2014 Stonecat 50 Miler Race Recap

I signed up for the stone cat 50 miler way back in July… but the idea of running Stone Cat has been festering for well over a year after my first 50 miler DNF at TARC 50 that ended up being a 25 mile swim. Unfortunately the 2013 Stone Cat was the same day as the NYC marathon… So I waited again and tried another TARC 50 miler on a different course… with the same DNF result… In July, I signed up for the lottery to get into Stone Cat and got in! I wasn’t sure what to expect for a fall race since historically Fall is busy time of year for my job where I end up working most Saturdays until 10/15… However, I ended up switching jobs and for the first time in a while, I had weekends opened up to get some of the long runs I would need to get myself ready for this adventure… I can go into more about my training, but I think it warrants a post of its own since it wasn’t the most traditional of plans.

The Stone Cat 50 Miler was held on Saturday, November 8th 2013 at 6:15. The cost of the race is $85 plus fees so essentially $90. The cost to the lottery is Free and while I’m pretty sure the getting picked rate is probably around 100%, the lottery is there to relieve some of the registration stress that seems to happen with races nowadays and servers going boom on the opening hour of registration.

The week of the race I wasn’t traveling for work and unfortunately didn’t get the best rest that I would have liked… It was also that week that I started to feel pain on the side of my leg. Basically the part where my foot connects to my leg in the front. I ignored it for the most part, thinking it was maybe the hotel treadmills and me not getting enough sleep… I got home and ran on Wednesday night and felt okay. Thursday, I went for a 10K on my home treadmill and when I was done, my leg was killing me. At this point, I still thought my pain was muscular and would be gone with a good day of rest. So Friday I worked from home, icing, elevating and the whole RICE treatment hoping that my leg would be good to go by 6:15 AM Saturday.

But first there was the headlamp fiasco… I couldn’t find my old headlamp I used.. and the Fenix flashlight I usually use has had an unfortunate death with Duracell batteries refusing to remove themselves… so I did what any ordinary girl would do… I ordered 1 day delivery from Amazon… only to be disappointed…. Yes, as a prime member, I paid extra to get my delivery in 24 hours only to be disappointed that my headlamp was still in Indiana… so Friday night after packing everything else… we tore the house down looking for the old headlamps because I doubt REI is going to be open at 5AM… luckily we found them.

Initially if everything went to plan, I wouldn’t have needed the headlamp… but as I learned two weeks ago in Ghost Train.. it’s always good to have.

So finally.. I am fully packed with 20 pairs of socks, a few extra layers ready from 100 degrees to negative 100 degrees and more pairs of shoes than most people own in 5 years… yes, when I pack for an ultra.. I pack more than I would for a 3 week trip to Asia. But yes, finally I am packed and ready for bed.

And BAM! the 5AM alarm goes off… I can wake up early… but I really hate it and this wake up with the stress of traveling during the week really felt like a punch in the face. Luckily, the race is only 30 minutes from my house in Ipswich. Tony graciously dropped me off at the race start as we got there around 6:05 AM… Yea probably a little bit late. As I grab my number and shirt from the awesome volunteers, I start to set up my drop back area. My leg feels better, but I can still feel a minor dull ache that I continue on ignoring.

The weather is somewhere in the 30s and I feel groggy and a little cranky as I try to evaluate what layers I need. I finally decide to go with a tshirt and my 2012 Boston Marathon Jacket for some comfort and warmth…Plus it’s bright and orange and makes me happy and reminds me of one of the most difficult runs I ever had. 2012 Boston Marathon was no joke and I’m proud that I stuck through it.  I also kept a hat on which I probably didn’t need but I was just not in the mood to be cold. For the bottom I am wearing a pair of old black Capris I got a few years ago from Express… Yes.. not exactly ideal tights for 50 miles of running… Unfortunately with all the commuting, travel and working from home, I forgot that I pretty much horde a whole closet of workout clothes at work in Boston which is where my three pairs of favorite running capris were currently residing at. Whatever, it’s not the gear that makes the runner… it’s the runner that well fuck it gotta do what she gotta do because a 3AM drive to Boston was not in the cards.

So I am dressed… or undressed from my warm layers… hearing the trail briefing and ready to start when I decide maybe it would be a great idea to take a bathroom visit before I start running. Unfortunately, unlike road races, trail races for some tragic reason (for the almost late Liana) seem to always start on time… so as the rest of the runners start their 50 mile journey, I scurry over to look for the bathroom… which of course is proceeded by a line. So aside from being a 50 miler, stone cat trail races also has a marathon that starts 15 minutes later at 6:30 so all of those runners are being timely. In my head I scream a few expletives about being such a morning wreck and debate the merits of peeing on myself instead of this line… but eventually decide that running with a full bladder or wet pants for 50 miles will probably not be fun.

About 5 minutes later, I am off, joining the first of the pack into the woods. Stone Cat 50 miler consists of FOUR 12.5 mile loops. The aid stations are at mile 4 mile 7.5 and then back at 12.5. I’m used to running 20 miles with no food and water and I decide that at least for the first loop or two, I’m going to leave my handheld in my drop bag. I liked being hands free.

The first mile or so of the first loop is a bit lonely as everyone has had a 5 minute head start and I kinda enjoy the peace and quiet of it all… then I start to catch up and see a bunch of runners but none of whom look familiar and I kind of get a little more cranky.

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of rolling single track at the start of races… I don’t run on trails often and sometimes it takes me a bit to get into them. Also, I’m not a fast runner but I’m also not a slow runner until the downhill part. So for the majority of it, I am trying to get around runners on the uphill and flat part and having panic attacks as others run around me on the downhill. And while I’m usually relatively social, I found myself in a mood. Maybe, it was subtle stress of my leg, maybe it was exhaustion, maybe it was everyone looking so at ease and me feeling the struggle of mile 1 like it was mile 31, but I was in a mood. The hard part about being in a mood is that I can’t fake being happy but I also don’t want to be a debbie downer. I am so grateful for having these trails so close by but at that point in time, I was cursing every bump, rock and root. I was just not in the mood for trails or people… or maybe anything. Maybe it was my lack of caffeine?

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Around mile 2, I saw my friend Anj and I instantly felt better. Maybe, I just needed some familiarly to comfort myself as I felt so out of place on the single track terrain. I decided to stop looking at my watch, or time, or miles and just take it step by step. So what if I had to walk every downhill, if that’s the break I needed, then I’ll take it and just run a little faster on the flat part. Many ultrarunners take walk breaks and while most don’t do them on downhills, it’s okay, I don’t have to be like all the other children… As I was working on letting go of my insecurities, I hit the first aid station at mile 4 that was playing music and full of perky, happy volunteers. I immediately downed two cups of coke, not because I was thirsty, but because I’m pretty sure I was feeling caffeine and sugar withdrawal. I didn’t really eat a breakfast even though I probably should have. In the next 3.3 miles I started to pass by more familiar faces from TARC and was finally feeling a little bit  more comfortable. I wasn’t an outsider trying to keep up. These are my people and while most of them I only see at trail races, I am constantly in awe of all their accomplishments, just like sometimes they are of mine. Our accomplishments and skills and background might be different, but we’re all here to challenge ourselves and achieve our individual goals. Maybe it was the caffeine kicking in, but in simple terms, I was finally chilling the bleep out.

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The 7.5 aid station came by quickly as I decided to pass it and hold out for the end of the loop at 12.5. Somewhere in those 5 miles there was a volunteer dressed as a clown… clowns and woods… not cool people.. not cool… I prefer the Yeti ;). It was also around this time that the faster marathons started catch up and lapping me. It’s always though on the ego when you get passed and it messed with my pacing a bit. I wanted to run faster, and keep up with them.. but I kept trying to remind myself that I got double the distance and should focus more on finishing the course versus racing others.

Before I knew it, I hit the first 12.5 miles in about 2:27 (minus my 5 lateness minutes)… a little smarter, a little slower than stone cat. I immediately changes out of my jacket and hat into a thin long sleeve. Had a few bits of pumpkin pie, some salted potatoes and moved on. My second loop was meditative… for the most part I was running alone and I liked it. I love the support and volunteers of races, but when I’m running, I like being in my own head and gazing around. Suddenly, a large portion of the terrifying single track seemed pleasant and beautiful. I went from not just chilling out, but really enjoying myself and remembering why I love trail running and ultra running. The second loop went by quickly, and I even started to pass some of those marathoners that flew past me… pacing is a skill that takes practice physically and mentally.

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As I finished my second loop at 4:53 (less 5), I saw a few more of my favorite familiar faces who were waiting to pace their friends. Then I realized, I kind of forgot to get myself a pacer… in TARC races, the 50 milers weren’t allowed to have them and in Ghost Train since you’re running 7.5 miles pack and forth, you don’t really need one on the rail trail… so it sort of slipped my mind that I might want one on my final 12.5 miles.

As I started my third loop, I started thinking whether I wanted a pacer. I was still feeling great. In fact, I was surprised by how much energy I had as I was going into the middle of my third loop. At mile 30 at ghost train, I was fading fast,, versus here, with a slower and more consistent pace, I was keeping relatively steady with my energy level. Maybe this whole pace yourself theory does have some logic. As I continued, I would sync up and chat with a few runners. I loved hearing where people run, how far, and other details. I love that you can run alone for a bit, have a nice little chat and then go back into your personal zone. When people ask if I ever get lonely running for 10 hours in the woods. The answer is no. In a world where I’m so connected via social media, and close coworker cube office environment. I cherish those moments when I’m unplugged and with nature. Plus, I know if I slow down or speed up, I can eventually find another like minded person I can chat with for a bit.

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The great and happy selfie…

On my third loop, around mile 36 just as I was thinking of how great I felt with energy, my left knee gave out. It just wouldn’t take any more running. When I got near the clown, I had to get over my fear and borrow his chair for a stretch. For the first time in a rice, I felt great, my back wasn’t hurting, my energy was on cue and only thing that was stopping me was a sharp pain in my left knee with each step. I tried to do a jog, a run walk and eventually just gave up to walking the final 2 miles of the loop. Before my sudden sharp pains, I was on cue to hitting 37.5 miles in under 7:30. Right on plan with my 10 hour goal. My actual time at loop three was 7:45 minus 5.

As I was in the zone of debating between what to do with my life… because I’m so dramatic… I mean race between loop 3 and final loop 4, I decided to sit down and grab some food. I drank a little noodle, had some hot coco and take a few steps into a warm school bathroom because even though I was running with no hydration, I was definitely downing more liquids than I needed to.

My mind was racing and I was going back and forth about whether to DNF or not. I always said I would never run on an injury. However, I figured what’s the worse that could happen. I heal fast. At this point, I still thought my injury was soft tissue. Plus at this point, I had more than 4 hours to walk my final 12.5 miles of the course. Should I really DNF because I didn’t want a slower time than my goal? That seemed silly. I was tired of DNFing for all the wrong reasons and while for the first time, I probably have a legit reason, I felt like a disappointment if I didn’t finish this one. I wanted an official 50 miler and ghost train because the loops were 15 miles, didn’t really count as one. I’m also, not sure when I’ll have the time and energy to train as hard again. This had to be it.  I grabbed my Jacket and my head lamp. I wasn’t cold. but I knew I had some serious hours and miles ahead of me if I was going to get through the final loop. I also decided to change my shoes from trail to road because they had a bit more cushion and I wanted comfort for walking vs. the protection and feed back of my Innov-8.

I was definitely not making the sunset cut-off. After chatting a little bit with my friend Mike and walking a half mile. I felt a bit less shaken and determination took over. I can finish in the time I had left and at this point, all my pride wanted was an official finish.

My final loop was a haze. Well that’s a lie. The first 8 miles of the 4.5 was a haze as I was right foot, left foot. My knee stopped hurting but the pain in my leg by the shin returned. Any down step felt like what I always imagined a kick in the balls would feel like. I started to get passed by runners I passed before and there was nothing I could do about it. I was running my own race and they had theirs. It wasn’t about others anymore, it was just me and my battle.

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At one point I saw my friend Anj on her final loop and was really excited by how great and strong she looked! She asked me to run with her, but I just couldn’t get my foot to match my energy and wish her luck on her final miles. It was also at some point that I hit my right toe straight into a rock as I was texting on my phone… and for a bit, the pain in my toe, made me forget about the pain in my left foot and I rain for a few minutes.

I made it to the final aid station with 5 miles left to the course and Tony wasn’t there. I convinced him to walk the final 5 miles with me but he couldn’t find the trailhead and said the road was too rough for our Prius. I continued and only made it half a mile before darkness took over.

The funny thing about sunset in the woods in the November… it sort of happens in a flash. One moment you’re running and you’re fine, the next you’re dependent on a headlamp that you realize has a lot less light depth than you thought before. You’re looking for the trail marks and ribbons, but none seem to be visible. Instead, as you enter single track again, you rely on your footing.. if the footing feels consistent you’re on trail, if things get a little bit more soft, less trimmed, you’re bushwhacking off trail. Amazing how much you start relying on the feel of your footing when you’re visibility is limited to a step or two in front..

For a mile or so, I felt okay… I was slowing down to make sure I was following the trail but I was okay. However, after about 20 minutes alone in darkness, I started to freak out. Out of nowhere, I heard coyotes all around me howling. Now logically, I know coyotes don’t eat people… but my brain is fried from running for 10 hours and it’s dark and I’m in the woods and I just lose it. I start freaking out that I’m lost since I haven’t seen anyone in a really long time and shouldn’t have somebody passed me by now? I try to go on, step by step and finally hit double track again. I know I still had about 2 more miles to go which at my current pace was at least 35 minutes at best.. but at least I could see where the trail was more clearly.

Suddenly, I hear women behind me. There’s two runners and two of their pacers, reminding me that I really should have picked a pacer but I just felt so guilty asking someone to walk 12.5 miles with me. It’s one thing to ask a friend to run with you, but walking? I don’t know. Anyone’s other humans! Inside, I screamed from joy, but the city road runner in me was starting to get really terrified of being alone in the woods in the dark. I couldn’t run but I was walking uphill at a much greater speed than most at this point. I used all the energy and strength to block out my pain and keep up with this pack. Two more miles, at this point, the damage to my foot was done, I just needed to get to the finish line. Being in the company of other runners for the last few miles, made them go by a lot faster than the single mile I did alone. And when I saw the field, I was in pain, but the joy of being done made me break out into a jog. I just wanted to be back in civilization and lights!

I crossed the finish line 11:42 gun time with probably 11:37 or so net time based on my Garmin.

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I found Tony right away and started to pack up all my gear as I grabbed two slices of pizza. I didn’t really eat much the whole day and got most of my energy from soda so finally chewing some food was a really treat!

The volunteers lined the finish area with light sabers and sparklers adding to the excitement of crossing the finish line.

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Instead of finishing medals, we got these awesome gym bags as our finishing prize. Not going to lie, because part of why I wanted an official finish as this bag! And also…

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and the shirts are super cute and when someone asks me about the race, i was to tell them about a finish and not a DNF.

I don’t know if I will have another 50 miler any time soon, but I know eventually I want to return to the course and run uninjured. I also don’t quite know what is happening to my leg. Based on research, I think I have a stress fracture. It’s been a week and still feel pain when I bend it. Going to the doctor this Thursday to find out the damage done before I resume my 2015 marathon goals.

Back to Back 50 miler weekends

Okay first things, I need to pimp myself. I applied to be a Rock and Blog ambassador with the Rock N Roll marathon group. And I’m trying for some brownie points, so if you have twitter and can retweet this little message that would be great!

I got a question the other day asking what I did between my double marathons and my first 50 miler as I had less than two weeks in between. Since I haven’t been best in doing weekly workout recap posts, I figured this would be a great excuse to do one.

The short answer… not much!

So let’s start from the start… one weekend, I achieved probably one of my biggest running accomplishments to date. I ran two marathons back to back in an almost equal BQ time. 3:31:31 & 3:31:40. Now my marathon PR is sub 3:22 so two run two marathons back to back less than 10 minutes from said PR was unexpected. I’m still in shock and I’ll probably write a post what I did to train eventually since it might help other runners who like me have trouble getting in their 20 + milers some weeks.

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After basking in my glow of running and realizing how much I love the marathon distance on roads… I relaxed for a few days.

On Monday and Tuesday, I did a mix of nothing, eating and more nothing. I went to work and did a little bit of more nothing. Do you realize how many TV shows I could be watching if I didn’t run… a ton. I hate taking two rest days back to back, but I got caught up in work and life things and decided that I needed to give my body recovery time.

Wednesday, I finally gave my body a run. 9.1 Miles. It ended up being an 8:09 pace… which for me after two days of rest, felt harder than usual.

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Thursday-Monday... I went on vacation… and I packed my running shoes and my running clothes… and I never unpacked them until I got home. Yes, I could have found time for at least a 30 minute run, but I decided to take my vacation as a vacation from literally everything. I don’t think I’ve ever done such a great job of nothing doing much.

Vacation Recap to Jamaica is up! 

I returned home on Monday at midnight and at 6AM Tuesday, I woke up, excited to be back in the Fall weather and went for a run.

Tuesday – I went for the same 9.1 mile run, I went before Jamaica, only this time, my pace was 7:51 while keeping it easy. Same path, same annoying car lights, same time. Looks like vacation and rest healed me up.

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Wednesday – 6.33  miles 7:38 pace on a treadmill

Thursday 5 miles 7:13 pace on a treadmill

Friday – Rest day

And of course Friday is some carboloading with this baller pizza we made at home.

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It’s an ugly photo, but it was delicious. Taco seasoned ground turkey and extra sauce!

As I went from two major endurance weekends, I skipped all strength workouts. I would have loved to attend my favorite tabata class, or do a Jillian Michaels DVD, but my muscles take forever to recover and I’m usually sore for days. So I decided, to sacrifice my muscles and avoid any strength workout that would tempt me. It just takes too big of a toll on my body and I wanted to save my strength for recovery.

Saturday – 9 hours 48 minutes Ghost Train 50 Miler… recap to come! Maybe next week.

Before every race, I like to take a full rest day. I don’t know if there’s physically benefits of taking a rest day vs doing a 2 mile shake up run that some people like. However, personally, skipping that day, helps me out mentally. It prepares me to be excited to run on race day, instead of feeling repetitive. I also try to run at least 20 miles the week of my race. I tried a complete taper of where I run a handful of miles the week of a race and it just makes me feel sluggish.

So there, my recipes of what I did. Maybe this will work for me tomorrow as I attempt on another 50 miler… Stonecat… I can’t make any big promises… but I can only try.

QOTD

Tell me what your weekend plans are. I have a race Saturday and Sunday night I’m going to a birthday party

TARC 50 Miler Pre-Race Thoughts

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been fairly quiet about the distance elephant in the room.

I signed up for the TARC 50 miler January 1st as soon as registration on ultrasignup opened up.

Sure last year was a disaster for me, but this year is a new course in a new location with a 7AM vs. 7PM start time. I learned that my choice of light really sucked last year. Luckily, I won’t need it for more than an hour at most this year.

What I did learn was that the new course, at Hale reservation, unlike the familiar and super runnable Weston course, will be hillier and more technical. It’s about an hour from my house, so I never made it out there to research or train.

My training during the winter was nonexistent as the trails were iced over near my house. I ran roads, but barely hitting the mileage I’m used to.

My training during the Spring was unmotivated at best. I was focusing on some new job responsibilities so double long runs on weekend were put to the end of the list of things I mentally wanted to handle. O and the fact that it snowed here well into April didn’t help.

So yea, lower mileage, no double back long runs, and I hit the trails for a total of three times since last fall will probably not helping my case.

And worse, an injury a month before the race. My knee was hurting a little bit at the end of May. I self diagnosed myself with runner knee, took a two-week break after struggling with it for a week and am now back to my perfect running self. However, this also left me with several weeks where I barely hit 30 miles. I’m happy to be back and healthy, but losing the peak of your training to injury isn’t a strength.

I debated DNSing

I was going to cheer on my friends and not even bother running. I had a few slower marathons that left me discouraged.

Then I convinced myself that I’ll only do one 25 mile loop to check out the course.

Now I’m all in. I have 7:45 hours to one loop before I start my second one.

What I do have on my side:

Incredible support from friends and TARC volunteers on the course… I have never ran a race where I felt more taken care of than at a TARC event.

A 15 hour limit which equates to a an 18 minute mile pace.

I’ve “raced” a good number of marathons this season ranging from a 3:22 to a 4:10 across the country – New Orleans, Little Rock, Atlanta, Boston, TARC 50K, Providence, Olympia, Burlington.

I’ve done a lot of things I didn’t think were possible for me.

I ran a 3:24 marathon after training on 4 hour-long 20 miler training runs which included breaks on my living room floor wondering how I can ever go on.

I ran 28 miles in 6 hours on snow and ice with barely a long run in training.

I ran a 50K in the summer heat while as usual being under trained. My first 50K which I regret to never have written about.

I will add a 50 miler to my accomplishments, I know I will.

Go On

My 2014 Big Racing Calender & My #KINDawesome KIND Bars Giveaway!

Well I did it! I finally put my credit card where my mouth has been lately and signed up for a half Iron man. I’ve been debating between Patriot and Pumpkinman, but ultimately went for Pumpkinman because I didn’t think I would get my swimming together enough over the winter to not drown!.

It’s cold and I don’t really like to leave my house in the winter so although the Patriot 70.3 seemed like a more beginner friendly race (no crazy hills like Pumpkinman), I just don’t think I could swim 1.2 miles by June. If they were cheaper, I would be crazy enough to try both of them, but at over $250 a race, I had to pick one.

So now I have until Sept. 7th to figure out how to more than double my swimming distance and speed myself up. My current swimming speed would leave me over the time limit of 70 minutes (on their website). There’s a lot of work ahead of me and I’m excited to dive head first into something new.

Additionally, I’m going to attempt a 50 miler again. Yes, the wounds of the TARC 50 miler disaster are slowing healing where I barely remember the pain and I’m ready to try again. Pinelands Running Festival on May 26th.

So here it is folks. My 2014 racing schedule to date. I’ll probably sign up for smaller races in between if the cost is reasonable; however, I’ll attempt to exercise better control for the sake of my budget and my sanity.

Feb 2nd 2014 – RnR New Orleands Marathon

March 24th 2014 – Atlanta Marathon

April 21st 2014 – Boston Marathon

May 26th – Pinelands 50 Miler

Sept 7th, 2014 – Half Ironman Triathlon (70.3)

2013 was great, but I’m excited for the things to come!

Now for other news, remember how the awesome folks at Kind Snacks sent me a package of Kind Bars to help train for the NYC marathon?

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Well, I do and now I have a chance to offer one Run To Munch reader a box of 24 bars of their own!

KIND’s philosophy is that food can be both healthy AND tasty. And it’s true, I’ve been in love with them since I tried one at the Quincy Half Marathon earlier this year. Although it’s fairly new to me, the company has been around since 2004 and now has over 22 flavors of bars!

Some of the flavors:

√ Maple Walnut Clusters with Quinoa & Chia (MY FAVORITE!)
√ Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew Antioxidant Bars
√ Dark Chocolate Nutes & Sea Salt Bars
√ Madagascar Vanilla Almond Bars
√ Blueberry Vanilla & Cashew Bars (MY SECOND FAVORITE)
√ Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate Protein Bars
√ Dark Chocolate & Cranberry Clusters

KIND is a strong believer in if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it shouldn’t go into your body. Actually, it shouldn’t even go into your pantry. That’s why all KIND Healthy Snacks are made from all-natural whole nuts, fruits and whole grains. No secret ingredients and absolutely nothing artificial here. Just a delicious way of getting your body essential nutrients like fiber, protein and antioxidants (to name a few).

Just by looking at a bar, you can see most of the ingredients there.

Kind Bars

I’ve been keeping a bar or two in my Camelpak when I run trails. And recently I restocked up again to take some with me on my trip to Burma. I wanted to make sure I had a reliable snack to keep me sightseeing from dawn to dusk and dusk to dawn (yea, I’m that type of tourist).

Check them out  on their website Kind Snacks, Twitter & Facebook!

How to enter:

To enter, leave a comment tell me What flavor do you most want to try?. Afterwards, additional chances will open up. Contest will stay open until Sunday November 17th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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After DNF, what’s next?

I’ve been a little quiet this week… it’s hard to write about writing, when a race you wrote about training for half the year ended in well… this.  I’m hitting all the stages of grief now.

Denial… maybe it was all a dream

Anger… blaming my light, mother nature, other runners but most of all myself

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Bargaining Maybe if I run 50 miles on my own it will count

Depression… After Friday night, I didn’t even want to look at my trail running shoes.  I didn’t even want to think about running.  I wanted to wallow and wallow in my self-pity. Tony was great though, he hosed off the 20 pounds of mud off my shoes and compression socks and it wasn’t until Tuesday that I finally ran them through the wash.

I punished myself on Saturday by making myself scrub the kitchen floor in hopes of making it clean like an OCD maniac (I don’t clean very often, or ever because I’m terrible at it).  Then halfway I got tired and lazy and the scrubbing got downgraded to mopping & moping while no one was there to look.

I really wanted to wallow in my self-pity, but NOBODY would let me!  Everyone has been so kind (or controlling) and every time I try to mumble something degrading, I’m shut down!  Sometimes a gal wants to whine and mope you know 😉  However, I am too lucky with all the amazing support of friends and family I’m surrounded by.

T-dawg even dragged me to a celebration dinner we planned earlier even though I didn’t really do anything worth celebrating besides not breaking a leg (literally).

DNF Dinner

We went to Turner Seafood in Melrose with some friends.  I ordered a margarita that has an oyster inside.  It was amazing! It was like a bloody Mary made love with a dirty martini and popped out an oyster baby inside.  I ordered the tuna burger and Tony ordered the fried seafood platter.  Definitely will be coming back here again.  At least I will for my new favorite drink.

Acceptance

I’ve accepted it.  I finally washed my legs from the mud.  dirty feet

Just kidding, this is what my feet looked like AFTER a hose down Friday night  I wasn’t allowed anywhere until I washed the mud off.  Although days later, many foot soaks later and a pool swim later, I am still finding mud permanently engraved into my toes and feet. Sorry sexy red sandals, I’ll have to wait before I wear you again.  Hello Toms.

I’ve accepted, Friday night was not my night for a 50 miler.  I’m okay.  It sucks, I spent a lot of time training and looking forward to it but that’s okay.  I spent a lot of time TALKING, WRITING about it, but that’s okay.  I plan on having many years of running ahead of me and there will be a 50 miler in my future.  Maybe not this year, but there’s always next Spring.

What’s next?

In less than a month I’m running my first TRIATHLON!  July 14th, Appleman Triathlon in Littleton, MA.  It’s sprint distance which doesn’t have a real standard.  This triathlon will be HALF A MILE swim, 10 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run.

Where’s my swimming.  So far I can swim 50 yards in the pool with only one mouth full of water before I grab the wall.  I only have to do 16 times that distance in open water in less than 4 weeks.

So needless to say, my focus for the next 3-4 weeks will be learning how to swim.  I’m trying hit the pool one way or another every other day before my arms fall off.

I’m signed up for another 50 miler.  TARC Summer Classic.  There is still a chance I’ll drop down to 50K.  I’m not planning on keeping up high mileage training like I was the TARC 50 miler last week.  With summer heat and activities, I think I’ll go about 50-60 miles of running and just see how I feel come August 17th.

Before that, I’ll be running a trail marathon, Bear Brook Trail Marathon July 27th.

That’s about it for the summer.  I’ve accepted what happened and I’m moving on and enjoying all the perks and wonders I have around me.

Now if it would only stop raining and being cold in Boston.

TARC 50 Miler DNF

DID NOT FINISH, I guess is always better than a did not start.

Sadly the 2013 training season peak race will end with a DNF.  I don’t have a lot of regrets for my training going into the race.  I don’t know if much could have prepared for the two weeks of pouring rain that the course took.  My mind just could not handle the mud, swamps and darkness that the 50 miles held.  Emotionally, I hold on to some regret, but logically, I know I walked off the field with no injuries, no physical strains and am back on the road and trails the next day.

To summarize.

164 Registered for the 50 miler

66 Finished the 50 miler

41 Finished the 50 miler in under 12 hours

About 40 or so of the registered runners didn’t even start

190 Registered for the 100 miler

65 Finished the 100 miler

So my DNF was in very good company.  A lot of amazing, strong runners, that I admire and look up to ended up DNFing the course.  I have to keep reminding myself that because otherwise the guilt and wounded pride starts breaking me down.

The TARC 50/100 miler was not designed to be a challenging course.  I believe that it was designed to be very friendly towards those going for their first 50 miler or 100 miler.  And Bob Crowley & Josh Katzman along with the countless volunteer helper did any amazing job.

I took Friday off and spent half the day napping and sleeping and grazing.  I met Tony around 5 and we drove to Weston to get there at 6.  After getting my number, time chip and debating back and forth whether to use my Camelpak or my handheld, the prerace meeting started.  I don’t know how, but maybe the excitement, the great company and everything else made the hour fly by because before I knew it, it was 7 PM, the race was starting and I forgot to grab my gaiters!

Photo by Michel Caren of the start
Photo by Michel Caren of the start

There are three aid stations that you pass by multiple times.

4.5 Miles – First loop went great.  I had an 11 minute going pace which was my target for the first 25 miles.  There were a few puddles of mud, a few streams to cross but for the most part it was very runnable.  I felt great.  As I passed by the station that Tony was volunteering at, I kissed him and ran off still in high spirits.

The next 5 miles got worse.  The puddles got bigger and deeper.  There was a flowing river with rocks we forded through.  And it started to get dark.

Next 5.3 miles were in darkness and got muddier and worse, but by mile 15, I still felt okay.  However, I could see my pace quickly dropping as the swamp and pools of water got deeper and longer.

Somewhere around mile 19, I questioned whether I could make the 12 hour cut-off.

By mile 22, I knew I would not make it.  At mile 23, I was still planning on running the 4.5 mile loop to get to 30 miles or so for the night.  Even though I wasn’t going to make the 12 hour cut-off and such, I still wanted to end the night on an ultra.

Mile 24, 25 were mud, water, slippery socks, mud that tried to pull your shoes off and was barely runnable to me.  It was in those two miles, that solidified my decision.  I was walking off the course as soon as I get to 25 mile to complete my one loop.  I had this awful feeling that if I kept going, I would have injured myself.  Mentally, the mud had broken me.

No me but someone took this of how deep the water was
No me but someone took this of how deep the water was

Tarc 50 MudThis is a photo of the course during the day after more water had dried up.  I was running this in the dark, dead of night.

I reached the 25 mile aid station around 6 hour mark.  I learned later that I was the 73rd runner in the 50 miler to reach it.  I wasn’t the last one, or the only one not making the cut, I was middle of the pack.  I knew there was no way I would finish 25 more miles in 6 hours.  I learned way later that they extended the time cut-off from 12 to 15 hours.  I’ve spent way too much time wondering if I should have went on if I knew I had more hours.  The 6 hours that I ran on did not seem tedious and long, they actually flew by but maybe that;s my selective memory.  Maybe I would have kept going if I knew I had 9 hours and not 6 hours to finish the second 25 miles of the course but to be honest I was not having fun.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my fellow trail runners, the volunteers and aid stations were amazing.  I really REALLY wanted to keep running just so I could stop by and hang out at the aid stations.  Everyone was so amazing.

However, I was not prepared for the 25 muddy miles in the dark

1. I learned that my flashlight was not as bright as it seemed before
2. I learned that my headlamp is brighter about 10 miles later after using a useless flashlight but I could not figure out a way to hold it.  Having it on my head did not work.
3. I only had one pair out of the three pairs of shoes that I brought that would work in the mud.  After 25 miles, I needed either a hose or a new pair of shoes to get rid of the 10 pounds of mud I was carrying.
4. Running on mud and water makes you legs shaky. My hips hurt and I felt that if I kept going, I would either fall or twist my ankle in the mud.  I got really scared for my safety.
5. I was having a lot of difficulties on the two-way parts of the trail that were single track. It felt like everyone’s headlamp’s were brighter than mine and aiming straight for my eyes.
6. Running through the night wasn’t too bad. On the part of the trail that was runnable, I learned to trust my footing and my lighting. I actually did not get sleepy at all, and when I got home, I could barely fall asleep for an hour or so at 3AM

I have regrets for not going past my limits and succumbing to the weakness of my mind but I’m also grateful that I left the course with no injuries beyond my pride and was able to run the next day.

I thought about signing up for another 50 miler this summer but honestly, I don’t want to run double 20 milers on the weekends while the weather is hitting 90s.  I loved it in the winter, but summers are for biking, swimming and lazy days on a meadow.  Besides I have my first triathlon in a month and I start my training today! However, I will be back, probably not the fall since I work 6 days a week, but next Spring you’ll see me.  Maybe for TARC 2014 and maybe for much more!  Tony even said he won’t be too mean to me if I train for a 100 miler!

Final Week of Training – TARC 50 Miler!

So did you end up cashing in (more like cashing out ha!) on some of the Running Day deals?  T & I are in for RnR New Orleans (Feb) and Georgia Marathon (March) for 2014!  Two new cities, two new states, two new marathons, lots more fun.  Anyways, I added that and a few other goodies to my schedule (NYC!).

So last week was my last week of actual “training.”  I’m currently in taper week and with lack of running, I have to warn, I haven’t been the most pleasant.  Does anyone ever feel like a royal b— when you don’t get a workout in?  I guess drug addicts would say the same thing on their withdrawal symptoms.  I’ve been too cautious of cross-training because I don’t want to make my other muscles sore. However, I plan on picking up with swimming and biking after the 50 miler since I have a sprint triathlon a month away!  (Oops forgot to add that to the calender).

Anyways, last week.  Last week felt great and I have to confess, the biggest struggle was keeping my mileage down.  The problem is that when you start running high mileage weeks, after a while they become easier, and you feel great so you want to keep going, more running, faster, longer, stronger.  Problem is, this “great” feeling is a GREAT way to get a one way ticket to Injury City.  You start to skip your easy runs, you start to skip your rest days and before you know it, instead of feeling great, you feel pain.  So instead, I have to remind myself to take a step back.  To slow down and focus on my goal for June 14th.  Taper isn’t just a one week process, for it to be effective it should be done gradually and that’s what I tried to do while fighting my addictive nature to run more.

Monday – 2 Miles
I felt guilty about taking a rest day since I didn’t feel like the Spartan race counted as running miles on Sunday.  However, every muscle besides my legs hurt. The humidity and my smarter half of the brain feeling guilty about not taking a rest day made me cut the run  at 7:short.

Tuesday – 21 Miles
Double duty run.  8 miles in the morning and 13.1 in the evening!  8 miles on incline 2, 7:50 pace felt great.  A little less great in the evening run, with barely 8:30 pace.

Wednesday – 8.35 miles
Kept it slow with a 9 minute pace to try to recover from Tuesday

Thursday – Rest Day
Was too busy to run so rested it up instead

Friday – 5 miles
8 minute pace, but forced myself to keep it short

Saturday -14.1 Miles
Debated on how far too run. I didn’t want to take my run too long and not feel my best less than a week later.  I decided 14 miles was a fair compromise.

Sunday
5 miles.  Struggled once again to not run too much.  Felt weird but fun to take an easy weekend!

Total Miles 55.5

Total Feelings – Antsy! I want to get my 50 miler done!  Nerve-wrecked!