Friday, November 16, 2012

recovery and other adventures

 hey! some of my friends wanted to see the WCYB interview I did the day after Grindstone 100.  I managed to get a sound bite they used during the sports segment but not the interview.

here is the link

and also HERE is the link to the interview from the Bristol Hearld Courier post Grindstone.

I am so humbled and appreciative to my hometown, friends and family. Everyone has been SO extremely nice to me and supportive of me.  I'm so blessed to be born and raised in southwest VA. I love running and training in the mountains here, and feel such a deep connection.

 post Grindstone. I've had a great recovery.   I had no blisters from grindstone, so that really made recovery much more comfortable experience than from umstead. really my only issue was muscle soreness and sore knees ( from the rocks! and not much time on my feet before Grindstone)

I ran haunted half marathon 3 weeks after grindstone in 1:39 and really my legs felt a little heavy and stale, i just cruised and never pushed. so I was happy with being able to lock into 7:30 pace and keeping it there for 13.1.

                                    I wore newtons, yet defied gravity.

              I've been golfing and enjoying the fall weather:)

           I went to kid birthday parties and took EVERY opportunity to rawk my Grindstone finishers buckle.

 Now I'm sitting here contemplating what is next for me: some FA runs with VHTRC. Maybe some racing before the new year, enjoying the holidays with family and my boys. DAVE MATTHEWS in C-ville dec 14th- 15th:).  Christmas present to myself.

I threw my name in the hat for Western States 100. If I get in= dream come true. Race of a lifetime. it's up there with r2r2r and hardrock and several other running bucketlist goals I have. In the event I don't get in: I'll run OD 100 this summer:) and enter WS again next year:)

another NEW adventure: I got a job!!!  I'm so excited about it because I have always said I wanted a job I loved so much it would never feel like work. I also would go on and on about how much I love to be outside and run, and too bad I can't somehow manage to find some parallel to have some sort of job that was connected to running or ultrarunning.  I'm a hard worker.  If you guys ONLY knew how much work and effort I put into my training ( well, my coach knows!! he is always trying to get me to run less lol)  but I know I would put the same amount of zeal and enthusiasm in any job I had. Well, it seems the universe, God, etc has opened this window of opportunity for me. My job  is with Mtn Sports in Bristol, Va.-- out of the blue after a 17 mile run on the AT on tuesday, Steve Cheers called and offered me a job:) I have NEVER had this happen to me EVER. Where I wasn't really looking or applying-- someone just think of me ask me for my help:) AW!! warm fuzzies!!  My job description is to meet with the reps, mark the catalogs and help select merch ( namely woman's clothes and gear) for them to buy for the upcoming seasons. I'm starting after thanksgiving meeting with the exofficio/horny toad rep to see samples for fall 2013, and then meeting with the patagonia rep the following week. OKAY!! while this is a small, small jobby job. I am SOOO excited to just have this opportunity. I feel so deeply connected with the outdoor industry because of my lifestyle, and really feel this is going to be such a cool learning experience. ( and hopefully open the door to more, bigger, opportunities to work with in the outdoor industry in the future) OR!! yes, jenny wants to go to OR in SLC!

  . Life is constantly influx and I see that there are peaks and valleys for us all.  Life is variant degrees of suffering.  I am SO extremely thankful for my experiences the past 3 years in ultrarunning. Being an ultrarunner has prepared me amply for the many challenges and adversity we face in life.  The formula is so simple- BE FLEXIBLE, WORK THROUGH YOUR TOUGH PATCHES, AND KEEP MOVING FORWARD. I get so much satisfaction to be able to reflect back and see how much I've grown and evolved as a person and a runner. I've worked hard, learned so many important lessons ( most of the time by suffering immensely during runs and races) but just growing tougher, leaner, ( not meaner really, but okay meaner) from those experiences-- gosh I wouldn't trade for all the money in the world.. they've given me this lovely patina of WHO jenny is.

  I'm  extremely thankful to be apart of several really wonderful communities in the running world. I love my road running, trail running and ultra running communities.  I know I say that all the time, but You guys are THE BEST. You all inspire me daily to stay focused on my dreams and to follow my heart, and most of all to run strong. love yall.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

grindstone 100- my first mtn 100/ my first ultra W!

Well,  I was going to write a part 2 pre-grindstone.. but it just never came to fruition.  I was in a weird place where i felt I couldn't write.  I can see crystal clear now that things happen for a reason. I'll do a small pre grindstone recap :
My achilles/cheat mtn dNF- BUMMER:( , then I ran blue ridge relay with the CATS ( which was fun!) but then got sick for 3 weeks-- where I coughed and coughed. 2 rounds of antibiotics, round of predinsone, still coughing.. I still ran but my breathing was terrible and I coughed ALOT and I felt SOO tired.  I felt like I was wishing in one hand and you know what in the other when I would even talk about grindstone with my Sophie ( my stellar pacer!) and Eric ( my coach).  GRINDSTONE. it was weighing on me like an albatross around my neck.   and I desperately didn't want to feel that way. I LOVE ultrarunning. I'm so passionate about my training and love what I do. I do this for FUN!!!
 Then both my sweet boys caught strep the monday before the race.  I got them on antibiotics and they were feeling MUCH better by wednesday thank goodness. But then, I woke up in the middle of the night with my throat killing me.  I was really beginning to think it wasn't even meant for me to run. I was crushed. I had worked so hard.
I had kept saying all week if it was meant for me to run grindstone it would all work out.  I know this sounds crazy but Thursday, the day I was supposed to leave for grindstone; I took my kids to school, went immediately to the dr for a throat culture. It came back negative. YES.  I was prescribed  allergy meds stating that is why i was coughing- it  not bronchitis or pneumonia.  I had felt so terrible! suffered for weeks! allergies?! really? really.  gargled salt water for my throat. I took claritin and some nasonex and WOW.  I felt so much better. SO I decided YES I was going to run grindstone BUT FIRST I was going to go play 9 holes of golf. Should I have been resting? probably. but I would of probably just worried about loading the car with all my gear and stressing about the race itself. So playing golf on such a pretty, sunny fall day what just what I needed.  I didn't even think about the race.

I loaded the car, and drove my boys to my parents house. I was a little emotional leaving the house as I hugged and kissed my boys and  my parents bye.  I felt like I had been through so much the past couple months. I really couldn't wait to run my race, I  had worked so hard all summer for-- BUT I knew grindstone was going to hurt-- on a good day it would hurt. I knew I was a little undertrained from the past couple weeks forced taper. I hadn't ran in the mtns very much at all since august.  and nothing over 10 miles.  I knew I didn't need to be chiseled  to a peak for a race like this, but i knew I had to be STRONG. So I spent the next 2 hours driving to Roanoke, va "getting my mind right" and coming to terms with the epic journey that lay ahead.

I woke up friday, and by golly,  no sore throat! the dr was right! allergies!! yay claritin!  After brock and I had a big breakfast at cracker barrel, we drove the rest of the way to the boy scout camp at Swoope, Va. We set quickly set up our tent, and went to the mandatory race meeting.

 I  weighed in and got my race packet and I have to say the swag is pretty sweet!! Grindstone hoody, grindstone patagonia r1 hat, and 101.85 sticker, and a great assortment of gels, cliff blocks and cliff bar. :) wow! I feel so special. swag PLUS:  camping, the aid during the race, pre and post race food, finisher's buckle and patagonia finisher's shirt; makes this race the best value EVER. I feel so spoiled!!  It was so wonderful to see all my friends at the campground pre race. I took a nap for about an hour, then proceeded to get all my gear together and give last minute instructions to my SUPER CREW of Brock, my big brother Brian and my sister in law Tammy, who is a nurse practitioner. ( how can you go wrong with a NP on your crew?!)

I then got with my pacers Rob Colenso and Sophie Speidel and went over what I felt my race strategy would be.. before I knew it I was lining up, wishing all my friends good luck on their journey and we were off!!

I carried a full ultraspire pack with all my goodies ( S!caps, gels, tums, nuun) and a hand held of perpetuem.  I tried my best to go slow the first mile. It was so hard to hold back because I hadn't really RAN RAN in awhile. ( from where I was sick) I was just trying to go out very very easy. I found myself running with Megan S. we chatted and got to know each other the next 2 hours or so. Megan is a bright, articulate, sweet soul and a very strong, fleetly runner and we worked very well together. The first mile of the race megan and I were passed by Joann so we knew going into the first mile we were second and third.  At Elliott's Knob, we began a big monster climb, and I LOVE climbing. so I cranked up my ipod and began to hike alone and just get into my zone.  I knew it was still extremely early in the race but I wanted to go by perceived effort and I knew climbing is one of my strengths and wanted to maximize that in this race as much as I could.  I got my punch and ran partially down the knob an onto the single track.. I felt warmed up from the climb and was running really fluidly and happily down the trail.  I really had to focus to reign myself in, telling myself I had a LONG LONG time to be out and just keep my pace so insanely easy feeling.  I could start working after mile 50.

 I'm unsure at the mileage but know I came through the second aidstation in second place and David Horton was there and said, "jenny nichols are you going out too hard?!" and I said "nope, I'm running slow as I can." and then went up another big climb YAY!. I love climbs. I passed 2 men, and then realized I came upon the first place women, Joann. She told me she was having trouble with the climbs.  I asked if she wanted to work together a bit, that I really didn't want the lead because it was just so early  in the race. She never answered me, so I just passed her and hiked on up the hill.. continued running my pace based on perceived effort. I got to the AS at mile 22 and that was when everyone knew I was first woman. I got my handheld of perp from my crew went to the AS, got some coke. Told Quatro not to tell sophie I was in first ( because sophie and I had talked many times about me hanging back and then coming from behind the last 50 to finish strong) but by looking at my watch it looked like I was right on pace to run 12:30- 13hr first 50.. I was right on the pace i was supposed to.. I just felt everyone was going out REALLY slow or either it was the night running that had everyone slow.  ( I love night running)

So I continued on.. just running alone and listening to my tunes. If I came upon a guy I would hike behind them for a bit, but then always feel antsy and go on.. I was relishing the solitude, running in the dark. It felt SO GOOD to just be out in the mountains running at night. the wind had nip in it on the ridges and I just felt SO ALIVE.  I had a really stressful summer: some family drama that really hurt me deeply, an injury, illness, angst /frustration /fear in missing training.. I just kept my head down and tried to  keep plugging along the past couple months. Trying to stay focused on my goals, keep my intentions pure, my heart open, rise above the negativity and toxicity that I felt was trying to hinder me from my goals.  I knew things would get better if I just kept moving forward ( you see, ultrarunning has taught me that-- there are so many parallels between living life and running ultras) So I pretty much had the attitude of THANK YOU GOD just for letting me just have this experience. Letting me be here in this moment, running in the mtns feeling strong, capable and just GOOD about myself.  I knew it was still early in the race but I was gracious just to run 30 miles strong and happy.

Every AS I saw Horty ( bless his heart! he does have a heart, you know!) he would say "dont hurt yourself, girl" at AS 30-something.. TWOT lot 1.  It was a zoo. I got a little overwhelmed. I had to weigh myself ( 128 was 129 at the racers meeting- go me!)  switch packs, get another hand held of perp. but while it was cool to see so many of my friends I was a little geeked out of my head and I couldnt think straight. I had went over to the table to grab some coke and food and I had like 4 people it felt on top of me asking loudly "how do you feel? are you eating? are you drinking? tummy problems?" "UUUUH.. good, yes, yes, and no!" I just felt tad social anxiety/nervous and overwhelmed by that AS big time.  so I was REALLY happy to get back in the woods and start climbing ( thanx Q for the sammich!) on the wild oak trail! whoop!

and OMG was that a climb. 8 miles later I show up at Jb's and hilary's  AS a little spent... asking--" UH where's reddish knob and the T crossing??"  They told me it was 5 miles down the road and I can make up time on the road..  so off I went noshing on some yummy zucchini muffins and running on the gravel/muddy road. I made it to Frank G's Aidstation and  he met me with a cup of chicken noodle soup. He filled my handheld while i walked up to the punch and ran back down.  I have to say kuddos to frank for very efficiently running an AS that had people coming at them from 3 different directions!
 I ran on the pavement SOO excited I was close to my crew and picking up Rob to pace me.

At the 50 mi mark, it was great to see my crew, rick and tammy grey, Guy Love killin it, marc griffin, etc. I was happy to pick up rob, and hike back up to reddish.. the sun was rising and the trees were SOO pretty in the orange morning light. I made the joke, who needs drugs?! go run 50 miles and then go look at trees!! lol the fall foliage was magnificently beautiful on the course.  We were moving great, feeling great, and I was still having a blast. We start to see the other women racers as we hiked up the mtn. megan 2nd ( we encouraged each other and she looked strong) then was Z. carlson, joann, and linda barton all together ( smiles and encouragement from every single one! everyone was looking good at mile 50) . WHOA. what a race. I wondered if that was stressful all those gal conglomerated together like that. I was thankful I didn't have to worry with it and they just had to chase me, and I just had to keep pushing to extend/hold my lead.

so back through reddish AS, and on to JB's I kept trying to run all flats and downhills and hike the ups.Rob was great company and we became fast friends. At Jb's AS I ate a breakfast burrito. It was great seeing other runners on my return back. I really liked that part. very holiday lake ish!
 so remember that 8 mi climb that had me a little tired earlier at mile 40? well mile 60ish here I am having to going down hill. it's here i first starting having little issues with my knees hurting and me being unable to run the downhills the way I want.. I was breaking. it was really like 2010 MMTR coming back to haunt me. I was a little self conscious, rob could see how bad I was sucking at running the downhill.  and I knew I had a LONG way to get to the finish line.  I started trying to even jog some ups to make up for my slow downhill running.

the miles rob paced went by lightening fast.. so fast we got to the twot lot in 3hrs 30 min and rob thought it was take 4 hrs.. my crew wasn't even there yet! doh! no worries sophie was there and tammy grey called brock and here they all came running:) I got a new pack, weighed myself again ( 128-yes that has to mean I'm doing SOMETHING right) ate a doughnut and started down the road with sophie.
I was glad to be back on the trail with my buddy. but I also KNEW WHY I had sophie to pace me to the finish.  I knew I would be hurting, I knew I would want to let up, I knew I would be stupid...  I knew sophie would be my "autocorrect" and not let me screw up. I didn't need anyone to empathize with my pain, I needed someone to tell me to suck it up and keep pushing.  I needeed someone to keep prodding and prodding and get all they could out of me until I got to the finish knowing I gave it my all.. SOPHIE SPEIDEL is that person.  Sophie had ran grindstone twice, she is the toughest lady I know. I feel so extremely blessed to have her for a friend. We have so much commonality. ( obviously) She has such a good heart, and has gone out of her way to help me so many times with my running, advice on motherhood/ balance, life in general. I have always felt so at ease and comfortable with her, I can truly be myself and not have a filter and that is rare to find many people like that. Where you can lay it all out there, say whatever is on your mind and they still accept you.  So yes, I feel I hit the friendship jackpot when I  became friends with her.
So I guess if you are going to be  going in a dark place, it's good to be there with some one you trust. (  exact same reason why I had beth minnick pace me at umstead)
 So sophie and I ran and hiked with purpose and intention on the big climbs.. she saw immediately my dilemma with my sore knees, but we just tried to work through it and around it. She constantly encouraged me and told me how well I was moving.

I ate a pork barbecue sandwich at mile 72.. onward we pushed.

 I iced my knees and quads at mile 87.  that last half marathon really took FOREVER.  There were melt downs, whining, kicking rocks followed by obscenity. ( oh, how far was I from that place where I was so thankful to be out in the mtns 50 miles earlier-- it was more "please God, when is it going to end?!")  I was embarrassed, I felt weak, frustrated my body wasn't performing the way I wanted it to. but no matter what I was doing.. Sophie was constant and consistent in telling me I was doing great, I just had to keep moving.. and always pointing out the positive. Her patience and tolerance REALLY is what got me to the finish.  I was descending Elliott's knob in the daylight. not many grindstone finishers got to do that!

she made me run ( I could barely) so she could take a picture.  mile 94 ish?

Men started catching me and passing me. and it upset me.
  I went through the last AS,  I felt like a failure because I wasn't running strong.  but guess what? we kept on and on.. sophie telling me megan was going to catch me if I didn't run some and pick up my pace.  she kept encouraging me to jog, ( dispite my moaning and groaning and being a pain in the butt)  until holy crap we REALLY were at the shower house at the camp. 1.5 miles to go.  I was SO thankful knowing I was *almost* there and that not only had I ran my first mtn 100 but I also won.
Crossing the finish line I was so happy:) happy it was over lol, happy I had a good race.. happy my brother and sister in law ( this was the first time I've had family other than brock at an ultra) where there to share in the experience.

kissing the pole just for mark guzzi

totem pole LUV

brock and I at the finish

finish line with my STELLAR PACERS: Rob and Sophie

        me and the toughest dude I know: Jon Basham!

 my brother Brian and I at the finish-- so special to have him at my race!!!

I changed clothes and then collapsed in my tent and slept hard 3 hrs. then got up and took a shower and cheered on the finishers with sophie and rob. it was so great to see all my friends complete their journey.

 The winning part was special because I have never won an ultra.  so yes, winning was cool. It was also special because it's one of Clark's races.. I think it was just full circle. Terrapin 2009 was my first LUS ultra I raced, MMTR 2011 was the first ultra I ever won an award ( I got a down jacket for being 10th), and now-- big, bad, scary Grindstone, one of the toughest 100's east of the rockies, I won.  and actually aside from the last 13 miles of misery-- I LOVED the course. and the entire race just had the best vibe and was so FUN.   FUN, people!! grindstone is FUN. maybe I shouldn't broadcast that, the secret will get out.

That being said, I don't think I'm some superstar.  I know the women's field wasn't deep-- my 27 hours while a solid women's grindstone  time isn't the fastest.. not like sandi's 22 hrs, for example.   I know I'm not an elite... I'm just a stay at home mom who likes to run in the mtns. but  I think jeremy ramsey said it best when he said "you just have to beat whomever shows up."  it's true.

 I wont lie.. getting award and standing beside of Kwik Karl was pretty freaking cool:P all my little mommy friends   watched the documentary  human red bull express a couple weeks before Grindstone( they called me while it was on and asked "is THIS what you do?") uh, no-- no even close.  okay, sophie would want me to say this..  Karl's interview post RRR in sept with IRUNFAR was extremely inspiring.She suggested I watch it.  I would tell myself ( when I would worry about my fitness) "I don't have to run fast, just run all day." it's a great mantra. :)
  I'm just thankful I had the  positive experience I did, grateful for my crew and pacers, and it was wonderful to see all my hard work achieve the results I desired. Because I do work very hard when it comes to my training.  and I know from this experience Im going to grow. I'm going to gain fitness, even more mental tenacity, and I gained much needed experience for racing mtn 100's.  so I know I will get better. I like 100s. I'm good at them, and I can eat ANYTHING I think while running them. That part is so fun, not having to be picky about my fuel.  I also feel having run the course now, i can hopefully improve my time. ( I love running courses you are familiar with)

I know this post is crazy long.. but I just want to express my thanks again to Clark for putting on such a wonderful event.  Thanks to all the volunteers!!
Rob, sophie THANK you for all your help-- RAWK STAR PACERS!! brian, tammy and brock-- SUPER CREW!! THANK YOU!!!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

journey to grindstone starting line-- part 1

 hey guys! it's been awhile since my last post. Well, this summer was uh. interesting, bizarre, lots of extreme highs and lows, peaks and valleys.  and I'm happy it's fall and the summer is in my rear view mirror.

 I guess I'll pick up post highlands sky. Recovery went well, and my training resumed. I had a GREAT summer with my boys swimming, camping, having all sorts of little adventures and "field trips".  They got to hike a couple miles on the AT during tour de VA and that was such a big deal. We went to the beach 3 times this summer. Which was SO great to spend so much time with brock and the kids and have the family time we don't usually get.   while on vacation, decided to run a 5k for funsies , and  I was able to run a 21:15 5k at the brindley beach lighthouse 5k and was 4th overall female, which for me, that is a GREAT 5k time. I hadn't ran that fast since college.

 yay for running 5k's fast. fast =fun. 

CTR 10k went AMAZINGLY well.  over a hundred participants!!!! THANK YOU so much to ALL my friends in the running, trail running, and ultrarunning communities who came out ( yes, even while mumford and sons was in town) and supported my brother's scholarship but running, volunteering, donating.  I am always SO extremely humbled by how many kind people help me with Todd's race. Special thanks to all the race's sponsors. The race would not benefit the scholarship if it wasn't for the generosity of sponsors buying the shirts, awards, food etc. So all the money from the entry fees 100% goes directly to the scholarship. Thank you and big shout out to State of Franklin Track Club, Donna Bays, Matt and Maria Studholm for ALL their help with the run score system, timing, and course measurement, posting results etc...  You guys are amazing and I'm so blessed to have you for friends. xoxo

The recipient for this year, Eric Weaver, is a freshman at WVU and just such a bright, good person and has such an exciting future ahead of him. The race and the scholarship are such an important part of my life's journey. I can say that 5 years ago,  Both are something I never fathomed I would do: be a founding member of a  501c ( lil more complicated than is seems to set those up and do everything accordingly)  or be a race director, but life has this odd way of presenting things to you...  I had no choice but to accept what happened to my brother. Losing him easily was the most difficult thing I have had to go though. I did learn however, I had a choice in how I chose to deal with his death.  Even now, every day it's a choice.  I choose to celebrate the good memories and times I had with Todd, and to honor his memory by helping others. that, in turn, is healing for me. Love you, Toddy.

CTR scholarship recipient Eric Weaver. 

marlin yoder and his family came to the CTR 10k!!!

okay so after CTR 10k, the next day was when I went to OBX.  ran the 5k, got some good road running in, ate some yummy food, and really focused on spending time with brock and the kids.  Brock had been having some of troubles at work--really honestly and just being real. He's had a tough time.  It's was REALLY stressful this summer. With me trying to organize the race ( yeah, I do that pretty much solo and have a difficult time facilitating until I get my volunteers on race day-- no one ( unless you are a race director yourself) can understand just how much work goes into putting on a WELL ORGANIZED race. ) it's hard. With brock being so upset about his job,  taking care of my kids, my training ( had cheat mtn 50, blue ridge relay and a little 100 called GRINDSTONE on the horizon) ... wow.  Jenny was a little overwhelmed but I decided to just take it one day at a time, head down, get the job done and do it well. I ran, I ran hard.
 I ran too hard.  when cheat mtn came-- my achilles was feeling tweaky, I ran anyway.. it began to HURT-- I ran for 24 miles and decided I was stupid for running hurt and if I didn't stop, I'd have a long recovery and wouldn't make it to grindstone. yep, part of my pride was wounded-- first DNF in an ultra distance..  im a loser.  then I rationalized.  WHO was I doing all this for anyway? WHY am I doing this? WHY do I feel compelled to run ultras?  for other people's perceptions? NO, I DO THIS FOR ME.

so here I was when I was in peak period for training for grindstone and I wound up hurt.  taking time off...  BUT in the END I feel it was a good thing..

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

the better late than never highlands sky 40 2012 RR

 I have been such a busy mama this summer, my blog has been on the back burner somewhat. I'm so sorry to my one or two readers out there. Well, since umstead, I focused on recovery. I didn't run pretty much for 7 days, then SLOWLY resumed running and my resuming running I mean. I ran 10 min pace for 5k because my feet were SO trashed. I think I have some sort of weirdo nerve damage because the bottoms of my feet ( even though the blisters were healed) would start hurting SO badly if I ran for more than say 30 minutes. but that lasted for maybe a week and definitely about 30days after umstead, by may 1st I can say I felt "normal" when I ran.. I didn't hurt, I ran about the same speeds.. and if anything I felt strong.

Then I started training for highlands sky 40.. Well, I honestly had an issue with my long runs.. I never had what I felt was a great long run the months of may/ june leading up to highlands sky. I did them and would grind them out until I got back to the car.. never bailed,  but I would bonk hard and suffer. I assumed this was several factors: the heat, humidity ( that I hadn't really gotten used to yet) AND I was maybe still in a little debt physically from umstead.

However, I was quick to communicate how i was feeling to Grossman, and he helped me adjust my schedule. The week before Highlands Sky 40, We went to the beach for a family vacation. I felt that would be the perfect way for me to taper and get used to the heat and humidity.  I felt that both my taper and being in the heat and humidity for extended periods of time REALLY helped my race. BUT wednesday before the race, I got an earache and had to go to urgent care. EAR INFECTION.  they prescribed ear drops and they helped, but fast forward to friday the day before highlands sky--

I got EXTREMELY dizzy and car sick on the trip up. and puked several times. I was very dizzy ( did I mention that already?) and nauseated even after I puked. usually I feel BETTER after puking ( oh, wait that is only when I'm ultra running!)  so I pretty much stagger into the pre race meeting grab my race number do ZERO socializing.. which is SO unlike me.. but the smell of the pasta was rough and I was dizzy and had puke breath. :/ I did stop and talk to Adam Casseday for a couple min and explained my plight.  THEN I went back to the room, showered, laid out my clothes sipped on nuun PRAYING that it had super magic powers that would heal me and make me feel better the next morning. and ate 2 cliff blocks. not much of a dinner. :/
brock made me promise if I still felt bad in the morning that I would DNS. I hated the thoughts of driving ALL THAT WAY to Davis, WV and then not starting the race. but knew it would be a LONG LONG day if I started it feeling terrible.
I went to sleep and slept well. woke up at 4am.. and actually felt okay. I didn't feel I was bluffing myself either. honestly felt 20 times better than when I went to sleep the night before. so I got up, ate, got dressed and to the start line I went.

here are some pictures from HIGHLANDS SKY 40 2012

 It was great to see so many friends old and new at the race. I had a goal of running about an hour faster than last year.  I had a very tough race last year due to underestimating the toughness of this super challenging course and POOR, POOR shoe choice ( montrail rogue racers-- I lost 7 toe nails post HS last year) This year, I opted for MONTRAIL MTN MASOCHISTS and had a healthy respect for the course. I felt ready.  I started with my good buddy keith moore and I ran ALOT of the first 15 miles with him and rick gray, Keith was running awesome, and I lost him on a down hill section before we started climbing up to the road across the sky.  I have to comment on the sheer BEAUTY of this course. Roaring plains wilderness is amazing ( rocky and technical, but amazing) the mtn laurel was in full bloom and the weather was just perfect. sunny, cooler, and with some wind.  it was a fun morning. I worked well with Rick Grey and the miles just clicked by. I knew just getting to the road across the sky was a test in patience.  I also knew I had ALOT of work ahead of me the second half of the race and the mercury on the thermometer was raising and the road across the sky is full exposed 11 miles.   I was happy to see brock ( yay! for my sweet patient husband who is the best crew ever)  and tammy gray. i got to them in 4:20 however I was HAPPY to be off the single track and just got in gear and rick and I really worked this section  to make up time. We caught keith and I had a great time talking about yoga mats, bikram practice of yoga and stinky friends who shower but just have BO anyways.

 once we got back to the single track, guess what?! I was ELATED to be on the single track. HAPPY that I remember every inch of the course from last year, and really just started grinding  to get finished. I listened to my iPod and stayed within hollering distance of rick.  I really was happy to get to run so much of this race  with a good friend. Rick has really been there with me on some journeys: my first ever trail run on the AT,  my first 50k, first night run,  first 50miler, first 100k, first 100 miler. But as many of you ultra runners know, it is EXTREMELY hard to run an ultra with a friend. it just usually never ever works out because when you're bonking, they are feeling great, and vice versa. But for some odd reason, rick and I were in sync and on the same page for the majority of this race.  It made me feel good to get to share so much trail time with my "trail dad"

once we descended down and got back to the road we started smelling the barn and I listened to my iPod AGAIN. and focused on finishing I knew I was going to PR big. and I was happy to almost have it in the books. I was humbled by the fact, I was SOOO sick the evening before and I still had while not stellar-- a solid, consistent race.  I didn't feel fast... I didn't feel slow. did I stay in the same gear all day? yep. probably because of umstead still? maybe? maybe from not eating dinner and being a little dehydrated?  I ended up finishing 8:39 so my second half was one min faster than the first half.. 8th overall female. HERE ARE THE RESULTS FOR HIGHLANDS SKY 40 2012

 I feel just running the hour faster is testament to my training and just a good fitness indicator in comparison to where I was this time last year.  for that I feel grateful. so extremely grateful.

so what else?? since i'm cramming the past 3 months into one blog post?? I ran the bear! I was 15th overall woman and PRed by 4 min compared to last year. that was cool.  YAY!  love that race THE BEAR INFO/RESULTS

I'm working hard getting everything prepared for CTR 10k
This is my brother's memorial race and it's our 5th year. I feel each year I just meet the most amazing people and it's really been a positive, healing journey for me to RD this race. I never in my life thought that I would RD a race, but life is full of twists, turns, peaks and valleys, dark times, and happy times.  I think it's best to just embrace it all and be thankful for the journey and never take a second fore granted.

in addition to Todd's race,  I'm training for my second 100 miler, Grindstone 100.  This is a different animal than Umstead, and am greatly looking forward to this challenge on Oct 5th.  other than that,  I'm  having a great summer full of spending quality time with my two boys: going to the pool, camping, riding bikes, hitting golf balls,   catching fireflies,  roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories and their current favorite " you might be a redneck if: " jokes by the fire pit.  When I  hear their sweet giggles, I feel so extremely blessed to be living this life and having the family and friends that I have in my life.

                                             RD Dan Lehmann and I at the finish.

                                                 trail dad rick grey and I at the start line

                                           Me finishing my second highlands sky-

                                            healthy dose of post race sarcasm and reality checks courtesy of Dho

 over all winner and record holder Frank the tank and myself

 Dr Horton being HIMSELF!! love ya horty!! 

Well that brings us up to speed, i will definitely post more about CTR 10k as it draws closer, and my 
Training for Grindstone 100. happy trails y'all.  xoxo.

Monday, April 2, 2012

my first 100 mile race: UMSTEAD 100 mile 2012

where to begin? I guess at the beginning. THE BEGINNING.

Let me say first off, I can't even BELIEVE I registered, trained and ran a 100 mile race. Still at this point, it seems surreal; but here I am fat feet, blisters itching, eating like a horse and typing this out. It was REAL. It HAPPENED.
I deep down I always felt wanted to run  this type of race, but I was in denial for the longest time. would call 100 mile races "excessive", "crazy" and the people who ran them sadists and masochists.  but as I delved deeper and deeper into trail running and after having several 50 milers under my belt--like a moth to a flame I gravitated towards this formidable and daunting distance.  I knew I would eventually mature (somewhat) as an ultrarunner to where I would be able to run ( to finish)  , and the thoughts of having a 100 mile race buckle, well that in itself seemed very cool and amazing.  I feel just the general epicness in the accomplishment had a big draw for me. 

 So after hellgate 100k  training/race/recovery this past december,  I shifted gears, and I trained for a 100 miler. I ran alot, ate alot, I worked out hard, it was time consuming and alot of work.  More so than preparation from any of my past races. I trained with joyful enthusiasm because I didn't want to go in unprepared. I wanted to be STURDY and READY. My "coach" and good friend, Eric Grossman, ( who is a very accomplished ultrarunner in his own rite) helped me with my workouts and he made sure I was ready for this task. 

I'll flash forward.  UMSTEAD START. I'll break it all down into the loops breifly.

loop 1: MAN, post 100 miler taper, it felt SO GOOD to just be able to run!! I really struggled in reigning it in. I would try to go slow and be SO comfortable where it felt like a jog. I wasn't wearing a garmin, and then I'd figure out by mile markers on the course I was running 9 min pace. oops. too fast!  but then I would walk my walk breaks. YAY! time to run again. I decided to walk even on the first loop because there wasn't any point in me going nuts and running hard, then walking the last 30 miles. so I walked early. but I think I was so jazzed to be turned loose running and where umstead is all forest service road, I was just enjoying being out there, thankful for the rain. I ran alot with my friend,  Rick Grey this loop. I ate a gel every thirty min, and  had ultra ( an electrolyte drink)  in my hand held and then when I came in the end of this loop, I  drank an ensure.

loop 2-- ran this loop again with Rick,  its still raining. I'm  still feeling like I'm being super conservative and  the pace felt easy. It was warm ( high 60's) at that point it was 63F at the start of the race,  and it felt humid. I was sweating and salty even if it was raining, so I ate some nuun tabs, continued eating gel every 30-45 min or so. I met up with ronda  this lap, and got to run with her a couple miles. It was so great to get to meet her, such a cool and sweet person! and she has wonderful fashion sense!! and when I came in drank an ensure got another handheld of ultra and headed out.

loop3- Rick pressed on, he was feeling good and I was leery of going faster than what I was because I was starting to feel a little icky. and didn't want to blow my chances of finishing or suffering tons at the end because I went crazy at the beginning. The rain stopped and it was starting to get hot ( and very humid!) WELL, I think the ensure was a mistake because on loop 3 , I had MAJOR GI issues and I had to stop 4 times. yuck. not fun.
I came into headquarters to start on loop 4-- a little freaked out. I got imodium from brock and tammy grey kept telling me I was running great and to calm down ( but yeah, i was SCARED.. I felt dehyrdated.. it was getting hot, I wasn't taking calories in) THIS COULD BE IT for me. BUT I dismissed any thoughts of me getting worse, stoically took my imodium (:P ) and got another hand held of ultra ( no ensure) and pressed onward!

loop 4-- I had SO much fun this loop. my tummy settled but then I started getting blisters.. I stopped at the AS for about 20 min and  sweet Dorothy Hunter helped me lance the blisters and tape them up THEN things REALLY started turning around for me and I really started feeling good!! REALLY GOOD!!! it became way more FUN. I really realized: WOW. Im really doing this!! all the hard work, training, blood, sweat, tears coming to fruition.   What was more, was I was really loving the experience and the journey and really tried to focus solely on the loop I was on, nothing else, I was going to forget about the past loops i ran that morning, not worry about the future loops I had ahead of me, just be there happy on the loop I was on.  man, it felt ROCKIN. SO much of this race is mental. Having a positive outlook/perception of events is half the battle.   I rolled back into headquarters to see my best buddy beth on the road and I was SOO happy to see her.

I was at the 50 mile mark at 9 hrs something.. like 9:12 and I didn't even really feel that taxed at all. it made me wonder, hmm it would be FUN to run a runnable 50 sometime just to see what I could crank out because I was loving cranking out those miles. and I had stopped SO much and taken so much time at AS, I really wonder what it would be like to just go all out for a 50.

loop 5: GUY, my running buddy who is a sophomore at Virginia Tech,  jumped in to start pacing me lap 5.. and I think I did get a little too wild on loop 4, because I did get a little low energy wise for a little starting out, but then he made me eat half a gel every mile. By the end of loop 5. I was at mile 60 and it was 12 hrs and i was feeling good, but then tummy problems started again, and sadly, blister problems started again. my pinky toenail kinda ripped off on mile 10 of this loop.

So I worked on my blisters the best i could.  I really was ignorant about this subject and never had any problems with blisters prior. I guess the trail surface ( hard packed granite) was reeking havoc on my feet in addition to the fact of the morning rain. I was blistering on blisters and the duck tape was blistering/burning my skin. YEOW! BUT not to be the type to DNF because I was screwing up my pedicure, I pressed ONWARD. 

loop 6: back out with GUY, it was cooling off and starting to feel good temperature wise and getting dark we decided to try to reach mile 7 by 1:45 and we did with plenty of time to spare, then I decided I didn't want a head lamp and just ran by the light of guy's. Guy did such a great job pacing me. reminding me to eat and drink. :) making me run when i felt lazy:) So thankful he and beth drove down to help me! true friends are such a rarity and I feel I have so many in the ultrarunning community. 

loop 7: out with beth! we both had headlamps and really enjoyed just running and hiking and I still was feeling pretty okay, but knew I was slowing down. beth did great making me eat and drink etc. I was just excited for beth to see the course, but lamented it was dark and she didn't see it during the day about mile 5 of this loop, ( mile 82?) we saw a copperhead in the middle of the road! YIKES!! We yelled back to the runners behind us so they wouldn't step on it, as we pressed on we could hear the runners behind us yell "THANKS!!" because we had warned them about the snake. 

loop8: It was  midnight. As soon as we went out, all hell broke loose:  it came a BIG thunderstorm. lightening, pouring rain.. my feet were wet and getting worse. I looked and blood was running down the back of both shoes where they were rubbing, and I had HUGE open sores on both achilles. That is just great!! in addition to my feet. awesome. it turned from bad to worse, I didn't want to stop at the AS to get help for my heels and blisters, but they kept getting worse. I just wanted to finish at this point,  and I knew stopping would take like 20 min at the least.  I just wanted it to be over at that point because I knew I was SO close.  It was killing me to have clicked off those laps earlier so easily,  and to feel like I was crawling on this one-- this LAST lap.  Also it was bothering  me because my muscles felt fine, my joints felt fine, my blisters where just making running with any normalcy impossible. We stopped and the temperature was dropping after the rain ceased.  I had no extra clothes+I was walking so slow= beth and I got VERY cold. Teeth chattering cold.
 It took awhile to get dr-ed up and man, it was a strange experience. I think because I was on mile 95 of my first 100.   Everyone coming into the med tent looked really banged up and their eyes so hallow. I wondered to myself, do I look that scary?! We got some soup to drink on our way out, and I was shaking for the cold,  so bad I was I spilling my soup.. my legs were so stiff, I could barely walk, but after stopping and guzzling chicken and rice soup, then walking...after a couple min I warmed up and we took a turn into the trees and out of an exposed area/ out of the wind and it felt much, much better.  each step was just excruciating. I started timing miles. 20 min pace. awesome. I knew it would be way into 22 hrs before I finished. :(
my finish at 22:23 was anti- climatic to say the least. I was so happy to just be finished. I didn't want to sit down, I just wanted my sub 24 buckle. and to go take a shower! :) I was SO happy that I didn't quit ( even though that race really hurt and many things didn't go as planned)  I was proud that I was flexible and tried to solve my problems as they arose during the race and the end result of staying focused ( and tenacious)  is that I accomplished my goal. So many lessons I've learned with running are so completely applicable for the journey of LIFE.

 I was in the car on the way to the hotel when beth texted me " you just ran 100 freaking miles!" -- I don't know if it's still sunk in yet. happy to get back I showered, laid down exhausted and laid awake ALL morning. couldn't sleep and didn't sleep until 9pm april 1st.

post run reflection:
ensure was a bad idea. it totally worked at MMTR 50 miler, but fouled me out for umstead.
gels and juice plus gummies worked great though.

I am completely ignorant when it comes to blister care. I really need to study up on that because that really messed up my race. However,  I'm really super happy to have ran what i did, WHEN I did. and I really felt "race-ready" as far as my fitness. I'm elated to have a sub 24 buckle.
super thankful and humbled by the support of my family ( thanks brock for being the best race crew ever!) and friends ( guy, beth for pacing-- running with rick, bill gentry, bob) all the other cool friends I made at umstead. I'm still so overwhelmed by my FB page. I truly am blessed with so many great friends ( love yall!) it really meant so much to me during my low points to know that I had so many people thinking positive thoughts, and praying for me. :)

now, I'm contemplating my next step post recovery. I really *may* not 100% sure yet, run promise land 50k for funsies. I missed terrapin and I think it would be fun to see everyone. but FOR SURE my first race back is highlands sky 40 in june. :) and yes, I've signed up for my second 100 mile race. GRINDSTONE 100, oct 5th in swoope, Va. 

Really looking forward to training and running in the mtns all summer in preparation for these events!! happy trails, yall! :) 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

reflecting back: all trails lead to umstead 100

hey! well, it's taper time, and most of my friends can identify with "taper-tandrums". You aren't running as much, have tons of energy, and where to channel it?! well, I've pretty much spent the past week obsessing over my box o junk and rick grey- type first aid/blister kit/tackle box. and packed for umstead. All ready to roll.

now what to do, I decided yesterday to scroll back through all my pictures on iphoto. and That is when I got the idea to just make one big slide show starting with my first 50k to present. it's everything, solo training runs, races, group runs. So many memories, epic stories and friendships foraged from having so much fun in the mtns, epic weather, suffering together, post run tailgating:)

I'm so thankful for this journey I'm on, and the people in my life. If you guys don't care, PLEASE think positive thoughts for me on Saturday, march 31- into april 1 and no, the irony is not lost on me that i'll get my first 100 mile finish on April Fool's Day. :)
Sorry for some of blurry pictures.. this took so long to upload I didn't have the heart to go back and edit them out! lazy! :) and also fat man's misery is in there twice but seeing out it took all the hide off both forearms at my first terrapin, and I missed the hole punch and had to go back at my second terrapin, it earns two spots:) grr!
** the two songs are songs I LOVE to run to on my ipod.. the first is Leftover salmon "breaking through" love the lyrics in this song. favorite line is "careful watch you wish for, you'll never be the same, running through the wilderness while the moonlight calls your name."

and the second song is "zebra" by john bulter trio. :) JBT rocks:)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

SAGE Umstead100 advice from ultra guru, Bill Gentry

above are pictures from my presidents day AT run in the snow with beth, dennett, joey and maverick. :)

I'm still training for umstead 100. I ran holiday lake 50k as a long training run on feb 12th. had near perfect conditions. Ran most of the race with Marc Guzzi :) ended up running 5:24 18 min PR and I never was really in a hurry all day. so I am pleased with where I am right now fitness wise as opposed to this time last year. and it was SO great to see all my friends and make new friends at this year's holiday lake. I love going to LUS series races because they really are like a family reunion to me now. :)

I've had ALOT of adversity thrown in my way the past couple months in the form of sick kiddos ( walking pneumonia, pink eye, ear infections, strep) and saturday I had a crazy sinus/inner ear infection episode. SO training for umstead itself has been a challenge. but on the days I couldn't get out in the mtns, my relatives helped watch the kids for me to run the roads, I did the spin bike, insanity, p90x.. in short if I couldn't go run.. I worked out hard. I really hope that pays off in the long run. but that being said, I sure have ran a whole heck of alot since january. :)

I have been imploring my good friend, Bill Gentry to share all his pearls of wisdom regarding Umstead 100. He has ran this race more times than any other ultra runner I know of. He was SO nice to type out his advice and sent it to me today, and I just felt it was selfish to keep this to myself. I feel that most of this advice can apply to ANY ultra distance. esp the bold face DO NOT QUIT ( and the start slow!! advice) I hope everyone enjoys it and I really feel all my readers who run can take something away from this. THANK YOU BILL GENTRY. YOU'RE MY HERO!! I'm so excited I get to run my first 100 with bill, rick grey and so many of my other friends. and so thankful for my dialed in crew who has volunteered to help get me to the finish line. :) without further ado:

U100 is a temptress. Seems so easy, this loop. Lotsa flat stretches in the first 3 miles. No significant uphills. Not a rock in sight. And so much energy at that start, thanks to some 275 runners all gracing that still-in-the-dark starting line. Note: The largest finishing field in race history was last year's 130. Very nearly everybody goes out way too fast. So hard not to get caught up in that. Suggestion: Every mile is marked with a pie plate. Have a pacing plan. Stick to your plan.

There is only one reason to DNF at U100: injury. Adam Bookspan walked the entire U100 in 27:11 one year. Every step. That's faster than two of my finishes. Here's a thing about U100: The fun factor takes a serious dip once the lights go out. Most of the 50-mile people are done. And lots of the other first-timers quit a lap later. That start-finish aid station feels like a M*A*S*H unit after dark. If possible, stay the hell out of that lodge unless you are rocking this thing. I have taken naps at the outbound manned aid station most years. One year, I slept 1 hour. Another year, I slept THREE hours. And one other year after blitzing the 9:25 first 50 in 91F heat, I walked from 70M to 80M, slept 2 hours, walked to 85M, slept 30 minutes, then shuffled in and STILL did 27:30. Message: This is not as hard as Grindstone or MMT, but it is still 100 miles. If you are not injured, there is no good reason to quit. Do. Not. Quit.

Front Nine and Back Nine: I divide U100 into two parts. The Front Nine is pretty daggone flat. The Back Nine has some rollers and then one fairly long downhill (Mile 10) followed by a short, fairly steep uphill. The Front Nine features the pancake-flat Spur, an water/goo stop at about 3.5M, unmanned water stop at about 5.5M and then the manned, fully stocked aid station at 6.75M. That's where your drop bag can be. Dunno what you have in mind with Brock and the kiddos, but I would suggest throwing some warm clothes in a bag for here just in case. Maybe some spare batteries, too. Better safe than not. Back Nine includes water at about 8.5M and then at the crest of the "big" hill at just before 11M (the same stop as the one at 3.5M). Perspective on the "hill": you can see all the way to the top of it from the bottom; and it takes less than 4 minutes to run up it. From the unmanned water/goo stop, it's 1.5M or so back to the start-finish. The the start of the race, we go out the gravel road and skip the single-track and other gravel road. On the return and every loop after that, we do the gravel road/single-track option. You'll feel right at home on this stretch. :)

U100 is the sneakiest one around. I have 11 100-mile finishes here. I also have 4 other times when I have bagged it after at least 50. Except for the Hurricane Year when I got as close to hypothermia as I ever want to come, I have quit because I went out way too fast, totally cratered and then was feeling really, really bad at exactly the wrong time ... when my car was within sight. Whew! It's the hardest thing about a 12.5-mile loop: those 2-3 times late in the game when you come past your car, your kids, that raging fire in the lodge, the showers, and all those lonely looking people who have given up. Suggestion: The local North Carolina Road Runners chapter has a plethora of volunteer pacers. Most are there itching to do one loop just to get a feel for what it's like out there. If you are hurting, take one. Jenny, taking a pacer for Lap 6 or Lap 7 has saved my *** three or four times.

Monday, January 23, 2012

umstead 100 training picto blog

views from the ridgeline of brumley mtn
frozen grossman
biggest hoar frost I've seen in my life
happy to be actually running in the snow
view from top of white top during my NYE run
view from buzzards rock NYE "over the top" run
me and my best buddy from high school hiking up white top mtn on the AT
snowy brumley mtn long run
post interval run on the creeper trail in my HG 100k T!
Sweet maverick the super Aussie during sunday morning long run
Robin Grossman running through the morning sunlight on treasure mtn
me and my puppy! love him so much
nice views during yesterday's morning run.

TRAINING, TRAINING, TRAINING. That is what is up with jennyd nichols right now. Little Jenny is running her heart out these days. I recovered from hellgate 100k, had a WONDERFUL holiday season full of time with family and friends. I shifted gears pretty much post christmas and started training officially for umstead 100 first week in january. ( even though I ran 24 miles on NYE with the IMTR's at over the top)
So far things are going well training wise. I'm just enjoying being super active and having a goal to work towards. I'm working out at the YMCA a couple times a week on my easy days usually before an easy 60 min morning run, spin biking, incorporating yoga once a week in my routine. and running wise: one day speed work, couple days later tempo run, couple days later back to back long runs ( weekends). I'm recovering from my workouts okay. Feeling taxed and labored while I'm in the moment, but pretty much good to go by the next morning. So I think I have a good balance there.
Little daunting after running 66.6 miles and knowing how much more I have to run for umstead. BUT I have tons of confidence due to the technical conditions of HG vs. how non technical umstead is--
but that being said : 1. 100 miles is a 100 miles, and 2. runnable courses offer their own special set of challenges that mtn 100's do not. I think mostly it's about self control and not being greedy at the start. making yourself be on a schedule and sticking to it from the start. I think for umstead I'm going to run 24 min and walk 4 min. and stay on that schedule. and starting slow etc. if any 100 milers out there have ANY advice to offer up, I'm MORE than all ears!
more than anything, I'm fairly confident I can complete the distance and am aware of the roller coaster ride it's going to be. I feel I've learned enough the past couple years, to just work through my tough patches and keep moving forward.
It's amazing the journey of natural progression my ultrarunning has taken me on. 3 years ago, a 50k was practically an insurmountable distance. I couldn't fathom running 50 miles, then 50 miles grew-- comfy in 2011. So I know 100 miles is going to kick my butt, but I would really like to think I can reach a point to be able to adapt, and it be my "new normal".

next up for me is HOLIDAY LAKE 50k! I'm using this run as a long run, going to have to run another long run the day after. Goals for this race would be to run it faster than last year, but as far as racing goals for HL, I have zero. pretty much the plan is like sophie had me run last year. start slow. sit in the first loop, then work hard the last loop. :)
okay, so any umstead advice, you guys feel free to comment, or email etc!