Thursday, July 12, 2018

Summer Goal #3: Race ALL the Bradbury Mt Races

Well. This is part 1 of 3 of this particular goal. (two more races at Bradbury before I can claim my "Badass" status!)

After a week of HIDEOUSLY SWELTERING HEAT AND HUMIDITY, the disgusting weather finally broke, and we got some relatively cool air. (relative is the word.) This was a relief, first of all because the weather SUCKED, and secondly, we had some "racing" to do!

The first race of the Bradbury series was last Sunday, and Eric and I arrived ready for the challenge.
Neither of us have ever done this first race before- the Scuffle? The shuffle? However, we both did a good amount of trail running/biking of the "other side of the road" at the park last year. Despite this being our first trip of the season, we basically knew what to expect.

As is often the case, June was not a month of serious training for me. (and let's be real, July will not be either!) After the whole marathon training winter, and a high mileage May (culminating in a 50k) rest and sloth was on the agenda. So yeah, I'm an unfit mess of a woman.

We managed to see a few friends before the start (Hi Jen! Michelle! Wade/Ward or whichever one is Jen's husband!) and then we were off.

The "other side" of Bradbury does not contain the mountain. What is has, instead, are miles of twisty, rooty trails. And little bouncy bridges. Lots of fun, especially if you are not trying to win (we were not.) The Bradlowski's made some bad choices while preparing for this event. We neglected to carry snacks (mildly dumb) or water (incredibly dumb) so as it turned out, there was some level of suffering.
Eric fell down. I did not. This is a complete reversal of our usual trail running adventures!

I certainly noticed my lack of fitness for a good part of the race. (and a real lack of trail running practice, the agility it requires takes more than a few minutes of racing to lock down....) But really, a tough day of trail running is much better than a hot, gross summer day of road running! Eric and I enjoyed running together (basically all alone) for about 4 of the 6 miles. If we hadn't been as confident in the excellent trail marking, we would have thought we were lost!

For whatever reason, I gained a second wind sometime during the final mile.  (or my legs finally woke up? who knows.) I was aided by a delightful downhill gravel path, and I managed to kick up a little speed (which was really quite fun!)

I finished feeling good (dripping, dripping sweat) and my time was 58 and change.
I can tell I am still secretly in road running mode, because I usually pay zero attention to my fun trail race times! (by August I will have mellowed out!)

OMG WINNING (but like, not)
Eric finished right behind me, and we took a sweaty selfie (as we always do) We also ate almost the whole jar of pickles that the post race snack station had. They were delicious.

We then proceeded to hike around lugging heavy packs for a bit. With basically zero snacks, which was STILL a horrible plan!!

Prepared to climb Mt Everest, from the looks of things
So thus far, summer has been busy. Really busy. I am back in the zone of trying to hit 4 workouts a week (or some sort) and mostly failing (but I honestly blame the shitbag 96 degree weather for that.) (and also working well over 60 hours a week) I have been out on the bike a few times now, and I absolutely hate the summer traffic! OMG PEOPLE, please for the love of baby geezes get off your damn phones!!!!

Biking to the PUB!!! Shocking!
Road running has taken a backseat (thank heavens) to other activities but will pick back up in the fall, or whenever I feel like dealing with it again!

Eric and I have been to 2 of the Bethel/Mahoussuc trails "races" this summer. One was hot, so hot that I legit ran 10:43 pace and still hated it.
The next week was cooler, and I managed a 9:07 pace, but only due to shame. Shame is an incredible motivator!

Bethel trail Friday nights!
Oh, and I also went to another horse show, and kept the 2nd place streak alive for the first day! Then I blew it, by getting one 4th (SHAME, hahaha) and winning a couple classes! YAY!

Ohhhhhh AND a Tricolor ribbon!!!!
So, Stats:
Hottest day this summer: 96. Fucking 96.
Number of 2nd place ribbons: 2
Trail races that caused me to fall: 0 (thus far)
Longest bike ride: 19 which felt like 100
Longest run on the road: like, 5 which felt like 30
Longest trail run: 6 which felt like 6 because trail running is my jam in the summer
Current fitness: Excellent for riding horses, just dreadful for running


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Summer Goal #2: Go climb EVERY mountain! (or one)

Before the world turned to molten lava (seriously, it has been 95 degrees here in Maine since Saturday. Basically pure torment for us cold blooded Northeners) Eric, My cousin Evan, My Dad Lee and I climbed Mt. Jefferson. 

This was a last minute opportunity for me. I managed to finagle things in my schedule enough to be able to take a rare (and kind of needed) day off. I was very excited to be able to include myself in this adventure, as hiking was on my must do list for 2018.

We got off to a decently early start, (although not that early) and hit the trail around 9:00. 

Pre hike excellence 
The day was just perfect, 50 degrees at the start. Forecast to be about 80 at "sea level" and between 50-70 degrees for the climbing duration. 

I certainly was the least experienced, and least bold hiker in the group. The only thing I really had going for me was my ability to actually hike (because I am reasonably fit) and my ability to carry snacks in my bag. At least I had something to offer. 

We definitely picked a great day for views and weather, it was dry, clear, and perfect!

The trail (Caps Ridge) began pleasantly enough. Typical White Mountain, below tree level path. Some roots, rocks, and elevation gain but nothing to get too hyper about. 

As we rose above the treeline, the views (and the warmer sun) became apparent!

Scenic Vista #1
Generally speaking, if I was given a route choice I would always pick the easy, and less death defying option. Evan, NOT so much!! He was like a little mountain goat, filled with climbing skills and boundless energy. 

King of the mountain
What nobody mentioned to me about this trail were the "caps". I assumed that since I was hiking with both my father and husband, nobody would have a death wish for me. For a moment, I thought I was BADLY mistaken. 
I have some issues with heights, and fears of falling backwards to sudden and certain death. There may have been a moment or two where I had to talk myself down. (not literally) Luckily, more fearful of shame than death, I motored up the beasts and we hiked onward. 

Just some caps. NBD. Or.... SCARY.
There were a lot of rocks to climb over. At some points in the final half mile I was laughing at the absurdity of the "trail" that we were on! (and yes, I know all the White's are just giant rock piles.) I would look up, at the endless heaps of boulders and think that if someone before me had not deemed the heap a trail, I certainly would not attempt to struggle up it. It was rather amusing. 

We made it to the top, where it was closer to 50 degrees than 80, and we hunkered down for a rest. We had made it to the summit in exact book time even with our snack/scenic vista stops (and my less than speedy trip up the scary caps.)

Challenge Complete!!!! Well... Half way. 
Wo relaxed for a few minutes, ate some huge sandwiches, and watched the train head up Mt Washington (no pics of said train I am afraid....)

The rocks are the trail
The trip down was a good time. 
Evan, as usual, did some nice core strength work...! (photo cred to the super nice group of women that we met on the way down. Hikers are very nice, fun people!)

I managed the caps much better on the way down, although I still was not exactly cozily inside my comfort zone. 
Lee is casual. I am hanging on. 
We made a spectacular finish, keeping our book time pace alive! 
We celebrated with a beer, as one should. 


Mt. Jefferson:
4.2 miles (I forgot to start my watch but this is what  have....)
2,931 elevation gain (again... watch stopped but it's close enough)
2 hours 50 minutes (close...)
No falls off cliffs and only one scraped ankle! Winning!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The zero week challenge

Everyone seems to love a challenge, whether it is "daily core" "30 days of yoga" or reading 100 books in a year.

So, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and challenge myself to a zero mile week!
Man, the struggle was real (it was not.)

I saw no need to run after randomly hopping around a 50k.

I had a ton going on as well, the first big horse show of the year!

Actual skills
And on top of that, a horse who needed extra extra care, and vetting, and round the clock temp checks after coming down with anaplasmosis (fast and furious and no fun!)

This coming week should be a bit more manageable, and I hope to get in some low key mileage. I'm aiming for between 20-25 miles.
I could also benefit from some strength work (which I hate) so maybe I really do need a "20 minute ab challenge" or something!

Miles run: ZERO
Vet bill: $600
Miles traveled to horse show: Only 300 this time
Number or 2nd place ribbons won: 4


Monday, May 28, 2018

How to run a 50k with no actual training, in 11 easy steps!!

I think the best advice that I can give on this particular subject is "don't."

That being said, if you just want to throw caution to the wind (as I do) and run the ever loving f**k out of your legs just for kicks, then here is how to do it.

(note: for those of you who might be new to me, I'm obviously 100% full of shit. Never, EVER come to me for advice!! Training for endurance races is actually serious business, and even though I did not *train* specifically for this event, I have been running decent mileage for a number of years, and thus, can pull stunts like this and remain intact. Please do NOT attempt this if you have never run before!! Dear Lord!!)

But yes, I did just complete a 50K at Pineland yesterday. Totally unplanned. 100% spontaneous.
No, I really, REALLY did not train for this (as any of you who follow me on Strava are sure to have noticed.)
Also, I really did pull the trigger on this one the moment before online registration closed. So yeah, last minute.
So, now that I am an expert on how to almost win (or get like, 100th place) at a 50K, on junk miles only training, I have written up this handy dandy guide.

Today's blog is brought to you by the giant *rooster*
Step 1 for running a 50k, untrained: Pick the right weather day (meaning, you must wait until 24 hours before to sign up. #planning)
The REAL reason that I decided to participate was to capitalize on the ideal weather. 58 degrees, cloudy, breezy. The only thing missing was some heavy rain!! This is KEY because if you plan ahead, and your race ends up being on a 90 degree day, it will be awful for you. So no planning ahead, just wing it.
The face of a highly prepared woman.
Step 2: Have a rock solid training plan:
Or.... Marathon train all winter and then run junk miles all Spring. When you don't actually have anything to train for, junk miles are key. I ran some crap miles all last week before (first) being lazy for a day or two and (then) deciding that "lazy" was a good "taper" because, obviously. I ran 26.2 miles back in April some point, and that was obviously *instrumental* in getting me to the start of this adventure. (I need a sarcastic face emoji, for right here.)

Step 3: Give yourself a ton of time to prepare at the start, because everyone is *so* competitive: 
Well.... I didn't give myself a ton of time, but I did make it to the start before the gun went off. (shut up Danielle and Sarah.) As I drove in, I saw the 50 milers loping along through the hayfields, already well into their day (no thanks. but I was pleased not to see the 50k-ers starting without me.)
There was a good sized crowd lined up for the 50k, and while I did my best to line up as far back as possible, people kept moving back in line to get into last position. So, I would move farther back. And then they would. I would then move back even farther. And then they would... on and on this went, until the announcer basically yelled at people to get up to the start line!

Just let me start at the back!
Step 4: Know the damn terrain that you will be running on.
(FYI: I actually knew quite a bit about this particular aspect.)
Pineland is a hilly stupid farm. This is the only difficult part of running any of their races. While they are "trail" races, what that means for this location is running on dirt roads (like atv, or very wide xc ski trails) and wide, mowed grass paths. There is not one step of challenging single track terrain. No large rock faces to scramble over, no stream crossings. You even run on pavement for a hot minute.
It's like trail running for city folk. (like, trail shoes totally optional.)
HOWEVER. The easy appearance of the footing doesn't mean it is an easy walk in the park (hay field). The hills are quite relentless, with the elevation for the 50k coming it at over 3k'. There are definitely a few steep hills, and if you aren't careful they will smack you in the face your second trip around! Also, the hay fields are all cambered and your will always be running with one leg rather lower than the other (my left leg calls shenanigans on this every time I run this race.)
Anyway. I know that Pineland kind of sucks, so my 24 hours of preparation allowed me to mentally achieve zen, to embrace the suck.

Hilly Field. ALL ALONE!!!
Step 5: Have a (mental) turn by turn directional guide for how you will run each mile of the course.
Well. I knew that I was going to show up. Check!
I planned to run 25k for sure.
I thought then I would run around the first "loop" again, and then bail. Or walk. Or maybe something entirely different. I got bored for a while at mile 8 and thought maybe I'd just stop then.
Who could really know.
I figured I would run, at some speed, until I was over it. (winning here, as usual.)
Luckily, at Pineland you don't need *actual* turn by turn directions, because it is impossible to get lost. If you go off course, you will end up in with the cows.

Happy cows
Step 6: Nail the nutrition and hydration 
(I totally did) 
Right away, like at mile 3 I began to get hungry. This is never a great sign that early on, but I was pretty well stocked and planned to use the excellent aid stations. Over the years I have become much (MUCH) better at eating and drinking while running, and actually consider myself to be quite an expert in that area.
Over the course of the race I consumed:
-2 bottles of water (I carry one in my flip belt, and I refilled it half way through)
-Quite a few small cups of gatorade, starting at the half way point. I do not train with gatorade but I was parched and water wasn't doing the trick.
-2.5 bananas. I hate bananas. But I like them during very big runs (weird) I also will not eat unpeeled bananas that other hands have touched (gross) so I was VERY VERY HAPPY that the aid stations happily gave me some nice, whole, clean ones.
-a few little cups of pickles. YUM. (and only from the aid stations that had individual cups of snacks. No snack trough for this lady.
-peanut butter filled pretzels (a very good choice)
-one tiny cup of ice cold coke
-5 packets of untapped syrup, which is the gold standard for race fuel as far as I am concerned (I have used it exclusively for a year, and can't sing the praises loud enough.)
The moral of the story is that I might have been hungry for a hot minute, but I refused to stay that way.
I also refused to run doing the pee dance, and I stopped to pee 3 times.

Step 7: Don't be a jackass
Don't try to run fast. Ever, not even one step. Or, do. But don't say I didn't warn you!
During my first 50k I bolted off like a madwoman and paid the price.
Don't be me (of 2013), don't be that guy. If you normally run a marathon on the road, at an 8:00 pace (assuming, of course that you are not secretly an elite trail runner, undercover) plan to add actual honest to God minutes to your per mile pace. I ran an 11:20 pace, (which, of course took into account my 5+ minutes of stopped time, as it does/should.)
Even though I walked up every hill during both laps, I was still pretty friggin creaky for the last few miles.
Also, if you are going too fast you will not be able to take selfies, and snaps.

The all important selfie
Step 8: Wear the right kit
Don't wear the shorts that chafe your lady bits, even if they do have the best pockets.
Consider wearing your trail shoes maybe once (this year) before running 30 miles.
So, this segment of the program is basically "what not to do".  Heed my warnings.

Step 9: Prepare for things to not feel all that great at some point. Prepare to carry on.
I actually felt just fine for the vast majority of this run. I felt a little foggy just after the half way point, so I walked, had a big snack, and then felt good again.
I began to feel the impact of the mileage around 20, but did not feel sore until 24. And then it got pretty unpleasant. (I was just sore though, I mentally felt good, and my stomach was great.)
But the real TMI moment? Ready? So, as mentioned, my lady-parts-region (although, thank heavens not my *actual* lady bits) became super nasty chafed. And (as we all know) I have this really big fibroid. I had to pee late in the race, and I sneezed and peed just the littlest bit (as one does, shut up). My chafing burned like the fire of 1,000 suns and it was a horrible moment. The worst! (so, I pulled over immediately and peed.) Clearly the advice here is simple: don't pee yourself.

Step 10: Don't expect to win the race if you haven't trained. 
I, however, would not expect to win the race even if I HAD trained, so what's the difference, really?
While I did not win the race, I ran very close to the time that I predicted for myself. I expected to take 6 hours, and I managed 5:47 (about 40 minutes slower than my *best* 50k at Pineland effort.)
Really, the training for a 50k is pretty unpleasant, so I almost prefer the slower time, as completely skipping the training is pretty great! Fuck it! I'm not going to train at all for anything, anymore!

Not winning! Not caring!
Step 11: Because 10 is not enough, when the advice is of this elite caliber: 
Prepare to have a nice day. Really.
If I had ceased to have a nice day, I would have walked my ass back to my car and gone to get some pizza.
But, I did have a nice time. The weather was very pleasant. I enjoyed a perfect mix of running alone (which I like, when I am not pushing for a fast pace) and running with some very nice people. (Hi Mari and Haley!) I enjoyed looking at the cows, and the scenery (and the never ending hills..)
I enjoyed collecting my big green bell, even thought they tried to give me a tiny stupid one. I was like, "nope, I get a BIG bell, yo."

Big green bell
So there you have it. A very comprehensive guide to doing something that *in real life* requires quite a bit of training, with no training at all.

The best news? I'm really none the worse for it. My chafing has already retreated, and my legs are marathon level sore, nothing too extreme! I now plan to retire the 50k distance for a few more years, when I may actually put forth a modicum of training effort (or not, tbh. I felt pretty ok about how this run went!)


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Running, Horse showing, making ugly looking food, and more!

Somehow I managed to fit in 40 miles last week, even though I had a ton of work stuff going on.

On Monday I took my first run in a long while over the infamous Bitch Hill. It was a glorious Spring day, and even though it was hilly (some things never change) I had a really nice outing.

Always pretty
I also found a tiny Robin's egg that had blown out of its nest. It was been SUCH a windy Spring around here. We always have a windy April, but May has continued to be so blustery. 

Sorry little egg
Once I got home, Eric and I made 5 batches of pesto from the kale and basil that my Dad grows in his indoor garden. I can't imagine how much that much basil would have cost me in real life, so this is one of my favorite activities (is making pesto an activity? I guess it is.)

Batch 1 of 5, and about $100 worth of basil

On Wednesday I ran across town to meet Eric in Norway after he finished up the Green Machine group ride. It was a really, REALLY, fantastic weather day (temps the low 60's, sun, and breeze. perfect.) I should have stayed home and worked on household projects, but it was far too pleasant of a night to pass up running.

Super athletic power couple
While I fully intended to run on Thursday, life seemed to have other plans for me and I decided to peace out on the whole plan. Honestly, even when I am marathon training there are some days when staying home payoff more than a run!

On Friday, I ran some quality junk miles in a new pair of shoes. I am trying to wait for the Hoka Clifton 4's (not sure when they are coming...) And the Brooks Ghost 10's seem to be ok. Not Hoka level good, but I got a good deal on themes that makes me feel positive!

Eric and I have been trying to expand out breakfast food horizons lately. We need something quick and easy in the mornings, and toast with PB&Honey almost always does the trick. We recently tried the Muesli (basically, overnight oats) from the Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook. The final step to these oats, is to add a grated apple. This step made them almost inedible to me, as they looked like cat puke (Eric said they looked like tuna... still not good.) and the texture was exactly what you would expect from cold oats with a grated apple added. *barf* However, they tasted great.
I made them again, without the weirdly offensive apple, with excellent results. They still look gross, but it is a gross level that I can handle!

Slightly gross looking breakfast
On Saturday, we had some pretty ideal marathon weather. It was in the upper 50's, drizzley, and quite windy.
I DID NOT run a marathon, but I did run abut 13 miles to the pub. I met Lee and Eric there, and we had pizza and talked about the Royal Wedding (I secretly love Royal Weddings!)

Sharing tiny beers!
On Sunday, I had a horse show outing with my little one which took up the whole day. I wasn't planning to run at all, but decided to head out for a couple very easy miles when I got home. The weather all day had been muggy and damp, but as things dried out I definitely felt like getting (back) outdoors! I really mean it when I say "short" run. It was just over 2 miles, so nothing tricky!

Baby horse at the show!
Next week (well, this week at this point) is probably going to be a little lower in mileage. I am considering possible "race" options for Sunday (since I actually have most of the day off) but this plan is still completely up in the air. So we shall see!

Miles run: 40.2
Elevation: 2,178
My placement in my Strava running club: I had to go check, because I am no used to this being something I care about. But 14th. That seems good!
Hottest day: Gross humid upper 70's on Sunday