About Jessica Goldman

An underdog runner

A Fight to the Finish!

After breaking the head of my fibula in May and then my recent hamstring tear, I was doubtful that I could finish the Vermont 100. My crew was so excited to go though and we had worked so hard on preparation that I decided to get to the start line and run as far as I could. As usual I wore a ridiculous costume and decked my crew out so that we could find each other in the crowds. They surprised me by wearing hilarious quack T-shirts too.

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Like last year, the campground and race area was absolutely beautiful. The runners, race horses, crew, pacers and volunteers set up the day before and we all anxiously hang out until show time.

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We got to hear about the amazing things that Vermont Adaptive is doing with the funds that we raised. Thank you so much to all who donated! One guy named Kyle who had lost his vision actually ran the whole 100 miles this year with running guides. It was the first ultra with a special division for athletes with disabilities.

My day went off to a rough start. I got up at 2:45 a.m. to take a bucket bath in my tent. I kept the flashlight off so I didn’t disturb anyone who was trying to sleep later. (race check in is 3-3:45 a.m.) I kept feeling something slippery in the bucket when I splashed my face and armpits so I grabbed my light to see what it was.

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I am not sure which of us was more traumatized, me or the bug!!! After that I worked my way down with my crew and friends and we got ready for the start of the race. Once we started running I realized that I accidentally put used batteries in my light and it went dead in a matter of minutes! The start of the course is on trail so I had to click in with other runners and try to see where their lights were shining. Luckily it is only about an hour and a half before sun up. But still!!! What a rookie mistake.

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I could not believe how amazing my crew was. It was exactly like a NASCAR pit stop. They were waiting for me at all of the manned aid stations and they rinsed me down, put on sun screen, gave me fuel, changed my socks and shoes and kept me feeling positive. Whenever things got tough I just thought about making it to the next drop spot to see them.

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The Vermont 100 course is hard. There isn’t really any flat and easy stuff along the way. It is all very steep ups and downs. Because the race is both people and horses you come across trail sections that are very muddy and trampled. The dirt sections were also very hard and unforgiving this year. The rain had washed the sand out leaving a lot of hard rock for running surface.  So the combination of wet feet, steep terrain and hard surface completely destroyed my feet. I have never changed shoes in an ultra before but this time I did twice. I was yelling that my shoes belonged in the garbage but was thankful that my crew didn’t take me literally when they returned them to me after the race. I actually used a bunch of the stuff that was in my crew bag. I always pack for every scenario but usually don’t need much. This year was an exception. I changed clothes as well. Sara and Jill made a make shift curtain so I could put on dry shirt and sports bra.  My underwear looked liked they exploded after they went through the washing machine after I got home..I think they got a DNF (Did not finish)  I was in a world of hurt by mile 58 but knew that if I could make it to mile 70, I would pick up my pacers and they would help me get through the rest.

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I saw a lot of carnage this year. People were throwing up, or laying on the side of the road writhing in pain. I always checked to see if they had someone with them but then tried to keep moving and stay positive. This race is no joke, we got heavy lectures before the start about medical checks and how they insisted we crossed the finish line with our feet, brains and kidneys intact. That is why training, fueling and self awareness are crucial to this sport. My fuel and hydration were on spot. I felt completely revived when Kevin jumped in to pace me at mile 70. I had slowed down but still had plenty of energy left. Just having a friend there made all of the pain and fatigue go away for a while. Ryan jumped in to pace me for the next leg and he was wearing these ridiculous shorts that made everyone laugh.

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They were both so patient with me as things started to go south. I was getting tired from the run and sleep deprivation. I hallucinated a bear (it was actually a mud puddle) I accidentally sat down in a porto potty and then almost couldn’t get up again so I was in there moaning and groaning and making terrible noises that must have raised some eyebrows. At some point I forgot how to run and my pacers had to treat me like a toddler and say “one two three go!” And I would look at their feet and try to copy what they were doing. I would say, “Am I doing it?”

I couldn’t believe it but I got the hiccups again!!! Almost the same exact place on the course as last year. Luckily they didn’t last long and once they cleared I was at mile 95. I told my crew in advance to not talk numbers but I knew that the sun wasn’t rising so I saw a PR in sight. (Personal record) There is no such thing as fast at mile 95 but I told my pacer that it was time to drop the hammer and I did my best to push hard on that last stretch. I crossed the finish line in 24 hours and 15 minutes. That is two hours faster than last year! I was so thrilled! The race director came out to congratulate me in person which was very cool because she is one of my running heroes.

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I can’t possibly thank everyone who helped me along this journey but you all know who you are. I could not have done this alone. I am hoping for a quick recovery and after a rest period I will start preparing for the next adventure. The Ghost Train 100 miler in October. Official race photos are not up yet so I will share next time. Also, they forgot to list me in the results but that should be updated soon. Thanks for following my adventure!

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Last Blog before the big day

Oops! I promised a blog today.. I have been super busy and almost forgot. So Friday morning we will be heading up to West Windsor Vermont for the big race. 100 miles. 100 MILES!!! despite my train wreck of a training season I have every intention of getting to the start line. Every year at least two out of  every ten people who start this race drop out before the finish. I hope that I am not one of them. I have been getting a little snappy  with people who are questioning me about my decision to resume running and go to this race after my injuries. My doctors are on board and we discuss my plans in detail. Secondly, my career is assisting people with sports injuries. I have extensive knowledge about anatomy,  about the recovery process of bones and muscles and I am constantly in contact with doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors and personal trainers. So when people ask me if I am sure I am ready to be running the answer is YES. Is it possible I will get re-injured? Yes. That is always a factor but there is a certain point where rest is more damaging than beneficial and range of motion and blood flow are more helpful than harmful. Running is my passion and my life. Trail running has its risks and dangers but I fully enter that bargain in order to receive the joy that I experience from doing it. If there are two things that I have a lot of experience with it is recovering from injuries and running ultras. Oh…and wearing costumes. Did I mention that I just spent hours with a glue gun making costumes for myself and my crew? GAME ON. The odds are against me but I will run my heart out next weekend. I hope I come back to tell a story about crossing the finish line. Thanks to all of you for following my adventures. I will be thinking of you on race day.  400 runners, 70 horses, 17,000 feet of vertical climb. I did it last year. Why not do it again?

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Double Feature!

This week I got to sit down face to face with the famous June Meyer Newland who cycled across America in 1956. I have had such an outpouring of questions that I am doing a special blog piece today to talk about it.

It wasn’t until we were looking through news clips that I realized that we met on the day after my 18th anniversary of  the completion of my cross country cycling adventure from CA to NH. It seemed so fitting! It took me about one minute to love this lady. She had a wild sparkle in her eyes and despite the fact that she is 84, she gave me a nice firm handshake.

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She and her friend Terry Foster rode from NY to LA when she was the young age of 22. I asked her what her parents thought of that at the time and she shrugged her shoulders and started telling me how she had already been out having wild adventures sailing a boat starting at the age of 16. A wild spirit right out of the gates!

She said that right before her cycling trip, she was leading canoe trips for the Girl Scouts during the time of the Delaware flood. She told a harrowing story about her rescuing the girls to dry land  after the canoes were lost in the flood and being rescued by an army truck.

I recalled my own cycling trip and how I was on a meager $5.00 a day budget. I camped, stayed with families and ate Wendy’s all you can eat super buffets and gas station food. When I asked June how she saved up money she said that she never worried about it. She just went. She wanted to see California and went for it. The American Youth Hostel was a resource for the girls and they met people along the way who would make them food. Although June was intently eating some waffles during our talk she couldn’t remember what she ate on her trip. She kept a scrap book though and I hope that someday it gets turned into a detailed book. Her Daughter also cycled across America and wrote a book discussing both trips. June has a college aged granddaughter who is considering being the 3rd generation to make the trip. Here is the book cover with a great photo of June and Terry.

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They rode 3 speed Shwinns, wore saddle shoes and Bermuda shorts and their training consisted of riding around the blocks of Brooklyn. I chuckled at this because I had very little experience on a bike when I set out. I had a week or two of practice with my clip in shoes and grip shifters. (learn along the way right?)

An article said that June packed her lipstick, heels, pearls and a bible in her panniers. Her bike was so loaded and heavy that she almost crashed into the photographers at the send off. When I did my ride, I had all of the light weight high tech gear to use. I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been to ride over the Rocky mountains on a heavy 3 speed. June just laughed and said that her legs were strong by the time she got there. Colorado was the toughest state in her mind. Although she claimed that Iowa was the most boring. Haha! I confirmed that when I passed through years later it was still decidedly boring. She thought that I would have had a harder time with the heavy traffic that wasn’t really a factor for her journey. She didn’t recall witnessing the construction of the Eisenhower Interstate system that was just being built that year. She said that they stuck to back roads often. So fascinating to think of the commonalities and differences that we must have experienced making the same journey 43 years apart from one another.

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I remember carrying a small tool with me that helped fix almost any problem with my bike. It also had tools to help me fix flats. I was curious about how they handled mechanical problems because back then a simple tire pump would have been too huge and cumbersome to carry. She laughed and waved her arms in the air. “We were two young ladies and we just flagged down help and played the damsels in distress!”

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June really wants to get on the Ellen show. She said he would like to win a car and have someone bring her back along the route that she rode to see if anyone that she met is still around. I often think back on all of the nice people that I met on my transcontinental ride and run and wish that I could have a reunion. We both agreed that the United States is full of generous and kind souls.

I am so thankful for being able to make this connection. Right before I left she told me that she did her cycling trip before the women’s movement. My friend and I just looked at her and said, “You ARE the women’s movement!!” June and Terry were the first females to do such a transcontinental crossing of the USA on bikes. She seemed surprised and pleased to hear that so many women have followed in her bike tracks since then. I hope you have all been as inspired by Junes story as I have. I will do another blog tomorrow about my upcoming 100 mile race. Have a great weekend!

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Fork in the Road

Just like in the movies there must be drama right up to the end. After breaking my leg in May, I successfully recovered and made it through all of my tough and arduous training for the Vermont 100. My crew and pacers are trained up, stocked with gear and ready to go. My bags are mostly packed and I have the cat nanny ready to come and take care of Pheebes. Smooth sailing form here right? NOPE. Plot twist.

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During my easy recovery runs this week I wiped out twice. Once was because I tripped over a little sapling stump that was hidden under leaves and grass. I fell hard and did a triple roll but despite bruises and abrasions I felt ok. The second time I felt something snag my toe so I forcefully tried to pull my leg back to regain control. This happens all of the time while trail running and usually a branch will go flying and I carry on my way. This time my toe was stuck under a loop shaped tree root though and it didn’t budge. Instead my hamstring attachment and glutes snapped from the exertion and my foot stayed put. I fell over in slow motion. The place where my muscles got yanked is the exact site where I broke my pelvis a few years ago. There is already scar tissue and adhesion there and after this happened there was swelling and I have been in considerable pain. I saw one Doctor who felt 90% sure that it is not another fracture but I just have fluid in the tendon/attachment site. He said to wait 5 days without any running at all and see where my pain level is. He also made me a chart on the tissue paper on the exam table about race day strategy.  It was about time and intensity and that at the point where I will want to slow down I will need to change my gait and stride to not further damage the muscle. I asked him if the Monty Python Silly walk was a good option and he laughed really hard and said yes. I have given my crew the video to watch and practice. Watch it for yourself! Monty Python Silly Walk

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I am still very wary that I have re-fractured the old injury site. I may seek a second opinion this week. I was told by the first doctor that an ex-ray would be useless at this point because it wouldn’t show anything until the fracture starts to heal. Another MRI seems ridiculous and almost embarrassing at this point and I wouldn’t get it done in time to know before race day anyway.

This will be a very tough decision to make. It takes a year of training, planning, organization and money to get ready for this race. If I am still in pain I will not run. If I am pain free I want to run but hope to have some concrete answers and information by then to help me make a sound decision. I am so hurt and frustrated that these things keep happening. My bone density is good but I seem to have a knack for crashing in the worst possible way. Trail running is a tough sport but it seems to bully me more than others. At this point, I will welcome any positive vibes, well wishes, reiki, prayer, magic spells, or spare body parts that anyone has to offer. Thanks in advance.

Big hills and crew drills

This Blog is loaded with awesome pictures so click on the link so you can see them all! I am DONE!!! I ran 100.3 miles this week including my 30/20 mile back to back days. My pace was a little bit slower than I wanted but I got into my run/hike groove and ran the way I plan on running the hundred miler. Easy on the down hills and try to move as fast as possible without exerting energy or stressing my legs on the climbs. I chose tough courses with a lot of vertical climb and some bushwhacking and water crossings.  I was lucky to have my friend Holly accompany me on the second day which made the time go by much faster. This was her quote about our adventure, “Always good to run until your feet bleed, your legs burn and ticks fill your shoes! Trail runners dream… Goldmam’s masterpiece” Hahaha!

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I also tried to pick up a little bit of speed at the end of the week by running some flat rail trail. I got some sub 8 minute miles in and worked on my turn over. I was also lucky to be accompanied by friends on that excursion.

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We capped off the weekend by doing some crew drills. I have 4 amazing friends who are going to be at the Vermont 100 the entire time specifically to take care of me. They will be filling my water, getting my fuel, keeping me cool, applying sunscreen, pacing me and who knows what else. I am so grateful to have their support and friendship. We did some live action drills today which was pretty fun.

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So I am pleasantly exhausted but feeling prepared. The most difficult part of training and planning is complete. Let the tapering and countdown begin!!!

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Short and Sweet

This was an “easy” week for training. 70 weekly miles with my back to backs being 15/17. Strava really screwed me up though because it malfunctioned and cut a big chunk of my route out today. When I should have been finishing, it only had me at 15 miles so I went out and ran more so I think I actually ran 19 or 20 miles. Since returning from my injury I have been running almost all trail. I decided to do my back to backs on dirt roads this time because most of the VT100 is on dirt road. Unfortunately, I feel like I got beat up with baseball bats. Oh well, I still have several weeks to sort that out. On the positive side, my vision and vertigo have been much improved. I am barely using the glasses at all at this point. The woods have been beautiful and it is hard to not take pictures all of the time. Today I had to rescue several little baby birds who were in the road and about to be hit by cars. They were so tiny and cute!! Don’t ask me where I saw the big cat tracks because I always keep their locations secret from crazy people who want to go out and shoot them. This upcoming week will be my last big back to back runs before race weekend. I need a 30/20 and then it will be taper time for the next few weeks.

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I’m back!

I followed the return to run interval plan from PT and got myself back on my feet. This weekend is my biggest training block for the Vermont 100 so it was time to roll the dice and see if I could jump back in. My schedule had me doing big back to back long runs. (30miles/20 miles)I found a small 50k trail race online and jumped into it with my friend John on Saturday. The Drummer Hill race was fun and challenging. It had 4,200 feet of elevation gain and every single step was either rocks, roots, a water crossing or a switch back. It was also a pretty warm and humid day. We stuck together and ran conservatively and I ended up being the second female finisher! We were 5th and 6th overall I believe. It was 5 loops and each one felt a little bit harder.profile

The volunteers were awesome, especially this guy with the coconut boobs.

The course was fun but I think I smashed my feet up more than any other race I have done. The rocks and roots left my feet bruised on the tops and bottoms. I never actually fell but I tripped about a million times. I was weary of doing my 20 miler this morning but thanks to the help of a friend I got through that one too. The whole point of back to back training is to go out the second day on tired legs and test the limits of your depleted body to prepare it for the big race. It was very hot and humid and although my leg is holding up just fine I was overheating and salting out. (it was 90 degrees when I finished)  This is because I am jumping in so quickly, usually my body learns how to store extra water and handle the heat but I missed 4 weeks due to my injury. I brought a ton of water and Nuun tabs and even stopped at some sketchy swamps a few times to cool my body off in the water. My buddy Kevin ran the first 15 with me. The route was way easier than yesterdays course but still had technical sections, a lot of climbing and water crossings.

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We took some nice pics of us hanging our mouths open like weirdos because that is what we do best.

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The last 5 miles after Keven left were tough. I was so hot. I stuck to a flatter section of trail and picked the pace up a little at the end. So the verdict is that I am back in the saddle. I have a ways to go to get back to 100% fitness but I have a fighting chance at VT. A 51 mile weekend and 95 mile week and other than feeling appropriately tired I am no worse for the wear. Onward and upwards!