Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Icy 8 hr Trail Race - Feb 7, 2009

Race Report

As the week got closer to race day, I developed a minor problem. First, it started as a tickle in my throat and a dry cough. As the week progressed, the cough became more consistent and congested. I was a little concerned, and Thursday went to the health food store to see what they could give me to help. On Friday, I drank tea, supped on chicken soup and took my herbal remedies. The cough was still there, but seemed manageable. Oh well, the race was on, no matter what. Friday night I drove to my sister in law’s house to spend the night. They lived within a half hour of the race site. We had a nice visit and then it was off to bed. I woke up every couple of hours. At one point I thought the clock said 7:20 and I panicked since the race started at 7:30. But then I realized it was still dark outside, so it couldn’t be that late. I ended up getting up 5 minutes before the alarm went off. Methodically, I got dressed for the race, rubbed BodyGlide all over my body, and made sure my drop bags were ready. I had one for food and drinks, and one for clothes and my racing gear. When I arrived at the race site, it was probably in the 20s. I was freezing and stayed in my car as long as possible. The cough was still there, but I ignored it. The race consisted of 2 loops, one was 4.7 miles, the other 8 miles. You started on the one loop and if you wanted to do the longer loop you turned left instead of right. The loops were on trails throughout the state park. Each time you finished a loop, you would cross over the mat and yell out your number and whether you did the long or short loop. We started the race and within a quarter mile were climbing up a fairly steep hill. I knew that on future loops this would be a walking hill. Finally we reached the top and entered into the woods. The trails are shared with horses and the ground was rough and lumpy from frozen horse tracks. I didn’t know which was worse, hard lumpy ground or soft muddy ground. I would get to experience both this day as the temperature would climb into the sixties. Everyone was bunched up on this first part but most people turned left to do the long loop, so I turned right and did the short loop. There was only one guy up ahead of me. Another guy was right behind me, but he must have been content to let me set the pace, because he never passed me. I was feeling pretty good, but knew I was probably going a little fast. When I got to the end of the loop, I had finished it in 47 minutes. My original goal was just to run the short loop. But now that I was ahead of schedule I decided to do the long loop. I think this was my first mistake. I took 2 minutes to refuel, strip a layer of clothing and head back out. On this loop, I never saw another runner. I thought that was pretty weird. The long loop had more rolling hills. It also ran under some power lines and had a roller coaster affect, short steep climbs and descents. I really didn’t like it at all. But when I finished this loop I was at just over 2 hrs for almost 13 miles! Too fast, I kept telling myself. And that long loop took a lot out of me, so I decided to stay on the short loop the rest of the way. I can’t quite remember what my next loop time was, but at the end, I remember taking a long break, making sure to eat more and going to the bathroom. I left for my next loop at 3hrs 30 minute. I hit 20 miles right around the 4 hour mark. This was right where I wanted to be. However, I was getting tired and began to slow considerably, taking many more walking breaks. On the next loop I had some GI issues and took a little detour into the woods. The amazing thing was on most of the loops I ran many miles with no one around. Occasionally I would pass someone or be passed. Some people were running the loops backwards so you would meet them on the way. There were probably close to 100 people out there running, but I don’t know where they were! I hit the marathon mark at 5hrs 30 minutes and finished the loop and 27 miles at about 5hrs 45 minutes. Okay that meant I had a little over 2 hrs to do another loop. If I did the long loop of 8 miles I could hit 35 miles! If I did the short loop I would get my 50K miles. So I had a real dilemma. By this time, I was walking a lot. I didn’t know if I could finish the 8 mile loop in two hours. That was a 4mph pace, but when I was walking my pace was dropping down to 3 mph. If I didn’t finish the loop I would not get credit for any of the miles and would go home with 27 official miles. (What I didn’t know at the time is that if I finished the loop in the time period I would have been vying for third place – would that have made a difference in my decision? I don’t know). The other factor is I really didn’t like that 8 mile loop. And the trail had gotten muddy and slippery. But I knew I could finish the 4.7 mile loop, I could stroll it at 2.5mph and finish it! So when I came to the intersection, I stood there in a moment of indecision and finally took the short loop. The funny thing was as soon as I made my decision I got a second wind. I almost turned around to do the long loop. But I stuck with my plan and finished the loop with 47 minutes to spare. That meant that I would have had 47 minutes to do the extra 3.3 miles. I think it would have been close! I did my first loop in 47 minutes, but I knew I couldn’t do a last loop in 47 minutes so I called it a day. Many of the runners, came with the plan of doing the 50k and stopping. Some of them finished an hour or more ahead of me and didn’t even stay for the awards ceremony. But I enjoyed hanging around and talking to some of the runners. I knew I was an Ultra Newbie by the conversations. One lady said “Well, I did a marathon last week, and I have another one next week, so I only did 50k. You know you got to take care of your body, not push it too hard.” She was also preparing to do the National Marathon on March 21 and the Shamrock Marathon on March 22. There were several of them planning to do that. Another guy said he had a training run of 10-15 miles scheduled for Sunday, although at least he was thinking of canceling out. I said I ran an average of 70-80 miles a week and the response was, “Well, that’s a good start.” The guy winner ran over 50 miles in 8 hrs! Unbelievable. He was one I saw quite a lot, as he passed me by. It was a humbling, awesome experience. God has been so good to me in these last two years, as I have been transformed from the inside out. There is a place of inner resolve and determination I never knew I had. I pulled from this throughout the day, and even now am reflecting on my next goal, how much farther can I go, how much harder can I push.

Last night was a bit rough. The cough has gotten worse and I ended up getting up and drinking tea in the middle of the night, and reading a book. My body is achy and tired – not the sore legs achy, but the flu achy. I did a five mile recovery walk/jog today and felt good while out there but now I’m wrapped in a blanket and sipping chicken broth. But, I’ll recover. Besides, if I can run 31.5 miles in 7 hrs being sick, just think what I can do if I’m totally healthy!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Snowy Morning Run - Tuesday Feb. 3rd

The groundhog saw his shadow yesterday. I guess that means 6 more weeks of winter. And to prove his point, it snowed last night again. It was a thick, wet snow that coated the trees and turned everything into a winter wonderland. Of course, I had to go run in it this morning. Plus, I got a hydration vest and just had to try it out. This was an organic run at it's best. I left my Garmin at work, my other watch has a dead battery, and my cell phone wasn't charged either. No pacing, no distance calculations, just running for the fun of it. First I headed up the mountain on my typical "woman vs. mountain" run. But I let the mountain win today, stopping to take pictures along the way. Halfway back down the mountain, I turned into the woods and ran on the Appalachian Trail for a while. The snow was probably 3-4 inches deep and padded the ground nicely. I followed deer tracks along the trail. When I got down to the creek, I couldn't figure out where the creek started and the bank ended. There was thin ice, covered with snow. Usually I have to jump from one rock to the next so I thought this was a good place to turn around. Back up to the road and down the mountain. I turned off down a side road for another mile and a half before I ran back to my car. By the way, the hydration vest worked great and nothing froze! Although, I did look like the hunchback of Notre Dame.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Week in Review - January 25-February 1

January 25th was my daughter's birthday. It was also a day of rest for me after my 30 miler. She's into Manga, the Japanese comic books, and I had gotten her a cookbook with Manga inspired food. The Asian sections in our grocery story are pitifully lacking in Japanese food stuff. But we were able to make a couple of things - Tako sausage (sausage shaped into octopus and squid), and onigiri (a rice and seaweed creation). I made her teriyaki chicken for supper. I don't think I could eat like that every day! On Tuesday morning, I woke to snow! I just had to go out and play in it. Running in two inches of snow is like running at the beach. Your feet sink down and it's hard to get any speed going. I was trotting along and without realizing it a car a come up behind me. That's the other thing about snow, it muffles sound. By the time I got out of the way, he was going too slow to make it up the hill. Oops. I offered to give him a push but he waved me on. He must have figured it out, because he was gone when I came back by. I managed to do 7.2 miles before I gave up and headed home. The snow turned to ice and sleet by Tuesday evening and Wednesday ended up being a stay at home day. I didn't run, but was able to spend 4 hours in my garage "gym." I jumped on the mini-trampoline, then did combat conditioning, flexibility, balance, core, abs and resistance training on the bowflex. On Thursday, it was time for another run and the back roads were still icy. Not wanting to chance my treadmill dying on me mid run, I went to the gym in town. I was the only person there, so I set up my portable DVD player on a music stand next to the treadmill and watched "Mama Mia" while I did my 12 miles. I got a deep tissue massage in the afternoon - nice.

Saturday was race day again, race 5 in the winter series. The 5k was interesting. It started out on paved roads, then turned down a dirt road where we were running right into the wind. Then, I think it turned down someone's driveway and there was ice so we were running single file in the car tracks. After that it turned into the woods and was on a trail! I felt right at home in that part.Finally we were back on the main road. They rerouted it a little bit to try and avoid the ice, but everyone said it was a little bit longer than a 5k. That's good because my time (25:47) was slow! This was a tandem race so I was paired with another woman who is about my age. We ended up coming in 3rd in the women's division! I'm not sure how that happened as I was actually finished ahead of my partner and didn't think I did that great. I also started TOM in the middle of the race, but I'm glad because now it should be over by my 8hr race - next week! Maybe that's the reason for these carb cravings I've been having. I decided not to do any add on miles. Besides, I didn't have my Garmin so figuring out mileage would have been tricky, at least that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it!

Sunday was beautiful! Sunny and in the 50s. At church, I asked a friend if she wanted to run with me. I've never actually ran with someone before so I was a little bit nervous. Of course, since I'm known for liking to go long distances, she might have been more nervous than me. But we had a great time and a great 3 mile run along the river (see photo above). After that, I felt really good and added 10 miles at my 1/2 marathon goal race pace (8:55 min/mile). I was psyched that I kept the pace for the entire 10 miles and there were hills involved!

Weather looks promising for next Saturday. Lake Anna here I come!