Wednesday, July 23, 2014

7 things...

Karen over at Running Over the Hill recently nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger award which is incredibly flattering. If you aren't familiar with her blog, head on over.  I'm always in awe of Karen's commitment to strength training, her outlook on life, and her ability to always keep it honest. She just recently signed up for her first Disney race and I can't wait to see how it goes. She is going to have a blast.
Rules of the Award:
Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
Share 7 things about yourself.
Nominate another person.

Without further ado, 7 things you don't know about me that don't involve running!
1. I love taking pictures in those odd cutout things. I can't explain it. They are super silly, but I love them. They Jayhawk doesn't share my enthusiasm, but humors me.
This is just a selection.
2. I'm ordained! I originally got ordained to officiate my brother's wedding, but it was really fun and I would gladly do it again. I really want to officiate a running wedding.
3. I'm not short. I'm 5'9 and I've been this tall since the 6th or 7th grade. I was the girl that was taller than most of the boys and was always in the back row of the class photo. In fact, there was a several year span when people thought my brother (2 years my senior) and I were twins (now he's much taller than me).

4. My guilty pleasure/comfort food when I am sick is spaghetti o's. They cure everything from colds to hangovers. When I'm feeling super healthy, I get the ones with added calcium. Yep, I'm a real foodie.

5. I'm allergic to giraffes.  Nope, not kidding. Much itching, eye watering, and sneezing followed this photo. Alas, I can never have a pet giraffe.
6. I never sneeze only once at a time, usually 3-4 minimum which makes it very hard to breath. My current record is 13 times in a row. It really tends to confuse people when it happens in public. They think I'm either having a weird coughing fit or a seizure. The Jayhawk is use to it and waits for the ok before he says bless you.

7. One of my favorite books is Mountains beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. It's both inspirational and a great reminder that there are people working hard to do good in the world.

I nominate Tina from Gotta Run Now.  I am always impressed by Tina's solid training weeks in the Texas heat and her 39 mile 50k!

Ok, everyone share one random non-running fact about themselves.

Friday, July 18, 2014

50k training week 10:7/14-7/20

Double Digits. It's week 10 folks.

When planning my 50k training schedule, I failed to plan in any sort of recovery for Saturday's 39k. I guess I really didn't think about the fact that I was running essentially a trail marathon with no taper, and that I might need some time afterward (not a smart runner). This week, I listened to my body for what it needed for recovery instead of staying faithful to the plan (smarter runner). I ended up taking a lot more time off than I imagined this week, but to be honest, between running and work I was a bit mentally burned out and needed to push the reset button.

Monday: So my toes still look like dog food (wet, not dry), but I'm feeling nice, so I won't post pictures of them. You are welcome.
Planned: Rest   Actual: More recovery Yoga

Tuesday: Not a great run, but it had a purpose. It took a few miles for my legs to loosen up and get in stride, but I felt much better afterward. I called it at 3 miles because my toes and legs still felt beat.
Planned: 5 miles   Actual: 3 miles (9:13/mile pace)

Wednesday: Feeling much more like myself today and was able to run an easy 5 on the treadmill. Felt good to stretch the legs, but still didn't want to push the toes too bad. One of them still looks like a cherry tomato.
Planned: 10 miles   Actual: 5 miles (8:58/mile pace)

Thursday: I was really overtired. No other way to describe it. I hit the wall at work at noonish. Took the day off from working out, had a relaxing night, and went to bed early. Work has been ridiculously stressful this week, so I just needed a break.
Planned: 6 miles   Actual: Rest

Friday: Took my rest day as planned. Did foam roll and do some light yoga.
Planned: Rest   Actual: Rest
As seen on my run.
Saturday: Woke to a very rainy morning, so I slept in a ran in the afternoon. It was a little harder of a run than I planned because of the humidity, but it felt nice to sweat. Foam rolled and light yoga.
Planned: 12 miles   Actual: 6.75 miles (8:42/mile pace)

Sunday: Woke up feeling like death and wasn't able to keep down food most of the day. Forced day off.
Planned: 10 miles   Actual: None!

I really enjoyed this article by Chris McCormack about "Embracing the suck".  No seriously, that's what it is about. It's about learning to mentally endure, one of the most important aspects of endurance sports. I am constant working on embracing the suck, as the suck is continuously changing.
How was your week?  Do you ever mentally need a break as much as physically?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Troop Trot 39k Recap

Troop Trot 39k , Villa Rica, GA
Field: 45 in the 39k, ~30 in the 10k
Spectators: None, It's all in the woods.
Start/Finish: Picnic shelter with real bathrooms close by
Course: The trails of Clinton Nature Preserve
Schwag: Tech shirt
Other: The race is organized by Boy Scout Troop 39. The boys help lay the course, work the aid stations, hand make the finishers medals, and present the flag pre-race. The money goes to their troop and the project is part of their bridging ceremony.

I signed up for this race to use it as a dry run for the 50k. Being 6 weeks out from my goal race day, it would give me time to adjust to anything that wasn't working well in terms of gear or fuel and shift training as needed.  I am so happy I did this.  I learned a lot, including a few things that could be game changers.
Pre-race. All smiles because my feet aren't bleeding yet.
Let's start with the race. Troop Trot 39k is put on by boy scout troop 39 (hence the distance). Their scout master is an ultrarunner so it is very well organized and planned out. I participated in the 10k last year, and chose the 39k this year. The 39k course consists of a triple loop (8+ miles each) with aid stations at the midway point and end of each loop. Each lap consists of fields + power lines (~20%), gravel roads and wide trails (~10%), granite slabs (~5%), and the rest is single track curving through the woods. There are roughly 800 turns per lap (give or take) as the majority of the trails used are mountain bike trails and there are some technical sections (i.e. tons of roots and rocks to trip on). The last 2 miles of each loop feels like the longest 2 miles ever. Here is a rough sketch of what it looks like:
The last two miles, also known as the hunt for the bridge. Not to scale.
Race day arrived and I was a bit nervous. I kept reminding myself that it was all for training and to approach it as a learning experience. I had never run a trail race over 15k before this race, so there was a lot of 'new' to experience. It was a humid morning (low 70s temp, about 97% humid at the start) and to be honest, the humidity never really broke in the woods. Stuff was slippery and wet throughout the race, not to mention the insane amounts of sweat the runners were adding to it.
Beautiful day, but by the 3rd loop (i.e. high noon), the power line area was mad hot.
Mentally, I chose to approach the race one loop at a time. The first loop involved a lot of sorting out of the field. There were several instances where I was tucked into a slower chain of runners on the single track, but I wasn't overly worried because I wasn't there to 'race'. I didn't stop at the first aid station, but did take an Island Boost at mile 5. I started to get in the grove around mile 7, at which point I was passed by a man running in flip-flops (not a confidence booster). By the time I finished the first loop (1:40ish) I was feeling strong, but was in need of some cold water. To my surprise, Miranda was working the aid station (after running the 10k) and she was awesome. She topped off my pack with cold water and got me a banana (I also had a few gummy bears because who can resist gummy bears).
Loop two started out a lot better and I felt strong for the entire loop (miles 8ish-16ish). I had more room to move and run on the runnable areas. The first 2ish miles of the each loop were very runnable and I tried to take advantage of it. I ended up tucking into a three some for the first half of the loop and I really enjoyed the run/walk rhythm of the guy I was following. I ended up leaving him at the aid station at mile 12ish, but not before gobbling down some more cold water and gummy bears. I did leave the aid station with Lisa, the lady I parked next to who is also running the same 50k in August, and we maintained a good pace together randomly chatting our way through the loop. I did manage to repass man in flip-flops at mile~14 and he informed me that they were actually sandals. Given how many times I stubbed my toes on rocks and roots, I wasn't sure if I would ever enjoy sandals or flip-flops on a trail run.
All smiles at ~mile 16 with Race Director Josh behind me. I'm soaked in sweat. (Thanks to Miranda for the pic!)
Coming through the end of loop 2, I ran into Miranda again and she had me pose for a picture. I had another half a banana, some more cold water, and a gummy bear or two. I set out for loop three, the victory lap, feeling good and ready to be done. I was strong for the first two miles of the loop, but by mile 18, I started to feel my energy drag a bit, a sign I probably needed to be fueling more. My tummy was feeling a bit sloshy as most of what I had consumed that day was liquid. In addition, at mile 19, I felt my blisters begin to pop and my poor toes were bleeding. I had felt hot spots forming on my big toes and baby toes throughout the race, and at this point the little ones ruptured and it was rather uncomfortable. I tried my best to keep moving to the aid station at mile ~20 and regroup there.
Yep, another bloody shoe photo to add to the collection.
I took a few extra minutes at the aid station to evaluate things. A nice volunteer added some cold water to my pack (just having cold water in my pack cooled down my back) and I nibbled on a few gummy bears. The wonderful volunteers kept asking what we needed and Lisa and I both said Coke.  She informed us that there was some at the finish and, thought a little bummed, I figured I could use that as motivation for the remain 4 miles. Suddenly, the most wonderful Boy Scout in the world spoke up and said "No mom, I threw some in the cooler when we left this morning" and then he served us shots of cold coke. It was perhaps the most clutch move of the day. I've never been so happy to have a Dixie cup of coke.

The coke helped settle my stomach and give me a little lift. The next three miles consisted of running and walking (my toes were killing me at this point) and dreaming of taking off my shoes. I could tell I was getting tired as I was stubbing my toes more and more (i.e. not picking up my feet) and then managed one triumphant face plant (no injuries to report). At mile 23, I tucked my head down and decided to grind it out through the remaining 40 switchbacks to the finish. I thought I would never find the little foot bridge. I came in 13th overall and was the 4th girl out of 38 finishers.
Sorry, I totally spaced out and forgot to take a post-race photo. Was busy eating watermelon.
Overall, it's a great race. Challenging, but well organized. Sure, it wasn't fast, perfect, or comfortable the whole way, but I learned a lot and gained a lot of confidence on long trail runs. I have a list of things I need to address before the 50k and a plan of attack to do it (probably in another post because this is really long).

Do you like trail running? Have you ever used a race just for learning?

Miranda: How does this course compare to the Snakebite course?
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