Thursday, December 31, 2009

How Did I Do?

Time for the obligatory look back at 2009 and see how well I did in achieving the goals I set for myself a year ago. Surprisingly I accomplished very few of them. That's not to say my year hasn't been a success, though. It just means that it took a turn that I did not expect!

Here are the goals from a year ago and how I did.

Run the marathon that I trained for and finish it strong enough that I want to run another one.

Train for and run a second marathon.
-Did that too, although this one was almost 40 minutes slower than my first one.

Log at least 2000 miles.
-Checked that one off, too. I ran a grand total of 2146 miles.

Run a sub 30 minute 5K.
-I came close, ran a 31:05 AND placed first in my AG (only one in my age group)

Run a sub 60 minute 10K.
-Didn't even run a 10K this year, probably because I ran 5 ultras instead.

Stay injury free.

Lose 10 pounds.
-Nope, but I didn't gain any weight, either.

As you can see, I did pretty well meeting my goals, but my running took a turn towards the darkside of running ultras, something I did not anticipate at all, but a turn I'm glad I took.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Treat For My Readers

Since I am in the home state of Gayla Peevey, I am sharing my favoritest Christmas song. Enjoy!

Also, I finally got a hippopotamus for Christmas this year. My mom sent me a blue webkinz one :)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Maybe I Don't Suck

The last couple of weeks have not been good training weeks. Especially my long runs. Every time I run longer than 2.5 to 3 hours, I end up having to take walk breaks. This was not looking good for attempting a 4:45 marathon in Arizona in January. Then today I decided to do Yasso 880s. Basically Yasso 880s are half mile intervals at your goal marathon time. In other words, since my goal is a 4:45 marathon, I should run my half mile intervals in 4 minutes 45 seconds, or a 9:30 pace. I planned on doing 10 of them, but I had a back-up failure plan of backing off the pace if I needed to. I warmed up for a mile, then started. Since it was about 20 degrees outside, I did these on the treadmill. The first couple almost seemed easy, and even after 6 or so, I was still going strong. I finished the last of them at the same 6.3 mph on the treadmill and then finished at an easy run pace for a total of ten miles. A very successful workout that tells me one of two things. Either I don't suck as much as I thought I did, or the treadmill wasn't calibrated correctly. Either way, I still need to get in a couple of good, solid long runs in the next couple of weeks in order to meet my goal.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What Was That?

Either I ate something bad, or I had a some sort of stomach flu bug. Last night I woke up at 2:30 AM feeling terrible. I was drenched in a cold sweat, my stomach hurt, I was nauseous, and my bed was spinning like I had a three martini midnight snack. I managed to stagger to the bathroom where I spent about 30 minutes, and made it back to bed. This morning I was feeling better, but it was obvious my planned long run was not going to happen today. But then I got to thinking. I've read a lot of 100 mile race reports and talked to a couple of 100 mile veterans. There will be a 99.9% chance that at some time during my 100 mile run attempt next year, something will go wrong. It may be blisters, it may be muscle cramps, it may be fatigue, it may be nausea, but at some point, I'll have to make myself continue when either my mind or body is telling me to quit. So, I decided today would be a perfect time to make myself run while not feeling 100%. The run totally sucked, but I did it. My pace was slower than my slow run pace while my heartrate was faster than my tempo heartrate. However, I managed to slog 4.11 miles in 50 minutes. I'd like to report that the run made me feel better, it didn't, but at least it didn't make me feel any worse. Tomorrow, the long run is back on the schedule.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I did it, met another one of my goals. With my run this morning, I now have a grand total of 2005 miles for the year, and there are still three weeks of running left. The bad news is, this was the view for my 2000th mile.

I'm in Wichita, KS and the windchill is a bone-numbing MINUS 2 degrees. I have to pack four days worth of stuff in one rollie bag for my trips and that doesn't leave much room for cold weather running gear. Not that I would have run in this cold even if I had a parka, snow boots, and full face mask with me!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pine Mountain 40 Volunteer Report

Yesterday I got to spend some time freezing my buns off and cheering about 100 runners making their way through the trails at the FDR State Park near Pine Mountain, Georgia. I do have to say, volunteering at an ultra run is as much fun as running one (minus the endorphin rush of course). I got a really cool fleece cap, got to eat good quality junk food and awesome chili, got to cheer on some amazing runners, and soaked up as much ultra running information as I could from very experienced people.

There were four of us working the Rocky Point aid station which was the 17.5 and 24.5 mile point for the runners. Our supplies had been delivered earlier, so we just spread out the bounty and then waited for the runners to arrive. My job was to write down the times that runners arrived and to take pictures with my IPhone. While waiting, I got to talk to Mike who has run several 100 mile races. I soaked up as much information as I could and added another "easy" race to my list of possibles for my 100 mile attempt next year. So far the list includes Lean Horse, Heartland, Javelina Jundred, and now Burning River.

Soon the runners started arriving. Since the leaves had fallen already (and were covering the numerous rocks and roots) we could see them approaching from 100 yards away. We gave them welcoming whoops, then saw to their needs and sent them on their way. Most looked great, but there were a lot of bloody knees and more than one twisted ankle, but all them continued through our station. Apparently there were some stream crossings on the loop that went out to the TV tower and returned seven miles later. The first couple runners complained about the 4 stream crossings, but that increased every time someone came through, I think we reached a high of 20 stream crossing by the time the last runner returned. Kind of amazing what ultra running does to math skills.

Another thing I noticed was that no matter how bad someone looks, there is no telling when they will get a second wind. We had one dude come through that looked like death warmed over, just a few minutes ahead of cutoff. But, his spirits were good and he was quickly on his way. Later after we shut down the aid station and headed for the finish line, we got to see him finish well ahead of the cutoff and with a smile on his face. Another gal came into the station talking like she wanted to drop. She looked great and we were able to talk her out of it and she also finished under 10 hours.

I got to see some familiar faces, DavidRay, Susan, and Rob, and also got to meet some new people. This race looked like so much fun, I may have to run it next year. That is getting to be a problem, so many fun races, so little time, a wonderful problem to have.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Sioux Falls Falls

Or are they called the Falls of Sioux? At any rate, its another day and another chance to run in a runner friendly place. I started out heading north to see the falls that Sioux Falls, SD is named for, took a picture, and then ran south along the river. This day was planned to be a short easy run, but I came very close to changing plans and making it my long run, since I was told the path goes all around the city for 19 miles. I did stick with the plan though, and did 3.64 miles in 40 minutes. With all this fabulous fall weather I'm having a difficult time running slow, my easy days should be at a pace of 11:30 to 12:00 miles, but I'm finding myself running 11:00 miles. Here are the pictures I took on my run today.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Who Knew?

I'm in Tulsa, OK today and went for a little run. The gal at the front desk said there was a running path along the river that was a couple of blocks away. Who knew that Tulsa was such an exercise friendly city? There were actually TWO paved paths along the river, one for runners and walkers and one for bicyclists. No worries about getting run over. Also, on part of the trail, there was a lane of fine gravel to run on if you didn't want to run on asphalt, and lots of grass on either side if you wanted an even softer surface. I ended up doing a little over 7 miles and was pleased with my splits when I downloaded them, each mile was faster than the one before!
Mile 1 11:37
Mile 2 11:15
Mile 3 11:12
Mile 4 11:03
Mile 5 10:48
Mile 6 10:46
Mile 7 10:35
I think it helped just a little bit that I had a 15 mph tailwind on the way back.

Here's a picture of where I ran, the path on the right is for bicyclists, the one to the left for runners. You can see the gravel lane to the left of the running path. Also, you can see a statue of a running dude in the middle.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Peachtree City 50K Race Report

When I ran the Darkside 8 hour run in May, my prize for placing 2nd female was $20 off the entry for this race, so obviously I HAD to run it. That and the fact that it is just 10 miles from where I live and the site of most of my long runs, there was no way I wouldn't run this race.

The course is run on paved golf cart paths in Peachtree City. There are no hills, no roots, no rocks, just a pretty run through the woods. A perfect venue to attempt a PR.

Race morning was perfect. Temperatures were in the upper 30's and forecast to get into the low 70's with not a cloud in the sky and low humidity. I was surprised to see a pretty large crowd. There were about 40 runners doing the 50K and about 40 runners doing the 25K and about 10 who were already out on the golf cart paths having taken advantage of the early start option. Race Director Scott Ludwig gave us our instructions (follow the yellow chalk arrows) and at 7:30 AM we were off.

Since it was a little chilly, I started out with a long sleeved shirt over my short sleeved one and a pair of gloves. I quickly settled into my slow pace (walking 1 minute out of every 10). There was one race walker dude that zipped by me like I was standing still (he also looked to be in his 60s). I know the term for when I zip by a guy is that I chicked him, and when I zip by a younger guy I cougared him; but what is it called when an older gentleman zips by me walking? I'm going with polar beared until someone comes up with something better.

There were two aid stations on the 5.18 mile loop stocked with water, gatorade, animal crackers, pringles, pretzels, etc. I was using a handheld water bottle, so I filled up every other aid station and grabbed a handful of whatever looked appetizing at the time.

After the first lap, the temperatures warmed up, so I dropped off my gloves and long sleeved shirt at the start/finish/aid station and was on my way for the second lap. On this lap I caught up with race walking dude and I told him it wasn't fair that his walk was faster than my run. He was doing the 25K option and was hoping some day to work his way up to race walking a 50K.

My laps were very consistent, after the first two laps, I extended my walking breaks to 1.5 minutes out of every 10, and I was still completing a lap in about 1:01 to 1:02. The two leading guys each lapped me twice. On the fourth lap, Team Beth zipped by me. Finally, I was on the last lap and still holding my pace. I crossed the finish line in 6:13:14, a PR by over 24 minutes and my 5th ultra finish this year. Also good for 37th place out of 41 finishers. I really like the 50K distance, but I want to try for more next year.

If you are looking for a fast, no-frills 50K, this is the race for you. Lots of friendly people out having a good time Sunday morning/afternoon.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fabulous Fall Weather = Fantastic Fast Times

The plan was for a nice easy 90 minute run along the same golf cart paths that I will be running on Sunday during the Peachtree City 50K. After the first mile, the 65 degree temperature, the low humidity, the clear blue sky, the leaves committing suicide, and the smell of pine needles all combined to make my pace faster than planned. Rather than slowing down, I decided to go with it. I pushed a bit on the uphill inclines and let myself fly on the slight downhill sections. What had been planned as an easy run turned into a nice little 8 mile tempo run at an 11:00 pace. Boy, I love fall running!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thinking Out Loud

I took a glance at my goals for this year a couple of days ago and was surprised to see that I've accomplished very few of them. My running has taken on a whole new direction and one that I'm very happy about. Instead of setting PR's in the 5K and 10K (I haven't run any 10Ks and only one 5K) I've joined the darkside. There is no way I imagined I would be running 5 ultras in one year.

So, this got me thinking about next year. I'm going to type this out loud. I'm thinking of running 100 miles. ONE HUNDRED MILES. Not in a month, not even in a week, but in a little more than a day.

I've come up with a very preliminary route to get there. I'll be running the 50 mile option at Umstead in March. Then maybe the 24 hour FANS run in Minnesota in June. If I'm able to get in 70-80 miles without killing myself, I'll look for an "easy" 100 mile race for my debut. I definitely want to pick one out while I'm NOT drinking wine. So, I'm looking at races between August and October. Lean Horse is one of the options, as is the Javelina Jundred (although I noticed a 50% DNF rate at that one).

If anyone has any other ideas, please leave them in the comments.

Monday, October 26, 2009

An Easy 20

Ok, it was an easy 15 followed by a not too difficult 5, but one year ago I would never have imagined using the qualifier "easy" in front of a 20 mile run. I am slowly becoming what back then I thought of as one of "those" runners. Of course if you believed the runners quoted in last weeks NY Times, I am one of the people ruining the marathon. Hey, I train just as hard for my marathons as any middle of the pack runners. I do long runs, tempo runs, intervals on the track, and hill repeats. But since I have not been blessed with fast genes (my brother managed to get all those), my time is a "joke" and I don't deserve a finishers medal or T-shirt. That article really got me steamed up, even though I know it shouldn't. The plus side is, I saw one letter to the editor that I really got a kick out of:

To the Sports Editor:

I couldn’t agree more with the women’s cross-country coach Adrienne Wald, who said, “It’s a joke to run a marathon” in six or more hours.

In 2007, at age 70, I completed my 32nd marathon. I take great pride in telling people I did it in 2 hours 245 minutes 28 seconds.

Peter H. Reader

Portland, Ore.

That definitely put a smile on my face. I guess there is a reason I've done 4 ultras this year and only 2 marathons. Ultra runners are much more all inclusive and welcoming. Although I do wonder how many hundreds of marathoners the writer had to interview to find the two elitist snobs that were willing to have their remarks quoted. I've only run across one jerk in real life who said after I told him my time of 4:58, "oh, you took your time, then." Of course I athlinked his ass when I got home and saw that he had only run one marathon and his time was 4:38 and he was 24 years younger than me at the time.

Wow, this post had a lot more ranting than I had intended, but at least now I can concentrate my efforts on my next event. The Peachtree City 50K in less than two weeks!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cumberland Trail 50K Race Report

This year has been a year of firsts for me. (Not bad for a 50 year old!) Every time I accomplish a new challenging task, I think, it can't get any better than this. My first marathon, my first ultra, my first 8 hour run. This race did not disappoint either. It was my first trail ultra, I was expecting to be tested both physically and mentally, and I was. And when I crossed the finish line, once again the thought that crossed my mind was, "It doesn't get any better than this!"

When I got to the race start it was dark with a light rain. Susan Donnelly gave us last minute instructions, lined us up behind the bicycle that would lead us down the paved path to the actual trail part of the course and we were off. I quickly established myself at the very back and settled into an easy pace. Within a mile we were on single track and starting our way on the Cumberland Trail. I think that running in the dark with a headlamp actually helped me out. I couldn't see far enough ahead to see the massive climb. All I could see was the next several yards, and anyone can climb 10 yards. After about 45 minutes I could hear the workers at the first aid station cheering, they could see my headlamp working its way up. The aid station workers were all fantastic, I think the volunteers at this race outnumbered the runners.

The next section was the steep climb up Cross Mountain. As it was still pretty dark, I didn't feel overwhelmed by the 2000' climb in the next 2.5 miles. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I remember a lot of rocks stairs, log stairs, slipping, and my glasses fogging up. One interesting side note, in these conditions my glasses were a very effective heart rate monitor. Every time my heart rate got above 160, my glasses would fog up. This section took me about 1 hour and 15 minutes, and boy was I glad to get to the top.

The next section was listed as 1.6 miles, but I think it was a little bit longer. I don't remember much and it took me about 33 minutes.

Now we come to what I call the middle section. It was 6.5 miles between aid stations. Initially downhill with some runnable sections, stream crossings, technical running. Then it was uphill and we turned off the single track on to an ATV trail that climbed the second major climb of the course. There were several runnable sections, but I found that my lack of trail running held me back. I was very tentative, especially on the downhill sections where I could have made up some time. It was on this section that I added about a mile to my run. The trail came down to a stream, then turned left to cross the stream. I failed to make the left turn and continued straight ahead. I was now on what I think was a jeep trail that was very flat and fast. I remember thinking about all the time I was making up flying down the road. After about 5 minutes, I started thinking, "wait a minute, I think this is too easy". I looked for trail markings (the trail was very well marked, I don't think you could go more than 50 yards without seeing some kind of marking) and didn't see any. Then I looked down for muddy foot prints (I was at the very back, remember, and there were always muddy foot prints to follow) and didn't see any. Oh crap, I missed a turn. I got out the course description that I was carrying with me, nope, this wasn't on the course description. So, I turned around and ran back. When I got to where I went wrong, I saw that not only did I miss about 4 red streamers and flags, I also crawled over not one, but TWO logs that were placed across the wrong way that I went. So, I crossed the stream and continued on my way. I almost started beating myself up about the lost time, but then I said to myself, "hey, look at the bright side, the way back is going to be one mile shorter!" I was about halfway through this middle section when the winner, Byron Backer came racing down the trail. I think his DNA should be tested, because I think he is part mountain goat. He won with an incredible time of 5:26. As I moved up the ATV trail, I started to see the other runners coming down, and by this time I was asking variations of the question, "Am I there yet?" Finally I could see the heads of the aid station workers about 30 feet directly above me, I remember thinking of asking them to lower a rope to help me climb the last bit to the aid station. This middle section took me over 2 hours. I guess I did cause some consternation while I was on my little detour. Sweeper Rob had passed me while I was off course, so when he arrived at this aid station and I hadn't been through yet, they started wondering what had happened to me. So when I arrived, I could hear shouts of "She's Here!"

Finally we got some "rest" from the technical up and down workout. This next section was on a gravel road and then through a meadow to the turnaround point. Near the turnaround was the highlight of the run. A huge mama elk was in the meadow for the entire race, just standing there watching the crazy people run through her territory. I would guess I passed not more than 50 feet from where she was standing. This easy 4 mile section took about 50 minutes.

The return took me just about as long. Even though it was net downhill, my tentative inexperience running trails kept me from making up any time. There was never a time where I felt that I couldn't do it, but there was a question of how long it would take me. Sweeper Rob Apple saw me looking at my watch a couple of times and he told me not to worry about cutoff times, but I still wanted to make a good showing. Finally, I got to the paved greenway into Cove Lake State Park, and knew I would finish. I actually started choking up with emotion at this time as I looked at my watch and saw that I had been accomplishing "relentless forward motion" for more than 10 hours, longer than I had ever done before. Then at last, I saw the finish line and the crowd cheering for me! I felt a fantastic sense of accomplishment as I crossed the line (even though my finish line photo may not look like it). Susan congratulated me and handed me my finishers award, an awesome SIGG water bottle with the race logo. Then, I got not a congratulatory handshake, but a big hug.

Post race refreshments included pizza and soda and I got to talk to some very experienced ultra runners and get advice on future races and training.

All in all an awesome experience, everything I was expecting and then some.

Now, how did I do with goal accomplishment? Lets review:
1. Don't get eaten by a bear. Check
2. Don't get gnawed on by smaller mammals. Check
3. Don't get bitten by any reptiles. Check
4. Don't get shot by over-anxious hunters. Check
5. Don't get lost. I'm going with a famous historical Cumberland Trail dude by the name of Daniel Boone and say I wasn't lost, just bewildered, Check
6. Don't fall down more than 3 times. There were a few times on some steep climb places where I slipped and did a slow lowering of my center of gravity, and a couple of times I pitched forward and caught myself with my water bottle, but I never did a full velocity fall on my knees or butt, so I'm saying Check
7. Don't break any bones. Check
8. Stay hydrated and electrolyted. Check, I think this is my strong suit, I was able to eat and drink the entire 10 hours and never had any stomach issues.
9. Successfully accomplish peeing and maybe pooping in the woods. Missed this one, I didn't have to stop once for bodily functions.
10. Run (or at least shuffle fast) into the aid stations. I missed this goal at one aid station, the one that had an almost vertical climb to get to.
11. Smile at the aid stations. Check. I couldn't help but smile at the loud cheering reception I got as I approached each aid station (being the last person may have had something to do with it).
12. Thank the aid station volunteers. Check
13. Stay positive. Check. I think this is my second strongest asset.
14. Make all the cutoff times. Nope, I did make the turnaround time, but my inexperience on downhills kept me from making the next two.
15. Finish within the 10 hour time limit. Nope, although the official time limit was increased to 10.5 hours.
16. Finish with a smile. Check (even though the picture looks like a grimace, trust me, its a smile!)
17. HAVE FUN! Check, CHECK, and CHECK!

Now for everyone that has stayed with me this far, here are some pictures courtesy of Van Young and Ray Smith.

OK, I don't have the technological skills to post their pictures on my blog, but you can see them here and here. Please go take a look, the course was absolutely gorgeous.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I Did It!

I finished the Cumberland Trail 50K in 10:16. Boy that is a tough course. Although Race Director Susan is a sadist, she is a sadist with a heart of gold and presented me with my finishers award, even though I was 16 minutes past the cutoff. I accomplished 13 out of 17 of my goals, not bad for picking one doozy of an ultra for my first one. Full race report to follow.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

One Week To Go

I'm in taper mode and have extra time to think about my upcoming Cumberland Trail 50K. This run will have a lot of firsts for me. Its my first trail ultra, the first race with cutoff times to worry about, the first race where I'll need a headlamp, the first race that I'll probably finish last, and a whole lot more. I'll be the first to admit, I'm in way over my head with this race, but I'm determined to finish within the cutoff time since the race director says the finisher awards are going to be great.

So, in light of the challenges that face me, I've come up with a list of goals for my first trail 50K.

1. Don't get eaten by a bear
2. Don't get gnawed on by smaller mammals
3. Don't get bitten by any reptiles
4. Don't get shot by over-anxious hunters (It's apparently bow-hunting season)
5. Don't get lost
6. Don't fall down more than 3 times
7. Don't break any bones
Boy I sure have a lot of don'ts!
8. Stay hydrated and electrolyted
9. Successfully accomplish peeing and maybe pooping in the woods
10. Run (or at least shuffle fast) into the aid stations
11. Smile at the aid stations
12. Thank the aid station volunteers
13. Stay positive
14. Make all the cutoff times
15. Finish within the 10 hour time limit
16. Finish with a smile

And the number one goal:


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Return to Stone Mountain

I drove to Stone Mountain with every intention of kicking it's butt, however, my butt was what got kicked. My excuses are numerous: it was hotter than last time, it was more humid than last time, I was slightly dehydrated, I think I'm on the verge of overtraining, and I went up too fast during my first ascent. In fact, my first up and down time was a full two minutes faster than it was two weeks ago. But boy did I pay the price the second time up. I could tell you that the reason I stopped several times was to take some pictures, but that would be a lie. The fact is, I was totally pooped. Hopefully I learned some things from today about pacing up steep climbs that I can use in a little more than two weeks. It was also good for me to practice keeping going even when my legs felt like lead. Good thing its almost taper time, I think this is the first time I've actually looked forward to the taper.

Here are the pictures:

This doesn't look too bad, just a little hike in the woods.

Now its getting steeper.

Are we there yet?

Cheaters getting off the gondola.

The rewarding view after getting to the top. Its a little too hazy in this picture, but that's the Atlanta skyline way down below.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hill Repeats

Yesterday I ran what I thought at the time (notice the past tense) was a great hill workout. There is a half mile hill (.47 miles according to Garmin) that climbs 100 feet. My calculator says that is about a 4.0 incline. My plan was to run up twice, power walk up once, and repeat for a total of an hour and 40 minutes. I ran down the hill at a medium pace for recovery. Keep in mind that less than two years ago, I couldn't make it up this hill once without maxing out my heart rate and being forced to walk.

My times for the uphill repeats were:
5:16 (11:01 pace) (My first marathon was 11:24 pace on a flat course)
5:39 (11:47 pace)
7:31 (15:49 pace) (Power walk which was faster than the pace I'll have to maintain at my upcoming 50K)
5:26 (11:26 pace)
5:40 (11:55 pace)
7:37 (16:04 pace)
5:41 (12:01 pace)
5:37 (11:53 pace)

I did 8.57 miles total in 1:40 for an average pace of 11:40. I was very happy with the result, especially since the temperature was 80 degrees with high humidity.

Then I read my brother's race report from the Superior Trail 50 mile race he completed this weekend.

Then I got an email from Susan Donnelly who is race directing the Cumberland Trail 50K I am running in about 3 weeks. She also ran at Superior, but she ran the 100 mile option, this after running the Mont Blanc 166K a mere two weeks prior to that. I had asked her, if she happened to run into my brother, to casually mention to my brother that her race was much tougher, but to not tell me if it actually was. (You know, kind of get some sibling one-upmanship) She did look for my brother, but since they were running at different times, they never did get to meet each other. Then, apparently she forgot about the not telling me if it actually was tougher part. Here a few quotes from her email. "Believe me, your race will be a comparable challenge to his. They have an easier course." "It's going to be a small, intimate group (15 with several more possibles, only one other woman) of really good runners" (the bolding is mine). At least I've got second place female locked up!

This will definitely be my most challenging run to date. I'm looking forward with anticipation and a whole lot of trepidation. I'm working on a list of goals for this race which I will post in the future. (One of them is: Don't get eaten by a bear)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm In!

I wasn't even drinking an adult beverage at the time, but I've registered for the 50 mile option of the Umstead 100 next March. Good thing I type fast, because apparently it sold out in less than 10 minutes. This ultra thing is getting to be thing for me, even folks at work are asking about when my next crazy endeavor is. Every race I seem to try some new or more difficult, where will it end, who knows?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Now I'm Scared

Since the 50K I'm running next month promises not only hills, but mountains, I figured I better get some hill training under my belt. When I was flying last week, I noticed that Stone Mountain (the world's largest 2nd place trophy) looked pretty vertical and wondered if there were any trails up it. So, I checked it out on the internet and sure enough, there was a trail that went all the way to the top. From the website, it looked to be a little over a mile with about 600' of elevation gain. From what I've learned about the Cumberland Trail 50K, the climb up Cross Mountain is 1900' of elevation gain, three times the Stone Mountain climb!

This morning the weather looked good, so I decided to drive up there and give power hiking up a mountain a try. First I had to battle Atlanta morning rush hour traffic. I finally arrived and decided I would go up and down the mountain three times. That would give me a total climb equal to the first climb on my 50K. The first part wasn't too bad, and I easily maintained the 19:20 pace that I'll have to average to make the time cutoffs. However, the trail quickly became more technical with rocks and roots, and then became very steep. There is one section that is so steep, they have handrails to hold on to. I didn't use them on the way up, but I did use them on the way down to keep from falling. The first time up took me 23:28 and was at a 22:15 pace with 680' of climb. The trip down wasn't a whole lot faster, since it was too technical, too steep, or both to get going very fast. The downhill took me 17:53 which was a 17:17 pace. Second time up was 23:27 pace and down was 17:42 pace. Third time, I went only 3/4 mile up (but it did include the steepest part) and pace was 23:38 up and 17:38 down. Overall I covered 5.65 miles in 1:54:44 for a 20:18 pace.

Here's where the scary part comes in. I have to cover 31 miles in 10 hours which is the aforementioned 19:21 pace. As you can see, my average pace this morning was about a minute slower. I'm hoping that there will be some runnable sections on the course to make up some time, because if it is all technical ups and downs, I'm going to be in big trouble! I plan on doing this at least one more time in the next month, along with the little ups and downs in my neighborhood.

For anyone interested here is what Mr Garmin said my run looked like:

Oh, and next time I'll try to remember my camera, the views from the top of the mountain were incredible.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Great Track Workout Today

My very first interval workout on the track was about 6 weeks ago and I was very happy with it. My assignment then was 8 x 400 at 2:21 per interval. I ended up doing them in about 2:13. This time coach made things tougher. My assignment was 3 x 400, 2 x 800, 3 x 400. My plan was to run the 400s in under 2:15 and the 800s in under 4:40.

The weather this time was perfect, 60 degrees, it almost felt chilly after the hot days we've been having. I ran 1.5 miles at a 12:00+ pace as a warmup, and then got down to business.

1st 400: 2:08.5 (ut oh, I'm starting out too fast, I'll be dead by the time I finish)
2nd 400: 2:09.5 (ok, a little slower, but I still need to slow down more)
3rd 400: 2:07.2 (no! I said slow down, and now I have the dreaded 800s to do)
1st 800: 4:27.7 (boy, that hurt, and I'm still faster than I planned)
2nd 800: 4:30.4 (little closer to my planned pace, now all I have left are 3 easy peasy 400s)
4th 400: 2:09.6 (maybe I really am faster than I was a month ago)
5th 400: 2:06.5 (only one lap to go, maybe I can run it under 2:00?)
6th 400: 1:53.9 (yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I finished up with about 4 miles at about 11:30ish pace for a total of 8.7 miles in 1:40. Grade for this workout an A+!

On a final note did anyone see the IAAF men's marathon on Saturday. The number 2 guy really impressed me. He manage to puke and maintain his 5ish minute mile pace at the same time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What Did I Do Now?

I have read in other people's blogs about signing up for races after having a few adult beverages and I never thought it would happen to me. Well, never say never. I had a very long and tiring work week and was relaxing with some wine. Then I started catching up on some blogs and saw that veteran ultra runner Susan Donnelly was going to be race directing the inaugural Cumberland Trail 50K in Tennessee. I remember thinking, wow, that looks to be challenging, maybe I should sign up and run that. The next thing I knew, I was clicking on the "submit" button and I was entered!

Now in the light of day, I'm looking at more of the details. The course description contains words like rock staircase, switchbacks, 1900' climb, and stream crossing. What have I gotten myself into? I'm going to plan to "run" this as more of a power hike outing with occasional bits of running, unlike my previous ultras which were running interspersed with walk breaks. There is a time limit of 10 hours, which I should be able to do.

Now I'm off to run some hills to get in shape!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tough Workout

This week I was expecting to have a tempo run assignment from my coach, but he decided to mix it up a bit. Instead of a 4 mile tempo run, he suggested "spicing things up a bit" and run one mile at recovery pace, one mile at tempo pace, and repeat that four times for a total of eight miles. I was going to be in Flint, MI for my tempo run day, and there is a cemetery near our hotel that has a flat one mile loop, perfect for my run. Unfortunately our company changed hotels that we use. I researched the new hotel online and saw that it was within one block of the Flint River Trail. The website had pictures of smiling runners and families on bikes, and I thought, perfect! I should have known that what looks good on the internet isn't always the same in real life. The first 3/4 mile was as advertised, but then the path crossed a very busy road with no crosswalk. Then, about 1/4 mile after that, the neighborhood became bad, bad, very bad. We're talking burned out, boarded up buildings, two-toned cadillac pimpmobiles, and lots of gang graffiti. Then, I saw that the trail went under the Interstate bridge, a perfect hiding place for someone wanting to use my IPhone and Garmin to finance their drug habit. I quickly turned around and picked up my pace. For the rest of my run, I just ran back and forth along the safe 3/4 mile stretch.

As far as the run itself goes, I'm giving myself a solid C. For me, recovery pace is 12:00 miles, and a good tempo run pace for 4 miles is 10:30. The weather was a little warm, 80 degrees, with high humidity and no breeze. Here's how I did:

Mile 1 - 11:56
Mile 2 - 10:24
Mile 3 - 12:00
Mile 4 - 10:24
Mile 5 - 12:13 (heat is starting to get to me)
Mile 6 - 10:34
Mile 7 - 12:17
Mile 8 - First half mile in 5:22, then I died and walked the last half mile in 8:00

Can't wait to see what coach has in store for me next week!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I guess that 8 hour run took more out of me than I thought. That and I was fighting off a head cold last week. However, I'm back to normal again and training for my next race, the Darkside Peachtree City 50K on November 8th. This race is run on the golfcart paths in Peachtree City. It looks like they had 31 runners last year, so it should be a small fun race.

Mr. Garmin has returned from intensive care in Olathe, Kansas. For anyone with a dead Garmin that is outside it's warranty, I highly recommend their repair program. It cost me $79 and I basically got back a good-as-new Garmin 305 in less than two weeks. I think they also put in new guts because it seems to grab satellites about twice as fast as my old one did.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hot 2 Trot Race Report

Yes it was hot as advertised, but what a great event. I got there about 30 minutes early, and signed in and got my race number. Instead of the standard T-shirt, we got towels with the race logo printed on them. I actually used the towel during the race to wipe the sweat off my face, it really came in handy. Then I went back to my car, put foot potion on my feet and my number on my shirt. I also got to talk a bit with DavidRay and met Christian who was celebrating his 37th birthday and was planning on running at least 37 miles. Race director Sarah gave us final instructions (number one rule was "don't die"), we walked up the street about a block so the field of 50 runners would have time to spread out a bit, and then we were off.

It was a beautiful course and the trail was in perfect condition. Just wet enough to be soft, but not so wet as to be muddy. There was a boardwalk section that was slippery early in the day, and one "hill". I'm exaggerating when I say it was 20 feet high, but it was a good excuse to walk for a bit. The 1.12 mile loop actually seemed to get shorter with each lap for about the first four hours, but for me, one section that got longer each lap was the 2 block stretch on the street just prior to the lap counting station and the awesome lap counters. The fully stocked aid station was right after that and "Cold Water Dude" made sure everyone kept their water bottles filled.

I saw some people out on the trail that I had run with during the Darkside 8 Hour run. One gal was Karen who was running this as a training run for the Lean Horse 100 mile run later this month. I also saw Tom on the course, when I talked to him for a bit, he was hoping to cover at least 26.2 miles which would give him 301 marathons or greater. (I checked the results and he did reach 26.79 miles, even though he hadn't run since memorial day due to an illness!) I also ran a lap with fellow blogger DavidRay, check out his race report here, he always has an awesome report with great pictures.

As far as my race went, I don't think it could have gone any better. As disappointed as I was with my effort at Grandma's marathon, take the inverse of that, and that's as happy with my effort on Saturday. I started out slow running 8.5 minutes and walking 1.5 minutes. My plan was to maintain that for 4 hours and then add more walking for the last 4 hours. I actually was able to maintain my original pace for 6 hours and then went with 3.5 minutes running and 1.5 minutes walking. The hydration, electrolytation (yes its a new word I invented) and nutrition all went very well. I carried a water bottle and took a swallow or two every 10 minutes, took an S-cap every 40 minutes the first 4 hours and every 30 minutes the last 4 hours, ate something about every hour (the boiled potatoes dipped in salt seemed to hit the spot, plus I had a total of about 3 Oreo cookies), and had a cup of Gatorade about every hour. The last 3 hours, I substituted Coke for the Gatorade and that seemed to hit the spot. I had absolutely no cramping, sore legs, swollen hands, or anything else that one expects during an ultra. The only problem that came up was that after the race when I took my shoes and socks off, I noticed that two toenails were casulties. Somehow, I managed to get blisters UNDER the toenails. (no I won't show pictures, but if you google blister under toenail you'll see pictures that look exactly like my toes) After the race we had grilled hamburgers and leftover aid station goodies.

There were some very speedy people out on the trail. One gal (who I'm sure was less than half my age) named Kate seemed to lap me almost every lap. She managed to run more miles than the old male course record and covered an amazing 52.46 miles. Two guys ran 48 laps, setting a new male course record of 53.57 miles. As for me, I ran 30 laps for a total of 33.48 miles. I ran 16 laps the first 4 hours and 14 laps the last 4 hours. So I was very consistent and didn't slow down much at all. The heat acclimation runs the previous weeks really helped me, and I felt 100% better than I did during my last race.

Finally I want to leave you with a video that Rahn made of the hundred of pictures he took during the race. When you see a person with a white shirt and blue cap zip by, that's me. The best place to see me is around the 2:45 mark.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Hot To Trot Scouting Report

There are no running specialty stores down where I live, so normally I drive up to Atlanta to the Big Peach Running Company to try on new shoes about once a year. I noticed on the web site that they also had a store in Decatur which is where the Hot To Trot run will be tomorrow. So....I killed two birds with one stone. I got some new shoes (New Balance 1062) and then drove out to the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve to get a sneak peek at the terrain.

It looks to be a fairly tame course, mostly covered with wood chips, but with the potential to be muddy after 50 pairs of feet run over it 30-40 times. There are no big hills, but there are some ups and downs. There are also some places with roots and rocks to navigate. The path we'll take tomorrow wasn't marked, but I did take some representative pictures.

It also felt like it could be very mosquitoey, so my bug spray is already in the car.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

No New 310XT

I had been hoping to be sporting the new Garmin 310XT by now, but alas, it was not to be. When I ordered it from Amazon, I was given an approximate shipping date of July 24th. Well July 24th came, and I checked my email 2-3 times (ok, it was closer to 10) hoping to get notification that my new best friend had been shipped and was on its way. Finally on the 25th, I got an email from Amazon. They had to back order it and it wouldn't ship until the middle of SEPTEMBER! So, it was time for option #2, rescusitate the original Mr Garmin. So, that's where I'm at now, Mr Garmin is in Kansas getting new innards and I'm running with a bare wrist. Its been difficult for me trying to train without knowing my heart rate. I would say I use the heart rate part of the watch for 75% of my information and the time/distance/pace part for about 25% of my information. Guess I'll just have to use the tried and true "talk test" for the Hot To Trot 8 Hour run on Saturday.

As far as training goes, I was able to get in a 4 hour and a 3 hour run/walk the last 2 weekends. For me, a ratio of 8.5 minutes running/1.5 minutes walking keeps me going for the longest time. So I will be starting with that on Saturday. I'm really looking forward to it, looks like there is a good chance for rain, so I'll probably wear shoes that are coming up on retirement mileage.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Streak Has Ended

I took a day off today. At first I felt bad about it, but now I'm telling myself I deserved it. I have run at least 30 minutes every day since the Grandma's Marathon Massacre. That adds up to 31 days and 221 miles. It also includes my very first interval session on the track and a 4 hour run in the middle of the day. So, yes, I do deserve a day off.

Its official, I am a Marathon Maniac. I finally submitted my times (and membership dues) and have been accepted as Maniac #1723. I did not order the signature singlet, though. I'm just not a singlet wearing kind of gal. I would order a tech T-shirt with the logo, but they don't offer those. Perhaps I'll just get the hat.

Finally, I was hoping to get Mr Garmin, II (I've got to come up with a new name) by Friday, but I rechecked my order and Friday is the estimated shipping date. Of course I went with the free shipping which means it will probably be another 10 days or so before he is on my wrist. At least I've gotten to the point where I'm only checking my wrist 2-3 times during a run to see if my heart is still beating.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

RIP Mr Garmin

My Garmin Forerunner 305 decided to die this week. I've perused the internet and called technical support and he is morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably, and reliably DEAD. (Yes, I called the Munchkin Coroner to make sure) I had two options - since it was out of warranty, I could send it in and for $79, Garmin would either fix it or send me a refurbished one. The other option was to buy a new 310XT that is waterproof, lasts up to 20 hours between charges, picks up satellites faster, and looks cooler. Guess what option I picked? That's right, a brand new Garmin 310XT will be on my wrist probably by Friday. I ordered it from, got free shipping and I don't have to pay sales tax. I'll let you guys know how much I love it as soon as I take it on a test run or two.

As far as training goes, its been going very well. I really like my coach, even though I think he's a little too easy on me, but I'm sure things will pick up as I get closer to my goal race in January. Today I ran 4 hours, and I ran between 10 AM and 2 PM in hopes of getting in some heat acclimation in preparation for the Hot To Trot 8 Hour run in two weeks. Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate. It only got up to 80 degrees by the end of the run and the dew point was in the low 60s. Certainly not an ordinary July day in Joja. Next week I hit the track again for another speed workout.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Name Change?

This morning I did my very first ever interval workout on the track. I have done intervals on the treadmill, but this is the first time I've done this on a 400 meter track. Its a little bit harder maintaining a steady pace without a giant rubber band forcing you to keep its pace.

I set my alarm so I could be out at the track before it got too hot. I managed to get out there at 7:00 AM and there were eleven other runners out there! Most of them had gotten up even earlier than me and all but a few were finished before I even completed my 1.5 mile warmup.

I have recruited my brother (Mr Sub Three Hour Man, or MSTHM for short) to be my coach, and he assigned me 8 x 400 at a 2:21 per interval with a 60-90 second recovery. My plan was to shoot for 2:15 to 2:21. After my 6 lap warmup at a 12:00 min/mile pace, I started my intervals. If I do say so myself, I think they went very well. Here are the times for the eight intervals.

2:14.00 Avg HR 152
2:15.32 149
2:13.90 151
2:13.72 152
2:12.75 154
2:14.55 154
2:14.41 155
2:02.73 160

My brother told me that consistency is the key, and I think I did very well on that, but I did kick it up a notch on the last one. Overall, I'm giving myself an A on my first interval session. I finished up with a little over 4 miles at an 11:45/mile pace.

If I keep this up, I may have to change my name from Jogger to Runner!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

No Badwater For Me!

The Badwater Ultra Run is just 10 days away. This 135 mile race starts in Death Valley (often with temperatures up to 130 degrees) and ends at an elevation of 8360' at the Mt Whitney Portal. The last few weeks I have been trying to run at least one run per week in the middle of the day in an attempt to acclimatize myself for the Hot to Trot 8 Hour Run in August. I have found that my body essentially turns itself off when the temperature reaches about 85 degrees. No matter how slowly I try to run, my heart rate zooms up above 160 which for me is the danger zone. I still have over four weeks to continue to acclimate. However, this has been enough to tell me that Badwater is not in my distant future. Good luck to all Badwater participants, I admire your tenacity (even though I think you are at least a teensy bit crazy).

Here is a chart that I forgot to include in my last blog entry. It dramatically shows my meltdown at Grandma's marathon. This chart shows my pace per mile as it deviates from my average pace (which was a little under 13:00/mile). As you can see, I was trucking along pretty well for 15 miles, just slowing slightly, then, WHAM! You can also see where I ran with the 5:30 pace group from miles 21-23. Math and graph geeks enjoy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Smackdown at Grandma's

Or, Anatomy of a Crash and Burn

On Saturday I ran the 33rd annual Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN. This was pretty close to being a last second decision. About a month ago I looked at my schedule for June and noticed that I had this weekend off. I knew my brother was training to run a PR sub 3 hour marathon and I thought it would be fun to be there for that. So, I checked the website and even though it normally sells out in a couple of weeks, there were still slots available. Disregarding the fact I had just run my first two ultras in the last 3 weeks, I signed up for the marathon with 5 weeks to go.

Training: No question about it, my training was not the best. It was a combination recovery from the ultras, maintenance, and then taper. I had planned to do one 20 mile run two weeks prior to the marathon, but I had to cut that down to 17 miles.

I arrived in Minnesota on Wednesday and spent some time visiting family. My parents are both in their 80s and are still very active. There is a 5k walking/running/biking paved trail around the lake north of town and they frequently walk there. I hope I am as active as they are in 30 years. I did two short runs on Wednesday and Thursday around the lake.

Friday was the road trip to Duluth. (or Dulute if you are a local) It was my brother, my sister-in-law, Deb (who was running her very first marathon) and myself. The 4.5 hour drive seemed to fly by as we talked about training for and running a marathon and various other topics. We arrived in Duluth between 2 and 3 pm and checked into the UMD dorms where we were staying. The hotels are outrageously expensive that weekend, and even the dorm rooms (with a bathroom down the hall) were $180 for a two night stay. We then headed over to the Expo. It was a typical big marathon expo with packet pick-up and numerous vendor booths. One thing most big marathons don't have though, is Dick Beardsley. He is the course record holder and he is also the guy who lost the Boston Marathon to Alberto Salazar in 1982 in the famous "Duel in the Sun". Dick kept us all mesmerized with his stories for a solid hour. After the motivation, we ate the pasta dinner at the expo and then headed back to the dorms. After listening to Dick talk about how he always got a room with two beds, so that even if he tossed and turned all night, at least his racing outfit got a good night's sleep, I decided to try the same thing.

Race Day: After the expected tossing and turning we fueled up, dressed up, and got on the buses to head to Two Harbors for the start. The course is run along the north shore of Lake Superior and is very scenic. The day before, the temperatures were in the 50's and we hoped conditions would be ideal for a fast race. This was not the case. The temperature at the start was already close to 70 and forecast to reach the mid to high 80's. One interesting sidenote, I was waiting in the PortaPotty line and saw someone I recognized. It was Margaret who won the Darkside 8 Hour Run in Georgia 5 weeks ago. We chatted for just a bit, amazed at how small a world the running community sometimes is. I had hoped to line up with and run with the 5:00 pace group, but the starting area was already getting packed, so I ended up between the 5:00 and 5:30 pace groups.

The Start: After the National Anthem, we were treated to a two-ship flyby of F-16s. Shortly after that, we were off. Ok, the front-runners were off. Us back of the packers started our shuffle/stop move towards the start line. After about seven minutes, we crossed the start line. At this time, the 5:00 pace balloons were about 100-200 yards ahead of me. I settled into what at the time felt like a comfortable 11:15 - 11:30 minute/mile pace. I kept the 5:00 pace group in my sights and it looked like I was gaining about 5 yards per mile. In my optimistic mind, my plan was to slowly gain on them and catch up by the 15 mile point, then stay with them until after Lemon Drop Hill, then put the hammer down and race to a PR. The plan was on track all the way until the 6 mile point.

The Fade: Between miles 6 and 7, I noticed that the balloons were getting smaller, and by mile 8, I lost sight of them. I was still feeling OK, but my heart rate which had stayed below 160 was now around 165 and my pace was in the 11:40 - 11:50 range. Not my goal pace, but with a little bit of a slowdown, I was still confident of finishing near 5 hours, maybe not a PR, but not too much slower.

The Crash: My heart rate continued its climb even with the slowdown, and by mile 15 it was above 170. I was also feeling very slightly light-headed, so I slowed way down, walking a majority of the time now. I was wearing my I-phone and it was about this time I got a text message. My brother John had just set a 7 minute PR and met his goal of a sub 3 hour marathon. Just incredible in these conditions. This gave my spirit and mind a boost, but my body had surrendered. I still had over 11 miles to go, but I had plenty of company at the back of the pack. The fans were amazing, even out away from Duluth. Some people living on the course even set up hoses on ladders for runners to run under. While I was walking, I sent a text to my brother congratulating him and telling him not to expect me until 5:15. (This was way optimistic!)

The Second Wind: I continued to mostly walk and run a little bit until about mile 21. At this time Marie, who was leading the 5:30 pace group, caught up to me. The six mile pullback had gotten my average heart rate back below 160, so I pulled in alongside with hopes of staying with the group until the end. Marie was an excellent pace leader, and they were doing a 5 minute run/1 minute walk pace. I managed to stay with the group all the way up Lemon Drop Hill and about a half mile past, but once again I was just a little ambitious, and at the end of one of the walk breaks I had to keep walking.

The Finish: By this time we were well into the city of Duluth and the crowds were incredible. Even though I was walking almost the whole time, people were cheering like I was leading the pack. With about a mile to go, my brother showed up and walked me in. We did speed up to a jog for the cameras, and I zoomed all the way up to a 12:00 mile for the final .2 miles. I finally finished in a PW (personal worst) of 5:38:49. My legs had held up fine, I had no blisters, I just didn't have it in me.

What Went Wrong: The primary reason I crashed and burned was that I was undertrained for a PR. Also, I was not fully recovered from my ultras. Another reason was that I went out too fast for the conditions. I'm convinced that if I had started out conservatively with the 5:30 pace group, I would have done much better.

What's Next: On the road trip home, I announced that I will run a 4:45 marathon at the PF Chang Rock N Roll marathon in January. To do this, I'll concentrate on training for that one race and try to do what my brother did and drop 10 pounds.

How the Rest of the Road Trip Crew Did: I've already told you about my brother's sub 3 hour effort. My sis-in-law wasn't happy with her result but she ran an amazing 4:21 in difficult conditions. Our neophyte, Deb, ran an incredible 4:28. Congrats to all.

For a report from the other side of a smackdown, check out my brother's blog here and offer him some well deserved congratulations.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Feel The Need.....

Even with the temperature at 90 degrees, the dew point at 74, and the heat index at 99, there was a good turnout for the weekly track series. I'd estimate there were over 50 kids competing and about a dozen adults. My volunteer duties consisted of being a popsicle hander outer at the finish of the kids 10 and under 50 yard dash (us big kids didn't get popsicles).

I had a successful run. The first heat was for the sub-6 minute milers, so one of my worries (being lapped not once, but twice) was greatly reduced. There were about 15 of us lined up for the second heat, and I tried not to trample any kids at the start. After about a half a lap, I settled in behind a kid that couldn't have been more than 7 years old. He ran a very consistent race, and was a good pacer for me. However, he turned up the speed on the last lap, and I couldn't hang with him. After the race, I shook his hand and thanked him for being such a good pacer.

Now for the results. Despite the heat and humidity, I ran an 8:48, meeting my first goal. Although I didn't actually puke, I felt very close to it the last half lap, so I'm counting this as a success. I ran fairly consistent splits of 2:08, 2:12, 2:15, and 2:13. My heart rate was definitely in the anaerobic zone averaging 169 for the whole mile and 177 for the last lap.

I'm going to have to try this again someday, maybe when conditions are cooler, and go for an even faster time.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Something New?

I got an email today from the running club I belong to asking for volunteers to help out at the weekly summer track series. This series lasts for six weeks and is mostly for kids, but they also have heats for adults. My plan is to show up tomorrow night to volunteer and see if I can also run the mile. I have never run a mile for time on a track, and I am very curious to see what kind of time I'll run. It'll be hot (probably close to 90 degrees), but I have two goals. The first is to see if I can run a mile in under nine minutes. The second is to approach my puke threshold. (I got the idea for my second goal from Helen) My pace for a 5k is similar to my pace for a marathon, I find it very difficult to push myself above my anaerobic threshold. I've explored the dark side of ultras, now its time to explore the world of speed (or at least my version of it). Will I achieve either one of my goals? Tune in tomorrow night.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Now What Do I Do?

After Friday's 17 mile run, I had convinced myself that there was no way I could run a PR in two weeks and that the best strategy would be to run with the 5:30 pace group. And then I have a run like today. I was in Burlington, VT and the weather was perfect. I decided to do a 1.5 hour run and take it easy. The first part of my run down to Lake Champlain included a mile long 300' descent. The whole way down, I'm thinking to myself, "this is going to be a real bear to run up after an hour and 20 minutes". Then I was on the bike paths and ran along the lake with spectacular views. I rarely looked at my Garmin, but when I did, I saw that I was running faster than marathon pace. My left brain was telling me to slow down and save my energy for the long uphill, but my right brain was telling me how beautiful it was and that I was feeling great, and that I should just keep going. I reached 45 minutes and turned around, still enjoying the scenery and seeing all the other runners, bike riders, and kids in the parks, all the while in the back of my mind I was thinking about that long long uphill finish. When I got to the start of the uphill, I slowed a little bit, but kept chugging along. I caught a couple of red lights and had to stop for maybe 10-15 seconds each time, but every time I thought about walking, I channeled my inner Jessica and kept on going. When I finally got to the hotel, I was tired, but not exceptionally so. When I downloaded my Garmin, I was amazed to find out I had actually run a negative split! Even with that monster uphill, the whole run was under my marathon pace. So, now I'm thinking that a PR might just be a possibility. Of course the conditions would have to be perfect. So, if the temperature at the start is under 50, the forecast for my finish time is under 70, no rain, overcast skies, AND a tailwind....if ALL those conditions are met, I'm going to go for a PR. If not, then I'll hang with the 5:30 pace group and have a fun time.

Now for some pictures.

Yesterday I was in Canton, OH. They have a nice rubberized running track that is about a 1.5 mile loop, but first you have to run through a kind of shady part of town.

Then there is a nice half mile gravel section.

And now on to the running track. I think this was built in the 70's because they also have exercise stations along the track.

Here is the start of my run in Burlington. You can see Lake Champlain about 1 mile away and 300 feet down.

On the way, I passed a Jazz Festival going on. After my run, I went back and enjoyed some good tunes.

A couple of views of the lake.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The People You Meet

Today I went out for my planned 20 mile run. About 1 mile into it, I caught up with a spry elderly gentleman who started running with me. We ran together for about 5-10 minutes. He asked how far I was going today, and when I told him 20 miles, he asked which marathon I was training for. (You know you're running with a runner when they assume you're training for a marathon when you mention you are doing a 20-miler.) I came to find out that several years ago (I'm going to guess about 15) he had run a 3:05 marathon at the age of 60! So now I can either say I ran with a 75-80 year old guy on my training run, or I can say that I hung with a 3:05 marathoner on my training run. I think I'll go with the second choice :)

However, I didn't make it to 20 miles, I called it quits after 17. The legs were fine, but I got a late start and the temperature got up to near 80 by the time I quit. I could have probably gutted it out for another 3 miles, but I didn't really see the point. I've already decided that a PR is out of the question for this marathon. There were two reasons I signed up for it; I want to be there to help my brother celebrate his first sub 3 hour marathon, and I want to be a Marathon Maniac. In order to do that, all I have to do is cross the finish line before they turn the clock off which is six hours. If I do my ultra pace vs my marathon pace, I should be able to finish in 5:15 to 5:30. I'm considering running with the 5:30 pace group if they are going to do walk breaks. Maybe I can help encourage some first time marathoners to keep going and cross the finish line.

Oh, and a PS to DavidRay. I am entered in the 8 Hour Hot to Trot in August! See you there.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Best Race Swag Ever!

I just got the best race swag ever in the mail. Of course they had the obligatory t-shirt and finishers medal at the race, but they also had several people taking pictures and put them all together on a DVD and mailed it to all the participants. There were hundreds and hundreds to scroll though and it was like reliving my birthday party. Here are just a few:

The starting line....if you look up the hill and to the right you can see some brown buildings. I am in one of those using the flush toilets.

Me on the course, thank you Mr Photographer for getting the much envied both feet in the air at the same time picture!

One of the awesome aid stations on the course. Don't ask me what the monkey is holding.

The well-stocked start/finish line aid station.

Me coming up to the finish line flashing my patented "five-oh" hand signal.

Race director Carl Hunt giving me my finisher's medal.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Two Ultras in Three Weeks Aftermath

You don't tug on Superman's cape
You don't spit into the wind
You don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And you don't mess around with Jim
--Jim Croce

In writing this, I feel like I might be doing all four of the above. I'm feeling surprisingly good after running my very first ultra three weeks ago, and then running my second one this last weekend and I don't want to jinx myself by telling you guys this. I took Sunday off as a rest day, then ran 4 miles yesterday and just finished 8 miles today at my marathon pace. I only had one small blister after my eight hours on Sunday, but I did have chafing in an area I never experienced it before...between my butt cheeks! What an annoying place to chafe. Oh well, another place for the Body Glide. Except I think I'll use Vaseline there.

I signed up to run Grandma's Marathon in Duluth next month. My brother and sister-in-law are going to be running it and it will also be a chance to visit with my parents for a couple of days. My brother has been training extremely hard in an attempt to run a sub-three hour marathon. Looking at his training, he should have a good shot at it if the weather cooperates.

I have no idea what kind of time to shoot for. Right now I'm thinking of running with the 5:00 pace group, but all I'm really hoping for is to finish ahead of the mop-up wagons and before they run out of beer.

My training plan for the next couple of weeks is to do 30-40 miles/week with a long run of 15 miles or three hours (whichever comes first) this week and a long run of 20 miles or four hours next week.

Oh, and I just discovered that if I do complete Grandma's, I'll meet the criteria to be a Marathon Maniac. Who knew?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Darkside 8 Hour Race Report

Any idiot can run a marathon. It takes a special kind of idiot to run an ultramarathon.
--Alan Cabelly

Which of course begs the question, What kind of idiot does it take to run an ultramarathon around a 1/4 mile track?

The answer is, a me kind of idiot!

The morning was kind of foggy and about 25-30 runners showed up. This is about double the turnout of the last couple of years. There was a wide range of runners; several running an ultra for the very first time, several who had run the Umstead 100 last month, Dave from my home state of Minnesota who was running this as a training run for a 24 hour run in a couple of weeks, a 78 year old dude who was a very fast walker, and a guy who completed his 198th marathon or greater distance race today (he's running 2 marathons in the next two weeks to make it a round 200).

Not much to say about the race itself, once you run around a 1/4 mile track, all the rest of the laps are kind of the same. The weather held out until about the 4:30 point at which time it started raining. Initially it wasn't too bad, but the intensity kept increasing until about the 5:00 point at which time it was a full-fledged thunderstorm with lightning. Scott, the race director, pulled us all off the course and we hung out under the pavilion eating cookies and swapping running stories. About an hour later, the storm moved off and it was safe to continue. The clock was stopped while we were all off the course, and then restarted with all of us at the start line again. The one hour break was both good and bad. My muscles had really stiffened up and it took a good lap of walking before I could get back to slow running. However, my heart rate, which had crept up to near 160 was back in the 145-150 range.

I had planned on running this as a two-three hour training run and evaluating my condition each hour and if I felt good I would run another hour. I ended up doing the full 8 hours and covered 37 miles. You can probably put an asterisk next to the mileage because of the one hour break, but I'm still counting it.

After every one finished we had celebration pizza and cokes, and then the award ceremony. I was completely surprised to find out that I was 2nd place female. There were several runners faster than me, but they stopped running after 25-30+ miles, either because they were training for a future ultra or recovering from a recent ultra. The prize was $20 off the entry fee to the November 50K race. Looks like there's no escaping the darkside once you cross over! The top gal, Margaret, ran 44+ miles and the top guy, Garth, ran 55+ miles.

Overall it was a great experience, I got to meet some super runners, and was very pleased with what I did.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

One of the Best Things About My Job....

is that I get to eat and run at all kinds of different places. Unfortunately most of the time, time of day, weather, or neighborhood will send me to the hotel fitness center to get in my run on the treadmill. However, this trip I had a perfect storm of overnights. The first night was in Portland, ME and I ran along the bay and over the Casco Bay bridge. The second night was in Key West, FL and I ran along the shore. The temperature was in the mid 80s and the humidity was about 120% (only a slight exaggeration) so even though I had planned on running 90 minutes, I only managed 60. This morning I was in Rock Island, IL and ran along the mighty Mississippi. Weather conditions were perfect and I was able to get in my 90 minutes. I kicked it the last mile and ran it in 9:06. That's about as fast as I've run a mile in 20 years! Here are some pictures I took during my runs.

View from the Casco Bay bridge in Portland

Old downtown Portland on the way to the bay

Beautiful Key West

One of the many bridges between Illinois and Iowa

Training for the last two weeks has been a kind of combination recovery/taper. I ran the 50k two weeks ago, and now I'm planning on doing at least part of an 8 hour run. I've run an average of 32 miles/week and although I will show up at the 8 hour run, I'm going to play it by ear. Looking at past results, about half a dozen runners use it as a catered training run, running 10, 15, 20, or 26.2 miles. The other half dozen go for the full 8 hours. Right now I'm planning on a two hour training run, but I'll be using the run/walk pace I used on my first ultra. If I still feel good, I'll add another hour, then another hour, etc. If I reach 6 hours and still feel good, then I'll make myself do the 8. The race director is Scott Ludwig. I googled him and he has quite a list of accomplishments. He's run Western States, finished 6th at Badwater in 2003, and has an unbroken running streak of over 30 years. I'm looking forward to chatting with him and with other local ultra runners and getting some training advice.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I Think I Destroyed Some Brain Cells

During my internet browsing last night I saw that there is an 8 hour endurance run in two weeks about 10 miles from my house. I am actually thinking about doing it. It is extremely low key (two years ago they had 13 runners and one of them was Taco the Wonder Dog) and low cost. Entry fee is $10 and that gets you all the water and Gatorade you can drink. All runners have to bring snacks to share in addition to the entry fee. The flyer says that you can go for the full 8 hours, or use it as a catered training run. Its not very scenic (its 1/4 mile laps around the school track), but hey, I'm a person who has run 20 miles on a treadmill. I have two weeks to come to my senses, wish me luck or sanity.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug Ultra Race Report

Beautiful Lake Waramaug

Warning, this is a long, rambling post!

The idea

A couple of months ago, after I had successfully run my very first marathon, I got the crazy idea that maybe I could do something special for my upcoming 50th birthday. Like run a 50K. So I searched the internet for a race. I had several criteria. It had to be on or within a day or two of my birthday, it couldn't have any monster hills, and it had to have a very generous cutoff time. The answer to my search was the Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug Ultra. I waited a couple of weeks to make sure this still sounded like a good idea after the euphoria of my first marathon wore off and then sent in my application.

Arrival in Connecticut

Fast forward to this weekend. I arrived in Connecticut on Saturday and spent the night in Danbury. It seemed like I was surrounded by runner karma. From the shuttle van driver who was contemplating signing up for his first 3K race to my waiter who was going to run a relay from Harvard to Yale in a couple of weeks. I managed to tell just about everyone I had contact with that I was turning 50 tomorrow and that I was celebrating it by running a 50K. I got to the hotel around 2 pm, so I drove the 25 miles or so to the race course. The countryside was beautiful and the road around the lake that I would be running on didn't seem too hilly. After my carbo load dinner, I settled in on my computer to see if I could Google any race reports. I ran across UltraBrit's blog and saw that she would be volunteering at the race. I left her a comment and then tried to get some sleep.

Race Morning

I got a fairly good night's sleep and woke up about 30 minutes before my alarm went off. I took a shower, ate some oatmeal, and checked the weather report online. Still forecast to be in the 80's. I also saw that Dane and Blaine of the Biggest Loser had run the Nashville Country Music Marathon in a time of 5:47. I got out my calculator and figured out that I would have to run a 6:50 to run at the same pace they ran the marathon in. I know, I know, I had promised myself that I had absolutely no time goals, but this time got stuck in my mind the morning of my 50K. (Side note, check out Absolut(ly) Fit's blog, she got to run the whole marathon with these guys!) I also checked my blog and saw that UltraBrit would be working the aid station with the monkey, cool, I would have a friendly face to look for! Now time was running short, so I packed my stuff, covered my body with Glide, and drove to Lake Waramaug.


Expo/Start/Finish/Aid Station

As soon as I got out of the car, I was swarmed with bugs. They weren't biting or stinging bugs, but they sure were annoying. I thought, "oh great, not only do I have to contend with heat, now I'm also going to have bugs chasing me for 31 miles". I made my way to the registration area/start line/finish line/aid station and picked up my race packet. I also checked out the aid station goodies. Besides water and gatorade that you find at a marathon, they also had salty, sugary, and chocolately goodies. Also first aid supplies like vaseline, S-caps, Ibuprophen, and one that puzzled me, Tums. I then went back to my car to put on Julie Berg's magic Foot Potion and slather myself with sunscreen. By now it was time for race director Carl Hunt's safety briefing. He described the course, told us that it was going to be hot and to stay hydrated, and mentioned that all the aid station workers were either ultra runners themselves or were related to ultra runners, and that they were well trained in lying and telling runners that they were looking good even though they weren't. I didn't look at my watch, but I figured I had enough time to use the real flush toilets about 100 yards up the hill before the start.

The Start

Oops, I guess I didn't have enough time to use the flush toilets. Apparently while I was in the bathroom, they started the race. I walked out and saw a herd of runners heading down the road. No worries, it was going to be a long day, so I walked down the hill to the start, asked if the race had already started (it had), and was on my way. Ok, now the worries start. Within a hundred yards, I felt pain in my left shin. Now, this is not an unusual pain for me, if I haven't run in two or more days, my shins almost always hurt for about 5-10 minutes and then feel fine. So, I figured that was what this was. However, only one shin hurt, and it hurt a lot more than usual. I toughed it out for about a quarter of a mile, and then slowed to a walk. I started swearing to myself. For the next mile or so I alternated walking for 2-3 minutes, jogging for a couple of dozen yards, and swearing at myself. Then I thought about DavidRay's picture of the back of his hand after an ultra. It said HTFU. You can google the definition. So, I had the following internal dialogue with myself. "Hey, its your birthday, you came here to have fun. Quit your bitching. You have 12 hours to cover 31 miles. Its a beautiful day for a walk around the lake. Quit your bitching and enjoy yourself. Appreciate the lovely day and quit your bitching!" After that I mentally turned a corner. My shin still hurt and I still could only run a couple of dozen yards at a time, but I stopped swearing at myself and started to enjoy the day. At about this time, the lead runners had reached the 2.2 mile turn around point and started running by me in the opposite direction. All offered encouraging words to this sorry looking person at the very back (remember, I started two minutes late, plus I was doing a lot of walking, so I wasn't even close to the back of the pack). I waved at all of them, and told them they were doing great, and kept on going. I reached the aid station/turn around point, refilled my water bottle, and kept doing my run/mostly walking thing. Then something amazing happened. Somewhere around the 3 mile point, as I was doing my couple of dozen yard run, I realized that my shin no longer hurt. I guess it realized that I was serious about doing this 50K thing and that trying to sabotage me wasn't doing any good. So I kept right on running. I had planned on alternating running 10 minutes with walking one minute, so I continued running for 10 minutes, then walked for a minute. I arrived at the start/stop line aid station, topped off my water bottle and was on my way. As I left, I heard someone remark to someone else "she's looking strong". I'm guessing some of the people who had seen me the first two miles had expressed some concern to the people running this aid station. Hearing that remark made me smile and feel great.

Settling In

After the out and back, we ran the 7.6 miles around the lake three times. There were 4 aid stations, so we were never more than 2.2 miles from aid. At each aid station, I looked for a monkey so I could say hi to UltraBrit, but I didn't see a monkey during my first loop. The volunteers were wonderful, everytime I came to a station they asked me, "what do you need?" Since this was my first ultra, the first couple of times I just kind of stood there as they then asked me, "do you need water, do you need ice, do you need gatorade, do you need food?" By about the third or fourth stop, I had things pretty much figured out, though. I was carrying a water bottle, and in 2 miles I would drink about 1/3 to 1/2 of it, so I just had them fill it up with ice. At the start/stop aid station, I would have them fill my fuel belt bottles with ice, and then I'd go to my drop bag and fill those up with Powerade. My favorite foods were Swedish Fish and the wonderful popsicles that were at the halfway around the lake aid station. While I was running my loops around the lake, I gradually started catching up with some people and also got lapped by people. When I caught up with someone on a walk break, I usually slowed to a walk also and chatted for a few minutes. One hard core gal had run a trail race the day before and had fallen and was sporting some pretty impressive scrapes. Although there were no rock and roll bands or scream tunnels, there was plenty of random encouragement. This loop appears to be a popular one for walkers, runners, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. Although I was running alone for the majority of the time, I got dozens of thumbs up and smiles from people enjoying the day. The second time around the lake, I asked at each aid station if Ultrabrit was working there (I still hadn't seen a monkey) and I finally got to meet her briefly and say hi. Thanks for the great work! (btw, I finally did see the monkey the 4th time through the aid station). As promised, all the aid station workers were accomplished liars, and I appreciated every single one of them.

The Finish

After the three loops, the 50K runners had to do 1.8 miles out and then back to finish up. During the last loop, I had spent several minutes thinking how I wanted my finish line photo to look. (My marathon photo looked like I was raising my arms in surrender.) I had decided I would have five outstretched fingers for my right hand and a clenched fist for my left hand, so that when you looked at me from the front, you would see a five and a zero for 50 years old and 50K. My stomach was feeling very slightly queasy and I decided to have a couple of those Tums that had puzzled me six hours earlier. I dropped off my handheld water bottle (so I could do my finish line pose) and hit the porta-potty. After I exited, I went back to the start/stop line and told them I would be back in 45-60 minutes and that they had to sing "Happy Birthday" when I crossed the finish line. (Yes, I know, shameless.) By now I was walking a lot more, but I still felt great and my heart rate was staying below 160. I hadn't looked at my splits at all since I had told myself to HTFU in the first two miles. I only looked at my Garmin to keep a watch on my heart rate and to keep me on schedule with S-caps and walk breaks. I passed 4-5 runners in the last 4 miles and was feeling good. I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face, and my five-oh sign flashing. Everyone was saying "Happy Birthday!" and I felt fantastic. These small races are great. The race director shakes your hand, thanks you for running the race, and then personally hands you your medal. I grabbed a diet coke (at which point another runner said "Diet! you don't need a DIET coke!") and grabbed a seat at a picnic table. I changed my shoes and socks (ZERO blisters thanks to drymax socks and magic Foot Potion) and watched and cheered more runners finishing the 50K or continuing on the 50 mile or 100K options.

After Thoughts and Numbers

I finished in 6:38 and actually beat my non-goal time goal. I really think that my sore shin helped me out. It forced me to start slow and not worry about time. In fact, according to Garmin, my last two miles were both faster than my second mile. In total, I spent 16 minutes stopped (at the two porta-potty stops and aid stations), 5 miles walking, and 26 miles jogging. I was able to derive this information using a program called SportTracks that downloads your information from your GPS device and then allows you to analyze that data in various ways. For example, besides the normal 1 mile splits, I could also have the program give me my 5 mile splits, 10K splits, or customizeable splits. It will also break down your time into stop, walk, jog, and run segments. Plus a lot more that I haven't gotten around to playing with yet.

Will I run another 50K? Absolutely! Do I see myself running a 50 mile or further race? Not this year!

All in all, this was about the best way I could have celebrated my birthday. Thanks Carl Hunt for putting on an awesome race, and thanks all you volunteers! And thank you readers for reading this far!