Tuesday, August 28, 2012
So, wow. That happened!
I went to (really beautiful) Manistee, MI this weekend to run my very first 50 mile ultra race. I went into it even more nervous than you'd expect! I was supposed to fly to Chicago to meet up with my buddy and then we were going to drive together to MI. We were staying with a large group of folks from her old stomping grounds in Ohio. Well, my buddy wasn't able to come(!) due to an unavoidable work confliction. Aaron just got a new job and we didn't think he could swing it, either. This is how I ended up flying ot Chicago (already had tickets bought), renting a car and then driving myself to MI. To stay with strangers and run a race without anyone I knew there to support me. Hence, nervous. ;)
The car trip was very odd. It took me way longer to drive there than it should of. I still don't know what the heck happened! I made it to the Manistee National Forest in time to get my packet and shirt and then drove the 25 minutes to our hotel. Didn't get in until 8 pm (and I landed at Midway at 10 am? What the heck happened?) My roommates for the weekend weren't around, so I was able to pack my drop bag and fuel vest, pin on my number and lace my chip while talking to myself to keep from freaking out.
I was going to have one of the gals from the group pace me from mile 32 on to the finish, so she swung by the room to meet me. She was really awesome and friendly! I was looking forward to running with her. :)
We all chatted a bit and then turned in for as much rest as possible. For the first time ever, I actually got a solid night's sleep before a big race. Turns out, I needed it.
Race morning we all get dressed, Bodyglide it up and grab our various bags. The course was well supported but I made sure to bring Nuun tablets (it was going to be hot/humid and I knew I'd need electrolytes), Gus and some bars for solid food in addition to what the aid stations would provide. Some I had on me right away in my hydration vest (Nathan Intensity, soooo goood) the others got tossed in my drop bag along with clean socks, bra, sweatband and shirt, my flashlight for when it started getting dusky in the woods and various other goodies I thought I might need. We had access to our bags at miles 14 and 38.
We grab some bagels and such at the hotel and then head to the woods. Turns out a tree is down by aid stations 6 and 7, so our start is delayed while they saw it down. Good times.
We start without fanfare at 8 am-ish. Trail races are funny in that there really isn't the big hullabaloo like you get with road racing. No bands, no megaphones, no music. No guns going off or airhorns. Just... oh, we're going? We're running now? Ok. Oh shoot! It's on now!
We do a 1.2 mile loop on pavement before heading into the woods on single track dirt. The trail is lovely but very sandy, very rooty and (as we find out in only a small amount of time) peppered with lots of rolling hills. And some not so rolling! The pack is mostly thinned out by about mile 3. Folks who were super speedy have zipped on ahead and the rest of the folks around me are falling into a steady pace.
I follow the lead of the folks in front of me, keeping pace with them and walking when they walk. That's the other thing about trail racing and especially ultras on trail "F it! I'm hiking!!" are not shameful words. It's not a failure to walk a hill, it's just racing smart. In road running, it seems like "real" runners run all the hills and there is this sense of walking being lesser. None of that exists on trails. Saving your legs is a valuable skill! In some ways, ultras and trail runs are about letting go of the ego. It's not about your pace or how you look - just relentless forward motion and giving it everything you have.
It takes me to about mile 8 to have my first real fall. Hit a root mostly buried in sand and BAM! Down I go. Ooof. Minor knee scrape, stinging palms, wounded pride. Nice gent behind me makes sure I'm okay. It wouldn't be a trail race if I didn't fall at least once!
Feeling quite good from miles 3-11ish (those first 3 always suck for me now... it used to be the first mile was the worst... now it takes me 3+ to hit my stride. This is why I hate 5Ks). At around 11 or 12 I start feeling sharp pain on the outside of my right knee. It continues getting worse and worse until I start feeling it in my hip, too. Oh sh*t, IT band stuff? I have NEVER had IT issues. Ever. The super sandy course is causing my knee to twist and is causing stress. I'm super frustrated, upset and really thinking I might have to DNF if it gets much worse. I ask for pain killers at an aid station and pop two. The roar becomes a low dull thud. Downhills are agony. I'm in tears of pain and frustration. How can I even do a marathon distance with this hurting like this? How can I do 50?
I soldier on through the final 13 miles of the loop, moving slower and gingerly trotting the downhills. As I approach the halfway point I leave the course for the portas (none on the course!!! Painful, man!). Mission accomplished I hobble back to the race.
My pacer finds me right as I go past the statt/finish area and lets me know she's gotten cramps from heat issues and had to walk the last 6 of her marathon. D: She's hurting and can't come out again to pace me now. She says she'll try to find me a body to help me out. I'm worried. The whole first loop I've been focused on getting to her at 38. Knowing I just had to do 38 alone and then I'd have company to run with was what was keeping me strong and less wigged. My stomach sinks thinking about the possibility of running in the dark woods alone come 8-9 pm. I mention my IT band and she, being an angel, has an IT band knee brace thingie! I put it on and it's instantly 99% less painful. I feel like I can go on, now.
I start the second loop in much better spirits. Still worried about my pacer issues and still a little afraid of the dark hitting before I'm out. I think that maybe I can make up some time, though, now that my pain if relieved. I'm still hoping for a sub 12 hour race at this point. First loop took me 5:45 running time (plus stops at aid stations to nom fruit, fill water and chat with the awesome volunteers.) I think I can beat that, since I had to slow down so much with the knee stuff.
Miles 25-35 are sort of a blur. I remember feeling quite good for them. Knee starting twinging again at about 5:30 PM, so I took some more pain pills to head it off at the pass. I make the error of eating a bar I hadn't tried out in training and feel sick for a few miles due to it. It's been quite hot/humid and I'm starting to feel that. I've been on my feet for about 9+ hours now. Legs feel good, feet a bit swollen feeling but not bad. Knee cries out on occasion but nothing race killing. I know that I've slowed down just due to fatigue and heat. I wish I'd filled my hydration pack with Nuun at mile 14. I'm looking forward to 38 where I can add my Nuun and change my bra, shirt, socks and headband.
38 comes and I am so beyond caring who sees me changing. Dignity is not really a thing anymore. I pay modesty lip service and stand behind a van while I strip down and reglide, redress. A fresh bra = best thing ever! I forget to change my socks. My shoes are full of sand, even with gaiters on. I head out of the aid station. About a quarter mile away I remember my flashlight! It's definitely going to get a least dusky and probably straight up dark before I finish. I'm SO GLAD I remembered so close to the station. I go back for my light and add it to my stash of stuff in my vest. 12 miles to go. I hope I have a pacer waiting at 42.
No pacer at 42. It's starting to get dark and I realize that my worst fear for this race, running alone in the dark dark woods, is going to likely happen. I am moving at a really nice (fear induced) clip. Surprised to see I still have some 10:30s in my legs. I make it to 42 in 11 hours. More than an hour of that is stopped time at all the aid station plus my clothing change. Worth it. I realize I won't hit my 12 hour goal. I have to let it go and focus on finishing the race.
I catch up to another gal and ask her to run with me since I'm scared to do the dark woods alone. She's got a turned ankle but is keeping a good pace. We fall in together and chat a bit. Around mile 43 my Garmin dies due to battery failure. I take my eyes off the trail and WHOOOOPS, second fall. This one is pretty bad. Instant goose egg on my elbow, scraped my knee again and pulled/bruised my ribs when I fell and rolled. Wind knocked out of me so I lie on the trail for a minute or so before getting up.
I'm babying my injuries as the gal I was running with pulls further and further ahead. I lose her over a ridge. It's getting dusky. I begin to cry realizing I won't catch her. Every time I trip I start crying a bit again. At some point I start to have all out panic attacks where I'm crying and hyperventilating, unable to catch my breath. The falling night has me completely demoralized. The fall shook me. I'm scared of falling again, I'm scared of running in the woods alone. I didn't realize how fragile my confidence was at that point, I am so tired that even tripping feels like failure, like defeat. I have waves of panic attacks from 43-46. At 46, night falls. Real proper night.
The woods are silent and pitch black. I keep the light trained on my feet, watching for roots in the sandy ground. I can't tell I'm going up or down a hill until I feel the incline or the pull of gravity. On occasion I see a fellow runner's light in the woods to my side, as we zig and zag. I feel very alone and very small and very scared. I start to completely fall apart. Where is the last aid station? Surely I've run 2 miles by now? In the dark, the time feels endless and each mile feels so long. I find myself crying off and on as I run, moving as fast as I can without falling.
Finally, aid station. I sob that I'm happy to see them. They tell me I have a mile and a half left. Brief moment of "oh god, I'm going to finish!" pride, quickly replaced by teary desire to just be out of the darn dark woods already, FFS! I run for what seems like forever until I hear the roar and good cheer of the after party. Round the dark corner and into the lights. The folks from Ohio are all cheering my name, I'm teary eyed as I run through the field towards the finish. Over the line, finally done, breaking down sobbing. Hands fisted in my eyes, exhausted little girl crying. Physically, I feel fine. My training was great, my body is strong. Emotionally I am spent. Too long alone, too long afraid. The dark and the fall devoured my confidence and I was running broken for those last 7 miles.
My buddy, the would be pacer, finds me at the finish and takes exceedingly wonderful care of me. How am I? How is the knee? She's so proud, she cried too at her first 50, it's okay! I'm staggering, dazed. She gets me quinoa soup, defizzed soda, water, a chair. Aid station volunteers call my name and congratulate me. I stumble and breathe and try to slow my heart and stop crying. As it sinks in that I DID it, I'm done and safe and with friendly people, I calm down. I statt to feel happy. Tired. But happy. We chat, I eat my soup. I admire my GIANT 16 oz metal the size of my head. Nothing hurts too much though I know tomorrow my shoulders and arms will ache from the falls.
I'm a freaking 50 mile ultra runner. Gun time 13:20. At least an hour of that time is aid station chattering. At a certain point I just started running station to station, wanting to see familiar faces. The other ultra runners all seem to meet up at the stations, too. We say hi, eat food, move on again. The stations are little beacons, leading the way. I took advantage of the food and company. No regrets.
The next day I feel good. The horrible black spiral in the woods mostly fades. I'm tired but not horribly so. I feel a bit muzzy headed but not horribly so.
I'm thinking about doing the race again next year. Another lady I met at the race says she'll pace me the whole run. Tempting. We'll see what I do.
(SPOILERS: I'm going to sign up as soon as I get paid. Maybe sooner.)
Monday, July 16, 2012
Well, I did it. I ran my first ultra. :D This past Saturday, the 14th, I tackled the Dances with Dirt race at Devil's Lake, WI.
I was shaking scared the night before and sick to my stomach with nerves all day on Thursday. It wasn't so much the distance that scared me (I ran 3 marathons in 5 weeks to prep for the race - including tacking on 2 extra miles to the middle marathon so my longest run was a 28 miler), I felt like my training was solid there and I had 31 miles in my legs. It was the terrain that was scaring me stupid. ;)
It was a really difficult course - incredibly hilly, lots of spots with stupidly bad footing that were unrunnable for someone of my skill level (and I'd say for about 90% of the other runners, too!) and it was a nice humid, hot day. Definitely the toughest trail I've ever run but boy, it was fun (now, in hindsight). I wish I'd been able to look around a bit more at the absolutely stunning scenery but I had to watch my feet like a hawk. I got in one nice digger about 7-8 miles in. Still not sure what I tripped over! Isn't that always how it goes? Smashed my big toe pretty good and gave some blood and skin to the trail gods. Small knee scrape and some elbow bruising, nothing too bad at all! Certainly woke me up and made me pay better attention for the rest of the race, though. I had a lot of near misses and big trips but no other falls. Yay.
The worst part, for me, wasn't the running or the climbing or the falling. I got bit on the upper thigh by a deer fly about the halfway mark and Holy SH!T did that hurt. I have never had any bite by any creature hurt like that. Best part was how paranoid it made me the rest of the run. If I so much as saw a fly buzzing around I started frantically sliding my hands over my rump to make sure nothing was landing on me. Soooooo not an experience I want to repeat. Hah.
I finished in 7:17, including about 25 minutes of pit stops for eating/talking with my crew and having them respray me with bug repellent and fill up my bladder in the hydration pack. Actual running time was sub 7, per my Garmin, which was my silly personal goal. I'm super proud of myself and think I ran a really great first ultra. I'm pleased with my time and happy I didn't do anything too phenomenally stupid to injure myself.
AND, I "won" my first real race! I took third in my division (F30-34) and wasn't that far off the second and first place gals. I got a little flashlight that has sharp, face shredding edges for self defense as my award. Pretty cool! It's the first time I've ever placed in a race that acknowledges such things. I'm still really happy and pleased! I kinda won! Sort of! Close enough!! :D
Feet held up great. No blisters (thanks Injinji socks! You rule!), my new Montrail shoes were great, my gaiters kept rocks and junk out of my shoes just perfectly. Love the Nathan hydration pack I got for this run. Felt like my gear and my fueling were both really solid. My quads and hamstrings are sore but no more sore than they were after my last hilly PR-paced marathon. I woke up day after the race with my whole upper body/core just screaming. Even my forearms ached! I think that was mostly due catching myself during the fall and it's eased back considerably. My shoulders and upper back are still a little achy but not bad at all! :)
The darn fly bite is actually the worst thing! I've got a welt/rashy spot that is literally the size of my palm and about 10 degrees warmer than any other part of my body. Dousing it in calendula and aloe, taking antihistamines and trying not to itch my skin off! Darn awful deer flies are evil little b@stards.
I've got my first 50 milers in August. North Country in Manistee, MI. I've been told that I'll find NC to be a cakewalk compared to DWD since the trail is not technical and the course is mellow. Looking forward to tackling that new distance, too. :D Not scared yet but I'm sure I will be as it gets closer. Just wanted to share. I'm still a bit dazed that I did this thing and that I actually think I did pretty well at it. It feels so dreamlike and far away, but still really awesome.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
So, the conventional knowledge amongst runners is that you gain speed when you drop weight, up to a point. Once you start burning muscle due to very low body fat, your speed gains stop or reverse.
I'm about 5-10lbs heavier this racing season than last (I assume. I don't weigh myself anymore.) My measurements are roughly the same. My hips/butt gained two inches from the hill work, to a 35 from 33 inch measurement. Which I'm FINE with. It just makes my waist, which is pretty solidly at that 28-27 inch mark consistently, look smaller. My chest filled back out a little bit and I think I need to move from an A to a B. Again, YAY. I'm fine with this. If I gain weight and it's in my bootie in muscle and boobs, I'm a happy camper. Just leave the stomach and backs of my arms alone, new fat.
Still, I'm nowhere near my lowest healthy racing weight. I'm heavier this year than last. And my times have been blowing my MIND this season. This is so darn counterintuitive! I race better heavier. And no, not all of it is muscle. I'm probably less lean, too.
I just ran the Portland Marathon on October 9th.
I shaved TWELVE minutes off my old best time. TWELVE.
4:36:24. That's like a real serious marathon time! And I even blew the taper a bit by walking darn near 20 miles in Portland two days before the race and doing 8ish the day before.
I might actually manage to run a sub 4 one day!
My dream of Boston Qualifying before death might be less crazypants than previously assumed.
Other race distances have also been great. Two sub-2 hour half marathons. A sub 25 minute 5K (the first half of my Duathlon race in August - and that was after I biked 15ish miles the day before the race like a total dork!). Sub 90 10 miler.
I'm hitting my speed goals, I'm running faster with less effort.
I still want to be leaner, for vanity, but obviously I'm very fit and healthy at this weight. It's tough!
On the one hand I'd really like to get some body fat off but to do that I need to eat less. I'm doing higher mileage training and I'm farked ravenous(!) most days. As soon as my weekly miles hit the mid to upper 30s I'm hungry constantly. And I've been averaging 40-45.
This amount of fueling is good for my racing.
I'm just torn between vanity (thinner would be better looking!) and the knowledge that I don't really NEED to lose weight to improve my health or my performance. The second bit has been winning. The first feels too much like my old ED nemesis, for one. Additionally, option two means I get to EAT. Fun stuff. Lots of good stuff. It's hard to ignore that. I love me some food.
Just TOTALLY rambling.
Oh yeah, hi guys. Since I've last posted I did a Duathlon (5K, 18 miles bike, 5K), a 10 miler, a marathon and I'm doing a half next weekend. :D Disney Marathon in January. My first trail marathon in August (though I've got my eye on an early season trail Marathon, too, that fits my schedule well) and I'm flirting with the idea of running my first ultra (50K) in 2012.
New levels of crazy.
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
49/93 Division (F30-34)
12:47 swim. Rank in swim: 439
54:09 bike. Rank in bike: 316
26:41 run. Rank in run: 67
Not too shabby!
I was RUBBISH at the swim (see above) and was terrified the whole time.
I went into it very undertrained, due to signing up quite late in the game. I had one swim under my belt, just to test my suit and see if I could cover the distance. I was told the water would be chest deep so we could put our feet down if we needed to. They changed that, last minute, due to too many ladies shuffling the swim rather than swimming it last year. Thanks guys. This is why we can't have nice things!
So, the swim was moved into deeper water. And the water was cold.
My wave went at 7:15 with the late wave (the youngsters 29 and under) behind us at 7:20. I was chattery-teeth-whole-body-shaking scared in the corral. The gun went off and we ran into the (COLD!) water in a big herd. Ran until I had to swim and started going. Instantly had face full of feet and backsplash. Breathed in water and choked/coughed. Panicked. Tried to put my feet down instinctively to catch my breath and then panicked more when there was nothing under me and the weight of my legs dragged me down.
Breathed as slowly as I could (I was panting and really panicking) and just tried to smoothly, steadily swim. As the other gals pulled away, I was able to calm down and focus on avoiding the waves so I wouldn't breath more water. Mostly succeeded but had a couple bad times where I sucked in water. A rescue boat stayed pretty close to me (I think I was dead last in my wave at that point) and shouted encouragement. He told me when I was half way and offered that I could hang on to the bow if I needed a break. I wasn't tired, though, just SCARED.
I was doing okay until the youngsters came up behind me. Oh god. I panicked all over again thinking they would swim over me or I'd be breathing in their backsplash. The rescue boat guys hollered for them to watch out for the blue caps (my wave) and stayed pretty close. When I turned the final bouy to swim in to shore, my boat dude yelled that I had 500 yards and then I could stand. Oh, I needed to hear that! The second I saw ladies in front of me standing, my feet were down and I was running/shuffling. Heart rate just out of sight, shaking and so darn relieved!
My first transition went well, pretty fast. No complaints. I bought the tri suit so I wouldn't have to do much more than toss on my socks and running shoes, helmet, gloves and Garmin after drying off. Shot some Nuun, grabbed the bike and was off.
The bike was SO FUN after the panicked awfulness of the swim. It was pretty flat and fast. I was passing gals like whoa, too. Looking at the ranking, I must have passed over 100 on the bike alone. I think, of the women I passed, only two repassed me. :) So, made up some of my awful swim time there.
Bike was over before I knew it. 22K went fast! I avg about 15 mph which was where I was shooting for. Not slow but not so fast that I'd have no legs left for the run.
Transition two was super fast! Only a bit over a minute. Racked bike, helmet and gloves off, belt on, shot a Gu as I ran for the chute with a bottle of Nuun in my hand.
I. Destroyed. This. Run.
I passed EVERYONE. Not a single person passed me. I was just blazing up that path! And it was super hilly and hot, I'd just swum and biked - but I was just racing past people. Lots of walking from folks who were strong swimmers and bikers but not runners. Lots of zombie death shuffles. And then me. I got a lot of "wooooooo" and "kick some @ss!" comments from folks as I went past. Very cool.
I ended up PRing the 5K! After a terrifying swim and a hot, long bike. 26:41 compared to my old best 27 flat. Sort of amazing, actually. I ranked 67/470 on the run. Coming back from nearly dead last in the swim! And I WAS dead last in my division on the swim but I managed to be 49/93 at the end.
A strong run and a decent bike really made a HUGE difference in my final time.
I want to do this again next year with some real swim training under my belt. If I had been a stronger swimmer and not burned so much energy being so afraid, I think I could have really had an excellent race!
As it stands, I'm VERY proud of my results and feel pretty awesome.
I guess it is good for distance runners to do sprint tris. Even if we suck the swim right up, we can partially make up for it in the run! Hah.
The gals who finished after me all had great swim numbers, great bike times but I destroyed them in the run. I'm really surprised that it made such a huge difference to be a strong runner. But I'm pleased.
I am an IRON GIRL. :)
(Of note: my tri suit is SO UNFLATTERING. It was tight in the chest, by necessity, so it pushed all this flub up into my armpits and my arms are so mooshy since I stopped lifting weights. These pics just reiterate that ST needs to come back into my life! Also, PMSville. Population: me. LOL.)
Friday, January 21, 2011
I've been doing pretty well.
I've set my SP stuff to maintain at 127 (I don't know if I weigh that or not, I'm still on scale boycott!) and I intend to eat mid/high in my new higher ranges. A lot of my mood issues can be undereating in addition to ED type thoughts.
I also have my first therapy appt on the 1st with someone who deals with ED, anxiety, depression and abuse issues - all things I need. I've already let her know I'm a long time vegan, that it's NOT a symptom or the cause of my food issues and is non-negotiable. She said she admires my conviction and will not try to attack my moral veganism or blame it for food stuff. Thank goodness.
Having heard from vegans in recovery/hospitals that they weren't allowed to be vegan made me nervous (and pissed, honestly. You're a medical profession and should be able to help them recover without completely ignoring their ethics/morals. You can totally gain weight on vegan food!) I'm nowhere near that sick (I eat, I'm a healthy weight, I don't need to be refed, etc.) but I know that veganism has been linked to ED/pro-ana stuff - some use it as a cover for their ED - and it can be looked upon suspiciously. Obviously, the vast vast vast majority of vegans aren't covering an ED, they are doing it for the animals/planet/their health - and with how vegans LOVE them some food (even ones like me who have food issues!) I'd say more of us eat too much than too little. ;) Vegan food is just so darn delicious. And all the vegans I know IRL and online love to cook/bake and are pretty fantastic at it. :)
But yeah, I got that part out of the way before the visit so I wasn't hit with an unpleasant surprise of having to defend my diet. Therapist seems like a nice lady. We'll how it goes.
Onward and upward.
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