Monday, July 28, 2014

In which I emerge from a long, long internet silence.

Once upon a time, I was a blogger.
A running blogger to be specific and I (occasionally) would regale all of you with tales of my intense training plan, stories from various races and give you tons of sweaty unattractive pictures to mull over.

I bet you have all really missed that.

I knew after my intense January-June 1st racing schedule that I needed a short break or an injury was sure to pop up. I also knew that this was going to be a season jam packed with horse shows- and this certainly was true.
Through the month of June I kept my running very minimal and really enjoyed the break. I know that I am the only running blogger in the universe who actually admits to appreciating a rest but honestly, I do. I need it mentally, physically and during June I was so SO busy that if I had not planned to take some time it simply would have happened out of necessity.

During my "rest" time I play lifeguard for the crazy swimmer.
 There have been some changes too. Without a clear Summer goal I knew that continued coaching would be turning my little "splurge" into an unjustified indulgence (because what middle of the packer needs a coach..? well, one who couldn't stay healthy I suppose!)
I am so thrilled that during my year with Coach Kelsey I leaned a remarkable amount about what my body needs to stay healthy. That investment was probably one of the best ones that I have made as a runner- so the money was well spent.
However. Reality knocked at my door and I realized that I simply can not invest as much money into any part of my running hobby. Not on races, not on coaching (right now) not on ALL the fun new gear! I already participate in a mind blowingly expensive sport as part of my job- and since that is my livelihood I had to funnel cash that way. I know I don't need to justify my choices to the internet but hey- this is real life and I believe we all can relate.

The great news is that my professional equestrian lifestyle has been fantastic this year. I had a downright delightful early season of showing, as did my lovely young rider client and we are both heading to Regionals with scores that make me hopeful for a good showing (against some of the toughest competition at our respective levels that I have seen in years- we have been doing well but are preparing to see some damn fine horses. Which is fine, bring it on!)

Chauncy the wonder pony.

Have I been running? Yes.
Am I still running Chicago? Yes.
Do I have anything life changing to say about my current training plan? Well, no. I am taking a sensible approach, and I am happy with how things are going. I have really fallen off the face of the internets as I no longer am super interested in plugging every run into Daily Mile, or chronicling every step I take on twitter. There is nothing wrong with this at all- and I truly enjoy reading the tales from those who do! It just happens not to be where I am at right now and that's ok. And while I might not be putting in 50 mile weeks currently I have a good handle on what my pokey old legs need in order to prep for a marathon and that is in the works. I am the master of the ultra short training plan.
(either that or I'm just going to be super super screwed. we shall see.)

As mentioned I have really cut back on the outpouring of cash that goes into hobby jogging. At this point I have NOT A SINGLE damn race on the horizon! (except Chicago which is $$$$. But, like NYCM this is a one time deal.) Without exaggeration I have been booked every weekend since Memorial Day so I could not have raced even if I had wanted to. But, the fall season is looming and we all know that I love racing in the Fall.

So! Until then... I will continue to enjoy the blogs of others who are doing more exciting racing than I am but mostly, I will be focused on the fact that Eric and I are getting married in less than 3 weeks and we need to get it together on that front! Pretty exciting times :-)
Bachelorette Party painting! Getting out of riding/running clothing and having fun!


Monday, June 9, 2014

The mysterious missing miles

In the days and weeks after Pineland, slowly but surely I came to the discovery that it wasn't just me- the damn course was short.

I am who I am- so clearly I'm not thrilled about this. My investigations have led me to the conclusion that I can blame about a half mile or so of the inaccuracy on my Garmin (I know it lost satellites twice) However, that final mile? It just wasn't there. Shit bags!!

This changes my final results a little and for the sake of honesty and future bragging rights for when (IF) I do it again here is what my results were:
30 miles, 5:07:49, 10:15 average pace.
30 miles is still stupid far but I would have preferred to run the correct distance and cross it off the list.

After the insanity of my (short) ultra my grand plan was to take 2 weeks off- or as off I as could muster. My legs have been chugging out miles non stop since January and I know that they needed a break! I'm so pleased to say that I came away from this long training cycle fully intact- no injuries and no small nagging pains. Pretty fantastic.
In all honestly it was hard for me to hang up my shoes feeling as good as I did.
Remembering how I am crazy, not stupid was all it took for me to book some extra hours working and fill up that time when I usually would be running. I know for a fact that my middle aged bod needs a little break a couple times a year!

So, during this break I did have one decent adventure.
Eric and I went over to Roberts Farm last week, a local preserve that has a good number of very hilly hiking, skiing and snowshoeing trails. Café Nomad (a local place which has some of the best coffee and soup around) is hosting a trail race series this summer and this was the first race.

Just the thing after 30 miles on Pineland trails- an 8.5K race on trails that are actually little death traps (for a road runner. I am sure that "real" trail runners have no problems with single track snowshoe trails...)

Before. Clean shiny and happy!

 I had a really fun time, up and down the mountain I went, slogging through ankle deep mud, jumping over fallen trees, clearly going off course on the snowshoe path, and running faster than is safe along terrain that I was definitely not confident on!!

Here we all go! Clearly, I've been all about the neon this spring..

Around the half way point I was in a group of 2 other ladies and we basically formed a pace line, taking turns leading the way. When we got onto the single track we decided to risk getting eaten by a sasquatch, become terrifyingly lost or similar, and we went our own ways at our own speeds. Sad.

Almost to the scary snowshoe trail
 According to our math skills and calculations an 8.5k measures at 5.25-ish miles. Right around the 4.25 mark I had come alongside a pack of women. Not only was I glad to relinquish the responsibility of trail blazer but I was happy to have some people to run the final mile with.

Imagine my shock when at mile 4.39 we came to the finish line.
No, we had not gone off course. Apparently it is the calling card of a trail race, to measure short.

Amusingly it was times and measured as an 8.5k making my speed look BLAZING. For anyone who looked at the results my 41 minute time averaged a 9:35 pace, sadly not the insane 7-something pace that it shows.

Blazing speed super skillzzzz.
Regardless of the wacky missing mile it was a great time and I won a Christmassy cowbell for being the 3rd woman. I'm hoping my schedule allows me to go back later this month for more muddy fun.

I'm flying solo until August, since for the first time in 2 years I do not have a major mid summer race I (sadly) could not justify continued coaching for these Summer months.
My assumption was that by the end of my 2 week break that I would be really sad not to have a random night marathon, or 50K to get ready for.
At this point I can honestly say that is not the case! I am VERY busy at work (counting the day I ran Pineland as my last day "off" I will be working straight through until the 29th at best. (insert slightly nervous laughter. good thing I'm awesome. please don't hesitate to bring be huge bottles of cabernet.)
I'm also hoping to find time to run some shorter local races and to just enjoy running (who would like to place the first bet that I get restless and end up doing something silly? go ahead!)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pineland 50K, redemption, insanity and giant *ahem* roosters

It certainly has taken me long enough to do this recap. I guess it goes without saying that I've been really, really busy!

Sunday May 25th I departed on a mission quest to redeem myself in the 50K. Good life choice.
Did this mean shooting for a PR?  No, definitely NOT. In this case, the terrain definitely required a reality check. I ran the 25K 2 years ago- and despite my blistering pace then (yes, I was indeed running like someone was chasing me) it has stuck in my head over the years as one of the most challenging races I have run.

While I might be crazy I am not dumb. I completely understand the mistakes I made at GCI and I learned from them. I also recognized the fact that as far as "ultra" training goes I had not even scratched the surface! My best guess going into this was that in ideal conditions I might be able to run a JUST barely 5:30. My recent "trail" running attempt, plus my Boston time, plus recent years Pineland results corroborated this evidence and I felt totally ok with this!

I awoke on race day seriously questioning my motives.
The traditional Pre-Pineland long distance day dinner might have made me feel less crazy but did little to calm my feelings of complete uselessness/unease.
I hate waking up feeling nervous but it happened. I admit it.

Pre Pineland Pizza, proving that Beer is a legit means of carb loading.

The good news? It was shit cold on race morning. Maybe 50 something, cloudy and definitely damp. IDEAL!!!!! SO IDEAL!!!! FOR REALZZZZZ!

By the time Eric and I got there, confirmed with Sean that we were all insane, set up the tent and such I was feeling quite alright. I was basically double fisting bagels and smearing body glide everywhere per the norm. We also established that Maddy was the lead 50 miler woman at that point- she won by a ridiculous amount. (we are not worthy!!!) (this made me feel like I could handle a puny, wimpy 50K....)
But really I felt calm and it was all good. so I busied myself getting ready. 

Or, texting per the norm. Whatever. We had a sweet tent.
But in reality, as always, I waited until the last minute to get properly ready and Eric was sounding panicky. He likes to be prepared to race hours in advance where I prefer to mosey to the start with my GPS still frantically searching for satellites! (I'm ok with this. We like different things)

Everyone lined up, there were some instructions which I tried to listen to (failed) and they rang the cowbell.
We were off!
It was chilly and damp and lovely.
Going out HABANERO!!! Or slowly and carefully. Or dancing, who the hell knows.

 Many runners went charging off READY TO FUCKING WIN THE DAMN 5K!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Good job.

As I previously mentioned, I learned my lesson at GCI!
My pace for the first 10K was methodical and downright pedestrian. I simply kept reminding myself "You don't finish a 50K in the first 10K. don't do something now that you will regret at any point in the last 10K... seriously woman keep it together!!!"

I had a GREAT plan. I was 100% committed to taking in the sights and sounds for the first hour, making sure to hydrate and drink as needed, being very sure to start walking up any annoying hills as early as needed! For the second hour I was going to turn on some tunes if I needed them (I did not) and focus on getting to the point where I would see Eric again at mile 10-ish and mile 15-ish.

After that I had no plan. Z-E-R-O-. Nada. Wow, expert ultra runner!!
And taking in the sights? How about looking dead ahead, about 1.5 feet so ya don't fall. That's more like it. 

As it turned out not having a cohesive plan was no big deal. After seeing Eric around mile 10 I found that the uneven terrain had already taken a toll on my dainty road running left hip.
While starting the second loop (of the first loop... yeah too many loops) feeling my hip and hammy twinging like crazy I seriously said "What the ever loving hell, shut the fuck UP! I don't want to hear any more from you little JERKS!!!!!" Believe it or not, I never felt that pain again. Go figure.
And plan or no plan, I managed to carry for those remaining 300 (or 3ish) hours with no mental struggle.  Plans are overrated!

Right about the time I was cussing my legs there was a creeper photog to capture the special moment.

So, I ran the first loop in just under 2:30, according to plan. I felt fine. I needed to go pee. Angie was hanging out with Eric (and Quinners! baby genius) at the half way point and I stopped for a very quick chat with them. I was super ultra paranoid that anything longer than a quick word would result in Boston level cramping so I moved on quickly! I found a port-a-pottie, went pee and carried on.

About halfway there. Looking squinty. And alone!
I was pretty conscious of the need to not screw up my eating and drinking plan so I was consistently drinking coconut water (seriously... it's a life saver) and over the course of the run I ate a picky bar and about 6 small salted potatoes- as well as several cups of water. The temps stayed nice and cool until the 3.5-4 hour mark, I seriously credit my good day to the weather gods!!!

About 2 miles into the second loop I took my first "real" break (meaning- not just walking up a random hill) to focus on having a substantial snack since I definitely noticed that I was losing steam.
In retrospect, this was a really good idea as I was actually pretty happy for the rest of the race! At this point I felt like I was completely alone, in no mans land. There really was not a damn soul in sight! Nothing!!!! Totally alone. Super awesome (like, the best. Notttttttttttt.) Anywhoo, feeling pretty good, I chugged along watching the kilometers tick by.

Which was super annoying.
At the 11K mark (in the second loop) I was so grouchy! "UGH!" I thought to myself "GREAT!!! THE 11K MARK! THAT is SUPER critical to know!!!!" This made me laugh since I was in the grumpy cranky stage of running not the oh holy hell I am going to die stage.
There s a clear difference, in case you did not know that...
Oh an guess what? I was still alooooooooone.....
And I noticed, with annoyance, the 16K mark (critical) the 18K mark (lifechanging) and so on, laughing and grumping all the while!

At some point in this ridiculously long race (so the start of the last 5K or so...) Danielle ran by my all full of "WHOOOO" and high fives and what not. I had just left Eric behind and had told him that "I just need to finish..." Apparently I was still coherent and honestly I felt good but... It seriously took me 10 minutes to figure out it was Danielle who was the super pumped cheerleader!
Something about looking at the ground 1.5 feet ahead of you for 4 plus hours really takes a toll!

Close (well, close-ish) to the finish prior to handing my pesky fuel belt off to Eric...I love my flower.
 So those final 5K. Aside from feeling like my feet were broken they were amazing.
All the energy conservation that I had done meant that whenever there was a flat spot I cranked it up. It was really, really fun. Totally different than the final 5K death slog at GCI.....
My legs hurt, my GPS wasn't acting right (not that I cared) but I had enough energy left to pick up the pace and run strong to the finish.
The good news? I was no longer ALONE!!!! Ther were all kinds of 25k-ers everywhere and it was so fun having friends to chat with. (or pass. I'm a jerk sue me)

I actually couldn't believe it when I ran in in 5:07:49- just 3 minutes slower than last year at GCI.

Done. Thank the sweet lord baby geezes.
According to my GPS the course was appallingly short- I hope this is not the case! I know that I was having satellite issues and I certainly do not trust my Garmin 100% (but it would be a bummer to have a course measure a mile short- I ran the 25K before and it measured as a 25K so I'm assuming it was my dumb device malfunctioning!) At this point it was HOT out and I was pleased to be done. Oddly, I barely noticed the heat while on course, I really had gone into a "zone" and was totally turned inward. (this is a skill that makes me a ballin' equestrian since I am completely unfazed by chaos, not sure how it impacts me as a runner. I will assume it's good.)

As is often the case after a long run I walked around stupidly for a while, drank copious amounts of Gatorade (so the 30 oz of coconut water and additional H2O weren't sufficient!) I took a shower and felt human again. I ate a red hot dog which freaked Eric out (silly vegetarian) but it was like a little slice of heaven.
I drank a beer.
Kissed a giant Cock.

Well what else would you do?

Was 3rd in my age group.
And went home to contemplate my strange decisions.
(and had ice cream.)

And really, my pictures with this silly bird are quality.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What's Next? Stupidity.

I have had a master plan all year of how this running season would play out.
It got a bit derailed with a close-but-no-cigar non PR day at the Hampton Half and then of course, the semi disaster that was Boston.
However. Back in January I decided that Boston wasn't the end goal for this 5-6 month training cycle but another crack at a 50K was. Since I was quite healthy after Boston it was deemed acceptable by Coach Kelsey to piggy back the marathon training into an ultra.
WHY????? She should have shut me DOWN!!

Yeah I haven't really publicized this. I totally wanted to be able to back the fuck out, shame free.
Honesty on the internet. Always fun. 

Really though, I've only been about 50% committed. Or maybe 25%. Or 10%.
Until today. when I sucked it up and signed up.
(so now, I should be 100% committed in the other sense of the word.)

Please note my semi-depressed reply to "how I learned" about the race.

The race is Sunday so it's not like I could exactly continue to contemplate it.

How I feel this exact minute about my choices.

Hmmm. OK time to get excited.
I'm excited because it will be an adventure.
I'm excited because last year I learned how NOT to run a 50K.
I'm excited because my friends will be there and Pineland is FUN!!!
I'm excited because there is beer at the finish and this will be a quality test of my stamina in regards to running towards beer.
I'm excited because I am badass and can do anything I damn well set out to do
I'm excited because when I spend $$ I better get excited, haha!!!

I think this is stupid because:
It's 31 miles
I'm in it to finish, certainly not to compete
It's 31 miles over HILLS
There will be nature. and ticks. I hate ticks.
I might get muddy and I dislike mud. 
(all valid reasons)

I think we need to call upon divine intervenion.
Kate, please buy me this!!!
Please 6 pound 5 ounce sweet lord baby geezes, get me to that finish line!!!

Alex and Ani... They have bangles for every occasion. Even 50K's.

Anyway, I'm all in and plan to finish the full 50K with a smile on my face and to implement my ultra running plan far better than at GCI last year. (more on this later this week)
I really, deep down in my heart am excited. I think this will be a big challenge but why not, right? 

Of course, Sunday is scheduled to be the warmest day of the week so I will probably melt at mile 10 and require assistance to get to the beer tent at the finish. (I am currently accepting volunteers for on course hospice care I mean assistance.)

Oh Boy. sometimes I wonder what I'm getting myself in to!!!
After this it is all 5K races people, ALL 5K races...


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Maine Coast Marathon, a big day!

Sunday was a big day around here.
All of us on the interwebs (and in real life) were pretty damn excited. It was Maine Coast Marathon Day! A day where almost everyone who knows anyone gets together to either run a damn stupid marathon, cheer lead or sherpa. I feel like this race more or less marked the beginning of the summer race season and reminded me how much I miss all my running buds (and how infrequently I see their faces.)

This day was all about Danielle.
You all know the age old story. Girl runs races and is fast by normal standards, girl meets freakishly tall boy and marries him, girl and freakishly tall boy have a devilishly handsome child (while girl maintains a damn quick pace, running sub 4 marathons while preggers with said child and generally kicking ass.)
Child gets born
Girl gets STUPID FAST. Like, childbirth has given her wings or some crazy shit. She PR's every distance by a sick amount while remaining uninjured which makes me think that she is a cyborg.
Girl prepares to run fastest marathon in history!
Yeah, that story. Normal stuff right? 

Back in February at the mid winter classic, seeing her face of irritation as I chased her down I knew that my obnoxious presence might be exactly what she needed in the final miles of her goal marathon. (I kid, she can run with one hand tied behind her back blindfolded. I just wanted to share in the excitement!) I offered up my sherpa-ing services and she took me up on my offer (the offer was to shout at her if she tried to bitch out. that was about it....)

Anywhoo. Fast forward to now.
I am not going to tell too much of this story (since Danielle is the worst blogger alive and it is going to take her 400 years to post about her big day)
However, I clearly need attention from the internet (duh) so here is my side of the story.
And it will be awesome.

The day of May 11, 2014 dawned cool and pleasant.
And that did not last.
Why in the ever loving fuck do the hot days have to fall on marathons? WHY? Why.... UGH.
I woke up at 4:30 ready to go for my big day I mean to support my friend on route to her big finish.

I showed up at the start and I'm saw some of my favorite people and some strangers, who will probably become my favorite people soon (since they are crazy marathoners too...)

Ok, so there is Leslie (new friend), Sarah N, Danielle, Kristal, A girl from Daily Mile (who are you? are you Karen?) and me!

After the start, which seemed so tiny and small after the 309,857 people at Boston, I booked it over to UNE to prepare to tackle 20 miles, 7 or so which were to be at race pace with Ms. Danielle the super speedster.
It was 64 degrees at 7:45...

Parking lot selfie. Gotta have photo documentation...
I headed out onto the course just before 9:00 to run backwards for 6-7 miles.
Not literally backwards. I was running the route from the finish line, haha. 
When I headed out to run it was 72 degrees. Uh oh.
I was obnoxiously warm while running, it was grody and nasty with sweat and slime everywhere.
And I was running slow- like 9's. I started to feel concerned.

And when concerned I lazily stop to take ANOTHER selfie. Wow, I love me.

I reached mile 19 right around 10:10, which was perfect timing to see Danielle and Sarah making their way towards me.
By that time the temp was reaching the upper 70's. And I was glad I wasn't racing.
I had gotten a text from Sarah N hoping that I had some salt tabs but I did not- watching the runners go by was like watching a replay of Boston and I was not liking what I was seeing....

I certainly can't tell any part of this from Danielle's perspective but I knew what her goal was, I knew what pace we had to maintain to get there and I remembered, far too clearly how it felt to maintain pace past mile 20 at Boston. Half of my brain was seriously concerned before we ever got going, and the other half was ready to push, pull and help her to the finish.

So we ran. It was hot, relentlessly hot, not a cloud in the sky and the only noticeable wind was the one pushing us backwards up the annoying hills of the last miles of this race.

We have the same amazing running form. Go us!!!!

Dudes, she fought hard. I was scared to death that if she stopped that she'd become me at Boston (a waste of space) so the poor girl, every time she walked thru a water stop I was like "MOVE! DON'T FUCKING STOP! RUN YOU SLUT!!!!!" She was overheating, cramping, dehydrated and still motoring along.

When all else fails, you must remember to Fly Brave!!!! (thanks to Sarah E and Sarah N :-))

I managed to keep up my end of the bargain by yelling at her mercilessly, like a total jerk.
After my shit show run in Boston, in the heat, I knew exactly what she was going through and I figured that if her brain was wired anything like mine even a tiny bit of sympathy/commiseration would cause BOTH of us to burst into tears and park it on the roadside waiting for the ice cream truck. So when she said worrying things like "I can not feel my legs...." I replied, sensibly, with: "that is the BEST CASE SCENARIO right now!!!!" Oy. Don't ever listen to me.

I feel that I might have had several more gems like that but here's the bottom line:
She kept running. Much faster than was comfortable. And not just running, but passing people.
When you really, really want something you fight through some pretty nasty shit, and that is exactly what I saw play out. I was just along for the ride, she dug deep and gutted it out.

And the final result? Like I said, I'm not going to tell her story.
From my perspective I saw amazing things and heartbreaking things happen.
That's running right there, isn't it?
(UGH!!!!!!!!! and YAY!!!! God, so confused!!!)
Bottom line though, I'm damn proud of her. She's a tough lady, a fast runner and she has the tenacity to pull off some fast paces in horrid conditions. (fall marathon: watch out!) She finished strong, mobile and she stayed classy (and her hair looked great- see below pic. hello my hair- take notes!)

So glad to be done!!!

After the excitement and drama of Danielle's big run I got to death march, for 6 more miles. Gross. By that time it was 80, so hot, gross in all ways and I was ready to be done. (I would have had a horrible race- as jealous as I was at the start, by mile 14 on the day I certainly was relieved to be just running....)

I saw Jen S an she carried me for a while! Nice!!!

So there is my day. 20 miles. Very hot. Really, really proud of my friend.
Isaac deserves some honorable mention- he was a cheerleading FORCE and literally seemed to be around every bend. How he managed this, I do not know.

Anyway marathons, you stupid beasts!  excited to see how it plays out next time (Chicago... Uh Oh!)