Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hawk 100

Hawk 100, September 8th 2012
Before I start, I owe a heart warmed “Thank you” to my Crew – Henry, Bill, Beth and Zach for crewing for me. They were amazing and had me in and out of the aide station faster than a NASCAR  pit crew!  Shout out to my Pacers, Larry and Dave for keeping me moving forward, on those tough technical trails, once the sun went down; I appreciate you both giving up precious family time to share my race day with me. 

Wow, I never thought I could surpass the wonderful experience I had at my first 100 miler, Rocky Raccoon 100, but the HAWK 100 was AMAZING!  There is nothing better than training and running a 100 miles on your home turf; I completely felt the energy and love from the Ultra running community the entire race.  At every aide station I saw a familiar face and having that constant encouragement from my running buddies was very uplifting.

Race Morning
My crew and I arrived at the race about 5:20am and immediately ran into Darin S and Dave Wakefield . As most of you know Darin is my mentor and running buddy; He molded me into a trail runner!  Darin also paced me at Rocky Raccoon, my first 100miler, so we have a strong running bond.  Darin and I trained a lot together this summer on the race course at Clinton. We typically started our Saturday runs at 5am, to try and beat the heat, and after 5 to 6  hours of running we were totally WIPED out, humbled, and beat down from the heat and humidity.  Our typical routine was to run together until the sun rose and then I’d tell Darin to go run the “piss and vinegar” out of his legs.  We typically met back up at Park Road and then ran the final 11 miles together.  This routine worked well for me because he would knock down all the gnarly spider webs, and I always ran the last miles faster with him nipping at my heels…lol!
Anyway, after we all chatted for a bit we moseyed over to the start area to hear the last minute directions from the race directors: Danny Miller and Coleen Voeks.  Shortly after that all the 100 and 50 mile runners  lined up on the road for the start of the race. I gave my Husband a big hug and told him I’d see him in a couple hours at the Park Road aide station.  Darin and I gave each other hugs and before we knew it, we were off and running at 6am!  
 Race start

Loop 1    25 miles   Time: 4:35
The course is a 25 mile loop, mostly single track technical trails, and my goal was not to get boxed in, behind other runners during the first loop.  I experienced that at Freestate 100K and it was miserable not to be able to stretch out and run my own pace.  So to avoid this I positioned myself in the  front of the pack, behind the rabbits, to make sure once we ran Sanders Mound I would be on the blue trail away from the pack. 
After a few miles, a few runners caught up to me and we introduced ourselves and chatted about the race.  I kept offering for the group of four to pass me but they were content with me leading.  When I came into Lands End aide station (mile 4.5) I gave a shout out to Gary Henry, one of my running buddies, and kept on running.  My hydration pack had plenty of water/nuun and I had a protein bar and honey stingers for fueling.  I was still leading the pack and enjoying the conversation but felt that the pace was a bit too aggressive for me, considering I was running 100 miles.   I knew I was exerting too much energy early on, so I opted to step off the trail and water the bushes.  This was a very wise decision on my part; after the quick potty break I felt more comfortable running relaxed at my pace.  I would run solo until mile 50 when Larry, my pacer, joined me.
Before I knew it I was coming off the Cactus Ridge section onto West Park Road, (mile 10.5) way ahead of schedule.  On this section my crew saw me twice; there is a 2.5 mile loop up Bunker Hill and back.  I dropped my hydration pack for Henry to fill and switched to a handheld water bottle for the short romp and tore off my short sleeve shirt to get some fresh air.  Dave W.  was at the aide station also, he gave me my sunglasses and told me to pace myself up the hill.  Dave crewed for Darin, he is an amazing runner and great guy; it was so nice to have his encouraging words throughout the day. 

Bunker Hill

 It was a relief to have a break from the weight of the hydration pack on my back and the cool breeze felt amazing! I thought this loop would be dreaded, but it was a nice change of scenery and I welcomed the openness.     After the loop, I came back into the aide station and Beth handed me a fresh shirt, my hydration pack that was reloaded with water/nuun , bars/stingers, and Bill handed me a turkey wrap to eat while I was running.  This would be the routine for the entire day…my crew was so FREAKING efficient!
I was pretty much in the zone during this section, but before I arrived at Lands End (mile 18.5) I could feel I was starting to warm up a little. I stopped briefly at the aide station to add some ice to my hydration pack to keep the water/nuun cool.  From my experience this summer if my water gets to warm it tends to sour my stomach and it was WAY too early to risk any tummy issues.  I grabbed a couple pringles and said, Thank you to Gary Henry and the wonderful volunteers and trotted of.  I only had 6.5 miles  back to the Start/Finish area!   I zoned on this section, I know it like the back of my hand.  I was feeling strong; fueling was good, electrolytes in check, so I ran all the hills and glided over the rocks.  Next thing I knew I was coming into the Start/Finish, about 45minutes ahead of my projected time.  I dropped my hydration pack for Henry to fill, after pulling out a tampon from my pack,  and ran to the porta potty…Yes, I RAN a 100 miles on my period, which conveniently showed up Friday morning!  You guys have it so EASY, you just have to worry about chaffing!!  My crew did an amazing job again and I was off running. I could hear Henry telling me I was WAY ahead of pace and to slow it down; I told him I would scale back on the next loop since it was warming up.
Mile 25

Loop 2: 5:04    25-50 miles   Total Run Time: 9:39
After leaving the aide station I ran up to the top of Sanders Mound and picked one of Gary Henry’s poems from the notebook.  This was something the 50 and 100 mile runners had to do to prove we ran the 1.25 hill and didn’t bypass it. Who would do that?  It was a super fun check point to add to the race and at Land’s End (mile 29.5) I read the sweet little poem to Gary and kissed him on the cheek…this would be our little special moment all day!  I then took off and Gary yelled “Don’t you want some food?” I yelled back…”I’m good” and headed down the hill to the red section.
I spent most of this loop running an easy pace and not overexerting myself; I did not want to overheat! My Training over the summer was brutal in the heat and I experienced heat exhaustion multiple times, so I decided to run smart and scale back my pace a bit. My first loop was faster than expected so I knew I had a nice cushion and could afford to relax my pace.
When I came into West Park Road(mile 35.5), I saw Larry but not my crew!  I had run out of water about a mile ago so I needed my handheld for Bunker Hill.  I had a total Linda Blair moment and said "*uck it", and dropped my hydration pack, ripped off my shirt and took off running.  My crew was running my way from the camp site but I was on such a damn mission I just kept running.  My son Zach caught me and handed me my handheld and I gave him a quick kiss and took off towards the hill.  I laughed at myself, but felt like a totally Bitch.  I ran this section pretty fast because I wanted to get back and apologize for snapping at my Crew.  They work so hard they didn’t need me being a DIVA.  When I got back to the aide station, we all laughed and I apologized for my outburst.  My crew was so sweet; they felt bad that they missed me.
At his point,  I was starting to warm up at this point, so I made sure I iced the girls…ice in the sports bra! It felt great and it’s such a perfect way to cool down the core.  Beth gave me fresh shirt and re-glided my back and waistband area, she was so awesome! Henry gave me my full hydration pack and a  Bill handed me a few marshmallows, which I scarfed and then I took of running with a turkey wrap in my hand.
I could feel the heat of the day a little at this point and stopped briefly at Land’s End (mile 38) to add more ice to my pack and ice the girls again. I grabbed a cup of mountain Dew and Gary told me I was doing great, he’s such a sweetheart.  I decided to be smart and power walk most of the hills on this section, I still felt strong but again I did not want to overheat…I knew I would not be able to recover if I did.
When I pulled into the start finish at mile 50, my crew worked me over.   I started drinking ginger ale with my turkey wraps and the cool fizziness felt awesome. My crew iced me down again and Dave D, one of my pacers, told me I needed to stop blowing through the aide stations so quickly…lol! After I was all geared up I noticed one of my friends, Indika was sitting on the bench with a jacket on and my heart sank…I knew she must have dropped from her 50 miler and I felt for her. She inspires me in so many ways; I just wanted to cry for her.  I know she’s got the GRIT and will have that perfect race day soon.

Larry Long…my bad ass pacer at mile 50!

Loop 3:  5:57   Mile 50-75     Total 15:35
When I left the aide station, Larry joined me! I was not expecting to have a pacer until mile 60.5 when Dave jumped in so I was so excited to have company.  As we were leaving the station Dave W. gave me a high five and told me I was in THIRD place and the second place runner was just ahead of me.  Cool Beans, I thought!

Larry and I headed up to Sanders Mound and picked another poem and read it to Gary when we got to Lands End (mile 54.5). I think I filled up on ice and grabbed a quick snack but they all kind of blur together after 50 miles.  We headed down to the red section and power hiked it, It’s so dang rocky!!!  Larry did a great job of talking my ear off and even deterred a family from continuing on the trail while I was in the bushes…lol.  My Pacers are so awesome and Larry has the most calming aura…you just feel "at peace" in his presence.   
Before we knew it we were coming off of Cactus ridge, which we both agreed would not be fun to run at night, into the Park Road aide station. Dave D jumped in and took over pacing me to give Larry a break.  We ran the Bunker loop and  when we got back to the aide station my crew had set up a tent so I could change into some fresh clothes for the night miles.  My toes were pretty beat up at this point and I had a couple hot spots on my foot that I wanted to duct tape to prevent blisters.  It takes time to change, tend to the feet, and get on new shoes/gaiters…but it is so worth it.  It’s a great feeling going into the night with fresh clothes and shoes.

 Dave D and me on Park Rd – Mile 63.5

Dave and I headed out of the aide station and I continued to lead until the sun went down. As soon as it gets dark my vision is very wonky.  It takes a little while for my eyes to adjust to night running with the headlamp,  so I  focus on the my pacers shoes and watch their foot placement until my eyes adjust.  Dave went above and beyond and was telling me everything that was coming up on the trails; he made it really easy for me.  It seemed like it took forever to get to the Lands End (mile68.5). Bryan W was there to help Gary and he filled my hydration pack for me and Dave and I grabbed a bite of Gary’s gruel and some mountain dew.  The next section back to the Start finish was rough; I hit my right toe, which was already hamburger, a few times on a rock…. it hurt like a SOB!  Dave did a great job of entertaining me and picking up the pace on the runnable sections.  When we came out onto the section by the road we only had a mile left. Dave pointed out the stars…they were so beautiful, I had to stop to gawk at them.  Next thing I know we were back at the start/finish and my crew is getting me ready to go back out.  Again, they were AMAZING!!  I thanked Dave for pacing me and Larry and I headed out for the final loop.

Loop 4: 6:23    Miles  75-100   Finish Time: 21:58:28
As Larry and I left the station I took an ibuprofen hoping it would numb the pain in my TOES. My legs felt great but my toes were hurting.  Larry was leading since I had mushy brain…he would do all my thinking for me this last section and make sure I kept on top of my fueling and hydration.  We hit Sanders Mound and picked out a short poem and I had Larry read it to Gary at Lands End (mile 79.5)  but I still gave him a kiss on the cheek.  We ate some Gruel and drank some mountain dew and headed down to the dreaded RED section.  It took us 18 minutes to get through the section, it’s so dangerously rocky  at night! My previous mile was 20minutes since we spent a little more time at the aide station; I was not happy with those splits!  I asked Larry to push me on the runnable sections and we could powerwalk the hills if needed.  I told him “I still had run in these legs!”
The next section until Cactus Ridge is a blur. The only thing I remember is that Gary’s Gruel started to affect us with gruel powered gas! We swore off anymore gruel and vowed to inform Gary when we got back to Lands End that although it is yummy we were going to pass on it.
 Once we finished creepy cactus ridge, which was not fun in the dark, it was nice to stretch our legs out on park road and power hike Bunker Hill.  When we got back to Park rd (mile88.5) I ate some soup and drank some Mountain Dew and my brother Bill told me the 2nd place guy was just ahead of me.  I really wanted to finish behind Darin and get second place, but I knew how tough the next 11 mile stretch was in the dark and Larry and I decided to just do the best we could.  It was at this time the little whiney woman that resides in me made her special appearance...I was in total whine mode!

The Final 11 miles……………..
We left the aide station and I felt warm…too warm. I kept thinking it’s from the soup I just ate. The next 4 miles to Lands End seemed like if took FOREVER! I was warm, I was peeing ALL the time and I just seemed off!  Larry was so amazing about talking to me to keep me from obsessing about possible being overhydrated.  We concluded that I only had 10 or so miles left and I would be alright; Larry encouraged  me to keep eating small bites of food  and to take small sips of water.
At some point I made a comment about seeing spider eyes.  I think I said it multiple times and then I asked Larry “Do you see them too?”  Larry, Said “yes, I see them too.”  I thought I might be hallucinating.  We also had some excitement and literally ran into a couple of kids sleeping on the trail! According to earlier reports by Darin we missed the action, by the time we ran around them they were passed out!
Finally we arrived at Land’s End (mile 93.5) and I was in whine mode, I kept whining “I just want to run.” This section was so tough, it seemed the trails had grown more rocks and HILLS on this loop and it was more power hiking than running.  We did get a chuckle out of the aide station volunteers when Larry informed Gary  that his gruel was gas powered fuel!

When we were ready to leave the aide station the second place runner, which I had been chasing for the last 50 miles, came up the blue trail; they took a wrong turn at the bottom of the hill!  We all left together and I offered for them to go ahead of us, but he declined and said I was running stronger.  
All of a sudden the whiney woman was GONE!  Larry took off like a “Bat out of Hell,” and told me he was going to push me to put as much distance between us and the other runner.  I didn’t look back  and only slowed down when I needed to pee and when we walked the rocky sections.  Larry kept me running strong the final 6.5 miles and kept encouraging me to drink small sips and eat small bites of food.
When we got to the last mile we both realized that I could possible run a sub 22….  and "we ran like the wind!"   I really didn’t think we were going to make it but it felt great to still have “run in my legs”  at mile 99!  Larry and I crossed the finish line together in 21:58:28 and I was just an emotional rag doll!  My goal was to try and run a sub 24 hour race, and I was overwhelmed that I ran so well and beat that goal on such a tough course! 

Finish line

Darin was at the finish to give me a BIG hug!  It was pretty special that he got first and I came in second place on our home turf!  Coleen and I embraced and cried together, she’s such an amazing runner and role model.  My running buddies, Chris W, Bryan W were there also…it was just lovely!  

Super Star Race Director  Coleen giving me a girl power hug!

My Mentor Darin with Larry in the background

I think we look tired...I wonder why!

 After all the hugs and celebration time, I changed into some comfortable clothes and sat down to visit for a while. Coleen made me a cheese quesadilla and congratulated me again.  It was just a perfect race day and I feel so blessed to have had so much love and support all day!  This is going to be a tough 100 to beat as far as memories….It was an AMAZING day. Coleen , Danny and the aide stations were wonderful…just a priceless day. 
Finish Time: 21:58:28 Second Place Overall – New PR!

To my support team!
Dave - I know your spare time is limited, thank you for sacrificing family time to support and pace me.

Larry - Lovely Larry, you are something special my friend. Thank you for surrounding me in a blanket of comfort and keeping me safe those last 25 miles. 

Brother Bill -  you make a mean turkey mustard wrap big brother, thank you for keeping me fed all day! You have always been my protector and I appreciate and love you!

 Beth - Thank you Sis for keeping me in dry clothes and greased up all day! Girl Rule…love ya Sis!

Zach – Thanks , my love, for supporting your Momma!

Henry – My number one fan and Water Boy!   Thank you for supporting my crazy adventures, without your support and unconditional love none of this would be possible.  Thank you for loving me even when I’m chaffed, covered in oak bites, poison ivy and when all my toenails fall off.  Thank goodness you are not a foot guy. 

My poor toes

Monday, May 21, 2012

Free State 100K

Freestate 100k - April 21, 2012

I went into this race with the attitude that it was going to be a training run. I took this attitude for a few reasons. The main reason was because my training had been mediocre and I knew trying to pull off a Race performance would be miserable, and secondly I did not want to put that kind of pressure on myself.
Since RR100, I have been guilty of cutting runs short or opting to cross train, or simply  skipping a run to spend the afternoon with my son who is heading off to college this fall.   If you’ve read my blog you know I ran Rocky Raccoon this February and had a fabulous race for my first 100. I still grin from ear to ear whenever someone mentions Rocky.  I know I will never forget that day it holds a very special place in my Ultra heart.  I say all of this because I’ve kind of been on cruise control and just maintaining base miles, and enjoying running without the pressure of a rigorous training schedule.  I’ve enjoyed the down time and it’s given me time to re-boot and just “BE.”  And also avoid the burn out that many Ultra runners experience. I’ve also taken the extra time to spend with my son Zach who recently graduated from High School.  I’m fortunate that he has decided to go to college at KU and I’m hoping I can get him to meet me on the trails for some miles this fall.
Anyway, back to race day. This is the first race I have run without a crew. My husband, Henry had conflicts for most of the day and was only able to check on me at the 40 mile mark. I had a drop bag at the main aide station with change of shirts, headlamp, handheld, Nuun and a few Lara bars and honey stingers. My plan was to eat from the aide stations and use the Lara bars and honey stingers in between stations as additional fuel.

Once the race started at 6am the first 7 miles were congested running on the single track trails; runners would pass me and then slow down and it was impossible to get into a comfortable groove. I had a group of friends ahead of me that I wanted to run with but I could never get around the group to catch them.  I felt my stride was pretty tight and was itching to break away from the group and open up a little. When we pulled into the first aide station, Lands End, I quickly ducked behind a bush and peed and then hit the aide station. The station was very meager on the food and I kind of barked out, “where is the peanut butter?”  After a little searching they pulled out a tray and I grabbed a few wraps and took off.  I felt bad that I was short with the volunteers and made sure I apologized for being cranky on the next loop. I also made a point to thank all the volunteers for taking care of us all day on my last 20 mile  loop.
After leaving the aide station it felt great to stretch open my stride on this very runnable section. I knew this part of the trail very well, so I just tried to set into a comfortable pace and get rid of my cranky attitude.   Mentally I was really struggling, I had some nasty mental gremlins in my head trying to convince me to quit after the first 20 mile loop. There was no reason for me to quit, I was just being lazy. Thank goodness at the 18 mile mark I finally kicked the gremlins out and started to find my trail mojo.
At 20 miles, I came into the main aide station and found my drop bag and changed my shirt. I wandered over to the main aide station and Mel helped me fill my hydration pack and I looked for some food. I took a nutella wrap and headed out for my second loop.

My second loop, I ran with Debbie, Will and a few other people but tripped several times and took a bad fall. I ended up loosing the group since I was the caboose and  no one knew I had taken a fall. If they had known, I know they would of stopped to help me up and make sure I was alright. That is the wonderful thing about Trail Running...we are a family and intertwined like a spider web. If someone goes down we make sure they are alright before we proceed and often will help the other runner walk it off.
 I was pissed at myself by this point and by mile 30 my toes where starting to feel the like hamburger. I made a rookie mistake and wore my ASR8’s that provided zero rock protection on the front of the shoe. I knew I was just going to have to grind through the next 30+ miles since I didn’t bring a change of shoes. I also was falling behind on my fueling, the aide stations peanut butter and jelly was not setting well with me since it had been sitting out in the sun all day.  I forget to grab another Lara bar from my drop bag so I only had honey stingers with me. The stingers are great for electrolytes but did not provide any protein which I felt I desperately needed.  I was getting close to  40 miles and again contemplated dropping, but told myself I was being a wuss and to suck it up. Nothing was hurting I was just under trained and behind on my fueling it was not as much fun as RR100.
 I also wanted another buckle and I really think that is the main reason I kept running!

About this time Darin backtracked and found me and asked me how I was doing. I cussed like a sailor and told him I was behind on fueling and felt that I needed some protein to get me back on track. Darin ran the 40 miler and got first place and was hanging at the aide station for the rest of the day.  Henry and Zach were waiting for me and helped me find my drop back and get a new shirt, and pack my jacket, headlamp and handheld for the night. I also packed more honey stingers and a Lara bar and re-filled my hydration pack with nuun/water.  Darin and Henry checked out the aide station for some protein and my choices were a hotdog or lentil salad. A hotdog was not an option, I can’t remember the last time I ate one, so I scarfed two plates of lentil salad and got my butt moving for the final 20 mile loop. I told the boys I’d call them when I finished and I anticipated I’d be done about 9pm. I started this loop with Debbie and her pacer, Jim.  I stayed with them for a couple miles and then pushed ahead; Debbie was having some tummy issues and was trying to walk it off.

By this time my left foot was feeling every rock and I just wanted to be done, I kept plugging away and walk the rocky sections to avoid  more toe trauma. I hit the red section and just walked the Bitch! The red section is so beautiful since its right next to the lake, but damn it’s rocky!! I was very happy to be off the rocky section and coming up the hill to Lands End, but I was dragging and cussing about the rocks. As soon as I got to the aide station Darin was waiting for me, even though his glute was tight he was going to jump in and run 10 miles with me…Yippee! The aide station helped me with my hydration pack and I asked how far I had left. When they said only 13 miles, I was so excited to only have a ½ marathon left and to have Bad ASS Darin running with me for 10 of the miles. I grabbed a cheese quesadilla and off we went.

Darin did a great job of keeping me moving and talking my ear off.  It’s just what I needed a good friend and  a little kick in the butt to keep me from going into walk mode. We talked about my training and he agreed it was pretty mediocre and told me I was just running on muscle memory. It’s kind of cool I can run a 100K on muscle memory, but like I said before it’s not FUN! We kept plugging away and Darin told me all of his race plans for the rest of the year; he’s such a Bad Ass!
Before I knew it we were back at Lands End and I only had 3 miles left. I gave Darin a big nasty smelly hug and off I went. I didn’t get very far before the darkness set in; Wowza how the trail changed in the dark. I turned on my headlamp and knuckle light and I could hear rustling off of the trail and see things scurry across the trail.   I realized at this point how vital a pacer was going to be at The Hawk 100. Not only would I need a pacer, but my pacer needed to be trail savvy and a stronger runner than me.  I took a pretty bad fall about 2 miles later and screamed “that was a 10 point fall! I laughed and brushed myself off  and kept on running. Before I knew it, I was climbing up the hill to the finish line. It was very dark, so for a moment I thought I was heading into a campground, but then I heard the cowbell…lol! Bad Ben was there to give me my shiny 100K buckle and Darin was there to congratulate me. I quickly changed clothes, checked in with my husband to let him know I was off the trail and then I ate 2 bowls of veggie black bean chili…yummy!!

100K Time: 14:04

Looking back on this race it was not my best performance, but I sure learned a lot.
It was great experience to run without a crew; I realized how much I truly depend on them. If they would have been crewing for me, my fueling and shoe issues would have been a NON issue. However, what I gained most from this experience was the realization of how vital the mental preparation is on race day. Mentally I would of rather of been at home drinking coffee on my deck, I was not vested in the race and the mental gremlins fought me all day! I won’t make this mistake again.

I’m looking forward to my next race The Hawk 100.  Luckily it’s on the same trail and I have all summer to get ready for this baby!!! I already have a pacer lined up…Mr Larry Long. He’s a strong bad ass runner like Darin and will take good care of me and keep me moving once it gets dark and scary on the trails.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My running mojo has returned

On April 1st I had the honor of running the Brew 2 Brew solo run with Mickey Woolard, a friend of mine from Daily Mile.  I was very nervous about the race,  I've had such a runners low the last month or so I was doubting my running ability.   However, on race morning I felt the adrenaline rush, that I have missed since RR100, and knew it was going to be a GREAT day of running,  My Running Mojo had returned!!!

I met Mickey at the Brewery/ starting area of the race at 5:15am. We chatted for a bit, organized our gear, hit the restrooms and lined up at 5:55am for the 6am start.  It was awesome to start in the dark and see the sunrise on the levee. I felt comfortable from the get go and Mickey and I just set into a nice running groove.

To be honset the B2B course is ugly; it's open, you run on the side of highways, across open levee's, up and down  rural hills, on gravel roads, and to top it all off...there is very little shade! Even though the conditions were tough with a temperature of 90ish at the finish Mickey and I ran smart and strong all day. We were very blessed to have the support of his wife, Berta, daughter Kelsey and her fiancee Ryan, all day!  They took care of us perfectly and I must say they radiate with about Good people.  I felt re-energized every time I saw them at a crew stop. I think the next best thing at the crew stops was the ice cold Ginger ale. It was like a slice of heaven...cold and so refreshing on a hot day.

The boat ride across the river was fun, Mickey has run around the last 3 years, so this was his first boat experience.  This was the first time I've run B2B, so I thought it was a hoot!

I really enjoyed running with Mickey all day; He has a very soothing personality and I just loved spending the day with him. Our running form and stride is very similar so it was very easy to glide along and knock out the miles.

I think the worst part of the run was the last stretch on the open levee. It was so hot; Mickey and I were feeling burnt/ crispy and the afternoon temperature of 90 degrees was taking a toll on us.  We ran the last 4 miles smart and incorporated some walk breaks to avoid overheating. Again, we both were in sync and just kept our heads down and ran. When the finish line came into sight we kicked it in a bit and finished nice and strong!  Our family's were waiting for us and it felt great to get a little food in us and hang out in the shade for once.

 This was such a wonderful experience, I really enjoy running with Mickey and hope we can run together again soon.

In closing,  I felt so good that evening after B2B that I signed up for the FreeState 100K on April 21st.
 I'm finally feeling  physically strong again and really WANT to run this race!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Time to Breathe

It's been over a month since RR100 and I'm experiencing a little bit of a low in my training. I feel I recovered well; I took two weeks off from running and cross trained on the elliptical and recumbent bike and let my poor little toes and legs recover properly.
I started to slowly add back in miles, but made sure I listened to my body and backed off if I felt too fatigued. My legs actually felt awesome no injuries or wonkiness, however my overall strength and endurance just seems low.  I'm sure this is normal after running a 100 miles, but since this was my first I'm kinda in the dark on how long it will take my body to fully recover. 

A month after RR, I ran a 1/2 marathon trail race, put on by the Trail Hawks, and had a blast. I could tell I was not at my normal race strength after mile 2 and I backed off on the pace and decided to "just run for the love of running." It was a wise choice on my part and I finished with a time of 2:02. Not the fastest time, but for me it was good enough, and I was proud of myself for tossing the "race hat" to the side and embracing the beauty of the trail and having fun.

I've continued to slowly increase my weekly miles and ran a back to back of 20 and 18 over the weekend a few weeks back but the miles kicked my butt. It was the first five day training week and the 60+ miles just wiped me out! I started to get a little down on myself thinking my performance at RR100 was beginners luck and I would never find my endurance "mojo" again.

So, I am now on Spring Break in Silverthorn Colorado with my son Zach and feeling very sorry for myself.  I want to run long but after three days I can't manage more than 6 miles in the high altitude.  I'm monitoring my heart rate and its in the 60's and my normal range is the low 40's.  I know my body has not adjusted but damn it, I want to run at least 10 miles on these gorgeous trails.  I'm thinking again, "I suck, I've lost it, it's the end of my Ultra running" I have all these races coming up and I can't even manage a normal training week. Gosh, how pathetic I sound!

Then this morning the lightbulb goes off....I'm putting way too much pressure on myself! I don't have to run any races; for Goodness sake I haven't even registered for them!  What the hell am I doing to myself? I preach to people all the time "Just have fun, celebrate each day you can run; it's a gift"

So this morning I decided not to run. I'm taking a day to just "BE" and enjoy the quiet of the house while Zach is snowboarding. I've walked the pups, read a book, watched the snow fall on the mountains, made myself a pot of hot tea and watched the birds on the deck. I'm not an Ultra runner today, I'm just Sherrie. I'm not going to ruin my vacation by stressing about running miles in the altitude, hiking is just as effective and much more enjoyable.

So, during my morning walk with the pups I spotted a bald eagle in flight. What an amazing gift to see the beauty of this majestic bird in flight; I'm kinda of an earthy girl and after exhaling and wiping a tear from my frozen face I said out loud "Alright, I get it!" Its back to the basics.....Run for the love of it, believe in yourself, embrace and respect the beauty of the trails, celebrate every run, and finally.... Lets see how far I can go!

Friday, February 10, 2012

RR100 Pictures

I DID it!

I would like to start my race report by thanking my awesome Crew of Henry, Zach and my kick ass pacer Darin. Without them this day would not have been possible. They did an amazing job crewing and pacing me at my first 100 miler; my race was truly a success because of them.

Friday Morning

Darin met us at our house at 6:15am and after scurrying around the house for 15 minutes we jump in the car and headed to the airport. Our Flight departs KC and arrives in Houston with no issues. Once we arrived and stepped outside the airport terminal into a freaking sauna Darin and I both start checking the weather to see if the humidity is going to lingering on race day. Looks like it plans to pass but the rain is still in the forecast for the morning.

After picking up the crew rental van and a slight detour, we missed the exit for the highway. Although, I was very impressed the guys actually stopped for directions and Darin did a fine job of interpreting the directions from the Arabic gas station worker. Our next goal was to get a nice lunch someplace, so we cruised the highway until we found an area that had a multiple restaurants to choose from. We ended up eating at BJ’s Brew House, Darin and I ate light and the Henry and Zach both had monster burgers.

Next on the agenda we went to the park to check out the trail. The forest was beautiful and the trees were amazing, absolutely gorgeous! Darin and I walk the tails a little, they were in great shape and the excitement was starting to build. After leaving the park we checked into the La Quinta unpacked and then headed back out to try and get some supplies. Wal-Mart was out of Nutella, seriously did they not know there was an Ultra in town. I guess everyone “beat us to the punch.”

Next was Packet pick-up, so cool to see all the runners and listen to the trail briefing from Joe the Race Director. I got to meet my DM friend John and chat for a bit. I also met Sophia, Tony Hawk, and few other trail nerds and one of Darin’s friends Will and his son Ryan. We left the Park and went to Target for a few more things, and found some Nutella! After that we hooked up with Will and Ryan and headed across the street for dinner at Chili’s.

After a wonderful dinner we all were anxious to get back to the hotel and put our feet up and start winding down. I checked the weather again and mentally prepared myself to run in the rain for most of the morning. After double checking all my gear 100 times, I took a hot shower, stretched lightly and hit the hay and surprisingly went to sleep quickly.

Race morning:

I Woke up at 4:00am to a torrential down pour; checked the weather to see how many hours it was forecasted to rain so I could figure out AGAIN, how to dress! Decided on shorts, short sleeve tech shirt, rainproof jacket, Brooks ASR8’s and drymax trail socks.

After a light breakfast of oatmeal and banana we loaded up the van and headed to the race at 5:00am. Darin and I were already soaked but grinning from ear to ear. This rain was not going to get us down; I just felt bad for my crew and hoped they would stay dry and take shelter in the van.

5:50am – Tummy has butterflies bringing down the house. I’m emotional and reality has set in, I’m going to run 100 miles today! We hooked up with Will and his son, we hoped to run some of the 100 together and his son would hang with my Crew during the day.

6:00am – 406 crazy runner’s lined up in a downpour for the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile trail run and we are off.

The first five miles moved very slowly, it was dark, it was pouring, the trails were single track, and they were sloppy muddy! Will and I decided to just take it easy and go with the flow of the mass of runners and try and make up the time later when the runners thinned out and the sun came up. It was at this point that Coleens words of wisdom rang in my ear,”Stay confident, strong, flexible and enjoy every minute! You only get one "first 100 miler" so take the time to look around and really absorb everything that's going on!” I did what the beautiful and wise Pigtailed Warrior Princess suggested and just savored every minute of the glorious muddy day.

Will and I picked up the pace a little with the light of day and the runners spreading out, but separated about mile 6, when his back was giving him fits and could not tolerate the quicker pace. I gave him a couple ibuprofen in hopes that it would loosen his back muscle and wished him well. From here on out I ran solo and leapfrogged with runners throughout the day.

Once the sun was up and the rain started to lighten up I was able to pick up the pace and hold a pretty steady pace. The trial had some very muddy boggy sections that you had to walk through; otherwise you would lose your shoes in the bog. It was impossible to stay dry with the rain and mud, so I just got muddy and tried to rinse my shoes off in the deeper water when possible. On the sections that were semi dry, I picked up the pace to make up for lost time. I tried to wiz in and out of the aide stations grabbing peanut butter squares and taking a hammer gel every hour. I also ate a small bite of my Ginger LaraBar every 30 minutes to make sure my stomach stayed settled.

Loop 1 – Dog Wood 20 miles, spilt 4:05 Highlights of this loop – The frogs singing by the lake before sunrise, running with Will for a short bit, Seeing Darin, Hal Koerner, and Liza Howard..She’s cute as a bug and tough as nails

The Nature Center /mile 23 – I saw my Crew for the first time at The Nature Center. Damn I’d never been so happy to see their faces. At this crew stop my big concern was my feet; sand had settled in my shoes, permeated my socks and was gathering around and under my toes. Zach removed my shoes and socks and did his best to knock the sand out of my shoes. Henry helped me fill my Hydration pack with water/nuun and reload my gels. Fresh socks, shirt, and semi clean shoes and I was off again after a seven minutes Crew stop. I felt strong and was only slightly behind schedule.

Mile 23 – Nature Center

I left the Nature Center and hit a nasty muddy section, so much for dry clean socks, the bog went up to my ankles. I yelled “Bring it on, Baby.” and 2 runners behind me screamed “Bring it on!” There were lots of chuckles and hoot and hollers from all of us for about 5 minutes! I think it did our hearts some good to laugh at the conditions instead of complaining.

This loop was a rinse and repeat and I was holding a steady pace. I ate peanut butter squares, hammer gels and ginger bars for my fueling. My iPod died after 5 hours so I switched to my backup iPod. The music I loaded was perfect for this loop: Jack Johnson, Imogen Heap, Tracey Chapman, Moby, Enya, Sarah McLachlan, and Matchbox 20. I literally got lost in the beauty of forest, and those amazing trees, and soaked it all in and just listened to my body and ran at a pace that felt comfortable.

The rain had stopped so that was good news; hopefully the trails would dry up a little. My Garmin was having trouble syncing in the forest and the overcast skies. It's difficult to pay attention to a your Garmin anyway when you run trails; you don't want to risk taking your eyes off the trail too much or you will trip on a rock or root or at least I So anyway, I decided to just ignore the watch and just check my splits at the aide stations. I felt strong on this loop and ran most of the hills; I was in the zone and again just ran by feel and noticed for the first time the purple flowers on the side of the trail and some yellow flowers that had fallen off a tree that grew over the trail. The birds were singing and the sun was trying to peak out of the clouds; it was very peaceful being out there by myself on the trail.

Loop 2 – Dog Wood 40 miles, split 4:06, total 8:11 Highlights of this loop – The rain stopped, the sun peaked out for a little bit and I Experienced a total runners high and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the forest. I got to see Darin, Hal Koerner, and Liza Howard again.

The Nature Center /mile 43 - I missed my Crew; I was too far ahead of schedule. The Nature Center helped me re-load my hydration pack and gave me a few gels and I was off again. I was worried about all the sand in my shoes causing blisters and not having my headlamp for the night but I felt confident my Crew would catch me in 12 miles at the Park Road Aide Station. My second I-pod died and the last song I heard was “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson, it played in my head for the rest of the night. I really didn’t mind not having the music; I needed to listen to my breathing and check in with my body to make sure everything was alright. Nightfall was approaching and I needed to be 100% focused on the trail.

Mile 55.6 – Park Road Zach ran back on the trail and found me and asked me what I needed, I gave him a list of things so the crew could have everything ready for me. Darin was on the trail too, I had seen him twice before when I was running, but it was so great to see his face again. My big concern was my feet; I did not want to get blisters from the sand. Everyone jumped in and cleaned and checked my feet and gave me fresh socks. My toes were trashed and I could already tell I would lose most of my toenails, but no blisters on the bottom of my feet where the sand had pooled. I lightened the load of my Hydration pack, dumping both iPod’s and one on my pouches and all my gels; I didn’t want to see another gel for the rest of the night. I asked my crew how I was doing on my splits and they told me not to worry, I was kicking ass! I grabbed my headlamp and knuckle light, light jacket and headed out to Dog wood where Darin was going to jump in and run the last 40 with me.

Loop 3 – Dog Wood 60 miles, split 4:10, Total 12:21 Highlights of this loop – I discovered the aide stations had cheese quesadillas; I was still running strong and loving every minute of my adventure. I loved seeing my crew, they are the best!!

Dog Wood mile 60 - The crew was waiting and set up with my night gear. I stripped down, behind a blanket, and put on fresh clothes and re applied Glide. I loved the feeling of a dry sports bra, boy shorts, tights, and long sleeve insulated shirt and clean sand free trail shoes! I ate some roma noodles and a couple cheese quesadillas and Darin and I were off. I felt like I wasted too much time at Park Road and I wanted to get going; all those crew stops add up over time!

Darin had me lead; I was still running strong so the plan was to keep plugging along until my “wheels fell off” and he then would take over and guide me. I ran pretty strong on this loop. I had to jump in the bushes a couple times and Darin and I figured it was just that time of night were it was time to get rid of all the food and gels I had eaten. When we got to DamNation I realized this was more than just a normal thing and told Darin I would take some Imodium if it continued. I have to say, Darin was a gem, I told him months before that my biggest fear of running a 100 was getting the trots during the run when he paced me. He told me not to worry, it happens to the best of us. You just gotta love the openness of Ultra runners! Back to the tummy, I was still running strong but the bush time every 4 miles was annoying, so I decided I better take some Imodium, unfortunately the pills had melted in the pill box I was carrying from the rain and humidity. I would have to wait until park road at mile 75 and get some from the crew…grrrr! We passed through the DamNation aide station again and only had 5 miles to go, “I can do this I said to myself!” I stopped at the port a potty .5 miles away from Park Road, for what I hoped was my last stop of the night, and Darin ran ahead to tell the crew to have Imodium and my gloves ready for the me.

Side note on Imodium: I had read on multiple blogs of Elite Ultra runners to use Imodium at the first sign of intestinal distress, so that’s where I got the idea. I’m kind of a natural girl, and don’t like to take a lot of OTC meds, but when it became clear that my situation was not normal, I’m glad I took the Imodium because it worked like a charm.

Mile 75.6 – Park Road A quick stop to get the Imodium, gloves, huggies, reapply glide, sanitize the hands, and grab a scrumptious cheese quesadilla and we were off again.

Loop 4 – Dog Wood 80 miles, split 4:57, Total 17:19 Highlights of this loop – Having my kick ass pacer keeping me company, the night birds making strange noises in the trees, and fresh clothes and shoes.

The Final loop – It’s a blur

We left Dog Wood and Darin took the wheel, I think I wasted a lot of mental energy focusing on my tummy and I was just spent. I rebooted my brain and said out loud “ It’s a 20 mile training run at Clinton, you got this!” This is about the time I took my first fall near the bridges. I was pretty damn excited I ran over 80 miles before I busting my butt…lol! My handheld was fading and my night vision was sucking wind and I went down like a rock. I totally let out the most pathetic , “Daaaaarrrriiiinnnn, I neeeeed your liiiiight.” Darin rushed back to help my whiny butt up and I whimpered that my handheld was low and I needed him to stay close. I was up and running and a few minutes later, I apologized and laughed on how pathetic I sounded. Damn whiny Chick, I thought to myself! Being the Rock Star pacer he is, he told me I was doing great and we just kept plugging away.

Mile 83.1 – Nature Center Henry was waiting for us, Zach was asleep in the trees in his tent hammock. Henry filled my hydration pack for me and gave me a new knucklelight. I remember telling him everything hurt, I took a drink of sprite, whined a little more and we were off again…only 17 miles to go!

Mile 86.2 – DamNation – A quick stop to grab some roma noodles and we power walked and ate quickly, Darin had CHILI…lol! This is the section we had a contest to see who could stub their big toe the most on the damn roots. I think it was a draw. I asked Darin to tell me when we only had 10 miles left and it was music to my ears when the time came. Another mental reboot, I told myself “you only have a 10 mile training run at SMP left.” We did some bush whacking on this section to try and find a dry path but it was difficult to figure out the best way around the muddy muck in the dark, so we just gave up and went down the middle of the muddy trail! I had one more little fall on this section, but I was up quickly with zero whining! My night vision was not the best at this point and things on the trails started to move a bit. I also felt a little over-hydrated and was peeing a little more than normal, so I asked Darin to make sure I took a few S-caps at DamNation. The loop seemed never ending, and I was so ecstatic to be out of the forest and on the levee.....we were getting closer!

Mile 92.2 DamNation – S-caps, mountain dew and a small bite of something. We had less than 8 miles to go! I was starting to weave a bit so I stayed as close to Darin as I could. We passed a lot of people on this section; it felt good to still be running when everyone else was walking. We power walked the hills and just kept making “relentless forward progress! “

Mile 95.6 Park Road – Henry was waiting for us, I grabbed a small bite of a cheese quesadilla from the aide station and asked him to pack up and meet us at the finish line. Only 4.5 miles to GO! I was going to finish my first 100 mile Ultra! Darin did a great job of keeping me moving, and telling me each section that we had to get through; we power walked the big hill and the heavily rooted sections, since the roots seemed to be bound and determined to trip me! When we got back to the bridge section by the water I could hear the frogs signing. I started to feel overwhelmed with emotions; those frogs sang to me in the morning on my first loop and now they were signing to me on my last loop. THIS is why we run Ultra’s to feel the beauty of the forest embrace us; I was totally an emotional rag-doll.

The last 2 miles…what a rush! Darin kept telling me I was a Badass and I was kicking butt and how proud he was of me. I kept thanking him, but I was thinking what a Badass he was; He just ran 50 miles and then turned around and paced me 40 miles. I was running this 100 for me but damn my heart swelled, my mentor was proud of me! I also thought of all the support he provided me the last 6 months, answering all the novice questions I asked him on a weekly basis, all the miles he ran with me, and finally guiding me through the vital weeks leading up to the race and through the fits of taper insanity! My race day would not been complete without him and I’m so grateful he was there to share it with me.

I thought of my loving husband who never once gave me grief about all the Saturday and Sunday mornings I was off running on the trails, and willingly cooked supper on the weekends when I was worthless and exhausted. I thought of all the weekends he sacrificed to support me at runs, fat ass runs and finally on race day. I know he worried about me all day and my goal was to run strong and make him proud too; the look on his and Zach’s face when I saw them at my crew stops was priceless, better than a new pair of Kicks! My Water Boy is my number one fan and loves me unconditionally, ugly toes and all.

I thought of all the miles I ran with my running buddies in The ORC and Trail Hawks and how much they believed in me, and the rain runs with Jay R and Rich that got my through the morning. I thanked of all my friends and family that were up all night tracking me and sending me "Good Mojo." I thought of Indika and her sweet spirit, Coleen and her beautiful face and sassy pink pigtails, Shelly and her beautiful aura that radiates “love, beauty, and determination!” Gary, with all his wit, knowledge and stories. And my training buddies, Chris Russ and Jay M, who I can’t wait to run with and share ALL the gory details of the day.

AND then there it was, The Finish Line. Darin Screams “224 coming in!” Darin and I lock hands and we cross the finish line together! What a beautiful day of running, I can’t wait to do it again at The Hawk 100!

Mile 100 Split 5:06 Finish time: 22:24:19 Highlights of this loop – No tummy issues, saying goodbye to the dam loop, frogs singing, feeling a blanket of love and support from my family and running friends, and making my mentor proud!

Thanks to Joe and his wife for the sincere congrats and big hugs at the finish line.

Stats: 22:24:19

AG 40-49 - First place

Women – 4th place

Overall place – 49