Thursday, May 21, 2015

It's Pineland Time again!!

It is true.
I wait until the last possible minute to commit to any race in the Pineland Trail Running Festival.
Even last year when a 50k was the final hurrah for my spring season I waited until the latest conceivable second to hit "send" on my entry.

The first thing about Pineland is that it is the greatest social event of the entire year (depending on who makes it to MDI which is also a big deal.) But one does not wish to spend the most fabulous running party totally soaked to the bone and shivering in 40 degree weather (like in 2013, the year I passed!)

Once I saw the forecast I knew it was going to be awesome so I bit the bullet and signed up.

Sunday, you look totally decent! Keep up the good work. No shenanigans!
Nothing too insane for me this year, I'm sticking with the 25k. I want to have fun and nothing about the 50k sounded fun, or particularly smart given my already exciting Spring adventures. And clearly, nothing about the 50 miler sounded great at all. I would just straight up die.

The honest and brutal thing about Pineland is that the course really is a tough old broad. I'm not a trail runner at all so any mention of running off the pavement gives me hives. The hills are relentless and the fields are both boiling hot and muddy. There is danger around every turn like ticks, sasquatch and the very real possibility of falling down (I have seen people racked right out. I'm not quite sure how given the (honestly) relatively tame terrain but if it happens to others it easily could happen to me!)

The FINAL and MOST IMPORTANT thing about running at Pineland is that it is a damn good time. You see all of your friends! You get to run through what feels like insane conditions if you are a road runner (and you get to hear the real trail runners scoffing at what a wuss you are!) and if you manage to finish you get two free beers! You might get to partake in the pot luck lunch unless, like me, you are put off by pot luck in which case you will just drink your damn beer and have a great afternoon. OH! And you get a free pair of socks, which makes me very happy. And there is a gigantic cock rooster which always makes me snicker inappropriately because I am 12 in my heart.

Giant. Rooster.....Pineland 2014 post 50k insanity
 I ran the 25K in 2012 faster than a speeding bullet. That isn't really my game plan this time...

Two free beers! After the fastest 25k ever run by anyone ever. WOOF.  With Danielle who loves trail running so much that she is doing the 50k this year! Total badass. 

I'm really excited for the weekend, I had a nice easy week of running last week- between needing a little down time after the 39.3 Challenge and having horse show fun, low mileage sounded right. I'm back to doing some fun running this week and feel like a little Sunday adventure fits into my plans nicely!
I'm also pretty pumped for my friends doing the 50K (crazies!) and the 50 miler (OMG stop!) and hope to see them out on course and to enjoy the after party with them as they celebrate being completely and totally insane (I can say this because I have been called crazy too... and they know that I love them!)

So let's get after it kids. Remember not to blast off like you are running a 5k and, more importantly, remember that we all deserve between 7-32 donuts upon race completion!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

In which I document my equestrian adventures!

It's always fun to get out and horse show for the first time of the season. Even after a long, rather dreadful winter and therefore having the possibility of slight unpreparedness, it is nice to get out and about.

Since this isn't an equestrian blog I'll keep it short and sweet! (For horse people reading my blog there are many details I am omitting like the details of my warm up, my prep, a blow by blow of each test....)

Dressage training and marathon training are very similar- I have said it before and I'll say it again. If you put the work in you will get results. You certainly might have an off day, or an off season but as long as you look where you want to go (literally and figuratively) you will get there!

I hauled to NY to take advantage of a great show grounds, excellent footing and to get the chance to see some pretty big classes of competition. (I'd rather see what I'm up against- and at this point in the season many people are still laying low. Still, this show was very well contested.)

Chauncy moved up a level this year and the demands of his new level are quite high. I felt that training at home had been going well and I felt confident that unless he decided not to play that we could put together a very professional test.

Professional Riding Attire
Day one, nice cool weather and a very respectable performance. A couple of minor early season bobbles and a few things that I knew could be improved on. Finishing on a 65% and 3rd in a decent sized class (12 people in 4th level is solid for early season) made me very happy.

Teeny baby ribbons.... Chauncy wanted NO part of this photo. Little stinker!
Day 2, hot as balls, like REALLY hot, we cleaned up a few of the bobbles and put forth a totally solid effort. BIG win in this class- 7 percentage points ahead of the 2nd place horse. A 69.5 had the little beast leaving the show as the high score 4th level horse. GOOD BOY!!! So much love.
He was a great little guy, he definitely thinks it's time to play with the big kids. I love it! There is nothing more fun than knowing that your horse is ready to rock it.

He did not want this photo shoot either but I bribed him with snacks.
I have about a month to get ready to show again, and if he feels ready we will have another advancement in the level that we are doing. I'm excited for the season and really pleased with the way the winter training is coming together.

Riding horses is fun, and I'm a big fan of getting a happy horse into the show ring and having things come together. Basically, no matter how many times I finish a great marathon nothing can beat the feeling of nailing a dressage test! (there are about zero people in the world who can directly relate to what I just said hahaha!)

Luckily for my running blog there are more on foot (human foot) adventures coming soon. More on that later this week!


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Maine Coast Marathon: Part 2 of the 39.3 Challenge

I had watched the forecast all week and all week I knew that the shit was going down on Sunday.
Damnit you guys! Why is this marathon always 85 degrees?

Knowing that (stupidly) I have no control over the weather I kept an unusually positive attitude about the whole situation. I assume this was because I knew I was planning a pretty easy day but who knows, maybe I am finally becoming a really uplifting and zen like person...? Probably. 

Eric and I got to the start with about 10 minutes to spare. You can tell who was in charge of the schedule for this day! (me!) We spent those 10 minutes standing in a potty line. Slathering me and spraying me in SPF 50, because I'm so pale and delicate. Talking to friends and taking almost zero pics to prove it which is sad and dumb.

Luckily Michelle came along and we took a pic!! She gave us her shirt and I still have it!
At 7:30 we were off and I prepared to entertain myself in one way or another for the next 100 hours. or 4-ish. Whatever.

I did not wish to die out there. I have never run any kind of multiple day challenge like this so I had no idea what my legs might do to me. I am also still trying to respect the temple that is my body post Boston. And it was going to be 7564987637 degrees out so there was that whole challenge to contemplate.

Anyway. I was in a good mood and really excited to see a new marathon course so off I went at a very responsible pace.

I really ran this race like a mature adult which is completely shocking.
-I did not get crazy like I *sometimes* do and try to pass all the people
-I had water at EVERY aid station, and gatorade too starting at mile 10 because dehydration is bad
-I had a little snack every couple of miles so that I would not pass out from starvation

All of that is awfully boring.
What you really want to know- in bullet points:

-Is that from mile 3-7 I REALLY needed a bathroom and since there was none I had a major struggle. Seriously. FINALLY I found a porta pottie with a LINE and I was enough of an adult to wait my turn, because pooping randomly while running sounds terrible.

The race needs more bathrooms. Clearly this was at the start....  Fun fact: I ended up running a couple miles with the guy in the blue and orange diamond shirt. Like mile 19-21. Funny that he is in this pic!
-Eric drove around the course to be the best support person ever, to give me snacks and to make all the other runners jealous. I'm not lying, I had multiple people tell me how lucky I was and I agreed completely because I am. My husband is hot, and wonderful and brings me snacks while I run all day long. I am the luckiest woman in the world!

-I hung out with the 4 hour pace group for 12 of the middle miles and had the most terrific time! As sad as I was not to be running with Isaac in the 3:45 group I knew that was not my pace for the day. The 4 hour pacer was a blast and we talked about so many fun things- I have NO idea who she was but I want her to be my new friend!

I passed 100 photographers and have 4 pics. All like this. You get the idea...
-I tried to run a pace that matched up in a fun/smart way with the conditions. If it was shady and nice I'd run a bit quicker. If it was really hot I would slow down. When the breeze picked up I'd pick up too! It was really fun. And pretty logical now that I see it on paper, haha.

-At mile 21 I saw an ambulance in the distance and then I saw Eric. "Who do you think is in that ambulance" he said.... It was Leslie. I was horrified. At that point I had seen quite a few people dropping out, or projective vomiting, or falling down like trees. It was not ideal, I think the temp had spiked right up to 80 at that point.

Picture #2 of the pictures that are all the same. Apparently this is how I looked ALL DAY.
-I had to stop for the bathroom again at mile 23 which is silly. I did consider the possibility of puking all over someone's yard for the last 2 miles but I did not. I didn't only because I walked for a minute to reestablish. Gross. I still can not believe how hot it was for the final 5 miles. It was warm starting at mile 10 for sure but I talked myself out of noticing it! By the end of the course there was no denying that it was a legit sauna- the air was oppressive and smothering. REALLY tough conditions.

Anyway, after all of this I finished and felt a little strugglebussy and barfy. Immediately I was given multiple medals and my jacket for finishing the challenge (this was a very efficient process that my post marathon brain almost couldn't handle!)
I decided to take my flip belt off and got it stuck on my legs and just couldn't cope with the challenge that presented. Luckily Eric appeared and got the damn thing off me and we tried to find a shady spot.

I was able to get my act together enough to go and somewhat coherently see my friends finish and to say hello to Danielle who runs secret marathons only, and since they are secret we never see each other at races. SAD!!! (Danielle I'm kidding. Sort of. Let's run a marathon together!)

I was the 7th overall woman in the Challenge which I find quite remarkable and brag worthy. Top 10 for the win friends!

7th place is never bad.
Despite the hot, humid and tricky conditions I had a great time at this race. I'm not entirely sure if I would do the challenge again but it really was a great time and a fun way to do something completely new and different. I loved getting the extra medal because I enjoy prizes and the jacket was really decent too! I thought that the marathon was really well run and despite my wish for a few more on course bathrooms I have zero complaints.

Eric and I headed out post race to recover with beer and ice cream which seems to have worked- recovery was a snap and I was barely sore. Winning.

Post race fun is key.

Another great weekend of running in the books. I am switching gears this week and heading out for what hopefully will be a nice weekend of horse showing. Much like marathoning Dressage riding is a great equalizer, especially after a long Maine winter. When I decide to show in May I always remember that it might be an adventure! At any rate,  May is always a great month for having my worlds collide and I like the excitement!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

When the Marathon punches you in the FACE....

Sometimes the shit hits the fan! Maine Coast Marathon edition.
My poor friend Leslie had a wonderful marathon up until mile 21 when she overheated, fell into a ditch and had to get whisked away by ambulance to have many IV's and to spend a few hours recovering. NO FUN! Luckily, she is fine now and will certainly live to see another day, and another chance to get that amazing race that she has worked so hard for.

CRASH 'N BURN! We all do it!!!
I can't really speak from her point of view since it was her turn to have a tough day on the marathon course but I know how it feels- it sucks. End of story. I was basically in the same place a year ago and can really sympathize.

I think that if one chooses to be a competitive athlete on any level the chance of failure is always there. Failure is a scary thing, and a scary word- but when you train for a specific goal and it does not happen it can be hard to see your effort as anything but a failure. (even if you have run like a badass for 21 miles, or even if you win your AG but were 30 minutes off your goal time...)

Sometimes the wheels just come right off the bus....
There are options.
You can stop putting yourself out there, you can live the safe life and not take the chances and risks that might lead to failure. It is really hard to feel like you have "let people down" when things don't go your way and it is tempting to isolate oneself from the people who support you the most. It can be really jarring to end up in a ditch but it happens! Literally or figuratively.

This is a drunk guy in a ditch. Basically, after mile 20 we all act like drunk guys.
Option two! Own that shit. Take a couple days to pout, a little time to evaluate your goals and then get the hell after it. Shout it from the rooftops because what do you have to lose? I doubt that I am ever going to be an amazing Olympic runner but my goals are still big to me, and it is risky to own and name what you are trying to achieve- but do it. Get after it.

And at the end of the day, win or lose, PR of DNF your friends, family and running community are going to stick with you, support you and celebrate or sympathize with you 100% depending on how your day goes. I have been on both sides- celebrating an amazing day and having people pick me back up after an awful one. If there is ONE thing you can count on it is the unwavering support of your team of support people (including random internet friends. Obvs.)

Personally, I had a lousy year of running in 2014. I would not have appreciated the goals I have met so far in 2015 if I had not fallen on my face several times. It hurts to fall, but the feeling of earning success the next time is completely worth it.

ME: in 2014.Crap!
I know a few people who had a tough day on Sunday. After being able to control your training, nutrition, recovery and preparedness- having the weather throw you a curve ball is tough. I also know how much I respect the athletes that had the tough race. They are amazing, dedicated runners- and really great people, and I really can't wait to see them drop the hammer at some point in the (near) future.

Onward and upward friends, chins up, get out there and run like nobody is watching (or like I am chasing you- that would be scary!) And know that we are all wishing you the BEST of luck for next time!


Monday, May 11, 2015

Maine Coast Half Marathon: where the madness begins!

Saturday dawned cloudy and cool- just the way all race days should start!

Eric and I live about 90 minutes from Biddeford where the Half Marathon both started and finished, and where the Marathon on Sunday finishes. We could see no reason to make the crazy drive on Friday to pick up our bibs so we headed out early in the morning to make sure we had plenty of time to park and pick up all of our stuff. We arrived at 7:00 and had ample time. There was plenty of parking and picking up our numbers took 30 seconds- maybe.

Since it was pretty chilly (45, overcast) we split our time between staying warm in the car and taking pics with some of our friends. It was a great race for catching up with our athletic compatriots after a long winter! (we just can't hang out unless there is a race, obvs.)

Let's all dress in black!
There was a wave start which was a little chaotic. Luckily, there were only about 1,000 or so runners in the Half so it certainly wasn't mayhem. More of a "nobody knows what is going on" situation which was no big deal.

Not time to run yet? Take more selfies next to Jen, who has a healthy glow!
There was a lot of runner congestion for the first couple of miles so I'm sure that the wave start must have helped that. Eric and I did not have plans to push a crazy pace so having a little traffic was helpful- it was the kind of weather where one gets tempted to run too fast! (and then not be able to walk, much less run 26.2 tomorrow.)

Since we are both running Garmin-less it was another chance to run by feel instead of the clock and it went really well! We maintained a conversational pace and the weather stayed great- it might have warmed up to the mid 50's but it was about as good as it gets. The course was nice, a few rolling hills but the views were worth it. (overall- a fairly flat course, and a very pretty one!)

I had completely run out of Picky Bars- my running snack of choice so I figured what the hell- time to try something new on race day! Luckily nothing horrible happened and I REALLY enjoyed my Honey Stinger pb&honey bar (with a chocolate bottom.) Sounds delicious doesn't it? It was. And it stayed down for the win. Who tries new food on race day seriously, risky move there woman!

We basically had a solid, sensible run. We had a great time running together, we saw some friends cheering, we wondered if the Pirate aid station is manned by aid station bandits or if it is legit (we love them) and we were really curious about who wrote the numerous little signs to someone names Swiz (I believe it was swiz... we are very interested in the story behind this!)

When we see friends we throw jazz hands and... gang signs??
UNFORTUNATELY at mile 12.5 Eric's feet gave up, he had to walk and I ran away from him like a loving wife. He finished like, 30 seconds behind me so you all can see that it would have killed me to hit the pause button. We were both in the 1:54 range which is just about right! I think it would have been miserable had it been 80 but since it was not, the pace was pleasant. I really enjoyed the experience and definitely think it's a great Spring Half course. (and a fast one- LOTS of fast times out there today!)

We found friends post race and hung out in the slightly warmer weather for a couple hours catching up. I had one demure beer so that I can run tomorrow without vomiting (well, without having a beer filled excuse anyway) so Eric got my spares since he is going to save his feet for another day. It wasn't the warmest after party in the world but we had a great time!

First half of 2015 in the books. Last half of 2015 in the books (so I say now, haha)
We basically shut the party down (crazy us, it was like 12:00 at this point!) Had lunch and went home to get ready to do it all again plus 13.1 the next day. I was really pleased that my legs felt great after the mornings efforts and I felt as ready as I could be to drop another 26.2.
If only the weather could have stayed perfect....

**I know I have a few people waiting for the contest results. Unfortunately, Leslie's race did not go as smoothly as she had hoped for... As most of us who were there know the weather played a major part in quite a few health issues for runners.  Thankfully, she is fine which is all that matters! I'll have a few more details later this week**