I said “nope” this week.

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Stopping to enjoy the fall sunshine!

If you know me (even if through this blog), you are aware my drive is something that generally doesn’t shut off.  This week… it came to a grinding halt.

There have been warning signs since September.  Signs I simply chose to ignore, blaming them on the fatigue of getting back into training.  Blaming it on rolling my ankle.  Blaming it on being mentally tired from work.

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Exploring new trails… it’s choose my own adventure time!

I am done with the blame game.  I have been able to get the workouts done, but I haven’t enjoyed a single one… not the way I was in May and June.  My body doesn’t want to recovery between sessions and that became a huge warning flag for me.  This week was an “easy” week and my calves were in 100% revolt mode.  I am not injured and I AM LISTENING to my body.  I had a huge year…. multiple marathon+ distances, 50 miles and 100 miles.  I’m physically tired right now.

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At one of my favorite places in the whole wide world! Lifting makes me so happy… even more so that I have Altra HIIT XT shoes to do it in 🙂

I need a break.

What that means is knowing what I can expect from myself in the coming months.  The 2018 season is already massive for me, with my own prep and A race plus pacing duties.  I need to roll into that healthy and strong.  Right now, I am just ready to hit reset, hike, run for fun and crew for races.  Crewing and pacing makes me so happy!  I decided to drop the Fells 50K from my schedule in December, opting to crew for Tony instead and cheer on the other racers.  Taking this break also means I can hang out in the gym more and work on crafting a social running boot camp activity once a week!

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Working races, crewing and pacing are a few of my favorite parts of this sport!

I love running so much and know that in order to do it long term, I need to slow down a bit!  I am grateful I chose to do it without pushing myself into injury.  I love the idea that this fall is “choose my own adventure” territory!  I hope the moral of this story for others is it’s ok to take a break… there is no shame in saying “nope.”

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Born Primitive Edge Tank and Halloween themed sports bras! I absolutely adore their gear for running and lifting. Check them out and use my code LIFTNRUN15 for 15% off the goods!  www.bornprimitive.com

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Breaking 1000

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I finally did it.  After being a runner since 2012, I finally reached the goal of breaking 1000 miles!  My journey included weight loss, learning how to run, learning how to strength train and a lot of education (on my own and through others in the field).  I pulled my Strava data to get a picture of what each year looked like.  Here is the rundown, with a quick memory from each year.

2012 – 443.5 miles: This was my first year seriously trying to get into running.  This was a year of tremendous growth but also discouragement.  I realized my job (which at the time consisted of many 3rd shift hours) was impacting my ability to shed weight consistently and gain strength.  I had been working 3rd shift hours on and off for over twelve years at that time.  Despite all of that, I found TRAIL RUNNING that year.  Check out my recap post for that year, which includes many of the big dreams I had for myself!

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2013 – 638.1 miles: I clearly remember starting 2013 with illness and injury.  I had a hamstring strain from slipping on the ice early in the year followed by bronchitis, the croup and a rectus sheath hematoma.  The highlight though was finishing my first 25K at one of the muddiest Pineland courses to date.  That race sucked but I LOVED how it felt to finish. Hooked.

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2014 – 651.2 miles: This will be known as start of 18 months of ankle rehab.  I rolled my ankle HARD in the spring of 2014 on the Sweet Trail and wound up in a brace with a high ankle strain and a pre-stress fracture (bone inflammation).  I was crushed, as I was hoping to break into the 50K distance that spring at Pineland.  I was cleared to run the week before the race and needless to say did not make it to the starting line. I went on to trail run, hike and roll my ankle two more times that year.  The highlight of that year was my solo on Isolation.  I hiked when I could, ran more than I should have and finally figured out that I had to STOP running and start strength training and rehab late that year.  I started at Athletic Instinct (then Progressive Training) with Ben in October 2014 and haven’t looked back.  He introduced me the concept of “functional fitness” and being strong for every day life.  I began working out twice a week by and that has remained a staple in my training.  Ben was the best thing that happened to my running (and ironically he is not a fan of running!).

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2015 – 394.8 miles: I spent much of 2015 rehabbing in the gym and hiking.  Many of the miles listed here were done in the Whites as I didn’t really start running again until that November.  I did a ton of solo and group hiking, to include an overnight at the Galehead hut.  I found happiness in the mountains when I couldn’t run the way I wanted to!  I also committed to strength training, discovered acupuncture and came back slowly using heart rate training.

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2016 – 956.4 miles:  This was a huge turning point for me!  I trained from November-May and completed my first 50K at Pineland.  I followed this up with pacing 30 miles of Vermont for Tony and stayed healthy all year.  I had some failures too (bailed Pemi attempt) that kept my perspective where I needed to it to be to stay injury free.  I made a decision to go big in 2017 with both a 50 miler and a 100 miler. What was I thinking???? When I look back at it now, I KNOW how insane that idea was at the time.  A shout out to all who believed in me and Altra for taking a chance on this very “average” runner! Choosing a coach was the right move for setting the stage for 2017.

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Breaking 1000 is just as special as my first trail race, my first ultra and that first 100 miler.  It symbolizes how hard I have fought to get here and SO many memories built along the way.  It’s never been about the running, but rather the epic experiences that are possible nearly every time you hit the trail!  Thanks again for following along and reliving the years with me.

 

Back in the saddle

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Cathedral Ledge on a pre-run of the Kismet Course. I worked this race, sweeping for the long course, in September.

Two months after my last blog post and I am well on my way to training for a winter 50K.  Recovery was an interesting time for me, full of emotion and for a brief period of time, lack of motivation.  I wasn’t sure what was next and simply spent some time hiking and running easy until I my desire woke back up.

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Working my legs again just shy of one month post 100. Pre-running portions of the Ragged 75 (my “A” race for 2018!)

This was the longest recovery period I have ever taken.  It was certainly longer than some of my other friends, but I do not believe my base is quite at a point where hopping back into training any sooner would have been a smart idea.  To that point, I have been dealing with some pain in my left ankle.  For months, I couldn’t figure out why.  I had a few indications something was up:

  1. Left ankle soreness after Vermont, in the area where the peroneal tendon crosses over the outside of the ankle bone
  2. Minorly rolled that left ankle on both a short run on the Ragged 75 course and Mt. Chocorua.  The ankle felt unstable.
  3. Inability to hyperextend without discomfort.

I enlisted the help of my favorite chiropractor and PT to get things back in order.  The pain never grounded me and I started consistent running again mid-August.  The fact of the matter was it was a nagging soreness I couldn’t treat on my own.  While working in the barn today, I had an epiphany… I had written about this “phantom” ankle pain during my Vermont 100 recap.  That pain hit me between Margaritaville and Camp 10 Bear while negotiating some rocky trail sections.  It’s quite possible I rolled it somewhere in there and in true 100 fashion, didn’t give a shit.  I do remember the pain going away during the race (or at least I stopped paying attention) but it was there in the weeks that followed.

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The Whites…where my heart soars!

I always feel better when I can put the pieces of the puzzle back together when it comes to “issues.”  While I don’t know why or how I messed things up, I am well on the road to recovery.  Here is what the last few months have looked like:

  • August: 68.4 miles and 9,090 ft of gain
  • September: 88.4 miles and 12,292 of gain

I averaged 2-3 heavy weight workouts during both months and have been giving the blessing my Coach Chris to keep on lifting heavy for now.  The gym makes me almost as happy as the trails!  Speaking of which, I am continuing on with Chris with a plan that will take me into next year.  As it stands now, the structure is as follows:

  • December 2: TARC Winter Fell Race (50K): This race is gnarly and takes down runners every year.  The field is small, the weather sometimes sucks, but I have been told it’s epic.
  • June 2: The Endurance Society Infinitus Marathon: Like TARC Winter, this course is also supposed to be epic.  I wanted to choose events I hadn’t done before and would test my fortitude.  This should do it.
  • MY “A” RACE – August 2018 – Ragged 75 3-day Stage Race: I flipped flopped between another 100 and a stage race.  I wanted to head out west, but finances and time just won’t allow.  Instead, I chose Ragged.  This race was formerly known at the Emerald Necklace and is held on a trail network in New Hampshire.  I have crewed for this race a few times and worked it this past summer.  Now it’s my turn!  Stage racing is a different beast, as you run a predetermined number of miles each day, running point-to-point and camping each night.  Getting up each day and doing another marathon or 50K is the trick.  This will be HARD, but I am ready for the challenge.

Finally, as I find myself knee deep in training, I want to share that I taunted my coach one night.  I found myself with a glass of red wine in my hand and my phone in the other, writing an email about how I am done with being the slow girl on the climbs.  What that got me was an uphill running clinic with Coach Chris and instructions on how to be a better hill climber.  I now dry heave and curse on climbs on a regular basic.PreviewInstanceData

I am a very strong climber when it comes to fastpacking, but running them is a different beast.  I am ready mentally to take that leap.  Evidence of this came last weekend when I shaved significant time of one of the local race courses I ran for training.  I ran all of the ups and eased back to recover (while still running) the downs, which is the opposite of how I have been training.  Its hard, it feels different but I saw instant payoff.  THAT was enough to motivate me.

I want to take a moment and say how thankful I have been for the 2017 season I have been blessed to experience.  I was chosen late last year as an Altra Ambassador and wear nothing but their shoes (Lone Peaks and Escalantes are my favorite) while I tackled some magnificent goals this year.  I will continue to embrace zero drop as I take on some more huge challenges in 2018!  Altra changed my running life in 2016 and I haven’t looked back.

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Altra is more than shoes… for me it’s a mentality. This company embraces running, no matter where it takes you, and the relationships formed along the way. RTB2017 and I finally ran into fellow Ambassador, Emilie!

Happily Recovering

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Truly resting.

Three weeks post 100 and I honestly feel great.  Would I go out and run 20 miles?  Nah.  I could, but I don’t think it’s a great idea.  While my energy level surged over the last week, I still occasionally feel fatigued (like right now as I hang out in my recliner).  Instead of pushing myself back into hard mileage, I have been resting and following the August plan Coach Chris put together.  I’ve been asked many times over the last few weeks how I have been feeling and what I have I been doing… here is what has worked for me:

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Easy workouts and climbs with friends!

Rest: Obviously.  I have slept in when my body called for it, done easy workouts starting 8 days post 100 and have generally been taking it easy. Sleep was vital to my training and has remained vital in recovery.  I am a huge fan of Onnit’s New Mood and have continued to use it for sleep.  My job is stressful and this helps to shut my brain off and leaves me well rested!

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Food: Eat the good stuff, and the salt water taffy too.  My appetite remained huge for about two weeks.  I continued eating the healthy salads and lean proteins, but didn’t stay away from white bread and candy as I craved it.  My weight has come back up to non-race standards but my muscle mass continues to grow and my pants are still loose.  My appetite is still raging because I started to hit the gym hard this week.  Here comes the after burn!

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All of the food.

Mobility and Rolling: I have a new mobility routine put together for me by Coach and really like it.  I enjoy using it before my gym workouts and as a means of getting joints moving post desk jockey work days.  I became a HUGE fan of rolling, dynamic stretching and dry needling during training.  I have not had a needling session since mid June and don’t feel the need for one right.  

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Easy runs: It’s so nice to lace up my Altras and simply cruise around with no expectations.  It’s been great for my brain and my body.  I had a hard time getting out the door for my Friday AM run but once I had been moving for about two miles I was incredibly happy!  Running really does bring me joy!  I have also been enjoying power hikes and climbing too.  I want to get back out in the Whites a bit more before winter and SEE what I missed on those runs.  I can’t wait to use my new tent and soon will be be buying my new pack and sleeping bag!

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Back at the gym and upping the weights!

 

Reading: I am drooling over possible goals for next year. I have some things in mind (most of which I refuse to talk about yet!) and have been eating up blogs and race reports.  Running Vermont opened up huge doors for me physically and mentally.  I really don’t want to stop!

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Training Throwback – Pemi Loop

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I promised this would have it’s own post and I have been meaning to get to it for weeks.  This training event deserves it’s own post because it was so much more than checking off miles and elevation on the calendar.  This was redemption for me.  The one day Pemi is known as the 2nd hardest hike in America, so it’s no joke!

In 2016, I attempted a one day counterclockwise Pemi loop three weeks after my first 50K.  It was a HOT day in the Whites and I simply didn’t have it in me.  I bonked between Garfield and Lafayette and just couldn’t get it back.  In retrospect, I believe I wasn’t recovered from the 50K and failed miserably to fuel properly.  For the first time ever, I knew it was time to bail in the Whites for safety reasons.  Tony and I came down our pre-planned bailout at the Lafayette false summit (ALWAYS have one! That is one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you for the unforgiving Whites) and I ended the day vowing to go back.  I squeaked out about 19 miles of the Loop that day and knew when I went into 100 training I wanted to complete the entire Loop.

I watched my training calendar click away and the Pemi got closer and closer.  Here are the pinnacle training runs last two months of 100 training looked like:

  • Pineland Farms 50 miler – May 28th
  • Stairs Mountain (11 miles) – June 3rd
  • Belknap Double Traverse (21.1 miles) – June 10th
  • One day Pemi Loop (30 miles) – June 17th
  • Mt. Israel Mountain Repeats (14.5 miles) – June 25th

I did over 29,000 feet of gain in June to prepare for Vermont.  Note the location of the Pemi on this list… I had already logged serious miles and elevation before I rolled into that day.

Tony and I camped the night before just minutes from the trailhead.  It was fantastic and allowed me to practice camping, fueling and an early start… all critical points for my 100.  We ate a good dinner and went bed early.  I did drink a celabratory Boom Sauce given to me by a good friend for finishing my 50!  We should have camped after the Pemi (lesson learned!).

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Boom Sauce and excitement!

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Campsite Creep

We were up and hitting the trail around 6:22AM.  My excitement and nervousness was palatable.  I KNEW what I was getting myself into!  Bear in mind, I am not the fastest trail runner, but have the ability to just keep pushing (recently I was dubbed the “Bulldozer”) so I knew I would be on my feet for a long day.  I had eaten well before the start (Mountain House Eggs and Bacon and an Apple) and was well hydrated.

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6:22 AM Start at Lincoln Woods!

Our packs were heavy…. and as it turned out we could have gone a LOT lighter.  The original forecast was for 50s and rain.  In the Whites, you have to plan for the 50 to mean 40.  The mountains have their own ecosystem.  In our packs was extra layers.  Instead of this forecast, we had bluebird skies and temps in the mid to high 70s.  Needless to say… I spent the day weight training!  I used my Ultimate Direction 30 pack, carried 90 oz. of water at a time and had poles and my first aid kit too.

We started in Lincoln Woods for a counterclockwise Pemi loop.  This starts with an easy, relatively flat 4.8 mile walk towards Bondcliff.  Once the climbing starts, it almost never stops for the entire day.  The day was cloudy and misty at our start, but as we broke tree line just below Bondcliff we were welcomed by a gorgeous undercast!  I started hiking in 2002 and have been waiting for an undercast like this since then!  What a treat.  We continued moving towards Galehead Hut.  I was fueling well, felt strong and was climbing well.  I used Tailwind, plain water, some natural gels (Endurance Tap!) and Fuel for Fire pouches.  We made it to Galehead Hut by the six hour mark.  I had a Chef Boyardee Ravioli cup at the hut (cold, salty and delicious!) for lunch and we refilled our water.  It was already HOT and we suspected we would need to collect more water at the Garfield tentsite to get us back to the car.  Tony and I both carry Sawyer Minis to filter water.

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That undercast!!!

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The section between Galehead Hut and Lafayette is an absolute BEAST.  It was this section that yanked the wind out of my sails last year and set me up for failure.  I’ve hiked it a number of times in both directions and it literally busts your balls every time. Despite my best effort to eat and drink like I champ, I found myself irrationally hungry.  I was working HARD on those climbs, was really hot but never have been more determined.  We grabbed more water at the tentsite and kept on moving to Garfield.  I felt a little relief when I got there and felt better than I did last year.  The section between Galehead and the Lafayette false summit took me 4 1/2 hours. There is a LOT of elevation gain and loss in this section.

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Breaking through the clouds at Bondcliff

I got to the false summit and told Tony I had to stop.  What I should have said is “I have to stop and eat” but instead I said something like “I can’t go any further.”  He got worried (like he does) as I sat down and ate another Ravioli.  He was texting Lise and expressing his concerns I wouldn’t get this done and he didn’t want to be on the ridge in the dark. He told me his concerns and said we may have to bail.  Instead I literally yelled “NO F*&KIN WAY!”  in my head.  I did not come this far to bail again at the exact same spot I did last year.  NOPE.  I finished my food, packed up and took off.  Tony was still texting Lise and didn’t realize I was gone until I was picking my way towards the summit.  Yep.  Take that dink.  I had a new life to me.  Most likely due to the food, but the motivation didn’t hurt!

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Lots of climbing between Galehead and Garfield

I hit the Lafayette summit and made my way across Franconia Ridge.  The view from here is amazing for me because I get to not only see where I came from, but the end was in sight!  There are over 10 miles left from the summit of Lafayette to the bridge we started at, but I knew we could get across the ridge in daylight.  I had that in me!  It was getting foggy as we made our way to Liberty and Flume so I stayed strong and consistent. The worst part of this section was losing my “up button” by the time I hit that last Flume climb.  Tony took the lead and “pulled” me up that peak.  We summited Flume around 7:30 PM with heavy fog but still some daylight.  As we started our descent, I started to smile huge!!!  I was in the homestretch with six miles to go!  My quads, lower legs and core stayed strong all day so that descent was not hard.  If my pack hadn’t been so heavy and bouncy I would have been able to run.  As much as i like this pack, I have never been able to tweak it to run comfortably in it and it will be replaced for future fastpacking.  It just doesn’t work for me.

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Franconia Ridge never gets old… and we had it to ourselves

We made our way back to Lincoln Woods trail in the dark and in silence.  What I didn’t know is Tony was having a tough day.  Silence between us isn’t unusual as we spend long days on the trail.  Its the comfortable silence among friends.  I was giddy with excitement and getting choked up as I marched by way down Lincoln Woods back to the bridge.  I DID IT!!!!  HOLY SHIT!!!!  PEMI LOOP!  It has been a bucket list item for me for years and I pulled it off.  I was happy, nothing hurt and I was ecstatic!  I hit the bridge, whipped around and hugged by best friend.  I was crying (as usual) and he told me later he got choked up.  I was so excited he did this with me and pushed me through.  This is why our running relationship works.  I didn’t even hold the bailout comment against him! 😉

We got back to the truck, stripped what we could of our smelling gear and clothes and started the drive home.  We got McDonalds (my favorite post hike treat… don’t judge, it’s my thing) and sang songs all the way home.  We should have camped again, but because we are dumb it never occurred to us!

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Coming down Flume!

As you know, I am a Brand Ambassador for Altra and Born Primitive.  I want to speak on two invaluable pieces of gear:

Altra Lone Peak 3.0: I absolutely love this shoe.  The pair I wore had nearly 300 miles on them that day, but my feet stayed comfortable and they are excellent on the wet and dry rocks of the Whites.  I had not foot discomfort or blisters.  I paired these with Smartwool socks for the win.  Lone Peaks are zero drop with a wide toe box (all standard on Altra shoes) and have an medium amount of cushion.   The 3.5 just came out and has just minor differences.

Born Primitive Rhapsody Bra: This is my go to running bra.  I have a number of Rhapsody Bras and I cannot say enough about their comfort.  I wore one bra for the entire fifteen hours, and while I sweat tremendously and had a heavy pack on all day, I had no rubbing or chafing issues.  My heart rate monitor fits well under them and I forget I am wearing it.  I wore the Rhapsody for the entire hundred (changed once at mile 70).  I will never wear anything else at this point!  Want to try their stuff at a discount?  Use my code LIFTNRUN15 at http://www.bornprimitive.com for 15%!  They have a complete line of athletic and leisure clothing that is to DIE for!

Thanks as always for following along my running journey!

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15 Hours Later – CCW Pemi Loop DONE!

28 Hours in a Day

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I can’t believe it’s been a week… I rode the high of finishing the Vermont 100 (and achieving my goal) this past week and this weekend find myself being gently laid down to the world of “normal.”  I waiver between “did that really happen” and “HOLY SHIT I DID IT! I RAN 100 MILES!”  I am reveling in the feelings of completing this race because it represented such a huge first in my adult athletic career.

This post will serve as a basic race recap as well as a photo dialog of that amazing weekend.  I am so blessed to have the support network I do and will never hesitate to repay the favor.  They selflessly gave up sleep and time to make this dream happen for me and I will be forever grateful!  And as Lise said “horsewomen make the best crew.”  True statement.  Horsewomen are used to holding their ground with dirty, headstrong 1000 lb. beasts.  I comparison, a dirty 100 mile runner is easy 🙂

Here goes nothing…

Friday 07/14

Tony, Lise, Amanda, Jess and I made our way to West Windsor, arriving just before 10:00AM.  We staked our claim on camping spots in the field and set up our home away from home for the next two days.  The field was wet (compared to the drought of last year), but we found a drier spot and managed to set up our pop up tent with a tarp to block out the mist of the day.

We headed down to runner check-in, which I breezed through quickly.  Holy crap, this was really happening!  We took the obligatory silly number pictures and then made our way back to “camp” to relax and calorie load.  I had already done a crew meeting the week before (complete with the mini crew binder chock full of notes and space for the crew to track my progress) so there was no need to recap.  My crew was ready to go and so was I.  

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I proceeded to eat for the rest of the afternoon, a combination of fruit, veggies, carbs (freeze dried meals… rice and then pasta plus bread and butter), cupcakes (thank you Heather!) and lots of water.  I felt satisfied and full when I settled into my tent.  After dealing with some loud runners (who Tony set straight) I was able to get about four solid hours of sleep before the 02:45 AM alarm went off.

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Saturday, 07/15!  Start to Pretty House (21.3 miles)

Arrival Time: 08:35 AM

From my crew book:

  • “I saw a cow humping another cow” – Me
  • What’s good? The smell of horse sweat!  Abs and eyeballs feel good!

I started my day at 02:45 AM.  I did my best to choke down a Mountain House Eggs and Bacon (¾ down) but couldn’t get my apple down.  My stomach just wasn’t awake yet.  I drank a full cup of coffee and struggled into my clothes.  Truth be told, I was groggy as shit, but reminded myself I would wake up on the go and could eat early to catch up on calories.  I chose my Lone Peak Neoshells for the first leg of this race as we were warned at the race meeting of wet trails and the risk of trench foot.  These shoes have high miles on them, but are still comfortable and have a water resistant exterior and warm lining.  This would allow me to assess the trails, stay warm in the cool temps and make a decision at Pretty House regarding shoes.  

My crew took me to the starting line, said their goodbyes and left me in the sea of headlamps.  I started crying.  Hard.  I was crying because the realization of what I was about to do hit me… and not in a bad way.  This flood of emotion represented all the planning, hard work and dedication I put into this very moment.  I kept wiping the tears away and waiting for the start.  We finally took off (it felt like an eternity but I think it was only about 3 minutes) and I settled into the back part of the crowd on purpose.  I wanted to warm up slowly and get my rhythm.  The fact I would be out here for so long was still daunting so I wanted to ease into the day.

The trails and road to Pretty House were rolling, as was the rest of this course.  I fueled and hydrated well and made it to my crew before the heat of the day.  My first indication of foot pain came not far outside Pretty House.  My feet started to ache and I blamed it on the hard Neoshells.  Little did I realize it had NOTHING to do with that.

I was excited to see my crew all day and the first crewed aid station was no exception!  I did a shoe change into my Lone Peak 2.5 (wore these for the next 50 miles) as well as a sock change.  I felt strong coming out of here and was excited to see the crew again at Stage Road.

Pretty House to Stage Road (21.3-30.3 miles)

Arrival Time: 10:48AM

From my crew book:

  • “She’s still smiling!” – Amanda
  • Smell Scale: 4 (per Amanda’s assessment)
  • What’s good?  Abs and eyeballs, plus heart rate is normal!

I really enjoyed this section, which included some amazing fields and the Sound of Music!  I felt strong as I came through this section and was taking back some ground from runners who had passed me early on.  I did not eat much between Pretty House and Stage but did take my first round of Chef Boyardee (lunch!) at this aid station.  Tony warned me about the Suicide Six climb I was about to hit, but assured me it would be just like what I practiced in training.

I was mentally preparing myself for the heat of the day at this point, knowing I would have to hydrate well (I was scolding by my crew at Stage for drinking very little over the last two hours) and needed to continue to eat.  At this point, I was getting warm, but effectively sweating and starting to use my new cooling buff.  This thing was amazing!  All you have to do is dunk it in water, snap it and it goes cold.   I kept it around my neck for nearly 50 miles, dipping it in horse buckets left out by people along the course.  

Stage Road to 10 Bear #1 (Big Bear as Amanda calls it!) 30.3-47 miles

Arrival Time: 3:17PM

From my crew book:

  • “I met baby goats and a Jack Russell named Winkey!” – Me
  • Surgery performed
  • “Looking good.  Practically made love to iced tea” – Amanda
  • Smell scale: Heather – 5, Amanda – 5

The Suicide Six Climb was nearly ¾ mile in length and was 15% grade in some places.  I chunked it off, and was alone for most of the climb.  I was pleased with how I felt at the top but was definitely starting to overheat.  I walked a bit, cooled down by hydrating and continued to run when the opportunity presented itself.  Somewhere around the 40 mile mark, my quads and feet started to get pissed.  Up to this point, I was doing well.  I had no hip pain, marginal foot pain and my hamstring and knee was fully cooperating.  The downhills into 10 Bear #1 were taking their toll on my quads and I knew I had a nasty blister on the side of my left foot above the heel as well as my big toe.  Tony met me as I cruised into 10 Bear.  My crew remained so positive all day and provided me cards from friends and had awesome signs waiting for me!  They were under strict instructions to ask me “What’s good?” and nothing close to “how are you?” or “how’s it going?”  I repeated said my eyes, back and arms were good 🙂  

At 10 Bear #1, I popped my blisters (controversial but has always worked for me), taped them with my favorite athletic tape and did a sock change.  My feet were getting beat by the hard as concrete Vermont Road, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  I changed by singlet here, had some delicious Iced Tea and told Tony my stomach felt a little bloated and sour.  He gave me a Gas-X chewable and we chatted about strategy.  He told me to keep eating.  My appetite was good, I was just a little uncomfortable.  I was snacking at every aid station along the way and eating 400 or so calories of my own food between aid stations.  I sustained well on water, Tailwind and Skratch throughout the race.

I departed 10 Bear (not before being accosted by medical) and made my way up a climb out of the aid station.  Here the mental trials began for me.  I was 47 miles in and about to enter the unknown.  My longest race to date had been 50 miles and my longest time on legs was 15 hours (Pemi).  

10 Bear #1 to Margaritaville 47-58.5 miles

Arrival Time: 6:35 PM

From my crew book:

  • “Looking good, smiling, laughing” – Amanda
  • What’s good? Abs good, Agony Hill not bad, I LOVE POTATOES

I felt like this section was a lot of climbing!  I remember two hard and steady climbs between 10 Bear and Margaritaville.  Once again, I marvelled on my ability to climb even as my feet continued to decline in condition.  I felt strong both on the mountain road climb and the final climb up to the aid station.  Tony told me when I came in that my form looked better than 90% of the runners on the course.  I contribute this to a massive amount of core and upper body work over the last two years.  My stomach came back to me too.  I contribute this to my continued intake of my food, the introduction of small amounts of Coke, as well as potatoes w/ salt and watermelon.

Margaritaville to 10 Bear #2 58.5-69.4 miles

IMG_20170715_215327431

Arrival time: 9:36 PM

From my crew book:

  • A drawing of the wagon and it says = The Balls
  • “There is something nipping at my nuts” – Tony
  • Smelly scale: Heather – 7, Amanda 2 (I just baby powdered myself all over… slowly)
  • “Yes!  Bye bye Tony! Ain’t nobody got time for that!” – Amanda and Lise

My quads had come back to life at this point and after my dinner “meal” of Chef Boyardee, I was able to run most of the next five miles back towards 10 Bear #2.  I was so excited to get to Tony, was happy that my wheels weren’t coming off the bus and my climbs remained strong.  I was able to ignore much of my foot pain at this point.

While happily running along, I came into contact with “Phil.”  I eventually had to tell “Phil” to buzz off.  Don’t get me wrong, I spent a lot of time chatting on this race and getting to know a few people I was yo-yoing with.  I even gave a girl a poncho late night.  I love sharing space with other runners in a race.  It helps pass the time.  The problem with “Phil” is he informed me he was a solo runner who regularly makes a habit of “leaching” onto other runner’s pacers.  NOPE.  Not a chance was that happening.  He also started to boss me around and telling me when to run.  NOPE.  Bye PHIL.

My running came to a grinding slog when I hit a nasty Class 4 road covered in rip-rap.  Know what that is?  As the wife of a dirt guy I do… this is nasty sharp angled rock dropped in wet, muddy roads to help sure up the surface for trucks.  I just couldn’t find a path to run and had to pick my way through it.  It was pretty dark at this point and I was getting ansty to get back to 10 Bear.  My feet were throbbing and I desperately wanted a clothing change.  The cool, dank night air was making me a little chilly.  I pushed through this section, battled a phantom pain on my left ankle and FINALLY made it back to my crew.  Just in time, I thought!  That last section was irritating at best!  It was the best feeling in the world to RUN down the hill into the aid station!  I was getting my pacer!!!

I rolled into 10 Bear, got my change of clothes and shoes, and my 70th birthday card from my dear friends Bill and Meg 🙂 That made my night!  I knew I had a big climb ahead of me, and despite shitty feet, I was ready.  I was about to enter the part of the course I paced last year.

10 Bear to Spirit of ‘76 69.4-76.2 miles

Arrival Time: 12:00AM

From my crew book:

  • “Listened to Pink at mile 72. That makes me a lesbian.” – Heather
  • ‘Merica bitches – Amanda
  • “Sass is still strong with this one [Heather]” – Amanda
  • Tony of the Tiny Shorts

Here is where my memories start to get scattered and Tony will remember more than I will.  I took the climb out of 10 Bear strong and eager.  My feet was absolutely trashed but again, it didn’t matter!  

Coming out of the climb, Tony fired up the “My vagina hurts” playlist I had him build over the last few months.  We ran along, alone, singing out loud to Hall & Oats “Maneater.”  It was one of my favorite memories from this WHOLE race!!!  We listened to tunes on and off along the last thirty miles.  It provided momentary distractions.  

I came into Spirit of 76 ready for some different food.  I asked for grilled cheese and started having broth which was delicious.  I was still drinking well and my crew gave me a small serving of Spark in a pouch “just in case.”  Spark is caffeinated and meant to be a natural energy drink.  I can run on it without issue.  I became thankful for this in the miles that followed.

Spirit of ‘76 to Bill’s 76.2 miles-88.3 miles

Arrival Time: 4:00 AM

From my crew book:

  • “Good pee… tripod… almost tinkled on hand” – Heather
  • Still have up button and laughing – per Amanda
  • Good Tunes

I look back at these times now and realize how SLOW I got through the night.  I can tell you that after I left ‘76 I literally started bobbing and weaving like a drunk baby.  I am pretty sure I fell asleep while walking.  Tony made me start sipping the Spark slowly.  That woke me up pretty quick.  My appetite had slowed considerably but I was still munching and drinking broth at aid stations.  My feet were SO bad.  The only way I can describe the feeling was like 10 tiny knives poking up through the bottoms of my feet.  The pain was equal in both feet and at times mind numbing.  I focused by thinking about the night sounds, chatting and passing people as I could.  I was still shuffling on occasion through here, but it was excruciating!  My damn feet!  I stand by feeling that if my feet hadn’t failed, I would have been still running here. Systematically I was TICKING!!!  It was exciting!

I was excited to get to Bill’s and climbed hard and strong all the way to the aid station, picking off other runners.  Here is where I passed off a disposable poncho to a girl I met on course way earlier in the day.  She pulled away from me around mile 30 and I hadn’t seen her again.  When we came upon her before Bill’s, she was wrapped in a trash bag.  She still had her singlet on and was freezing.  I told Tony to get the poncho out of my pack and we helped her into it.  She was visibly shaking and I was worried about her.  I later learned she finished!

At Bill’s, I crushed another Chef Boyardee ravioli (hence my nickname, Ravioli, dubbed by Jess).  I was in great spirits and wide awake.  I knew the sun would be up soon and knew I had less than a half marathon to go!  The carnage at Bill’s was what you expect as mile 88… lots of downed runners and suffering.  Again, I was so lucky.  I had been on my feet for 24 hours and still had gas in the tank.

Bill’s to Polly’s 88.3-94.9 miles

Arrival time: 5:41AM

  • “You are the dick beneath my wings”
  • “Polly wanta cracker”
  • Amanda’s thoughts: I love this barn.  You are strong.  Be tenacious.  You will do this.

I did alright leaving Bills and up to approximately mile 92 or so.  The woods and fields in the first section were a welcome relief from the roads and I managed some more running.  I clearly remember being excited about the sun coming up, but was working really hard to keep my mind of my feet.  The pain hadn’t gotten any worse, but was distracting.  The tiredness started to creep up on me and with about 8 miles to go, I started to sob.  I didn’t stop, I marched and cried.  Tony wrapped his arm around me and told me how proud he was.  That helped.  I knew I just needed to get to Amanda and Lise for a little mental reprieve.  Tony told me later he was tearing up behind me watching me push through.

I made my way into Polly’s, wiping tears away from my face in a futile attempt to regain my composure.  Those tears started again when I couldn’t get into the porta-potty.  Amanda came over to me and wrapped her arms around me.  Suddenly, she pulled away and started going through her phone.  I learned later she remembered a video Lauren had sent her for encouragement.  She and I watched the video together and I started to cry again.  Which made Amanda cry.  I seriously have the best friends.  Between the cards from Bill and Meg, Lauren’s video, the signs, the text messages through the night from Julie and others, plus the countless encouragement messages I got leading up the race…. My heart is so full and will be for a very long time.  I can only hope to be there for those people when they need the favor returned!

I bucked up and headed out of Polly’s.  It was somewhere around mile 98 when I told Tony I had to fart.  Fifteen seconds later he was blushing and trying to find the words to deal with what just happened… priceless.  At the mile 99 sign I pushed as hard as I could to the end.  I could feel the finish line… I have never wanted something so bad in my life!!!!  As it came into view I was overcome with happiness!!!!  I did it!  WE did it.  While I did the physical work, this was a team effort!!!  My official finish time was 8:03 AM, 28:03 minutes after I started.  Two sunrises, one silly night and countless calories later I came across the finish line!  The Vermont 100 finish was mine.

** the crew notes I included were the only ones I dared to share.  The rest will never be revealed beyond my crew! **

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The daily eats….

twainfood

I often get asked what I eat, how my “diet” looks and my choices for run food.  I have been meaning to do a post on all of that for some time and now is that time!  I am going to start by outlining a daily rundown of my food… no bullshit… please keep in mind I generally eat to stay full and do not seek to lose weight.  Any weight I lose is done intentionally through cutting simple carbs like bread and beer combined with an increase in workout load.  I adhere to protein, high fat, lots of veggies and minimal bread philosophy.  It’s not a diet.  And simply my opinion.

Here goes nothing… feel free to judge 😉

Pre-Breakfast Coffee: one to two cups with added Onnit Emulsified MCT Vanilla oil, coconut nectar and almond milk.

Breakfast (on non-workout mornings): One egg and one Fage Yogurt (Total at 10% fat or the 2% – I grab the cups that contain fruit) and a travel mug of coffee comes to work with me.  Occasionally will sub the yogurt for half a bagel and cream cheese if it’s the weekend and I am running soon.

food

On gym mornings: One cup of coffee followed by a granny smith apple while driving to the gym.  I have an Ascent protein shake (one scoop chocolate powder with almond milk and Onnit oil) while driving from the gym to work.  After morning meeting I eat Good Food Made Simple frozen breakfast burrito OR a meal prepped scramble egg and bacon (depends on the week).

Morning snacks: One or two of the following: Fruit (dried fruit OR apple, banana or berries) or Powercrunch bar.

I usually have a large Dunks Iced Tea on my desk during the day.  Once that is done, I start on Nuun or plain water.

Lunch:  Usually salad with a protein dressed in olive oil and seasoning salt.  My other go to is whatever protein we ate the night before plus a cup of cherry tomatoes, queen spanish olives and sharp chedder cheese sticks (x2).  Some days, I treat myself to a bacon cheeseburger and fries ** once every two weeks on average **.  In a pinch, I will eat Good Food Made Simple frozen lunch bowls.  I try to NOT eat sandwiches at work.

Afternoon snacks (one or two) of the following: Single serving peanut butter cups, nuts, Powercrunch bar (if I didn’t eat in the AM), cut raw veggies, small Ensure shake.

Dinner: Protein (mostly fish and chicken, some beef) and veggies.  Usually grilled. We eat a lot of salads, so one or two days a week its large salads at dinner too.  Some weeks are better than others.  I love home made pizzas, burgers and subs (steak and cheese and sausage/pepper/onion).  I try to keep those as treats.  I am italian and love pasta, but keep that to about once per month.  I am starting Blue Apron again this week since training has slowed and I have more prep time.  We do not generally do takeout, but when we do it’s sushi, salads or pizza.  I usually have a beer before or with dinner.

After dinner: Wine (red… love it) and cookies or chocolate.

wtffood

I am coming into this race at 126 lbs (down four from my average and at my happy race weight).  I never feel hungry and I tend to be a grazer.  If I know I will be on the road, I accommodate that.   Trust me… I have been known to hit up a drive through and I am a sucker for chicken nuggets… but I do my best to avoid it as a habit.  I know I could be thinner, but I have found what works for me, my insanely stressful career and my training schedule.  I adore the taste of Cabernet so I haven’t cut it out.  I make choices knowing what is good and bad.  Life is short, so I choose wisely and sometimes pick me to make me happy.

Run food will be covered in my next post!

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