Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 review and 2014 goals

2013 was a full year of running, races and PR's.  

January had no events, but was full of marathon training.

February I ran the Myrtle Beach half marathon.  PR 1:43:29.  

March I ran Tobacco Road Marathon in Apex.  Was supposed to be a Boston Qualifier, but that didn't happen...  3:59 - still, a PR.

April I ran a 5K in Cary NC.   22:14.  PR, well, I ran a 20:32 back in 1990, not sure if that will happen again so yes, 22:14 is a PR for this part of my life. :)

May held the New River Marathon.  Tough course with a finish in the cold rain but managed a 3:54 - PR! 

June held 2 events - first was the Sunburst Marathon - yes, another BQ attempt but fell short at 3:49.  BUT another PR.  See a trend?  getting faster!

The following week I ran the Boogie Marathon then stayed up all night volunteering for the 50 mile folks.  Fun event!!

July held 2 events as well - Grandfather Mountain Marathon which I had a real hard time with.  Great event but an off day...

July 20 was a once in a lifetime event.  I ran the Epic Mountain Relay from Canyon City to Crested Butte.  I was on an ultra team of 6 women.  191 miles.  What an amazing experience with a great group of badass women.  

Not a lot going on in August, but in September I ran Hinson Lake and logged 102.89 miles in 24 hours - a huge PR for me.  My 10 year old son ran 50 miles and my 13 year old daughter ran a 50K.  Proud of them both!

October I was recovering from Hinson but in November I ran the OBX marathon.  Sub 4 with little training.  

November I headed up north to VA for the Crooked Road 24 hour.  Managed to log 91 miles in some tough conditions.  

December held one FA - 50K at Raven Rock State Park.  Fun group of folks on a tough, beautiful trail.  

So what does 2014 hold?  Not quite sure but here are a few ideas going through my mind.  First and foremost is to qualify for Boston at the Myrtle Beach Marathon in  February.  If I can get that 'out of the way' then I will shift my focus to 50 and 100 milers.  Several *possible* races on the radar are Croatan 24, Hinson 24, CR24, Promised Land, Pinhoti 100, Pine Creek 100, 3 days at the fair....  others?  Maybe New River again, Maybe Grandfather Mountain... an MTC shirt run or 2, Boogie, and some FA's and NCRC events.  Lookin to have some fun logging miles, chillin with runnin peeps, and making new friends.

I am thankful for the health and strength that I had in 2013 - looking forward to whatever 2014 holds.  Still "runnin down the dream" of Boston.  Hopefully 2014 will be that year.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Raven 50K trail run @ Raven Rock State Park - December 21, 2013

group shot before the start
So what do you do when you have a weekend to yourself?  Find a run to fill the time!  I signed up 4 days before the event, so of course I went into it very well trained - lol!  Nope, not really, but it was a good excuse to get in a good long trail run. 

I slept all of 2 hours the night before.  Woke up at 4am, well before my alarm, and headed to Lillington shortly thereafter.  It was a short drive of an hour and 15 minutes.  Arrived before the gates opened and chilled for a bit with other early arrivals as we waited for the ranger to open the gates.  

Soon the gates were open and about 2 dozen folks arrived for the start of the FA run.  We snapped a group photo then we were off!  I stayed near the front with some folks who knew the course - Nathan, Paul and Steve.  I figured if there was a way for me to get lost, I most certainly would!  My plan was to stick with them for as long as I could so I would learn the course and be able to navigate it the next 2 laps. 

It wasn't more than 1/2 mile in that I realized that I hadn't run trails in a long time.  Like a really long time.  The last race I ran on single track trail was Umstead Marathon nearly 2 years ago.  It felt great to be back out there in the woods but I was way out of practice on this sort of terrain.  It was not the most difficult trail I have been on, but it certainly was not easy.  Rocks and roots and lots of ups n downs.  The rocks were cold from the temperature of the earth and they got condensation on them as the day warmed up.  Had to be careful!

runnin the blue blazes!
I stuck with the guys for nearly 8 miles then started to slow.  I stopped to take some pictures.  It was a beautiful park and I didn't want to run the whole thing without snapping a few pics :)

I completed lap 1 just over 2 hours.  I knew I was not going to be able to hold that.  Hindsight I probably went out too fast but sometimes company is nice instead of running alone...  

The second lap I took slower.  Walked more of the hills and took more pictures.  It was a beautiful day and was warming up nicely.  

I finished lap 2 in about 4:45.  Considerably slower, but at that point I was just trying to finish the miles.  

At the bottom of the out n back
I went out on lap 3 very tired.  That 2 hours of sleep was not enough.  There was a one mile out and back with this loop and the out is great - its all downhill, but coming back is all up.....  ugh.  I made it all the way out there - took a picture at the bottom to prove I went the full distance - lol!  I got back to the aid station with about 6 miles to go and I started that part of the loop with John - he was unsure of that section of the course so I said I would show him the route but man, he was flyin!  He started late and was maybe 5 miles in, and here I was on mile 25.  I kept up his pace for a mile or so but then told him to continue on and follow the blue blazes cause there was no way I was going to keep that pace.  He was flyin!

My hokas ♥
I ended up picking up the pace that last section and was so ready to be done.  It had warmed up into the mid 70's and I was down to my running tank and shorts - yeah, in December!  I finished up in 7:18 - I thought I would be closer to 6:00 but the lack of sleep, and the lack of training on those trails and hills did me in.  

I sat in the shelter for a long while.  I was dizzy and felt nauseous.  I think I was dehydrated....  It was then that John started to choke on a pretzel.  Of course I thought it was amusing and I started laughing.  He seemed mad that I was laughing but I tell you what, it was a diversion from the wave of nausea that was overwhelming me.  I was not feelin well at all...

Me, being my goofy self - lol!
I downed some ginger ale and picked up my major award - the metals were Christmas ornaments with "Raven 50K" on them.  Super awesome.   I had Nathan take a picture then I packed up my stuff and headed home. 

I had a great time.  Its always great to get together with a group of running friends.  I like the timing of this run - right before Christmas - perfect time to get a long run in to burn off all those junk food calories!  

Thx to Nathan and George for setting this up.  I hope you all keep it going again for next year.  I love small get togethers like this. To me, they are much more fun than the big races.  Granted, both types of events are fun, but small FA events are where its at.  

Til next year *Cheers*

Thursday, November 28, 2013

CR24 - November 23 and 24, 2013

So, what does one do 6 weeks after a 24 hour event and 2 weeks after a hard marathon?  Yep, run another 24 hour event :)

"Any fool can run well on a 70 degree day. It takes a special fool to run a 24 hour, in the rain, in November, with the temps dropping to below 25 degrees. You have got to be drilled off-center to do this."  ~ Wm Keane

The weather called for rain in the morning, dropping temps as a front goes through, and snow during the night.   So, it could be an interesting 24 hours to say the least!!

Friday afternoon I left for VA - Got up there for the early packet pickup and to hang out with some runnin peeps!  Went to dinner with Tim and Pat at Frankie's to fill up on some pre-race pasta fuel and headed back to the park for the night.  

I camped out in my Jeep and woke up early with the lights of the entering cars.  I didn't even bother setting an alarm.  I knew I would be up on time with all the activity going on.  

Team Buttercup
I chilled out in the morning hours and talked strategy a bit with Tim.  It seemed that our plans were similar so we figured we would run together for as much as we could.  I wanted to hit 50 miles in 10:30 or so, then just settle in for the rest of the long, cold, dark night.  I wanted to get as much in as early as I could because I knew that the night was going to be tough.  The rain had held off and we were in for a beautiful morning to run!

Before long we were gathering at the start line and anticipating the starting gun.  Just before the gun went off, Cindy told me she was going for 100 miles - she asked me what my plan was and at that exact moment the horn sounded.  lol!  I never did answer her.  My goal was to do better than I did 2 years ago with 83 miles.  24 hours is a long time, and knowing that the weather was going to get cold and possibly snow, I didn't want to commit to the magic "100" number, but deep inside, that is what I wanted.  

Cindy Tim and I
The day was beautiful.  Started off in a long sleeved shirt and my "team buttercup" short sleeved shirt over top of it.  Perfect running weather!

  ~  Fun  ~  Laughter  ~  Friends  ~  Humor  ~   Those are the 4 words I would use to describe the daylight hours of this race.  Everyone was having a good time clicking off the miles and encouraging each other on.  That to me is what ultrarunning is all about.  That is why I love to be part of this running community.  

I brought my same fuel plan that I had at Hinson Lake - drinking a protein drink every hour.  I relied on that for the most part, and supplemented some gatorade and a few snacks from the aid station.  Tim had me drinking gatorade or water most every lap to keep me hydrated to the point that I was having to go every few miles - thx man, but I am not going to dry out - lol!! 

Tom, Pam and I - I love the joy in this pic!
Tim and I were clicking off a lot of miles and ran with a lot of great friends.  He managed to get one lap ahead of me on one of my extended aid station breaks, but we ran together after I got back out there.  

I was very excited to see my name on the leaderboard early on.  I was tied for 7th at 1:00pm and by 3:00pm I was tied for 3rd.  :)

The sun started to go down and the night was beginning to close in.  I had to put on a windbreaker to keep warm.  

I hit my 50 mile mark well before my goal at 10:15.  Crushed my former PR of 10:45 that I hit at Hinson 6 weeks prior.  I was ECSTATIC!  I figured I had a lot of time to tough through the night hours.  I did a compete change of clothes and shoes and headed out into the night with Tim.  

50 Miles Done!  :D
Humor kept us going through the early hours of the morning.  I was doing my fair share of singing too - lol!  It is great when you have someone to run with.  I told him that with him and I working together we were pushing each other on to do far better than we would do on our own.  TRUTH!

I think it was about 2:00am and I was at the aid station and it SNOWED!  OK, maybe it was more of a brief flurry, but still, it snowed!!   How cool is that!  :D  It was also at that time that I had moved into second place on the leaderboard.  woo!

I am not exactly sure what time it was, but I realized that unless we picked up the pace, the 100 in 24 plan would not happen.  I told Tim to go on because I did not have it...  He was concerned about leaving me as he knew I was starting to struggle but I sent him on - I knew he wanted that 100 and he would have to do it without me.  He took off and started off after that dream....  

The temps were dropping.  I was thankful to have a warm coat - my core was not cold.  I had my MTC buff around my neck and pulled it up over my nose to keep my face warm.    The wind was picking up and was stirring up the dust on the trail.  It was tough going....

After a while it really started to get really rough.  I was getting frustrated with myself that I could not keep a faster pace but still pressed on.  The temps were dropping just like my pace.  The wind was picking up, blowing the dust around, and it was cold.   My iPod was dead and I had no one to run with.... I pulled out my phone and called a friend who I knew would be up.  They told me to think about that song "Sunny and 75" lol!  yes, that is one of my favorite songs, but it was not sunny and 75.  It was dark, windy, cold and 20 something degrees.  I could not get out of the funk I was in.... I was having issues with my Achilles hurting - not sure if it was the cold weather or what, but it hurt - a lot!  I backed off the pace to not make it hurt worse and cause further damage.  I was also dealing with blisters.... again....  they never completely healed up from Hinson, and they resurfaced again at OBX. 

I was still holding on to second on the leaderboard. First was out of the question.  I was far too slow to even think of that.  The only thing I could do is keep moving to hold that second spot and not fall to third.  That is one thing that kept me motivated not to quit.  Also my stubborn self that would not quit 20 hours into a 24 hour event....

Tim passed me several times out there.  Each time I cheered him on.   There was one lap where he passed me, and when he turned to look at me I saw it in his face how much he was struggling.  My heart sunk.  I knew where he was at.  He was pushing through some tough stuff to get those miles in.  I encouraged him the best I could, told him that he was doing great, he was on pace and to keep going! 

Finally that sun started to come up.  I knew that 8:00am would be coming soon!

I grabbed my fleece blanket from the car and walked a couple laps with Paul.  Very reminiscent of 2 years prior when we did the same thing.   :D

2 very tired runners!
I completed my 96th lap with about 5 minutes to spare.  I did not go out on the stick lap cause I would have had to go up that hill and I was not about to do that again!  lol!  

I saw Tim at the finish.  He completed his 100 in less than 24 hours.  Very proud of how he did.  Crushed his time from when he ran 100 at Umstead. 

So I called it a day at just over 91 miles.  I completed my goal of running more than 83 miles from 2011.  2nd female, 7th overall.  

Suck it up Buttercup!
The RFH Team Buttercup racked up some impressive mileage. Amy Surrette, Carol Meath McClain, and Marcia Godwin made their debut run with the Team Buttercup. 

Bill Keane 92.04 miles … 6th Place
Amy Surrette 91.24 miles … 2nd Woman and 7th Place Overall
Marcia Godwin 50.37 miles … 43rd Place
Carol McClain 41.82 miles … 66th Place 

275.47 Total Miles - enough miles to beat VT's cross country team ~ per Wm Keane :)

Yeah, I was disappointed that I didn't make 100, BUT I have to keep some perspective here.  I just ran the OBX marathon.  I had also ran 103 miles at Hinson Lake 6 weeks prior.  Add in the weather and blisters - yeah, all things considered, I should be happy with it...  

One thing I noticed in the days following the event as the pictures were posted on FB is how happy I was in every picture.  I have been working through a lot of stuff and it has not been easy, but to see the happiness in my face is encouraging.  Glad the cameras were not out in the wee hours of the morning tho - lol!  Just sayin.... ;)  no one is too happy at that hour! 

CR24 is a deceptively tough race.  Having run this race twice, I am trying to figure out what makes it seemingly difficult.  There is that "just one hill", the cold weather, the gravel is a good surface for running, but the grit builds up in your feet and when the wind picked up it stirred up a lot of dust.  I think one of the toughest things is the long hours of darkness.  The sun goes down early and comes up late....  Its not like a summer ultra when the sun goes down late and comes up early. 

I will most definatly be back. Top notch race - great swag, very well organized.  I have some unfinished business here.  One day I will finish 100 on this course. :) Til then, I will be happy that I made it to the VA record books again for most miles run in 24 hours - this time in another age division:  http://virginiastateroadracerecords.com/VSRRR.html


couple added side notes from Wm Keane's research:

"You had a fantastic 24 considering the differences between HL and CR. I have connected a few dots that tell a compelling story:

1st Male ... HL 141 miles ... CR 103 miles

1st Woman ... HL 114 miles ... CR 98 miles
You ... HL 103 miles ... CR 91 miles
Me ... HL 101 miles ... CR 92 miles
Night Temps .... HL 70 degrees ... CR 24 degrees
Wind ... HL 0 mph ... CR 15-25 mph
Daylight ... HL 12 Hrs ... CR 10 hrs

The big difference was temperature and daylight."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

OBX Marathon November 10, 2013

this mama is way proud of her babies!  :D
I have run the OBX marathon 3 times.  Its one of my favorite races.  My first half marathon was here in 2008.  Going into it my goal was set at BQ (as every marathon has been this year).  I knew it was a long shot as I had not specifically trained for this race, but I was in good shape.  Was just hoping that my fitness level could carry me through.  

I drove down Friday and stayed with Lisa.  Saturday I met up with Andy and the kids.  Three of them were doing a 5K and my youngest was doing the fun run.  They all did great!  I was so proud of them!  I love to see my kids setting goals and accomplishing them :)  Drew was disappointed that he did not get podium.  He was 4th in his division.  ugh, I know the sting of being in 4th.  It is no fun :(

I went back to the beach house and took an hour n a half nap.  YES!  A much needed nap while the kids hiked Jockeys Ridge.  I picked them up later on and went to the spaghetti dinner at Kitty Hawk Baptist - yep, that is my tradition!  They had the usual church service afterwards which I really like as well.  It helps me to gain a better focus on my race the next day...  (The folks there know me from prior years and they were out there on the course cheering me on.)

ugh, bluelights in the rearview
After I dropped off the kids I got caught speeding down on the roads in Kitty Hawk.  I was only going about 4 over in a 35, and what is weird is I knew I was only going to get a warning before I got pulled.  There was another cop up the road with someone else pulled over, and it seemed to me that it was more of a DUI check stop than anything, but THANK YOU SIR for not giving me a ticket! However, I am upset that you called my Jeep a station wagon on the written warning....  :s  Had I been in a Wrangler this would not have been an issue....  ha!

Woke up early the next day and caught the shuttle to the start with Joey.  Met up with Karla and saw many other familiar faces at the start - way to represent MTC!  Waited in a line nearly a mile long for the port a jons....  but at least it was movin fast.  

Joey n I at the start
We lined up at the start and within a few minutes the Elites were off, followed by us in corral A.  I felt strong, kept a good pace for the first couple miles right at 8:30 and 8:15.  At mile 2 Joey sent me on my way and he went back to run with Karla.  I kept up a good pace for the next 9 miles.  Kept it between 8:00 and 8:20.  The next 3 miles (10-13) were through a wooded area and was trail.  I knew I would slow down in this section and I was not worried about it as I figured I could make the time back up once I was back out on the road.  

Somewhere along this path through the woods I took a slight detour into the woods instead of hitting a port o jon.  Oh my goodness if I didn't trip over some briars and fall onto my knees!  LOL!  No one was behind me, but if there was a camera about I am sure it would have been more than amusing...  

Made it to the half way point right where I wanted to be at 1:50.  If I could keep the pace, I would be right at 3:40 for a sub BQ finish.  

Thing is, I was not able to get back to that 8:15 pace.  It has started to slip to 8:30 - 8:45.  I was not getting discouraged, because even if I held that I could still qualify with 3:45.  

Soon I started to feel lousy.  My legs were not responding to my increased speed attempts, and my stomach was not doing well with the gus. In hindsight, it was probably because my heartrate was elevated for far too long on the first half and I could not keep it going that high for that long...  It was at 170 for 17 miles. I stopped at an aid station and got some Tylenol, hoping that it would help, but it didn't seem to touch it.  I realized with every slowing mile that this was not the race I was going to BQ at.  I was mad.  My pace started going slower after mile 17.  After a bit my stomach started to recover so I was not as concerned about a gu reversal, cause for several miles I was not feeling well at all....

Somewhere around mile 21 I changed my attitude and tried to "have fun" with the rest of the race and at least sub 4 it.  My positive attitude quickly meet up with a fierce headwind going up the bridge.  Seriously??  For a moment, I contemplated jumping off (not really, but the thought was there), and thought to myself "running 100 is way 'easier' than this!"  Running a fast marathon is tough work... 

It was relentless.  Kinda a triple whammy - here's your bridge with a side of wind and sun....  :P  I was so glad to make the turn into Manteo and get out of the wind!!

bottom of the bridge 'runnin happy'
At the bottom of the bridge there was a rowdy aid station and they were playing "Sweet Caroline".  Ugh.  Tears stung my eyes at the sound of it, but I kept going....  grabbed some water and moved on.... 

By that point I had picked up the pace a tad and was ready for that finish line and ready to be DONE!

Loved the cheering at the end.  That ALWAYS helps.  I crossed the finish line and Drew was there - his face lit up and he said to me "Mommy!  You qualified for Boston!"  I just rested my head on his shoulder and cried.  I heard a few folks around us going "awww" and one kid asked their mom "why is she crying"  Her answer was "she just accomplished something very big"  Little did she know that I was upset for missing the qualifier, but ya know, she had it right.  I did accomplish something pretty big.  I managed a sub 4 marathon with very little training.  It took me years to finally sub 4 a marathon, and now I did it with just my fitness level.

I'm lookin a *tad* fit in this pic!  Thx Arrichion!
Disappointed with both of our times, Joey and I both dropped and did 26.2 push ups - yeah!  :D

I hung out with my kids for a bit then sent them on their way with their dad.  I then met up with Karla, Frank, Joey, Dave, Olga for a few post race hoppy beverages.

Joey and I caught the shuttle back to the start and headed off to the beach.  I have this tradition I have started that post race, if there is a beach, to jump in :)  so yeah...  Joey n I jumped into the Atlantic in November.  Missed you Rebecca and James!  Maybe next year???  It was awesome.  As a side note, the sound side was VERY rough - whitecaps and everything from the winds, but the ocean side was nearly flat....  

polar plunge!
soooo....  overall it was a great weekend.  No BQ so once again its back to the training schedule.  I have 10 more months to "run down this dream" of BQ'ing the year I turn 40.   To be honest with you, I don't like marathon training.  It hurts.  It takes a lot of time, and when things don't go right, you have to back  and start all over.  I tried many times this year and failed to reach that goal.  Not sure why things haven't quite worked out, but I think a lot has to do with what is going on in my personal life.  I hope next year will be a better year.  

I am SO SORE!!  Its Wednesday, and my quads are still killin me!  I was not this sore after Hinson Lake!  Running fast for any length of time is painful.  On top of that I ended up with a blister on my toe - really?  I don't get those usually until after 50 miles...  Hindsight I didn't put on the 2Toms that I usually do.  I loaned it to a friend and didn't get any more to replace it.  So, yes - 2Toms is GREAT at preventing blisters!  Looks like I might be losing 2 toenails too.

As far as 2013 goes though, I have PR'd my marathon time 3:49, my half marathon time 1:43, 102.89 miles in 24 hours, ran more miles this year than I have in any previous year and counting, and gotten stronger in the process.  Despite all the challenges, I managed to run a lot of them out, but not grasp the one I want most of all..... 

I am 5 minutes off.  Only 5.  I hope everything finally comes together at Myrtle Beach 2014.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Hinson Lake 24 hour ultra, September 28 & 29, 2013

Brett's race report - lol!
Brett Wilborne submitted his race report (see picture).  I laughed when I saw it, but hey, it was spot on.  Yep, running circles around a lake.

My report is a wee bit longer…  I said goodbye to my 30's with this last race in the "kids" division (as Paul H put it).  Welcome to the masters!

I had a pretty “severe” taper for this run.  I ran all of 4 miles in the 9 days leading up to it.  That’s it.  No circuit, no yoga, nothing.  I was way busy with work and life, but that extreme taper might have been a good thing. I went into Hinson well rested and ready to go!

Friday September 27 my family and I made the drive down to Rockingham for our annual Hinson Lake outing.  We arrived mid afternoon, which was apparently “late” for setting up canopies.   We still managed a good spot along the curve, it was a bit off the dam, out of the wind, and closer to the moose lodge where we had the camper set up.  Figured Jordan dog might behave better over there as well.

I chilled out for a while with my MTC peeps, throwing a few back and having a good time.  

We ate dinner at the moose lodge where they had a pasta party for the runners.  It was a good meal, fair price, and “on site” – didn’t have to drive anywhere.  Doesn’t get much better than that! 

We went to bed fairly early in anticipation of the next day’s events.  At 6:00am, as usual on race day morning, Gnarles Barkley woke me up with his tune “Crazy”. What is crazy is I woke up with a horrible sore throat and a cough that was a lot like bronchitis would be like…  ugh, seriously?  I made myself some hot tea, melted the sore throat away and proceeded to get ready. I got everyone up and dressed, Kayla even braided my hair for me.  I talked strategy with my oldest 2, giving them some ideas on how to make it to their goals, telling them to eat and drink, and the most important thing? “Start of slow, then back off”

Before too long we were listening to Jerry give announcements before the race.  At about 7:57 he throws in this “oh by the way”….  You know what he did? This year for the first time, there would be buckles awarded to anyone running 100 miles or further.  You could hear the crowd start talking.  My guess is many peoples game plans changed a bit with that tibit of news. I heard a rumor of some sort of award for 100 mile finishers 2 weeks prior at the MTC shirt run.  I didn’t know it was a buckle though.  “It’s a major award!” (A Christmas Story).

"50 mile Drew" and I
My goal going into it was to #1 have fun, #2 get in 50 miles, and #3 hopefully get a 50 mile PR.  If my feet held out, and I felt good I would go farther.  What I didn't want to do was push hard and be miserable like I was at U100 for the last 50 miles...  All along though I knew that 24 hours is a long time, and you have to take it just a lap at a time.  Cautiously optimistic is how I put it.

I was having a good day.  It was fun to see Drew and Kayla logging their miles.  It was fun to see Ashlynn playing with her friends and taking her stroll around the lake with friends.  I was enjoying running and walking with friends, old and new.  

I signed up and carried Dustin’s shirt around for a lap.  That was humbling.  I was thankful to be one small lap in his memoriam 100 at Hinson.  Drew carried it around for a lap as well.  He said “mom?  I am going to be praying this whole lap while I am carrying the shirt”

Mile 25 I changed shoes and socks.  Lots of grit had built up on my feet so I wiped them down with baby wipes, powdered them, and headed back out.  Love the feel of dry feet!  I felt renewed and ready to go.

It was sometime during the daylight hours when I ran some with Ray K.  He always brings a smile to my face with his singing.  Of course he was singing and what better song to sing to me than “Aime, what you want to do, I think I could run with you, for  a while maybe longer if I dooooo”  ♫  

Around mile 40 I realized I was closing in on my goal of PR’ing my 50 miler.  I started picking up the pace some and it was interesting on who was taking notice.  I started to get many cheers as I was running through the check in/aid station.  That was just fuel for my fire.  

I finished my 50 miles in PR time of 10:43.  Took time to change my socks and shoes again (again, the grit build up was bad,) and switched back into my first pair of Hokas.  I also changed my clothes thinking that with the sun going down the temps would drop and I would not be sweating as much.  In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have wasted my time, I was soaked with sweat again within a lap of changing.  So it goes….

I came up upon Kayla finishing up her final lap.  I gave her a hug.  She was struggling through and close to her goal.  She was tired - my heart ached for her cause I knew what she was going through but at the same time I was so proud to see her pushing through the pain to reach the finish.  

This is From Wm Keene a few days after Hinson: Kayla really impressed me at Hinson Lake with her determination and demeanor. She qualified for Team Buttercup. A good kid needs recognition for her effort.  

Now this is where things start to get a little crazy.  Joey shows up and runs a few laps with me.  Drew is on his last lap (by now he is walking), and I want so bad to walk it in with him.  I see him struggling – his body is tired, his mind is too, but his heart is carrying him on to finish his goal of 50 miles. Thing is, if I walk this lap, chances are, I will not be able to get 100 in…  I was so torn.  I knew he was in good hands though with Gene M.  New goal, get in 2 running laps before Drew finishes his lap.  

Well, I didn’t quite make it, Drew finished before I got there.  Still he was greeted with cheers and a lot of atta boys.  He got a big hug from me as well when I arrived to the canopy.  I was so proud of him.  Here are a couple posts from friends about Drew and his 50 mile quest at age 10:

Denise Dilley Martin: For all the "Drew fans", here is some more inspiration for you. Drew did exactly what I would like all runners to do -- come see me if you are in pain. He came in about 12AM & said "My legs hurt," then sat quietly until it was his turn. I noticed he was cold, so I gave him my hoodie and let him lay on the other table until I could work on him. After working on him, I told him he could use the jacket while he finished his last 3 laps to make his goal. I wasn't expecting him to say yes, because it was 20x too big for him, but he politely said he'd like that. When he returned, he told me, "I put my hand in the pocket and there was a bunch of money in there, so I kept my hand there so it wouldn't fall out." I didn't know there was cash in my pocket. The effort for him to safekeep it in a garment that is way too big for him while accomplishing a feat that seems way too big for most adults speaks volumes of this kid! Amy messaged me that he didn't "know to pay". Nope, he didn't; he just knew he hurt, and he could come to me to get help and I'm glad I could do it.

Charles West - No question about it, he's a tough kid. It's a quiet determination that if you're not paying attention you'll miss it.

This is where it gets complicated.  Shortly after Drew finished, there was an incident that even on a good day would have had me mentally frazzled.  I will not elaborate any more on what it was but it was significant.  I was upset.  I was angry, and knew that if I didn’t somehow pull it together and refocus, the last few hours of running were for nothing.  I had a big meltdown at the aid station around mile 78.  Now, It is not unusual for ultrarunners to have meltdowns, so it fit right in with the usual “how things go during a 24 hour”.  I struggled to focus and refocus and channel my frustration into running and leaving it on the trail.  I kept thinking of the shirt I was wearing that said “strength through focus” on the back and kept moving forward.

The old saying goes, the darkest hour is just before dawn.  That it was…  When will that sun come up??  My feet were killing me.  I made the choice to not change my socks and shoes at mile 75.  It was a catch 22.  I should change to save my feet, but in doing so, I might not have enough time to finish.  I could feel blisters forming and with every step it was like needles.  The worst part was switching from walking to running.  The best part was when one would pop and the pressure was off – ahh!  Oh, and to add to the fun of the evening, I went in to use the restroom and who was there?  Aunt Flo! Just another thing, right?  

See Paul waiting for me? best hug ever.
When the sun finally came up, we were on the bridge and I started singing “Here comes the sun, do do do do, here comes the sun, and I say, its alright”… ☼ ♫  YES!  I made it to morning and held a good enough pace in those dark hours to get me through.  

I crossed that 100.32 mark in 23:24.  Rebecca took 2 great pics of it.  Paul H was just finishing up a lap when I came across and I received the...best...hug...ever... from him.  He and I logged some frozen miles together at CR24 – he in his big wooly coat and me with a blanket over my shoulders.  It was so cold!!  He is a great friend and I was thankful that he was there for me at the end. 

heres my # 129

Now I was excited.  I could to maybe inch my way one more place up the leaderboard if I logged a few more miles, besides, this was a 24 hour event, I was going to run the full 24 hours.  I went out with Rebecca, and to say that we were punchy was an understatement.  We were having a ball.   Singing, laughing and carrying on.  Vac n Dash caught a great pic of us on the bridge on our banana lap.   “Hey I just met you, and this is crazy!  But here's my number (129) so call me maybe”  ♫

Jerry handing me the 100 mile buckle
It was shortly after that the siren went off signaling the 8:00am hour and the end of the race.  We dropped our bananas and walked it in.  At the end of the day I logged nearly 103 miles (102.86, close enough, right?)  
Jerry presented me and 22 others with the first ever Hinson Lake 100 mile finisher buckle.  3rd woman overall and 11th finisher out of 275.
So here's the details:

Shoes: 2 pair of Hoka Bondi B’s – 3 pair of feetures socks

Fuel:  1 dozen special k protein drinks.  I drank one every 3ish laps.  At least 8 cans of coconut water, 1 cheeseburger, lots of water from the aid station as well as ginger ale.  I only had 2 cups of coke (caffeine) in the middle of the night, and ¼ of a pb&j and a handful of skittles.  I relied heavily on the protein drinks and it worked very well as easily digestible fuel for me.  

Damage:  going to lose 3 toenails.  Had some pretty severe blistering, especially on my left foot.  Blisters on each toe, heel and my midfoot.  The right foot just had one blister on the midfoot.  I know this could have been prevented by changing socks and shoes.  So it goes...  I had cankles for days.  My feet were severely swollen - especially my left foot til Thursday.   
Would I have done anything different?  Fuel wise, everything was spot on but I would have liked to have changed my socks and shoes at mile 75.  The weather could not have been any better.  We have had many hot and humid HL races.  This one was quite mild in comparison.  It did get warm during the day, but most of the time we were in the shade and it was not too bad.  Just had to be sure to keep drinking.  

Awesome volunteers, a ton of fun schwag, and a great atmosphere.  All for $24.  This is the type of event that I like to call “the family reunion that you want to go to.” Its a chosen family of sorts and is always a great time. I plan to attend again next year with my kids.  They love this race, the people and support.  I wonder what their goals will be then?  Wonder what mine will be?


Friday, July 26, 2013

Epic Rocky Mountain Relay - Canyon City, CO to Crested Butte, CO - 07/20/2013

Watching the runners at Garden of the Gods
Wednesday I took off from RDU and arrived at Colorado Springs with a bit of time on my hands.  I knew I had just a few short hours to pack in as much sightseeing as I could so instead of waiting til Thursday, I started in as soon as I arrived.

I went to see Garden of the Gods – wow. What an awesome place.  Saw a couple of folks running there and I REALLY wanted to go for a run.  I didn’t though, knowing that I had some work to do in just a day and a half… Later that night I found a great BBQ place in Old Colorado City and had dinner. 

Thursday I had all day to tour whatever places I could.  I started the day by driving to the top of Pikes Peak.  What a beautiful, yet crazy drive!  The little Ford Fusion I had rented did a good job, but it sure was winding up getting up the mountain!  Some of those drop offs were pretty significant, wanted to keep that little car ON that winding, mountain road!

I got to the top and put on my jeans and hoodie – it was 42 degrees and WINDY!!  Brr!  Took several pics, and had some folks take a couple pics of me as well.  I went inside, found the famous donuts, got 2 of them and a coffee and sat down to eat my snack.  I was a bit light headed up at that elevation (yes, more so than usual – lol!).  While I was finishing up my donuts, I heard someone right next to me talking about being Dutch, whose parents came in off the boat right from the Netherlands etc etc…. and I was thinking, wow.  I cannot get away from my heritage, even up here at the top of Pikes Peak.  So, I started talkin with them – the discussion included southwest lower Michigan, being raised Christian Reformed, and marrying someone who *gasp* was not Dutch!  Lol!!  Told them my maiden name and they were like “oh yeah, that is Dutch”  anyway… randomness at the top of the mountain….  I got 2 more donuts to go and started on my way back down.

A few thousand feet down the mountain I decided to pull off at one of the parking spots and do a bit of a jog up to a big rocky outlook.  I ran about 1/10th of a mile and it felt like my lungs were ON FIRE…  not good…  I walked the rest of the way up, sat on a rock to recover and enjoy the view, then went back to the car.  I was hoping that this was not an indication on how it was going to go for the relay… 

After descending Pikes Peak, I changed back into my shorts and t shirt as it was 83 degrees when I got to the base.  Whew!  What a difference!  Went to this little gem shop at the base and picked up a few trinkets for the kids.

I went back to Old Colorado City, had lunch, did some shoppin, and had to hit the first ever Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory – woo!

Went to visit the old ghost town museum.  That was pretty cool.  Favorite part was the old newspaper shop – had the old linotype and printing press in there.  Yeah, I have a degree in printing and this was cool to see old school printing!

Went for a visit to the Olympic Training Center.  Had an hour guided tour.  Again, very cool.  Great facility.  Best of the best from the US are training there!

One last stop at Seven Falls before heading over to dinner at the Airplane Restaurant.  It was cool to hear the thunder echoing in the canyon at Seven Falls.  It never rained but the thunder was awesome.  At the restaurant, I was able to sit in the airplane section and have my meal. 

Seven Falls
While I was at dinner Jess arrived at my hotel room.  She and I were going to be picked up later on that evening by the rest of the ultra team.  I told her to see if the front desk would let her into my room, and after a couple texts they let her in – lol!  Now there was someone I have never met in my room.  

I had to drop off my rental car and the hotel came to pick me up in the shuttle.  Jess let me in when I got there and we laughed at the idea of some random stranger in my room.  She later said next time we did this, she would rearrange my things – lol! 

We chatted for a bit until the rest of the girls arrived.  They all came up to the room and I met the ultra team for the first time.  I could tell right away that it was a great group of girls and that it was going to be a great weekend. 

We packed up the Expedition with all our stuff and headed over to Canyon City.  When you see a sign that says "dip" it is recommended that you slow down.  We hit one of those dips, and everything went flying.  I think it was Kelly who hit her head on the roof, then landed hard on a seatbelt.  ow!  :s  It was hilarious though....  Great ice breaker - lol!  

We arrived at this questionable hotel right near the start of the race.  All 6 of us were in this tiny room.  4 of us were sleeping in beds, 2 on the floor.  (do I dare say that I slept with someone I just met? – lol!)  We used up all the real estate in that room!  I think we got about 3 hours of sleep before we had to get up for the 5:00 start. 

We were a bit behind getting to the race and just missed the 5:00 start.  Luckily there was another wave that was starting at 5:15.  Of course I was runner #1 and was a bit frazzled with missing the first wave.  I think it was 6 of us that toed the line at 5:15 – and we were off!  All I could think is that I did not want to get lost and wanted to keep up with the group.  I looked down and saw an 8:10 pace and knew that was way too fast for the difficulty of the leg that was coming up.  So I backed off some and got into a pretty decent rhythm for a bit, or until it started climbing.  I powerwalked the steeper inclines and ran the rest.  I was pretty winded, and did the best I could to keep my heart rate down and keep a “decent” pace. 

See that trail?  I climbed it :)  What a view!
The view was beautiful.  This section was a lot like a desert.  Lots of cacti, hearty evergreens, and rocks – lots of tough earth for things to grown in.  I had a beautiful sunrise to enjoy as well.  Best part was the nice downhill to the exchange point – woo!

Leg 1 – All I kept thinkin is “you are the weakest link”.
“Very hard” paved / dirt – (some of the dirt road was pretty washed out).
7.7 miles
Average pace 10:54
Elevation Gain:
1,110 ft
Elevation Loss:
607 ft
Min Elevation:
5,313 ft
Max Elevation:
6,376 ft

We stopped and snapped a few pics.  While we were chillin we saw one guy hurdle the cattle gate.  It was a site to see!  I took a different approach with taking small steps across them, but since it was early and he really was feelin good, he just sailed across it.  It was cool!

White girls can kinda jump :D
We stopped at one of the exchanges where there was a great view and got a really good pic of us jumping.  The scenery at that station was beautiful as well.  It was here where I borrowed someones garmin charger from the other purple cobra 12 woman team.  When I was running my first lap, it read low battery after just a few miles…  I found it ON when I opened my bag from the flight.  No telling how long it was on before I turned it off.  THANK YOU for letting me borrow your charger!  It kept the watch going for the rest of the relay!

me right before leg 2. 
Leg #2 was another toughie.  In the noonday sun, on asphalt.  Yes indeed,  I am the weakest link!  Hey, one good thing though is that I did not become “roadkill” (when you get passed by someone).  I held my own.
“Very hard” Paved
3.7 miles
Average pace 11:45
Elevation Gain:
1,153 ft
Elevation Loss:
0 ft
Min Elevation:
6,441 ft
Max Elevation:
7,599 ft

after my fast leg 3
Leg #3 was by far my favorite.  3 miles on a dirt road in this nice Aspen forest.  It was awesome to do some cruzin!  Smoked the downhill starting at 10,000 feet  AND I got my first roadkill – woo!  Sorry, she didn’t stand a chance ;)  Felt like I redeemed myself from the first 2 legs!
“Hard” dirt road
2.9 miles
Average pace 7:28
Elevation Gain:
0 ft
Elevation Loss:
1,003 ft
Min Elevation:
8,823 ft
Max Elevation:
9,848 ft

We nearly missed the exchange for #21. The sign was so far off the road, we couldn’t see it! Alyssa took control of the situation and moved the sign closer to the road.  Problem solved! Ha!

Leg #4 gets a little crazy again.  It was getting later on in the day and we were all tired of snacking on pb n j tortillas, cereal, chips and water.  We dropped Jess off at the last exchange and raced off to find real food in the town.  This was also where is rained briefly.  We were leaving the store and Jess called wondering where we were – agh!  Hindsight, I should have been dropped off at the exchange and waited for her while the others went for food.  We lost about 5-10 minutes there and once again I was the late one getting out on the course.  I managed to down some chocolate milk before the run, but not much of anything else.  This section was nice, flat and runnable.  I did not much care for it being on a major highway at dusk, but at least I felt more like a runner.  It was not as fast as I was hoping for, but not bad all things considered.  Saw a doe and a fawn along the side of the road grazing.  That was cool to see so close up.
“Mild” paved
3.6 miles
Average pace 9:30 per mile
Elevation Gain:
207 ft
Elevation Loss:
0 ft
Min Elevation:
7,052 ft
Max Elevation:
7,262 ft

After leg 4 I ate part of a sandwich and downed some more chocolate milk.  Trying to get some calories in!!  I probably would have done better during leg 4 had I had something more to eat about an hour ahead of the run.  After leg 3, I was snacking on just about everything in the van tho – ate everything in the packet that they provided just to get some calories in. 

Leg 5 I knew was going to be a really hard one.  We were going through Cottonwood Pass.  Huge elevation gain.  I took off down the road in the dark.  I went well over a mile and didn’t see any other runners or any crew cars, or the cones that mark each mile.  I started to have a *slight* panic moment wondering if I missed a turn or something.  I stopped and made a couple calls to my team but no one was answering.  I turned around and started to backtrack when Nina called and said they stopped to pick up some things and they were on their way.  She also assured me I was going the right was as there was no turns on this leg.  I got off the phone with her, turned back around, and within minutes, 2 crew cars passed me and I saw the cone off in the distance.  *whew*.  Ugh I was mad though for backtracking!! Lost some time there too… So it goes… I trudged on as the elevation became steeper in the dark of night.  I saw a sign for hot springs, and I could hear a river and could see just a little bit from the nearly full moon above.  It was really cool at night, but I know it would have been amazing to see in the day.  I made it to the exchange point completely winded.  I was not defeated, but was exhausted.  As a reward to myself that I ‘owned this hill’ I did a brief crow pose at the exchange. 
“Very Hard” paved
Supposed to be 7 miles but I was having so much fun I made it 7.6 miles :P
Average pace: 12:50 per mile *really?* ugh!
Elevation Gain:
1,294 ft
Elevation Loss:
67 ft
Min Elevation:
8,131 ft
Max Elevation:
9,384 ft

After leg 5 I ate the rest of my sandwich, chips and some more milk.  I was not feeling well at all after that leg.  I was lightheaded, had a headache and my stomach was upset.  I laid down in the back of the “van” and slept for about an hour. I was not sure that I even slept, but someone said they heard snoring – lol!  Might have been me – ha!  Was runnin on 3 hours of sleep the night before and just the one hour in the “van”.  We were all a bit tired!

rainbow in the fog
Leg 6 was the hardest one as it was another climb to the highest elevation yet for me.  I was feeling lousy but knew I had to get it done.  I started out in a cold foggy dirt road – had my long pants and long sleeved shirt on.  No gloves but I should have had them – my hands were freezing!  About a mile into the run/walk my team pulled up next to me and asked if I needed anything.  I handed them my jacket and I asked them to give me one of my coffee drinks.  I downed it and handed the bottle back.  They were surprised I drank it that fast – lol!  I continued on towards my exchange point – my finish!  The best part of this run?  I had an awesome downgrade to the exchange.  :D  By that time the fog had mostly burned off and there was a rainbow in the mist.  I quick snapped a picture (while still running) and brought it in strong :D
“Very Hard” dirt
7.5 miles
Average pace: 13:36
Elevation Gain:
978 ft
Elevation Loss:
269 ft
Min Elevation:
9,695 ft
Max Elevation:
10,617 ft

I was ecstatic to be done.  First one of the team to finish and now it was time to cheer the others in.  I took another baby wipe bath (yes, they work, at least good enough) and changed into some dry clothes.  Finished up the half gallon of milk I bought the day before (it wasn’t too curdled yet – lol!).  I still was not feeling that great – my stomach was still really messed up and I had a headache, and my throat was burning, but it was great to have the sun up, the fog burned off, and the end of the relay in sight! 

One of the gals on the team was unsure if she was going to be able to run her 6th leg because of the pain she was in after her 5th.  She was one tough girl – she ended up going out there and rocked it. 

these gals like yoga as much as me - woo!
 We were waiting at one of the exchanges and we all took turns doing yoga poses on random rocks.  We had been doing this randomly along the course, but we snapped some pictures this time. 

Soon we saw Jess off on her last leg and the last leg of the relay.  We drove into Crested Butte and waited on her to come around the corner.  When we saw her we started cheering her in, and we all ran the last few yards in together.  We made several friends with the other teams out there and we had plenty of high fives as we were crossing the finish.  Many of the teams we met were like “oh, you are the 6 woman relay team, wow!”  We kinda made a name for ourselves ;) 

Results:  191 miles – 32 hours 3 minutes.   
1st in our division (woman's only ultra team).  25th out of 41 total teams (only 4 of those teams were ultra teams, the rest had 12 people per team).  Results can be found here.  you can also see some of the funny names of the teams there as well – lol!

plenty of high 5's at the finish - awesome!!
We hung around for a bit listening to the music.  I had a burger and a beer and it was very good. 

We did not stay too long.  We had a 4 hour drive back to Colorado Springs.  4 hours?  How did we get so far away??  Lol!!  We grabbed a bite to eat (yeah I ate again) and hit the road. 

I rode along with 2 girls from the 12 woman purple cobra team.  At times I was dozing off, but along the Monarch Pass it was some insane driving!  Pretty serious drop offs with no guard rails!  We started descending from the pass and my ears never unplugged.  Ugh!

We made it to Colorado Springs without a problem and I got checked back into my room.  Showered - Best. Shower. Ever, and chilled before calling it an early night. 

By morning my ears had cleared up – woo!  I went down for breakfast and ate my fair share then took another plate upstairs for lunch.  I didn’t feel like going out before my flight so I had breakfast for lunch too.  Spent the day watching a Chevy Chase Vacation marathon on VH1 and uploading pictures to FB.  Very chill day trying to recover.

2:00 came and I had to check out.  The shuttle took me to the airport where I found out there was an hour delay on my flight to ATL due to weather in the ATL area.  I was ok with it.  I got to look out the window for another hour at Pikes Peak.  My connecting flight was not til 10:30 so I had plenty of time anyway to catch the next flight to RDU. 

When I arrived in ATL, the airport was packed!!  Lots of upset folks waiting around because of delayed flights.  I looked up at the screen for when my next flight was supposed to leave and it read “12:30am”  wow.  The flight  above it was to RDU and was currently boarding… at the other end of the terminal…  well.  Here goes nothing!  I worked my way down there as fast as I could.  I get to the gate with a 3 minute warning.  I tell the attendant that I am on the next flight to Raleigh, but were there any seats on this one?  He tells me in a flamboyant voice “yes, I gots seats!  You want a window or isle?”  wooo!!!!   I tell him window, and he hands me my seat assignment and I proceed to the plane – yeah!!  Getting home sooner than if there had not been a delay!

I had a nice “single serving friend” on this flight (anyone remember what movie that is from?)  We talked NC, running and family then parted ways.  Didn’t catch her name… 

Arrived in RDU and filed a claim with Delta for my bag that was not due to arrive until 2:30am….  They later delivered it to my door the next day – oh yeah!  :D

My ears were giving me a fit again.  They were fine up at altitude in the plane, but were horribly plugged at sea level.  This has gone on for several days now, and in addition I ended up with a bad cough…  so it goes…

I learned a LOT running this race in CO.  One that running at elevation is no joke.  It was humbling.  You can be a decent runner at sea level but then have your tail handed to you on an elevation climb. How does one go from running a 3:49 marathon a few weeks prior, to toughing it out for a few miles up a hill?   I have a whole new respect for races like Leadville.   I also have a *slight* envy of those who live in the mountains and can hill train in elevation.  They have a gift of being able to get out there and train that most of us do not have.  I have some mountains 3 hours from me.  They are beautiful, hilly and I love going there, don’t get me wrong, but they are seemingly “cute” when it comes to the elevation out west.  I had run what I thought was a tough marathon a week ago at Grandfather, but at least I did not have the altitude problems like I had in CO. 

The team I ran with was amazing: Nina, Mary, Kelly, Alyssa, and Jess.  What a fantastic, funny, tough, fun, bada$$ group of runners. Everyone had great attitudes, were fun to talk with and had a great competitiveness. They even liked yoga as much as I!  Everyone was always encouraging each other as well as cheering on the other teams along the course.  Thank you for including this sea level chick on your team!  Hindsight – I would pick a different leg as opposed to not picking and ending up with the leg that was left – lol!  I really liked the 2 legs that were runnable – the flat one and the downhill one.  I felt I held my own there, but felt like I was slowing the team down with my other slower legs… 

Happy finishers - what an awesome team to be part of!
The course was beautiful!  What a great way to see this part of CO than on foot.  We covered a lot of miles and went through many different areas. Some were desert like, others were forests, and others were near the tree line.   We saw small towns and other areas we didn’t have cel service for hours cause we were so far out in the middle of nowhere.  The race swag was great.  Good stuff to snack on in the bag, and a nice tech shirt.  Couple things that could be improved are: they needed more port a johns at the exchange stations, as well as volunteers.  They also said that food trucks would be at some of the stations and there was not. 

Would I do this again?  Yeah, I would, and no I wouldn’t.  I would want to go into it better trained, but I am unsure how to go about that.  I ended up with altitude sickness.  I took this definition from Wiki:  "People have different susceptibilities to altitude sickness; for some otherwise healthy people, acute altitude sickness can begin to appear at around 6,500 ft above sea level.  Symptoms often manifest themselves six to ten hours after ascent and generally subside in one to two days, but they occasionally develop into the more serious conditions. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, stomach illness, dizziness, and sleep disturbance.  Exertion aggravates the symptoms."

Ya think??  I think I did ok only because the legs were relatively short and there were breaks inbetween, but to attempt a 50 or 100 miler for me at this altitude would not go well. 

I have a whole new perspective on running after this adventure.  I have a deep respect and admiration for those who live at elevation and train there.  A little running envy as well. 

Til then, anyone who lives at elevation want to come run with me at Umstead in the heat, humidity, and horseflies?  I plan on doing hill repeats on powerline til I puke ;)