I qualified!!!

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2017 Pineland Farms 50 miler (VT100 Qualifier) Done!!!

It’s official…. I’m going to Vermont.  In order to qualify for the 100, I had to put in community service time (I assisted with the Special Olympics Winter Games in March) and a sub 12 hour 50 miler completed before June 1st.  Nothing like cutting that one close!

I’m still in a state of “did I really do that?”  I started running 5ks in late 2011 and got serious about running in 2012.  Here is my first WordPress blogpost in 2012.  When you read it, you will understand why I named it Learning to Run.  I still am in fact!  I’m not a lifelong runner, but no stranger to hard work.  My background in equestrian sports makes running an individual challenge versus one of competing with other runners.  I am competitive in so far as I like to pick off other runners late in the race (four this past Sunday) but I am in a habit of only competing with myself, much like I used to when riding a dressage test or competing in a equitation over fences class.  Only my last scores matter.  This sport works really well with my prior sporting background.

My first 50 miler.  Wow.  So many words to express how it felt.  Here is my recap (I apologize for the length!)

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Leading up to the race  we spent a few days at the house we rent near Pineland Farms.  It’s a wonderful way to combine the holiday weekend with racing.  On Saturday, a few of us headed to the races to watch friends compete in the canicross 5K and the 5k.  Excitement was in the air and I was starting to feel the adrenaline.  I looked at the finish line and just kept telling myself I was coming through that Sunday.  I did not eat as clean as I should have during the weekend, but got plenty of rest and was well hydrated.  I may have consumed a few too many salty snacks over the weekend and paid for that a little during the race.  My back and legs felt great and the chiropractic adjustment I got on Wednesday held.

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Pre-race antics!

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Seriousness.

Race day dawned clear without a cloud in the sky.  Temps rose into the 70s, but I managed fine despite little heat training.  My crew for the day consisted of my best friend Amanda and loyal race crewwoman Lise.  Tony signed up to run the entire 50 with me.  They will never know how grateful I am to them!  Coach Chris met me right before the start with a hug and a last minute check-in.  I got to see his sweet wife too, as well as some friends from Six03 who were cheering and running.  I love race days because they are all about connecting with new and old friends.  I was SO excited to see Krista and Astrid from VT!!!

Miles 1-19 (lap one plus 5K) took a bit for me to settle into the groove.  My goal for this race was an 11 hour finish.  The first two miles felt fine, I was moving smoothly and started to get a feel for pace.  Then my legs started to tighten, particularly both calves.  Both of my hands started to swell (I couldn’t get my wedding ring off for the duration of the race).  I had fueled well (banana, egg, yogurt, one cup of coffee, water en route to the race) and didn’t believe I was dehydrated.  I have enough experience to know these aches usually subside.  Around mile 5, my glute started to act up.  I worked on that for awhile and eventually it behaved.  No hamstring issues until much later.

Lap 2 took me through mile 36.  Tony and I made our way around the course for a second time and got our dry feet wet again.  I was fueling well (loving Endurance Tap maple gels and Fuel for Fire packs!), eating at aid stations and drinking a lot of water.  Amanda diligently applied sunscreen often as we were unprotected in the fields.  That girl continues to amaze me.  She thought nothing of smearing sunscreen on my very dirty body, picking up my nasty socks at a shoe change and feeding me all day.  I love her to death.  I hit a personal distance record on this lap when I passed the 32 mile mark and started to make peace with the body aches… or so I thought.

Lap 3 and it was time to finish this!  I want to stop and just say again how amazing this race is!  There is a barbecue happening along the course and people literally stop eating to yell for the runners.  Fifty milers seem to get a lot of attention from spectators and runners alike.  The encouragment on and off the course was amazing!  The cowbell and screaming every time Tony and I looped back to the start finish from our respective team tents was incredibly motivating.  I can’t thank our friends enough for being there!  It didn’t matter that my legs ached, that I was tired of the sun or that I wanted a cheeseburger… the cheers kept me going!  I loved seeing fellow runners on the course, like Lori (who crushed her 50 miler), Liz (pacing), Maureen and Holly during their 50K, Josh pacing the 50 Mile winner, Randy and Tracy who gutted out a 50 mile finish, Astrid who finished again (along with a big hug near the end) and fellow Acidotic racers.  Coach Chris gave me firm and encouraging advice every time I looped through. I was starting to get a little fuzzy around mile 36 and told Amanda to make me accountable for food intake.  I learned a lot about what notes I will need to write for my crew for the 100.

Chris sent me back out while Tony did a shoe change and I had my legs for a bit!  I ran solo and smiled.  I have wanted this for SO long and was living each step.  I started to crack jokes on this lap, but couldn’t have Tony make any because I need my abs!  The laughing kept throwing me off.  I was still running my downhills strong with solid quads. That made me so happy!  After finishing the fields (and the paths mowed by the drunk farmer!) we made it back into the start finish to do the last six miles.  Shit got a bit sillier here.  I had to pee bad in the woods and got experiment with making that happen with broken hip flexors.  I called it my tripod pee.  More laughter.  Around mile 48 I started to trip.  I could still run downhills, but flats got me.  Twice.  The second one, Tony saw my hamstring actually spasm as I stopped myself from bellyflopping.  He didn’t tell me, thankfully.  I said out loud that I didn’t want to run anymore.  What’s funny about that was my body was still working.  My heart rate was steady all day and remained that way.  Evidence it was in my brain.  Tony kept pushing.  With a mile to go, I told him I wanted to stretch and then I would push.  I worked my hip flexors then I ran.  I passed four 50 milers in that last mile and cruised towards the finish line.  As it came into view, I saw 10:54 on the clock and smiled so big…. I had come in under my goal!!!!  I cruised in at 10:55 with a 13:07 pace.  Rock on!!!

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Heading into the finish shoot under goal time!

Dirty hugs followed and a chat with Coach before I left.  The swelling subsided before I got back to the lake house and I had a healthy appetite for the night.  Overall, a very successful 50 miler!  I’m recovering well and feeling antsy to keep training.  Less than two months to the 100…. oh boy!!!

On my way out, I got to see Krista one more time.  I figured out that she dropped during the race but didn’t know why.  Her training has been so rock solid and I was worried.  She told me she had tummy troubles, but I have no doubt she will work through it.  She’s so strong!  I love that about the running community…. the solidarity in the long distance trail running world is amazing.

On to Vermont!!!!

 

67 Miles Ago…

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Whenever I start a blog post, the first thing I do is look for an opening photo.  Is it bad that the only appropriate one I have taken in two weeks is that one?  The others have pictures of butts, food, creepy running partners and trees… don’t worry…. I’m posting those too!

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New gear this week!  Ultimate Direction Groove pack and Born Primitive Kitty Shorts!  Want some kitty shorts?  www.bornprimitive.com and use my code LIFTNRUN15 for 15% off!

Pineland is next weekend. WTF.  How did that happen?

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Creep

67 Miles ago I was barely running.  I hadn’t been to PT yet.  I was secretly planning backup plans should my back, glute and hamstring continue to revolt.  The great news is I am running again.  My issues continue to plague me, but on a much more manageable scale.  I found a PT who wants to help me not only deal with my acute issues, but teach me how to mechanically move and workout better to become a stronger runner over time.  I am excited to correct 20 years of competitive riding and the last five years of running and lifting.  One hundred mile training uncovered some serious mechanical issues (my quads do all the work, my hamstrings and hip flexors have been doing double duty, my glutes don’t fire well, my back alignment sucks… but we can fix this!) and I am excited to work slowly towards becoming a stronger, more comfortable runner.

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I have had three dry needling sessions and I believe it is truly helping the hamstring and glute heal.  I was partially right about the piriformis syndrome in that I also have a glute medius that doesn’t want to work and is all knotted up.  This all stems from a twisted spine that I probably spent a few months running on.  It won’t heal up overnight, so I am playing the role of patient patient.

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Checking out my new skirt…. look at the awesome places we run to!

I have had two 30+ mile weeks since I last blogged and one reminder of my injuries.   Yesterday on my 13.5 miler, I was at mile 11 when tripped and when I caught myself.  My hamstring instantly started spasming again.  I walked it out, stretched and got two more miles in.  It took the wind out of my sails for a few minutes, but I got it right and kept moving.  It was a good confidence booster.

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After slipping at mile 11, I stretched it out and continued on for 2.5 more miles.  Oh… and that skirt rocks…

One more week til Pineland and my fifty mile qualifier for Vermont.  I need three more weeks to heal, but that isn’t going to fit.  I taper down this week and will continue the recovery work and positive thinking.  I am mentally tough and know my body better than anyone else.  I’ve never once thought I couldn’t go the distance and don’t feel that way now.  Coach Chris has had my back for months and has provided me with the knowledge for a solid base.  I got this!

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Two of my FAVORITE run fuels… anything by Fuel for Fire and this stupidly delicious gels by Endurance Tap.  You will make insane noises when you open those little silver packets.  10% off with my code LIFTNRUN10 at http://www.endurancetap.com

The things I can’t control…

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Adding some color to the woods

I chose this title for my post because there are a few things I can’t control right now…

  • My “ass” issue
  • The clock
  • The calendar
  • Aging bones
  • Wrinkles
  • The rain
  • My schizophrenic cat

The “ass” issue I speak of has essentially grounded me as I was just coming into the strongest I have ever been.  I feel as if I had no warning and it hit me like a freight train. All of my reading, chats with Coach, my massage miracle worker and my friend with a former ass issue leads me to believe I am dealing with piriformus syndrome.  The soreness and dull ache starts deep in my right buttock and radiates down through my hamstring and into the back of my knee.  During my walk today, I felt twinges down to my big toe.  The only thing I can do is get a diagnosis, follow a recovery and strength plan and STOP freaking out.  All injured runners know this is easier said than done.

I had a scheduled 33 mile run this weekend, instead I am desperately trying to keep my mind off the loss of that run and stay mentally focused and busy.  Pineland is my 50 mile qualifier and my ONLY chance for VT100 in 2017.  I don’t even want to whisper how many days away that qualifier is from now.

I keep waiting for this to get better but it just keeps forging on with the same symptoms and little relief.  It’s ANNOYING!!!! Ultimately, I need to just realize the only thing I can control is my ability to get treatment and how I manage the recovery plan.  With some luck, I will be able to gut out my qualifier and get my training back on track.  I am NOT ready to quit yet…. hell we were just getting started!

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View from my lunch runs (or walks these days)

State of Training

Hi Mom!  I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in awhile… life has a tendency to get in the way!  This post will serve as my review of the last four weeks of training.  Buckle up!

Threeweeks

I will start out by saying this is the hardest three weeks of training I have ever completed and I have mixed feelings about it.  When I look back at the data and recall how the long runs felt, I am so proud of my work.  However, I am sitting in my recliner writing this post of being “rested” this week due to a very bunched up hamstring and angry calves. More on recovery in a bit…

Each of the long runs was fun and special in it’s own way.  The 18.5 miler is known as “I have an angry beaver.” on Strava.  I started this run with Tony and Jess and within a mile, came face to face (or shall I say beaver to ankle) with a hissing beaver.  I screamed like a little bitch and ran the other way.  Check out the aftermath on my Instagram feed: https://www.instagram.com/p/BSqn7LdlBDr/?taken-by=spottedimages.

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18 miler through Straffordshire!

That run felt good overall and I had some gas left in the tank at the end.  I spent most of the time chatting and laughing and reliving the beaver experience.

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Post Beaver.  Could not stop laughing!!!

The following week, I did my longest solo training run of 21.5.  I say solo, because I have raced solo (50K) but training is a different beast.  Lots of time to think, lament, complain and work out problems.  This run also felt good, and while I felt like I was working, I didn’t feel overwhelmed.  The shoe sucking mud in the last miles was even entertaining!  I managed to run the last beastly hills of this run.

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Solo suffering at daybreak!  It was wonderful!

Finally, I capped off week three of the mesocycle with the TARC Spring Class Marathon.  This was a perfect time for me to “practice” for my Pineland 50 mile qualifier.  Here is what went right and wrong with this race:

The Good:

  • I went out at my pace and kept to it 11:40 average with a cadence of 158 and HR of 155 (all good numbers for me)
  • My appetite and fuel was on the money – used a combination of plain water, Skratch, BCAAs, fruit pie (cherry!!!), GU bites, Huma Gels, hermit cookies…  I would have eaten more if the run had continued.  Stomach worked like a champ as usual. I recovered with real food.
  • Core, shoulders, feet, glutes, quads and calves all felt great.
  • Spent minimal time at the aid station and practiced being largely self sufficient.
  • Worked out of my first lap funk and felt lap three was my best lap.
  • Finished 25 miles in 4:57… this pleased me because it brought my 50 mile (12 hr. cut off) within reach

The Bad

  • The weather (40s and drizzle) didn’t lend itself to warming up muscles and keeping them warm.  While my core was warm, my arms and legs went through various times of being chilled.
  • The hamstring.  That bitch.  Here is the deal… I think I strained it doing reverse lunges at the gym (yeah, no more of those during training) and running 27.5 didn’t exactly help my cause.  It tightened up in lap 1 (it felt reasonable before I started running) and went through various points of releasing and tightening during this run.  I paid for this all week.
  • Blisters.  My feet just haven’t toughed up yet.  They were damp for most of the 5:28 I was on course.  I purchased some Injinjis this week.  I am not blaming the Altras for this, rather my pathetic winter feet.
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Coach called me a Bad Ass…. with pacing like a metronome and an appetite of a Velociraptor!  TARC Spring Classic “Marathon” 27.5 miles later.

AFTERMATH AND RECOVERY

I am thankful again for Coach Chris.  I had a shitty recovery week.  My calves were angry for most of the week and that hamstring bunched up high near my seat bones.  Jessica beat the crap out of it during my 90 minute massage on Friday and I felt sore, but different on Saturday.  I have been given walk workouts this weekend until I heal.

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Smiling despite the walking instructions!

I woke up today feeling like running for the first time in a week.  My runs this past week (x2) were brutally painful and crampy.  My fingers are crossed I have turned the recovery corner and will get to run with week.  I have some MASSIVE runs in store and NEED my body to cooperate.  I have been sleeping as much as I can, moving around every day and rolling, stretching, doing Egosque work for my back and ankles and generally refueling.  I keep telling myself recovery will get better over time.  I try to stop rubbing my ass in the grocery store and other inappropriate places (losing battle).  I remember how excited I am about this training, the adventures and VT100.  I know a week from now I will feel more positive than today.  I am NOT injured, just sore and recovering!

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I think he was trying to tell me he LIKES his Injinjis.

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How I did the Boston Marathon… fancy food and lovely beer while waiting for Jessica to be reunited with us.

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Post Boston Smiles… she rocked it later in the week coming in 2nd female at TARC!

Feelings

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This shit can end anytime.  I am pissy, I am done with snow and I am straight up achy. How is that for a blog post intro?  If you were looking for sunshine and buttercups, let me know when you find them because mother nature is a bitch and won’t produce any.

So that’s a summary of my feelings at this moment.  Let me back up a bit and give you some perspective…

The final two weeks of training in this three month cycle with Coach Chris ended on a FANTASTIC note!  I capped it off with a 16 miler on the road (dirt and pavement) with Jessica and loved it.  I felt strong and had gas and miles left in the tank.  Coach Chris sent me a happy text about my performance coming into what I will refer to as my “shitty transition week.”  My broken ass was well on it’s way to healing, my knee and ankle were happy and I was eager to take some down time.  Amanda and I headed off to camp for a relaxing weekend (last weekend) and I came into taper week ready to simply move a bit.  My instructions were to come into the start of this week refreshed mentally and rejuvenated physically.

Ugh.

So, I caught a head cold that just lingers and isn’t completely ruining my life.  

My knee flared for no apparent reason (at least one I can’t put my finger on).

My butt hurt for most of the week.

I dry heaved at the gym (thanks head cold.)

I am crabby.  My skin is dry.  I hate winter.  Etc.  Etc. Etc.

I ran twice this weekend and they weren’t horrible… but I struggled with HR due to the head cold and I basically felt like a bag of shit today on my four miler.  Ironically, my brain is in a great place.  The weather was amazing today and I am ready to kick this training plans ASS.  This is it, once we start… no serious braking until VT100.  Holy crap. I can’t wait to get moving again.  I am hoping my body is just overly pissed and inflamed due to the lack of activity, the head cold and lady time.

I’ve pulled out every rehabbing trick I know to get right, but I think I just need to get healthy again because physically I am strong AF.  I cut myself some slack in an effort to de-clutter my life a bit… made a serious decision regarding an intensive training class I was supposed to attend and withdrew.  I was listening to a podcast last week where it was suggested that reducing life stress would make training and racing more enjoyable.  I agree… as I have done it in the past… and needed a reminder to consider doing it again. I want this race and I want to continue experiencing what I can make happen with this body I was given!  Cutting the clutter needed to happen.

This coming week introduces new changes to my training plan, to include two double days and two rest days!  I am looking forward to the challenge.  Long runs get crazy from here on out too.  I NEED to be healthy.  Way too much to do, personally…. professionally and in training.

Thanks for listening to my shit… I don’t get “low” often and I know it’s normal and shall pass.  Poor Coach…. wait until I actually have to taper for this beast….

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An artsy view from the Mt. Major summit – hopefully the last time I will wear the snowshoes this season.

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A new watch for the first time in five years!  Loving the Suunto Ambit3 Run.

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Winter hill climbs that never end…

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More winter runs….

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You can tell it’s spring… gloves, layers and carpis topped off with spikes.  

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There is wine in there.

That’s all for now!  I am thankful as usual for my amazing Ambassadorship with Altra Running  and my brand rep position with Born Primitive.  Their gear keeps me moving and happy!  Use my code LIFTNRUN15 at Born Primitive for 15% off the goods.

Peace out.

Buried!

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My winter face.

This winter isn’t going to quit!  I just came in from shoveling, snow blowing and plowing some seriously heavy snow.  I called Husband because I had some concerns about areas I should/shouldn’t attempt to plow in the barnyard and he called this the heaviest snow he has ever plowed.  He’s been at this for 13 years.  Eek!!!

So, I’m back inside and ready to recap the last week.  I can happily say I nailed all my runs and hit the following stats:

  • Miles Run: 31.7
  • Number of runs: 5
  • Elevation: 2287 ft.

Most of my mileage was on pavement out of convenience.  The one run I did on trails resulted in me breaking my ass (aka high hamstring strain).  I have since been rolling, stretching and received acupuncture in that area.  It’s healing nicely and didn’t keep me from my Sunday 15 miler.

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Sunday long run required SO many layers.  Check out my list at Instagram.

Those who don’t live in New England need to know the last few weeks have been brutal.  The wind.  The m*&%^r f*&%#n’ wind.  The Sunday long run was brutal for 7.5 miles as we headed directly into the wind.  Thankfully, I had a tailwind for my return to the car.  I’m DONE with the wind, the cold, the layers and THE SNOW.  Did I mention this nor’easter SUCKS?  On the plus side, I discovered that Hostess Cupcakes work as fuel 🙂

I’m done complaining.  Too much great stuff to chat about.  I missed one strength workout last week, but I almost never miss them so I am fine with it.  I religiously attend or complete some form of HIIT or strength work 2x a week and have for nearly two years.  Ben keeps training so interesting and almost never repeats workouts!

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Getting it done at AI

The Wednesday steady state run continues to be the bane of my existence.  I have never been fully invested in a training plan in the same way I have this time around.  Steady state is hard for me because I suck at pacing.  This past week was: 8:58, 8:36, 8:29.  See… sucky pacing!  I wanted to die the whole time and was so stiff.  I blame my desk chair!  Sitting is brutal!  I had a tough time with my Friday hill run too.  I just didn’t feel up to it, but felt myself coming alive halfway through.  THAT is why I consider running my salvation!

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Glad I snapped this… I took this minutes before my dreaded Friday hill run.  I woke up along the way!

In closing, everyone around me is sick.  Again.  Strep.  Stomach bugs.  Ick.  I am doing my best to stay healthy (vitamins, mostly clean eating – see below, acupuncture, lots of sleep and hydration).  Fingers crossed I make it through the next week….

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My guilty pleasure… hiding in my truck with chicken nuggets.  Husband was sick and this was a safe place!

That’s that!  I anticipate a struggle getting workouts in this week, but so it goes when winter smacks us hard.  Going to do my best!  Four months to VT!!!!

I want to take the time to say thank you to Altra Running to not only providing me amazing shoes and clothing, but for motivation from other badass Ambassadors.  I am also loving all of the clothing I have collected from Born Primitive!  Ladies… try their bras.  BEST ever!  Coupon code LIFTNRUN15 for 15% off!

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Born Primitive Rhapsody Bra and Edge Tank

Stretched thin…

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I came to the realization a few weeks ago that I just CAN’T DO IT ALL.  I have been struggling since then to thin out my responsibilities.  I’m failing.  Part of this is out of my control for a few more weeks, as I have been doing the work of two positions since January 1st.  Come early April, I will have a new supervisor to help split the work with me.  That will help.

Next up… realizing that training is a part time job and treating it as such.  I feel bad because I haven’t been able invest energy in my real part time job, but I have to let that guilt go and do the best I can to contribute when it makes sense to do so.  I am truly loving the training process and am still committed 100% to this part time job through July.

Finally, I need to commit to no longer double booking myself or booking my days so tight that I spend my entire work week stressed because I am running ragged AND the weekend worrying about how I am going to get it all done in the next week.  I figure if I start to build in buffer times and scheduling my work, I should be able to ease some stress.

I rolled into last night’s hill run tired, worn out and feeling like the run was a job.  I haven’t felt that way in a very long time and want to make an effort now to minimize that feeling.  Training is fun.  Running IS my stress relief.  I need that time on my legs to stay healthy.  I am sitting here this morning with a cup of coffee, feeling slightly sad and guilty for having to say no to an event I was suppose to attend at 8:00AM.  On the flip side, Husband is sick and I am feeling TIRED after a full night’s sleep so this is me making an effort to take care of myself.   The “normal” me would have bucked up, gotten dressed and went to the event.  Instead, I am shaving my day’s responsibilities in half in an effort to recharge my batteries.  Wish me luck!

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