Sunday, October 6, 2013

my year in running leading up to this past weekend

holy crap ... I have really been off the radar with my postings.  time to get it together and keep writing down what has been going on ... mostly so I can remember the good and the bad of my races so when I look back with fond memories I can get a good dose of reality.

so I see that my last post was the febapple 50K.  apparently that was the beginning of a pattern.  the pattern being DNF at a 100 miler, have a strong 50K after.  the febapple came right off of the beast of burden 100 mile DNF.  100 mile DNF #1.  this was followed by some good and some not-so-good spring races, all of which were basically training runs for the Vermont 100 mile in july.  well ... guess what happened there?  a big fat DNF at mile 62, after dealing with some serious foot pain for 52 miles.  I can't say that I felt totally bad about the DNF because it was due to something real that was going wrong ... not me just mentally getting wimpy.  100 mile DNF #2.  but then came Green Lakes 50K in august and I was back and running and feeling good.  good enough to pull out a 6:17 50K, something that I had not done in a very long time.  this too was a training run for the penultimate run ... Virgil Crest 100 miler in September.  I went into this race feeling physically and mentally ready.  and then the rain came and the trails turned to grease.  I slipped and fell too many times to count and by the time I got to around mile 36 I knew that I was done.  the best I could do was struggle to finish the 50 miler, which I did with the help of my trekking poles and a beer.  100 mile DNF #3.

but I felt happy that I had the sense to stop at VCU before really hurting myself.  and hoping that I had saved something for the Oil Creek 50K which came just two weeks after VCU.  My right IT band was giving me some twinges off and on, so I bought an ITB strap just 3 days before the race and hoped that it would do the trick.  so the pattern that had been going was 100 mile DNF = strong 50K run to follow surely meant that I had a strong 50K run coming.  AND I found a 4-leaf clover on one of my runs just days before OC.  surely this all meant that things would work out ...

so let's skip all those boring months leading up to this past weekend and just get on with it ... the run that I had been waiting all year for.  yes, it was a shorter distance than I hoped to have my best run at this year, but it was definitely my best run of the year; all things seemed to just fall into place.

FRIDAY ... joe and I arrived in Titusville, PA, for the Oil Creek 50K that both of us would be running.  I agreed early on that I would run my race and joe would run his.  he had been diligently training and I felt good that he would take good care of himself out on the trails.  and I could concentrate on my race.  we got to chat with some friends, picked up our race numbers, and set off for dinner at The Blue Canoe brewpub.  after a dinner of beer battered fish, fries, coleslaw, vegetable bisque soup, and two IPAs, it was back to the Titusville middle school parking lot where we would camp for the night in the car-V.

SATURDAY ... race day!  we got up around 5:30am so that we could watch the 100Kers take off.  after a breakfast of coffee, mashed potatoes, and coffee cake, I was ready to run.  it was a cool morning (probably low 60s) but I could already feel the humidity.  and at 7am we were off and running.  I hung back a bit trying to find my pace.  the first ~1.5-2 miles is on road/paved bike path, so I didn't want to take off too fast, knowing that once we entered the woods the course would narrow to singletrack.  and actually I fell into a good group ... as we trotted up the trail (uphill) I chatted with two women ahead of me and a girl behind me (who I quickly learned was someone I knew from VCU and Cayuga Trails 50).  I never felt like I was being pushed but I did feel like that if I was by myself on these sections I would probably be walking more.  so it was good that I was with a group that helped me to push myself a bit.

AS #1 (mile 7.1) ... 1 hour, 19 minutes.  still felt strong, hydrating with NUUN, downed 2 cups of Dr. Pepper.  Didn't feel the need to eat anything yet as I was feeling well-fuelled.

AS #2 (mile 13.9) ... 2 hours, 41 minutes, 25 seconds.  temps were still OK but the humidity was getting brutal.  I was totally soaked.  I think I ate one salty caramel GU and had taken one Salt Stick cap prior to arriving at the station.  still I felt strong and did not feel the need to eat solid food.  I just wanted liquids - NUUN and Dr. Pepper really hit the spot.

AS #3 (mile 22.7) ... 4 hours, 32 minutes.  the sun had really come out and the heat was kicking up.  I was drinking only water/NUUN from my hydration pack and had eaten a couple more salty caramel GUs and a couple more Salt Stick caps.  my hydration pack felt a bit light so I figured I had better fill it up with water for the last section.  two more cups of Dr. Pepper and a half of a grilled cheese sandwich, and I was off.  I felt strong and was still secretly hoping that if I could keep up the pace I could finish in under 6:30.

the climbs between this aid station and the finish are probably the most brutal of any of the hills on this course.  and it was getting hotter and sunnier.  and my feet were just feeling hot and beat up.  and I just wanted to sit down.

FINISH (31.1 miles) ... 6 hours, 19 minutes, 32 seconds.  the last 2 miles of this course have to be the hardest ... they are FLAT.  and after all that climbing and descending on the trails with the tree cover around you, this flat, open section is just tough.  but I worked off of the energy that I was finishing!  as I watched the 100 milers and 100Kers heading back out, for once I felt really glad to not be them.

after 5,459 feet of elevation gain, a lot of NUUN tabs, 7 cups of  Dr. Pepper, 5 salty caramel GUs, 2+ liters of water, 4 Salt Stick caps, and my first long run in my Salomon Sense Mantras, I was done.  I had been red-lining it from about mile 7, running outside of my comfort zone.  and it felt good.  I truly had not pushed like that in a race in a long time.  and I truly felt like I was racing.  it was actually kinda cool.  so where did this get me?

overall finish:  21st out of 133.
overall female finish:  5th place.
masters female finish:  1st place.
and a really cool bronze finishers buckle.

I thought about joe frequently while I was running.  I hoped that he was having as much fun as I was.  he had paced me for the last 17 miles on this course in 2011 when I ran the 100K, so I knew that he at least had some familiarity with the course.  and he had been training.  I just hoped that he was staying hydrated and respecting the heat.  after I finished I did not shower right away because I did not want to miss joe finish.  so I hung out with my friend Katherine and we waited for joe.  after a while I just felt too disgusting for words (and I really smelled) and I just wanted to grab a quick shower.  Katherine said she would wait for joe while I showered.  I really tried to hurry but just after I showered and was dropping my junk in the car and getting ready to head over to the finish line, there comes joe and Katherine walking to the car!  and joe looked good!  he finished in 8:12!

so it was a great day for both of us.  and we both had trail tales to share on the drive home.  it felt so good to have a great run, get some eats, get home, and sleep in my own bed.  it was so nice to share a good day of racing with joe having a good day of racing an ultra.  we haven't both had good ultra races together in quite some time.  and it was nice to get up today still feeling good and ready to run (ok ... maybe not ... I still sat around and ate like it was the day after a 100 miler!).  but I am really hoping to keep up the strong training and speed for Stone Cat 50 Miler.  I would really like to break 10 hours there ... it seems doable but I have never been able to do it.  maybe this will be the year.

so for now ... my streak of crappy races has been broken and I am feeling pretty positive about my speed and endurance.  hopefully it was not a fluke ...

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