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!!!!

 

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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)