Thankful

The holiday season is upon us! And it always screws up my training momentum. I will wrap this week up with 67 miles and 4,012 ft. of gain.  I always check in with my body before running and this morning my body says NOPE. I had a “Friendsgiving” event last night and although I had a blast, the food variations and staying up later than usual took a toll. So rather than heading out into the cold rain I will rest and probably do some strength training later.

Although I am only 2 weeks deep I made some gains with my speed. I did a grueling track session of 8X 800’s and managed to keep them all fairly consistent and at a sub 7 pace. I went back to the super hilly road route and thanks to my friend Sarah Canney I shaved 32 seconds per mile off of my pace from last week. For those of you who follow Blogs you probably know Sarah as the RUNFARGIRL.

She is a super strong runner. I was practically hyperventilating on the ascents and she was barely breathing. If you are looking to be inspired you should check out her blog and website. She also hooked me up with a sweet goodie bag of running swag!

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Speaking of goodies, I signed up for an account with MyAchievement.com

You can actually get paid to workout! It isn’t a huge amount of money but you can connect your Strava or Garmin to the App and it works on a point system. You accrue points for workouts and filling out surveys and eventually they cut you a check. This will hopefully help me with my race registration budget.

I went for a nice group run with my friends around Bow Lake. I was joking that I was “Moonlighting” because they are in a different running club that competes with SIX03. There is no lack of love between the groups though.

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Nick Diana from SIX03 held the 3rd annual Run For The Roads this week. We collect winter coats for people at the Cross Roads homeless shelter in Portsmouth. He said that last year when he dropped them off it was only a matter of minutes and all of the coats had been picked through and were being worn. Looks like this year was a huge success too! I hope that everyone finds a way to give back to their community this Thanksgiving. I am very thankful for having such a rich life full of fantastic friends and family. Have a great week!

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3 Weeks Later

I volunteered to be a lab rat again at UNH. This time it was about body composition. I had to go into a “bod pod” wearing a swim cap, sports bra and compression shorts. The machine calculates percentages of body fat. Guess who was the fattest runner there? ME! The machine had me at 21% body fat. My caliper tests have always had me at about 16%. It is not an unhealthy number by any means but elite female runners are usually in the 12% range. The other runners that were tested that day all had way lower percentages than I did. I celebrated my #1 win as fattest runner by drinking a beer called Hog Water.

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I kept a food and activity log that the students will be reviewing along with the data from the Bod Pod. The will examine my numbers and then give me feedback using information from American College Sports Medicine, the International Society of Sports Nutrition and, the International Olympic Committee. It confuses me a little bit because according to my height and weight, statistics about BMI only leave me with 6 lbs to lose before I would enter the “unhealthy & underweight” zone. I will be interested to see what they think. And why do I carry so much fat if all I do is run and eat plants? This is similar to the VO2 Max study where I learned that I didn’t even qualify as athletic. Haha, good thing I ignore the numbers and keep trying.

It has been 3 weeks since my hundred miler and after a rest period I am jumping back in the game. I logged 65 miles this week with 5,075 ft. of elevation gain. My endurance is still strong but I CAN’T run fast. I tried to do a 5k of speed this morning and my legs will not move. I maxed out at a 7:40 pace. I could have gone much further but not any faster. I want to try to get speedy before I go visit my mom and run a 1/2 Marathon on Dec 10th. Right now it looks like a long shot. My only hope is to jack up my miles, run a ton of hills and attempt some more speed work outs. I did get some fun runs in this week, trying some new trails in Portsmouth and running up some mountain roads with friends.

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So that is all of my news for now. Just getting back into the groove and trying to acclimate to the weather which has gone from 80 degrees to 20 degrees in a few weeks. Hopefully my next post will be about how fast I am, haha, doubtful but it can’t hurt to try.

Recovery

So I currently have a mouth full of stitches. I had to go in for oral surgery this week. Despite my tenacity and high pain threshold when it comes to running I am a super big baby when it comes to my mouth. The worst part is that I still have a huge appetite from running my hundred miler last week but eating is tough. 2 weeks and I will have all of the stitches out though. Trying to settle for mushy bland food in the meanwhile. And so begins an extended rest from running.

I was able to get out to cheer my friends on at the Pumpkin relay today though. It was a blast but I confess that I laughed and smiled way too much and now my face is a little swollen again. (totally worth it!)

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There were so many cool costumes this year!

I had a great day and wasn’t even bothered that I wasn’t racing. I feel ready for this rest period and I am comfortable enjoying it. I want to take care of my body and fully rejuvenate before jumping back into heavy training again.

I am still riding the high of finishing my hundred miler last week. I just got some more photos from the very end of the race. One is me at the mile 95 turn around and the other two are of the finish line. My friend Heather paced me right up to last minute to keep that smile on my face.

Not a lot to report other than that for now! I am going to settle into some episodes of Stranger Things now! Have a great week!

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Dumb Hat Show

I must forewarn you that this race report will include discussions of bodily fluids. I am pleased to say that I just finished my 5th 100 mile race! This was also the first time that I ran two 100’s within a race season. I completed the Vermont 100 in July and somewhat warily dove back into training for the Ghost Train which was on Saturday. Despite telling everyone in earshot on the course that I was finished running or needed to at least take a year off I will probably return for both but try to revamp my training strategy. I believe that my training fatigue was mental and not physical and the issues that took place at Ghost Train were not preventable. Every tough race is a learning experience and this one was particularly rough.

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Leading up to race day I was a mess. I was unable to sleep because I had back pain and I was having bouts of vertigo and had to go back to the optical neurologist to get my eyes checked. I thought that these issues would be my main problems but neither of those things got in the way. I had a little bit of  trouble with my vision when the sun started to set but it wasn’t bad. I managed to navigate the precarious staircase that was added to the course and I only stumbled on it once. I found a lovely little bench on the trail side and because the course is an out and back I was able to do a “legs up the tree stretch” every 7.5 miles to release my back pain.

Tony brought me to the race and was my primary babysitter. I came prepared with silly hats for myself , crew and pacers. My friends who crewed me at VT showed up and got some great pics of us! Another friend got this great shot that looks like Tony is macing me but he was spraying me with sunscreen. I was holding some watermelon that got covered in sunscreen and I ate it before realizing it. Yuck. Too late.

The year that I had my fastest finish time on this course had a high temp of 45. This year it got up to 77! It was HOT. Parts of the course are in the open sun and I saw people overheating. I really concentrated on hydration. When I finished mile 15, I peed and drank my liquid fuel. Something was wrong though. I had a sharp pain under my left rib cage and it felt like nothing would go down right. Every now and then my stomach or intestine would vibrate and make a gurgling noise. Eventually I got to mile 22.5 and tried to pee again with no success just dribbles and not the right color. I kept hydrating and getting my electrolytes in. I was having terrible abdominal cramping and bladder pain though. I knew if I could get to mile 30 my buddy John would be there to jump in and pace me.

Poor John! He had to listen to all of the gory details of my bodily functions and he ran with me for 30 straight miles while I was being manic and crazy. I was in so much pain and I couldn’t get my fuel down. I was acting wacky and trying to distract myself. There was a really fast guy on the course with a mustache and when he passed us I broke out into a song about the “Mustache man” and started playing air guitar. We passed the power lines aid station and my friend, Mr. Bigl kindly peeled me an orange. I could only eat half so I made John eat the rest. Another runner was wearing a cool barrette with ribbons and I started petting her hair. Hmm, that’s awkward. I apologized and after that John kept telling me not to touch the people. But I kept high fiving and patting shoulders. Stop touching the people! My friend Heather arrived and was wearing her “special police” hat. I felt very relieved to have a female friend to discuss my health issues with. I put on a green chef hat and tried to pretend I was a french pastry chef offering runners food and speaking in a bad accent. Seeming the sun went down they probably couldn’t even see my hat which made me seem even weirder.

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Heather and Tony  were clearly enjoying their hats too and making new friends!

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I know that many people view ultra runners as reckless dare devils with a lack of awareness for personal safety. The fact is that most of us are extremely well educated on the risk factors and prevention measures that come with out sport. I have read dozens of articles discussing the importance of urine color. I was now in the middle of a race, struggling to pee and what came out was brown. There are two possible explanations for this. One is that the bladder is sloughing so much that it produces blood, which although painful, is not an emergency situation. The other reason could be rhabdomyolysis. That is when you are breaking down muscle tissue too fast and the kidneys can’t filter it out. That is a dangerous condition that requires medical attention.

When people run 100 miles we usually lie to ourselves. When we have pain we pretend it isn’t there. We tell ourselves that we will drop at the next aid station but convince ourselves to get to the next one. In order to make sure that I wasn’t lying to myself I kept checking in with my crew about my pee. I needed them to know the truth and pull me if it was necessary. The main things that kept me going were the fact that my kidneys didn’t hurt, the pain was mostly in my bladder. I was also extremely lucid and my energy levels felt fine. When I felt like I was ready to break from the pain my friend Maureen showed up like a breath of fresh air to start pacing me at mile 60. Her hat was like a little flower or rays of sunshine. I was comforted to have two ladies on board. The girls held up a sleeping bag  to shield me so I could change out of my wet shirt and put on a dry long sleeve as the temps dropped

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By this time I knew that I was not on track for getting a personal record but I wanted to try to finish and do my best. I sang songs to Maureen as we ran through the night. She kept me alert and distracted with conversation. I showed her all of the “land marks” of the trail. The tree that looks like it has a scrotum. The Stonehenge of Brookline, the famed tunnel, the sign that says something about Uranus, the ancient swamp pyramids. And of course I continued to sing to the mustache man every time I saw him.

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The man who would end up winning the race was already closing in on his finish. He was about to run the 3rd fastest 100 mile time in the world! His name is Patrick Caron and he finished in 13:50:43. He is not only an amazing athlete but one of the nicest people you could meet. It was thrilling to be on the course and have the opportunity to see him succeed.

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Poor Tony got stuck with me from mile 75-90. I was a mess. I was making horrible noises from being in pain. He said that I sounded like an animal in distress. Meanwhile, back at my homestead, Tony’s wife Lise was spending the night with my cat to make sure that she wasn’t in distress. Lise was a major player in my crew, just working behind the scenes.

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Tony was also exhausted. He had been there the entire time for me. We had rambling conversations trying to convince one another that gummy fruits were made from baby giraffes or ear wax. I tried to give him a lucidity test after he kept stubbing his toes on roots. (He failed) And then it got cold and we ran in silence for almost a full 7.5 miles.

Heather was taking a nap in her tent and Tony sent her a text to let her know that she could pick me up and run with me for my last ten miles. I was partially devastated because I was unable to put on my Halloween costume. Historically I run the last leg of this race in a costume but this one was a onesie and was not suitable for someone with bladder problems. Oh well. The suit is still in my possession and will eventually make an appearance! By this time I was talking again. But I was rambling on about quitting running and taking up yoga and Pintrest as new hobbies.  I was speed walking instead of running because it didn’t  jostle things around so much. Running is stupid! I just want to go home!! Heather got this great shot as the sun started to come up again, mile 98? Also, right around that time I was finally able to pee and it came out clear! The pain went away! I started to run again. Heather had to hustle to catch up with me.

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When we finally approached camp Tevya for the last time someone saw me and said your friends are all waiting for you! I picked up the pace and tried to hustle to the finish line. My friends were all cheering me on from the sidelines. My crew, my friends who had already finished, some who still had more laps to complete and some who had sadly been forced to drop out. I ran through the covered bridge and headed for the timing table. Holy crap!!! I was actually finishing this thing!!! 10977

I finished in 22:37:45. I was the 6th place female and 23rd overall. I will take it!

I learned so much at this race. I learned about the fine lines between safety and stupidity, About pushing through pain, about determination and I learned that I have some really amazing friends.

When I got home I was so sore and stiff. My landlord was like an angel. She sent me a text saying that she put a bowl of lentil harvest stew on the stairs for me. I literally had to crawl to get it. I wolfed it down and passed out. ZZZZZZ

I am sore and tired today but feeling fine. I walked for a mile and a half today to flush out my legs and I will go back to work tomorrow and get back to life as usual. Race plans for next year? To be determine at a later date. A mandatory rest period for ten days and then I will decide what is next. Thank you for following my adventures!

Slacker!

I know I know! I forgot to blog last week and then almost forgot again today. I have been busy and trying to get ready for my 100 miler next weekend!

Everyone is asking me if I feel ready. The answer? NOPE. My body has not been cooperating at all. I have been having trouble sleeping because of back pain. I keep doing the “legs up a wall ” at work in between clients and it seems to give me a little bit of relief.

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My knees, ankles and other joints have been swollen and painful. My toe joint has been so inflamed that the big toe is getting all up in the grill of the toe beside it and I have been stuffing wads of paper towels between them to make space. Break it up! So is this Lyme? Or the unknown thing that keeps changing form and creating havoc in my life? I had to go back to the optical neurologist because my vertigo and vision problems returned and I keep walking into door frames. I have adjusted lenses so hopefully that part will be remedied by race day. I hope so because they added a crazy staircase to the course without railings. Luckily I only need to do it 12 times.

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The weather has been so bizarre. The leaves are beautiful and it looks like fall but it is still humid and hot. The weather forecast is predicting that it will be about 30 degrees hotter this year than the last time I ran the course. The temps could be fairly comfortable but I am concerned about two things. One is that the headlamps only stay on my oddly shaped head if I am wearing a hat. I hope it cools off enough to wear a hat at night. And also I am famous for donning a Halloween costume for the last 25 or 10 miles of the race and that could get pretty warm. Here are some pics from my previous years at the Ghost Train.

So I don’t really know what to expect this year. In past attempts I have been lucky enough to make the top 3 females but this year will be extremely competitive in the female division and I will be lucky to make top ten. There are several women who are capable of running in the 17/18 hour range where I am still dreaming of a sub 21. So I really need to just focus on doing my best with what the day gives me. I have a star studded crew of people who are showing up to pace me and help me with my gear. They might be enough to help me push through my physical ailments and get across that finish line. Little Pheebs has helped me with a spreadsheet to know if I am on track for a PR, a sub 24 or the dreaded 30 hour cut off.

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I honestly do not know what to expect. I have never done two hundred mile races this close together in a calendar year and this is also the lowest that my training miles have ever been going into an ultra. Time will tell! In the least I will get to reunite with old friends and share some time in the beautiful foliage. And for that I am already grateful. Fingers crossed for a good race report next week!

Crushed

This has been such a tough and heartbreaking week. I know that I just need to rest up and process what happened and I will somehow find some lessons in it all and come out stronger.

It started on Monday when I was doing a tempo run on the rail trail and tripped over a piece of rebar. I smashed up both of my knees, my hands, my shoulder and my hip. I had a painful egg on my patella and lot’s of swelling. I was running a 7:58 pace when I caught my toe so I landed about 15 feet down the path. I was frustrated that after running all of these technical races without issue I took a spill on a flat trail. I had been distracted by a bird and took my eyes away for just a second. Crash.

I took the rest of the week easy doing walks and easy effort trail runs. I went to some scenic spots and tried to enjoy the beautiful weather. I knew that I only had 5 days to get the swelling down before I had to run my 50 mile trail race. Easy does it!

As you know I am infamous for wearing silly costumes for races. I put together an outfit to run the race as Flash Goldman (like Flash Gordon) Little did I know that the outfit would be the only thing to go right all day. The night before the race I was riddled with abdominal cramping and GI problems. Let’s just say that female athletes have some very gender specific issues that can mess up a race day. Knees felt better though and although I wasn’t feeling so hot I was still hoping to run some even splits and hope for a sub 10 hour 50 miler. It was dark and raining at the start of the race.

Those of us running 50 miles or 50k ran most of the first loop in darkness with head lamps. In the tunnel vision of my flash light I detected twists, turns, rocks, and howling dogs at a kennel. We hit the aid station at mile 3ish, and again at mile 7ish. There were people dressed up like pirates handing out snacks. Finishing the first loop a large group of us encountered some sign sabotage and added on some extra distance taking a wrong turn. I still managed to finish the first loop in under two hours. I was running with my buddy John and he had a jacket tied around his waist that made him look like he was wearing a dress.

We were part way into the second ten mile loop when the 10k and half marathon runners started. Suddenly we were flanked with these fast people who were breathing down our necks and trying to pass on the left and right at the same time. A little bit nerve wracking on single track.  John picked up his pace and clicked in with the half marathon runners. When we came around the next corner I couldn’t see him anymore. So just before you reach the mile 3 aid station there is a T junction. 50 milers go left to the aid station and half marathoners go right. When I hit the junction I was trapped in a pack of runners and never saw the sign. I turned right with everyone else. I had no way of knowing that I went the wrong way. Technically I was still on the course. Pink tape? Check. White signs with arrows? check. Other runners ? check. The first loop had been in the darkness so I didn’t know that this was a different part of the trail. I started to get suspicious when I passed over some slippery wet rocks that looked familiar. A short time later…Oh crap!!!! I was back at the field that leads to the start/finish. I had gone over 2 miles in the wrong direction. If I kept running to the start, I would be cheating and cutting it short. If I had to go back I would be adding on 4 miles. So I turned back. I was going the wrong way on a one way trail and side stepping, trying not to crash into people.

So, essentially, by the time I was about 15 miles deep in this race, I knew that I was no longer a part of it. I had two choices. I could go for an official finish which would mean that I needed to run 55 miles with the combined miles from my wrong turns. That would mean the worlds crappiest finish time and I felt like running over 50 miles just 3 weeks away from my 100 miler would be a mistake. My other choice was to keep running to get my training miles in and drop at loop four, giving myself 44.9 miles. I was thinking of finding a way to run the full 50 but my tracker was messed up and I didn’t get to learn my actual mileage until I was back home on my PC. (It said that I ran 42.6 @ 12:16 pace in 8:43:21 but I actually ran 44.9 @12:26 pace in 9:18:48) So I had to run the last 30 miles with a crushed heart and broken spirit. It was exactly like the pre-race nightmares that I usually have. I made a mistake that couldn’t be fixed. I was so thankful that my friends were there. My friend Sara jumped in and ran the last loop with me. She managed to cheer me up and help me make the important decision to stop when I did. My knee injuries did start to swell again at mile 35. Continuing to run still wouldn’t  give me a finish time but it could provoke further injury. Time to wrap it up.

Sara’s son Tyler had assigned me to learn the alphabet backwards in a song so I got to sing to him at the finish line. Chris and Sean ran some really fast 50k’s. Patrick Caron broke the course record for the 50 miler. My friend John crushed his 50 miles and ran a sub ten hour.

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I did some calculations and realized that with the pace I was running I would have missed a sub ten even if I finished 50 miles but perhaps if I wasn’t so bummed out I would have moved a little faster. I t was very hard to keep running, never mind feel inspired to run well. I guess I can’t harp on it. Right now I need to rest up and mend my broken heart and try to get ready to hit the start line of the Ghost Train 100 with a fresh attitude and fresh legs. 3 more weeks. And what the heck? At least I looked good out there right? FLASH…AHH AHHH

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