Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Vermont 50 Miler 2013

For the first time in 5 years I will not be trying to run 30 plus miles on Birthday. Not even a 30k run. I will not even be running at all. The reason being a bum left knee, an overuse injury. The reason I got the injury makes missing my birthday run an ok thing.

It all started in 2010 when I first attempted to run the VT 50 mile trail race and did not finish. Of course for the next three years I would go back and try again. It grew to be a quite the monkey on my back and would always nag me threw the running years. Finally in 2012 I had a bit of a break through. It was a rainy and muddy year. I decided to wear what I wanted and to carry only my small water belt. Basically just wearing enough stuff to get by and be comfortable. I knew between lack of training, weather and trail conditions I didn’t have much chance of finishing race. The plan was not to worry about it and just run and see how far I could get yet again. To my surprise I made it through the 41 mile aid station. Time was running out and it was long way to the next aid station, both physical and mentally. Something happened at the point. I found another stage, a step, a lesson..? Mind and body were able to put the last 41 miles aside and I was able to run a fair amount again despite the fatigue and soreness. But the section was a long twisting roller coaster of trail and the clock ran out before I got to 47 mile aid station. I wasn’t disappointed at all. I had learned what it really felt like to go beyond what body doesn’t think it can do. I was very pleased with my ‘what the hell give it a try’ 47 miles.

Come September 29, 2013 I was again no more trained, in my opinion. But I had a few things going for me. The weather was good, really dry, might be a tad ‘warm’, but not like two years ago when I only made it 27 miles do to temps in the 70’s. I had the fact that I ran 47 miles last year on a slippery muddy course. This was the 20th year of the race so there was extra energy in every one involved and would be a great year to finish if I could. I was tired of paying $140 to run this race, as beautiful and well organized as it is, there are much cheaper races out there. I had bought a race sweatshirt the night before. I had joked with Josh that I had to finish to be able to wear it, then followed up saying it but it doesn’t have a year on it so I could still wear it even if I didn’t finish. He quickly pointed yes it did indeed have a year on it… oh…damn it.  And lastly, gosh darn it, I wanted that shinny finisher’s medal!

The 6:30am start was a little warmer than other years and was nice. Grant and Leah were there to crew Josh and I this year. Leah is still working up to trying an Ultra race, but has finished some ultra-hikes and has become an excellent coach for her Mom. Grant took a tumble down a rabbit hole so to speak and was building up a new den with a new job and wife this year. He has still come out to crew the big races but sadly left us no white rabbit to chase this year. Josh and I would be running, albeit not together. We both had our fuzzy ears on, they make us smile and others runner notice and smile to as we go, it’s a nice distraction to have when running for so long. Josh the Wolf and me the Puma. We saw many other familiar faces at the start and chatted with a bunch.

We started out along the roads and were surprised to find ourselves at the back at the pack before we even got to the first hill. Despite being as fast as last year it seemed like everyone was eager to get going this year. Aw we hit the long hills on the road and Josh pulled ahead and out site for the most part and I started to meld into the pack of runners hiking up the hills. I caught up to Gilly on the climbs and exchanged some cheery hellos and talked about how nice it was to be here again. Continuing on I caught site of a taller guy with a shaved Mohawk. I smiled as it reminded me of a kid I knew high school that started running in the past couple years and had shaved his head like that for fun for some of the Spartan races. I love how running has changed so many lives in a good ways.  I caught up to Clem, a runner we have seen at so many races all of year, his pace is always steady and I can only beat him on slightly more technically courses. Sure enough I passed him on a section of trail only to have him slowly trot past me and slowly out of site over next mile or so. 

I passed through the first aid station on time according to my goal times. (I should mention I made this cheat card of times and distances back in 2009 and don’t recall the methods and reasoning I used to come up with goal times I had.) Leaving this aid station was usually a muddy climb. This year it was truly dry giving the course a whole different feel. Again coming to the first field that usually has a large puddle and mud was very dry. It was a treat! It also spread runners out a bit more. There were a lot less people around me vs. other years. As I ran the single track threw the pine trees with soft needles under foot I noticed two things. One it was actually dusty in parts, that’s was new to me running this course. Two the number of bike water bottles I saw along the trail that had been dropped by mountain bike racers. I should have started counting them earlier and started to count them from that point.

I came off the trails and onto the long downhill of dirt roads. I tried to push my pace as much as I could without over doing it, but other runners still caught up and glided by, oh well. I loved running by the brook on this road and noticed more bottles from bikers on the rougher washboard sections of the dirt road. I just kep running, I knew this section and knew it was runnable all the way to the last hill up to the aid station. On the paved road I heard the dog bark and the rooster crow, like clockwork, as I have heard each year I have run the course. I reached Dart’s aid station right on my goal time if not early.(8.5miles Goal 1:42 Actual 1:41)

I moved along the next section keeping up a steady run and hike and but my mind started to wander. What math did I use to calculate the next goal time? I have never been able to get there that fast and this year would be no different.  I found myself thinking that 32 miles sounded like a nice number to reach and stop at, and then take a nice nap. Around that point Gilly caught up to me and we chatted and leap frogged back and forth. She said ‘you’ll finish this year, that’s for sure.’ We reached the mud pit toward the end of this trail section and found it to be almost dry. ‘Wow guess the course really will be dry!’ I thought after I have saw that. Gilly took off down the hills to aid station. I came into it shortly after and met up with Grant and Leah, everything was well. I had them switch some bottles and grab some Gu chomps while I used the bathroom. Then I was off onto the longest section up to Garvin hill aid station. (12.3miles G 2:27 A 2:33)

As I climbed the first dirt road surrounded by fog and fields I caught up to Mohawk. We chatted a bit. He had finished before and was hoping for a 10:30(!!) finish today. I slowly pulled ahead of him up the hills. A few thoughts crossed my mind at that point, “am I going fast or is he going slower then he thought or just maintaining a steady pace??” Sadly I don’t think I saw him again during or after the race. The fog was still thick and I could not see across the fields to take in the fall foliage that usually is a sight to see on this section.
The course turned on to a gravel access road and as I ran down it the sun broke through the fog finally. Heh! I laughed at my shadow with cat ears showing, forgetting I had them on. I caught up to another runner and we chatted about whether the sun coming out was good or bad because it might cause it to get hot and humid.  The miles of roads dragged on, and the sections all blurred together in my mind. Thinking I was close to the last climb up to Garvin I took some salt tabs and pain killers, (if they really helped or if it was placebo I could never tell.) A few moments later I realized I was not as close as I thought, oh well. I listened to a trio of guys running behind me telling stories. One was some kind of corporate rep. that goes over seas to Tokyo to try to seal the deals. He talked of how they would bring them out for drinks and he, the rep., would have to do toast/shots with many people from the company. Finally we turned off the roads and on to trails up to the top of Garvin hill. The trio passed by me and commented “Nice ears!”.
 ‘Thanks, love your stories’
“Have you done this before?’
“Yeah, my fourth time here.”
“Great we are all good then, we will all finish.”
“Oh, I have yet to finish one.”
“Oh! Nah you are doing great you will finish this year.”
 We passed back and forth on the way to the top. When I broke out onto the field on top of Garvin I took in the stunning view, thankful that fog had lifted. The fall colors were wonderful and the view extended to the northern mountains of Vermont and into the Whites of New Hampshire with fog still nestled in the valleys. I arrived at the aid station at little over my goal time. I restocked and set off down the hill while still munching on food.(19.3miles G 3:51 A4:06)

I have enjoyed this section every year. Lots of nice trail, first 20 miles were done along with the climb up Garvin, I was feeling good. Gilly caught up to me, and wanted to ask a kinda personal question. I smiled and said go head. She asked how often do I pee when I run ultra’s? I paused it was never good sign when someone asked you that at a race. I told her usually every 2 to 3 hours for me, Josh had told me about once an hour is good for him. She stated she hadn’t peed since the start. But she was feeling ok, drinking well and eating fine still. She knew what to watch for and we slowly drifted apart again. I was happy to see, for the first time in years, that the steep sections of the trail down to the aid station were mud free and runnable. I arrived at Cady Brook aid station right on my goal time!  I saw veteran ultra runner Randy working the aid station, he had been taking time off of running to have knee surgery. …Good people, always see so many good people at these things it’s hard not to smile around them!(23.2miles G 5:01 A5:01)

Gilly had taken off ahead of me up the long gradual climb out of Cady brook. In between munching on turkey and cheese sandwiches I jogged the flatter inclines and hiked the rest. I pulled just ahead of some guys. The climb went a lot better than other years and was over before I knew it. Gilly was long gone out of site and guys were just a little ways back. Climbing continued up the road. I was starting to get antsy and grumbly, I was not usually running with this many people at this point in the race and I had to pee… but I didn’t want to stop and wait for the guys to go by and couldn’t seem to gain any distance ahead them. So I continued on, going from roads to trail to road and then more trail to a long climb, one of lasts in this section. I dropped my pace greatly as I reached the top and let the three runners catch up and pass me at the crest of the hill. I finally stepped off the trail and peed in peace. I took off down the trail form there, and saw a field in sight. I startled a garter snake or two and I was glad snakes didn’t bother me, unless they rattle. I climbed the field to take in another grand view of the Vermont landscape. This was an easy place to get stuck at since there were always a few chairs up there. From here I ran down the trails and trudged up the road to the next aid station, Margaretville. I saw Gilly ahead getting ready to head out as I was getting there. To my surprise the people were actually a little bit helpful this year. It was a nice change. In the past three years I have hardly gotten a look or word spoken to me as I passed through other the person taking down race numbers.(27.6miles G 5:58 A6:08)

I headed out letting myself think that I didn’t feel too bad for being 27 miles in. I definitely felt like I had bit more energy than past years. I jogged and walked up the road and caught up to Gilly. We chatted a bit more, her not peeing issue had been resolved. She said I was doing awesome and would finish when I voiced my doubts. Despite hearing it so many times it was still not something I was banking on, not until I got threw 47 miles.  After a few miles I started jogging a bit more flats then Gilly and pulled way. I turned onto the Dugdale trails, I didn’t remember them having this much down and being so runnable. Then again I had never seen this section so dry! I kept glancing back for Gilly but I didn’t see her. I answered the call of nature again and started off and she still wasn’t in site. I was feeling great and enjoying this section so much more than other years. I sensed a change in the trail as I turned more right and up then past faint memories. I was hoping it was a reroute so trail would come out closer to the aid station. It was! I came out in a hay field and the trails winded down and across the road to the Aid station. I was 30 minutes ahead of goal time, and didn’t believe the mileage was right. Grant and Leah were smiling and talking helping resupply me. Grant said he would pace me at 41 miles if I wanted, I agreed, I knew that section could break me mentally.(32.3miles G 7:30 A7:02)

I headed out onto the trails more than half way done with the race now. This section has changed a bit each year, and I was not sure what to expect. I ticked of a mile or two of run/hiking and something started to nag my mind. I had seen one of the times at aid station was rewritten to read 8:30. What was the 8:30 for? I had left the aid station at 7:00. No one had mentioned a change in cut off times but what if they had changed the cut off time of the next aid station to 8:30? My goal time as 8:42…  I felt rather frustrated and really began to push the pace more than really should. I cursed the switch-backs at the ‘party’ house where there was music playing and a cooler of beer on the edge of the lawn. I was pacing behind a runner as we wound around the switch-backs that were a mere foot or two apart in sections. Once out the switch backs I passed the runner and hurried along and in my panic of not knowing the real cutoff. Finally I could see the road crossing that would lead to last big climb to Fallon’s Aid station.  As I came down the bank to road I slammed by big right toe hard on a root or rock but was startled by the sharp pain in my right for arm. I looked at my arm but nothing was there, the pang was caused by my foot hitting the rock so hard! I hiked up to Fallon’s cursing, sweating and huffing more then I should have with so many miles left. I stumbled in before 8:30. I asked when the cut off was. But I didn’t get a direct answer only ‘oh don’t worry you have plenty of time!’ I stumbled around, used the potty, grabbed some food and drink, stared blankly at the cut off/next aid sign with miles and times and gave up and started down the trail.(37.3miles G 8:42 A8:14)

As I moved along I kinda missed the mud now because it had been a good excuse to walk. I was hitting a wall.  I was not smiling as I passed the Tin Roof shed(Love shack!). I was tired. The extra push to get to Fallon’s and running the past 36miles in general had caught up to me. (Looking back at it, the push to get to Fallon’s was similar to last year push to get to the 47 mile cut off!). I kept trying to keep the pace up. I was able to motivate myself to keep moving because I still didn’t know how much leeway I had with the cut offs.(My sub conscious said I had time in the bank and to keep pushing and I would get more before the next section, but I could not hear it that well.) And I knew Grant was waiting up ahead and I didn’t want to let him down for coming out to help. Sounds silly but that’s how I was thinking.  Finally I was back out on the road onto a familiar part of course. I shuffled along the road trying to run the very slight incline and failing for the most part. ‘That’s just crewel!’ I thought as I passed by some camp chairs set up on the side of road, where someone was watching the race at some point. Down the road and onto the snowmobile trails again. Steady long downgrade and flats, but it was so hard to just run, my body ached and I was a tad nauseous. But not as bad as one poor runner stopped on the side emptying his stomach against his will. Out onto another road, I knew once I turned onto the trail again it was just a short ways to the aid station. I was surprised to see the trail just ahead. For the first time in long while my mood lightened and I had a bit of hope again. I was even happier when I came off the trail and found the aid station right on the road vs. tad bit further on the course in the field. I had time in the bank but not really. I still didn’t trust any of times and knew this last bit was going to be a ball buster. Both Leah and Grant were waiting for me. Grant was ready, I grabbed a bit of food and drink and some salt to try to calm my stomach and we headed out.(41.1miles G 9:35 A9:13)

Thank goodness for pacers! For me it was a distraction from myself for a bit and I feel guilty when I walk when I am running with someone else and push myself to run more. Grant asked where he should run. I told him either besides me or if takes the lead, don’t slow up and walk because I would just settle in behind and be lazy. He elected to stay behind me mostly, which worked out well for me as I tend to push harder when being followed. I was a little to amused at him stumbling on the trail but at least it made me smile. We talked about the dry trail and what it looked like last year and how it all blurred together each remembering different parts. We talked about what we had been up to, well mostly Grant, and I welcomed the distraction. I visited the bushes more times than I would have liked in this part, but it didn’t become a real issue. There was a crazy amount of beautiful single track trail here, but after 40miles it was really wearing on me and seemed to never end. I just wanted to see that finally field crossing that I knew lead to the last trail. Grants said I had this race and I was going to finish, but I wouldn’t be happy untill I got to the finally aid stations. We crossed
the field with Ascutney towering in the view, where the finish line was waiting. We ran along the last trail and I noticed they didn’t have the 5 miles to go sign up. I was out of water and took some from Grant(wonderful to have pacers!).  We finally came off the trail and onto the last mile or so of road to Johnson’s aid station. I was starting to feel a bit more excited. I pushed to keep running all the way to base of the hill where the aid station was. It was brutal to run on hard road and Grant gave me credit for be able to keep moving so well. Finally we walked up the steep drive way into Johnson’s aid station at 10:53 hours, 7 minutes ahead of my goal time and 30 minutes ahead of the cut off.

A wave of relief and happiness came over me. I finally knew I would finish. I didn’t care if I had to walk the last 3 miles I knew I would be able to get there in under the 12 hour cut off and even if it was over 12 hours it still would count as a finish.  I thanked Grant and gave him a hug for his help, he would meet me at the finish with Josh and Leah. I grabbed food and drink and walked out of the aid station onto trails on Ascutney, finally in the home stretch. I chatted with a few runners around me, we all felt the same, excited to be in last miles to the finish, not caring if we were walking or running. I tried to start running a bit but my body was starting to rebel a lot more. I passed a view that looked back over the course that I had been running all day. I smiled, it was nice to finally see the view from this point. Back into the trees and my pace slowed more. My stomach was turning more and more. My legs didn’t want to run at all and walking wasn’t all that pleasant either, full of aches and pains…imagine that?! I passed the brook and waterfall that was just a trickle this year. The sun was getting very low in the sky and it was getting darker in the woods, especially in that little gully where the brook was. The closer I got to the finish the more my toes were hurting, and soon became the most dominating pain. With a mile to go I ate the last energy chomps in my hand and tucked the wrapper away and stepped out on the ski slope of Ascutney were the course would slowly slamon its way
down to the finish at the very bottom. I tried to run as much as could cursing my toes and noting my quads didn’t feel to fried which was good at least. I glanced at time and was happy to note I would still finish under 12 hours despite slogging through these last 3 miles. Finally with a quarter mile to go I heard my name called from somewhere. It took a bit but I finally saw Josh up ahead waiting and Grant and Leah a bit further along. Josh and then Grant joined me for a bit before the last downhill drop to the finish.
“Quads toast?”
“Nope, my toes, they want to fall off!

I ran down and across the finish line to cheers and clapping. There was congrats from race officials and Zeke(long time runner and volunteer at the VT50) took my medal and happily placed it around my neck. 11:48:51, I stepped out of the finish shoot and I was greeted by friends. Hugs from Leah and Grant, and of course Josh and I glanced at him with tears of pride in his eyes, I muttered at him that I knew he might cry in attempt not to cry myself! He had seen me struggle at this race course for 6 years, the first two when I finished the 50k’s then the next 4 working to finish the 50miler.

I sat for a bit dwelling in the happiness of finishing. I ponder the fact that I didn’t feel as beat up as I expected to feel. My toes were fine despite their painful protest the past few miles. Ahhh…The monkey was gone! I can wear my sweatshirt and I have my shiny metal! Oh and I had seen over twenty lost water bottles…

We waited and cheered Gilly in. She was the last runner in! I gave her a hug and congrats and thanked her for her encouragement out on the course. We headed for home and I felt nothing could get me down… sadly I forgot about how car sick I can get… oh well!

So where does the bum knee and not running on birthday come in? Well it might have started 2 weeks prior to the VT50 when I got a PR at the Pisgah 50k but I didn’t notice. After the VT50 of course everything was a bit sore from doing 50 miles so I didn’t notice it right away.

The week after I ran the EMS 3.4 fun run on Saturday, my knees were a bit stiff and tired then but still no biggy. On Sunday I played photographer for Leah and her mom as they ran in her mom’s first half marathon and for Josh while he ran the coinciding ultra taking place at the same time. Josh called me out on my offer to pace him on the last 10 miles. A good call on his part as it started to pour part way in and continued to the finish and he definitely benefited from having company out there in the cold rain. By the time we got home that day getting up and down stairs was murder for my knees, more so for the left one. But again it eased up in few days.

The next week I ran the Harpoon 3.6 miler on pavement. I ran it stronger than any other year but I was slower than my PR by seconds and mostly blamed it on the amount of people that I had to run around to pass them during the whole race. Again stiff in the joints but not as bad last week.

Then the next week Leah Josh and I ran the CHAD  ½ marathon . From the start my knee finally called me out and gave up. I was stubborn and kept running the whole time. It was a strong run and only a minute slower than last year. But that run was the finally straw. It took a good 2 weeks for the knee pain to stop.

But the time off couldn’t come at a better time. I have no races on my mind since the VT50 is finally done. I miss my birthday run but looking back at all my fall races this year I can only smile at the results. I look forward to slowly building up my activity level again shortly, to find out if there is any real damage or not. I have been working on the strengthening the leg muscles and doing some gentle hikes. The slow build up is working well since I don’t have a 50 miler hanging over my head yet :-)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Another B-day in the Books, On to the next!

I set out on my Birthday run with much doubt on how I would feel or if I would finish. I intentionally did not drink the night before after last year’s nauseating experience. I was apprehensive of my lack training and nursing over-use injuries from running the Stonecat Marathon. So to say the least I felt like a ticking time bomb. But I wanted to show I could still run, that another hash mark on my wall didn’t mean I was slowing down. So I set out this morning with Josh, my running idle from the very start, and Leah(riding a bike… she to is battling overuse injuries).

We finished the first 5.2 miles in good spirits. I felt better than I thought I would, little aches and pains but nothing big. We ran by my favorite marsh and there was even a flock of geese and ducks there to see as we ran by.

Leah ducked out for the second stretch of 9 miles as it involved a lot of snowy trails, not the easiest thing to ride a bike on. Within the first mile I was dreading this loop because of the added challenge of walking up the snowy hilly trails. With each step your feet would slip just a little, enough to make it more tiresome then it should be. Thankfully that seemed to only get easier as the loop went on and the snow softened. But other challenges came up. I found that I have come to dread the road section threw the development that connects the two trail sections. My inner quad muscles and groin began to tire and become sore. The arches of my feet began to ache and I had some grit rubbing the side of my left foot. My knees were aching while running the down hills now to. But I just gritted my teeth and kept moving forward, all and all it wasn’t that bad…

We got back to the house and mentally I was ready to head out for the last lap. Leah was back to join use again for the last 4.3 miles. I ‘pulled a Nate’ and decided to change socks and shoes. Meh my feet couldn’t feel any worse so why not try. It turned out to work out just fine. My heels were a bit tight to start but loosened up after a mile or so. I was more tired than anything and had to take walk breaks on the flats since there were hardly any hills on this section to take a walk break on. I ended the run feeling tired but yet strong and very satisfied.

I feel eager to dive into training again. Not limited to just running but cross training too. Like P90X, biking, snowshoeing, and general strength training. Not mention just trying to eat healthy on a regular basis.

I have four big runs on my horizon already for the start of next year. One is Josh’s B-day run. It will be a 50k this year and it would be nice to do the whole run with him this year. The past years I have only done parts of it. Yet every year he has done my whole B-day run with me. So I owe it to him :- )

Next is the Shamrock Marathon in VA Beach. It will be my first road marathon. I want to be trained enough to enjoy it and do it in a reasonable time. No not Boston time! Like 11-12 minute mile time, I would love faster, but one step at a time here!

After that is the Wapack Trail Race. It’s a killer of a 21 mile race for me. It has sucked every bit of me out the last two times I have done it. I curse the climbs and dread them. But yet I want to go back and try to better my time yet again.

Then there is Pineland Farms. Every year that I have run, I have done the 25k. I have been happy with that and scoffed at the idea of doing the 50K. I hate loops and hate the heat in the fields there. But the tides have changed and I plan on doing the 50K this year. The reasoning behind it is sound. If I ever plan on finishing the VT50, I have to get a good running base under me. Which means getting a handle on finishing 50k’s strongly and maintaining and building from that base. So yes you will see me eat my words and toe the line at the Pineland Farms 50K this year… by eating those words it will make the beer at the end so much sweeter though ;- )

In-between those four runs will other fun runs like Muddy Moose and Josh’s mini Barkley run. Along with some hiking adventures I’m sure.

So all in all cheers to turning another year older:- )

Sunday, October 2, 2011



We all use them. Some people much more then others. I admit it, I feel I use them to much. Why? Some day I hope to find that answer. But for now, I have plenty of excuses for why not to run ‘today’, for not training and putting off reaching my goals. I started writing this blog in February and now it is October... Though out the year I always had an ‘excuses\’ for not working on this it. I think biggest thing that stopped me was that fact I would be facing the truths, admitting all the excuses I use. So without any further delay here are the most common excuses I use.

“To tired”. “I think might be sick”

“The couch is warm and I should rest if I feel this tired.”

“If I do get up, then I will have to go change in to running/work out cloths. Then figure out what I’m going to do and or were to go…”

Yes the couch is warm, but I am tired because I am not doing anything. Once I get going I will feel better and want to do more. Changing only takes 2 minutes and if I just get out the door I will know where I want to go. I will feel better getting up and doing something vs. just napping. I admit, I also feel guilty for being a bit of hypercondriac at times. I know the fresh air will help me but to often I have chosen to be ‘sick’ or ‘injured’

“I just spent the morning cleaning so I can rest now.”

Cleaning is not that tiresome. Period.

“I just ran/hiked/snow-shoed last night/this morning that was enough.”

I will not feel that tired from just those activities and it will not help me by not doing more. I need to stop short-changing myself. There is a reason I bought work out videos and other work out accessories and it was not to collect dust, it’s to be able to work all my muscles groups. I have these options so I don’t have to do the same thing all the time. The wonderful term is cross training. I need to do it more and not ignore it.

“It is to hot.”

I have the most trouble at races when I get to hot. I need to take advantage of these hot days for heat training. I just need to put some ice in my bottles and see what I can do. Not to mention there are plenty of other activities(also called cross training) I can do in the heat. (cough kayaking cough cough..)

“It’s to cold!”

Truth is I have enough cold gear to be quite toasty while outside. If it is 20* or above it is not that bad at all. I have gone out in worst. I have always warmed up fast and I have never come back cold. If it is that cold, there is that stuff I bought to use, treadmill, videos, weights….(that cross training thing again)

“But the snowbanks! I can’t get to the side of the road to get way from the cars. And if it snowing, what if the plow truck comes by??”

Cars are generally nice and do slow down and or at least go around me just fine. I wear bright colors and a light so they can see me. The plows are no big deal, I have dealt with them with out incident in the past. I go to the other side of road and wait until they pass. Some times I stand on the snowbank to get further out of the way or if there is other traffic.

“I despise running buy kids at bus stops”

That will never change. So I run up or down Bog Road and Colby Hill, there are hardly any kids. The best option is Fox Forest. No kids hiking that early!

“I worry about dog encounters”

I am so sick of dogs!! So I now carry two different mace/pepper sprays in hopes it will stop them. What more can I do? Got to face it or it will keep me trapped in the house. I am doomed to get bit one of these days.(Cops will know when that happens!)

“If I workout too much I will be tired or sore for work.”

Work smerk.. I have worked on very sore legs after races and got by just fine. There are people at work to help me hold the dogs down, but at races it’s only my legs, my body, that will get me up the hills and to the finish line.

“I should do errands instead. Things like clean the house or house hold shopping.”

Those are important things for me to get done, but I need to plan my chores and errands around my training. A little planning goes a long ways.

“I do not like running at night because of cars, people, dogs, and just plain old afraid of the dark.”

Find a friend to run with me, bring a light and wear good night time clothing.. Simplest safest solution. Either that or try to run on the treadmill…(yes I can not run on a treadmill, love speed walking on full incline though)

“I am going to walk the hill”

This is a new one, but I feel I have been milking the ultrarunner mantra of ‘walk the hills’ to much. I need to run the hills while training. And if I am not running them I need to put more effort/training into fast hiking them. But during tapering and the race play it by ear and hike the hills as needed.

That’s that! Now that I have admitted these excuses and explained why I should not use them I hope I will use them A LOT less. :-)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

An Ultra Family part 2ish

Josh opens the Door…

I remember many years ago, maybe 2005, going for a five mile run in Fox Forest on Lower Ridge trail with Josh. Josh said some words that got the wheels turning in my head and gave me hopes and dreams of doing a trail ultra-marathon some day. He simply asked if I thought I could keep doing the run we were doing for another 7 to 10 hours and if I could, he thought, easily do an ultra in the fall. Those few little words opened the door to my future as a trail runner and eventual ultra runner.

Thanks to Josh I met Rik and the other origins of the ‘Ultra family’…

Josh’s Dad, Rik, has always been friendly and always has a story. He has never made me feel unwelcome or awkward. We have never been real close but I have always looked up to him and admire him for his accomplishments and way he pulled his son, Josh, into ultrarunning. Rik tends to be a bit of minimalist when running. Some times too much of one and Josh is usually there to help him out. Rik has him well trained on being over prepared now..

After finishing my first 50k at the VT50, Rik was at the finish line with a smile and hug. I will never forget that moment. I’m very grateful for him being there. (A side note, my parents were at the race next year waiting for me, in the rain, to finish, also very special.) My other big memory of Rik is pacing him at the VT100 threw the night. It was 19 miles of walking. The hardest part was keeping up a conversation all night, as most know I’m not a big talker! But we got through it and it’s another fond memory.

Over the years the normal group of guys that Rik and Josh would hang with at races were always positive about running. Dave Delibac, Mike Lacharite, John Izzo, and Dan Myers. They always encouraged me to go the distance. They never doubted that I could do it. I think they enjoyed the idea of someone else out suffering on the trails with them... ‘What’s the worst that could happen’, they would say, ‘there is plenty of time, just got to keep moving.’ Always friendly, helpful and they had their own stories to share. They always helped me feel at ease going into a race. They were all excited the days I decided to step up to the line of some 50k’s. They truly are an extended family to me.

Josh: Hero. Motivator. Friend. Coach. Protector. Guide. Teacher. Leader. Courageous. Happy. Devoted. Friendly. Caring. Encouraging. Selfless. Proud(of his ‘family’). Competitive. Inspirational.

“Loni said to me on the way to the race “You have addicting passions.” She was right.”

Josh’s view on ultra-running has always been inviting one. You can’t help but be intrigued when he passionately tells his running adventures. It is infectious. But the passion seems to have a positive effect and influence on any one who is exposed to it. It is not all about winning to him; it is about self accomplishment and the fun. He talks about the feeling the accomplishment from going the distance. And the simple joys of having a race shirt with a story. The sense of self you feel by completing that first 31.2 miles when your fellow friends stutter at the thought of running that long. About going out and trying it, having the courage to start. But he puts it best by saying “The trick is to NOT wrap your head around it. Just go out and do it. You'd be amazed how far your legs can take you if you simply let them”

Because of his views he has motivated many to run. Many of us were non-runners, my self included, when we met Josh. Chris, Rachel, Leah, Grant, Greg, Mandiee, Sara the list goes on and on.

If you agree to go to a race with Josh you are almost guaranteed to be running with him at some point. If he is not running the whole race with you he will come back after he has finished to encourage you to the finish line. He has done this countless times for me and it always puts a smile on my face. More so because I’m near the back of the pack of runners and I’m usually getting lonely by that point. It’s just in his nature. He has always looked after his friends like they were his family, his pack. Like the classic quote “friends are family you choose”-Edna Buchanan. It is not only in races. During hikes, regular runs and bike rides he is often the one that hangs back and checks on the poor soul left all alone behind the main group. On Mont. Katahdin years ago Josh was going to spilt from the group and take a different route down to avoid the infamous Knife Edge. Not more then a hundred feet down the trail we heard scrambling on the rocks behind us as Josh caught up to us. He said something along the lines of his wolf instinct kicked in and he couldn't leave his pack behind. That and thought of sitting and waiting for us come down off the mountain would have killed him with worry.

Josh will often ‘give up’ his own race to run with a friend or help someone new out. He will throw encourage words at you and at any runners that are passed along the way. His endless words encouragement to others has kept me smiling threw races before. Simple words of ‘you are looking good, running strong’ can help so much during the race no matter the distance. And some times just hearing ‘let’s run to the next tree before you walk’ is all that is needed to keep going, simple little goals and good company.

“SJ - “So we gonna sub 10 at Vermont in a couple of weeks”

JR - “well I gotta see where loni is in the 50k, if I can catch her I’ll probably just run it in with her in”

SJ – “you’re just so god damn selfless aren’t you.” (Jokingly)

It’s very true, my father got me into ultras 8 years ago. Since then, I’ve gotten 3 of my friends who had never run anything in their life to run ultras with me. Everyone I touch I seem to get into a race of some kind. From local 5k and 10ks, sprint triathalons, to as long to the Vermont 100. I think that’s really my calling. I’m a motivator, a guide of some sort, my addictive passions are hard to NOT share with the ones I hold so close. It’s something I can say I’m really proud of.”

Then there is the over coaching. ‘Come on lets pick up the pace” or ‘lets kick it to the end now’. The problem is that I have already picked up the pace or already started to kick it?!… ugh. The ones closest to Josh often feel his frustration at not doing their best.

But there is a good reason. He knows people have a lot more potential then they think they have. He knows when you can do better. He wants nothing more then to see you improve, to train harder, to reach and exceed your goals.

That aside Josh does have very strong competitive edge and it is a joy to watch. Whether it be in pursuit of catching up to Sherpa John, pushing the pace to set a Personal Record or an all out sprint at end of race to catch his fellow runners. It is always inspiring to watch. He’s never really disappointed at loosing and is a very good sport when it comes to running. He will explain it is not about winning, its more about getting out there, doing your best, and having fun.

I like to whine a lot during a run. I always have an excuse for something. Then there is Josh. When he is running with others he hardly ever complains about his own aches, pains or woes. When he does it’s a problem that needs to be addressed, ie muscle cramps, chaffing. I admire his modesty about his discomforts and something I need to really aim for. But who doesn’t like ‘wine’? But then again to much wine leads to headaches and so does whining…

But please do raise you glasses and mugs to Josh. Who has given so many of us inspiration to run and has lead us into his Ultra Family.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Snow shoe race?!

What was I thinking!?

Last year at the Peaks Snowshoe Marathon I was excited for many different reasons. One was that I no longer had to try to train for a snowshoe race again. I was tired of trying to run with snow shoes. It was hard for me to keep up a good ‘race’ pace, I didn’t have ideal racing snowshoes and I often got blisters when wearing them. I was done with it all. I was eager to longer wear snowshoes and excited to feel the freedom of just running in plain old shoes again

But the race went well and after eight and half hours I was happy to stop as 19miles. I was very proud that I surpassed the half marathon mark. I was sore in so many new places on my legs for the next week. But still, most of all, I was just happy to be free of snowshoes!

Then fall came, and race amnesia set in. I think that running a race with snow shoes sounds like a good idea. Sigh… here I go again.

Though this year, I’m trying my best to keep my stress level about the race down. With last year experience and some good miles logged on snow shoes under my belt I feel quite content. I have the happy realistic goal of finishing the half again. I would be really excited to get to 19 miles. I would be ecstatic if I could do the whole 26.2. But I know me and my strength and my training. I am not really ready for the full marathon and I am ok with that.

There is one other big difference this year. There will be many people that are part of my ultra family there. That fact has turned it into more of fun event then just a race to me. There will be first-timers and veterans and those of us in the middle. As I think of the race, faces and images float threw my mind and make me smile. There are many faces of people I have met there over the years and have affected me, all in a good way. Delibac, Amy Lane, Mike Lacharite and his parents Don and Betty Lacharite, Steven Latour, Izzo, Ray Zirblis, Sherpa John, Josh and his dad Rik, Race Director Andy, Jason Hyaden(land owner, biker and trail creator), Joe(Land owner and Race Host), Adam Wilcox, Dan Myers and many others. It makes me smile and lightens my heart to think of seeing them all again.

This year is also very special as I look forward to seeing Leah, Grant and maybe Mandiee and Greg join the race. I feel pride and joy for them stepping up to the starting line. It doesn’t matter the distance they do or if this is there first race or not just. To me it is about getting out and doing it, having the courage to start, taking on a new challenge and having fun.

The images I see of past years make long to go back to see all again. The bon fire at the start finish with stone soup in a big pot next to the fire that most shied away from. The lead runners kicking up snow breaking trail threw an open field. The steel snowmobile bridge that meant the end of the lap was near. The ever green tree labyrinth near the top that was always mysterious and twisting. Joes cabin at the top of the course with a bonfire. The image of me taking face dives into the snow when I would trip on my snowshoes. The stream very near the end where you could either walk along tree log over it or hop over. The odd trail names. The random quotes of the seven deadly sins on trees along the course. The farm animals curiously watching us run by. People every where smiling. Its all good memories.

I look forward to feeling the whole race atmosphere at Peak this year, despite straping the shoes onto my feet. The thought of seeing my ultra family and being part Team Robert’s first big official race of the year makes the discomfort of wearing snowshoes almost non-existent.

Josh enjoying the Peak Snow Shoe trails on a training run. The Cabin on top of Joe's Mountain in the back ground. Gorgeous.

Monday, January 31, 2011

January - baby step into the new year..


Weight start 132.6

Weight finish 132.2

Miles ?? no good tally for the month, jumble of hikes, runs and snowshoes.

Not much weight down just looking at it. But my weight did rise during the month then started to drop. I like to think that I was adding some muscle then started to shed some fat. I feel better for the most part, so it’s all good.

I have been eating better for the most part. I have been getting away from breads, butter, creams, and a bit less sugar. I hardly eat red meat any more, not on purpose… just lost interest in it for the most part. I have started eating more seeds, grains and beans for filler and instead of meats and breads.

I did not take part in Sherpa Johns running streak this year (run 2 miles every day). The streak last year left me very frustrated and sore. It left bitter taste in my mouth that has not gone away yet. Of course that led me to not running very much at this month. But I did get out a couple times on snow shoes and a few snowy hikes. I modified one pair of running shoes with screws. I have only used them once and they did work well. Then there was snowdays, that involved pushing the snow-blower around and shoveling. I did a few random days of P90x work outs and other small workout days. I even got on my xc skate skis once.

Highlights including :

-A group Snow Hike up Bog Mountain in Wilmont NH

-A group outing to Pittsfield VT and snow shoeing on some of the Snowshoe marathon course.

-And to end the month with a Bang was Leah’s Bear Brook Winter Fat Ass event. A good size group turned out for the event. We had 8 people on snow shoes, 2 on skis and a little dog along for the trip. The plan was a 9 mile loop, with optional cut offs. I had the goal of getting 5 to 6 miles in. But due to the mysterious trails I ended up doing 11.5 miles with the rest of the surprised group. We were all thrilled and excited with the accomplishment when we finished. But I do admit I was whining a lot, upset and in pain on the trail. My legs brought me to tears at one point before for going ‘numb’ for awhile. Sorry for being a poop :-(

But Cheers to Leah’s Dad and his GF for having beer at the end for all of us! And a Cheers to Leah for putting on a great event and a great post event meal!! I do look forward to going out to Bear Brook again! (I just have to do a little research and map reading so I have a better understanding of what is what)

Hopes for the next month: Continue to improve my diet. Working on getting sugar cravings down!! I have some new foods and reading material on order already.

More consistent about work outs.

Log more running miles!!

Looking forward to Josh's birthday run on the 26th!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Where it all started...

Why I did I start this running thing?

Back in the late winter/early spring of 2006 is when it all got started. For two months I had struggled along trying to run a little. I never had run at all except to play games. Why start now? It's not like you have to be able to run to get by in this world. One big reason was I wanted to be able to run with my boyfriend, Josh at t
he time, in a race someday. I didn’t tell anyone that was why, but it was the main reason I started to run every spring. But it never got very far with it. Most would think I was just trying to get in shape and loose weight like everyone else in this country. The other main reason that stirred in mind was just having the ability to be able to run if I wanted to and if I Needed to. It bothered me that it would be very difficult to run away from or chase something if I had to.

That year had been going good for a change. Josh showed me a great website that has training programs for all kinds of workouts from lifting to running. I started the beginners running plan. Exercise I did well following its training plan until I got sick. After I got better I started running again for a couple of days but crashed and burned on a frustrating Saturday run.

I didn't run at all that following week till Saturday. I threw the training plan out the window and just ran. I decided if I felt bad I would walk. At each quarter mile mark on my two mile loop I decided to push on and ended up running the whole two miles!

This may not seem like much at first. But this was the first time I ran two miles without stopping to walk! It wasn't untill a couple days later, when I had finished a one mile run, I realized this is the first time in my life that I could remember ever running a mile! I never ran in school or for fun when I was younger, except when playing games. I never rain the whole mile in gym class. I did cross country skiing for a year but even that did not involve much running. I had accomplished something!

Shortly after that I some how convinced myself to sign up for my first race… I bit off more then I should have. I signed up for a mini triathlon: 2 mile run, 5 mile paddle with a portage in the middle, and 14 mile bike. Josh kinda gave me a look like I was crazy but was eager to do the race himself.

Race day came quickly and I was not ready but was not going to back down and I was determined to stick threw it. It was early June, cool and pouring rain with no chance of letting up all day.

To me, this is where being part of Team Robert started. Our friend Rachel came along to help us out and take pictures. She did an awesome job sticking it out in the rain with us the whole day. She got great pre-race picture of Josh and I. Josh looks happy and excited and I look petrified.

The race started and we jogged off into the cool rain. We promptly slid to the back of the pack. Josh stayed with me trying to encourage me to go faster. I was trying! My chest felt tight and hard to breath. Nerves most likely. We got to the boats and into the water we went and began to paddle away. Josh was easily keeping just ahead of me in his canoe calling me on, to keep pushing. I struggled in my nice light kayak to keep up. My hands ached because of the cold and constant slipping grip since it was so wet. When we got to the portage Josh scurried across the road with the canoe on his back easily. I hoisted my kayak on my shoulder for a bit. Rachel was there to get a picture then she helped me carry the kayak across the road and back into the water.

At the ended of the kayak section we had to scramble out onto a steep bank into knee deep water. There were a lot of people on hand to help. Usually it is shallower but because of the rain the river was running high. As it was, the Army Corps of Engineers that controls the dam up river was already holding back the water so the race could happen that day.

Rachel was there again to help us transition from kayak to bikes. Josh and I were off onto the last section on mountain bikes, yes on a road course. We peddled and peddled some more. Josh always ahead calling and leading me on. What few racer that were left behind us soon passed us on their road bikes. It didn’t really bother me; I knew I was as good as finished. With about 3 miles from the finish I had to jump off my bike, briefly, to walk a bit of a hill because my legs felt so stiff and tired. Josh gave a yell back, No walking! You are almost there! Walking was not that much better. I hopped back on and slowly ground out the last few miles. Near the finish Rachel was there again soaking wet in the rain to get a picture.

We crossed the finish line and people were still out there to cheer us in. We got a congrat’s for Rachel and I got a hug from Josh. In a post race fog we loaded the bikes on the truck. We went in and changed in to dry clothes had some post race food as we milled around the crowd in the school. We saw some results on the way out. I finished 3rd in my category… so what if there was only 3 of us in it…

That was my first race. I didn’t race again until October…

That race engrained in me the first feelings of a running family, a team. Rachel, an accomplished utlra runner, had put aside her day and comfort to help and encourage us in the pouring rain. Josh had stuck with me at my slow pace to encourage me threw the whole race. He could have easily finished an hour ahead of me but instead unselfishly helped me. I saw the different types of racers that day to. I saw the elites out to win, but I also saw the families out there having fun with there kids, and even their dogs!

Welcome to Team Robert, an Ultra Family!