Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Finally, an update

Yes, I am still alive. And yes, I am running!

A few updates on races since I started running again in late January.

The Lost Dutchman 8k Trail Race was my first race since injury on October 31, 2009. I was originally registered for the full marathon, but was only able to run the 8k on race day. In fact, the race was the farthest I had run since November.

Event: Lost Dutchman 8k Trail Race
Date: 14 February 2010
Location: Apache Junction, AZ
Distance: 8k (4.97 miles)
Chip Time: 45:43 (9:12 pace)
Overall: 197/600
Females: 87/380
F35-39: 19/59

Riding on this happy running wave, I decided to run the Charles Harris 10k two weeks later, since I was planning to run 6 miles anyway as a 'long' run. No real expectations. I really wanted to beat my one previous 10k from May 2009 (59:11) - SUCCESS by 7 seconds! I also was hoping to go sub-59 which would squeak me into the better corral at the Peachtree Road Race if I decide to run it this year. Close but no cigar.

Event: Charles Harris 10k
Date: 27 February 2010
Location: Atlanta GA
Distance: 10k (6.2 miles)
Chip Time: 59:04 (9:31 pace)
Females: 325/587
F35-39: 45/99

I also ran the Twisted Ankle Half Marathon. This is another marathon I had registered for, but had to switch to the shorter distance. It was a very warm and humid day. The faster half marathoners were saved from the worst of the heat, but I assure you it was hot even just sitting in the grass drinking cold beers waiting for my friends to finish the full.

My #1 goal was to get to the top of Becky's Bluff (mile 4) within 60 minutes. I was at the top and out of the aid station in 49 minutes. I was feeling fantastic and on track for a 2:35 finish or better until I wiped out at mile 11ish - I know better than to check my watch while running down a steep rocky descent...

Very happy with my results! Especially since this is my first hard core race since my injury in November 2009 (with nearly 3 months off running). Just missed the age group award, but this time last year would have earned me 2nd AG so I'm still pleased considering the fast crowd and the tougher weather conditions.

Event: Twisted Ankle Half Marathon
Date: 15 May 2010
Location: James H. Sloppy Floyd State Park, Summerville, GA
Distance: 13.2 miles
Time: 2:40:09
Overall: 45/116
Females: 14/54
F35-39: 4/13

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pinhoti 100, or How ITBS led to a bad case of Buckle Envy

When GUTS first announced they would be manning the mile 23 and mile 75 aid stations at the Pinhoti 100 Endurance Run, I immediately wanted in on the action. Problem was, I was running the Chickamauga Battlefield Half Marathon the following weekend, and wanted to stay close to home for a last long run and a little R&R (and to soften the blow to the fuel budget).

Fast forward two months. After a trip to Zambia and two long runs within 24-hours of a 18+ hour flight, the ITBS in my left leg had reared its ugly head. Same leg that put me on the bench from February to May of 2008.

So... Chickamauga was now likely off the table. But I needed my fix, even if I couldn't run. So I volunteered for AS14 at the Pinhoti 100, the all night shift at mile 75.

I won't go into the details and logistics. David Ray already did a fine job of that. But volunteering gave me a true sense that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Until this past weekend, I would have thought 100 miles was impossible for a hack runner like myself. I still have a long ways to go, but I know I can do it. I've got an itch that needs to be scratched, and I figure a 100 would be an incredible 40th birthday present to my body and my soul. And the buckle a great gift to my ego.

So congratulations to all the runners, especially the GUTS runners: Roxanne, Tony, Christian (his report linked), Lane, Philip, Mike. And to all the volunteers and pacers.

After Pinhoti, I dealt myself a healthy dose of HTFU and stopped the pity-party about my IT band. Back to eating healthy and strength training.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Long overdue marathon training update

I've avoided this blog for a few weeks now, completely bummed out by a recurrence of the ITBS in my left leg, which last reared its ugly head in Feb 2008. So the training has been put on hold while I rehab with rest, ice, and the foam roller. I had a sports massage on Monday, and she pinpointed the area of inflammation.

I had an amazing experience volunteering at the GUTS aid station at mile 75 of the Pinhoti 100 this past weekend. The self-pity I've been feeling from my injury has been completely washed away after watching the runners come through the AS and through the finish. That experience deserves its own post, which is coming I promise.

I'm going to try a short run tonight. Hopefully my knee behaves and I can get this marathon training show on the road.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

M-cubed 2009

I’ve been mulling over in my mind what I want to say about this race. It was tough. It was beautiful. It was humbling. It was great running with Jason and Scott again. And it was great running with Ramon for the first time. But I really don’t remember enough about the race to put together the great reports you got from Scott and Jason. Another great report has just been posted by a fellow GUTS member, and includes lots of detail and photos (including one interesting one of me, lol).

Having run the 2nd half of the marathon course a few months ago with Scott and Jason, I was a little nervous the night before. Not because of the distance (I’ve gone up to 18 miles on trail), but because of the difficulty of the course.

The day started early, 4:45 am for the 2 hour drive to Fort Mountain in the north Georgia Mountains. It’s a pretty boring and relatively flat drive until the last 8 miles. Then you drive up. And up. And up. Up the steep windy mountain road to the park entrance.

I ran my first trail race last month, a half marathon in Tennessee. I had fun with that race, took pictures, chatted with the runners, and just got a ‘feel’ for the trail racing scene. I did okay, 1st in my age group but with only 40 runners the competition was pretty thin and I definitely did not have to work for that distinction.

But this race, I was going to ‘race’ it. No chatting. No pictures. All game. I had no time expectation, only to take this one seriously. And as always, not to faceplant.

I told Scott at the start that he and Ramon would be my rabbits. I didn’t tell Jason this, but knowing he was pacing for the full marathon my goal was to start ahead of him and not see him until he crossed the finish line.

I started too far in the back and even passing a people in the initial ‘spacing’ loop around the lake I still got stuck behind a line of people on the technical single track who were going a little slow for my taste. I lost all of them (plus some) when I breezed through the 1st aid station without stopping.

At this point I don’t remember much else about the race, the miles and the people and the scenery are all kind of jumbled in my mind. All I could do was concentrate on the trail so I wouldn’t trip and fall. I remember getting to the top of a big hill and seeing Scott and Ramon. We ran together for a little while, above the cloud line (this I do remember). To call this portion of trail single track would be generous. It was narrow and cambered and rooty and rocky, and could leave you sliding down the mountain with one mis-step. I don’t even think I said goodbye as I left Scott and Ramon at the top of the mountain, running down as quickly as possible trying to make up for time lost on the ascent. Scott and Jason posted pictures of the Tower, and the mysterious stone wall at the top of the mountain. I was so focused on the race that I did not even see these things.

I remember running through a really lovely stretch of rhododendron thicket alongside a stream. You could literally feel the richness of the soil through your feet, the ground here was so soft. I remember hearing lots of waterfalls, and lots of birds, and climbing lots of steep hills. At one point I exclaimed to the guy in front of me, ‘Is this a joke?’ This is the only time I spoke to another runner. I remember how tired my legs were, they felt like jelly, and concentrating even harder so I wouldn’t take a header. But suddenly I wouldn’t be tired at all, and the running felt easy. And then it would get hard again. Oy!

At some point in all this was a 2nd aid station (I refilled my water and grabbed a handful of M&Ms), and a 3rd fluids-only unmanned aid station (no food, because of the bears). I have no idea how far apart the aid stations were. I remember the trail crossing the infamous powerlines, which I had run a few months prior. I looked down to my right and saw the faster marathoners making their way up the hill (this is their mile 12), and looked to my left up the hill and was so glad I had decided not to run the full marathon. At some point I realized the woman in front of me and the woman behind me were running the full marathon, but even though the pressure was off we still kept our relative positions. I came up a hill to aid station 4, which was manned by clowns (creepy to me!). I thought I had nearly 2 miles left to run (GPS does not work well in the mountains), but they told me as I ran through this was mile 11 and I only had to run down the hill and around the lake. A guy passed me maybe a tenth of a mile from the finish, he probably didn’t want some chick beating him but I didn’t have the energy to chase him down. I finished the 12 miles in 2:40. To put that in perspective, the male marathon winner finished in 3:56 (#2 was a good 20 minutes behind him). I don't remember the female winning time, but I waited a long time to see her come through the finish. I'm curious to know how I placed, but will have to wait for official results because stupidly I forgot to look at the number on the card I was handed at the finish.

Even when I signed up for this race a few months ago, I thought the first 12 miles looked pretty easy based on the elevation chart. But having run those 12 miles, I realize that the profile looks deceptively easy when placed next to the last half of the marathon, which is truly difficult beyond belief (and left me unable to run for almost a week when I ran it a few months ago). It’s easy to gloss over the 1st 12 miles when viewing Jason’s elevation chart, so here they are all by themselves. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

I have a lot of work to do with my trail running. I’ve seen major improvements in my downhill running, but my uphill leaves something to be desired. This is where I lost the majority of my time. But I’m pretty impressed with myself, considering I’ve only been doing this since March.

When I told Jason how I didn’t even see the Tower or the mysterious stone wall, he told me I must have had ‘Gazelle Intensity’. That describes exactly how I felt while running, completely focused on the task at hand. About the only way I would have seen a bear is if it had walked out on the trail in front of me, and even then I think I would have hurdled right over it.

Now that I’ve written the report, I guess I do remember a lot about the race. But as Scott remarked, it was all in a dream state. This is a very mystical place to run, and I hope to return in a few weeks with a camera for a fun relaxed run. As for the actual race, I will definitely be coming back for more next year – this could very well become an annual tradition.

Monday, October 12, 2009

And so it begins

Training for my first marathon started today. Lost Dutchman on February 14th, just outside of Phoenix. I'm very excited, and with a long run of 18 miles under my belt I'm feeling pretty well prepared to start a strong training cycle. I'm terrible at following training plans, but as of today am loosely following Hudson's Marathon 2 schedule found as an appendix in his book 'Run Faster'.

Six miles easy, with a 10 second steep hill sprint at the end.

Did I mention I ran a tough 12 mile trail race yesterday? Yep, the Mystery Mountain 12 miler at Fort Mountain State Park. I did well (and wow was it a blast!), but why am I not sore today? Guess I didn't leave it all on the course. I need to write a race report.