Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Freshmen year of racing in review 2011

2011 started innocent enough...I partied with some friends and rang in the new year.
And then the next day went for a run. The first run of what would be my first year of racing. Let me just clarify that racing just means running in races. NOT actually racing! This year would turn out great but definitely not what I had planned! In fact, I think it was even better.

1/16-Chilly Cheeks 7.2mile race in Reading PA put on by Pretzel City Sports. Very challenging course with lots of elevation. I had no idea what to expect since this was my first ever race. But was told that if I survived I could do any of their races. This is one of their harder ones. It starts with a big climb and we had several inches of fresh snow on the ground.

No races in February just lots of road running because of all the snow that PA received this winter! Got on the trails a bunch but just way to much roads.

Again, no races in March. Just building my mileage for the Bob Potts Marathon that I am training for in May! Everything is going great except for that one run on the trail on 3/28 where I fall and pull my groin. Instant excruciating pain but walked a bit and even starting running again. Hmm, maybe not that bad after all?!

4/2-Tyler Arboretum 10k trail run. Having a GREAT run leapfrogging with a group of girls until about mile 4 when we are running downhill with railroad ties and I am jumping over them and just barreling down the hill. I never felt an intense pull or pain but it just kinda came on gradual and my pace got slower and slower and the group of girls got further away...the pain got worse. By the time I finished the race I couldnt walk. This starts my 2MONTHS of no running while I heal from a severe pulled groin.
 The rest of April consisted of alot of rest with a little walking and flat biking on the rail trail. I missed a planned half marathon in NC with Rik. It was his first. And then another half marathon in Ocean City, MD that Colton ended up running with Rik. They finished together in 1:46 I believe.

By May I was spending a whole lot of time on the bike. So much that I talked Rik into finally buying us a tandem bike! I had wanted on for years! Fun!
 And of course I missed the Bob Potts marathon that I had been training for. Rik ended up still running it and did a great job considering he was never a runner before this year! He would occasionally run with me but mostly MTB and skate boarded.

Sweet sweet June! I start running again...VERY slowly. It seems like the groin was okay if I went slow and on soft surfaces. And by the end of June I ran 10miles at one shot down at VA beach!
 You can see how happy I am to be running at the beach during sunrise. Life is good!

Very hot month around these parts. Spent time increasing my mileage and still alot of time on the bike. No races but we did spend a week at Jim Thorpe running and riding the trails there. I am starting to find that I can increase my running mileage without much problem but if I try to increase my speed, my groin retaliates with much pain. So I just keep it slow going.

8/20-First post injury trail race. On the Rocks 8.3miles 1:58. This was at Rocky Ridge County Park which is my home turf so I felt great going into the race and wasnt afraid of getting lost! It was a humid day but felt like I did good overall and only had mild groin pain after the race was over.

9/11-My FIRST EVER half marathon!! We were supposed to run the Harrisburg half this day but had flooding the week of the race and City Island (where the race was to begin) was under water and it was post-poned! I decided that I had been training to hard and long for this and was gonna find another one somewhere, lol! Indeed I did...Sol Lipton half marathon in Pottsville, PA! It was billed as being a hilly road race and it was. But I loved it and ran my half marathon in 2:27.
9/17-Gunpowder Falls FatAss 50k. This was just to be a 18-20mile training run. But because of the flooding it was rerouted and we ended up only doing 15miles. But had a great time and no groin pain. Win!

9/25-Sloppy Cuckoo trail half marathon in Phila, PA. Again, this course was rerouted due to flooding and was 2 loops instead of the supposed 1 loop. This trail race was probably my favorite at the time because it was on the trail with alot of single track, not to many hills to handle and lots of climbing under, over and around downed trees and debris from the flooding. Will do this one again in 2012!

10/2-HARRC in the Park 15k. This was around Pinchot Lake. A rather flat course but because of recent rains made it very muddy. It was a cold, rain, wet, muddy day! Loved it!! This race was a first year race not to far from my home. We camped the weekend at the campground in the park. All around good weekend.

By now I am increasing my mileage for a planned first marathon in Richmond VA. My original plan at the beginning of the year was to run Blues Cruise 50k in October but with the spring injury I knew that was out. So I had now been training for a marathon instead. But with all of my races I just kept thinking how mental it would be for a slow trail runner girl to spend hours on the road. SO...I decided on a trail marathon instead. EXCEPT, I could not find a trail marathon in November! Anywhere around here! SO...I then did what anyone else would do. Decided to do a trail 50k instead! Of course! And adjusted my training to get in some longer runs and off I went. Happy as pie :)

10/22&23-with my longer runs I decided to include a double race of sorts. Ghouls & Fools 6.5 mile night run followed by Oktober Fest half marathon the next morning. G&F was my first ever nighttime trail run and it was so much fun! It was another race put on by PCS and had the alt aid station with beer at the Pagoda high above Reading, PA
   And Oktober Fest half marathon was better then my first with a time of 2:19.

11/12-Rosaryville 50k in Maryland! You can check out my blog entry for that but it was by far my biggest accomplishment of 2011. It was billed as a great race for a first ultra. And there were in fact, many first timers there. Total elevation was only like 2200ft for the whole 31miles. Nice smooth dirt single track with some roots and little rocks. Everything about that day was perfect! I finished with 6:37 and Rik finished in 4:55.

11/19-Twisted Turkey Tussle 10k. Yep the following week I did a 10k that had about 1000ft elevation and finished in 1:32. My legs were fine with the running but wanted no part of any hills! I walked every entire hill. Lesson learned? Probably not....

11/27-Dirty Bird 15k at French Creek State Park. Very nice run with some HILLS! Ran this one with a newer friend that I met thru running! We didnt run together...just start and end at the same place ;) I have been very lucky with weather at the races I ran this year and this day was no exception.

12/4-26.2miles on the Appalachian Trail. Not really a race. But I decided that since I did not run a marathon this year that this was infact my marathon! I ran it with Rik and another running friend (Joe) and his dog. I think that 3people and a dog qualifies it as a FatAss marathon! Its my story, I can tell it like I want!
Me, Joe and Griffin coming into the finish line!

12/17-I did not run a race this day but instead I volunteered at one! This was another first ever for the year. Since I dont really like road running, my local running club was having a 10k just 2miles from my house. Rik and I volunteered and we were stationed at an intersection that was so cool because we got to see everyone right after the start when they were fresh and again right before the end...coming up a long hill. And loved cheering everyone on. I was okay with traffic control (luckily a lightly traveled road) but much better with the cheering runners on, lol! Will definitely be doing this again!

12/18-Horse-Shoe Trail FatAss 50k. This one was a sort of last minute thing that we were invited to and used it as a training run for a race coming up in January by only running 20miles of it. I have to say that this course was harder then I thought it would be and glad I stopped at 20miles to save my legs. It was the perfect distance. Cant wait to do the full 31 next year. Since this was a first year race everyone got finishers medals regardless of distance done.

SUMMARY: What a wonderful crazy year of trail running. From having a plan in January. To the injury in April. And the depression that followed by not being able to run and thinking I would never run again (we all know thats not true but you feel like it at the time!). To the rebuild and discovery of long distance and ultra running! And to finish out my freshman year right, I am 4days away from being voted runner of the month at my local running club (im about 400votes ahead) thanks in part to my good running friends Troy & Sheri.
I love trail running and just being alone out on the trails. But have to say that I met some really great people this year that I wouldnt have otherwise without this thing they have called trail races!!

2012 GOALS: To become faster. Atleast just by a little so that Rik doesnt have to wait so long for me at the end of races. And I can actually run with other people without having to make them double back around to make sure I still alive!!

Happy Trails! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Horse-Shoe Trail 50k (*20miles for me)

What a better way to spend a Sunday! How about getting together with 20 crazy trail runners for a first time ever HST 50k! Even better when I woke up bright and early to this...

24* and snow!!
Now I had never been on the HST before but heard good things about it. It runs east-west 144miles across PA. And being a first year event I knew this thing was gonna be fun!

This is everyone getting ready...

And at 8:30 sharp we were off for a 2mile loop of the park and then onto HST for an out & back. As with tradition of most trail races, it started with an uphill...

We had three water crossings each way that were neither to wide or to deep. Lots of stepping stones and lots of mud on either side of them...

Rik crossing a creek...

And at about mile 9 we came upon Hopewell Furnace National Historic site. We ran thru it...

We ran across the wood bridge to the right. Then up to the right of the buildings with the red roofs and then the trail makes a left. We followed this about another two miles to the aid station/turn around for the 20mile people!

This is just a pic that Rik took of me coming up on a down tree that you have to climb between the branches...

Then across the road...

To some more hills with lots of loose rock, covered with leaves and snow...

My ankles were great because I am used to rocks but these loose rocks were killer on my knees! I passed some guy walking dogs that said that watching me run hurt his ankles, lol :)

The race actually finished with a 1/2mile uphill of road then back onto a 1/2mile downhill of field/trail. Yes! A downhill finish!!!

And this is Rik & I with our yellow horse shoe finishers medals! (the trail is blazed yellow and an occasional yellow horse shoe)

Thank you to Rik for running this race with me! He is much faster but knew I was afraid of getting lost...which three of us did! Well, we didnt get lost, Rik & Rob were yapping and missed our turn. Of course I wasnt paying attention either...
And THANK YOU to the RD Josh for putting this thing together as well as his three volunteers who were better then awesome!!! Cant wait to do the full 50k next year...

Happy Trails! Thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Appalachian Trail Marathon! (*its my story)

Sunday morning came early. And it was a cold one. Wasnt sure how to dress for a long run that would start around freezing and end in the 50s. Not only that but, i would need to carry whatever i decided to shed later....So I decided on shorts and a long sleeve Nike shirt with gloves to start. I knew I would warm up quickly.

Headed out for the one hour drive to the AT conservancy...where Rik & I would meet our friend Joe and his dog Griffin. We all got there at about the same time and headed up the hill to the start of the trail around 8:30am. But then it had warmed up nicely to about 38*.

We started out nicely for what we planned to be a 24ish mile long run. I felt great and moved along at a good pace. The first 9miles passed by pretty quickly except for a minor ankle tweak that was so minor that I didnt think anything of it (that would come back to haunt me). Then we came upon the cow pasture pass and lets just was muddy...We continued on past Scotts Farm and along the river. We had alot more mud for about the next 3miles that really wore on my ankle. It was stiff and sore but I kept plugging along.

We got to the rt944 tunnel where we were gonna turn around for our out & back. Joe gave me some Advil for the ankle and he said he was gonna continue on for another mile to make it 26.2 by the time we got back. I couldnt pass this up so Rik & I walked the mile while eating my Mojo bar and drinking the rest of the water in my pack. We all met up at the one mile mark and starting running back.

My running started getting slower as the ankle was bothering me and my legs were feeling heavy. I dont know if it was the 50k three weeks ago or if I was just having a bad day but I was definately slowing my pace. We finally got back to Scotts Farm where we were able to refill our packs and have another snack before continuing on the finish. By now there were several other people that we would pass in both directions on the trail. Right past Scotts Farm is a wooded boardwalk over what must be muddier then the other areas. I love hearing the running on the boards :)

By now the Advil had kicked in and my ankle was feeling much better. To bad I cant say the same for my legs. The more I ran, the heavier they became, the more I walked. By about mile 18 I was doing some kind of walk/shuffle and wondered how I was gonna make 6 more miles back to the car. But I just kept moving forward...

I think it was after mile 23 that I finally started to come back to life. I think it was knowing that the end was near. We went back thru the cow pasture. Back thru the fields. I love how the steps over the electric fences are much harder on the way back thru! Rik decided with about 2miles left that he was gonna run ahead and meet us out at the road. Joe was still talking about going the full 26.2 distance and I was just trying to get done...

I started to pick up the pace as we neared the road and I know the end was near. Out onto the road we got a pretty good jog going down the hill to the conservancy and cars. By the time we reached the cars I saw that my Garmin said exactly 25.2miles. I yelled to Rik that I was going to do one more mile with Joe & Griffin! He looked at me like I was crazy and I knew he wasnt coming along. Haha! Off we went down along the lake, over the bridge and up onto yet another field! Then turned around and headed back to the car. When I finally reached my car again my Garmin said exactly 26.2miles! I threw my arms in the air and yelled!!

What a tuff run. Not sure why. It was a perfect day with perfect weather and good company. Here is a pic that Rik took of me and Joe coming in to the "finish" of our marathon!!
And yes...that is me eating a bag of M&Ms. What a way to spend the day!

So yes. I ran a marathon today. I did not pay $100. There were no chips or an official clock. There were no cheering fans. I did not get a finisher medal or even a t-shirt. I just ran 26.2mile per Mr. Garmin. I ran an unofficial marathon today because I dont want to be one of THOSE people who are known to just go out and run 26.2miles for fun ;)!!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rosaryville 50k

I would rather spend 8hrs on the trails then 5hrs on the road. This is how I came to run Rosaryville.

I have been running for years but NEVER ran a race until this year. I have still never run a 5k or a marathon. I started training for a marathon in July after a spring injury. Training was going really well until I ran my first road half marathon. I decided at that point that I just couldnt imagine running 26.2 on the road. So...I started my hunt for a trail marathon! Alas, I could not find one in my area. Instead, I stumbled across Rosaryville. The description said it was a great race for a first 50k. (and it was $30!) I signed up. Adjusted my training miles and never looked back! It is a 10mile trail loop that you run 3loops with an out and back at beginning and end to make up the difference.
Let me also just say that my husband, Rik, trained and ran the race with me after he ran a marathon in the spring and said he would never do another! I am evil like that :)

So...Rosaryville MD is about a 2hr drive. We got up Saturday morning and were on the road at 5am for a 8 o'clock start. Temp was just barely 32*. I only got 2hrs sleep the night before. Half because of excitement but mostly because I am a night shifter and my body doesnt like to sleep at night anymore.

Signed in and headed back to the car to stay warm! It looked like there were about 50-70people there.

Then at about 7:30 I ate a peanut butter Tastykake before heading out to the cold for the pre-race briefing.

At exactly 8:00 they sang the national anthem and then we were off with a "Ready. Go!"

The start is a down hill grassy section out to the road for about 1/2mile to the trail head. Temp 39*-perfect! Starting chatting with a lady to find out it was her first 50k and she was there with her daughter, also running.
We headed into the single track...a nice leaf covered well groomed trail. Not even 2miles in and new lady friend is down with a thud already. She is okay and we all continue on. By mile 5, new lady friends daughter fell! This course is really nice but rooty and all of the leaves hid them well! ALOT of falling everywhere.

Not much to say about the first loop. There was an AS at the start of the loop and middle which made it really nice and evenly spaced. I skipped the first AS at mile 5. I was moving along nicely and had a hydration pack. I finished the first loop in 2hrs.

Onto loop 2. It was not as nice. I was running good but the thoughts of a whole third loop were in my mind. A couple of people passed me, which I didnt mind because I hate when people run on my tail. And I started to feel achy...already!! That had me down a bit. Then at the half way AS (15mile point) the volunteers filled my pack and must have missed my bladder because my back and top of my shorts were wet. I stopped and checked to make sure it wasnt leaking but it wasnt. It and I were all wet. Ate some salted potatoes, banana for the road and stuffed a handful of gummy bears in my pocket. Also took two Tylenol for my achiness. And off I went. Then the front runners started passing me. I think 5 passed me the second half of the loop. That again got me down abit...thinking they were almost done and i had a whole nother loop to go yet! Bah! I just kept running along leap frogging with a couple of people. I knew i was getting close to the 20mile AS and started day dreaming of my plans for when i got there. When all of a sudden...THUD...down i went! Lucky thing was that i fell into a nice pile of leaves! Was up and running again in seconds. Good thing I took that Tylenol :)

Got to the AS and spent the most time here. One girl that i was leapfrogging with was calling it quits as she had only planned on running 20 that day. I tried to talk her into finishing with me. We had made it 2loops in 4hrs. We had 4 more hours for 1 more loop. We could have walked the entire distance and finished before cutoff! No talking her into it. She thanked me for the incentive for getting this far as she said that I was the one in her sights to try to keep up with. (that made me feel good) I finished my soda, chips, M&Ms. Got my pack back from the volunteer. Grabbed a GU out of my drop bag. Grabbed a banana for the road and i was off again for my last loop.

The third loop was probably the best. I ran this entire loop alone that I could see except for about a dozen mountain bikers that passed me at different times along the way. I had told myself that I was okay with walking the whole thing if i had to. To just enjoy it! And that I did. My body felt great this whole loop. I slowed the pace to a jog and walked most hills (there are only small hills on this course). Got to mile 25 AS and only needed a banana and some gummies. The volunteers said I looked great-of course they say that to everyone i am sure :) And off i went. Pulled out my phone to text Rik to see if he finished yet. And of course he already texted me encouraging words! By the time of his text I knew he had finished in under  5hrs because he didnt take his phone with him.

I finally finished the third loop and made it out to the road. The pic above is me emerging from the trail with Rik waiting. I hit the road for the final 1/2ish mile uphill run and OUCH! That road hurt my body! I walked the steepest part of the hill with Rik by my side. The finish line came into view and I starting running again up a grassy hill to the end. It was an amazing feeling!!! I dont have the official time but know that it was under 6:38! I was hoping to be under 7:00 and I did it! Temp at the end was a nice 60*. We could not have had better weather.

Walked around a little bit and drank some gatorade. Then changed my clothes. As we were getting ready to leave I saw two ladies running for the finish was new lady friend and her daughter (Mary and Megan). We walked back up to congratulate them. Mary said she ended up falling 5times-what?! But they finished in good spirits too.

It was an awesome experience! It was billed as a fast, 99% single track, runnable course and great for a first timer. It def. held true to that. Cant wait to do my next one in January :) Today is the day after and I feel good. Legs are sore of course but feet are great. Rest and eat today. Back out on the trails tomorrow :)

Hope you all liked my also first ever 50k/race report/blog post!!