Pushing beyond

There is no way I could have written this post last night… I was too overwhelmed by the experience.  As it is, I am struggling with where to begin!

The weather: Those of us in New England have been soaked in rain for over a week.  For a field and trail course, this was not good news.  A report from a fellow blogger (more on that in a moment) confirmed the start line was under a few inches of water.  Other reports, specifically from people who attended the shorter races on Saturday at Pineland confirmed it was a mudfest!  I woke up yesterday morning to pouring rain and 42 degree temps.  Oh my.  I messaged Tony one very profound swear word which he agreed with.  In true fashion, I packed even more gear having no idea what to expect.

The people:  I am lucky enough to have fantastic friends who not only ran with me but crewed for us too.  Katie’s fiance Steve was gracious enough to drive us up in his comfy truck.  We were chattering the whole way, distracting us from the nerves.  The rain let up and eventually stopped the closer to New Gloucester, Maine we got.

We got to Pineland in time to see the start of the 50K.  And I finally got to me Astrid from vttrailgirl!  A quick hello, a few hugs and some good lucks and she was off for the 50K.  Sadly we didn’t get to see each other again.

The prep/gear:  It was about 50 degrees, breezy and cloudy for the start of the race.  I chose my purple shorts, a tank top, a long sleeve tech shirt and my Injinji toe socks along with my Speedcross for this run.  I was also wearing a hat to in case the rain started again.  At the end of the day, the toe socks and shoes prevented me from getting any blisters despite spending the entire race SOAKED and covered in mud.  The Speedcross (Salomon) are hands down the best piece of equipment I own.  Amazing shoes.  They shed water quickly and their grip in the mud could not be matched.  Tony and I barely did any slipping while other people literally slipped and fell down the muddy hills.  I also wore my Wink Pack.  I almost didn’t pack it, thinking I would rely on aid stations but was THRILLED I did! I had snacks for in between and water, plus it kept me a bit warmer when the biting winds hit in the fields.

RACE TIME!  Katie, Tony and I were eager to get going.  Well mostly, I was fidgeting, Katie was dancing and Tony had a grumbling belly!  What a mess as usual.  Here Katie and I were posing for one last photo:

mekatie

At precisely 10:00AM, we were off!  The mud started immediately.  And I mean MUD.  Sloppy, nasty shoe sucking mud.  This is wear the Speedcross saved me… for the most part.  Katie lost a shoe almost immediately.  I attempted to avoid some of the mud by running on the edges of the wooded trail, but ended up scaling some rocks and crashing HARD about a 1/2 mile in.  I skinned both skins, have a nasty egg on my right shin and was bleeding.  Did I stop, heck NO!  Battle wounds!  The first half of this race was relentless mud.  I didn’t even notice the elevation changes.  Hill work really pays off.  The mud was brutal on the ankles and feet (I paid for it later).  Here are a few shots from the first 2/3rds of the race:

Mudfest!

Mudfest!

One of the many fields

One of the many fields

Nasty muddy hill climb

Nasty muddy hill climb

One of the drier spots!

One of the drier spots!

I found OREOS!

I found OREOS!

And finally, we made it to the last leg.  The final 10K or so started from the finish line.  As we ran into this area, all we could smell was the grill.  How cruel.  And the Steves (our crew), held their beers up.  I started to crumble a little!

The last leg begins!

The last leg begins!

This is where I started to hurt.  Badly.  I developed an insane cramp in my right foot under my big toe, no doubt due to all the balance work I did in the mud.  I was able to push through it for a few miles, but eventually had to walk a ways to work it out.  Tony stuck with me while we encouraged Katie to run ahead.  She did AMAZING!  I realized later, we all did.  I went to a very angry place, one of rage because my body was not cooperating with my head.  It made my heart race and blinded me a bit.  Tony was pushing me gently at this point, telling me what to do at the aid stations… which I needed.  It made the difference.  And this whole time, while I was blindingly mad, I was still running the same consistent 11:30 splits.  I felt like I was standing still.  Amazingly, I was able to pull it out on the last mile and finished strong…. almost missing the finish line!  Hahaha I wasn’t even looking up at this point!  All I could think about was that finish mat and not crying from euphoria!  As soon as I stopped, so did the pain.  I was ecstatic!  Happier than I have been after any run.  Here we are at the end:

Done!!!

Done!!!

And my official time:

3:10:58 with a 12:18 pace.

Holy crap.  I can’t even believe it.  Four hours was our goal.  We ran the crap out of it.  And I got a PDR (personal distance record) out of it at about 15.5 miles.  With minimal training this year…..  Amazing.  Significant.  And empowering.  I could not have done this without my friends.  I am so grateful for them… for the laughter, the support and the pushing.

Today, I am a bit sore where my Achilles attaches at my ankle.  OK, I am very sore.  But the rest of me feels good.  Rest and ice and hopefully I will be good to go very soon.  I cannot wait to continue my training!  50K at Pineland next year???  Maybe 🙂

Morning of….

It’s 4:37 AM.  I am icing an uncooperative left calf, drinking coffee, attempting to get hungry enough to fuel and listening to the POURING RAIN!  

I’m on my way to Pineland.

25K in mud and fields that are under water.

Should be a hell of a race report.

Before, I go… here is Tony’s last blog that shows my meltdown beginning!

 

No turning back now!

Pineland 25K… T minus 2 days.

And I am psyched!  Ready?  No.  Psyched?  Hell yes.

The weather is going to suck a bit.  70% chance of rain and cool.  I had a training run yesterday at Northwood.  Part of that run is through a large field.  That field was very wet yesterday.  The Speedcross’ filled with water but I was able to keep on slogging without really noticing.  Four+ hours of that Sunday?  Might suck a lot.  Extra socks are in order.  And blister covers.  It is what it is. Can I run with plastic bags on my feet???

I am very calm about this race.  Probably because I have no goals other than get through it.  And not be hungry.  Aid stations should be well stocked.  I am running with two of my favorite people and we have two more of my favorite people on a our support team.  Husband is not coming (not his scene) but he has also been more supportive than usual.  We had our first wedding anniversary last weekend…

IMG_20130519_220115

This was us before dinner 🙂

He is taking me shoe shopping today.  The drama of finding a hybrid shoe.  What a pain.  That gets it’s own post.  Maybe tomorrow!

Tony has been “reminding” me to do my packing list…. here was a fraction of the mess in my closet before I weeded some of it out:

20130520_165020

I tend to grab the same shorts, capris and shirts over and over.  I finally organized my crap, got rid of stuff I just don’t wear and had a much cleaner closet when I was done!

So, goals for Sunday:

1)  Have fun!  Despite the rain!  As a person who showed horses for years, I am no stranger to competing in the rain.  No big deal.

2) Eat well and often

3)  Laugh

4)  Go out slow, stay slow and COMPLETE without injury

5)  Enjoy the atmosphere

6)  Learn something new

Here goes nothing!!!

6 days…..

Six days…actually it’s less than that now… until Pineland.  Sixteen miles is a big deal for me, especially considering what I have had to deal with.  But, I am saying GOODBYE to the injuries and illnesses once and for all.  I have been pushing my body and it’s responding beautifully!

I got in 22 miles last week (20 the week before).  I even did hill repeats for the first time.  We tackled 400m of what we lovingly call “FU Hill” at Northwood Meadows.  It’s a steep grade, no idea what it is exactly, and a good workout.  We ran up it three times and then ran down slow.   Then we power hiked up three times and ran down as fast was we could.  I almost crapped my pants the first time down at “full speed.”  I was running in the low 7s and had horrifying images of gravel sliding my face down the hill.  I hit the bottom and couldn’t wait to do it again!  My next two runs were in the 6s.  I need a lot more time on them to gain confidence but it was FUN!  Only downside to this workout was a spasming left calf the whole time.  No worse for the wear after barn work and ice.  Recovered nicely.

My big run for the week was 11.3 miles at Pawtuckaway!

watch

Fastest long distance trail run to date for me.  This represented just under 1000 feet of total elevations.  It wasn’t all perfect though.  This run was supposed to be a confidence builder and was my longest run since last November/early December.  And it was… but I had some trouble.

The bad…..

I was cruising until mile 8.  We got lost and had to stop and read the map and hash out where to go.  We need to get our loop headed back towards the car otherwise 11 miles would end with us hitchhiking and me trading Tony for more snacks.  Once we got back on track, my legs quit.  Just stopped all together.  Each one felt like 300 pounds and I got more angry with each step.  I tried breathing techniques, water breaks, yelling out loud, making fun of Tony.  I reminded myself that this feeling is one I need to get accustomed to.  I was able to break out of it, only to start getting lady cramps on right side.  Sweet.  Exactly what I wanted.  And then my knees got sore.

Our turning point was at the end of mile 8.  I needed to decide if I wanted to try what we have dubbed “Katie’s Mile” or walk back by road.  I was looking at about 2.5 miles of twisty single track with rocks and roots.  I sat down to think.  I sucked down some baby food and water, accessed my soreness and then decided to try it.  We walked and ran our way to the end and I finished strong, running in the 9:30s.    I was SHOCKED to see our time.  I did pause the Garmin twice for about 10 minutes each time (lost and “do I strangle myself” reassessment), but it’s still awesome!

Here are some pictures from the run:

Round Pond

Round Pond

rocks

11 Miles later!

11 Miles later!

The good:

My fuel was right on.  If I remember correctly, I had two baby food pouches (one smoothie, one spinach mango flavored one), two fig newtons, gummy bears.  I consumed about 15 oz. of water during the run.  I had two eggs, banana and yogurt pre-run with coffee.  I never got hungry.  AND WE HAD ICE CREAM AFTER!!!!

The KT Tape is excellent.  Love it.  Sticks well.  Provides a lovely amount of support to Achilles and calves.

My Wink pack by Ultimate Direction is the friggin’ BOMB.   The weather was in the 60s and humid.  My back got soaked but I never noticed and I was not hot at all.  Can’t wait til it’s hotter to see how it goes.  I love how much I can stuff into this thing!  Best purchase ever!

Have I mentioned about much I adore my Salomon Speedcross 3 running shoes?  The holy grail for me.  I actually just sent my Inov-8s back and exchanged them for Salomon Mission XRs.  More on those in another post.

Finally, I am feeling confident I can get my ass through Pineland.  It won’t be fun, but I can make it happen.  I had no issues the day after this run and am ready to go again!

Stay tuned for a last minute freak out post 🙂

Two weeks from NOW

Two weeks from NOW, I will be anxiously pacing, jumping up and down and getting my last snack before the gun goes off for the longest race of my life to date.  On May 26th, I will be attempting to complete the Pineland Running Festival 25K.  Notice I said complete…. I am severely under trained due to the last three months of plague and injuries.

Is it dumb to do it anyway???  YUP.

That being said, I have been running incredibly well the last two weeks.  I managed 20 miles this week, my best since January.  I’m rolling, icing, stretching and resting between runs.  I am eating everything in sight and losing weight.  I am my lowest in years at 129 and holding steady.  I really don’t want to be any thinner.  I need to lift but haven’t been cleared yet due to the hematoma.  Mass building will have to wait while I run my heart out.

My most memorable run of the last two weeks was yesterday afternoon.  Tony, Katie and I heading out to the Sweet Trail (dubbed Sweet Bitch because she is somewhat rolly and grueling).  I have only run it once and it came out to about 8.5 miles and my average pace was in the 14s.  That run was last October.  It was poorly planned (little water and a handful of Craisins to get me by).  I was not impressed.  Yesterdays run, however was AMAZING!!!!  Here is how it looked:

Screenshot_2013-05-12-09-14-19

This run felt excellent.  I went into a little nervous for a few reasons:

1) Longest run since croup/hematoma incident (2 weeks feeling like death)

2) My calves have been bugging me (more on that in a minute)

3) It was humid as hell – 70 degrees and 69% humidity

The run starts at the end of a dirt road, is mostly single track with rolls, turns, rocks, roots and some more dirt road.  The end is worth it… the trail literally stops 4.5 miles later at Great Bay:

20130511_170248

I forget how beautiful it is out here.  We stopped for about 20 minutes to snack, explore and get silly… as seen below….

20130511_170459

Our runs are always an adventure!  On one of our runs earlier this week, Katie started talking about mating Horseshoes crabs.  I thought she was full of crap until I saw an article in the paper about it.  Guess what we found at the bay!!!!!?????  Katie was a big happy.  Tony was joking about looking for them… we never thought we would actually find a pair.  I think our humor is what makes our runs the most fun!

We headed back not long after this and finished strong.  Katie almost went to her dark place at about mile 8.  Tony and I started throwing food at her.  That seemed to help.  I ate gummy bears (first time I have tried them on a run… YUM!), a baby food pouch and a few fig newtons.  No problems.  No hunger.  I drank 20 oz. of water in 2 humid hours.

The best part about this runs was my calves.  They have been SUPER tight.  They have always been my issue.  They get tight and sore.  The January I have been really working on changing my stride.  I was doing great, but the two month “break” set me back.  I had been used to my 4mm Kinvaras and started running in 3mm Inov-8s.  The calf tightness is no doubt due to that.  I transition back and forth from the Inov-8s and my Speedcross (11mm) with great success.  I decided to try KT Tape yesterday and I have to say I was skeptical but impressed!  No, it didn’t eliminate the tightness, but I ran strong and felt good.

20130511_170310

As for Pineland it may be a shit show.  The three of us are running it together.  Hard to say how we will do.  I need to stay slower to start than I have been.  I have no idea what to expect, but it’s just a training run at this point!  And it should be a blast after 🙂

For this week, I need to get back to Bodyflow.  I am also going to have a few runs during the week and a 10-12 on Saturday.  That will be our last long run until Pineland.  It is what it is!

Chief Maloney Unity Run – recap

As most people who follow my blog know, I have been PLAGUED by illness and injury.  My latest, a rectus sheath hematoma (hole in my ab) happened last Tuesday PM and once again derailed my training for my first 25K at the end of May.  Sweet.  That being said, the surgeon told me that if the pain and swelling subsided I could WALK the race I had scheduled for this past Sunday.  That race, The Chief Maloney Unity Run was in it’s second year.  It was held two weeks after the Chief’s death last year and had over 2000 runners.  It was an amazing experience.  I was looking forward to running the crap out of it, but since the hematoma happened, I would have to be content to walk.  I iced as instructed, took my Tylenol and rested up.  I was determined to be part of this event.

Sunday morning dawned bright and cool but promises of warming up to 70 by the end of the race.  I should stop and say I am part of an unofficial race team.  It’s more like a group of clowns.  We call ourselves Team Fish Fry and including the three founding members (Tony, Scott and me) we had twelve total of us at the race!

group

 We did our usual clowning around before the start of the race and just before the National Anthem and moment of silence, our runners broke off and us runners went to the back of the pack.  Walking was Tony (ankle injury still on the mend), Stephanie (Scott’s wife), Steve (there mostly for antics and moral support) and me.  I was so happy to have a little group to walk with.  This was however my pre-gun face:

sob

Despite the sad face at not being allowed to run, I was thrilled to be there!  Off we went, at an average pace of about 17:30.  Along the way, we took pictures at every mile marker sign.  We joked that we were so close to the ambulance following us we should just hop in and ride in comfort (knew both firefighters on board), Stephanie literally disrobed behind a tree in front of a church because she was hot and put her long sleeve shirt under short sleeve shirt.  Oops!   More antics along the way:

stephtony

mile4

The runners were kind enough to meet us at mile 5 and walk us in.  We also decided we were going to get the best finish line photo ever! Millenium Running agreed and got it!  5.7 walking miles DONE!

raceend

The end of the race brought more antics to include a beer garden.  Overall, an excellent day.

My ab muscle did very well.  No residual soreness.  I did start to get tired after it was all said and done, so I iced and napped after the walk.  I bounced back quickly.  My legs and hip flexors were SORE!  All that walking and heel striking on pavement SUCKS!!!  I missed running so badly, but I am starting back (more on that in next post) and feeling really good!  Ultimately, I am so thankful for my friends who keep this sport fun, support me through my sicknesses and injuries and keep me motivated.  I would not still be doing this without them!