Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bull Run Run 50 miler (Race Report 2013)

Bull Run Run is a popular race that is a lottery entry just like Hashawha Hills 50k probably because they are both put on by the Virginia Happy Trails. Rik signed us up and sure enough, I got in and he did not (which was just the opposite of our Hashawha experience). He ended up #91 on the wait list. We never thought he would get in and I was unsure if I wanted to run it if he didnt get in. Low and behold he was the very last person to get in on the very last day at the very last minute. It was meant to be! We were going to be running! It would be my first 50 mile attempt.

This race takes place down near Clifton VA which is about a 2 1/2 hr drive for us. We decided to head down early Friday afternoon and spend the night at a local hotel. There are actually bunks available in bunk houses at the start but I felt like I really wanted to sleep in a private hotel room the night before my first 50 mile run in order to hopefully get some kind of sleep.

We went to packet pickup first and checked out the trails a bit. They looked beautiful. We then went and checked in the hotel before heading out for some pizza. We came back and were ready for bed early. Slept decent and we were up and getting ready by 4:30am. We got to the park at about 5:30. And were ready to run at 6:30-just after the sun came up. It was about 45 degrees and just a beautiful morning. Good day for a run!

The start happened right on time and we took off on a small loop on the road to spread people out a bit and then headed on to the trails. It is a double out and back race. Its out and back in one direction and then the same to the opposite direction. It is entirely on trails. Trails that never seem to stop going up or down!

The first out and back is the shorter of the two and where the bluebell flowers were blooming along the river. It was beautiful. I was feeling great. The trails were in good shape after some rain early Friday. Everyone was running along talking and having a good time. The nice thing about the out and back is that you get to pass everyone and offer encouragement and good jobs (and I would get to see Rik).

By the time I got back to Hemlock aid station I was still really feeling good. I took some time here to refuel well and fill my pack. And off I went. After this point I ended up running with a small group of people for awhile. It was great to have company since I am used to running by myself at this point. Its amazing how many people said that I picked a harder first 50. Thanks. I actually did not know this when I signed up!

One guy was 69yo (I forget how many times he said he has run BRR). Another one was working on his 6th finish (and he just barely made it!). Another guy was just trying to keep going after already throwing up 3 times by the time he picked up with us (I wish I knew if he made it or dropped). And another girl, Shelly, who I probably ran with the longest who is training for her first 100 in May! There were others too.

I really cant believe how good I felt up until I had a bit of a low point at about the 30 mile mark when I was informed that we were to make a left onto a trail and then would eventually come back and then continue, kind of another out and back. At that point just knowing that I was doing another out and back really got to me. This was also during the warmest time of the day so I think that was wearing on me too. Once I got to the aid station and got a Popsicle it really helped!
I am eating a banana here and not a popsicle but whatever.
I did the Do Loop after that and then knew I was on my way back to the finish line...eventually. The hills were really starting to wear on me. They arent big. They just dont stop. Hill after hill after hill! I would say about 200ft up and then down again and again and again. You get the picture. If not, here is one that Shelly took of me to help you out a little...
So what I am trying to say is that this hills were tough but I was surprised that I was still feeling good physically. Mentally, meh, just ready to get it done! By the time I left the last aid station there was about 5.5 miles to the finish and I tried to pick up the pace. I ran when I wanted to walk and I just kept going. I was by myself for these last miles and even passed 6 or 7 people.

The last bit of trail includes a section of rocks beside the river that you are trying to maneuver over with legs that dont exactly cooperate any more. I thought for sure I would end up in the river. I survived the rocks and was rewarded with the last and biggest climb up to a field of grass. I was so tired but ran across the grass and onto the last bit of stone road to the finish with everyone cheering me in. Heaven!

I'll tell you what's heaven. Every single volunteer out there on the course and at the finish. They are just amazing souls. The one at the finish line handed me a cold wet cloth to wash off with and a cold cup of water.

It really was a great race. A great day with great weather and great company. You just cant beat it. If you are lucky enough to get in this it!!
Garmin elevation profile. Very deceiving other then it is true that you are either going up or down. Final read out said  just under 5000ft total ascent. I think that is fair.

After my injury last fall I know that I came into this race slightly under trained but oh so happy to be healthy and running without any pain at all. And now that I have accomplished my big 50 miler it high time I work on speed over the summer and decide what I want to do for the fall.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Long run on the Mason-Dixon Trail (24 miles)

RUNS: This weekend was to be the longest long run that I have done that wasnt an organized race in a very long time. We decided to run part of the Mason-Dixon trail here in PA. Rik has run all of the sections that we ran today but never from the start/end point that we did today.

We decided to park at the edge of Apollo Park and run south from there. The goal was to run 28 miles but I was a little slower moving then usual and we decided to turn around a bit earlier. We also decided to start our run in the afternoon and knew that we would be finishing in the dark! This was something completely different. We always start our long runs in the AM.

At about the 5.5 mile point we ran through a camp ground and on the other side was this cool bridge that we had to go across....
Rik on the trail.
Headed down to the water crossing.
Surprisingly not as cold as we thought it would be.
This large water crossing was at about the 10 mile point. It started to sleet pretty good here and we debated turning around then before crossing the water. But ultimately we continued on for a few more miles and I am really glad we did.

We ended up turning around just past the 12 mile point for a total of over 24 miles and almost 4000ft of elevation ascent. We had periods of rain, sleet and wind. The only part that was bad was a section of road that was fields on either side. Of course this is where it was blowing and raining the most! We were glad to finally hit the trail again after that.

Here we are oh so happy to almost be done. It is at an over look looking out over the Susquehanna River.
We ended up finishing the run after dusk but it was still just light enough that we didnt need to break out the head lamps.

The next day we did our back to back run. I ended up running 10 miles around Lake Redman. My legs were a mess! They certainly did not want to be running the morning after a 24 miler. No pain. Just legs like jello!

Now to see if I can do it all again next week. That will be the true test.

EATS: During the 24 miles (6hrs) I had 2 GUs, 2 fig newtons, 3 Shot Bloks, peanut M&Ms, several ounces of grape Gatorade and a pack full of water. I felt I fueled very well on this run.

Post run fuel consisted of a veggie burger, potato chips and soda. Oh, and one of these!
Vodka, cranberry juice and pineapple juice.
In the morning I had some cold cereal and 2 glasses of water before the 10 miler. Only water during that run. I didnt feel like I needed anything else but was very hungry within minutes of finishing so we quick went home and got cleaned up and head out to our local burrito joint for some of the good stuff....
Rik gets the potato burrito and I just get the bean burrito.
I plan to hit up the grocery store tomorrow and do some food prep for the up coming week, color my hair and I am also looking forward to going to yoga with my older son (20yo)! Sounds like a busy day for a rest day. :)

Do you have any post long run rituals? 
We seem to like to do the burrito thing.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Horseshoe Elevation Fest FatAss Run (2013)

RUNS: Horseshoe Elevation Fest!!
This was the third year of the Horseshoe Elevation Fest and the second year that we attended. It is a FatAss race/run held on the Horseshoe Trail with a great group of people. It is a 10k loop and you can do as many loops as you please up to a 50k. The timing of this event is great because many of us are using it as a training run for some upcoming ultra. The loop is about 4 miles trail and 2 miles road. We are to go opposite directions each loop.

We gather bright and not to early at Stephan's house. See he lives right on the HST. It actually goes directly across his long and winding driveway. About 100 people show up to run. Everyone has brought a bunch of food for the aid station and for the after party. It is cold and windy outside with snow flurries off and on. Much different then the warm and misty rain of last year.

We gather for the group picture. Stephan gives us some brief instructions and we head off down the driveway.
Gathered at the start.
Once you get to the bottom of his driveway you round the corner and head back up his neighbors driveway and immediately onto the Horseshoe Trail which is a field crossing...

Right from the start my legs are heavy and I am slow moving. It is extremely cold and windy. And I tell Rik to go ahead and go. Not to wait for me. I catch up with a small group of girls just as we are entering the woods and I hang with them for the rest of the first loop. Particularly a chick named Jo. We run and talk and she tells me that she is an experienced ultra runner and has run many of the upcoming races Rik is doing this year.

We finish up the trail portion and come out on to the road portion. Run for about 2 miles and hit up the Horseshoe Trail again that brings us back around to Stephans house. I manage to lose Jo and the other girls on the last hill up to his house.

I continue to feel crappy but am moving at an okay pace. I already know that I am only going to do two loops so I only eat an orange slice and sips of Gatorade at the aid station and stuff some M&Ms and swedish fish in my pocket to go! Then I quickly head back out.

Since I am doing this loop in opposite it is downhill to start but rocky....
Then back out onto the road for a bit. I am moving pretty good on the road but the longer I run it the more my body hurts. I cant really explain it except to say that I hurt. First my one knee then the other and my hip for awhile. I can clearly tell that my body just is not happy with the running.

I played games with my head for a bit trying to talk my body into feeling better so that I could do one more loop. I kept thinking that yes, I could do another loop and get my mileage but really, what difference does it make come tomorrow if I ran 6ish more miles or not. My body was tired and sore all over and it probably just wasnt worth it.

So I just continued to enjoy my run the best that I could. I love doing a loop like this. Especially when you do the reverse order. That way you are continually passing people and everyone is so happy and encouraging. Asking how many loops are you doing, how many have you done, how are you feeling, the trails are thawing and getting muddy warnings, etc. It really was a good time!

One of the last hills here before some downhill to the field....

I finished up and immediately head inside to get warm! How cool is it that Stephan puts on this run but even cooler that he and his family allow us into their home to eat, hang out, use the bathroom, etc. Last year it was nice enough that we were able to hang out on his very large porch. But this year it was just to cold. He did have one of those big heater things out there and a bunch of the guys hung out there but not me. No way I hung inside...where it was warm...where the food was!

EATS: Speaking of food! We took bananas and cookies for the aid station and I made my usual Quinoa Fruit Salad for the after party...

And here are some pics of the other food available (I seriously only got a small portion of what was actually available!)...
Goulash, Chili, Hummus and veggies, My Quinoa salad.
More veggies and dip, fruit and dip, German potato salad and not sure what the other one was.
This was all washed down with some delightful beverages all while I sat here.....
In front of that HUGE fireplace!
We eventually drove home and I immediately took a nap before I even took a shower or put anything away. For some reason I was exhausted! What a great day with friends :)

Have you ever run a FatAss event?!

Happy Trails.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Updates and Dietbet #2 for the win!

RUNS: I've run twice this week since the 50k and I feel like they have been strong runs. And I feel like I am recovering nicely. I did have a day of very restless legs in between those two runs that I took an extra day off and wore Riks calf sleeves. They really seemed to help!

I am beyond pleased that I am consistently running about 10:00mm paces on the road. I havent run that pace since this time last year. So I feel like I am back at my baseline after a very difficult year. I am very excited and nervous to see what happens over the next couple of months when the weather starts to warm up and things start blooming. I am cautiously optimistic though.

Also, I completed my second round of Dietbet and won again. This time I ended up winning just over $30! You cant beat getting paid to lose weight! Here is a comparison picture from last November to now (about 3months)...
 I am participating in a third and final round put on by the same person. After that I will decide if I want to continue or not. I would just have to find another game put on by someone else to enter but there are MANY that you can enter.

Im really hoping that in another three months I will be down another 15lbs. I would be totally stoked!!

EATS: Last week and so far this week I/we have been mostly trying to use up foods that we already have with minimal grocery shopping. So here are some of the dinners we were able to throw together...
Trader Joes Veggie Stir-Fry
Asian Burger under Parm Noodles and Green Beans
Left over Chili and breaksticks
Another Veggie Stir-Fry over Quinoa and topped with an Orange Coconut sauce
And of course....Pizza!
We've done pretty good with using things up and we are about ready for a big shopping trip again very soon!

Do you ever go through periods where you try to use up things in the freezer and pantry instead of buying MORE food?!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hashawha Hills 50k (race report 2013)

This race takes place down in Westminster MD which is less then an hours drive south for us. Some friends ran it last year and said that it was a blast. Never mind that it costs less then $20 to enter! The biggest problem about the Hashawha race is that it is a lottery entry. Which, of course, meant that Rik got in and I didnt. In fact, I was pretty far down on the wait list. So resolved to the fact that I would volunteer while waiting for him to run.

The Sunday before the race we went up and ran 20 miles on the AT. Then on Monday I got an email saying that I was in. Now some people can run this much but I have been trying to be "smarter" with my running and running two 20+ milers the two weekends before this race were just not in the "smart plan". But I couldnt pass it up now and decided to go run but to only do one of the two 15.5 mile loops as a nice training run.

Leading up to the race the weather was forecasted as rain, sleet, freezing rain. The whole bit. We headed out early the morning of to try and get there early. We did and were instructed to park in the first lot. The lot was a sheet of ice! We knew it was going to be a good day!

Luckily, registration, bathrooms, etc is all located inside a nice warm building...
About 100 people at the start.
Alan giving us pre-race instructions.
After the pre-race instructions we were told to head out for a short 2 minute walk down to the pavilion and the start of the race. We all gathered under the pavilion since it was cold and misty out. The next thing we heard "GO"! And off we went.

Down through some grass, out onto the road (be careful here its slippery!), and then back onto a trail in less then a mile. The ground was very frozen. There were patches of ice here and there. It was misting and about at the freezing point. I was moving slowly and hanging towards the back and getting warmed up.

Much of the first 8 miles are a very nice mix of trails and a little bit of road. Within the first 5 miles we have an out and back section with the out being downhill and the back being uphill. Oh, and dont forget the small creek crossing here. I was able to keep my feet dry the first time but not the second! The first time with the out and back the trails were still frozen. The second time they were a complete slippery mud fest!

After the out and back were more trails before you hit the road section. Yep, sure enough, I fell on some black ice on the road. I felt myself going and tried to maneuver myself over to the side of the road but then just went down. Hard enough to rip my pants but still not to bad. Evidently quiet a few people went down on this section and the others just got lucky!
Blurry picture of the rip in my pants.
I didnt stop at the 8 mile aid station because they said it was a 2.3 mile loop before we would come back to the same FAMOUS AID STATION. So I headed up the hill instead. This is a section of hilly trail followed by some fields and then a little more field. Some chick was headed out of the loop as I was headed in and she said how beautiful it was up there. All I saw was fields. Okay it wasnt that bad. I am just not a field runnin' lover. And the field sections were way less then 2 miles but I felt it.

Back to the aid station and I did take some goodies and soda and kept on moving. As I left one of the guys told me to wash my shoes off in the up coming creek. Down just a ways was our big creek crossing of about 10 ft maybe. It was up over my ankles and there was no way to avoid getting wet. My feet were numb as I came out the other side but warmed back up quickly. And I continued on to what I thought was the hilliest part of the course.

This entire 5 miles I contemplated whether I would go for a second loop or not. This was a much hillier course then I had anticipated but I was moving along okay. Did I really want a technical DNF even though I went into this knowing I was only going to run one loop. I did want one of those homemade finishers mugs. And I would really like a finish so that I have a better chance of getting in next year. Oh but those hills were really starting to wear on me.

Just as I was deciding to call it quits when I got done the first loop...I heard something and looked to my right to see the start/finish area! Already! It took my by pleasant surprise and as you can imagine, gave me some mojo to keep pushing on. I quickly grabbed some grub and headed back out.

As I headed back out, Bob and company were headed in and he hollered that he was watching me and they were going to catch up, lol. I took off while stuffing food in my face and kept moving.

Almost as soon as I got back into the trail I was regretting my decision. The misty rain had stopped and it had warmed slightly and the trails were already getting muddy. I thought about turning around several times but instead kept moving forward. The out and back section was beyond muddy this time but everyone we past was so pleasant with "good jobs" and "way to goes". I was actually flip flopping with several runners at this point which was nice to have others around me.

Things were uneventful to the aid station. The aid station itself was a muddy mess as well and they were warning incoming runners to watch their steps. Very slippery mud. I left for the field loop following a guy and we ended up being about the same pace. We came back around and hit up the aid station one last time and headed out for out last 5ish miles.

The water crossing seemed deeper this time but not as cold. It was even muddier on the other side and then for quite a ways beyond that. Eventually I was able to get a good run going again. Until we hit those big hills near the end. I had to stop more then once...okay, a bunch of times to catch my breath. My legs were ready to be done! I ended up passing my friend on the one of the last hills. His legs were more fried then mine. So I headed off on my own to the finish.

As I was coming along the ridge Rik saw me from down below at the finish and I heard him yell my name. It made me smile and pick up the pace again down and around the trail until I came out to the small field crossing to the finish. As I rounded the corner I wanted to walk but Rik was there encouraging me to run it in and even started running with me. I saw the time on the clock and realized that if I hustled it in that it would be my second fastest 50k! So I gave it all I had up that little hill, lol.
The last of the trail is behind me.
Headed up to the finish!!
And I oh so happily collected my very own homemade pottery mug from Alan with a finish time of 7:06!!

Is this not the coolest mug you've ever seen!
After I chilled for a couple of minutes, cheered some more runners in and talked with my friend Traci, we walked back up to the Environmental Center where I was able to get some food, clean up and change in the nice warm building. There were still alot of people sitting around sharing stories of the day.

Evidently the 2013 Hashawha Hills 50k will be known as "The Ice and Mud Year"!!!

I cant believe I just ran another 50k! And I cant believe my time considering the conditions of the day. It was awesome. Cant wait to do it again next year! Hopefully with some rested legs I will be able to do even better. Unless the weather wants to throw something else at us of course.

**Btw, the reason for no on trail pictures this time was because of the ugly weather, I was afraid to take my phone out of the baggie I had it safely stored away in during the run. You will have to run the race yourself to see the beautiful trails :)


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

New-to-me section of the AT (long run).

RUNS: The long run this weekend got changed more then once between the weather and other peoples plans. The final plan ended up being a run on the Appalachian Trail on a new-to-me section. I was promised beautiful views if I put up with the cold and blustery winds. And the wind ended up not being much of a factor except on a couple of the field crossings.

I was totally not into it on Sunday morning but got up and headed out. Within the first mile I felt like I wanted to walk. And by the second mile I did walk for a bit. I was thinking there was no way that I would be able to run 20 miles today. But I knew that I wanted to get to a certain land mark/point before I did turn around.

So I kept trudging along mostly running and then walking when I couldnt. By about the 5 mile mark things got a bit better and I was moving along quite nicely. By mile 6 I was ready to keep going the distance! There was more elevation and rocky sections on this part of the AT but still very runnable. Right before we got to the look out was the steepest and rockiest section.

But I was infact rewarded with these amazing views!
Rik is looking for our car somewhere down there.
Rock bench.
Perfect place to relax and refuel.
While we were checking out the views some hikers from Pittsburg came by and we chatted for a bit. The older gentleman was 68yo and hoping to do the entire AT in sections by the time he is 80. So cool! They were nice enough to snap a quick pic of Rik & I too.
Its so funny when you talk to hikers and they are amazed that you are running the trails that they are hiking. I was kind of surprised with how many people we saw on the trail today considering how cold and windy it was. But everyone was so nice and friendly. Love it.

After we finished up at the lookout we continued uphill to the top to check out some more trails before turning around and headed back down. You can imagine how much fun it was going back down! Some of it was a bit to steep for me to run but much of it was just plain fun running!

We continued back towards the car and Rik taunted me in the last 1 1/2 mile to see if we could make it back to the car by a certain time. I told him to go ahead but I started cruising too. I thought I was cruising for awhile and looked down at my Garmin only to see that I had gone about 1/2 mile, lol. I slowed down just a bit but kept going. I didnt make it by his time but it gave me some incentive to try!

The run ended up being pretty good. My pace (4:28/13:24mm) was only slightly slower then the 20 miler last weekend. My knee has been letting me know that I need to pull back on my runs this week. Its not painful but I have felt this before and I know what I need to do. I didnt need any ibuprofen today so that was a positive. Just need to keep it in check.

EATS: During the run I ended up eating 2 GUs, 1/2 banana, 2 fig newtons, a few gummy worms, water and sips of Riks Gatorade. Probably 400+ calories. I felt like this was a good fueling day!

After the run we stopped at the grocery store for a few things and as soon as we walked in the door I saw this prepackaged pineapple! Several people told me that this was good for recovery and that fresh was best so I snatched it up. It was expensive so I hope it works. (it makes me think...when is pineapple in season?!)
I dont know yet if I think it works or not but I do know that it tasted delicious!

We have running plans for the next two weekends and then it will be a weekend of very little running for rest and recovery. But after that, I am super excited to head back and park even further north to explore even more trail. The Appalachian Trail does not disappoint this trail runner :)

Have you ever been on any part of the AT?


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Quick weekly recap.

RUNS: After my long run last Sunday I have been really trying to listen to my body and recover smart. So I ended up biking TWICE this week. Once at the gym and another time outside. I actually worked out at the gym TWICE this week with weights as well. Oh, and I ran!

I kept my runs pretty light. Both Tuesday and Wednesday were beautiful outside and I wanted to run longer then the 5 miles I had told myself I would. Tuesdays run ended up being the second fastest time of a particular trail loop that I do. And then Wednesday I ended up running over 8 miles just because I was having a great time and my legs felt good.

That was probably a mistake because I really felt those extra miles on Thursday and ended up doing more of a walk/jog sort of thing around the neighborhood.

Hopefully I learned and will do better with that next week ;)
Running at dawn is just worth the early start to the day.
Especially when there is just enough snow to make it so beautiful out.
EATS: I have been doing really good in this department as well. As of today I still have 8 days until the end of my second round of Dietbet and am on track to reach my goal again.

The only thing that threw me off was Valentines Day because of this....
The CAKE! Not the watch. That was my Valentine gift.
I think I had about 3 or 4 pieces of that sugar filled goodness!

But I am still on track probably because the rest of the week was also filled with lots o' veggie goodness....
Huge salad!
Vegan Chili
So overall this has been a very positive week. I even managed to run my second 20 miler today (Sunday) and will be back tomorrow to tell you about it. (I got me some pineapples) Oh joy!