Thursday, December 24, 2009
So I am just rambling with nothing really important to say. The Munster vs. Perpignan rugby game was on a bit after 2am, which I just realized that I missed. Oh well, it was a replay and I saw the last few minutes of it yesterday morning and saw that Munster slaughtered Perpignan. But Joe told me that my man Ronan O'Gara had a really spectacular game and I would have liked to see that.
So Merry Christmas to everyone. Relax and enjoy the beauty of the season and the wonderful whiteness outside. And if the mood strikes you, get out and enjoy and run or walk in the cold and realize how alive it can make you feel.
"My life is a gift from my Creator. What I do with my life is my gift back to the Creator." --Billy Mills
Monday, December 21, 2009
So until the ice and rocks get totally covered by snow I am sticking to running. And running in the snow is just totally freakin' awesome. I have found that it is really good for your form; you can't stride out too big or you will likely slip and fall right on your fanny (I do that enough when I ski; no need to practice it during the runs). So I feel very efficient when snow-running, the scenery is beyond belief, and the cold weather completely agrees with my breathing.
As I read some other blogs, I am discovering that some other ultra runners are investigating the return to their minimalist running roots. I have really been enjoying Jeff Browning's accounts of becoming a more minimalist runner. I, too, am working on this. I have always thought that because I am a runner of larger stature that I needed more support and cushioning in my running shoes. After reading "Born To Run" I have found that this is not so and have been working on minimalizing my running shoes. On Saturday Lorrie and I went for a 14 mile run (ugh! on the roads!) and I ran in my Asics Gel DS Trainers, which for a smaller person would probably be considered a training shoe, but for my size it is quite minimal. And flat (forefoot and heel at the same level). And I felt pretty darn good when I finished the run. I really want to try the Vibram Five Fingers but I think that will have to wait a few months, since I don't have a treadmill to run indoors on and the 20-degree-and-below temps along with the snow don't appear to agree with running barefoot.
So December is a month of relaxation and d0-what-I-want with my running and the serious training for MMT 100 will begin in January. Heineken Cup Rugby continues and my Munster men seem to be doing well. I have also been pulled toward the other Irish team, Leinster, and Jonathan Sexton and Brian O'Driscoll have been playing really excellent. Sexton is a young fly-half with an accurate kicking boot. O'Driscoll is just plain amazing. I would love to see the finals come down to Munster and Leinster; that would be awesome.
And for those of you already thinking about July . . . registration is open and the forms are online for The 22nd Annual Finger Lakes Fifties.
That's all the news for now, so cowgirl up and get out and enjoy the snow and cold!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
As usual, Joe and I got into the spirit of this time of year and festively dressed in some really cool long green shorts with jingle bells on them (a fantastic find at K-Mart), red shirts and red hats. We both think that it is very important to not only run fast but to look good doing it. The fast doesn’t always come, but we always look good!
The first two miles of the race were run as a two-loop circuit on the Penn State campus. Snow that had fallen on Saturday made this part of the course a bit treacherous and really made us hold back to keep from falling (read . . . time lost!). But at least it kept us from going out too fast and blowing up. Then it was onto the roads and uphills and downhills. I have to say, for a road race, I was having fun and feeling like I was running well. But I do have to say that road racing (and road racers) are intense! Both Joe and I ran without watches, a rare sight as we noticed the other racers. Many of the runners were wearing ear phones which limited any conversation, although even when I tried to share a few words with the non-ear-phone-wearing runner, I was pretty much ignored. I’m not saying that the others weren’t friendly; we did meet and get to talk with some really great people, but it just wasn’t the atmosphere of the trails. But that’s OK; I guess feeling some of that intensity is good – it spurs you to put a little something extra into your speed. It was good for me.
But, hold on, what was that? At around mile 11 I passed some guys sitting behind a table with a sign in front reading “Beer Stop”. Whoa, wait a minute; I certainly had better go back to that one! And I turned around and ran back to the table and stopped running and enjoyed a very nice lager with what were certainly the angels of the race! OK, I have to say that the roadrunners got this one right. And with that burst of energy I flew to the finish line! 1:47:42; not bad for a heavy-weight ultrarunner! Joe wasn’t far behind, coming into the finish in 2:00:05 . . . better than his last half marathon in August and good for first in his age group!
It was a great weekend of visiting and running. And now it’s time to rest and catch-up on the rugby happenings. And time to think about the upcoming Spring running schedule. And you know what the really good news is? I won the lottery! OK, not THE lottery, but really just as good. The Massanutten Mountain 100 lottery. Only now I have a tough decision to make . . . Massanutten on May 15 or MorFun Wapack Trail 50Miler on May 10. I’ll let you know which one wins. Got to make that decision fast.
We have snow here on the hill today and it’s got me thinking about snowshoeing and xc skiing. Excellent!
“I feel eager and ready for another excursion a month or two long in the same wonderful wilderness. Now, however, I must turn toward the lowlands, praying and hoping Heaven will shove me back again.” - John Muir
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Where in hell can you go
Far from the things that you know,
Far from the sprawl of concrete that keeps crawling
Its way about 1,000 miles a day?
Take one last look behind,
Commit this to memory and mind.
Don’t miss this wasteland, this terrible place.
When you leave keep your heart off you sleeve.
- Natalie Merchant
The morning started out at a cool and crisp 28 degrees. I knew that I would warm-up quickly once I hit the woods, so I fought the urge to bundle myself up, not wanting to get too sweaty and then freeze. The marathoners and 50-milers all started out together and once we hit the woods, the marathoners split-off for their 1.2 mile jaunt and the ultrarunners hit the trails. I talked with friends and tried to hold myself back, since last year I made the mistake of going out way too fast. I had tossed my watch in my bag prior to the start, because, really, why wear it. It wouldn’t change the way I would run and on this day I was just going to do what my body said I could do. I felt like I was running pretty easily and not pushing too much and by the time I hit the second aid station I caught up with a guy who remembered me from last year, as he was the one who picked me up after I had done a major face-plant while trying to jump over a log. I assured him that I had not fallen so far. He was wearing a watch and when he told me what time we were at, I realized that I had fallen into the trap of the cool temps . . . I was probably running too fast. Oh well, I felt comfortable and let my body do what it could.
And then it happened. I toed something, not sure what, and I went down like a giant pile of bricks. Let me reiterate what I have said before about being big . . . you fall HARD. And typical to my falling style, my water bottle shot out of my hand, landing about 20 feet in front of me. I landed on my right knee and it brought a tear to my eye. I had no feeling from below my right knee. And here is what I really love about ultrarunners . . . the runners behind me immediately stopped, asked me if I was OK, helped me up and got my bottle for me. That in itself was a mental boost. I had to stand for a minute, because with no feeling in my lower leg, I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I took a step and the pain in my knee was excruciating. But what are you gonna do? No one was coming out to carry my dead ass in. So I started to walk. And eventually the feeling came back to my leg and the pain in the knee subsided. And then I could run. Cool. I was OK. Until . . . I just kind of tipped over. I was talking with the runner behind me, hit something again with my foot, and just fell over. OK, I was a bit scraped-up on the side of my right thigh, but nothing like the last fall, so I picked it up again and just kept on moving.
Eventually I finished loop one. Time on the clock . . . 2 hrs, 18 min . . . way too fast. I felt a potential blister starting up, so I sat down, filled my bottle, got some more Clif Shot Bloks, slapped some moleskin on the hotspot, and shuffled on out for loop 2 with the intent of easing off.
Oh momma I'm in fear for my life from the long arm of the law
Lawman has put an end to my running and I'm so far from my home
Oh momma I can hear you a'crying you're so scared and all alone
Hangman is comin' down from the gallows and I don't have very long
I started back out, passing friends who were coming in, and glad to see that everyone was looking strong. I saw Joe coming in and we shared laments of our intimacy with Mother Earth, and kept on moving. Shortly thereafter I realized that I was feeling a bit crappy. Wow . . . where did that come from? I ate some Shot Bloks and grabbed a full grilled cheese sandwich (ooohhhh . . . gooey warm cheese can do wonders for you), some Coke, and kept on moving.
The grilled cheese and Coke were the main things that got me through this loop. The pain in my right leg and knee from the earlier falls seemed to have subsided but I was still feeling rather ugly when I came into the start/finish area, noting the time on the clock to be 4 hrs, 48 min. Much better . . . 2:30 for that loop, although I had felt pretty crappy, was much more to my liking. The foot blister was rearing its ugly head again so I re-moleskinned and changed socks and shoes. Much better. Time to head out for loop 3 and hopes of getting my groove back on.
I walk a lonely road
The only road that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But it’s home to me and I walk alone
- Green Day
The new socks and shoes were a wonder. Actually it was the same shoes, only different. I had put on my newer pair of Brooks Cascadias and it was obviously a wise choice. I also had my secret weapon. Prior to the race I had tried to get more Clif Roks, but to my disappointment the Finger Lakes Running Company, the only place I have found that sells them, was out. So I had one package left and had reserved them for when I really needed. And I needed them now. And what a wonder they did for me. I was back in the game. Woo hoo!
I was a bit lonely in that when I had passed through the start/finish area, none of my cronies were around . . . they were all out on the course . . . somewhere. So when I reached the aid station I was really glad just to talk to anyone. And those great volunteers talked to me, filled my bottle, made me hot grilled cheese, and filled me with Coke. I chugged the Coke and started walking with the sandwich, eating, and feeling quite good. And then I got to thinking about Diane, as it seems I do quite a bit during the ultras, and I started crying. Try eating hot grilled cheese, walking, crying, and trying to breathe. It’s not as easy as it sounds. So with that and glad that I had no one else around to witness this slobbering mess I was making of myself, I yelled “cowgirl up”! This brought a smile to my face and things started to look better. I started out with my Diane’s Team shirt on and was still wearing it and I was feeling stronger just through its symbolism. And I started to run again. And I had no idea what time it was and it didn’t matter. I was having fun and feelin’ groovy.
More grilled cheese and Coke, Nuun tabs and Clif Roks, and I rolled into the start/finish area ready to knock-off the final loop. As I rolled in I saw Joe and Karen; both had finished the marathon and were looking great in those hot green fleece finisher jackets. Having seen the jackets when I finished my last loop, I have to admit that I really had thought about switching to the marathon just to get one. But I had come to run 50 miles and that’s what I was going to do.
Time: 7 hrs, 30 min. OK, doing math at this point was a bit sticky . . . I managed to calculate something like 2:42 for that loop. Pretty decent, I surmised, since I had taken quite a long time for the foot repair before actually tackling the loop.
I’m not prepared, I’m running scared
I need the strength to carry on
I need to feel that I am strong
I need to feel that I won’t fall
I’ll never crawl, no I won’t fall
- Dolores O’Riordan
It was a quick pit-stop through the start finish this time, as I wanted to get going in hopes that I would finish before dark. Joe came over to me and said “guess what I saw?!” And then he tells me that he saw a bear cub. Great! Just what I needed, I told him. But he assured me “No, it’s OK, it was cute and sleeping”. OK, so where there is a baby bear there is most likely a pissed-off mother bear, angry because of all of us intruders in her home. So Joe hurried me off back to the woods so I could finish before dark. I know he meant well, but I would have rather hear “you look good” or at the very least, tell me where the hell he saw the bear so I could make sure that I had some other runners around me at that point! So basically, I was running scared. I passed at least four runners before the next aid station and all I could think was that OK, at least there are people behind me who can find my mutilated body on the trail if the bear attacks.
And then I realized . . . I think the fear made me run better. I was feeling smooth, I wasn’t stumbling on rocks or roots, and I didn’t fall the entire last loop. I really felt like I was flying! Surely I would be under 2:30 for this loop. Still not really knowing the time I thought that maybe I could break 10 hours. It wasn’t necessarily a goal, but it would be cool if I did.
So I came running as fast as I could manage across the field toward the finish line, smiling and feeling great. Unfortunately, the speed of the clock was faster than my feet and I finished in 10 hours, 10 minutes, 14 seconds. Still better than last year’s time.
I hung out with friends, ate good hot food served by some of the nicest volunteers, and drank good beer. Ipswich Harvest Ale was on tap and tasted really good after a long day running. But the real kicker . . . Joe’s bear turned out to be . . .
(photo courtesy of Karen Fennie)
Rollin', rollin', rollin'
Though the streams are swollen
Keep them dogies rollin'
- Frankie Laine
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
As for running . . . yes, I have been doing that. Although be sequestered to the roads because of the hunters really stinks. But this too shall pass. Eventually hunting season will be over and we can take back the trails.
And despite working in the germ-infested ER I have managed to remain flu-free. I am a hand-washing freak and I am sure this has helped. I also believe that the running lifestyle has helped keep my immunity up, so I will just keep doing what works!
In the rugby world my Munster men had a good week beating Ulster 24-10. It’s about time they put together an entirely good game! Hopefully they are getting themselves back into the groove and the winning streak will continue. Peter Stringer has been on the bench as replacement scrum-half for some time and I miss him. He is a feisty player with sharp, quick moves. O’Leary does a fine job, but the connection of Stringer and O’Gara was (and still is when Stringer is playing) a phenomenal thing to watch. I am still keeping my fingers crossed that Stringer will make it back into the starting lineup again.
The NYC marathon was this past Sunday and the day came together nicely. The weather was absolutely beautiful and it was a good day for US running, with six of the top 10 finishing spots going to the Americans, including the #1 place! Diane would have been so happy to see this and it was only fitting that she was taking her final run in NY on this auspicious occasion. Thank you Barb for making Diane’s final wish come true.
So not much else going on. Next week should be a good reporting week, bringing the results of Mendon Ponds 50K, the final race in the WNY Ultra Series, and results of the Stone Cat 50Miler and Marathon. Good luck to Lorrie at Mendon and Becky as she returns to the racing scene at the Harrisburg Marathon.
“To keep from decaying, to be a winner, the athlete must accept the pain – not only accept it, but look for it, live with it, learn not to fear it.” – Dr. George Sheehan
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
So I have been doing some thinking about the future and what runs sound promising for the year to come. In 2010 I will be turning the BIG 4-0. This really hit home when I registered for my first race of 2010, The HAT Run 50K, and when it asked for my age on race day it was my first experience having to enter 40. Wow. One of my friends recently turned 40 and she celebrated her birthday with a gathering of friends to run a 40K. Nice idea; relaxed and just a great group of people celebrating life and running. So this got me thinking about how I want to celebrate my 40th. Somehow I want to celebrate life, running, and friendship. And then it hit me. How about a 100-miler with all of my friends? After running a few possible scenarios in my head I think I have finally come up with a very doable plan. One of my favorite running routes is a 9.5 mile loop starting & finishing at home. Home would be a great place to set-up the home-base aid station and I could run repeat loops, hopefully with the support of my friends joining me throughout the run for as many loops as they can tolerate – and hopefully there will be a few die-hards who will be willing to get me through the night! My birthday is in March which likely would not be conducive to the event, so I think I will likely be looking to the end of April or early May sometime. I am already way excited about doing this! I love the camaraderie at ultras but I despise those terribly high entry fees and the cost of travel and housing. This way it costs me very little, I have my own bed, shower, and toilet at close disposal, and Joe will finally get to run some of a 100 with me. What better way to start a new decade of life!
"Great people and great athletes realize early in their lives their destiny, and accept it. Even if they do not consciously realize the how, the where, the what." --Percy Cerutty
Monday, October 19, 2009
Saturday night I got home for work around midnight and when I finally got to tune into the Munster vs. Treviso match, around 30 minutes into the match, Munster was down 10-7. I was worried that they were blowing it again. But things took a quick turn-around and despite some really disappointing kicking from Ronan O'Gara, who is normally a pretty stealth weapon in the kicking department, Munster managed to just roll all over Treviso. It was awesome and well worth staying up until 2am.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I have been reading “Born To Run” by Christopher McDougal. It really is a great book and I am becoming a total convert. I am really seeing the light of less being more. It’s time to go back to “old-school” running, time to get rid of the straps and spending so much on the latest styles of sneakers. I have been running in an old pair of Asics Gel Trainers, which are a pretty flat running shoe and very light weight. I have been focusing more on my form and am finding out that running in these lighter less shoes has made my form better. Running is feeling less of an effort and much more enjoyable. And, much to my chagrin, I have to say that Joe has always been on to something. I am always after him to get new shoes and get more cushion under him. I am finding out that as long as the form is good and there are no structural parts altering your foot function, running in those old shoes is OK. It’s a neat concept and hard to explain, but I would highly recommend reading this book and seriously thinking about how you run.
It’s now time to start getting ready for the Stone Cat 50-Miler on November 7. This is a really awesome race. Last year was the first time running it for me and for Joe, who did the marathon (which he will be doing again this year). The course is a 12.5-mile loop which is run 4 times for the 50 miles. The volunteers are great and have a lot of fun out there and the amenities are totally excellent with a tech shirt when you get your number and a great jacket when you finish! And did I mention free beer?! It doesn’t get any better than this and you completely get back your $75 entry fee with all the stuff. And it will be another “family reunion” with Barbara, Greg, Karen, Rob, Will, Laura, and Jeff. Looks like this year we will also get to reunion with Aliza, Kelly, and Jack from Vermont. I guess it’s time to get back into training mode . . . I mean, it is a race, isn’t it? It’s just hard to think of it that way when you’re having so much fun.
And Heineken Cup rugby is back in action. My Munster team had a bad weekend, losing to Northampton. My man, O’Gara, had a bad day kicking, and I thought at the last minute the team might come through, but it just didn’t happen. Just as bizarre was the match between Leinster and London Irish, with London Irish beating the defending Heineken Cup Champions Leinster. Very Bizarre. But I’m not giving up on the Irish men of Leinster and Munster . . . they will come back.
So that’s it for this week; not much to report. Had to break-out the tights today for the first time . . . it was a whopping 34 degrees when we went out to run! I had the constraints of wearing tights, but I think I have a few more shorts-wearing days left.
Over-and-out for now. Have a great week and get out and enjoy the cool Fall weather and the great mosaic of colors!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Rule #2: If you can run happy then you can run harder.
Rule #3: If you can run harder then you can catch the runner in front of you.
Rule #4: If you can catch the runner in front of you then you can break 11 hours.
THESE ARE THE RULES OF THE GAME; IF YOU CAN'T PLAY BY THE RULES, DON'T PLAY.
After a disappointing DNF at mile 83.6 at the Vermont 100 in July I decided to do some soul-searching with my running and try to make some positive changes. Originally I had planned to run the Iroquois Trails 100-miler and the first change I made was to switch to the 50-mile race, take some pressure off of myself, and focus on what my body is asking for and listening to it while I run. That done, I decided that some guidelines needed to be set so as to keep myself from getting out of hand and blowing-up and having a bad day. Next I volunteered myself (and Joe and Lorrie) to man the overnight shift of an aid station for the 100-milers. This would keep me from going back on my promise to myself; and there were oh so many times when I thought “oh, I think I can run that 100.” But everytime that thought entered my head I knew I couldn't go back on my commitment to volunteer, so I was commited to running the 50-miler. Running the 100 would not have been the thing to do. I needed to stick to my guns.
Joe and I arrived out in Virgil on Friday afternoon and set-up our tent home. I could already feel the excitement – like I was running my first ultra instead of my – hmmmm, I don’t know how many I have run – but you get the point. The pre-race gathering was, as I suspected, wonderful – a regular family reunion. The best part for me was that Ian had brought some supplies to sell to runners in need and there was just what I had been looking for – Clif Shot Roks! These are a new product of Clif Bar, a package of 10 malt-ball sized protein balls, each containing 2 grams of protein. I found out about these about a month ago and had been waiting for them to appear locally and I was really bummed that I could not find any to test during this run. So finding them just waiting for me at the race was primo! I just innately felt that they would work well for me – nice to be able to have something that I could just “graze” on that would sustain me well.
Dinner of salad, bread, pasta, chicken, and coffee served-up by the staff at the Gatherings restaurant was excellent and just what I needed – not too many choices for me to make wrong decisions on.
Then it was off to bed early, a bit after 8pm. I really wanted to stay up for the Christopher McDougal (author of "Born to Run") talk, but knowing that my internal clock is usually pretty screwed-up from my work schedule and that sleep would likely be hard to come by, I decided that at least if I was lying down and resting I would be better off.
I awoke well before the 4:30am alarm, downed a Starbuck’s Double Shot, vanilla soy milk, and a cheese danish. It was a bit chilly stepping out of the tent, and I was so glad that I brought gloves and a winter cap for the start.
The starting line was about 50 yards from our tent, which I really liked. Note for next year: camping at the start/finish area was an excellent idea. At 6am the whole damn bunch of us running fools were off, running and laughing, as we headed off into the dark down Tone Road.
(reaching the alpine slope summit - me illuminating in the flash!)
I had run most of the course in sections prior to race day but the first section up through the alpine slopes was one I had not been on. Having run past this section before, I at least knew that it went up. And I wasn’t disappointed. We all hiked the hill at a pretty good clip, I thought, as I chatted with Joel Cisne as well as some new friends. The sunrise was absolutely amazing from the top of the hill and well worth the hike up. The run down the hill was a bit sloppy from the rains, but the easy pace kept me from losing control, killing my quads, and wearing too much of the mud. Note: After the race I talked with the 50-mile winner, Aliza LaPierre, who said that she was glad that she had a headlight on to see the mud on the downhill section. I, however, needed no light – the sun was out quite nicely by the time I hit this section!
Back to Joe Crew at Gatherings, a quick refill of my Gatorade bottle, dumped my vest and winter cap, and quickly head for Carson Road. As I peaked up on Carson I could see Joel and one of the other girls, Sherry, who I had run with earlier. Without really trying, I noticed that I was picking-up my speed and was even thinking about trying to catch them. Hmmm, this felt a little too much like work. Wait . . . remember the rules! I immediately slowed my pace a bit and just thought “either they will come back to me or I will let them go and hopefully I we will see each other again.”
Into the woods and the lovely single-track trail that I had been longing for. Fortunately, Joe and I had run this section before, so I knew what was ahead of me. I was still waking up and really hadn’t found my groove yet, but I was running happy. I had completely lost sight of Joel and Sherry, but with all the twists of the trail they could have been 50 feet or 500 feet ahead of me and I wouldn’t have known it. So I just stuck my with game plan and trudged along.
The sun was out but it was still quite cool when I hit the Pipeline Road aid station and was greeted by Joe and his cowbell. I filled my pack with Roks and Combos and refilled my bottles with water and Gatorade and I was off.
Onto Vinnedge Road where I got my first glance of the leaders heading back at me. Everyone looked to be in good spirits and were still running happy. This was the other section that I had never run so I really didn’t know what to expect. I caught up with Sherry and we talked and ran together and it was nice to have some company. I struck a pose for Steve Gallow and his camera and then headed up toward the power lines. On and off Sherry and I ran together. I was really enjoying talking with her but I soon realized that I was getting too distracted and at risk of violating my rules. I was inadvertently being pulled into her faster pace. So when we hit the next climb, I changed to walking while Sherry easily ran up the hill. I kept telling myself that it was better this way; I needed to focus on my needs and not falling apart too soon. I kept remembering the words of a runner from the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 DVD that I recently watched: “It doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as you finish. Nobody remembers you if you don’t finish.” But I would remember. I needed to make sure I finished – not to be remembered by everyone else, but more so I could remember.
The sun was coming out and I felt like I was starting to wake up and I just kind of hung back. Eventually I caught back up with Sherry and we ran together and talked until I reached Joe back at Pipeline. I refilled my stock of fuel, changed my shirt to short sleeves, and headed out. I was now running alone and able to get back into my head, a sometimes scary place. When I hit the trail off of Pipeline Road it was like magic. I was alive and I just felt at one with the trail. Eventually I came upon my friend Jim and another girl he was running with. Jim reminded me of how many times I was dying during last year’s Vermont 100 and how I would come back. I told him “I am like a cat with nine lives; I will die over and over but keep on coming back.” (And hope that I don’t reach and use up that ninth life!). So basically, no worries that I was passing him now, since I knew that my death would be imminent and eventually he would see me again. Sometimes you just gotta go with it when it’s there; you don’t know when – or if – you’ll have it again.
I felt like I was flying. It was awesome; the woods were so peaceful and I was happy. But all I could think about was Coke. I really wanted a Coke right then. So when I finally hit Carson Road, it seemed like an eternity getting back to Gatherings. When I finally did I downed two cups of Coke and it was as good as I had been dreaming. Joe was so engrossed with reviewing the trail maps with Greg Loomis’ father, Cal, that he didn’t even notice that I was there. But that was OK; I had my Coke.
(Here I am heading back from Pipeline to Carson Road via the Finger Lakes Trail. Feelin' groovy! )
The Clif Roks rocked! I felt totally satisfied with my fuelling and had not been having any low points so far. More Combos, more Roks, more Gatorade and water, new dry socks and sneakers, and I was off. Back down Tone Road to what I knew would be a grueling climb up Virgil Mountain. It’s a horrible climb when your legs are fresh – and let me say that the distance and the grade of the mountain grew ten-fold after 23 miles! It seemed like forever before I would see the old boiler on the hill; I was sure someone had moved it! I guess here was when I realized that it really isn’t always an advantage to know the trails we were running so well; I think ignorance at this point would have been better for me. Comparing how I normally go up this mountain to what was happening at this point in time just wasn’t helpful.
FINALLY, I reached Greek Peak, feeling less strong but still with a good attitude. I had been running – well, moving – alone for a long time now and it was good to see people. I talked with Joe a bit, refueled and took my 5-hour Energy drink. Within minutes my attitude improved and I felt like I could move-on to rule #2 – run harder. So I took off singing my favorite running tune “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen. Me – Mr. Fahrenheit – travelling at the speed of light. OK, likely only in my head, but at least feeling fast. And then I heard the gunshots and found another gear. By the time I hit the climb up Hauck Hill Road, well, let me just say that 5-hour Energy didn’t last 5 hours. It was a long, arduous hike up the hill. I felt whipped but still not done yet. It was so great to see Joe waiting for me on Bleck Road before I entered the trail again. Just seeing him and getting to talk with him boosted me. The energy was back – only I wasn’t sure which of my nine lives I was working off from at this point. Hopefully I had a few more left. Down to the creek crossing where I really had to concentrate on my footing, and there was Steve Gallow hiding next to a rock wall snapping pics. He startled me so much that I almost crapped myself. But at least it got me paying more attention to my surroundings. Further on I passed two lady hikers who, when they heard me approaching, one yelled “runner” so she and her friend could step off of the trail. I assured them that “runner” was a far stretch of the word at this point! Again, this trail seemed much longer then I remembered. But I finally hit the Rock Pile, refueled, and quickly headed off to Daisy Hollow, remembering how hard this section always was during the old Mountain Madness race, when you would be tackling it on fresher legs.
(Watching my steps as I cross the creek on Dabes Diversion)
And then, maybe ¼ mile down the trail, my toe caught something and I flew! My water bottle flew another ¼ mile down the trail from me and I landed awkwardly on my right shoulder and knee. I sat for a bit to make sure I hadn’t done any major damage, eventually got up, and swore to myself that I would pay better attention. Right.
They told me at the Rock Pile that it was only 5 miles to Daisy Hollow. Well, it was a long and sucky 5 miles. Here I got to see all of the runners who were heading back, looking good, and giving me hope that some day I, too, would be going that same direction. Eventually I hit the aid station at Daisy Hollow and to my surprise found some excellent potatoes cooking. At this point I made a new discovery. I love the clang of the cowbell, but there are times when it can grate on me – usually when I am tired and teetering on hypoglycemia. I never knew that anything could wear on my nerves more than that bell does when I am at that point, but I found it there out in the middle of nowhere. The gong. It was loud and Joe was like a kid with a new toy. But I guess it did it’s job – one bong was welcoming, the many bongs of Joe woke me up and got me the hell out of the aid station fairly quickly.
Tired, but not broken, I shuffled on. Within a few minutes the potatoes kicked-in and I was able to run a bit. But the footing is very tricky in that first ½ mile leaving Daisy Hollow and I didn’t want to chance falling again, as there would be a good chance that I would either fall into the small ravine or that my body would just break.
I finally reached the Rock Pile aid station again and was rewarded with a chair to sit down in – not that I was really that tired, but it was just nice to take the pressure off of my back. I sat for maybe a minute while I refilled my Gatorade bottle, chatted with some friends who were volunteering, grabbed a bag of Cheetos, and headed out. Those Cheetos were really good but I just didn’t have enough room in my gut to finish the entire baggie and my waist pack was still full of Roks and Combos. Not wanting to waste them and thinking that I would likely need those Cheetos in a little while, I tucked them into the waist band of my pack.
Another fall – I let my concentration waiver for a minute – and I quickly woke back up. Wow – it really is true – I found out that the bigger you are, the harder you really do fall. Oh well, keep moving, I told myself. After the momentary deflation from the fall, my attitude did get a little boost when I saw that it looked like I could tackle rule #3: catch the runner ahead of you. Eventually I did catch up to and pass Ed Eddington; however, Ed was running the 100-miler. Oh well; the rules didn’t say that the runner ahead had to be in the same race as me!
And then it happened again – a momentary lapse in focus, I think a blade of grass grabbed my toe, and I was down again. A long line of very loud expletives escaped my mouth as my left leg completely went into spasm. Tears came to my eyes as all I could do was lay there and massage it. At least if total paralysis overcame me I knew that Ed would be coming along shortly and could let someone know where to find me! However, a few minutes of rest and crying (that always helps), a mixture of Cheetos (thank goodness I didn’t land on them and crush them!), Combos, Roks, and I was at least able to get myself vertical and moving forward again.
Eventually I reached Joe and the Greek Peak aid station crew and just seeing them and getting their cheers brought some new energy. I knew that overcoming rule #4 – breaking 11 hours – was out of the question, but it didn’t matter anymore. I was ready to head home and so far things had gone quite successfully. I left one of my water bottles with Joe, hoping to make myself a little lighter for the final 3.5 miles, and changed into my “Diane’s Team” shirt. A quick kiss from Joe and I headed out of the aid station as fast as I could, knowing that I would soon be in tears. Just putting that shirt on and thinking of Diane and her strength and struggle always does it to me. But it makes me feel tougher and I know that would make Diane happy. She will always be there helping me.
OK, that long climb up Virgil Mountain is a hell of a lot longer going in the other direction. And a lot more painful. My quads squeaked just a bit with each step. And there is no walking here; walking is way more painful and just prolongs the agony. Get it over with. Finally, and fortunately with no falls, I reached Tone Road. Now you might think it would be a relief to finally hit the flat after all that downhill, but really, it’s like getting newborn baby legs. They just don’t know what to do with it. After about 20 feet of walking to reacclimatize my body position, I was able to run. And I was going to finish this thing running. Finally I saw Joe ahead and heard the cowbell and I knew I was home. Around the bend, into the parking lot, across the line . . . 11 hours, 21 minutes, and change. I didn’t overcome rule #4 but I came close, and I was happy with that, so it was a very successful day.
A HOT cheese quesadilla and everything was all good. All I needed was a hot shower, a cold beer, and good company. My camp shower was no longer warm and I couldn’t bear to hold a cold beer in my cold hands at the moment. Thank goodness for Audrey, Jim, and Jackie living so close by and having a hot shower so readily available. That hot shower did such wonders that my quads barely winced when I walked back down the stairs. Back to Gatherings for a nice sit-down meal of a very excellent mushroom cheeseburger (my traditional post-ultra feast; the rare occasion that I eat red meat) and salty hot fries and then it was back outside to park myself in a chair at the finish line with a cold Dundee Oktoberfest brew in my hand and time to catch-up with friends and watch the race unfold.
At around 10pm, Joe, Lorrie, Tam, and I headed out for our night shift duties of manning the Greek Peak aid station, but that’s another ultra story in itself. And better left for another day and many more pages of writing.
It was a great day spent with great friends and good memories. It was good to have that kind of day running again and I am very happy that I made the decision to go with the 50 instead of the 100. I have a new respect for the mountains in Virgil and running the 50 definitely gave me a better perspective of what I would need to do to successfully tackle the 100. So with that, I’ll be back again next year, hopefully to take on the 100. Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, keep them doggies rollin’, keep them doggies rollin’, RAWHIDE!
Many thanks to Joe – we are a team and I am so lucky to have his support; I couldn't do it without him. Thanks to all of the volunteers and to the other runners, their families, friends, and crews. Many times we don’t even know each other, but the spirit of the run brings us all together.
(photos courtesy of Steve Gallow - thanks, Steve!)
Saturday, September 12, 2009
The race starts at 6am on Saturday, September 19. If you want to follow my progress through the mountains CLICK HERE (you will have to click on ITU 50 Mile on the left side of the page). You can click on the little cell phone icon next to my name and sign yourself up to receive text messages of my progress. CLICK HERE to see the leadboard and splits (click on ITU 50 Mile and the top of the page) and see how I am doing with the other runners. It will be just like you are out there in the mountains and on the trails with me!
Monday, August 31, 2009
LAP I – 1:13:33. The first thing out of my mouth when I saw Joe was “way too fast”. I knew I had gone out too fast and would not be able to maintain that level of speed for the next three loops. Took a brief bathroom break, which helped to slow me down, refilled my bottle with Gatorade, ate a few Combos, and headed out for loop II. My feet, without being taped, were so far holding up just fine and the Brooks Cascadia 4s were feeling very comfortable.
LAP II – 1:23:13. OK, this loop was slower but still not slow enough. Remember I had wasted some time in the bathroom, so this loop was not the actual 10 minutes slower that it appears to be. I had lost track of Lorrie as she had gone on ahead of me when I made my pit stop. Plus, when I came in on this loop, Joe wasn’t there. At first I felt a bit scared to be “on my own”, but I knew that he was probably out enjoying some time on the trail for himself and I quickly got back into my own game. I downed a carton of vanilla soymilk, ate a few Combos, refilled my bottle with HEED, and headed out, my feet, legs, and mind still intact.
LAP III – 1:28:18. I enjoyed multiple times of seeing friends on the outs-and-backs and this time as I was heading up the hill through the woods I got to say a quick hello to Mark Thompson as he was heading in on what I believe was his last loop. Lucky dog; he looked great and was having fun. I was jealous. I came to the first aid station and was just about to pass it by when they offered me a popsicle. WOW! That really brought me back to life. By now I had switched to drinking just plain water and eating Clif Shot Blocks, which I found were also working really well for me. Still no sign of Lorrie; she must be having a good day, I thought. By now I had mentally started breaking the course down into do-able sections, which made it easier and seemingly faster (more mentally than in reality!). My legs were starting to get a bit stiff from the seemingly constant running, but I was still feeling good.
LAP IV – 1:30:55. Joe was back . . . and so was Lorrie. As I pulled into the aid station at the end of this loop, I was relieved to know that it was going to be my last one. I quickly changed into my “Diane’s Team” shirt for the extra strength she would give me to finish strong. Joe refilled my water bottle, I drank another carton of vanilla soymilk, grabbed some more Clif Shot Blocks, and walked out. Lorrie had headed out before me, but I just kept thinking that I would see her soon. But she just was never there! She must be running a super last loop! Again I refueled with a popsicle at the first aid station, and got a shot of energy. FINALLY I reached a slight peak where I could see over to the next one and there was Lorrie! I caught up to her, we talked and walked a bit together, and although I really wanted to stay and run with her, I also wanted to see what my body could handle. So I pushed on and tried to run harder. And I was stylin' in my Dirty Girl Gaiters!
So all in all, it was a really great day for running and hanging out with friends. Lorrie, Tam, and I relaxed and recovered with the post-race celebratory beers. Good sandwiches and snacks were provided and we talked with friends for quite a while after the race, cheering on those still coming in and those who were still going on. I really enjoyed this race, but it is what I would call a road runner’s trail race. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just that there were no real technical trails or great climbs. Those are what I REALLY like. But I will get my taste of that in less than three weeks at the Iroquois50 Trail Race in Virgil – I know what awaits me there and there will be plenty of technical trails and hiking up long steep climbs. But it will be a good time, no matter what!
Thank you to Todd Baum, GLER race director, and to all of the volunteers who give up endless hours to take care of us crazy runners. They make these long runs so much easier and enjoyable. If you have never volunteered for one of these ultra races and would like to give it a try, your next opportunity would be at the Iroquois Trail 100/50 mile trail races. It’s crazy fun and the runners just love you!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
OK . . . it’s time to get ready to race! Since VT100 I have been recovering (which hasn’t really felt like recovery, since I didn’t feel like I burned myself out when I stopped at 83.6 miles). I have been trying to focus on running strong and figuring out my on-the-run nutrition plans. Sunday, August 30, is the Green Lakes Endurance Runs (GLER) (100K & 50K). I have never run this race before, so I am excited about doing something new. I was so tempted to go for the 100K, but I really think a strong 50K race will serve me better in my preparation for IT50. Here are some things that I have been working on that I feel will help me to have a successful race this weekend:
1. Hydration – I really like Hammer HEED, it tastes great and digests well for me. But for some reason, and maybe that’s due to something I am not doing right with it during the run, it just doesn’t give me the energy during the run that I have felt with other carbohydrate drinks. I have tried it multiple times and during short runs I feel like I can get by with it, but during an ultra it just doesn’t seem to do it. I really like the Hammer products and will continue to try to use HEED and figure out how to make it work for me, but for this weekend at GLER it’s back to old-school Gatorade, water, and NUUN tabs.
2. Food – this is a toughie. What works one day may not be the right thing the next time around. I know that I have gotten through marathons on just Gatorade calories and since I will be using that at GLER, maybe I won’t have to eat much solid. But I plan to have a multitude of options between my new fave Clif Bars, Clif Shot Blocks, salt & vinegar potato chips, and Combos. I am toying with the idea of chocolate and vanilla flavored soy milk for my protein needs. I love this stuff and I know that it sits well in my gut, but I have never tried it on the run. I know the golden rule . . . don’t try anything new on race day. I am going to break this rule, since although I am racing, I am also training for the bigger race – IT50. So in this case, I think it’s OK – and necessary - to try something new.
3. Dirty Girl Gaiters – excellent name! How can you not want to wear a pair of these? I just got another pair so I can get my mojo back with mismatched gaiters. I think I was getting too stuffy with the matching gaiters and all. Gotta keep things light and interesting! It’s not just about function – it’s also about style!
4. My feet – they actually have been doing quite well. I have tried taping them for some of my recent runs and it has worked well. However, I have also tried – most recently Joe’s 30K Mountain Madness run – running without them taped and had just fine results. I’m usually pretty good anyway up to 50 miles on trails. The calluses finally bubbled up and that tough outer layer came off, but I can feel the calluses quickly returning. For GLER I am planning on not taping my feet to start, but will have the moleskin ready if needed.
5. Sneakers – the Brooks Adrenaline ASR 6 has been my favorite trail shoes with the Brooks Cascadia 4 a close second. However, I have been putting more time on the trail in the Cascadias and found that I really prefer them over the Adrenalines. They are two different types of shoes which really serve two different purposes for me. The Adrenalines have more stability while the Cascadias seem to give me a better feel for the trail and are lighter weight. So the plan is to start out with the Cascadias and have the Adrenalines on stand-by if I need more support.
6. Joe – what else is there to say? I will have my best support-crew-cowbell-ringing man there to encourage me with each loop (four-loop course, so I will be able to see Joe often and get a lot of much-needed support!).
So if you want to follow the race, you can check it out via the live webcast. Just go to http://www.runrace.net/findarace.php?id=09242NY&tab=a5. My race number is 151. It should be a super fun day! I am hoping to go under six hours, which is what my last 50K race was. However, never having been on this course, and depending on the weather and heat, it could be a total crap-shoot. We’ll see what happens!
Sunday, August 23, 2009
The next question would be who would have the better strategy? Runners competing in the 30K race would have to make a declaration prior to the start . . . were you a roadrunner or a trailrunner? This course had a mix of stuff that would suit both types, but which group would come out on top? Of the 24 finishers, 15 runners declared themselves as trailrunners with the remaining 9 heralding as roadrunners. There was a slight advantage in the numbers to the trailrunners – a tougher breed, I might add. What happened to all of the roadrunners? Still in bed or scared of the heat? The world may never know.
Anyhow, six of the top ten finishing places went to the trailrunners, who I am sure, loved the hills and the seasonal forest gravel roads. Top trail dog was Matt Tillotson, 16 year-old running phenom, who killed the course in 2:31:13. Not far behind was road-man Mark Thompson finishing in 2:33:00. Top trail woman Julie Staub finished in 2:51:36 with first roadie female Katie Stettler finishing in 2:53:28. Me? I finished fourth in the trail-ladies mix. Tough to say if knowing the course was of benefit or a curse. I always knew where I was and what I had left. This is my training ground, but I will never be fast on it . . . just consistent . . . and I am OK with that.
It was a fun day finishing off with a lawn-party at our home with those who were stalwart enough to hang-out until the bitter end. Burgers, beers, water, soda, and just good times hanging out with good friends. And very nice to be able to shower and nap prior to having to clean-up the party mess! This is the area where I run all the time, but it was Joe who realized what a challenging race it could make. Thanks, Joe! And thank you to all of our “regulars” who helped-out and to our neighbors who got their first taste of race volunteering.
Maybe next year there will be some new challenges incorporated to keep THE MADNESS alive!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
There are NO CUT-OFFS; take as much time as you wish and enjoy the run! We're in no hurry . . . we're already home! The usual post-race snacks will be available after the race, but if you wish to bring something to grill, our grill is your grill. Non-alcoholic beverages only will be provided, but feel free to bring your own favorite post-race recovery brew. And if you want to enjoy a night under the stars and wake-up just feet from the starting line, bring your tent and camp-out in our yard on Saturday night - we just ask that you arrive before dark.
Intrigued? Take a picture-tour of the course HERE. Come on out and put a little madness into your running!
And thanks to my friend, Will Danecki, for being out on the course and giving me great support. CLICK HERE to check-out some of the pics that Will snapped.
Monday, August 3, 2009
I have gotten back in the saddle, so to speak. I have been doing some cross-training and getting some good rides in on my bike. What a powerful feeling to put the chain in the big ring and just fly! I have even gotten back out running and did a little run/hike with Joe on the trails in Virgil and had a really nice time. And I have gotten my mind back into racing and am looking forward to getting in some stronger runs.
Next on the list is the Green Lakes Endurance Runs 50K. I have never run this race before and so I am looking forward to it. It is a 4-loop course, which will give me ample access to my fuels and I can hopefully find a good combination that will keep me energized. At this time I am in first place in the Western NY Ultra Series standings for Open Women. This is somewhere I have never been before! A good finish at GLER will keep me there. Just a little something to keep me focused and going.
I have also changed my entry from the Iroquois 100 to the 50-miler. I still keep going over it in my head that I can do the 100; I have the training under my belt. And then I look at all the other things going on right now and I come back to reality and realize that I need to focus on so many other things right now and it would be totally selfish to focus my efforts on the 100. So I am looking forward to this being my 100 for next year. I think the timing will be right and the layoff will be good for my soul. I hope to get out to Virgil soon to tackle some of the trails that I have never been on which are part of the race course.
So for right now, it's time to enjoy what's left of the summer. Next up: Mountain Madness, which is Joe's race. This will be really cool this year because it is being staged out of our home, so it will be like hosting a big party with running in the middle! Our neighbors are also getting involved with helping, which is really cool to have some new faces out there.
Things are looking up!
Monday, July 27, 2009
I have had many good trips with Lorrie and Joe and I knew that we would have a great time, no matter what the outcome on race day. But it was really exciting to have Lorrie’s daughter, Sheleana, joining us for her initiation into our kooky club. I have to wonder what her thoughts were when she attended the pre-race briefing on Friday night with us and got to witness the eccentricities of the runners. Outhouses? We don’t need them. Beer? Of course it’s normal to walk around a wide-open field drinking beer in the early afternoon. Dinner? Who knew that there were such precise decisions to be made?
After a dinner of pizza (OK, maybe five slices was a bit much), we all headed back to the hotel room to try to get some rest – the night would be way too short. Despite having a rough night of very little sleep and ridiculous GI upset, I awoke on Saturday morning at around 1:35am without the alarm. My gut was still in a bit of turmoil and I worried about what I could possibly eat that would not send me running to the bathroom. So I got up and dressed and made some coffee, hoping that the activity would soon let me know how my stomach was doing. Things seemed to settle and I was able to tolerate a couple of bites of pop tart and some liquid calories in the form of Hammer Perpetuem. Soon Joe, Lorrie, and I headed out to race headquarters and left Sheleana sleeping, to be picked-up and begin her crewing duties at a more civilized hour.
We arrived at the race site – it was clear and cool. It had been raining at our hotel and I was glad to find that the rain had stopped and the skies were clear. Some good chit-chat with friends – it’s amazing how you can find so many people that you know among such a large crowd, especially when you are barely awake – a couple of runs to the porta-potties, and it was time to start. A momentary downpour of rain subsided to a mere light mist and the mass of bodies and excited voices disappeared into the sea of darkness and bobbling lights.
Rollin', rollin', rollin'
Though the streams are swollen
Keep them dogies rollin'
Rain and wind and weather
Hell-bent for leather
Wishin' my gal was by my side.
All the things I'm missin',
Good vittles, love, and kissin',
Are waiting at the end of my ride
- Frankie Laine
I ran with Charlie Leonard and John from State College, PA, who had recently run at the Finger Lakes Fifties, feeling relaxed and my stomach more at ease. Maybe things would be OK. Somewhere around nine miles into the race the horses started coming through. OK, I thought, this was about where they first caught me last year. Hopefully this was a good omen. And I jogged on. Unfortunately, that easy-stomach feeling didn’t last long and I was forced to make a pit stop among the trees. And then began the never-ending downhill. Going uphill seemed OK but the jarring of downhill running was just awful on my gut. I was so grateful when I got to some flat road, crossing through Taftsville covered bridge and seeing my friends Karen and Will. It was good to see familiar faces again and lamenting my stomach issues aloud seemed to be quite cathartic (pardon the pun). However, I still was not able to tolerate much in the line of caloric intake and I knew that even my dogged pace needed some sort of fuel to keep it happening. So I tried some melon and PB&J at the next station, listened to the grumbles of my gut attempting to revolt, ignored it, and walked on. At this point it seemed that sucking on gummy bears and sipping water would have to do; occasionally I would run along pretty strong – thinking that this had happened before and went away, so why would I think that it wouldn’t this time?
We the people, shedding skin
Age of reason lies within
Explanation, the club of Rome
Meditation and staying home
Moving forward, the chosen few
Teach your children what is new
Bang the table, beat the drum
New messiah, overcome
- Graham Russell
Pretty House – mile 21.1 – this was the first chance I would get to see my crew and I was so excited and hoped that just seeing them and getting their support would make me feel stronger. I could hear Joe’s cowbell LONG before I made the final turn down the road to the station. It just brought the hugest smile to my face and I started running a little faster and feeling better. Joe, Sheleana, and Lorrie helped me change my shirt and shoes and refilled my gummy bear supply and my bottles. I downed a bottle of gingerale and at that moment my stomach was feeling pretty not bad. I wasn’t too far off from the time that I had arrived at this station last year, so things were looking up. And then as I was making a quick stop in the porta-pottie I heard Joe yell out as he drove by “Way to go, Honey! Let it out, let it out, like a good girl scout!” I’m sure everyone thought that I must have the weirdest crew! But what awesome cheerleaders they were!
I still was not able to take much in the way of solids, but I made an attempt with a few potato chips and some melon, hoping that this would settle OK. It seemed to and I still felt pretty energetic, now renewed with new socks, shoes, a dry shirt, and the good spirits of my crew.
Hot sun as warm as the kissing of the wind
Footsteps in perfect time
Heartbeat as loud as the whisper in the wood
Hold me this dance is mine
The dance is mine
- Graham Russell
Stage Road – mile 30.1 – after running some beautiful open pastures, mountains, and trails, it was downhill on the road to the station. There was Will again, about ¼ mile before the station, making me feel right at home. Again, I hit this station at about the same time as last year and was now feeling great and looking forward to eating some PB&J. Joe rang me into the station with the cowbell and his own musical symphony, Lorrie filled my bottles and Sheleana got me food and worked as photographer. Karen was also there giving me words of wisdom. It was great to be surrounded by friends and even better that it seemed my stomach had finally calmed-down. The sun was out and it was getting hot, something that I had not been accustomed to over the last month. But I knew this next section was mostly uphill and that I would be walking quite a bit, so I felt that the heat shouldn’t affect me much. I was feeling strong again and felt physically and mentally ready to take-on this race.
A thousand years, a thousand more
A thousand times a million doors to eternity
I may have lived a thousand lives, a thousand times
An endless turning stairway climbs
To a tower of souls
If it takes another thousand years, a thousand wars
The towers rise to numberless floors in space
I could shed another million tears, a million breaths,
A million names but only one truth to face
Camp 10 Bear – mile 47.2 – the hills were just unrelenting leading up to this point. I remembered that there were hills here and that they were long climbs, but somehow today they seemed longer. And yet, through my struggling but having the good fortune of long legs, I was still able to pass a few people. By now the heat just seemed ridiculous and the nausea was starting to creep back, although sucking on gummy bears seemed to help limit the damage. The heat just seemed to be sucking the life out of me and when I finally reached the aid station and saw my crew, I only felt relief. It was so good to see them; I needed their mental boosts.
It was time to re-sole my feet with new moleskin (this early prevention seemed to be working as my feet, despite how they looked, actually felt good and there were very few hot spots). Time for a new pair of sneakers – switched from my Brooks Cascadias to my favorite Brooks Adrenaline ASRs, cushy but with good support. I stepped-up for my first weigh-in and surprisingly weighed exactly the same as my pre-race weight – 162 pounds. I can’t even lose weight after running over 47 miles! Now it was time to eat a bit before moving on. Problem was that solid foods still did not appeal to me. So I had some more gingerale, some melon, and walked-off with some chips, hoping that this would be enough to sustain me. As I was leaving the station one of the front-runners was coming back through (his 70-mile point). He looked great. I knew how far I still had to go to get where he was – and I was certain that I wouldn’t look nearly as good!
When we believe in our reality
In the words that we say
We’re all searching for sanity
Till it drives us away
To that place in the wilderness
In the deep of your mind
You remember that happiness
Wasn’t easy to find
- Graham Russell
Pinky’s – mile 51 – the heat was still out in full-force and now not only did I have rocky uphill trails to climb, but they were wet and muddy in spots, creating a tactical challenge! Nothing like the mud we had at the Fifties, but at this stage of the game any muddy, rocky sections just seemed overwhelming. And just when I thought my stomach issues had settled, the nausea rolled around again. I got to this aid station in the middle of nowhere, manned by three older women, who were just wonderful. They had melon cut-up and were making fresh sandwiches. I tried some melon and that seemed to stay down. I grabbed a sandwich and started walking, but quickly found that this was not going to stay down, so I tossed it aside and tried to jog a little. I really needed to see my crew and hoped that they would know how to fix me.
Your own worst enemy has come to town
Your own worst enemy has come
Everything is falling down
Your own worst enemy has come to town
- Bruce Springsteen
Birmingham’s – mile 54.1 – the nausea was just overwhelming now. Liquid nutrition didn’t even seem appealing and I couldn’t even begin to make a decision of what to try to do about it. Fortunately, I caught-up to my friend Jim Lampman here. Unfortunately for him, he was also having stomach issues. So we just stood there talking to the volunteers and trying to sample a few things to see what would stay down. Jim suggested some ice tea (sweetened). Wow, that really tasted good. Maybe this was my new magic elixir. I drank more and tried a bit of turkey sandwich. OK, good for the moment, but my energy stores were pretty zapped from lack of decent nutrition for so long, so Jim and I just walked and talked and headed for the next station where we would meet our crews. The company was really great and this mentally helped me, but my “stomach-ease” didn’t last long and soon the nausea was back. What the hell?! This was ridiculous and I was getting really tired of it. Heading into Tracer Brook I thought that if I looked pitiful enough my crew would let me stop.
Tracer Brook – mile 57 – I walked into the station with Joe who had come out to meet me. I was crying, wasted, and nauseous. I had had it! I plopped into a chair and nearly fell over backwards! Despite my pleas to stop, Lorrie and Joe bitched me up, force-fed me, and changed my mole skin and socks. Lorrie walked me out, I whined, she would not play the game and participate in my pity-party. Eventually I felt like I could be left alone and not harm myself, so Lorrie left me and it was onward and upward for me. And just like that . . . BAM! . . . I felt GREAT! WOW! Back in the game! Again, this was a long and unrelenting uphill but the uphills are my strength and I was flying!
I’m a shooting star leaping through the sky
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I’m a racing car passing by like lady Godiva
I’m gonna go go go
There’s no stopping me
Margaritaville – mile 62.1 - eventually I caught back up with Jim and we ran into Margaritaville together, surprising Joe that I had made it there that fast (remember, Joe made this same mistake in judgment last year and missed me at this station, so I was really grateful to see that he made it here this time!). I tried some more of my Hammer Perpetuem, which worked wonders at Tracer Brook. I still could not tolerate anything solid, which really sucked because there were some really great looking cookies there.
I grabbed a flashlight and Jim and I left Margaritaville. I was feeling OK but about ½ mile later the nausea returned. I tried sucking on some crystallized ginger, which has worked for me in the past, but even this didn’t help. I was totally at a loss of what to do. So Jim and I just kept moving forward at a pretty brisk walk, talking and trying to distract my mind from my body. Although, mind and body were rapidly becoming two separate entities without a whole lot of help from me.
The night getting darker
Baby the darker it got
Struggled with why and what
But I could not fight what I knew was true
I was not gonna get through the night
Without the power of two
Me and you
- Neil Diamond
Camp 10 bear – mile 70 – I was still fighting the nausea but it seemed that soon I would be stronger because now I would have my better half to lead me; someone who could make me get over myself. Lorrie knew what her job was and I was confident that she knew what to do, but did she know how really bad I had gotten? I arrived at the aid station and was directed immediately to the scale for weight-in #2. Crap . . . 164 pounds. Weight gain is not good. It should have occurred to me that maybe I was over-electrolyted, but my logical thoughts were few and far between. Unfortunately, even if it had occurred to me, the answer to solving this problem would have been to decrease my intake of electrolytes and I had no caloric reserves to pull from so I needed to continue to eat or drink whatever I could tolerate, high in additional electrolytes or not, and hope that I would sweat or pee out the additional unnecessary electrolytes. Anyhow, I still felt boosted by seeing my crew and having them help me make some food and clothing choices (my brain was not functioning well enough for me to remember everything that I wanted all at one time, so Joe got a wonderful sprint workout running from where I was to the car, as I recalled each thing I needed, one at a time, only after he had returned from getting the first item!). After a brief reprieve in the chair, it was time for Lorrie and me to venture off into the darkness.
Who’ll be the last to die for a mistake
The last to die for a mistake
Whose blood will spill, whose heart will break
Who’ll be the last to die, for a mistake
- Bruce Springsteen
West Winds – mile 77 – initially I felt great and having Lorrie there to guide me and give me some distraction seemed to be working. We jogged and walked on and off. The stars were amazing. Lorrie pointed out that she saw the Big Dipper; I tipped my head skyward and - big mistake - the nausea hit me like a cinder block and I nearly fell-over. Won’t do that again, I thought. I sipped on Gatorade and thought I was turning the nausea corner. But it was not to be. By the time we reached Joe and Sheleana at mile 77 I was crying and sick of being sick to my stomach. My energy stores were limited, at best. I tried some soup which made me dry-heave. I cried some more and considered ending it all here. But Lorrie and Joe were great and made me realize that this could pass. I had bad spells last year and they passed, so why not this time? So I downed some tummy pills and No-Doz. Just walk, they said. Go easy. It will get better.
Save, save, save me
I can't face this life alone
Save, save, save me ...
I'm naked and I'm far from home
The slate will soon be clean
I'll erase the memories
To start again with somebody new
Was it all wasted,
All that love?
I hang my head and I'll advertise
A soul for sale or rent
I have no heart I'm cold inside
I have no real intent
Save, save, save me
I can't face this life alone
Save, save, ooooohhhhh ...
I'm naked and I'm far from home
Cow Shed – mile 83.6– although Lorrie and I were still passing other bodies in motion in the night, I was moving on auto-pilot. My mind now seemed to be completely dissociated from my body. What my body knew was that the nausea and lack of caloric intake was killing me. My brain kept screaming “you can’t quit!” Lorrie tried to distract me but my mind couldn’t register the words and my stomach couldn’t be made to be rational. It was time. Time to end the suffering. No regrets. I had done my best. It was then that I was able to make the mental connection enough to know that I had other races ahead of me that I really wanted to tackle and was killing myself in this one shot really worth it? I thought of the recovery time that it would take me after this was all said and done, considering that I didn’t die trying, and made the conscious decision that I wanted more out of my racing. Finishing this race at this physical cost would cost me more in the end. And there it was – before I knew it, the words “how do I get a ride out of here?” escaped my lips. The aid station personnel radioed ahead to the next station where Joe and Sheleana were waiting, covered me in a blanket to calm my shivering, and I came to terms with my decision.
I did my best; it wasn’t much.
I couldn’t feel, so I learned to touch.
I’ve told the truth,
I didn’t come to fool you.
And even though it all went wrong,
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah!
- Leonard Cohen
Taking from my two previous attempts at the 100-mile distance, I have discovered a few things that it takes to go the distance. Of course, you have to have the physical preparedness. I believe I had that; I had put in more weekly miles since January than I ever had before. But physical preparedness is not enough; your head and your heart are the soul that you need to get you through. Unfortunately, it took 83.6 miles for me to discover that I really didn’t have the latter two. Despite how much I wanted to convince myself that my head and my heart were into this race, multiple distractions over the previous months had dictated otherwise.
Regrets – do I have any? Absolutely not. I had a wonderful trip with wonderfully supportive friends and we had a blast. Lorrie got to experience running at night with a headlamp and experience the awakening of the senses that comes with night running. She got to see me at my worst and I got to witness, once again, the very heart of a friend who will try to pull you through that crap. Sheleana got to babysit Joe and drive all over the woods in the dark. Joe got to do what he loves – hang out with friends and support every runner. And ring his cowbell. I really do have the best of friends.
This defeating run made me come to some big realizations about my running and what I want out of the rest of my races this year. I want to run some good, strong races. I want to not just finish. I want to get some competitive spirit back. So, that said, I forced myself to make a big alteration to my Fall racing schedule. I had signed-up for the Iroquois Trail 100 in September and feel that I have the capabilities to complete it. But I know that, although a huge accomplishment, this would turn out to be another just finish run for me and likely have a longer recovery time, limiting some of the other races that I want to do after that. So I have decided to change my focus to running a strong Iroquois 50. And I am totally excited about this – it’s time to get in some quality rather than quantity miles and get my race nutrition figured out. And I will also get to do what I am really excited about – hang out with good friends, have fun, feel good about what I have done, and help out others where I can.
Notice that I have not included any times throughout this report. Time is irrelevant; it’s the journey that counts. It’s good to have a bad run once in a while; it’s good to have to re-examine yourself and your goals. And what I found through this self-exploration is that I didn’t DNF at the Vermont 100 . . . I am the official winner of the unofficial Vermont 83.6 mile race!