Saturday, August 19, 2017

Finally a Sub-24!

Where do I begin? This race was a tough one. Finishing a 100 miler under "24 hours" was stuck in my head for months and I was determined to make it - or die trying (well not really, but you know).  The months leading up to the race all I could remember about  my past VT100 races were the good things - the great crews I've had in the past, the fun I've had, the great weather, the smile that I've (almost) always been able to keep throughout the races. To say the least, I was EXCITED about the race. VT100 is my absolute FAVORITE race and I was so stoked to toe the line again.

Friday (day before the race):

We arrived to the very wet field of Silver Hill and set up our tent. Before long it was misty/raining- this was the beginning to my nerves/anxiety. Soon my crew ladies arrived which helped calm my nerves but I was still pretty anxious about the next day. They've never been to an ultra, let alone a 100 and I couldn't wait to share this experience with them. We attended the pre-race meeting and dinner, celebrated Thomas and Alison's birthdays and went to bed! Of course it rained all night - which I tried to take as a good sign since it rained the two other times I ran this race!

Saturday / RACE DAY!!! :

After a 2:30 AM wake up it was Go Time! The race started uneventfully and I ran with several familiar faces! Started out with Kolby and Catherine, a couple from Albany - for their first 100!! Then moved along to run with Miles from CT - great to see an old running friend!

Once I was on my own I tried to get into a comfortable pace - but as I went along I realized I was probably running faster than I should, but it still felt so good, so I kept up the pace. After a few hours I started to feel a little "off". One of the tough things about running/racing is you never know when you're going to have a bad day. And I was slowly realizing this might be one of my "bad/off" days. I tried to think happy thoughts, all the while following my nutrition plan - eating every 45 minutes and staying well hydrated. After a few hours my stomach decided my nutrition plan was going to go out the window. Goodbye gels!!! The only thing my stomach could handle was real food - and very little of it. Uh oh!

I arrived at Pretty House (mile 21 ish) a little over 30 minutes ahead of schedule - I was trying not to panic that I was starting out to fast. The phrase "24 Hours" replaying in my head over and over - it was beginning to be my mantra for the day.  Even though I was already feeling the nausea I tried to keep a smile on my face for the first time I saw my crew. I was able to eat pancakes and pickles (they were both amazing) and was on my way again.

My favorite part of this race is the "Sound of Music Hill" and I was so happy to have one of the race photographers capture this special moment - THIS is how I want to remember this day (and not all the nausea and pain!)

I continued this way for the majority of the day - nauseous but trying to keep down aid station food and Tailwind -  I knew once I stopped eating the day would go downhill FAST! I kept hitting aid stations well before my schedule so that kept me in good spirits, I knew I was on pace for my goal - (24 hours, obvi) :). Around mile 50 I was starting to notice my uphill legs were fatiguing. I was able to run all the flats and downhills but I could tell I was getting slower walking the up's.

Seeing my amazing "Sole Sisters" at every crew aid station made my day. Every time I saw them they had the biggest smiles and were ready with everything that I  could have needed. Even though they had never been to a 100 they were quick learners! I was typically running by myself throughout the day so it was nice to be able to chat with them as I quickly made my way through the AS's.

Since I was so far ahead of schedule I was able to pick up Katlin at mile 70 in the daylight! Whoop whoop! It was such a relief to run with Katlin, I had been alone most of the day and was definitely feeling lonely. I was still experiencing a lot of nausea so I wasn't the most fun to be around but she did great keeping me entertained for the tough, technical/steep sections after Camp 10 Bear (which I always dread!!!). By this time both my ankles were starting to really bother me - occasionally making me stop and stretch.

We hit Sprit of 76 (mile 77) with a TINY bit of daylight left - I'd never seen this aid station in the light so this was a welcome surprise where I definitely needed the mood lift. It was Alison's turn to pace and she was in for a treat - me complaining most of the time :) She kept me sane for the continual ups and downs and we slowly made our way to Bills at mile 89 where Katlin picked me up again. Poor Katlin was getting me at my worst - and the hardest sections. More uphills!! My climbing legs were completely shot at this point so it was slow going. Katlin kept telling me how far ahead of schedule I was and that I WILL be finishing under 24 hours! At this point we were so close that I knew I was going to hit the goal I had been working towards for months. Finally we made it to mile 95 and I didn't even stop at the aid station. Alison ran me in the rest of the way - no rest for the weary. She didn't let me stop or walk hardly at all and because of that I finished in 23:26. WAY sooner than I would have by myself!!! I was able to finish with an almost 2 hour PR because of these awesome ladies - they have pushed and motivated me not only during the race but the months leading up to it. They also had to put up with my bitching and grumpiness the last several hours of the race, so for putting up with me and helping me finish this race with a sub - 24 hour finish - THANK YOU Sole Sisters!!!!

Since Thomas finished well before me (20:15), he was able to fit in a nap but then graciously got up to watch me finish a few hours later. I think I surprised him more than anyone that I was able to squeeze in under 24 hours. After I finished we both hobbled our way to the tent and quickly fell asleep!

This race will always be a special one for me - it was my first 100 and I don't think it will be my last. I love running with the horses,  love meeting all the amazing runners and love the gorgeous trails/views along the way. VT 100 - even though it hurts and can be terrible, I will keep coming back for you!!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Boston Marathon 2016

I'd been looking forward to the Boston Marathon since the day I BQ'd at Vermont City Marathon the year before. Because of this, I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well- as do most people I'm sure! This wasn't a race I thought I could just go and run and have fun with, I needed to do well- a lot of people were following me at home and I didn't want to let anyone down.

Because this was my first (and maybe only!) Boston Marathon, I decided to go all out. We booked a hotel for the entire weekend and did everything you're supposed to - Expo, Finish Line photos, bought too much stuff, etc! It was a whirlwind of a weekend, I'm sure I did way too much stuff the days leading up to the race, but I didn't want to go home and think I missed out on anything.

Finish Line

Fellow Boston 365'ers

Happy to have my ladies in Boston with me!

The day of the race arrived and I was a bundle of nerves, my training over the spring wasn't great- I didn't put in the long runs or the speed workouts I did for my previous marathon so I knew I wouldn't be at quite the level I was the year before. Since I was signed up with Fleet Feet Sports Boston 365 program I had access to a private coach bus to the starting line with my fellow Fleet Feeters. This was key! It kept us out of the sun/heat the morning of the race and allowed us to keep a drop bag with us while we waited the several hours at Athlete's Village to await the start of the marathon (10:00am). Of course, this gave me time to stress out even more about the race.

Sunrise over the Charles River on the way to the starting line

Pre-race bus time!

Athletes Village was crazy!

Finally my time came and I was allowed to start the mile or so walk to the starting line. Just to be apart of the 120th Boston Marathon was incredible! I had never been in a race of this magnitude. Most of my races are less than a few hundred people, so to see several thousands of people lined up on the starting line was incredible- and this was just one of 8 starting waves!!

I will admit I cried a bit during the first few miles because I was so happy to be in the race with so many people like myself. It is such a historic marathon and I was excited to be a part of it. For the first few miles, I tried to stay conservative since I knew how hilly the course got after that point. Around the 5k point, I knew the day was going to be tough. My legs were dead- heavy and tired this early in a race is never good. At around 10k I decided to slow down and realize that I will most likely not BQ here and just to enjoy the race. I loved seeing the crowds out cheering, but it was tough to really enjoy when I wasn't having a good running day.

The heat started to get to me (it was mid 70s and very sunny), and although I was on top of my nutrition and hydration I began to get light headed and dizzy at certain points. I started walking through water stops to pour water on my neck/head and that did help a bit, but it was still tough running through the heat that early in the spring.

Around mile 13 is when I started entering the pain cave- way earlier than anticipated!! Again, I tried to enjoy the crowd support the entire race, but it's tough when you're hurting and aren't in a good place mentally. At this point, I had to walk/jog the race and just wanted to get through the day with a smile on my face.

I was able to see my boyfriend, Thomas, around mile 18 which helped lift my spirits and then saw a few more friendly faces around mile 22 ish. Knowing how many people came out to cheer on the runners was a huge help in getting me to the finish line! Everyone was so supportive and it was an experience like no other.

This race kept me humble- not everyday can be my best day, some days are good, others are bad. But I am so happy to have made it across the finish line and experienced one of the best races in the world. Just to be there was an achievement that I am so proud of. Boston, I will be back!

Happy to be done!!!!

Post race party at Fenway Park

2015 Recap

So it's been a very long time since I've posted. I had a big year last year- I completed my very own "Vermont Grand Slam". This consisted of the Vermont City Marathon, Vermont Tough Mudder, Vermont 100 and Vermont 50. I loved each and every race. They each have their own feel, and I love spending as much time as possible in the beautiful state of Vermont.

Vermont City Marathon -
This was my fourth marathon, and the first one I really trained for. I did speed training for the first time since high school and it paid off. I somehow came out of the race with a BQ (which I'll get to soon). This might be one of my new favorite marathon- the community of Burlington comes out with full support: sprinklers, freezer pops, orange slices and amazing posters. There are professional drummers that help you make your way up an intense hill at mile 15. And to top it all off, after the race there is plenty of local breweries you can stop at on the way home!

Vermont Tough Mudder - 
For the third year in a row my friend, Elizabeth, and I went to Mt. Snow in VT to run the Tough Mudder. Some people may put this race down, that it's not very hard or competitive enough, but if you knew Elizabeth and I you would know we took it seriously and it was a race for us :). 

Vermont 100 - 
This will definitely be a race I will continue to do year after year. This was my second  time at VT 100 and I loved it just as much as I did the first time. Rolling hills, horses, beautiful Vermont views, awesome aid stations, great crew support, meeting cool people, and pushing your body past the limit your mind created makes this race spectacular. This was my 3rd 100 mile finish and even though it is always one of the hardest things I have ever done,  I will continue to sign up for these crazy races :)

Starting line at 4:00 am

A little rain won't bring me down!

Happy and exhausted!

Well deserved beer from Coach B!

Vermont 50 - 

This was a beautiful 50 miler. I was a little nervous at this race because I honestly didn't do too much training after the 100 miler- I needed a mental and physical break! I ran pretty conservatively the entire the race because I wasn't sure what kind of shape I was in! I walked most of the hills- and there were a lot! And tried to run everything else, not super fast, but at a good pace. The views were amazing and I ended up loving this race! It was a different feel from VT 100 since there were mountain bikers instead of horses at this race, but like the 100, I didn't see them very much because they were so far ahead of me for the most part. Some of the 100 mile course was part of the 50- including VT100's start/finish area. I did get a little emotional running through VT100's Finish line since I knew this was the end of my VT Grand Slam and I had accomplished my year long goal. 

Amazing views- pictures never do it justice!

Lovely uphills 

Of course we got to run up and down this mountain at the finish :)