Monday, March 28, 2011

And The Madness Continues ...

‎100K last weekend, trail run yesterday morning = good 5 mile race yesterday afternoon. bad news is that the race was 9.3 miles! oh well, Forks XV is a classic and just fun to be with friends and running! thanks to tom hamlin, TCRC, and all the volunteers for hanging out in the cold wind for us!

Success At The NJ Ultra Fest

OK, so I am finally getting around to writing down a report of last week's trials and tribulations. Usually at this time of year, Joe & I travel to the HAT Run 50K in Maryland, a top-notch trail run on great trails which is always a great way to ring in spring. Well, this year the HAT registrations filled in 2 days. And although the HAT Run is a really great event, it has grown in size and last year I actually found that the trails were just a bit too crowded for me. So I had actually decided that I wanted to find something new this year, something that was a bit more "homey". And fortunately, my bud Johnny had told me about the NJ Ultra Fest, which just so happened to be going on on the same day as HAT Run. I really love the 50 mile distance and, although I am not fast at it, feel that it is very do-able for me, so I am always looking to challenge myself with something more. Unfortunately, that has led me to attempting more 100 mile races which I have not been so successful at. The cool thing about the NJ Ultra Fest is that it offered me something in between ... the 100K! This would be my second try at this distance and from my first go at it, I knew that even though it is only 12 miles longer than my comfortable 50 mile love, that extra 12 miles is WAY challenging! (Funny ... my first 100 mile attempt was with a DNF with 12 miles to go ... perhaps this was some kind of foreboding for me?). Anyway, back to the Ultra Fest. First of all, it was cool that it was only a 3 1/2 hour drive to get there (which equals 3 1/2 hour drive home when you're sore, tired, and stinky!). Really nice. Joe and I found our way to the race site quite easily with the assistance of Tom-Tom, our new travelling guide. We arrived to find our buddy, Jim, and his dad, Don. This weekend would be redemption runs for both Jim and I, since our DNFs at the Beast of Burden. I think we were both ready to make ammends. We quickly found Johnny and his friend Dave setting up their tents and we settled in next to them, setting up our tent "Aid Station". The plan was to put all of our race junk in the tent for easy access during the race and "camp" inside our vehicle. This proved to be an excellent plan because the wind was blowing like mad and the tent just rocked & rolled from side to side the entire weekend! We met the Ultra RDs, Rick & Jenn McNulty when we picked-up our race goodies (a really nice bag & tech shirt) and found them to be super nice, down to earth people. They were awesome and really put on a super event. A nice simple pasta dinner at the race site and Joe was off to bed to rest for his 50 mile debut while I sucked a couple of brews with new and old friends. Around 9pm it was off to bed for me, because if I don't go to bed by this time, it will be that I am up until 2 or 3am, which wouldn't bode well for my 5am start! I slept well, woke and downed a Starbuck's Double Shot to caffeinate me, and a couple of Pop Tarts, got my running gear on and walked that couple hundred feet to the starting line ... I love races where you get to camp right at the start! Joe was up to see me off and then prep himself for his 6am start. I am so used to having him be able to "get me ready" but this time I had to get myself together by myself since I didn't want to take Joe away from concentrating on his own run. At 5am, after a few last-minute instructions from RD Rick, we were off into the dark. I had looked at the map of the course, and although it seemed quite simple and self-explanatory, I really wasn't totally sure of where I was going. It was cool and the full moon helped to light the way, and I just tried to run easy. I finally felt comfortable when we reached our 6-mile turn-around point. On the way back to the start/finish I would see Joe heading out for his first out-and-back ... this was a great way to pass the day, seeing familiar faces over and over again and encouraging each other. The course was flat, which some may find this to be fast, but I find it to be quite challenging. When there are hills I know when to walk, when to eat, and get to use different muscles. Things are just different on the flat. So on and off I felt good, felt like crap, ran, walked, but got to see lots of friends and just had a great time. Just around the 6 mile point on the western section there was a pasture of Clydesdale horses ... my peeps! ... and they were just awesome. I could have stood there for hours just staring at them. But I had a job to do ... 62 miles in what I was hoping would be a PR. Throuhout the day I saw Joe and he looked absolutely fantastic! I was shocked because for two weeks leading up to race day he had been coughing up both lungs and just plain feeling like crap and had barely been able to get out for training runs. But, as usual, he somehow, somewhere, pulled another amazing run out! Joe finished his 50 miles in 11:22 and change and looked (and walked!) quite well after. Amazing. I fuelled throughout the day with just plain water with NUUN tabs and Honey Stinger Waffles interspersed with my fave tapioca pudding. This was perfect as I never felt hungry or out of fuel. Just before my last leg of 9 miles I downed my traditional 5-HR Energy with caffeine and was off. It did the trick and I had an amazing last 9 miles, completing that section in under 2 hours! I finished my second 100K in 13:23:31, a PR. Joe and I celebrated our runs with some nice spicey chicken wing pizza and for me, a couple of Harp Lagers. Up Sunday morning to talk with the other race finishers and cheer in the remaining 100 milers. We then all shared trail tales at the post-race celebration at the Long Valley Brew Pub where there was an EXCELLENT food spread!Through tears of happiness and exhaustion, RD Rick presented the post-race beer awards (a really excellent local brew) and fine pint glass with the race logo on it. The weekend of running was a huge success ... redemption for my running and finding just what I was looking for in a race ... fun with friends and a nice "homey" feeling with everyone there. RDs Rick & Jenn were the best hosts! I will definitely put this one on the calendar for next year. The drive home was uneventful with Tom-Tom leading the way ... and LARGE Shamrock Shakes to celebrate with!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Review And Redemption

OK, after a great time of running yesterday it finally got me into the mood to look back at my racing since the new year has begun. First of all, yesterday was the 10th Annual St. Patrick's Day 4-Mile Road Race in Binghamton. This is truly one of the best races around ... the RD is awesome, the volunteers are so great, and the church ladies really know how to put on a spread! Joe and I, as always, were totally geared for the race and ran in full uniform. I finished in 27:42, 10 seconds faster than last year. Good enough for second Female Masters and first Athena! It was a great day of running and most importantly, great to see all of our friends during the social hour after the race!
So back to February, a race I have been putting-off writing about because, quite frankly, it just drained the hell out of me. Last year was the first running of the Beast Of Burden Winter 100 (miles) and 24-HR race in Lockport, NY. Last year I ran the 24 hours and it was just very cool and fun! Just run what I could in 24 hours and no pressure. So I was game for that again this year ... but for some unknown and likely insane reason, at the last minute, I decided that I could do the 100 miler. What the hell was I thinking? My last long run had been in early December and due to lack of enthusiasm and bad weather, long runs were just hard to come by to fully prep for this event. But I was confident that I could do it.

Well, long story short ... The Beast showed-up in full-force! The temps were low 20s with just NON-STOP winds, gusting 20-30 mph. The snow was actually quite good for running and my yak traks worked well. However, the cold (which I usually love) combined with the wind and windchill, just made it hard. I had been practicing with a new fuelling strategy of drinking Hammer Perpetuem as my main fuel, which worked OK. But what I realized was that the fullness from the Perpetuem actually kept me from eating enough solid foods and apparently the Perpetuem wasn't enough to keep me fuelled for the long-run. Lesson learned. I like and need to eat solid foods, especially in that type of environment, to keep me well fuelled.

But the main issue for me was that for the first time I actually felt hurt during the run. Not just hurting, but actually hurt. There is a difference. Hurting is expected ... you expect to hurt during this type of run. It's not easy. But being hurt is different ... like there is actually an injury presenting itself. Approaching the 50-mile mark, my right groin felt so strained that each step forward with that leg felt like some ligament or something might just tear. It was incredibly painful. There really wasn't much of a decision to make ... no way did I want to do permanent damage to myself and jeopardize the rest of my racing season. The hard part was, well ... yet another 100-mile DNF. I am so hating that feeling.

So I rested and drank some beers and coffee with Bailey's and that seemed to ease the mental anguish but unfortunately it did little to help my leg pain. At least the continuing pain let me know that I made the right decision in stopping. The nice thing was that I got to help Joe crew for our friend Karen who was also running the 100. She is one amazing and tough lady. I just wanted to cry (and I think I may have) when I saw her approaching the last couple of miles on the other side of the canal. Karen finished in 29 hours, 2 minutes ... DFL. But, like I told her, DFL is actually a great place to be ... the cheers are as loud for you as they are for the winner! I know ... I have been there.

So it was a great weekend and actually a very fun time. Lessons learned, as I always do at each one of these things I attempt. I was honored to be there to see Karen truly grit it out in some of the harshest conditions. I will go back again next year and take-on the 24 hour again and see what I can do. I love to run, but I love more having fun when I am doing it ... and the 24 hour event for me is fun. No pressure. And really, for me, in those conditions, it's all about finding out what you have in you. So Sam ... I WILL BE BACK!
(Karen & Chris pre-race at the BOB)

And on another note ... Fox Soccer Plus ... thanks for NOTHING! I can't even watch the Six Nations rugby tournament because you're not showing it! And I so needed the distraction of watching good rugby and I am apparently missing some really great action by England who are so far undefeated and could take the Six Nations in a grand slam!

Friday, March 4, 2011


Just a quick note to explain why I am now - in 2011 - posting a 2008 race report. First, given my recent inabilities to complete the 100 mile distance again, this has been very helpful for me to review this success, what was good, what was bad, and look harder at what I need to do to make another successful run at the distance.

Most importantly, I am posting this so that I can send it on to a brave soul who is collecting stories of ultra adventures and writing a book. I hope that this can somehow be helpful to her!