Just the Beginning

What a race!!! I am still on cloud nine. My friend John and I went back for our second annual Drummer Hill 50k yesterday. This is part of my training for the Vermont 100 so I used this race as a back to back long run block. Friday morning I went out and ran twenty hilly miles on dirt road/trail combo. It was pouring rain and in the low 50’s and my cold quads took a beating. When my alarm went off at 4 a.m. Saturday to head to the race I was worried because my legs felt stiff and sore. I foam rolled and did some mobility work and hoped for the best.

IMG_20180615_115944247 (1)

Drummer hill is a tough course. It is rocky, rooty, twisty and has over 4,600 feet of elevation gain. Some people in the race were dong shorter distances so I made sure to hold back in the beginning and let them get ahead of me. On the first lap I realized that I was running a lot of the steep sections that I had resorted to hiking in the past year. Once again I forgot to turn off auto pause on my watch so the time that I stopped at aid stations was not being added to my watch. When I ran this race in 2017 I barely broke 7 hours. My quick mental math told me that I went out way too fast, I was on track for a sub 6 hour!?. But I felt good.

35474045_10155542886271408_6261800144174317568_n

The only thing bothering me was my new hydration pack. The straps were chaffing the skin off of my neck. It is a different shape than the older model and does not fit as well. I thought about ditching the pack but it continued to get hotter and I didn’t want to rely on aid stations for water. I tucked my bandanna under the strap and tried to ignore it.

IMG_20180615_182754396

I finished lap 2 (about 15 miles) I grabbed some water and grapes at the aid station and heading back up the steep hill. I caught up with the guy ahead of me and realized it was this guy Scott that I knew. He is usually hour ahead of me in races. Did he lap me? Did I go out too fast? Or was I just having a really great race? I hung in with him for the whole next loop. His conversation and laughter kept me distracted and moving at a good clip. We took turns smashing our feet into roots, tripping over rocks and at one point he rolled his ankle pretty bad. He decided to drop when we passed the start/finish line. I had one more loop to finish this thing. The heat had come on strong, I think it was in the high 80’s and so many spots on the trail were full sun and no longer shaded. A sub six was out of the question but I figured I could still try to keep it under 6:10.

I made it up one of the steep hills and the people at the aid station tent offered me an icy rag. I was so hot and it was the most heavenly thing to have a cold cloth to wipe the salt off of my face and chaffed neck. It gave me a little boost. It wasn’t until the last few miles that my legs really started to complain. My goal was to run this race and leave my legs fresh enough to run ten miles the next morning. But I also had it in mind that I might be in the top 3 females so I did not want to back off of my pace.

I hit the final aid station with just a few miles to go and this awesome volunteer Suzanne jumped in and ran to the finish line with me. I was so thankful for her company and conversation. Despite a few terrible sound effects I hung in there and crossed the finish line in 6:04! 52 minutes faster than last year. I was the 3rd woman and 6th person across the finish line for the 50k. My buddy John finished shortly after and we got to sing happy birthday to him at the finish line because he was turning 50!! This amazing woman named Yuki who is one of my running heroes came in 2nd woman and put things in perspective in her race write up:

“Drummer Hill 50K trail race was THE MOST challenging 50K I have ever done in my life. I had no idea what I was in for when I woke up this morning. To put this in perspective, I have done the Pineland Farm 50K in 4hrs34min and the Fall Classic 50K in 5hours. This 50K took me 5hrs48min and I was pushing the pace to the best of my ability. My legs felt like they were on fire within the first mile. 🔥My average heart rate was 175bmp and went up to 207. The ascents and descents were both steep and technical. Heck, this whole course was full of roots and rocks. My anthem for the day was “Focus, don’t fall”and it worked even though I tripped a dozen times which was jarring. I’m mentally and physically exhausted from this jaunt in the Woods, but I freaking loved it!”

I also passed some of my racing costumes on to her because she is wacky like me and likes to dress up for races! 

35472356_10155542886731408_6968344026965606400_n

I managed to go and run my ten miles this morning and felt good! Tired but more from lack of sleep than running fatigue. I ran jut under 95 miles this week.

In my mind this is only the beginning. Next up is Vermont 100 and for those of you who missed my big announcement, my heart is focused on preparing myself for Infinitus 888k (No typo, that many 8’s) next Spring. It is known as one of the toughest races in the world and I want a shot at it. I am not getting any younger but perhaps I am getting stronger! I am getting saddled with a $10,000 dental bill this year. (no typo, that many zeros) So I am doing a fundraiser to help with the expenses of this huge race as it is currently beyond my means . Please check out my GOFUNDME link below for details and message me if you are interested in crewing or pacing! Thanks for following my journey!

Infinitus 888k

 

Advertisements

What’s been happening…

Long time no blog! Although I haven’t blogged for a while, a lot has happened so I will do a quick catch up post. May was a blast! Here are a few highlights:

My mom came to visit and we did the Save the Bee’s 5k and believe it or not I was first place in a 5k! It was a small town race and none of the fast people knew about it so I lucked out.

0034916_69c84c41-24bd-4c93-8772-a012c40cc5dd32293954_615756395425455_5578212676896555008_n

We also got to meet the amazing Eric Keeler who is running across America! It brought back so many memories of my cross country adventure and we were able to hook him up with places to stay throughout the state. You can follow his journey here. CornerToCorner

IMG_20180513_141221280_HDR

I also completed the Stratham Hill trail race series. I raced a 10k every Thursday night. It was another small event so I managed to be first or second lady each week and the prize was a pineapple! I still have one left to eat. I felt like those races helped me by forcing me to do speed work once a week.

14759

I ended up getting a day off unexpectedly and drove up to the Tin Mountain Conservation area for Dirty Girl trail race. It is a 10k all female race and I thought that I would have a good shot at top 5 after running all of the SHP races. Hah! No way, the course was more technical that I imagined and there were some smoking fast ladies up there that completely humbled me. I ended up being 9th out of 107 women. I still managed to pull off an age division win and won some fun prizes for being the first masters (old lady) It was such a fun race and I hope to make it back next year with more experience.

I also got some great medical news. Ever since my incident in 2016 I have been on a long journey of recovery. There was a great deal of debate between doctors about my diagnosis. Some told me that I had had auto-immune encephalitis and might become sick again. Other doctors suggested that I was having a degenerative neurological condition or brain stem migraines that required medication. I had been waiting for many months to go see a specialist at Dartmouth Hitchcock. My dad drove me all the way up to Lebanon to see the neurologist. They did another EEG (brain scan) and this one came out normal!! After going over my history and doing some tests he told me that I most likely had a viral encephalitis and it didn’t show up in the initial lumbar puncture because they waited too long to run the test.

So I am actually recovering! I do not need to expect things to get worse. The brain injury is chemical and not structural so he said there is a possibility for a full recovery. Hooray!! I still have issues with vision, balance and brain fog but I can handle that as long as I know it wont progress.

Perhaps this good news is what is leading to my next thought process. I went up to Goshen VT this weekend for a mysterious trail race with the Endurance Society. I only ran marathon distance but other participants ran, 8k, 88k, 100 miles, 250 miles or some people run a “Deca” which is a marathon a day for 10 days. And another wacky bunch attempt to run 888k. So,  two marathons a day for ten days plus an extra 7 mile loop. The course is rugged and technical with deep mud, river crossings and 4,600 ft. of elevation gain per marathon. Running just the marathon it took me 5:30. I missed making podium by a hair because I lost a sprint finish at the end with the 3rd place lady.

IMG_20180602_135641585_HDR

I got there the night before the race and got to watch and hang out with the people doing the longer distances. It was fascinating. It is very reminiscent of Barkley. Usually only one person a year finishes the 888k. The DNF rates for the other distances are also extremely high. I can’t stop thinking about it. I haven’t done anything dumb for 4 years…this might be my calling. The wheels are spinning and I am trying to wrap my head around the logistics: The heavy training involved, the finances behind registration, the gear, ten days off from work, finding enough people to crew and pace me…it seems impossible but I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT IT.

 

 

BIG A 50K!

Here is my race report. Better late than never! I had two races this week. I started the Stratham Hill race series on Thursday. I will be doing a 10k every Thursday night in the month of May. I felt like I ran really well but they still haven’t posted the results so I have no idea how I placed. There was a 5k and a 10k and all of the times were jumbled together.

I also ran the BIG A 50k at Mount Agamenticus this Saturday.  I was really excited to find a bunch of my SIX03 Endurance friends at the start.

received_1015743283044096841913950131_3f2539f581_k

 

It was tougher than I expected. It was fairly technical and I had to do a lot of high knees to clear the rocks and roots. I hadn’t really trained for that yet so my hip flexors felt pretty fatigued. I was originally hoping to run 6:30 but realized that I’d be lucky to get a sub 7 after I saw the terrain. It was cold and windy at the start but I knew that the temps would be rising over 20 degrees as the day went on.

31945615_2189725627712252_5326845262017069056_n

Capture31959863_2189048981113250_1427518245811781632_n

Once it started to get hot my feet were getting clumsy and I was getting confused at the turns on the course and slowed down quite a bit to make sure I was going the right way.

31944137_2189723184379163_1641410215607795712_n31958648_2189103747774440_3251950581408858112_n

I made the mistake of wearing a different watch and I hadn’t taken the time to program it so I was unable to see my mileage or time, I also forgot to shut off the auto pause function so it was not counting time at aid stations. I stopped at every one to fill up on water to make sure that I was hydrated. A bunch of people were overheating and I wanted to play it safe. . I knew that I was probably going to be cutting it really close to make a sub 7 hour finish. When I hit the gravel path to the finish I did my best job to hustle.

 

I made it back to the finish line in 6:58!! Just by the skin of my teeth. I was super happy to be the 2nd place female across the finish line.  After I finished I got to talk to the woman who won. She told me that the first year it took her 7:30 but coming back knowing the course she shaved it down to 6 hours!! That gives me hope and confidence that I can go back next year with more experience and try to beat my own time. It was a great day and a good start to my race season!!

received_10157432830260968

Bad Blogger

I have had trouble finding the time and energy to blog lately so I guess I have shifted away from weekly posts. But I have a free moment and some fun photos so here we go! This weekend was Dixon’s Revenge. It is a slopping wet mud fest of a 20k trail course that celebrates a famous Bartender named Dixon who was around in the 1800’s when prohibition was happening in Maine. For this reason I chose to dress up in an 1800’s style outfit to run the race.  I did it last year and had so much fun that I had to go back for more.

31408205_10217001361772137_1775067789678084096_n

Before our race started we got to see the canicross race. The water was deep and some of the dogs were so short that they either had to swim or be carried through the water crossings. They had so much fun!!

The 20k was so much wetter than last year. I don’t think I have ever fallen down so much in a race before. In fact I am not sure if anyone managed to finish without falling in the mud. You could hear splashing and laughing the whole time.

I carry a little speaker that plays silent film music which makes everything just a little bit sillier. I am not sure if it will work but here are some links to videos that went on Facebook: The lady is parched

The lady gets her dress dirty

Several times I splatted down on my hands and knees into the soupy mud. And then I would start laughing so hard that I had trouble getting back up again. At one point I tripped and went flying through the air and almost stabbed a girl in the rear end with my parasol. After that incident I decided to ditch the prop at the next aid station. You would think that my balance would be improved by having free hands but it didn’t stop me from slipping into a muddy water hole. I was waist deep sitting in a cold puddle. I think that helped wash a lot of the mud off of me because people were marveling at how clean my dress was at the finish line.

The race ends on a fairly dry gravel road but I made sure to jump in every puddle for good measure. This race is so much fun, I encourage everyone to come out and either race or spectate next year.

I went back out today in the rain as a volunteer to clean up the course. It was way more fun in my dress with all of my friends there. But I was pretty impressed that there was only one paper cup on the whole course. The trail runners were so considerate and didn’t leave any litter behind. Anyway, apologies for my lack of blog posts lately. Know that all is well and I will still be posting from time to time.

IMG_20180429_095734103_HDR

Mission Accomplished

Time for a brief and belated race report from yesterday’s marathon! The race was at the Salisbury State Reservation in MA.  With an early start time of 7 a.m. I was questioning my sanity as I crawled out of my warm bed in the dark cold morning. I was still on the fence about whether or not I would be going all out and shooting for a new personal record. (faster than 3:25:23) After previewing the course the week before I realized that the fairly treeless and seaside location made it act as a wind tunnel.

park

When I woke up, the weather channel forecasted wind starting at 11mph and increasing to 14-15mph during race time. I decided that running a PR with that kind of  head wind would take a ton of effort and require a longer recovery time than I wanted. So my goal was to run it as fast as I could with the intention of being able to run the next day and still be able to do the 50k trail race in 2 weeks.

Soon after arriving I found my friends from SIX03. It was already windy and SO COLD. We were all shivering and huddling together like Emperor Penguins. We jumped into my buddy’s SUV to try and stay warm.

30265262_10214052192050778_5776733465546326016_n

The race had official pacers and I started running with the 3:25 pace group figuring that I would hold that pace until the wind ramped up. The poor pacer smashed his foot up in a pothole on the first loop and I thought for sure that he broke his foot. Eventually my friend John caught up and we were discussing how the split paces seemed erratic and fast. So what did we do? We went ahead of the 3:25 pace group. (We are famous for making bad decisions together) The course was looped so it was really cool seeing all of my friends multiple times during the race. Both racers and spectators would cheer and flash smiles when we saw them.

Eventually I realized that a trip to the porto potty was imminent. By the time I came out my friend John was long gone but I reconnected with the 3:25 pace group. They said that they were banking some time because the course was a bit long. The wind was really picking up by then and I dreaded the north bound stretches. A snowy owl was in a tree spectating the race and people following it around with cameras were a pleasant distraction. Per usual I acted like an idiot when I saw people taking my picture.

At some point the 3:25 pace group had gone ahead but I eventually found the pacer walking and he said that he had bonked and had to stop. My watch was giving me inaccurate reading so I wasn’t quite sure about distance or pace. My energy felt great but I could no longer hold sub 8 pace in the strong wind. The cold had also settled in and my quads were tight causing low back and sacrum pain. On one of the last loops a roll of toilet paper had escaped the porto potty and was blowing all over the place. I got tangled up in TP like a mummy going around the corner.

So I ended up finishing strong (but cold) and I was very pleased with my stats. Not that I was trying to qualify for Boston, but if I had been, I beat requirement time by 27:08. I was also happy for other friends who ran BQ times.

Capture

I felt good enough to do a short hike in the afternoon and this morning I got up and did an hour of strength training and went on a trail run. It was a great race and hopefully just the beginning of what is going to be a fun and exciting race season. Now I can get back to TRAILS!!!!! Thanks for all of the support and encouragement. Just for kicks I will add a bonus photo from last weeks 4 miler.

Capture

 

 

April Fools

6 more days until the marathon and I still haven’t decided if I am racing it or using it as a training run. I went down to Salisbury this weekend to scout out the race course. There was a 4 mile race right down the road at the winners circle so I parked there really early in the morning and ran to the marathon course. I found something called the Salisbury Ghost Trail which spit me right out on the road to the State Reservation. The trail was mostly clear but had some patches of snow and some downed trees to add to the adventure. The marathon course weaves in and out of little side roads in the park so I had to carry a map. It is a beautiful route but because of the open location on the beach the wind has little to stop it. That day it was a 12 MPH wind and the same effort added about 30 seconds to my pace coming back into the head wind. So the weather will really play a role in my decision to race it or not.

So after the course preview I ran back to the April Fools 4 miler and shed a few layers to run the race. It has been quite a while since I ran a short race and I wasn’t really sure what would happen. Also, by that time I had already logged 13 miles for the morning. More than most would do for a warm up. I am very pleased with my results. I won my division and I think? Ran a personal record for a 4 miler. Capture

29573028_1948804485150531_1276298720651952256_n

I made a few mistakes that cost me some time. Because it was an out and back course I lost my focus and started yelling and cheering other runners and my friends which I didn’t really have the oxygen for. (Still fun though) And then towards the end I tried to battle it out with a girl who was passing me and I pushed the envelope a little too far and triggered my gag reflexes. I was dry heaving and burping when I took the corner to the finish line. It was a great day though and I saw a bunch of friends from my club. The lead female ran a 5:16 pace!! And also 93 year old Lou Peters was there and finished the 4 miles coming in ahead of 7 other people. This is why running is so cool! Such a diverse group of people all testing their own limits.

I snuck out on a little bit of trail yesterday! I will be shifting back into trail mode after this week and I can’t wait!! I think the road training has helped me get my speed back up and now I need to work on my agility and climbing skills. Back in my element!

 

Mini Blog post

OK! Here is a mini blog post that is a day late. I got home late from work and was tired so I slacked off last night. So, I had such a good string of training runs this week that I fear I may be peaking now rather than at my race in a few weeks. I guess that’s ok because I have achieved my goal. The marathon isn’t really a target race, I just wanted to improve my cadence and turnover before I hit the trails.

I did a string of back to back long runs on road. I put a 20 miler in the middle and set out to run the first 90 minutes fast and then drop back into whatever felt comfortable for the rest of those miles. There was a group run in Maine so I went to that and roped my buddy Chris into joining me for the fast stuff. We had a steady head wind for the first 9 miles but pushed through it. I still kept a decent pace up after I eased up at about mile 12.6 and ended up with an overall pace of 7:53 for the 20 miles. That is what would make me happy as a race pace. So who knows, maybe I can pull it off again, or maybe, as usual, I will always get personal records on my training runs instead of races. I am just happy to be outside and moving. Spring is almost here and soon I can escape to my happy place on trails again!

29261049_2010300692543516_606683861639757824_n