Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ultra #2 in the books-- Terrapin Mtn 50k

How do I condense into a couple paragraphs and snapshots what I experienced this past weekend? I'll try to make this as brief as I can ( or else it will turn into a novella). first I want to say that my good friends beth and JJ both have excellent race reports up on

I drove to abingdon town hall with snowflakes flying in the air and it was COLD! I was beginning to feel like there was no escaping the snow. My mind was pretty much going 100mph thinking about what I needed to do the next day at Terrapin Mtn 50k. STEP UP. This was my second 50k race. My first Frozen Sasquatch was an epic adventure for sure. However, it was very cold, miserable and SLOW and I death marched quite a bit of it to finish at 7:36. I knew I could run MUCH faster. I was just really anxious because I didn't really taper for this race and was leg tired. Hadn't been sleeping very well either. Tired. I probably shouldn't of put any pressure on myself performance wise, but since I was running with the IMTR's, it was really important to me to run strong and represent!:O) and I also reasoned that since Frozen Sasquatch I really had been working my butt off to improve and become a better trail runner. Surely all that hard work has to come into play somewhere.

I meet up with Rick and Tammy Gray. Beth throws her gear in the back on my FJ and we are OFF! Caravanning down i-81 enroute to bedford, Va.

We arrive at the hotel and Doug Blackford has arrived the very moment we have! I was pretty hyper and in a great mood, so I was running around the parking lot snapping pictures of everyone. The sun was setting and I was able to take some pretty cool shots of everyone, and I great shot of Terrapin Mtn ( with so much fog around it you can't really see it)

After we unloaded the car, we all headed out in the family van to go eat some dinner. :o)

We got back to the hotel about 8:30 and Beth and I started the fun task of laying all all our gear and clothes for the race the next morning and getting everything ready for breakfast ( we had to get up at 4:30am) I was a little stressful trying to figure out the right combination of clothes, I knew it would be cold at the start but then warm up to 50F by the time I crossed the finish line. I decided on : mtn hardware tank
mtn hardware skort
moeben sleeves
marmot glove liners
wigwam wool knee socks
inov-8 gaiters
montrail mtn masochists
nathan racing vest
ultimate direction hand held
I went to bed hoping I had make the right choices for my gear. I felt pretty good about it.

Lights out! beth and I talked for about 30 min before we both got quite and drifted off to sleep. I actually slept pretty well-- we didn't turn the heat on, and i swear I think that is why I slept better! my phone's alarm went off at 4:20am... and we both sprang into action! haha.. not really but we both got up and got ready made coffee, choked down breakfast. and loaded up the car so we could leave for the start line at 5:30.

We got to big island, va! I was nervous. BEYOND NERVOUS. Afraid of failure. Afraid of walking too much and being a weak person physically and mentally. I wanted SO badly to be able to dig deep and be strong. I really felt like I was going to vomit. beth decided to capture this moment on film. I have to admit, I hide being scared and nervous rather well....

got our race packets! I got to meet the RD, Clark Zealand for the first time. CLARK! :O) Super nice guy!! Excellent RD!
Then it was pretty much a meet and greet until the racers meeting. I hung out with Mike Bailey and some of the VHTRC people for a little while. ( NICE!) Then I saw Abby Meadows from across the shelter and ran over to her to hang out with her for awhile. I am FB friends with abby and I have been following her blog. but it was SO cool to finally meet her in person. Once we started talking, we discovered that we grew up in the same area in southwest, va. ( which I think is the COOLEST thing ever!!) She is just such an outgoing and happy person, and amazing athlete! I can't wait to get to run and hang out with her again soon! (YAY ABBY!!!)

Clark had the pre-race briefing and then it was time to line up!! I hugged tammy, beth, rick, kathleen, JJ, doug, ALL and told them to have a good race. Then there was this split second moment where I just decided that I was going to have a good day, and run the way I felt and no try to conserve so much. I just needed to WORK HARD!
GONG!!! Clark really knows how to start a race! very cool!! ;o)

There wasn't a cloud in the sky the morning was cool, frosty and crisp; and as I began to run, I started to feel REALLY good. I just decided to try to mirror Rick Gray and run behind him as much as I could. I didn't know if I could hang with him the whole race, but I knew he would take me out at a conservative but good clip.

When we turned off the pavement to make the climb up towards camping gap. I stayed with Rick. I got to make some new friends. I ran behind Sophie Spiedel for a couple of miles and we chatted about 50 milers, ( rick told her I had signed up for Cheat mtn) and what were some other great races to run. ( it was very cool to run with you Sophie! hope to see you again soon!)
Then kathleen caught up to Rick and I and we all three worked really hard on the climb up to the first AS. I didn't stop.. we just rolled on through

We started the downhill section and I was still really happy because I felt strong, had tons of energy. I just kept saying to myself "be patient." because I knew I would hit some points during the race where I wouldn't feel this great. This section had alot of downhill with a couple miles of flat. I averaged about 7:23 a mile here on this section. ( go me! ) ( the rest of my race was a blazing 12 min pace) got to the second AS and it was time to climb again.

I started listening to my ipod at this point( YES, Hot Buttered Rum!! they are a bluegrass band from Cali- and I know that sounds weird but they are SOOO AWESOME) .. I ran alot with both rick, kathleen and amy on the single track and then when it spit us back out on the road to climb BACK up to camping Gap from whence we ran down. It was about 15 miles. I suddenly found myself kinda alone.. rick and kathleen were in eye sight but up ahead: BOOM!!! I just got tackled in an ultra!! is that legal?! haha.. it was beth! she CAUGHT ME!!! I was really happy to see my best buddy. To tell you the truth I may have lost focus there for a little while haha or for the remainder of the race.. but I had fun hanging out with Ted and Beth.. and CLimbing, Climbing, CLimbing!!
We finally made it to the AS at mile 16 and I found my AT buff I had dropped earlier ( that beth had found) soo happy to be reunited! beth and I took off down the jeep road and we got to see the top 5 men cruising on their way to climb to terrapin rock. We yelled and cheered! ( I think they appreciated it:o) did the same when we saw Justine about a mile later. We started climbing UP some more. Beth and I worked really hard on trying to run anything runable and passing everyone we saw.. we caught back up with ED and TED... we punched in the first hole punch.. finally found some down hill. Beth took off, and I ran with Ed and TED... went through the next AS with them and climbed to Terrapin rock ( for that hole punch) thanks Ed!! ( he punched my bib for me) and it was cool just to get to run with them for this section..

Next was Fat man's misery. I fell as soon as I got in between the rocks. there was several inches of thick black mud, and I just lost my footing. I ended up sliding the WHOLE way on my butt and skinning up but elbows and my arms trying to self arrest.. ( why I was trying to stop from sliding I have no idea)
got to the end and got hole punch #3.
Then we descended on single track ( somewhat rocky at times) and steep and I got passed by Alisa Springman( badwater finisher!!) :o)

( I REALLY need to work on technical downhill)

found myself alone ( don't you love the way ultras are like that?) and so I listened to my ipod and just tried to focus on making up ground and catching my group and the people in front of me. I saw rick,beth, kathleen and amy all coming up the trail-- I showed them my arms ( which where all gnarly and bloody) and asked how far ahead they were. I figured about 10 min.
I got to the AS and turned around and focused on finishing. I felt I was so close!! and I was SO surprised how good and strong I felt. Then I reminded myself how ALL my training really had built me up for that moment. So I wouldn't feel so extremely fatigued and tired.

I finally got to the gravel road and then pavement ( 1 mile left) I just tried to dig deep and finish strong. I knew several VERY STRONG ladies were behind me and I knew I didn't need to fade or waiver. I ran about 8:30 pace.. and before i knew it, I was crossing the line and into the arms of ALL My friends who were standing there at the line waiting for me.
I finished @ 6:13... 9th overall female and 55th overall.
so upon reflection, I'm very happy with ultra#2.. I am very motivated that I can see so many areas with my racing I can improve upon. :o) and really just had a very happy, wonderful experience at Terrapin Mtn. I feel everyone who ran or volunteered at this race FELT all the positive energy that abounded that day! :o)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

prep for terrapin mtn 50k and bear tree gap run

Well, in two days, I will be embarking upon my second ultra run: Terrapin Mtn 50k. I'm a little nervous. okay, alot nervous. I really have worked really hard the past several months since frozen sasquatch, and I really would like to see my efforts come to fruition in the form of a PR:o) I really suspect that even though there is 2000ft more clmbing in this race, I think it will be much faster than my first one. even black mtn. To say that I am excited to run on actual trail instead of snow and ice is an enormous understatement to say the least.

I have spent the past several days trying to go over my gear and figure out exactly what I'm going to need. I'm opting for using a handheld for hydration and wearing my nathan vest instead of my nathan hydration pack. Wearing montrail mtn masochists. I have toyed with the idea of wearing either my inov-8 talons or NB WT-100's but I feel since this is a long race ( for me) I need to stick with the support of the masochists.. I'll save the others for my shorter trail races.

as far as race apparel: ( always a major concern of mine) I have a range of things all based upon the weather. I still have some cold weather items in my bag for just in case. and or if its a cold morning on saturday, and I'm bringing some salt stick tabs for just in case it's warm! :o) I get to wear a pair of my new Rudy Project sunglasses:o) super excited about that-- it's really the little things that make me happy:o)

I can't wait to meet all my friends tomorrow for us to journey to bedford, VA!! It's always an adventure and always fun! Race reports are probably my favorite posts to write ( provided I didn't just get my hopes and dreams CRUSHED on the course)

Last weekend, The IMTR's met and ran 11 miles on the AT/ IMT/BEAR TREE GAP/ SHAW'S Gap trails.. and yes there was a section were we had to run on Rt 58 for about 400 yds. :o) For the inquiring minds who will wonder about the 3 pictures jj took of me running on pavement.
I have had my pictures up on FB since last saturday but for those of you who haven't seen them.. I made a slideshow!! with a live version of "day trader" by hot buttered rum ( another one of my FAVORITE bands:o) yay! it uploaded WAY easier. I never got the one I made for the tacky leprechaun to work.
Enjoy!! I love the way the slideshow ends with joey sticking out his tongue!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

fighting a losing battle....

I just wanted to throw this out there:


when I ran track/ xc in high school ( and one year of college) I had ONE adidas duffle bag I packed it every evening for practice and meets the next day. Same deal with road races and marathons as an adult.. ONE BAG.. I had trainers and flats... extra pair of socks, a change of clothes for when I finish running, hat, gloves maybe a pair of tights and a bottle of water-- This worked really well for me!

I am really overwhelmed by gear-- I LOVE gear ( don't get me wrong. I love all the gadgets and gizmos associated with this crazy sport I am falling absolutely in love with-) but seriously when it comes to trail running or trail racing ( ultra racing.) I find it IMPOSSIBLE to put all my running gear in a single bag. So I end up with a couple of duffle bags full of EVERYTHING ( for all the "what ifs") I am so terrified of not having something I need or forgetting something and it messing up my race. afraid of being too hot/too cold/ chaffed, bugbitten, sunburnt and catching poison ivy.. afraid of not having enough gels, salt tabs or motrin to carry with me or the little tiny plastic bags I place them in so they won't get wet from me sweating on them.
I usually have a couple different pairs of shoes in my bag because I always decide what I need the morning before the race, short smart wools and knee socks ( in case it's cold) a small first aid kit, maps, sunglasses, nuun, gels, hand helds, nathan vest, nathan pack( I always am on the fence about those too-- HANDHELD vs. NATHAN PACK-- it's a maddening question-- I am learning more and more though-- TRAIN with the Nathan pack.. RACE with the Hand held... ) salt tabs, blister shield, tights, a couple singlets, a pair of shorts, gloves, glove liners, yak trax, hats, go lite jacket etc.. etc..
I find it impossible to keep it organized.. so I just end up digging and digging until I find what I need, and it kinda drives me crazy! literally, annoys me to NO END. :oP

and then I have a separate bag just for "recovery purposes" I always have baby wipes ( they are great for getting mud off your legs! a change of clothes, a plastic bag for my shoes and socks I ran in and one for my running clothes, jacket, and a protein shake to drink because if I have it in the other bags I won't see it and therefore won't drink it post run. and a pair of chacos or crocs and towel so if there is a river or lake I can go sit in it post run and ice bath my legs some.

Surely, there is a far superior way to do this than what I'm doing. I am open to any and all suggestions. PLEASE HELP!!!
I registered for Cheat Mtn 50 miler this week ( YAY!!!!) and I feel as I embark upon longer races, for efficiency sake I have GOT to learn how to manage my gear and get more organized.

and even if only Rick, Frank, and Sean D post.. I think that would be swell because I know you guys are ALL VERY experienced runners and welcome any advice anyone can lay on me! :o)


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tacky leprechaun 9mi/24 miler on the AT/IMT

I awoke saturday morning to it pouring the rain, about 40F and windy. yikes! I was afraid that due to the nasty weather, many of my friends wouldn't come to the IMTR's st. patrick's themed run dubbed " the tacky leprechaun" ( everyone is supposed to be in tacky running attire).
Bound and determined I was running 24 miles today regardless of the weather ( because I REALLY needed the time on my feet for training for terrapin mtn 50k in 2 weeks) I proceeded to make my final gear selections and load up my car! I just hoped that my other friends were doing the same-- I knew worse case scenario that beth, jj and rick would be there no matter what! :o) and we'd have fun.
I had picked out a cheetah print running skirt and gaiters for my tacky attire had it been warm enough I have a cheetah print sports bra, it would of looked SOO hilarious all together.. in hindsight, I should of done something like worn the sports bra over my patagonia vest.( I love all the 9 trails stuff patagonia has out)
I wore my montrail mtn masochist with smart wool socks and zensah sleeves.
womens nathan pack ( but I love my ultimate direction wink because there is more pockets and the neoprene hose cover is GREAT in cold weather) but I switch back and forth between the two. I will probably use nathan pack for Terrapin mtn 50k, so I thought it would be a good idea to bond with it on this run and get used to the feel.
for food I had a variation of gu, hammer gel, gu chomps, honey stinger chews, and to tell you the truth I ate more of JJ's food ( he made his own cliff bars and had chocolate covered espresso beans! thanks JJ for letting me grub off of your food supply! very tasty!!) I took S! caps and had some motrin with me for just in case.

I got to the caboose, and people were assembling! yay! and there seemed to be a weather window.. the rain ceased and the wind lessened but it was kinda chilly on and off all day.. I really never could regulate temperature. I was always wearing gloves.. not wearing gloves etc.
michael, jared, charity came to run the 9 mile option. Rachel had come to run 9 miles but we talked her into coming to the "dark side" and running the 24. So Rachel, Rick, JJ, beth and myself ran the 24 miles. I guess I should explain that beth and myself don't normally pose the way we are in the group picture.. we were kinda imitating a girl we knew of that always poses in pictures that way.. we decided to give it a whirl-- to see how it would work for us.... I say we'll stick with the more tomboy-- informal poses from now on.
I had the joy ( ?) of running buzzards den and wrights hollow. ( wrights hollow kicked my butt btw.) that is the section were we are walking in a creek UPHILL. Where the snow has melted the past couple days that water was SO cold. and SO many blow downs.. I really should of counted them, but I feel there were easily more than 20 for the whole run.

once we got back to iron mtn trail ( 8 miles from the cars) we stopped and took a group photo, I ate some espresso beans and took an S! cap. I was a little down because all that climbing had me tired and feeling like a whipped puppy... I hurt-- WAAHH! I was frustrated-- I think even angst ridden even though I hadn't expressed this to the group. I have been frustrated pretty much since frozen saaquatch 50k. I had felt like I had been SO pokey and slow for so long. I KNEW I could run much faster on this stuff.. I didn't need pavement or a flat surface. It was baffling to me -- how to transition road running to trail?? I had worried and wondered about this for months---- I just have to let go and RUN.
so when we took off to start the 8 miles back I just yelled out "WOOOO!! let's go home!" and then I just thought: " screw it, I'm just going to run hard and see how far I can get before I tap out." So I just took off-- and I couldn't believe after 60 secs.. how GREAT I felt. I felt like MYSELF again!! I felt like I had dropped about 50 lbs of dead weight off my shoulders. Why had I held myself back : fearing that I needed to conserve SO much energy when I trail ran?WHY?! I think it's a lack of confidence-- paralyzing fears that I'll DNF or won't have enough in the tank to finish. My feet felt great, my energy felt great. It was just good to just feel free again instead of feeling so constrained. Any inclines I encountered.. I ran them.. I reasoned.. I NEED a good training run..

I need to feel like I'm running hard and taxing myself. I need my heart to pound and to breathe hard. and I loved every second of it. I felt so acutely aware of being SO ALIVE.. Seriously, that has to be one of the BEST feelings in the world an individual can experience for themselves.. to be so connected with their mere existence and to be running the mtns-- it's so primal, I don't think I can even accurately convey it in words. That feeling just never left me the whole entire time. I paused long enough to take a picture at my favorite overlook( lol and for proof that I didn't cut the run short by taking an alternate route down mock holler-- that I was honest and ran the WHOLE thing-- not that my friends would think that:o) I ALWAYS take a picture here at this spot. It's one of my favorites. I love it in the summer when the mtns are green) and then was running down the trail again. I ran the whole way until I got to the car. Then I was on complete runners high! I was SOOOO elated at being able to run for so far on single track and not walk any. I was bouncing off the walls even once I got home! so it was a break through and confidence builder I needed for terrapin 50k.. I really needed to get a good training run under my belt. JJ had the run at 24 miles and 6400 ft of vert.. so that's a pretty good little run ( at least for me-- that is alot of climbing)

I can't say enough good things about smart wool socks/ mtn masochists combo.. I probably went through 15 stream/creek crossings and then walked about 1/4 mile in a creek.. my feet were sopping WET several times. and everything drained and dried well.. post run.. no blisters.. and toenails were great.. AND my feet never hurt.. which is a problem I always had on long runs when I wore cascadias. Rocks would kill my feet.. so even the next day my feet would be achey. so not the case with the montrails. ( so I guess THAT is why everyone pretty much wears those-- nice to figure that out after almost a year-- I was so resistant because I felt they were heavy and would slow me down so much-- on technical and rocky trail you NEED that protection)

I had so much fun yesterday! that was a hard run!!! I enjoyed running with my friends! new and old! and felt like I accomplished some much needed training as well. :o) I know that I can't hammer out a 50k. but I really think I am edging closer to finding that balance of intensity and conservation. I think I can go much harder, longer than what I have been allowing myself to-- I just need to push boundaries to find "the red line" -- it's going to just take more miles on the trail and training and ultra race experience for me to tune this in I feel.

I made a movie.. but after 2 hours of trying to get it to upload and process on blogger and FAILING.. I just decided to post pictures. I will try again when I have more time and see if I can get it working. :o)

Monday, March 8, 2010

video 2009

yeah.. I had too much time on my hands yesterday evening. My in laws had gotten my boys to come spend time at their house. I was so bored ( last week when they got them, I cleaned out my closet) SO I put together this little slide show of some of my pictures from 2009. There are alot of ones of my flowers ( I love to take pictures of flowers) and then the others are pictures of my trail running adventures and races.. Many of them are posted here in previous blogs.

I was playing around with this feature on Imovie on my macbook, because I thought if I can take enough pictures during the St. Patrick's day run with the IMTR's I was going to make a slide show/ with some traditional irish music. :o)

I set the music as one of my FAVORITE bluegrass bands "RAILROAD EARTH". I do understand this may create a knee jerk reaction with some of my readers because I'm aware not everyone really likes or has an appreciation of bluegrass music. My suggestion is this: if the music starts.. and you don't like what you are hearing: there is a volume control on your computer and on the slide show.. just mute it and watch the pictures:o) thanks:o)

I have been" trail running" officially since memorial day weekend 2009. I had ran leadville trail marathon a couple times before that, but I had always considered myself a road runner.. I would run on the creeper trail and that was about as technical as it got. ( not at all!) 2009 ABSOLUTELY was life changing for me in such a positive way. Running trails nourished my soul in so many ways: enjoyment/appreciation of the outdoors and mtns I have never had before, I was adopted into a WONDERFUL little tribe of trail runners whom my friendship with means so much to me, and just a positive outlet to place my energy. I NEEDED something for MYSELF so much. I like to think that running trails makes me a more patient and better mother. I know I'm a much, much happier and fulfilled person. Crazy, huh?? all from carrying a little handheld bottle and zig zagging down a dirt path in the woods.. :o) there is SO much more to it than that. I am only just beginning to discover. AND as the song in my little slide show says: " I STILL HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO."

cheers yall!

steeles creek park run/ and Sunday long run with the IMTR's

well, recovery is going fairly well for me! I'm feeling good. Getting some spunk and bounciness back in my legs. I had the opportunity to trail run twice this week! yay! I had so much fun at both runs.

Friday I ran about 6miles in Steeles Creek Park in Bristol, TN. with Tom Murrell. I had never ran at Steeles Creek before and so this was just such a treat. It was a cool, crisp morning. Sun shining, no clouds in the sky! and The single track at this park is AWESOME. I was pleasantly surprised to find STEEP climbs.. and then several miles of rolling downhill on VERY runnable single track trails. You can really get going places on this stuff. Not too many rocks or roots just fluffy, dry leaves ( HELLO? where have you guys been since december?! I had missed the noise and sweet smell of dry leaves on the trail) it was great to run with Coach Murrell as well. Tom is the guy who keeps me honest on my recovery time when I run mile repeats:o) and keeps me from getting hyper and running where I'm not in control:o) I truly appreciate all his training advice. Tom if you are reading this: I DO listen and follow it! :o) Plus, he is just a cool guy to be around:o)

Then on sunday I met the IMTR's at Sundog Outfitter's in Damascus, Va. ( beth, jj, rick and tammy gray and myself) The plan was to drive to FS90 and run about 9 miles on some trails there. ( which is apart of the "tacky leprechaun" 24 miler the Iron Mtn Trail runners are hosting this coming weekend
JJ had camped up on Mt rogers the night before and informed us that 1. a four wheel drive was necessary for us to get to FS90 and that 2. be prepared for deep snow.
GREAT I think beth and I had both imagined that it was going to be a nice warm spring-like run.. it didn't damped our spirits we laughed and joked around in the parking lot. Decided we'd take the FJ for it's maiden voyage in the deep snow, slush and mud.
We made it to about 1.5 away from the trail head and neither jj or I could get it up the mtn any further. it was SO slushy and slick and the snow was deep. So we all got out of the car and hiked/ran to the trail head.. YES there were MANY jokes about us running in the snow.. it seems that has been the name of the game since EVERY trail run together ( and race for that matter) since december. had a GREAT sunday afternoon running in the snow and spending time with my friends! The weather was beautiful and it was so nice to just be outside in the sunshine! I absolutely can't wait until this weekend it's going to be SO much fun!
Even the ride down the mtn back to Sundogs, the FJ was filled with chatter and laughter as we zoomed past icy mountainsides also covered with rhododendrens and mountain laurel. The sun setting in the distance. Nice close to a wonderful day.

I'm starting to get mentally prepared for Clark Zealand's race i'm running March 27th: Terrapin Mtn 50k. I know this is a hard course with tons of climbing. i think the "tacky Leprechaun" will be a wonderful training run for me( tons of climbing for that as well)