motions.  I consciously really started focusing on what I was doing, and what the purpose of each session was for. 

 i ran with faster people during my long runs to get myself out of the slogs.  I did bonk runs. I was tired, I ate tons and went to bed early almost every evening. Very geeky, dorky, obsessive behavior. However,  I knew it was a necessary for me to do all this to get back on track, I found a lot of enjoyment in structure, having a plan, sticking to my plan and seeing it through to completion. But even with all that I did, I knew I didn't really have adequate time to properly prepare for a 100k- 50k sure- but I knew by the end I would be relying upon my experience to get to me to the finish/ and also fighting  my demons because I hadn't ran  AND FINISHED over 100k since hellgate 2012

 I was drawn to TJ100k for a multitude of reasons. I was a political science major and have my minor in history. One of my favorite classes from my senior yr at UVA-w in 2000 was Jefferson and Ataturk by Dr. Garrett Sheldon.  Most Jeffersonian ideology resonates with me on a pretty deep level. I have this profound love of Charlottesville. I love it's trails, running communities, I have many friends who live there,   I usually visit 3-4 times a year and always enjoy myself. oh and I love dave matthews:)  So the idea of a weekend running 100k of  practically 100% single track trail, spending time amongst good friends seemed like a no brainer. 

   I arrived at Tandem friends school friday afternoon, the race headquarters. ( AJW is the head of school there)   I found a bustling campus with soccer and lax matches going on, it was so fun to watch!! i picked up my race packet, and I've ran 30 ultras or so the past 5 yrs-- and Ive never been so spoiled!!! Very nice. 

  I then went to pre race pasta dinner sponsored by whole foods.  Food was delicious! I got to catch up with Brian Pickett from Kingsport and some other tn ultra runners. 

Then we had pre race meeting. Andy really set the tone I feel for the entire event/weekend here -- of course he and sophie went over logistics and timing, but what sticks out in my mind was Andy pointing out "pursue happiness" was written on the front of our patagonia race shirts. Reminded me WHY I run these things and work so hard at self improvement, not just in my running, but all areas of my life. It's FUN and MAKES ME HAPPY. 
AJW really emphasized they were there for us --whatever we needed-- pacers, pep talks, massages ( haha) He just wanted us to finish and enjoy the event. 

  I felt much less nervous driving back to the hotel. I knew no matter what went down the next morning, I was amongst friends and in a safe place. I also knew I'd be suffering- and they would NOT let me drop-- which is exactly why I came to TJ100k with no crew. I needed  so desperately not to drop. get the DNF monkey off my back. 

 i went back to my hotel, and tried to sleep quite frankly had some strange and vivid realizations about certain things in my life. ( yes my brain didn't want to shut down) instead of worrying about the race I found myself thinking about everything under the sun. Sleep eventually found me, but 2:30 am arrived much too soon. I got up, dressed- I had decided to run in Salomon Mantra 2's for this race. Gathered my gear, and drove to walnut creek park. I checked in. i was happy to see Sniper:) Then because this is a loop course 7 x 9 mile loops, I set up a little area with my bottles of Gu roctane and extra race vest. 

The race began at 5am so we wore headlamps. I stupidly didn't check the batteries since hellgate. ( really!! like dumbest mistake ever) My head lamp didn't die but it was VERY VERY dim for loop 1. i felt it slowed me down, but that's probably a good thing.  I felt GREAT loving the 40F temps and cool breezes. The course was very well marked and easy to follow. I found myself just running it ALL. I completed the first loop in 1:42. 

some  random super nice guy lent me his headlamp for my second loop since it was still dark and replaced my MYO with fresh batteries while I was out on the loop ( THANK YOU!!) ,  I have to say BOTH Aidstations were out of this world amazing to me! every time I would come in, they would cheer and tell him how great I was moving and fill my bottle offer me food etc. CATs ( charlottesville area trail runners) manned both aid stations and did a tremendous job. My second loop was 1:42. I was feeling good, strong and not too worked. but the sun was up and I knew it would get warm- here are some pictures of me running, and pictures from the race course that morning at sunrise ( courtesy of sophie) 

 Loop 3 was okay. Loop 4 a little tougher, I started getting really hot, and sweating ALOT I was still first female, but knew I was going to have to dial back my efforts. I thought of OD and how awful that was-- my hands were swelling, tummy swelling, and all I could think about was how I wanted to jump in the lake. I thought to myself " no race is worth this torment, I'm done. I'm quitting ultras forever, I'm terrible at this. I suck."  I came into aidstation 1- out of it and sad the way my race was going-- I was still leading but felt AWFUL-  the CATS were amazing.. they dumped water over my head, they gave me ice to put in my sports bra to bring down my core temperature-- I decided to go to water only in my bottle. Annie said she would pace me the last two loops just get through loop 5

 so off i went, determined to just get back there in 2hrs- my feet were great, no blisters or hot spots- they didn't hurt at all- I just felt tired, I also was aware I was trashing my quads with all the downhills I was trying to bomb. My heart rate was high-- oops it's survival mode time--  THEN  I thought about post OD, sophie sent me a blog by jimmy dean freeman about a 100 that was hot and had a high DNF rate- maybe angles crest- but what I thought about was him saying essentially was dial back your effort-- take racing off the table-- make finishing your goal if you don't want to quit, DONT.  So There on loop 5 I decided even if my "race" was going down the crapper because I don't run very well in heat-  I am FINE and i don't have to quit- so I'm not. i had tons of time to finish. That was a freeing thing. because I knew Stephanie was steady and right behind me. 
 I finally got back to start loop 6 with Annie. Stephanie caught us here and passed  and went on to run consistently and finish strong for the overall female win. I ungallantly death marched most of loop 6. I was a train wreck, but annie little by little pieced me back together. Encouraging me to eat and gel ( hey I forgot about that on loop 5- oops) By loop 7- the sun was going down and felt so much better, So we ran everything we could. I wasn't pushing hard--  was having fun getting to know annie, and really just had finishing in mind- that is until the  last 2 miles I saw Carter right behind me- it was silly but I kicked it into gear and ran my hiney off to the finish. How did I go from feeling so slow to feeling so energized?? motivation, perception-- most of ultra running is SO MENTAL, it scares me. 
BUT I FINISHED-- That meant SO much to me. I was so tired and fatigued during that run, but it felt so tremendous to overcome that and all the little issues that got thrown my way. AJW and craig Thornley were there at the finish  line,  i got hugs and a 2 dollar bill ( nice!!) I have to say no way I would of finished without the help of the CATS at the aid stations and annie stanley pacing me.  I would like to think I could of made it without a pacer, maybe I could of but I know how simply she cheered me up, she got my thoughts and energy going in a different direction. We focused on the positive:) 
 Idealistically I wanted to watch the other finishers and hang out at the finish line. so I laid out my folding chair, changed clothes and then decided I needed to drive to where there was cell service to let my family know how I ran. I drove and drove- by the time I got service I was 5 miles from my hotel, so i just went back, showered and crashed out.  yes I left my chair because I was so out of it-- sorry guys!!!

 Got up the next morning hobbled to my car, back to tandem for Awards breakfast top 3 men and women where awarded a Jefferson cup engraved with TJ100k, also I got a cool MHW expedition duffle. 

The weekend was so fun and amazing. The people -racers, organizers, volunteers, sponsors- ALL made it special. AJW really created such an amazing experience-- it wasn't just an event- it was an experience. He spoke of how this race was a personal reflection of a part of who he is, and why he loves ultrarunning. I know for me, personally, this is why I feel such connection and deep level of friendship with all of these folks-- it's a collective of people who set goals, work diligently to obtain them: commitment, community, steadfastness. All these things I learn to practice during my races, I, in turn, hope to implement into my everyday life. I'm so appreciative and thankful for my journey. It isn't always easy, full of twists, turns, ups and downs, but I'm  still here ON THE COURSE and STILL MOVING FORWARD. 
 I definitely want to thank AJW for putting on such a wonderful race. I will be back!! So honored to get to apart of the first one! 
Post race reflections here 3 days later: this course is DECEPTIVELY much harder than it seems. It really wears you down, where there isn't any fire road to make up time, and it's all single track-- you burn ALOT of calories. I really don't feel I ate enough. Also I didn't have enough depth in my training ( although I trained hard-- I really didn't have enough TIME to train WELL to RACE a 100k-- was it good enough to cover the distance- YES.. but I was by no means strong or comfortable at the end- I was in survival mode- BUT silver lining for that is running this and recovering from it- is going to make me SO fit! yay!! 
 Also where it's early spring in central VA, it's a dice roll of what the weather and conditions will be like. I was dying in the 70F heat that afternoon.. the very next day, c-ville had 4 inches of snow. So that adds to the fun of it. Being flexible planning for anything and everything and just rolling with it. 
Thank you so much to Salomon running! my Mantras worked amazingly beautiful for me this weekend! no blisters, no bruised toe nails ( and this was a technical course in places lots of rocks and roots) 
Thanks so much to GU Energy labs! I ate about 18 gels- salted carmel GU and Gu roctane. :) love being apart of the gu crew:) 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Spring 2014 Additions at Mountain Sports!

  hey guys!  this is a new type of post for me and my next post will be complete devoted to my running and training.  I am just so excited about all the awesome changes and additions to the store I'm a buyer for, Mountain Sports, Ltd.
I wanted to write a blog post to show my readers some of the awesome things we have in the store- and show case some of my favorites. A lot of it will have to do with foot ware.. and right now, the store is STOCKED TO THE GILLS with shoes..

 New to the Salomon line up at the store ( we have Mission XR, EA pro's, Synapse low cut hikers)  is one of my favorite shoes that I pretty much do all my running in- road, hybrid trail, single track. This shoe pretty much fits the bill for a work horse that can do it all. SALOMON MANTRA2

BOTH OF THESE WE HAVE IN STOCK FOR THE WOMEN SIDE and the men have two colors to choose from as well.  This is the shoe I will probably wear for TJ 100k that I have coming up. It's light, responsive, but protective ,enough cushioning -- it's pretty much the perfect shoe offered from Salomon.  

I'm really excited that Mountain Sports Now has MONTRAILS on the wall!! We have The Mtn Masochist 2 for both men and women. What the mantra is to Salomon, the masochist is for Montrail. 9oz-- protective toe box, great rock plate, very grippy tread.  It's the perfect shoe for ultra trail running distances 50k to 100miles. 

Okay so after you are done trail running you need a cool recovery shoe to air out those tootsies and make your feet feel nice?? I'm crazy in love with the CHACO REVERSI FLIP
 It comes with a solid black thong-  and that is great- but you  buy these packs of  chaco flip thongs with different patterns and colors-- you end of with 6 different pairs of flip flops?! great if you like to color coordinate-- or I'm just rationalizing after one wears out you simply replace the webbing with another from the pack-- and with the chaco lowers.. you KNOW these flip flops are going to last you until you are like 80. seriously the best idea and probably the last pair of flip flops you will ever need to buy. 

 on the hiking side, Mountain Sports brought in Salewa for Men in Fall 13 and they did VERY well. Salewa is an up and coming brand that I'm really excited about and love their products.  For spring we decided to bring in the women's wildfire as a low cut hiker and scrambling/approach shoe. This shoe has VERY sticky rubber/ vibram sole and the uppers are so well made. you do feel like you are wearing climbing shoes almost.  and they are so comfy. They aren't marketed as a running shoe and the rep actually tells you-- don't run in these-- they aren't designed for it--  think climbing and mountaineering. 
 great for super rocky hikes like up on Mt Rogers. 

Still in hiking another newer company I just love ( and the rep is a cool ultra runner and a friend) is Ahnu. Ahnu has made a big splash at  Mountain sports with it's Montara Hiker. and we have TONS of those in every color of the rainbow-- water proof, all weather hiker for women. if you are looking for a high top hiker with ankle support- this is a great shoe, and it's stylish-- you can wear it to the grocery store-- you can wear it for a 20 mile hike on a backpacking trip. Anhu personifies the women I try to buy for in the store-- the girl who does it all- and wants cute but functionality and COMFORT. 
SO for spring I am introducing the sugar pine  both HI TOP and LOW cut.. from the anhu line
 Outside and Backpacker have both given the sugar pine and Montara great reviews.  The Sugarpine just has this great lighter material instead of all leather but still waterproof.  Just a great hiker.  I'm so excited about these shoes! They literally make me want to go camping and hiking just looking at them. 

Okay, moving in another direction- YOGA clothes, RUNNING clothes for women-  Mountain sports has some AMAZINGLY cute, functional and AWESOME lines for Women's activewear. 
I'm going to show you two pieces  from patagonia I'm full on addicted to and wear so frequently my husband asks-- didn't you wear that yesterday?? umm.. no… er maybe...

The gloyra wrap and racer back tank from Patagonia both of these are made from a very soft technical fiber.. very stretchy- but wicks sweat away and SOO comfortable..  and freaking cute!!!  I want one of every color! lol. guess what? you can get them at mtn sports! 
 Another current obsession of mine is the Exofficio Chica cool line-- ANYTHING FROM IT-- but right now I wear my hoody.. it's so cute, looks so great on, and I love the retro 70's look of the material.  and it's really a technical piece.. I even wear it running.

 in addition to some other AMAZING yoga pants, cropped capris, sports bras--
 Here are the lines we have in the store currently on the Women's side ( and have a GREAT selection of each) 
Lole- we have dresses, yoga and running clothes and next month will have lole yoga mats and yoga towels
Ojai- great story the owners of ojai is the original designer for patagonia and it's almost ALL made in the USA. great stuff.

Stonewear Designs -- great little company from Colorado- the rep is a professional rock climber originally from KY-- they rep in house, made in the USA and they make great clothes. 
 and fall 14 ( starting in august Mtn sports will have TONS of prana

and KAVU accessories-- you asked we got it christmas-- we sold through it ALL we got more of it_ 
That kinda is the tip of the iceberg-- but there are some NEW and exciting things going on at Mountain Sports
BUT YOU HAVE TO GO THERE to experience it. Sure you can click on the links and pay too high shipping charges to bring it to you- but shopping at a local, independent outdoor retailer-- you are keeping your money in the tri-ciites, getting great costumer service and hopefully a really positive fun experience-- because going to an outdoor store and buying gear  in itself SHOULD BE VERY FUN, HAPPY, POSITIVE experience. 

and ladies-- you don't have to go asheville or knoxville, or johnson city anymore for your yoga clothes, running clothes or cute outdoor wear--  WE HAVE IT ALL RIGHT HERE IN BRISTOL, RIGHT NOW.  :)  and isn't that AWESOME?!  It's seriously a dream realized for me! 

 I love my job and working for mtn sports so much, the people I work for are so nice, and my co-workers are such great people. It is a happy place and never really feels laborious- even when checking in items and putting out stock.  It would be AMAZING for you all that are local to come by the store and check everything out- I know I focused on the women's side but the men have great  gear as well:)
 and surly pugslys-- we have those!!! highly intelligent aussie not included

 Running happy at Sugar Hollow Park in my Mantra2's 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

OR, TJ100k training

Well as January draws to a close, I have to say I'm Super happy how my training is going and my work/training/life balance is going as well. That has really been the biggest challenge of my adaption to my "new" life as a working mom. How to keep all the balls in the air and not drop any.

 I have to say, it's been a FABULOUS journey the past month!! I have really enjoyed getting back into some harder more challenging aspects of training, and have been incorporating a lot of speed training and anaerobic type things-- tabata, insanity type work outs, lots of plyometrics and dot drills.  and tons and tons of yoga.
Jenny has grown so tired to slogging. She knows she is way capable of running much faster. So it's been my theory that "slow running begets more slow running. Fast running begets fast running."  I know i'm training for a 100k, but  seriously felt I had to kick my slog habit right in the teeth-- and I feel SO much better.
I've been VERY SORE.. UGH that part has been hard. running faster and all the different drills-- there have been times at work I just want to roll around on a tennis ball ( which probably wouldn't even phase the MSL crew) 

but I feel ENERGIZED again. I can't even begin to explain how crappy I felt for A YEAR.  fatigued. no energy. running out of sense of duty because I had races ( that I didn't even finish)  I actually feel GOOD when I run-- I many times wondered if that would ever happen for me. Experience that rush of endorphins you get after a speedy run. Or that "I'm king of the world and super fit  feeling you get after a challenging workout"
shew. I nearly broke myself.   Glad I've made it through the other side-- I'm still running-- and going to be OKAY--- so lesson learned. I swear ( SWEAR SOPHIE)  not to make the same mistakes again-- don't get me wrong- 2012 was an amazing year.. but I did many things wrong that year  with my racing and training that cost my 2013.  which puts me at ground zero ( but oh, so full of optimism for 2014)

So adventures this month:  I did make a trip to charlottesville to preview the TJ100k course: I got to run with AJW, boys and girls!!!!! Yes, it was everything I thought it would be and more!! lol- Andy proved to be a wonderful host. I am SO looking forward to running his race, and I know he is going to knock it out to the park with this event. It looks to be an amazing and FUN race.  I was so much fun to get out of town, and run with sophie, annie, martha ( we had a marvelous time plotting future adventures ) and Marci griffin and the rest of the CATs.  I absolutely love charlottesville.. and I love my ultra running big sis, Sophie. After the run we went to Crozet and had coffee at the mud room and checked out Crozet Running. If ever in the cville area, check it out. it's an awesome store with really amazing owners!! 

Next up on my list of january adventures was a trip to OR in Salt Lake City, Utah.  It was SO FUN to get to see all the latest in upcoming gear and apparel in the industry. I skied the first day at all mtn demo at solitude.

The next morning I was lucky enough to run with Adam Chase and a couple other cool fast chicks ( one of them works for runners world, and the other is a PR person with Merrell and getting ready to run her first 50k Chuckanut 50k)  Adam lead us through cool sections of down town, and we climbed and climbed up, up, up.. above the smog and then got a SWAH-EET downhill descent back into the city via City Creek Canyon. I really enjoyed the adventure, and running with some very NICE people. THANK YOU, ADAM!

 I got to meet tons of amazingly cool people at OR:

 Salomon and Suunto both have some amazing things coming up for Fall 2014. Namely the Suunto Ambit2R which is a more entry level, consumer friendly GPS at 250 bucks. it has a lot of bang for your buck. As far as the Salomon Line up I have to say I'm very excited about the fell raiser ( carrying forward from spring14 ) and the Ultra Sense Soft ground, Those are two shoes I would most certainly check out, and of course I've always been a HUGE fan of the Salomon S lab XT series. I have been running in the 6's and love them. This is probably ( maybe? the shoe I will wear for TJ 100k) either that or Salomon mantra2--  I love those too!! 

AS far as GU CREW-- there is an AWESOME contest going on right now-- Find the Golden Yeti!!  You buy a 24 pack or 8 pack case of salted carmel Gu, and like charlie and the chocolate factory, if you find the Gold pack of Gu-- you win a free 24 pack of salted carmel gu AND are entered to win a free trip for 2 to san francisco!!  and guess what?? after OR,  I came home and guess who had a golden yeti in one of her gu boxes?? ME! unsure if I qualify where I am on the GU Crew-- however it was very AWESOME to find one and I'm here to say: "THEY EXIST"!!  Secondly, I have been using with the devoutness of a zealot-- GU ROCTANE POWDER during my workouts and GU brew RECOVERY post workout.  The Gu Roctane powder I feel like super woman. I can NOT wait to race with this stuff!!! It gives me so much energy. The Gu brew recovery ensures I can run and workout the next day. I know even though I've been sore, I would be far more sore if I didn't drink protein post run.  and best thing- they both taste great.

Well, So far that is what's going on with january ( THANK YOU JANUARY FOR BEING SO COOL and AMAZINGLY KIND TO ME!) Very excited about february-- what's on tap for next month-- MSL gets it's new spring apparel-- COME CHECK IT OUT!!  Oaji, stone wear designs, patagonia, and lole for women, horny toad-- all very cool. lifestyle, yoga, running, hiking clothes-- I'm going to have a "ladies night" at the store as a launch for the new lines I'm bringing in. If interested in attending ( it's invite, after hours party-- but I will send out invitations to ANYONE who wishes to attend!! so email me and give me your email and mailing address)  ALSO after the time changes we are going to have wens night group runs at the store at 5:30pm. ALL PACES WELCOME!! Bristol really needs a running group, and I feel having MSL as the hub meeting place will be a GREAT location for downtown runs.  I will have post run refreshments  ( water and GU brew at the store) :) There is another Salomon demo in the works for later this spring.

 The dates of  the races I direct have been set for 2014. CTR 10k is August 9th at 6pm.  and the Virginian "extra mile" 6.6k is going to be Sept 27th at 10am.

I really toyed with the idea of running holiday lake 50k or Myrtle beach marathon-- but really feel I'm just going to run back to backs that weekend and perhaps jump in some shorter local runs for speed work. Planning a couple trips to asheville in feb for some bikram, yummy food and trail running.  So yay! here I am just sitting here feeling incredibly blessed and lucky. and absolutely can't wait to run tj100k in march.  no expectations other than I want to DO MY BEST. FINISH. and qualify for WS and HAVE FUN!!!!
 I absolutely love what I'm doing, and where I am. embracing the process.   here are two thoughts I want to leave you guys with: both are my mantras everyday.