Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rivanna Trail Winter Solstice fun aka FUN TIMES with the Charlottesville/Harrisonburg crew

This weekend I was invited to travel to the quaint and fair city of Charlottesville, Va. Run the Rivanna Trail, which is a trail system that skirts around the perimeter of Charlottesville. It's a mixture of mostly singletrack, greenbelt/bike path, and some pavement through some cool neighborhoods within the city.
Sophie Speidel had the wonderful idea of having this "Winter Solstice" group run the saturday before Christmas, have everyone meet 7:30am at Greenberry's at barrack's road. Then post run, everyone has the opportunity finish up their christmas shopping at the Barrack's road shopping center. This was the 5th year of this cool and fun event.

Brock, Todd and myself drove up Friday night and stayed at a hotel near barrack's rd. We got there early enough to have some yummy Thai food and check out Blue ridge mtn sports before retiring to the room.
Toddy and I at Tara Thai

I was shocked once I arrived at the coffee shop saturday morning how many people were there! I had told brock I was going to run with 5 or 6 people! Little did I know the vastness of the charlottesville running scene! and apparently, I had just met a very small faction of c-ville runners!

I was super happy to meet so many new, nice people!!:o) and absolutely elated to get to run with my friends/ultra peeps: marlin yoder, bill gentry, bill potts, quatro hubbard, and of course the stellar hostess and fleetly Sophie!

The vibe was chill, the trails snowy and icy but SO much fun. I really felt this was an excellent training run for frozen sasquatch 50k just given the conditions of the trail ( it reminded me alot of FS 50k 2010-- but I couldn't get over how much faster and more confident I ran on the snow and ice and didn't have that crazy fear of running downhill or falling)

I wore my mtn masochist GTX shoes and smartwool socks, and even though we had numerous creek crossings and ran in the snow, my feet were toasty and dry the entire run.

Zero hot spots, and no toenail issues yay.. it had really taken me awhile to find that right combination of socks and shoes that keep my feet and toenails happy.

Also I tried some new gel out on this run: cliff shot turbo I have never really been a big cliff shot fan. I primarily use Hammer products ( hammer gel, sustained energy and perpetuem) but recently one of my good friends gave me a bunch of cliff blocks, and I had been using those on my long runs with some success, so when I saw the cliff turbo at blue ridge mtn sports friday evening, I thought... I'll try that. So i'm happy to say, that I liked the cliff shot turbo, i used the espresso flavor and had zero tummy issues and really felt it will work for me during races. So-- cool. experiment a success. I just drank plain water in my hydration pack and in addition to the turbo and one pack of cliff blocks, I ate a pack of cheese nabs :o) by the end of the run, my calves were cramping-- I feel I probably should of taken one salt tab( S! cap) somewhere along the run.. I think during winter time, it's easy to forget about salt intake. but by the time, I noticed I was cramping up, we were literally running through red lights in c-ville 2 blocks from barrack's road.. so I guess it was good timing for the run to be completed. :o)

Q and I all smiles on the greenbelt section ( it was a great place to make up some time and stretch our legs on the snow and ice!:o)

Q and I hammering down! :o)

one of the cool things about an "urban adventure run" is being able to jump off the trail and score some cinnamon rolls from hardees! ( also had full 3g cell service the entire run haha so THAT was def a change! )

coming into hardee's parking lot with my two heros... bill gentry and marlin yoder. I want to be like them one day ( hopefully soon!)

the motely crew that ran the entire rivanna trail ( minus soph who was taking the picture)

for WAY more super cool pictures from the run, check out Quatro Hubbard's flickr. He really captured the vast array of terrains both natural and manmade we encountered yesterday!

Post run we all went back to Greenberry's coffee shop and hung out. Brock and Toddy came to meet all my friends!

Sophie gifted all the runners with some yummy pistachio chocolate bark she had made. MMM!
Then after a quick wardrobe change out of my wet clothes, we went on to grab lunch at chipolte's and finish up the remainder of christmas shopping we had. Such a great day:o)

Thanks so much to Sophie for the invite and all the c-ville and harrisonburg runners who made it such a fun event and fantastic day! :o)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

winter training and trying new things!

well, I'm back training. I have been for two full weeks. I've eased back in so to speak with a 45 mile week and a 50 mi week, consecutively. I decided that apparently what I did in the late summer and fall was NOT working for me. I didn't have enough patience to try it again plus, really I was doing the same things over and over for a year and I think it really just resulted in overtraining and stagnation. SO I'm trying some new things for a little while.

I joined the bristol YMCA and I've been swimming 3 mornings a week, and then following up with an easy run in the afternoons. It's a really great facility. I really feel this will help my base this winter without all the overuse and high impact of running 2 a days. I had biked alot last year, I may at some point incorporate some biking, but right now I'm pretty happy with swimming laps.

Also I have 2 days of speed work. One day being short sprints and the second being mega hard tempoish type workout ( that makes me want to hurl by the end of it) I hadn't ran hard like this in over a year, but even after only 2 weeks can see my turnover and speed improving. YAY!

Then the weekend is reserved for my long runs. I hadn't gone very long yet. I ran 14 miles in the snow yesterday on the AT. It's been nice to cut back my mileage and I know there will be a gradual build up. I am shooting for 18 miles this coming weekend. I know I'll be running 20 and some change when i go to c-ville to go run with sophie and her crew on Dec 18th. :o) so I feel I'll be progressing okay mileage wise. I think my body has been truly thankful for it's little break. :o)

The best thing I feel about my 2 week break, and then these 2 easy weeks to get me back into the swing of things is that ITS FUN AGAIN. I have such a renewed enthusiasm toward my running. By the end of oct. it was awful lot like drudgery. I am all for working hard to accomplish goals, but I think you have to have that FUN element; and that running makes you HAPPY for you to run well:o)

here are some pictures from my run on the AT saturday:
days like this are truly special and magical. :o) ended my run with a warm cup of soup at the whistle pig cafe in Damascus, VA.:o)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

enjoying some downtime

well, just as I predicted, 8 days post MMTR I feel much better about SO Much. I've been taking a much needed break/rest ( only 6 more rest days in my running sabbatical!)

This week I really tried to divorce myself from even entertaining thoughts of running. ( some days I did pretty well, others I failed miserably-- especially monday and tuesday) It was pointed out to me by a good friend how much time I not only spent running, but THOUGHT about running, time spent everyday that I social networked with runners on the net, read running blogs etc.. haha full on immersion experience. ( - that running community ( ie on FB and blogger) is extremely important to me-- their support, friendship and I think it keeps me focused on my goals and its a great medium to exchange ideas and keep in touch with your friends)
but I think for just the past couple days I think it was a good point for me to just step back from that for a second and direct my mind elsewhere. Even if just on a toned down, lesser degree this week and next.
I read 2 books... I got alot of things accomplished around the house that have been on the back burner since the summer, spent tons of QUALITY time with my kids. We've read alot of their books together ( toddy LOVES "the giving tree") , played games together that I had forgotten were so fun ( hide and seek) and played with legos, We piled up together and watched Toy Story 3, and Jack turned to me and said "Mom, I PROMISE when I go to college, I'll come back and visit you." Ha ha! I told him I'm SURE I'd hear from him while he was at college:o) so cute.

I rode my Trek lime ( it's a cruising bike not my road or mtn bike) I hadn't had the opportunity to ride it any since the spring. I usually always opt for one of the other high performance bikes because I am cross training-- feel like I need to be faster etc.. but the 2 times I took out my cruiser for a couple hours, I did just that. I cruised and just enjoyed the fall weather.

This Saturday with no long runs or no races on the docket, ( so rare!!) I decided to get up early, go to the Abingdon Farmer's Market ( YAY!), a local wine/cheese/gourmet store-- scored some yummy goodies:o) stopped by Zazzy Z's and got some coffee, ( resisted the temptation of Babycakes because I knew I was going to have such a fabulous dinner) Stopped by Mtn sports in bristol and saw all my friends there:o) Then met up with Brock and the kids for lunch at five guys burgers and fries, one just opened off exit 7. It was greasy, salty and AWESOME. seriously my hamburger was amazing.. and I was in absolute SHOCK the amount of fries they give you! It was so nice to just ALL be sitting there together as a family, enjoying ourselves ( because where brock works out of town all the time that rarely happens) not to go on and on about 5 guys, but seriously... it will me my new mid back to back runs calorie/salt fest:oP i usually eat VERY VERY clean.. but sometimes you just need some grease:o)
Then yesterday evening, I made some of the most AMAZING chicken tortilla soup, and then had southwestern filet medallions( prepared medium) with some crumbles of gorgonzola cheese sprinkled over the filet.. :o) paired with a bottle of A to Z pinot noir:o) YUMMY!! I LOVE to cook, I love good food:o) I think that is one reason I practically have to ultra run, or I would be 300 lbs:o)

This week: I am going to compile my race list for 2011. (YAY!!) can't wait!!! I'm going to do some yoga, ride my cruiser a couple more times. Going to go see John Butler Trio on tuesday and Dave Matthews Band on Wens... ROAD TRIP!!! :o)
so mid- running sabbatical is a good place right now, I'm really getting excited about resuming training and running hard again, but really glad I still have one more week of rest.. and I'm ENJOYING it:o)

Monday, November 8, 2010

MMTR-- the good, the bad and the ugly rambling RR

I struggled all day yesterday with how I should write this race report. I think everyone after running super long distances are a little messed up in the days following as far as clarity in post race reflection. I may feel completely different about certain aspects of my race 2 days from now.

SO what do I choose to do? Pretend to be all cheerful and happy on the exterior, and really have tons of self loathing and disappointment on the interior? I know one HAS to CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE. Every morning when I wake up, I tell myself that (especially if I’m having a bad day) that it’s what I make of it. I can wallow in it or I can get up out of the pit of despair, dust myself off and keep moving. I think that is one major facet of ultra running I REALLY love that no matter what is going on, how you feel. You just find a way to keep moving towards your finish line, towards your goal as long as you keep going everything is going to be OKAY. And most of the time, in 10 min you’ll feel WAY better than you did anyways…

Okay, so I would be a LYING dirt bag if I didn’t say that I’m a** little** heartbroken and disappointed in how MMTR went for me. This was my A race of THE YEAR. I hired a coach (a really expensive one) last January for the sole purpose of preparing me for this race. I worked and labored SO HARD… followed my prescribed workouts obediently. So many back to backs and weekends in the mountains away from my family. I was riddled with guilt for being gone on the weekends so much away from brock and the kids. but I knew I was falling deeper and deeper for this crazy sport. and I needed the TIME on my feet and I needed the racing experience in order to improve....

BUT with some of the sacrifices, came many rewards—I got fit, really fit by the summer. I really ENJOYED the paths and the roads that lead me to MMTR. I made SO many new friends, had so much fun at the races I’ve ran this year, and the training.. Had some amazing and fun long runs with Beth, rick, JJ, Grossman, Kathleen, Kevin Townsend…. Etc. It’s amazing the friendships and bonds that are formed while running. I had so much fun at my races: terrapin, capon valley, Leadville trail marathon, cheat mtn etc. Made so many lasting memories and friendships. :o)

By the end of the summer, I pretty much learned to just MAKE Brock come with me to the races to crew/ meet all these cool friends of mine so he would 1. Experience for himself what a wonderful community I’m apart of 2. Be apart and involved in what I’m doing..

For the back-to-back runs this fall.. I just took a page out of Grossman’s book and would just have the family campout at mt rogers. That way I could run in the mornings, and then have tons of family time all weekend long. And Brock and the kids are doing something FUN as well.

It finally was starting to feel like maybe I COULD have it all.

I had a rough time recovering from my first 50 the end of august at Cheat Mtn (which is the FUNNEST RACE EVER.. seriously you guys have to run that next year) hands down my favorite race experience of 2010.

But I was slowly getting back to where I was.. I knew I ran pretty crappy at New River 9:25 avg per mile. On a very flat course.. but I felt once I got in the mtns.. it would be okay.. hills never bothered me.. I would rather run a hilly course. I think I should have paid more attention to how I felt during my long runs and during new river. I felt tired. Same during the MMTR training run.. felt flat and tired. But pain free and that was good.

But I thought with a good 2 week taper, I’d be golden.. ready for action. Beth and I paced JJ at the haunted half 7 days before MMTR and my legs felt bouncy again. I was RARIN to go… so that really boosted my spirits. I felt okay about it all. I decided an attainable goal would be to try to break 10 hours.

I have tried several times to write the ACTUAL MMTR race report.. but keep deleting the paragraphs… because it turns into sounding very WAA, WAH BABYISH. SO I guess I’ll just say A LOT went wrong with my race… from 3 min before the start (Brock aka husband/sole crew member for me) got sick and had to go back to the hotel (AAAAHHH!!!) THANKFULLY, Saintly Tammy gray crewed for me (I made runner #4 she crewed for at MMTR) until Brock could make it back to long mtn wayside at the halfway point—I had some tummy issues that I’ve never had to deal with during a race YEAH. Fun times.. I ended up stopping 3 times.. during the race and there aren’t exactly any leaves on the trees anymore so finding a good spot to go was a NIGHTMARE.. and THEN as if things weren’t going GOOD ENOUGH.. I very extremely unexpectedly got paid a visit by my ”aunt” whom I hadn’t seen since like June (I thought it was because I was running so much kept her away but she’s BAAACK…) so I got to run the rest of MMTR a la Grete Waitz style. AWESOME.… lucky for me I wore a red running skirt. But I dealt with it all and kept on moving, but pretty much had the attitude of “sweet Jesus, just let me finish this thing.” The loop was actually NO problem for me and not at all scary… after the mental, physical and literal crap I’d been though.. it was a relief to be off the road and on the single track.. I felt at home. But I knew I was running really slow and had been all day.. 41 miles in my quads pretty much locked up and I couldn’t run down hill AT ALL… but I could go up hill just fine even run uphill. But downhill was extremely painful and just made running impossible. At that point, the finish line seemed FAR, FAR away; but I made up my mind that even though things weren’t going my way, I WAS GOING TO FINISH. Even if I had to crawl to get there, and even if I missed the cut off.. I was going to get to Montebello country store, hell or high water. And I did.

SO that concludes the WAA WAAH baby section..

There were GOOD things that happened to me in the 11 hours out there: I got to run with marlin yoder some the beginning, many smiles friendly exchanges from TONS of friends ( As they passed me:o) haha) I got to run with Dan Lehmann for awhile at mile 27 who was overcoming his own difficulties ( injury a month ago) to get his 10th MMTR finish. Seeing brock at long mtn wayside was such a relief to know he was okay and feeling better because I was really worried about him all morning. I played a game of tag going up Buck mtn with Steph Wilson.. Running most of the second half of the race leap frogging with John Boeck … misery loves company.. it made me feel somewhat better to know someone as beastly as John was having a tough day right there with me.. We laughed and conversed some but I really were unified by looking on the bright side… that it was a beautiful day… and seriously how lucky we were to just BE there in that moment.. going to finish MMTR and not be defeated..A day spent in the mountains is truly a GOOD DAY.

I was NOT expecting to be so emotional at the finish. Guess I have several excuses ( hormones haha) but seriously.. I was just SO elated that I merely covered the distance and completed the course( well, deathmarched A LOT ) and that I didn’t quit. I was so happy to see ALL my friends and brock at the finish line. I had been so cold that last section ( thanks to tom odonnell who helped me with my jacket up on top the mtn) and it was so great to be just encircled by a group of people who truly care about me and were happy for me to get to the finish line. I found it very overwhelming emotionally. I have made so many GOOD FRIENDS this year. and my Iron Mtn Trail peeps: my tribe, our little quirky family dynamic.. if you only knew how much your love, support and friendship means to me. I'm truly thankful and appreciative to Brock who really has been so understanding, loving and supportive of all my adventures, endeavors and goals :o) it means so much:o)

YES, I didn’t get to RACE mmtr and that was my goal. NO, I didn’t even come close to my goal time. Or even my secondary goal time.. but I guess the primary goal for EVERY race is completing the race. ( and I didn’t get lost! Or off course, so I got that going for me haha) have I tried to analyze what happened to me? hell yes.. did I peak too soon?? was it a mistake to run Cheat mtn before MMTR? ( I really don't think so) but I think mistakes were made with my recovery post Cheat that delayed me getting back in the game the way I wanted to. lessons have been learned in that regard, and I feel as I gain more experience my recovery times will lessen. ( hopefully)

So… what’s next?? First off: rest and recovery. I can already tell that I am doing MUCH better than how I did post cheat mtn (must have been because I ran so slow and walked so much at MMTR ha-ha) my plan is no running for 2 weeks. THEN start anew.

Clean slate and prepare for 2011. :o)

Here are some pictures from the race.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

haunted half marathon: fun, camaraderie, and evenly paced miles

Beth and I had a mission this weekend: Our good friend JJ wanted to break 2 hours for the haunted half marathon in Kingsport, TN. We decided that since we were a week out from Masochist that this was a golden opportunity for us to pace JJ to meet his goal, PLUS dress up, act crazy and have a blast!!! No racing, no pressure ( other than to get JJ across the line in less than 2 hours).

My husband Brock, ever supportive:o) decided he wanted to dress up as a rabbi:o) and bring the kids so they could also dress up( harry potter and darth vader) and run the Monster Dash ( their first race!!) and have a good time while I ran, then once I crossed the line we could drive back to Bristol and take the kids trick or treating in the neighborhood ( and everyone would already have on their costumes!)

The day went off without a hitch. Brock, myself, and the kids got to the race about 2pm, and then we met up with Beth and JJ about 10 min later. It was so great to see SO many of my friends at this event. 300 people ran last year, 800 people ran the event this year!!! So for a 2nd year event, this has grown ALOT with the aid of the half marathon relay:o)

Before the gun, beth and I decided to run 8:55 miles, then after the gun, we decided to take a very hesitant JJ out 8:45 pace. While I didn't want JJ to blow up by going out too hard, I didn't want it to be TOO close. ( I hate nail biter finishes) so we just stayed at that pace and skipped and laughed, yelled encouraging WOO's!!! to all our friends, enjoyed fresh legs ( thanks to an easy taper week) it was hard to not take off at times, beth I would start talking and I would look down and we'd be 8 min pace( mostly plotting and planning about MMTR next week) .. so then we'd slow up, get back on track. We went through the half way point at 53 min. I was a little: "uh-oh... JJ DONT LOOK AT THE CLOCK!" haha but I felt that that gave him a good cushion, and he seemed FINE.. :o) and he was!!!!
second loop consisted mainly of beth and I leap frogging with a "mario and luigi" which is funny because for MONTHS that is what beth and I were going to dress up as, but once we saw the costumes, I was like " NO WAY, we'd smother to death!" they looked like very non breathable costumes, but this mario and luigi seemed to be managing it just fine:o) We kept cheering on JJ and acting crazy, and I seriously was SO proud of him for hanging on and being so consistent with his miles. That last mile people were fading and beth and I kept encouraging people to not fade and finish hard. ( which was fun) we were running to the finish.. I got on one side of this guy, beth on the other, we were getting ready to pull away and pass him-- and this dude looked at me, turned and looked at beth and said "oh, hell no..." and he took off in a DEAD SPRINT ahead of us.. HAHAHA.. so hilarious. I told beth he didn't want to get chicked(squared) that would just be too much.
JJ crossed in 1:57!!! SO proud of him!!! Congrats on your PR!!! and good luck at Richmond Marathon!!!! WOO!
I enjoyed running yesterday so much. It was so relaxing to just go have fun. So simple. it was PLAYTIME:o) I wish more runs were like that.. I SHOULD make SURE I have runs like that... I see that now.
The kids and Brock had a great time. The monster dash was non competitive so all the kids got candy as a prize. Brock said they both ran so well and had SO much fun. When I saw them at the finish, they both had FLEET FEET Kingsport cowbells:o) Thanks Phil!!! My buddy Phil Horner has the best fleet feet in the world:o)

I'm really looking forward to MMTR. Beth and I discussed the race ALOT yesterday. The weather forecast, nutrition plans, gear, etc. Really excited about the challenge and journey that lay ahead. Can't wait to have a wonderful weekend with all my "ultra family" :o)

here are some pictures from the race:

Monday, October 18, 2010

mega running weekend and Mt rogers/white top mtn photo blog

This weekend the perfect fall weather set the stage for some of the most beautiful, picturesque running on the AT/FS 24 and VA creeper trail.

Saturday morning, ( unfortunately neither beth nor I brought a camera) beth and I met at 5:30 am to run on the AT under the stars for a couple of hours. Beth scored some more headlamp time ( hellgate 100k prep for her) and we ran across the ridgelines as the sun arose bathing the world in hues of orange and gold. We ran 24 miles that morning on a loop course we feel is very mimicky of MMTR course. That is 11 miles of singletrack on the AT and 11 miles of FS road and 2 miles of pavement.
Beth and I then went our separate ways, I cleaned up and drove to Richlands to spend time with my family, then went out to dinner with Brock at the Tavern in Abingdon.( had some of the best ahi tuna ever) Zonked out by 9pm..

Beth went camping at scales on top of mt rogers. :o)

I met up with Rick, Tammy and JJ the following morning and we drove up to Elk Garden parking lot. Await for a GLOWING beth who was so happy from a good nights sleep on top of the mtn and a hearty breakfast of pancakes and bacon. :o) From there we ran from elk garden to creek junction via the AT, THEN beth and rick continued on the AT for 12 more miles to damascus and JJ and I ran 10 miles via the Va creeper trail back to our cars at Sundog Outfitters.

It was a BIG training week for me this past week. I'm so grateful for all the time I got to spend in the mtns this weekend and all the trail time I got to share with Beth, Rick and JJ!! LOVE YOU GUYS!!! :o) I'm enjoying recovery today and life in general as I set my sights on MMTR. I can't wait to run my second 50!! :o) Rick: I am taking your advice about the next couple weeks:o) This weekend Beth and I are traveling to lynchburg, va to run the second half of the Masochist course with all our friends:o) YAY!!!

with out further ado: here are some photos from yesterday!