Sunday, October 30, 2011
Due to the freak snow storm, it created icy road conditions that were going to prevent us from getting into the state forest. Also, the buses to get us to the actual start line weren't going to make it so the race was postponed until next weekend.
I'm sure this messes with some people's schedules, but it works for me. One more week to get my foot back to normal!
When I woke up Saturday morning and saw the snow, I just stood in amazement. Despite seeing the forecasts, I honestly didn't believe them. Most of the time those things are just plain wrong, especially for this town. I grew up with tons of snow but we really don't get much here. I totally planned on still going to the race but checked e-mail the afternoon and found the announcement.
So I ended up with another rest day and then today, I ran 11 miles, a third of what I'll run next weekend. Afterwards, I went out for a huge lunch, equivalent to what I should have been eating if I had actually completed 50K.
And, I've totally failed at staying out of the Halloween candy. Thank goodness I'll unload the rest of that stuff tomorrow night!
Monday, October 24, 2011
Hopefully as I take it easy this week I will be able to stay away from the Halloween candy I bought for trick-or-treat next week. I spent $65 on candy this year, seriously? Isn't that a bit pricey?
I knew October was going to be interesting with everything I was trying to pack in it, just one more week and we'll see. For awhile, I was secretly thinking about an early November marathon depending on how I felt after the 50K but I'm pretty sure that is going to be out of the question now!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Still wanting to see it, I tried to find it online but could not. So, today, I found the next scheduled airing and set the DVR. While it was recording, I went for a run (not kidding). When I got back, I turned it on and fast-forwarded it to the running segment. The segment features 3 runners. Raven, who runs the exact same 8-mile route each day and has every day since 1975. Catra Corbett, an ultra-marathoner who does many 100-milers and is an ex-addict and Marshall Ulrich, who has also run many ultras and has also run across the country in 52 days.
The jist was basically these people relied heavily on the running, used it as a coping mechanism or a way to 'run' from other issues. They are extreme cases but everyone has their own ways of dealing with issues in life. I got the point they were making about Ulrich basically disregarding his family and ended up with several failed marriages due to his lifestyle. I guess I didn't find any of them overly nutty. Also, considering after watching it I looked up Catra Corbett because I found her interesting probably means I didn't get the point my husband was trying to make.
I'm pretty sure my husband thought this running thing was going to be a phase, just like anything else. I'd get bored with it and move onto something else. Instead, I just seem to want to do more and more and I keep dreaming - bigger and better. I look up to people who do bigger and greater things. It keeps me motivated but I'm happy with my own successes and am not trying to be like anyone else. I'll be the first to admit that I have a somewhat obsessive, addictive personality. I get really into things and I'll also admit that at times I am quite nutty. At least I can laugh about it.
However, I do not think I'm obsessed with or addicted to running...at least not in a bad, compulsive way. I do not think I take it to extremes and think I keep it in moderation and don't really see myself taking it to an extreme in the future. I do not run crazy mileage - I just keep a base of around 30 miles per week and do not see this changing drastically anytime soon. I try to keep races to no more than one per month. I keep the amount I run with others in check (it always takes a lot longer with others meaning I'm away longer). I try to keep it in balance with work and everything else in life.
Over the past month or so, the amount of time I've been away or out of the house due to running has been higher than usual. I ran races 4 weeks in a row, the last two of which required me to be away for the entire weekend and also take 2 days off of work. That is not normal and not something I do all of the time, nor do I have any desire to. On top of that, I have been running with others a lot more, mostly due to wanting to run on trails and not going to do that alone. Due to others schedules and plans, it may take up more time to do this.
If anything, I would say the time I was the most obsessed was while I was training for that first marathon. Since then, I think I've figured out how to balance it all better. I attempted to follow a training plan perfectly last year. After it, I got a little more settled...and even burnt out for awhile. The burn out faded and I've been ready to go lately but I do not think it controls my life.
Then again, maybe I am just completely delusional.
Anyone else see the segment? Anyone think they are an obsessive runner?
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Despite being uber-motivated to run in my mind and heart, my foot basically decided otherwise over the past week and a half.
I took it very easy last week and kept trying to deny the fact that my foot was f'ed up.
On Saturday, I ran 14 miles on trails and it actually went pretty well. I thought my foot miracuously healed...or maybe I was still in denial. I desperately wanted to get one more good run in on some technical trails before the 50K to practice the art of not falling...even if I stumble a bit...and move faster than a snail's pace!
On Sunday, I biked for 2 hours with my husband...although I'm pretty much terrified of biking. I won't be switching sports anytime soon. A bad accident when I was a kid made me uneasy and my bike is my mountain bike from when I was in the 5th grade (literally), so I'm not really sure it was even considered real exercise.
Determined to get in real exercise after the bike ride, I tried to run but the foot was having none of it and I hobbled my way home just a few minutes after heading out the door.
Since then, I decided to do the smart thing and actually rest for a few days. Meaning, do nothing kind of rest. This doesn't really make me happy and I've been a little on edge...there's that little 50K in a little over a week looming over my head. I'm really nervous I won't be able to make cut-off times due to my lack of trail experience (and the amount of time it took me at Megatransect).
But, my spirits are a bit renewed. My foot was still feeling a little iffy but thought I was OK to try again today. I set out and felt great. I only went four miles, still trying to play it really easy but I so wanted to go longer. Hopefully, by continuing to take it easy I'll be ready to go next weekend!
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Our team changed a bit over the months leading into the race. It took a little time to find a sixth member and one of original members had to sit out due to injury, but she become one hell of a support team member/driver/navigator! By race day though, we had a full team, we were all ready to go and excited to have a great time together over two days stuck in a van with each other.
Festivities began Thursday evening while we decorated the van. Due to connections from our last minute runner, we ended up with an awesome set of legs to attach to the top of the van, perfect for our "She's Got Legs and Knows How to Use Them" team. Legs firmly (hopefully) attached to the top of the van, pictures in fishnets and high heels, including our "Sharp Dressed Man" and we were ready to run.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Friday afternoon, I met up with my sister and we made our way to Lock Haven. After quickly checking into our hotel room and grabbing some dinner, we attempted to find the start/finish area to pick up our packets. We didn't have an actual address and the GPS proved to be ineffective so we were relying on our navigation skills and a few crude maps. Eventually, after a few stops for directions and more illegal driving maneuvers than I can count, we made it there, picked up our packets and made the drive back to the hotel. After a night of little sleep (thank you hotel neighbors who were up talking and laughing very late), we left the hotel around 5:30 AM and made our way to the start.
By this time, the rain had started but it was a light drizzle. I dressed in capris, a tank top and a long sleeve shirt overtop. The capris were a last minute choice, I was planning on shorts but the forecast changed looking like it was going to be cold and rainy. I had never worn these capris to run but I thought they'd work well. They did, except for the fact that the waist was way too big and I was tugging on them all day long. Stupid choice! Also, after overhearing others say the forecast now looked like heavy rain, we both decided to shove our jackets into our packs. This turned out to be such a good decision later in the race.
At 7 AM, we were off, making our way 3 miles on the road before heading into the woods. As the gravel road ended, we made a left turn, across our first stream of the day. This would be the last time for dry feet for the day. This would also turn out to be pretty much the last time I 'ran' for quite a long time!
Up, up, up we climbed the Link Trail and we went down before hitting the boulder field. This is probably the most 'famous' part of this race. The race changes every year, both in the trails used and the total distance. Due to the rain, the rocks would be slippery. I started up them, basically crawling up them and felt OK. I seemed to be able to figure out where to put my foot next and was feeling just fine. They could be slick but overall weren't bad. I thought I saw what I thought was a ridgeline and was feeling good. Then, someone said, about 1/3 of the way there! What!?! I thought it was almost over. After the first third, I slowed way down and tons of people were moving up faster than me. I kept finding myself moving over towards the right (not where I ultimately needed to go) and seemed to keep getting stuck with no good next rock to step on. But, I just kept going, very, very slowly and eventually hit the top. I think it took me almost an hour to get up them, the section is probably only 3/4 of a mile. I was so out of it by the time I got to the top that I didn't even see that my sister was standing right in front of me waiting for me. After a quick picture, we proceeded onward....
...to more rocks. Next up was Rattlesnake Ridge and down a trail called Winchester and I was very uneasy on the whole thing and moving slow. These rocks were much more slippery than the boulder field and I continue to move very, very slowly to avoid crashing hard on them. Eventually, we got to a level section and I attempted a slow jog into the 1st aid station.
Oh, the first aid station! I will never in my life forget the scene at my first ultra aid station. I have never seen more ravenous beasts shoveling food into their faces at such a frantic rate...and under such sanitary conditions! After a PB&J, some M&Ms and energy drink, it was time to keep moving along. At this point, we were only ~8-9 miles in and already at 3 hours!
I don't remember a whole lot of details about the entire next section. I know this is where it started getting really slippery and muddy and going down any incline, you just slid or fell and I went down half of them by sliding down. Every time we thought about running, it seemed like by the time the decision was made, we were back into another area that was not run-able (at least for me, the fast people had to fly through the whole thing!). It didn't seem like it was that long before we were at the 2nd aid station - about 11.5 or so miles into the race. After some more food, it was time to head out again.
Next, it was the Goat Path. An uphill, steep trail that seemed to be never-ending. My hands were swollen at this point so I figured I wasn't drinking enough and took a salt pill about half-way up. It kicked in quickly and I soon felt like I could close my hands again. After the uphill, we got to a short section that we could run on, followed by a some more water crossings and a crazy section called Giant Steps. A few people we were with at this point commented that half of this didn't seem like trails at all, just flags and ribbon hung randomly in the woods for us to navigate through. This definitely seemed true. The course is marked so well though, there is never a point where you question which way to go. Up and down more rocky, slippery sections we went, very, very slowly!
Somewhere during the later miles of this section, things started to get a little rough. It was getting cold, really cold and the number of times we were crossing streams seemed to keep increasing and each one got deeper. My sister and I were both very hungry and could not wait to get to the final aid station, at mile 21. Eventually, we were there. We spent a few minutes longer at this one filling up some food. We also both broke out our jackets at this point. We were shivering, hands swollen again, more salt tablets taken, more food eaten. The thing that stuck out to me the most at this aid station were the people passing through here that needed help opening the packs of peanut butter crackers. I kept hearing multiple people...'I can't open my crackers, can you open my crackers for me?' The volunteers were all wonderful, I wonder how many packs of crackers they had to open?
Soon, the food and salt kicked in and we were off, only a few more miles in the woods before we got back to the road. However, the final few miles were tough. Up we went on a steep trail called the Raw Trail. I have never in my life seen my sister appear the least bit tired or worn out in any of the races we've done together. She's much more experienced than me and goes my pace, not hers. She was actually feeling it at this point and kept commenting that she couldn't really feel her feet very well. At the top of this section, we hit another section like the Boulder Field - more rocks to navigate. After the rocks, down we went, slowly across more rocks and mud, rocks and mud.
Soon enough, I could hear rushing water, we were getting close to the original stream crossing. We crossed it, hit the road and started running. My shoes and legs were once again clean...but not for long!
Running actually felt really, really good. I am not experienced on trails so this was pretty new to me, other than times when I just go hiking at a very slow, leisurely pace and never across trails like this! Figuring we were just back-tracking to the original start line, it was a little disappointing when we saw we weren't going back on the road, we were going through a field. A very muddy field that many, many people in front of us went through. It had been rainy/drizzly all day. We ran most of it but I started walking in some of the sections that were super muddy. Soon, it ended and we were back on the road and hit the finish line. Hit the finish line in 10 hours, 14 minutes and 37 seconds. That is not a typo. I had no idea what to expect but kind of thought we'd be more in the 8-9 (probably 9) hour range! There were still many people to come in behind us. It was a hard, rough, long day for everyone but rewarding at the end and overall, very fun! It wasn't rough until I got really, really cold and I was also tired of being soaking wet!
Made our way back to the car, grabbed our stuff and headed to the showers. The shower was just enough to get the major mud off and enough to be able to put on clean, warm clothes. Bundled up in a hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants, it was time to eat! After filling up, it was time to head home. It was a three hour drive home, a long, slow drive in the dark, rain and windy PA state roads. Back at home, I got a real shower and then curled up on the couch..
Today, I'm sore, but nothing worse than the first marathon. Would I do it again? Absolutely! I don't think I will probably do this one again simply because I've done it and there are many others to try but I'm definitely up for more ultras - good thing since I'm already signed up for two 50Ks, one of which is in 4 weeks! They should have more trails to actually run...at least I think!
I now have 4 days to rest before Ragnar PA! Let's see how this goes!